« AnteriorContinuar »
early this morning, because I feel it really important to describe Mrs. Selden. Sophy and Cora will value my diary some day. Mrs. Selden is just exactly what I used to think our English lady was. I say used, because I have seen some now, whom I think perfectly lovely, and Cora says they are just the most hospitable people she ever met, and Cora has travelled some too. But Mrs. Selden is very, very English ; she speaks in a quiet, soft voice, but she doesn't say nice, quiet, soft things—not always, that is. I thought I liked her at first, rather, only she always talked to Sophy or Cora then, and last night she talked to me. She just asked me hundreds of questions, and of course as I left school so suddenly I can't expect to know all the answers. However, I hope, for Oswego's sake, I concealed what I didn't know, pretty well. It would be so mean on Oswego not to look properly educated, especially in England. She asked me why all American girls were so wickedly extravagant, and I did not think that a bit nice of her, and so I said, “They aren't all, m'am, because / never had the chance.’ And then she told me not to say m'am, because only servants said it. But I shall, because I have been taught it is polite, to old people, and I am sure that is a much better reason than any for making the girls—Ishan’t say servants—use it. And Cora agrees with me. She wanted to know why money would not buy so much in America as in England, and seemed to think that wicked. I did not quite know what she meant, so I just said, ‘You see, m’am, in America every man is the equal of every other man, and that makes things dearer, because they all want to buy everything, and that puts the prices up.' I felt so proud of myself, but Sophy, she thought I was feeling bad over such a lot of questions, and so she said, ‘Crusy is such a child it really isn't fair to ask her such difficult things.' I could have slapped her, I was so mad, because, though it did make my head spin, I was feeling so very grown-up. However, she meant well— Sophy always does. Mrs. Selden looked at her through her glasses. ‘Miss Sophy Ticknor—though why Sophy P I suppose Sophia is your name, and it would be more dignified to use it' (and so it would, only I should not love Sophia nearly as much as Sophy, dear old Sophy)—‘I am now confessing Miss Creusa Judge, Your turn will come.’ I think it is lucky for Sophy we are leaving to-day. Mrs. Selden was very rude, and I felt it. But when one of the undergraduates—who saw us home—asked me how I stood her, I said, ‘Well, I guess she is
an old lady, and so I was not as vituperative as I felt.” And he said he was going to Paris in the autumn and he hoped we'd meet again ; and I said I hoped we should, but I understood Paris was a pretty large city; but I told him I shouldn't forget him, because he'd been real lovely all along, and we had had just a splendid time at Oxford. I think undergraduates like Americans. I hope I have not been ungrateful to Mrs. Selden, but even if she does think all American girls vulgar and fast and extravagant (that's what she says), I do not see why she should choose me to say it to. We don't treat English people that way our side,-at least not in Oswego ; and Cora says they don't in Boston either. London, 14th-Riding on omnibuses is real grand. I don't think there is anything I like so much in all England, except perhaps it might be the Tower; only, riding on omnibuses is realer, and I do like real things. Cora says the Tower is so real it makes her cry, but I thought it like the theatre very nicely done. I suppose it is because I hadn't time to get to anything before the Mayflower in my history before I left school. I have only had one real big disappointment all along the time here. I said, when I was leaving Oswego, I do think I could die happy if I could see the Queen and all the Royal Family prancing along Rotten Row, and Cora thinks so too ; and we haven't seen one. Sophy says London isn't half so grand as Paris. That is the worst of Sophy. She has been abroad before, and when I think anything perfectly sweet she says it isn't as fine as somewhere else, and I don't think it is fair to make out I’ve seen nothing like that. Tuesday, 15th-We've had to work pretty hard in London, but we have only got the British Museum left to do. We've been to the Tower and Madame Tussaud's, and the Crystal Palace and Westminster Abbey, and three times to the National Gallery and to South Kensington and “Charley's Aunt,’ and twice out to dinner, and we feel just about used up. I could not make out one thing at Madame Tussaud's. There was a sweet little baby in a glass case, and I got hold of the catalogue and read out, ‘No. 356: Charles Keane in the character of Othello, and Cora cried, ‘What a little duck!’ but Sophy thinks there must be a mistake in the catalogue ; but the number was right, I know. 16th.—There are some very great defects in England, I think. Riding on omnibuses is lovely, and so are all the sights, and the price of gloves is quite astonishing. We have got forty pairs between us for just nothing at all, and I adore going out to dinner. I wish we had such dinners in Oswego ; things here are so elegant, and people dress as if it were a party, even when they say, “Just drop round. We are only by ourselves, quite quiet; but I do think it perfectly dreadful to see so many poor people. Sometimes I could almost get inside the omnibuses so as not to see them, it does make me so unhappy; but the English people don't seem to mind it, and yet I am sure they are not hardhearted. I fancy they get used to it, just like they do to the ancientness of things and to hearing people drop their h’s. I suppose the poor people here are so used to getting along without things that they don't miss doing without h's. It goes through and through me. I am getting used to their voices ; they sound pretty, but I fear they are deceitful. However, Sophy says they are not nearly so bad as the French. We went to the British Museum to-day, so now we have quite got through and start for Paris to-morrow. Sophy went into raptures over the British Museum, and so did Cora. She said it just made her mouth water to see so many books, and it was the grandest place she had ever seen anywhere. Now, I don't think that patriotic of Cora, so I said, “Just give Chicago a hundred years, and you see if it don’t beat this little place all to nothing.' I thought Cora would never stop laughing. She said heaps and heaps of the things were unique. I do wish Cora would not use words I don’t know, but I just replied, “Do you mean to say Illinois can't get just as good uniques as the British Museum ? I am ashamed of you !” 17th–I wonder whether I shall get time for my diary in Paris, or whether it will be all learning. I hear Paris is a dreadfully wicked place and they don't keep Sunday a bit, but the thing I am really afraid of is being kidnapped before I can converse in French. It gives me cold shivers and . . .
BY PHIL ROBINSON.
THERE is a language of flowers of which most of us at one time or another have learned something, if it is only the single sentence of the ‘forget-me-not.’ It has had many and very serious professors, and its literature is very large, and if there would only arise a Samuel Johnson to vocabularise the language once and for ever, with final authority, it might be much more interesting than it is at present, when nearly every flower has nearly every meaning, with the ultimate result that most of them have none at all. Our dictionaries are at present very conflicting, and it is easy, taking a few words at random, to show that correspondents, unless carefully provided with the same editions, might flounder from misunderstanding to misunderstanding, until the disaster of broken hearts supervened and closed the correspondence for ever. For instance, suppose She writes: “Basil : maidenhair: lavender: dittany.’ In her own book this means: “Worldly considerations do not affect me : we love , each other: be discreet.’ And He, turning to his dictionary, reads, Basil : ‘I hate you ; 'maidenhair: “don’t write to me any more ; ’ lavender: “I have my suspicions.” What would be, what could be the result upon ardent and innocent youth of such a communication, and from ‘Her’ too, at such an early stage of their tender negociations as the use of the language of flowers presumes 2 Surely nothing less than suicide. My quotations are real quotations, and taken from two vocabularies that claim to be equally authoritative. Now, it is obvious that when the Rabbins disagree so fundamentally as this, the translation of Shakespeare's floral symbols becomes a mere matter of choice, and even dependent for its whole meaning upon the particular book that is used. Under the circumstances, then, as a safe choice I will (as far
as he goes) follow Folkard's, for if his vocabulary has any shortcomings, they are not likely to be such as arise from want of research or of the ‘authority of antiquity, nor yet from impudent interpolations of ‘readings,’ suggested only by the fancy of the editor, and where he fails me, I will eke out with Elizabethan authors. But in the case of Shakespeare, a second difficulty raises its head in the path, and that is, that we cannot be sure what plants the poet meant by the names he uses. The only way to evade this, for it cannot be faced and routed, is to give all the alternatives. The most notable passages are, of course, in Hamlet. Ophelia, when she is ‘divided from herself and her fair judgment,” makes herself ‘fantastic garlands,’ which consist of
‘Crowflowers, nettles, daisies and long purples.’
Now, ‘crowflowers’ may be either buttercups or ragged-robins, and “long purples, either loosestrife, ‘lords and ladies,” or the early orchis. Buttercups mean “ingratitude, ragged-robins, ‘ desertion, and either suits the case. Ophelia, who is lamenting Hamlet's conduct, therefore says, “I have been “ungratefully treated,”’ or “deserted.' Nettles (cruelty), ‘cruelly dealt with ; daisies, ‘though young and innocent ; ' long purples (whether ‘lords and ladies’ or the orchis, mean death), “shall kill myself.” (Loosestrife does not occur in any vocabulary.) Now, the reading happens to fit in very exactly with what the wicked queen would like to have believed, and if she gave the flowers in the order she did, with a knowledge of their occult significations, it must be confessed she conveyed her meaning very adroitly, and much more forcibly than she would, under the delicate circumstances, have cared to do in ordinary language. On another occasion, Ophelia is giving her brother some flowers, and as she does so, she interprets them to him. “There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray you, love, remember : and there is pansies, that's for thoughts . . . there's fennel for you, and columbines:–there's rue for you, and here's some for me: we may call it herb-grace o' Sundays: you may wear your rue with a difference. There's a daisy : I would give you some violets, but they withered all, when my father died.' Here we have rosemary, ‘remember,’ ‘think ; ' sennel (strength), ‘be strong and faint not;’ columbines (folly), ‘I may