San Francisco Public Library
Español中文

Fox Collection: The Language of Flowers and The Blues

The elaborate Language of Flowers (1.6.2), 1836, shows a highly wrought pastime at its apogee: "A party walking in a garden, through the means of flowers presented to each other, may carry on a conversation of compliment, wit, and repartee; A few Rules may be necessary: I or Me is expressed by inclining the flower to the left; thou or thee, by sloping it to the right. If a flower presented upright expresses a particular sentiment, when reversed it has a contrary meaning." Some of the flower signifiers are Benevolence = Potato; Beautiful Eyes = Variegated Tulip; Energy in Adversity = Camomile; Render Me Justice = Chestnut Tree; Vulgar Minds = African Marygold (sic); We May Be Poor, but We Will Be Happy = Vernal Grass.

In a similar spirit in 1844, Peter Parley sees fit to classify the blues (2.1): "What are 'the Blues?' Your reasonable blue is a communicative, suggestive thing, and I always court its society."

Order I, Class I. Blues of reverie: pleasing, but not to be too much indulged. Class II. Rum blues: pestiferous. Class III. Blues of indigestion: horrible. Class IV. Blues of bad conscience: frightful.

Next Page