Mary Ann Evans
December 22, 1880
Today is the 140th anniversary of the death of the English Victorian author George Eliot.
George Eliot was the pen name for a woman named Mary Ann Evans, and her many works like Silas Marner and Middlemarch are packed with images from the garden.
To Mary Ann, plants were the perfect representation of faith. Like faith, our botanical friends require care and feeding to grow and flourish.
On October 1st, 1841, Mary Ann wrote a letter to her old governess, Maria Lewis. She wrote:
“Is not this a true autumn day?
Just the still melancholy that I love -
that makes life and nature harmonise.
The birds are consulting about their migrations,
the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay,
and begin to strew the ground,
that one's very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air,
while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne
to the restless spirit.
My very soul is wedded to it,
and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth
seeking the successive autumns."
My favorite quotes from Mary Ann, (George Eliot), are about her love of roses. She wrote:
"I think I am quite wicked with roses.
I like to gather them,
and smell them till they have no scent left."
And, Eliot wrote this little poem about roses:
"You love the roses—so do I. I wish
The sky would rain down roses, as they rain
From off the shaken bush. Why will it not?
Then all the valleys would be pink and white,
And soft to tread on. They would fall as light
As feathers, smelling sweet; and it would be
Like sleeping and yet waking, all at once.
Over the sea, Queen, where we soon shall go,
Will it rain roses?"
This concept of raining roses was something Eliot wrote about several times. She loved that idea.
This last quote about roses is the one she is most famous for:
"It never rains roses; when we want more roses, we must plant more..."