SIR,—Surely Mr Aodh de Blacam was not serious in his article on St. Patrick when he wrote: " A thousand years before Wordsworth and the Lake School taught Englishmen to love flowers Ireland had an abundant poetry that was full of the loveliness of flowers . . ."? As a journalist of standing, Mr de Blacam must be aware that the Englishman's love of gardens and flowers goes back
far beyond Wordsworth's day. Shakespeare, of whose works Mr de Blacam admits to some knowledge, filled his plays and poems with the names of flowers. Names invented not by poets and scholars, but by the unlettered people of the English countryside, who thus gave expression to their love of the simple but beautiful things that everywhere surrounded them.
We read of Henry VIII visiting his Chancellor, Sir, now Saint, Thomas More, and walking with him arm in arm round the garden of the house at Chelsea. Flatten Garden, London's famous diamond market, though named after a favourite of Elizabeth, commemorates, nevertheless, the garden of Ely Palace, the London home of the Bishops of Ely from the thirteenth century onwards. In the twelfth century we read of Henry II devising a wonderful bower and garden for his mistress, Rosamund. Thus, historically, we can reduce Mr de Blacam's thousand years to about three centuries. Etymologically, however, the period can be reduced still further, for the modern English dictionary abounds with the names of flowers, many of which, peculiar to England, go back to Saxon times, and could have been invented only by lovers of flowers. Indeed, t h e very words flowers, garden and blossom come down to us from West Germanic words, while bloom, Norwegian in origin, comes to us via the Viking invaders of England centuries before Wordsworth and the Lake School.
Saint Patrick, Mr de Blacam tells us, began his work on the Irish in 432, and it was completed when he died in 462. During that same period the Angles and Saxons (English) invaded this island, and from the words they brought with them to England, and which have come down to us from them, it is clear that they possessed a strong, poetic Love of flowers and blooms which succeeding generations of Englishmen have preserved even to this day.
Thus, according to Mr de Blacam's own method of reckoning, though not according to his method of reasoning, this love of flowers existed among Englishmen about 600 years before it appeared among the Irish. The strange thing is that whereas the English still retain that love to an almost excessive degree, the /risb, except where they have come under the influence of Englishmen, have almost completely lost it. I am assuming, of course, that Mr de Blacam is correct in claiming that the Irish as a nation once possessed this love of flowers.