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The Victoria Regia

"There is a splendour in the living flower."

Cut the petals from my peculiarly prepared wax; attach a wire half way
up each at the back; colour the first sixteen petals with pale lemon.
The remaining petals require a faint glow of pink laid on from the base
towards the centre. They must be all much moulded with the large ivory
curling pin, as well as assisted by the thumb and finger. The sixteen
petals which constitute the two first rows, and which have been tinted
pale lemon, have a deep pink vandyke or point formed at the lower end of
each; round the edge of this point must be laid numerous spots and
strokes of rich crimson, produced with crimson lake and minute portions
of blue. Eight of the last named petals are shaded darker than the
others, and are placed on first.

The centre or foundation is formed by moulding wax into a solid
substance, two inches in diameter and three-quarters of an inch in
depth. The stamina are very numerous, and cut according to patterns. The
points are crimson, then shaded lemon, and rich pink the lower end. They
are curled by passing the head of the curling pin firmly down the
centre, bending the points a little back. The first four rows should
fall down over the foundation, the other stand erect; by this means a
direct crown is formed which contributes in a great measure to the
beauty of the flower. The petals are placed on in rows of eight, with
the exception of the last four, or as they may be termed, sepals of the
calyx. These are at the back or outside dark chocolate colour (I prepare
a wax on purpose). The large green seed cup that is finally attached is
cast in hot wax, and can be purchased either at my establishment, or at
my counters, Soho Bazaar. The calyx and seed cup are covered with
prickles: to form these, roll some shreds or strips of light green wax
between the marbles moderately warm; sever them into small pieces; hold
the thickest end to a lighted candle, and apply each quickly to its
proper place.

In selecting this flower as the closing subject of my instructions, it
may not be entirely devoid of interest to many of my pupils to be
furnished with a brief detail of the derivation of its name and
character, as also the place where this extraordinary production of
nature was first discovered. Sir R. Schomburgk was travelling in British
Guiana, in the year 1837. It was in the River Berbice he beheld it, or I
may say them, for numbers were floating in all their pride and glorious
beauty, and at once struck him with surprise from the majesty of their
form, and brilliancy of colour. This plant flowered first in England, at
Chatsworth, the seat of the Duke of Devonshire, and soon after was named
"Victoria," by the gracious permission of her Majesty.

Mr. Paxton has publicly stated, that his design for the Crystal Palace
originated in consequence of his having planned the house in which was
grown the first specimen of this gigantic plant at Chatsworth. Thus its
name will be immortalized in connexion with that of the Exhibition till
time immemorial. I think it may be justly denominated an emblem of
strength and power.

Before I entirely leave this subject, I cannot resist alluding to the
circumstance of my withdrawing works of great magnitude (and which I had
purposely prepared for competition), from the late great Exhibition. It
is due also to the gentlemen who formed the executive committee that a
true statement should be made respecting their exclusion. A rumour
having been circulated that they (the gentlemen of the executive
committee), refused to give me adequate space, I am anxious to repudiate
such statements, and to acknowledge that some of my best patronesses
previously to the opening of the Great Exhibition, and since that
period, have been various members of the families of those gentlemen and
the Royal commissioners. Ample space was allotted to me in the gallery,
and it was considered that as other wax flowers were to be arranged
there, mine would not suffer more than the rest; but the gentleman, and
I believe the only person who had anything to do with the arrangement of
mine, was Mr. Owen Jones. I acquit this gentleman of any invidious
feeling towards me, but can only regret that he did not personally
inspect my works. If he had, I feel persuaded he would have been amazed
at their magnitude and the bulk of labour executed by myself unassisted.
As it is, it is more than probable that I suffer in the opinion of some,
to the effect that I showed some degree of "temper" or obstinacy in
withdrawing them.

I am likewise anxious that it should be known that it was not the heat
of the gallery entirely that intimidated me. My plates of bent glass
were much larger than any in the Crystal Palace, and the groups were
arranged upon thirty hundred weight of stone. The whole formed such a
huge mass that it was deemed by scientific men to be impracticable to be
elevated to the gallery, without jeopardising what had been produced by
me by intense labour and profuse expense. The truth of this statement
can be testified by an examination of the works, which may be viewed
daily at my residence from ten till five o'clock (gratuitously). They
have already been inspected by fifty thousand visitors; and as a proof
that they have excited some interest and much admiration, I subjoin at
the end of this little volume a few extracts from the public journals.

I have but little more to add--

"Now to the world my little book go forth,
With all thy faults."

I cannot expect it will escape the criticism and censure of some; but if
it meet the approbation of the discerning, and carries out my cherished,
my promised views, that of instructing the uninitiated--furthering the
purposes of Wax Flower Modelling--and refreshing the memories of my
earliest pupils, who may for a season have neglected so charming an
occupation, I shall be more than repaid for the trials and
disappointments attending the various efforts I have made to satisfy

"Hoping the best--ready the worst to brook,
Yet seeking friendly hearts--go forth, my little book."

"As life is then so short, we should so live and labour that we may have
pleasing remembrances to console and cheer us at its close; let us work
earnestly and diligently, not only for our own good, but for that of our
fellow creatures:--

"Oh! let us live so, that flower by flower,
Shutting in turn, may leave
A lingerer still, for the sunset hour,
A charm for the shaded eve!"

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