I would I had some flow'rs o' th' spring that might
Become your time of day---and yours, and yours,
That wear upon your virigin branches yet
Your maiden heads growing. O Proserpina,
For the flowers not that, frighted, thou let'st fall
From Dis's waggon!...
That die unmarried ere they can behold
Bright Phoebus in his strength---a malady
Most incident to maids
The Winter's Tale, William Shakespeare, 1564-1616
There are few flowers whose coming is so eagerly awaited in the year as the Primrose and it is because it is one of the early signs of spring that it received its name which means "first rose". It is not what we call a rose today, but long ago the name was used more widely.
In the language of flowers, the primrose expresses contentment and pleasure but by contrast, for Shakespeare the primrose was a symbol of frivolity and thoughtlessness. "I had thought to have let in some of all professions that go the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire," says the porter in Macbeth.
In parts of western England the Primrose is still called the Butter-rose, because the color of teh flowers is so like that of the farmhouse butter which is made there.
Primroses became very fashionable in Victorian times and were Disraeli's favorite flower. Queen Victoria sent him many bunches from her garden during her reign, on his death she sent a large wreath of Primroses as a token of her affection a nd respect.