“I cannot make speeches, Emma,” [Mr. Knightley] soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing. “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.” –Emma, Jane Austen
Undoubtedly countless gentlemen found themselves identical to Mr. Knightley’s distress. What Victorians held in their hearts was not always so easily expressed. Even so, sweet sentiments were not to be neglected.
Etiquette hardly made allowances for improper introductions—let alone grand gestures.
That is how the language of of flowers (floriography) came into being. Feelings that could not be spoken or proclaimed publicly could instead be expressed through blooms.