This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
M. C, Fort Dodge,. Iowa, writes:"I see by the public papers that you are having an excitement about the English sparrow, and are trying to make laws to drive him out. Some of our people are anxious to get the bird to our western towns, but I hope you will give them a word of warning as to the folly of the thing from your Philadelphia experience. I have just had a word of warning from a reliable Englishman. He tells me that since the introduction of the sparrow to the English dominions it has driven out all the other singing birds. That at one time England was the home of' the sky-lark, the nightingale, the goldfinch, the thrush, blackbird, and many sweet singers, but. that they have all taken their flight across the straits of Dover, and that there is hardly a bird left but the sparrow in all England. He says that the grape was once a great product of England, and wine was made there equal to the best in France, but the introduction of the sparrows has effectually killed the wine trade. The apple and the pear tree never fruit any more, since these rapscallions eat out all the blossom buds, and that thousands of orchards in the old cider-making districts have had to be cut down for fire wood, as never an apple do they bear any more.
He says that whole flocks of the good old-fashioned song birds may be seen any day collecting at Dover to fly across to France to get out of the way of those pugnacious sparrows, and leave forever their native land. The grain crops, he says, suffer like fruit - at least half the product going to these feathered robbers; and when he left the Old Country they were about getting an act of parliament, a sort of legislation I suppose, to reimburse the farmers for the loss through the English government having introduced the bird. He is sure that the scarcity of bread-stuffs in England is from the prevalence of the sparrow, which are as thick there as the sands of the sea, and he thinks that the bird must have been sent over here by some enemy of our country, who was jealous of our sending so much bread-stuff to England. Now, Mr. Editor, surely a word to the wise is sufficient; and if you are going to expel the wretch from Philadelphia, don't let him come here".
[All this is news to us in Philadelphia. That reliable Englishman would make a good war correspondent in the next fight between Russia and England. We will only speak for Philadelphia, that she grows as many apples and pears as she ever did. Our own pear and apple trees bear abundantly, and swarm with spar-rows. There were no insectivorous birds in Philadelphia before the sparrows came, and therefore, insects abounded. It was because they abounded that the sparrow was introduced. Since they came here the measuring caterpillar does not exist. They do not care greatly for caterpillars, but they have a great love for the moths which lay the egg's, and that suits Philadelphians just as well. As for there being any excitement in Philadelphia, we have not heard of it. There are, of course, some who, like our correspondent, listen to"reliable reports " of others, and who can readily trace the apparition of their great-grandparents in an old tree stump by night, who think the sparrows are dreadful things. But such people always will have an existence.
As to the sparrow itself, it is certainly not an unmixed good, and it will, therefore, get friends and enemies, just as people happen to look at its work in relation to their own desires. - Ed. G. M].