This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In the November number of the Gardener's Monthly I was much interested. After having taken a walk with you from the Chinese pagoda down and around Kew Gardens and through the park in Paris, I felt just beside you as you sat down upon the round stump in that Philadelphia square and took good heed as you began to look around you and repeat " because the park was now wholly run in the interest of politicians," and I would just ask you Mr. Editor, where is the public business in this great America of ours that is not to-day run by politicians? And while you " blame that system which makes such a success to individual effort possible," how is it in the present state of the morals of the country to be prevented? Your perception, Mr. Editor is not so blunted, but that with your experience you can comprehend the whole situation at a glance. Being in New York in 1842, I called upon an Irish friend who was a house painter, and after inquiring how he was getting along, he said that at the present time that he was doing very well, but that for a long time after he came to New York he had fared badly. In giving bids for jobs he said that some how or other he was always unfortunate, some one or other was sure to head him off.
Complaining one day to a friend, he was told that if he went and joined a certain Odd Fellow lodge he would no longer have any complaint against his bad luck. He said that he had done so, and in his experience had found that it was impossible for any man in New York except that he belonged to a secret oath-bound society (Masons or Odd Fellows) to get any office of profit; not even, he said, charge of a squad of street scrapers. Secret societies hold every office of profit in Pittsburg, and I believe over the nation from President down. But I may be in my innocence writing to a brother of the " mystic tie." There is however one thing sure that your expressed opinion is correct, as to having the right man in the right place, and that no superintendent of public works is dealing honestly with the public who pays worthless hands; but let you be what you may, I believe you to be an honest man who despises all trickery.
[The editor has a high regard for " mystic " members. He is not a member of any one of these bodies, and yet he has been elected to political office. Once on a time it was urged on him to accept a nomination for a leading office under the city government of Philadelphia, especially in view of this very question of public parks, on which it was supposed he might have some direct influence. For this reason, and this alone, he consented to be a candidate. He was nominated for the position with no thought on the part of the political body that nominated him that he was not "an Odd Fellow," a " Mason " or any other thing. In fact the editor can speak from personal experience, having made politics a study in science as well as some other things, that the question of public office is one of hard work and industry. The nice good man who wants to have nice good public parks and gardens, and "good men and true" to manage them, will never accomplish his purpose by sitting down in his library and giving a growl. While he is sighing and sorrowing, the other fellow is out and around talking with and influencing voters, and will beat the nice good man every time.
A magazine like this is not the place for a discussion of the " ways and means." If the editor was in a " social science meeting," he believes he could show how the right men could be got into the right places; that is, in a general way. All that is germane to a horticultural magazine is to show that public parks and gardens are mostly in a scandalous condition, and that this cannot be remedied while the good people take no interest in public affairs beyond growling, and leaving to others the hard work and expense. Depend on it, it is as true in public affairs as in any other business that the most perfect machinery, is the most likely to win; and the engineer of the machine, who ever he is, is bound to see that he gets his pay, and he will reward those first and before all, who help him to carry the machine along. We repeat emphatically that public office as it is now, means very hard work, and great cost, and the worthy men who are not disposed to this sort of thing necessarily give place to the unworthy ones who are].