This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
Sir, - As this is the last time I shall have the privilege of addressing you, - and we have the authority of Dr. Johnson for saying, that we never do any thing for the last time without a feeling of regret, - it is at least a satisfaction to me that my object in doing so is to congratulate you on the successful termination of your labours. "With this Number, it seems, you conclude the series of the Florist and Garden Miscellany. And I, for one, am free to admit, that I so far justify the above maxim, as to look back with a peculiar feeling of interest on the work now ended; while I rejoice that you only lay down your office with the one hand, in order to take it up with the other, endowed with an enlarged and more comprehensive jurisdiction.
In adding the word "Fruitist" to your title, you may expect to engage to your interests a large and influential class of readers; for such is now the advance made in intellectual cultivation, that even epicures I believe can, and sometimes do, read books. May they be led to take up yours for the amusement of an hour before dinner! - for they will find it, and something better with it.
But it is no imputation of sensuality upon any man that he takes a pleasure in the fruits of his garden any more than in its flowers. Both are objects for the gratification of the senses, and equally so. And the Creator has made them what they are for the purpose, not to be despised, but to be duly used. And it would be a childish affectation, unworthy of the manly character maintained by the Florist from its commencement, to admit of praise to be bestowed on the one at the expense of the other; for both are well worth any one's attention who has the means of bestowing it. And I think the admission of Jupiter in the classic fable had more of sense in it than was usual with that personage, when, the other deities having fixed on barren trees as their representatives to shew their disinterestedness, he commended Minerva's choice of the Olive-tree above that of all the Olympic conclave, because she had given honour to what was useful as well as ornamental. And in like manner, it is plain that in a Garden Miscellany the fruit has intrinsically as good a claim to attention as the flower. The care of either is equally an exercise of skill, and the improvement of the one as much a demand on the intellect, and as rational a recreation, as that of the other.
Nor is it less a pleasure to read of what has been done and is doing in the one department than in the other. And I am sure that neither the beauty nor the fragrance of a well-ripened Pine is in any degree impaired by the fact that this monarch of garden productions is as pleasing to the palate as to any other of the senses. You were therefore at full liberty, if you deemed it desirable, to add the department of Fruits to the range of your lucubrations. And I am ready to repeat publicly what I have said privately, that though you thereby vastly increase your responsibilities, and the extent of what will be expected from you, I think you have done wisely. It is just, and it is natural, that, having conducted with credit and acceptance one division of garden operations to the close of a natural series of your magazine, you should ascend to a higher position, which will embrace the other also. It is not for the purpose of resting on your oars, but of more extended labour and greater usefulness. You have made your way to the position you occupy by the best method, - by steady perseverance in your course, and by giving money's worth for money received. You have triumphed over indifference and competition, and, I am sorry to add, over somewhat of unprovoked hostility. But let that pass.
I know you agree with me, that the best way to overcome that, is to live it down; not altogether disregarding it, but when compelled to notice it, by doing so with the dignity of one who knows it to be undeserved. And the truth is, you can afford to do so.
I suppose it is advisable when the early numbers of a periodical are no longer to be procured, to recommence the series, in order that new purchasers may not be compelled to content themselves with an imperfect set. And as a change in the subject-matter itself was in this case independently contemplated, there is the more reason for its adoption. But as this course gives its detractors an opportunity of expressing suspicions of its vitality, it may be as well to notice the objection at once, and meet it with facts.
For myself, I hope the outward change will not be great, and the inward one no greater than is necessarily caused by an increase of matter. The Florist has become to me a "household word," and its appearance a household face; so that if from any cause the monthly number has not come from my bookseller by the usual conveyance, I have felt it as a disappointment. Its matter has been instructive as well as amusing, and its spirit unexceptionable. I have been a gardener for a quarter of a century, and there is no operation of the craft in which I have not received instruction from your pages. And as one ranged on the side of religion, of morality, and of social order, I confess myself under an obligation to the conductors of a periodical dedicated to a subject of general amusement and of national partiality, which has infused into the pursuit, and circulated among the population, a high tone of that righteousness which exalteth a nation. - I am, Sir, yours, Iota.
For the tailpiece to our present Volume, we present our younger readers with a sketch illustrating a custom now extinct, at least in our neighbourhood. Some years back, as soon as inclement weather rendered it impossible for the men and women employed in the market-gardens to pursue their daily labours, they formed themselves into bands, and bearing bunches of vegetables upon poles, solicited donations from the charitably disposed, appealing to them with the cry of " Pray remember the poor frozen-out gardeners !" As it was generally the most idle and profligate that composed these parties, and the proceeds were almost invariably expended in dissipation, it was considered an abuse, and was suppressed by the magistrates and police. Our cut gives an excellent representation of one of these parties.