This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
Most happy am I to meet on this occasion so many who have come up to cooperate with us in our efforts for improvement. Especially would I congratulate you on the reunion with our Southern brethren, whose absence, from whatever cause, we have greatly deplored. Again their voices respond to our call, again their hearts beat in unison with ours, and again their presence cheers and encourages us in our noble work. And here let me express the desire that our brother pomologists throughout the length and breadth of the South will give us the results of their experience; and let me repeat the hope expressed in my last address, that at no distant day our meeting may be held in the South, amidst the peculiar fruits of that region, so favoured in soil and climate.
How salutary the influence of such associations! who that has witnessed the operations of this society can for a moment doubt the usefulness and importance of these national gatherings? The great practical truth of the present generation, said Daniel Webster, is, that public improvements are brought about by voluntary combinations and associations. "The principle of association," said he, "the practice of bringing together men bent on the same general subject, uniting their physical and intellectual efforts to that purpose, is a great improvement in our age." So say we. If there were not an Apple, or Pear, or Grape on exhibition, the stimulation of thought produced by the contact of mind with mind, and the information acquired by the free interchange of experience, is far more valuable than the same amount of knowledge derived from books. It is this centralisation of action which has produced the wonderful progress of our age; but in a national society, which embraces the whole country for its domain, we have the additional motive of patriotism to bring us to our biennial meetings, where, by the exchange of cordial greetings and the influence of co-operative exertions, the representatives from the distant parts of our widely-extended country become kindly affiliated, and where, on the broad platform of common philanthropy, free from sectional prejudices and party animosities, we become, indirectly but not the less effectually, united in the bonds of friendship and reciprocal regard; and where, from the loving cause in which we are engaged, we have learned to love each other.
The importance and usefulness of a National Pomological Society is never questioned by those who from the beginning have laboured with us in the acquisition of valuable information. If there be any who doubt, we commend to such the brief summary of its work for the last nineteen years, given in my last biennial address. When we consider what has been accomplished, who can set bounds to the progress which may be attained during the remainder of this century? An entire revolution in the cultivation of fruits has taken place since the establishment of our society. Where trees and Vines were then purchased by the dozen or hundred, they are now sold by the thousand. Where the stock of nurserymen could be summed in thousands, it is now enumerated by millions of trees and Vines. Where the Grape was scarcely grown a few years since, now thousands of hill-sides, from the base to the summit, are clad with the verdure of the Vine, and the vintage of the golden western slope promises ere long to rival in value the riches of its mines. Where fruits were considered as only a luxury for the opulent, they have now become not only a sanitary condiment, but a daily necessity of the meal.
The object of this society is to encourage the culture of fine fruits, so that they may be placed within the reach of all classes, freely and abundantly, the poor as well as the rich. The work is indeed of great magnitude. With a country so varied in soil and climate, capable of producing almost all the fruits of the globe, constantly opening up to us new resources and demands, we Lave occasion for new, constant, and untiring energy and enterprise.