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.
And hence the alacrity with which the friends who have been associated with him in public labours have united with those related to him only by personal and professional ties in expressing their high esteem for his character, and their grateful sense of the value of bis services. Permit me now, Mr Thomson, in name of the friends present and absent who have contributed to this testimonial, to ask you to accept of the same, and to receive from me, in their name, the assurance of our cordial esteem, our grateful sense of the services you have rendered to the community, and our warm and friendly wishes for your success and happiness in the extensive and important enterprise in which you are about to engage.
The presentation was made amid great cheering.
Mr Thomson rose amid loud cheers to reply. He said that he had now for a long course of years followed an arduous pursuit - a pursuit requiring great mental and bodily exercise - and he certainly had to-day received an unexpected reward for his labours. He had only had two employers in his lifetime, and he had every reason to believe that he received and retained their confidence. That of itself was a sufficient reward for anything he had been able to do. He had received unexampled kindness from gentlemen in various ranks of society; and to be in contact with many of these and associate with them, would be a sufficient reward to any man for any extra labour he might take in promoting whatever science he might be connected with. His esteemed friend Mr Mitchell, with whom it had been his lot to associate in many matters since he came to Dalkeith, and for whose private and public character he had the most profound respect - he said a great deal about him which he could hardly accept for himself. That he had been useful in some degree to the inhabitants of Dalkeith in those social gatherings to which he had referred, he was ready to admit. In doing all that he simply took a keynote which was struck by his noble employers when he entered their service.
He had no doubt that many would imagine that one like himself, coming, a comparative stranger, to take the management of such a place as he had occupied, would receive a great many orders and commands, but all that the Duke of Buccleuch said the first day he walked through the grounds with him was of a very general character. His Grace touched very lightly on anything that affected himself; and the only decided and emphatic order he gave was that he had not long before given the Dalkeith Cricket Club permission to exercise their noble game on his lawn, and he wished that he (Mr Thomson) would constantly keep it in good order for them. When he saw the Duchess of Buccleuch a few days previously in London, she gave him some general orders, and said that although they were not always at Dalkeith, they wished the grounds round the palace and lawns kept in nice order; for although they were not always there to enjoy them themselves, they wished the public to enjoy them and see them in good order. He therefore felt that he was fulfilling their desire when he did what lay in his power to add to the enjoyment and elegance of any little gathering held in Dalkeith. He believed that anything he had done in that way had had their Graces' consent, and that therefore any thanks were not so much due to him, and to anything within himself, as to the liberality of those whom it was his honour to serve.
As to his connection with horticulture, and especially to the men under him, he believed that they had numbered between two and three hundred; and he was happy to say that, out of his own family, his greatest pleasure had been in his contact with his men. Of all that number, as far as he could remember, he had not had occasion to dismiss above three or four for any misconduct, and not one of them was ever guilty of a crime that came to his knowledge. Many of them were occupying the first positions in the kingdom in the calling they followed. One of them was with the Queen at Frogmore, another with the Duke of Devonshine; his brother was at Drunilanrig; and Mr Knight at Floors Castle. He could mention a long list of noblemen to whom be bad supplied gardeners; and be believed that in every case they bad given satisfaction. If be bad accomplished nothing more in a comparatively long and arduous life than the training and bringing into good social position in the calling they followed of so many excellent men, be would have felt that be bad not laboured in vain. No man could occupy the position be bad so long filled - for nearly thirty-four years now as master - without doing something towards the promotion of horticulture as a science.
He had done what lay in his power to advance that noble art; for, after all their flights of fancy and fine philosophies, they must return to the earth for their sustenance. He held that horticulture was the pioneer of all successful cultivation; and the only thing which he regretted in the part of it to which he belonged, was the want of a proper definition as to what a gardener was. Every man who handled a spade or a knife was called a gardener; it would be as well to call every butcher a doctor. But a man, to be a scientific horticulturist, required a course of study not very different from that required by the medical profession. In fact, as surgeons the gardeners were before the medical profession. For instance, if they met with a tree with a bad head, they cut it off at once, and put on a good one! The doctors had not arrived at that yet; and when they did, there would be a great demand for good ones ! Mr Thomson made some further remarks expressive of his gratitude for the kindness which had been extended to him, and his pleasure at seeing so many present from a distance to testify their respect for himself.
He resumed his seat amid loud cheers. '