As you invite correspondence on this "vexed" question, allow me to offer a few remarks on the paper of A. W. in the 'Gardener' for March. Although I do not profess to attempt the solution of this question, nor to say that I quite understand what A. W. exactly means, there are certain rather lamentable statements in his paper, which, as they appear to me, are easily enough understood. And these statements are such, that when first read they create the inclination to fling them, as an insult to gardeners and gardening, back at A. W. "with ail the force of a battering-ram." Such as "the true definition of gardening is dress and keep;" "There can be no connection between gardening and science;" "It follows that speculative" (by which it is supposed A. W. means theoretical) "knowledge is useless in learning the trade of gardening, for it is a practical business; the man, therefore, must exercise his hands." Surely this is bringing us down to the lowest level of rule of thumb, or to something little better than the instinct of the inferior animals! What would the medical faculty think were any one to say that the true definition of their profession is, Keep your patient's face clean and his hair well brushed; there is no need to study his stomach'? What would the general think were any one (I sincerely hope A. W. is not a gardener) to say to him that the true definition of war was just pipeclay and blacking 1 There is a legend in the Highlands which speaks of a man who carried his head under his arm.

What a capital gardener he would have made, could he just exercise his hands! Yet in the midst of all this condemnation of theoretical learning or knowledge A. W. writes about "the first principles of the practical." But finding these and such sentences as "knowledge is power - an intellectual substance," one is tempted to say - what they hope - that A. W. cannot be accepted as an authority on the necessity or non-necessity of theoretical knowledge or a "theoretical intellectual substance" in fitting a man for being an intelligent practical gardener. But conceiving that the drift of A. W. is to show that theoretical knowledge - say, for instance, of the structure and functions of plants, or of any of the sciences, which, as clever men are teaching us, bear upon the many points of horticulture - is of no service in the practice of that profession, I can abstract no other meaning from his remarks. I beg to differ widely from him, and have no hesitation in saying that the gardener who has not studied the structure and functions of plants, to say nothing of the many other principles with which a gardener has to do, labours under a very great disadvantage, as compared with the man who has acquainted himself with these matters.

If this is not correct, then such men as Knight, Lindley, and Liebig have spent their strength for nought.

While holding this doctrine, I am by no means indifferent to the surface-gloss of "dress and keep;" but for anysake don't let us be degraded by saying that these two words are a "true definition" of gardening. Some places, no doubt, would be improved by a little more of this definition, but we have known some place so "dressed and kept" that there was scarcely any gardening left about them. I may be told, "Oh! see what splendid specimens of plants and fruits Mr So-and-so grows, and no one will give him credit for any knowledge of the functions of plants, or anything else that science teaches," and he is far more celebrated for incessant noise among pots and pans than for anything besides. This, I hold, proves nothing against theoretical knowledge. And though it must be granted that one man seems to have an intuitive knowledge of the requirements of plants, this does not prove that such a man would not be improved by a sound theoretical knowledge of what is involved in his practice. It may prove that nature has endowed one man with a better capacity for the practice of gardening than another - nothing more.

And I am persuaded that if we were to look a little more closely into the lives and gardening practice of those who are considered gardeners by intuition, we would find their success to depend on a restless nervous disposition, application, and perseverance and who will say, that, if in conjunction with these qualities - without which never man became great in anything - they had just to some extent mastered a little vegetable physiology, chemistry, and natural philosophy, they would not have been saved many a blunder, many a tumbling among pots and pans, and have become better gardeners, still better members of society, and men from whom we would learn more1? The extraordinary results effected by sheer industry and perseverance, in conjunction with, or rather as the result of, a love of gardening for its own sake, are no doubt calculated to lead many to doubt if anything more be desirable in the make-up of a gardener. Now, I am as deeply impressed as any one can be, as the result of my own observation and experience, that in gardening, as in every other vocation, some youths will never shine; but I hold at the same time that it cannot be demonstrated that the garden-loving and persevering rule-of-thumb man would not be improved by a sound theoretical knowledge of the operations he is called upon to conduct or perforin, and all who are aspirants in this humble walk of life cannot neglect such knowledge with impunity.

This again involves to some considerable extent what is properly termed a school education as a prior training for the mind, and furnishing it with the tools and habits of accumulating and applying the knowledge necessary for practical life. And who are there amongst our leading gardeners who have not felt their loss on this point, or are content to let their sons into the world with the meagre elementary education with which they were compelled to begin their profession % And although we find men amongst gardeners, who for general information would be no disgrace to any society, and who can commit their thoughts and views to writing with a clearness and force which surprise their "betters" - to what do they owe these advantages? certainly not to a neglect of theoretical knowledge, nor to the neglect of elementary school education, but, to their honour be it spoken, to their self-tuition and culture, to their self-denial and self-respect and perseverance. Apart from this view of education, it is exceedingly desirable that gardeners introduced to the management of such gardens as are designated good situations, should be men who have at least such a measure of education as will be one of the means of raising the status of a profession which adds so much to the pleasure, luxury, and civilisation of the whole community.

It is much to be regretted and reprobated, too, that men who have so thrown away their opportunities, and neglected themselves so much, that as a consequence they cannot write a note of half-a-dozen lines without in the most grotesque manner possible violating the commonest and all the rules of grammar, should by some extraneous influence be introduced to the care of first and second rate gardens. These are the men who accept low wages, and hang as a dead weight on the profession. I say, Save our gardens from such men! I could name cases where the most illiterate men, and unproved gardeners too, are thus succeeding to good places, and on whom what I have said is no libel.

A word to young gardeners. If you do not acquire the education necessary to play your part well, not merely as an intelligent practical gardener, but somewhat in unison with the age in which your lot is cast, it is your own fault; and the sooner you give up a profession which requires so much forethought and intelligence, the better for it and for you. You have plenty of spare time. A few shillings can purchase all the books and material which are needed to raise your education beyond contempt, and to pursue the many points of your profession with intelligence. Genius is not necessary. Genius has been described as common sense intensified; industry and dogged perseverance would make geniuses of most of us. Dr Johnson once said that some men learned more by the tour of Hampstead Heath than others did by the tour of Europe. And why? Because the one had acquired the habit of noticing, and the other had not. That is one of the grandest faculties that ever entered a garden. Noticing! while you learn to "wield the ponderous spade "with dexterity, remember that "elegance, chief grace the garden shows, is the fair result of thought," and try at the same time to penetrate into the fibre of the phenomena which are presented to you every day in the garden. "Genius is patience;" so said Buffon, and he was constitutionally indolent, and born to good estate.

But instead of indulging his besetting feature of character, he denied himself; and I hope most of my young readers know something of what he accomplished by patient application, and throw to the winds the idea that they must be born geniuses in order to succeed. Activity and attention in the garden, and self-culture in their spare hours, will prove their own reward. Some walk as if there were a millstone at every foot, and as if the garden were a loitering-ground, and spend their time as if they had no mind to cultivate, and had nothing above their mustache to be of any value to them. Such men will seldom find fortune on their side, as the winds and the waves are on the side of the accomplished mariners.

It may be said that the garden is no field for scholarship to reap that reward which it deserves. In its present prospect it certainly is not. It is nevertheless a sphere which gives vast scope for that research and study, to pursue which with intelligence and success it is necessary that a youth should at least have a sound elementary school education. I know full well that young gardeners have a deal to discourage them, and that the prospect before them is not the most stimulating. But it is only the common story of life in general - the road to success is not easy. It is well for human nature that it is so. But depend upon it, success in gardening is not attained without hard work. Many are disheartened because they cannot get to the top of the ladder without taking the intermediate steps. I once read of an architect who travelled all the classical lands of the East for improvement, and without friends determined to begin anywhere; and accordingly took a business connected with dilapidations - the lowest and least remunerative department of his calling.

And one hot day in July a friend found him astride a roof, and, wiping the sweat from his brow, said, "Here's a pretty business for a man who has studied all the classical architecture of Greece and Rome." He did his work well, and rose to the top of his profession. Again, some consider themselves born to ill-luck, like the unsuccessful man who mourned over his misfortunes, and declared if he had chosen the trade of hatter people would then have been born without heads. But such men, it will be found on investigation, are as a rule reaping the reward of their own neglect. It is a mistake to suppose that because a young gardener cannot get into a first-rate place for his first, the way of further success is barred to him. But let him do his work well in the smallest, and the chances are, not that he will remain there, but that he will climb to the highest. David Thomson.