I have been asked to give some account of what I know about pears. There is, of course, much to be said about a fruit which more than any other attracts the attention of the cultivated pomologist from the extraordinary development it has attained in our own time, the ancients having been contented with fruit certainly unequal in flavor to that which we enjoy. M. Andre Leroy, in his dictionary of pomology, has taken the trouble to make very learned researches regarding antique pears, and enumerates four Greek and thirty-five sorts of ancient Rome; but he does not fix the time when these ceased to be catalogued, and gives only twelve sorts of Italian pears between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the varieties cultivated in France from Charlemagne to Louis XIII. numbering two hundred and sixty kinds. Pliny names twenty kinds. Varro, Palladius, Cato, Columella, and Virgil are also pomologists and pear lovers. The latter is very urgent in the matter of grafting pears, but seems to have been aware of the modern axiom that " he who plants pears, plants for his heirs".

In 1665, John Rea published the "Flora, Ceres, and Pomona," in which he gives a list of twenty-one pears, described as being very good, one of them rejoicing in the extraordinary name of Dead Man's pear. He describes the Winter Bon Chretien as one of the most excellent, but requiring to be grafted on the Quince stock and trained to a wall. He also says, " that there are several good sorts of Wardens and baking pears." In 1693, John Evelyn published a translation of the works of Monsieur de la Quintinye, a very voluminous, exact, and twaddling French author. In advising the setting out of a plantation of dwarf pear trees, he begins with the choice of a dwarf tree to be planted alone - i. e., the Winter Bon Chretien, giving several reasons for this preference. " I. Because of its antiquity, and that by its singular excellence it gained the admiration and courtship of the world, the great monarchies, and principally that of old Rome having known and cultivated it under the name of Crustumium. 2. It was baptized at the very birth of Christianity itself, and consequently it should have the veneration of all Christian gardeners. 3. It should be considered of itself and with respect only to its own proper merit, which alone can entitle it to a preference." This is, at all events, a very proper decision to arrive at, but the Winter Bon Chretien has not kept the high rank assigned to it.

De la Quintinye indulges in the most extravagant ex pressions of esteem: " That it grows to the weight of two pounds, that it is considered a handsome present to persons of quality, and that it is a pear the beauty of which has caused the ablest gardeners to labor for it with the greatest passion." I have had a good experience of pears, but I have never known this precious pear except by name, but it may have degenerated, or we of the present time are more particular in our tastes. Of the other varieties named by Mons. de la Quintinye, the Autumn Bergamot, the St. Germain, the Col-mar, and Crassane, have survived to our own time, but without holding rank as first-class fruit; he, however, highly commends the Beurre Rouge, classing this as a synonym of the B. d'Amboise and Isambert, which he says "possesses the first degree of goodness - viz., a smooth, delicious softness with a fine delicate pulp," wasting many good epithets on the Winter Bon Chretien which would have been more properly applied to the Beurre Rouge. The Autumn Bergamot is not highly commended, although our friend says, " that it has a numerous and formidable party, and, indeed, that a thousand people assert that for its tender and melting pulp, its sweet and sugary juice, and the little smack of perfume which accompanies it, that it is more valuable than all other pears in general," remarks which a great many ignorant people make at the present day.

De la Quintinye names some ninety or a hundred sorts of which some of the names are expressive, as Greedy Guts, Chew Good, Daughter of God, or Fille Dieu. Some few of the sorts remain, among them the Rousselets, Chaumontel, and St. Lezin. De la Quintinye's reasons for the enjoyment of pears are curious. He states that " the rigorous cold which lasts from November to March enjoins our placing ourselves near the fire, and that to counteract the external foreign heat then taken in, Nature has provided us with pears to prevent the great infirmities which might happen to us from the enjoyment of so much heat. So, precisely at this time she has given us an admirable quantity of tender fruit, such as Bergamots, Louise Bonnes, Les Chasseries, Amberts, Virgoulees, Epines, and St. Augustines." This garrulous author provides for the plantation of a thousand trees, but states that " the planter of so many would be a curious gentleman, for how could he dispose of 12,000 pears unless he gave them away or made perry of them?" This difficulty would not be felt now.

He concludes his remarks on pears by a list of fifty good, forty-four indifferent, and sixty-six bad sorts.

In 1729, Batty Langley, in the "Pomona," gives the names of fifty-seven pears. Those which are named by him and still cultivated are the Brown Beurre, Autumn Bergamot, Hampden's ditto, Crassane, Epine d'Hiver, Jargonelle, Swan's Egg, and Windsor, among baking pears the Black pear of Worcester and Catillac. Mr. Langley is not enthusiastic about pears.

Switzer enumerates eighty pears, advising the planting of the English Bergamot, "because of its goodness and antiquity, it being not impossible that it has been an inhabitant of this island ever since Julius Caesar conquered it, and that possibly it was the Assyrian Pear of Virgil, and was, as may be deduced from this, a part of the celebrated Gardens of Alcinous." A tree of this sort in the Sawbridgeworth Nurseries is said to be 300 years old. The pears selected by Switzer appear certainly to have been the best of that time, and he testifies to the extreme goodness of the Winter Bon Chretien.

Philip Miller, in his "Gardeners' Dictionary," 1759, begins his list with Petit Muscat, and passes on to the Chio, Citron des Carmes, La Bellissime, bearing two crops in July and September, Jargonelle, and Cuisse Madame. The Cuisse Madame of the French is classed as a good pear, and the Jargonelle as third rate; but Mons. Leroy describes the Cuisse Madame as a small inferior pear, ripening about the end of August, considering it as one of the few historical Greek pears . which have come down to us. The Poire d'Epargne or Jargonelle of Andre Leroy does not correspond with the outline of our Jargonelle, and he does not praise the fruit, calling it good only for the season. Our true English Jargonelle when ripened on a wall is exceedingly good, juicy and refreshing. Probably the spurious Jargonelle, which un-doubtedly exists, has been introduced by those ' who have imported this sort from France, having been misled by the name, not being aware that the Jargonelle of the French nurseries is not the kind which passes under that name with us.

Leroy says that Miller has muddled the Jargonelle, and ' that the confusion caused by him has lasted to our own time, the mischief arising from the Jar-gonelle and Cuisse Madame being classed by Mills as synonymous.

Miller names eighty sorts, and states that he has included in his list many sorts that are not worth planting, to please those who are fond of a great variety. He is aware of the eccentricity of the ripening period of pears, for he says, " I have known the fruit of a pear tree in one year all ripe and gone by the middle of October, and the very next year the fruit has not been fit to eat until the very middle of December." All of us can endorse Miller's remarks. I have found it a very difficult matter to fix the date of ripening, and the variations noticed in 1759, find their equivalent in 1886. In reference to this matter, Miller says that "if we look back to the best French authors of fifty years ago, they put down the times of ripening of pears a month or six weeks later than now, and that in London it is much about the same, the time of ripening in London being quite as forward as Paris." This remark does not seem to indicate that the climate is becoming* colder, as many are inclined to think.

There are many writers on pomology after Philip Miller, but as far as the names of pears are concerned we may step from 1759 to 1831, when a book was published by George Lindley and edited by Dr. Lindley, entitled "A Guide to the Orchard and Kitchen Garden." The list of pears is here brought down nearly to our own time, 150 dessert pears being enumerated, among them many of our old friends of 1665, 1693, 1729, 1731, and 1789, and adding to the list a number of new sorts raised from seed by Van Mons, Nelis and others. According to Lindley many of these are not worth much, the Duchesse d'Angouleme and Beurre Diel being credited with special praise, the Marie Louise, however, not being very highly commended. In 1842 the Royal Horticultural Society published a list of 442 sorts, and Dr. Hogg, in the fifth edition of the "Fruit Manual," 1884, describes 732 sorts. Andre Leroy, in the " Dictionary of Pomology," has 915 sorts, and the cry is, " Still they come." The new sorts that have been constantly introduced showing that the highest standard of excellence has not yet been reached, and that no fruit is so susceptible of high development as the pear, as it advances step by step with the higher cultivation of man; this advance being by no means rapid, as it has taken many centuries to produce a pear of the quality of the Doyenne du Cornice, this fruit being far superior to any of those noticed by Lindley in 1831. It is curious that Shakespeare, country bred, should never have mentioned pears by name, save once, in " Romeo and Juliet," when he alludes to the Popperin pear, now known in Worcestershire as the Poplar pear, still one of the common perry pears of the county.

It is evident from this meager notice of pears that Shakespeare's tastes were not gratified by good fruit. In "The Merry Wives of Windsor," he uses the phrase, " crestfallen like a dried pear." The plump and juicy pears of our century when fallen rot before they wither, but the tough perry pears wither before they rot. Worcestershire abounds with pear orchards, and Shakespeare, had he seen these orchards in full bloom, would surely have expressed his admiration. There is no allusion in any of his plays, poems, or sonnets to the beautiful spectacle of a pear tree sheeted with its snow-white blossoms. Another country poet, Robert Herrick, although enthusiastic in praise of strawberries and cherries, never alludes to pears. Herrick spent the best years of his life in Devonshire, which must have been almost destitute of pear trees. Sir John Suckling celebrates the charms of a young lady in his lines - Her cheeks are like the Katharine pear, The side that's next the sun.

Batty Langley notices two Katharine pears, the Royal and the Queen.

[It is interesting to note that few English writers, in their histories of pears, refer to the work of Bauhin in Wurtemberg, to which we made recent reference. It showed that pear culture in Germany three hundred years ago, was more eminent than modern authors credit that age with. - Ed. G. M].