This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
If the past should be reviewed by the Horticultural and Agricultural press, they could not fail to draw a very gratifying conclusion from the results of their labors. Although it is scarcely more than a generation since the first periodical devoted to these subjects was established, yet the progress that has been made is such as to effectually silence those limited brains, who have rung all the derisive changes upon the subject of book culture and improvement. It is only necessary to compare these interests at the present day, with their condition twenty-five years ago, to mark the improvement, and then credit the press for the liberal and general diffusion of knowledge on the subject of Agriculture and Horticulture.
When we meet now with an intelligent and successful cultivator of the soil, who is fully alive to all the improvements of the present age, we must necessarily set him down as one who reads and thinks, who takes many of the best issues of those papers devoted to his interests, and who has collected a library of Agricultural and Horticultural works, which for general use and reference have become invaluable.
It is hardly necessary to argue in favor of the value of an Agricultural book or paper, and the day has gone by for a man of intelligence to risk his reputation in underrating their influence. Past history will contradict any assertions against their importance, for the progress of such pursuits has been to a great extent due to their exertions. That we as a people have made rapid strides in these departments of our country's greatness, no one can question; and that by interchanging facts and sustaining the mediums for the diffusion of knowledge, we shall continue to improve, is equally beyond doubt.
That the value of such publications is becoming every day more highly appreciated, is apparent from the fact of their increased demand. The history of the rise and progress of Agriculture, Horticulture, Pomology, Landscape Gardening, Rural Architecture, etc, as published from year to year, has now become as rare books among the libraries of our prominent farmers and country gentlemen. The circulation during the early periods of our now leading publications of this class, was small compared with that at the present time, and full files of many of them have long since disappeared from first hands, and are ranked upon the book shelves of those who know well their value. It is only within a week that we offered three times the original price for a full series of one of the leading journals, and were politely told that if we should double our offer we could not have it.
There is a great satisfaction, while taking such publications, to feel that their value does not depreciate, and that when we have read and profited by their contents, they have still a price. We envy those who are so fortunate as to possess complete sets of such publications as the Cultivator, the "Country Gentleman,"
"Hovey's Magazine," and the "Horticulturist".
A library of Agricultural and Horticultural works is what every one who I lives in the country should possess, and the regular issues of such journals form annual volumes of great value. It Is not uncommon for many of those who occupy large estates to take duplicate copies for the gardener's and farmer's houses, and which become permanently attached to them, though the inmates may change. The result is always good, for men will read when they have an opportunity; and if they read they will improve. An investment of $15 or $20 per annum in the leading periodicals on these subjects should not fail to return many times their value.
We take great pride in possessing one of the most extensive Agricultural and Horticultural libraries in the country, and we look upon the bound volumes of this periodical literature as a profitable investment. They pay us their full price every year as books of reference and instruction, and their actual cash valuation improves annually more than the legal rate of interest. If our whole library were put under the hammer, we will venture to say that the back volumes of the Agricultural and Horticultural periodicals would bring their cash cost and interest. We esteem ourselves fortunate in having an early collection; but were we to commence life again to-day, we should at once preserve files of every leading journal on these subjects; there are golden dollars in some of the pages, as by experience we know that our investment has come back many fold, and is still paying us a rich return.
[This is a very important and very interesting subject and we hope Cognosco will follow it up. It is a fact apparent to every observer, that the best horticul turists and the best farmers are always diligent readers. A knowledge of new plants and improved modes of culture can only be acquired by reading since the press is now the only medium by which such knowledge is communicated to the world. There may he an occasional exception, and there may be, also, eases where such knowledge is obtained orally at second hand; but the general rule nevertheless remains true. There are parties who are willing to forego all the pleasures of reading, but they are greatly to be commiserated No man is fit to be intrusted with any important position who is not a diligent reader in his profession. Besides all this, we are all of us under obligations to fit ourselves for the moral and social duties of life: no man has a right to degrade bis human nature. We shall recur to this subject again. - Ed].