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.
Mr. Editor, - I send you descriptions of a few pears not generally known, which have been tested within the last two or three years at the Syracuse nurseries. I believe none of them have heretofore been noticed in your pages; but if I am wrong in this impression, it may still be not uninteresting to your readers to see how they appear to another observer, or prove themselves in another locality; for it is only by examinations at different seasons, in different localities, under different circum. stances, and by persons differing in tastes and susceptibilities, that the qualities of a fruit can be determined, and its character established. I think I need not apologize, therefore, if in either of the descriptions which follow I should be introducing your readers to a former acquaintance.
Fruit, large, long-pyriform, irregular. Skin, greenish yellow. Stem, about one inch long, curved, and lost imperceptibly in a fleshy protuberance. Calyx, closed, in a narrow basin. flesh, white, fine grained, buttery, melting, sweet, abounding in an agreeable acidulous juice, and delicately flavored with bergamot. The fruit is quite uniform in appearance, and will prove a decided favorite. Tree, a fine grower on pear, short and stinted on quince, bears well. Season, last of October.
Fruit, large, broadest in the center, with a long taper in each direction, it being apparently of little consequence to it in which, end the stem is inserted. Skin, yellowish green, with a bronze tinge on one side. Stem, scarcely one inch long, somewhat obliquely inserted, without depression. . Calyx, small, closed, placed in a very narrow, shallow, corrugated basin. Flesh, white, rather fine grained, juicy, pleasantly acidulous, reasonably sweet, and without flavor; the consumption of it yielding a sense of passive enjoyment, with no nonsense about it. Tree,.a good grower on pear or quince, but prone to blight. Season, last of October.
Fruit, large medium, obovate, broadest in the center, often one-sided. Skin, yellowish green, covered with green dots. Stem, two inches long, very slender, curved, inserted in a slight cavity. Calyx, broad, open, placed in a shallow basin. Flesh, yellowish white, coarse grained, melting, very juicy, with an agreeable blending of sweet and acid, and a fine bergamot flavor. A fruit which one will return to with a relish. Season, last of September.
MADAM ELIZA. BEURRE COLOMA HAMON.
Fruit, round, or bergamot shaped. Skin, dull greenish yellow, with a brown cheek. Stem, an inch and a quarter long, inserted in a slight depression. Calyx, small, open, in a moderately deep basin. Flesh, white, fine grained, firm, sweet, and juicy, without flavor. It is desirable in so far as it is a late keeper, (this description being made from a ripened specimen on the 6th of April,) fair to look upon, pleasant to the taste, and particularly good for the oven from September onward. Tree, a handsome free grower, on pear and quince.
Fruit, medium sized, ovate, usually somewhat one-sided. Skin, rough, green, covered with russety dots, and more or less russet, especially about the base. Stem, about an inch long, inserted (often quite obliquely) without depression in a fleshy base. Calyx, small, open, in a very shallow basin, Flesh, white, rather coarse grained, very melting and juicy, sweet, acidulous, and slightly flavored with bergamot. Tree, vigorous, and bears early and well. Season, October.
LEON LE CLERC DE LAVAL. GEN. LAMORICIERE. COLMAR DE SILLY.
Fruit, medium, pyramidal. Skin, yellowish green. Stem, short, stout, inserted in a fleshy projection. Calyx, small, in a broad, deep basin. Flesh, white, rather coarse grained, somewhat firm, exceedingly sweet, melting, juicy, and rich, with a flavor something like the old Summer Bon Chretien, and suggesting also, in taste and consistence, the Beurre Sterkmans. A delicious fruit. Tree, a fine grower on pear or quince. Season, first of November.
Fruit, large, round, one-sided. Skin, yellow, with some russet about the stem and calyx. Stem, one inch long, slender, deeply planted in a broad cavity. Calyx, small, open, placed In a broad, deep basin. Flesh, white, fine grained, buttery, melting, juicy, but wanting somewhat in richness. Though quite agreeable, it is not such a pear as one's palate is eager to encounter again without an interval; having the property of satiating, for the time, beyond most other varieties. Season, last of October.
BEZI GOUBAULT. SERRURIER. ZEPHIRINE GREGOIRE.
Fruit, above medium, broad obtuse pyriform. Skin, yellow, covered with small brown specks. Stem, three quarters of an inch, inserted without depression. Calyx, small, in a broad shallow basin. Flesh, white, coarse grained, full of a rich, agreeably acidulated juice, very slightly astringent, and with a delicate bergamot-flavor. Much like the Oswego Beurre in consistence and taste, but less highly flavored.- The saccharine and acid are gratefully blended, and the fruit is one of the most agreeable of the vinous sort. Tree is prosperous on the quince. Season, last of October.
Fruit,.medium, broad, obtuse pyriform. Skin, yellowish green. Stem, very stout, inserted usually in a fleshy prominence. Calyx, closed, in a broad, shallow basin. Flesh, yellowish white, rather coarse grained, very juicy, buttery, melting, and sweet, with a fine bergamot flavor. In consistence and quality much like, and often quite equal to, Belle Lucrative, being only a little less sweet, or rather, perhaps, a little more vinous. Tret, a free grower, making a fine natural pyramid on the quince, a great bearer, and the fruit hangs well on the tree. Season, October.
It will be observed, probably, that in two or three of these descriptions I have represented the fruit to be without flavor. I felt warranted in this by the definition of the word, as given by a high authority in etymology, namely, "Flavor is the rarefied essence of bodies which affects the organ of taste;" derived, he suggests, from the Latin flo, to breathe; the action of the breath being necessary to detect it, while the palpable properties, as sweet or sour, are as readily perceived when the breathing is suspended as when it is in action. The propriety of this definition can be illustrated by a simple experiment. Take the Seckel pear, for instance; let the nostrils be closed, and the most industrious mastication will fail to convey to the mind any thing but an idea of its luscious sweetness; this, not being a "rarefied essence," is therefore not flavor, it is simply taste. Now let the thumb and finger be relaxed - for I suppose the experimenter during this brief trial has been holding his dignity by the nose - and the first expiration, the first outward passage of the breath over the olfactories, will reveal to him the sense of its high musky aroma, and this, being a " rarefied essence," is its flavor.
If the reader is too impatient to await the possession of a ripe Seckel, the experiment can be made at once by substituting any of the flavored productions of the confectioner.
The pears in question, therefore, lacking this essential property, were described, as the fact demanded, as without flavor. This, however, does not necessarily detract from the character of the fruit, for there are others of the highest quality destitute in the same particular.
Having seen that the loose employment of this word had already led to error, and knowing that a continued abuse of it would always be liable to lead to the same result, I ventured to suggest, in an article published in the Horticulturist for April, 1859, that it be employed in pomologies! descriptions in its 6trict sense only. In a subsequent number of the Horticulturist, this suggestion was dis-countenanced with characteristic ardor by your correspondent, "A Buffalonian;" and the idea of the word, as presented by me, was sharply criticized. In this, his quarrel was not with me, but with him who, seeing the necessity for the word, invented it. I only required that its legitimate signification be adhered to. It is not comprehensible to me why the qualities of a pear whose flesh is described as having a delicious mixture of sugar and acid, or however it might be, would not be as truthfully realized as though the customary ecstasies were indulged in by the introduction and varied performances of the word "flavor," in connection with every quality of the fruit but the right one. In so far as pomology is a science, the demand is imperative, in my judgment, that its terms should be exact in signification, and rigid in application.
By such an employment of language made universal, its dignity would be asserted, confusion in its descriptions avoided, the reputation of valuable fruits no longer placed in jeopardy by unintentional disparagement, and Mr, Downing and Mr. Thomas be enabled to understand each other.
[It were much to be wished that terms were used in pomology with somewhat more exactness and propriety than is often the case, and that there were a better understanding among writers on this subject. Here there is room for improvement; and we should be glad to have the subject fairly and candidly discussed. Flavor, according to our apprehension, is an essence or quality which affects both taste and smell, but the latter in an indirect manner. Aroma affects the sense of smell alone. We refer to what we conceive to be the primary meaning of these words; and in this sense they could well be used to denote two distinct qualities in fruits. Some kinds possess one quality only; others, both; as, for example, the Bartlett has both flavor and aroma. It is important that there should be some well-defined, distinctive use of these terms. We shall be glad to hear what our readers have to say on the subject - Ed].