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.
At a late meeting of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the following extraordinary preamble and resolutions were adopted in reference to the proposed supplement to the Act of Consolidation, authorizing the Councils to sell the Centre Squares, at Market and Broad Streets, and purchase more extensive grounds: -
Whereas, This Society has in view, as among the objects of its creation, the rural adornment of our city, the securing of pure air, and necessary recreation for the greatest number of its inhabitants, and the promotion of the prosperity and happiness of its entire people by multiplying the means for a cultivated taste in the walks of nature. Be it, therefore, Resolved, That the proposition for the sale of the "Centre Square," and the conversion of the proceeds thereof into more extended accommodations for the benefit of the public, meets with the cordial concurrence of this Society.
Resolved, That this Society regards those plots of ground known as the "Centre Square" as too diminutive to attract any considerable number of visitors, and the resort to them on the part of the young as attended with no little danger, on account of the proximity of the railways, and the consequent peril of crossing them whilst the cars are in motion.
Resolved, That this Society would rejoice to see the " Centre Square" occupied for business purposes, as it was originally intended to be by the great founder of the city; whilst the public would gain largely by its exchange for other grounds in more eligible portions of it.
Resolved, That a copy of this preamble and these resolutions, signed by the President and Secretary, be forwarded to our Senators and Representatives in the General Assembly, at Harrisburg.
We cannot but .regret this action of our fellow-members of a valuable Society, and trust their resolutions may not prevail. Give us more lungs, but do not curtail or destroy what can never be replaced. If a greater amount of ground were procured out of the town, it would be less useful than space within a thickly populated section.
A lady, whose communications we always value, makes the following remarks, which are worthy of consideration. She says: - "You are favoring the admirers of Downing with a rare treat. We are all a little curious to peep behind the veil which separates the public life of one we admire from his private character. Our admiration of public deeds is enhanced when we find the real life so every way worthy of respect and love.
"Is there not a good deal of contagious enthusiasm mingled with our admiration of Downing? An enthusiasm enhanced by the manner of his early death. Comparatively speaking, we might say there were few who knew his real worth - and how admirable he was - till he was gone from us forever? Downing was the pioneer in the broad and beautiful field of ' Rural Art and Taste.' Other minds as great and possessed of as varied talent, and, perchance, as capable of imbuing the people with a love of the beautiful, may come after, but for a time they will appear to follow in his wake, will seem, if not to copy, to gather suggestions and impulses from one ' gone before.' Goethe says, 'that a man should be able to make an epoch in the world's history - two things are essential - that he should have a good head, and a great inheritance, as Frederick the Great inherited the Silesian war, Luther the errors of the Popes,' etc. So Downing inherited the public's lack of taste in rural architecture and landscape scenery. This want of beauty in the surroundings of our country homes was felt and admitted, but the great mass had no realizing active sense of the fact.
The possessors of rural homes were not wide awake as to the idea that each had individually something to do to better this condition of appearances.
"I have a friend so well versed in Downing's writings that her husband says his sayings are household words - oracles not to be disputed. I lent her some bound volumes of the Horticulturist, to prove to her that her favorite shade still hovered over it".