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.
The time is near at hand when orders will go forward for Fruit and Ornamental Trees, for fall planting, and fall sales. And as this is a subject so little treated upon by Horticultural writers, and one at the same time so pregnant with vexation, tribulation and loss, on the part of both vender and purchaser, I will venture a few remarks on the subject, in hopes to contribute something towards arresting attention in the right quarter, tending to a correction of a great, and, I may say, growing evil, on account of the continued delinquencies on the part of transportation Agents.
The many abuses heretofore suffered, call aloud for some corrective - and I know of no better way than to keep the matter constantly before the public. In this way the hardened transgressor may be induced to "chime in," on the same principle of the Irish girl who married her persistent suitor, to get clear of him. Perhaps, however, after the subject is once opened up, some one of your numerous readers may be able to suggest a remedy more effective than the following:-
It is well known, I presume, to every dealer in Fruit and Ornamental Trees, that Railroad, and other transportation Agents, are in the habit of putting aside bundles of Fruit-Trees, because of a little inconvenience in hauling, whilst flour, whiskey, and many other articles not perishable, are sent along with accelerated speed.
With folded arms they seem to stand by and witness the perishable cargo of Fruit-Trees, dry up on a sunny wharf or heated warehouse, until the very life is dried oat of them. - That this has been a most shameful and inexcusable abuse, hundreds of sorrowing and disappointed hearts can truly testify. On our Western Waters most especially, do our steamboat officers and crew seem to have as little judgment about the transportation of Trees, as a New Zealander has of logic chopping. It is not unfrequently the case that I have observed a lot of most delicate Plants and Flowers, placed in close proximity to the steam boiler, with a long destination, but of course a very short life. The officers seem to have very little conception of the value of their cargo, or the design of its owner. It makes no difference whether the invoice is for one dollar or one thousand dollars. "All are served alike." To deliver the boxes unbroken, or the Trees with " the bark on,' is the top of their ambition.
Among the several cases of neglect on one hand, and disappointment on the other, that now repose on the memory, permit me to state the following, which may suffice to demonstrate, or show up the bad system as heretofore practised.
Some three years ago, a friend of ours ordered an invoice of Fruit-Trees and Roses, from Ellwanger and Barry, of Rochester, New York. It was Spring, and being a dealer, the Trees were designed for spring sales. The invoice amounting to some hundreds of dollars, came to hand by due course of mail, with advices that " the Trees, etc., were shipped, via. Buffalo and Cleveland to Cincinnati".
Our friend immediately began to take orders, and it was not long before all his invoice was disposed of. But time, which is the arbiter of every man's fate, passed on, and no Trees came to alleviate our friends sufferings. His customers called repeatedly. The trees were expected "every hour," but like Hotspur "calling spirits from the vasty deep," they " did not come." Spring was putting on her robe of green - Roses were preparing to show their bloom - our friends patience was quite exhausted - his customers withdrew their orders, in great disappointment to him as well as themselves. As a last resort, application was made to the rail road agents in Cincinnati to assist him in getting out of a dire dilemma - their good offices were promised - the Telegraph was put into requisition, when return was made by the agent in Cleveland that " the trees had not arrived." Sick at heart, our friend gave up all as lost and abandoned the cargo to its fate. In this nervous repose, however, he was not long permitted to remain.
It was on a steaming hot afternoon, when a compassionate gentleman stepped into the store of our friend, and informed him that he was a resident of Cleveland - and that he had observed, for the past two weeks, lying on the dock at that port, a lot of Fruit-Trees marked to his address! The sun, most of this time, he represented as having shone out, each day, unusually hot, and by that time he supposed the trees must be ruined! And ruined, sure enough, they were. The efforts of our friend to save them cost him more than they were worth. Now we imagine the reader will say - " Why not make the transportation line pay damages ?" Well, this is just what our friend thought about, and talked about, until he became so bewildered, as to give the whole matter up in despair. Like Macbeth with Banquo's ghost, each line would exclaim, " thou canst not say I did it" - and so, to have danced out a suit in litigation, he would have had to commence, I presume, at each end of the lines and closed up in the middle.
Or like Pat, who, when asked how he had taken prisoners such a company of men, exclaimed, "faith an' I surrounded them!*9
Numerous instances of similar import to the above have come under our observa-tion - but this will answer, at present, to demonstrate the principle of neglect and, in some eases, utter recklessness on the part of transportation agents. Something should be done whereby the responsibility cannot be shifted with impunity from one line on to another. For it is plain to be seen that to trace out the defalcation - prosecute and carry on a suit in law, some hundreds of miles distant from home, is no easy task, and in the end is attended with more expense, in many instances, than the amount at issue is worth.
Very often blame is laid at the door of Nurserymen for bad packing, when it should attach to Carriers - and I have no doubt that this class of citizens lose annually large amounts in having to duplicate orders without remuneration. The two leading causes of complaint towards common carriers, are, - first, wilful detention on the part of rail roads; and second, bad stowage on steam boats.
We think if a convention of Nurserymen and dealers were to be held, and they should give a decided expression of their feelings upon the subject, we would hear no more of trees being detained, and exposed, on a sunny wharf for two weeks, when only about ten hours from their destination.
[The evil complained of by our correspondent is a most serious one. We are now suffering the loss of some of the products of fine fruit trees which might be in full bearing at this moment, from the utter recklessness of transporters; the rail road, which should be the greatest boon to producers and consumers of perishable articles, has become a nuisance, by creating expectations and charging a remuneration for services unperformed. An effort has been made to remedy this intolerable evil, not without some success in certain quarters, and we endorse our correspondents suggestion that a "convention" should proclaim the evil; the next pomological meeting would be a suitable time to pass resolutions and address a circular to the Presidents of every road in the Union.
Conductors and agents are fast becoming an irresponsible, careless class; baggage of all kinds is tumbled about and mashed whenever practicable, with a gratification that seems to say, "I would serve the owner just so, if I dare!" Poor human nature, it can scarcely bear to be dressed in a little "brief authority."]