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.
Now it is a fact in nature, that forest trees will succeed better, especially after the first year, (which they may live through under adverse circumstances,) when removed from a moist or wet soil to a dry one, than the reverse. The maple, oak, birch, or chestnut, will not grow well in lands containing over a given amount of moisture, and this must arise from other than stagnant waters; yet the larch, black ash, and other trees, which may almost be said to spring out of stagnant pools, if removed to uplands, will live and grow and flourish to a good old age; - considerations which are certainly worth the notice of those who plant trees.
When will the provoking, unnecessary, unjust practice of street feeding have an end! This is a question that very often urges itself upon our consideration; and the more frequently it comes up, and (he longer we suffer our minds to dwell upon it, the more fully we are convinced of its utter wrongfulness, as it respects the rights both moral and civil with which we are endowed, as well as the sad deficiency of good taste which leads to its practice.
We have often lifted our voice, and sometimes wielded (too feebly, we admit) the pen upon this subject, and as a prime argument in its favor, have been told that by abolishing the practice we should oppress the poor, who had no other way of keeping a cow or a pig through the summer season. Then we looked upon the herds of lawless marauders which were continually promenading the streets in search of a green to defile, a newly planted tree to rub against, or a weak spot in the fence through which they could lay siege by night time on a neighbor's grain field, and lo! the poor man's cow was not there. These pilferers in the main belonged to men of substantial real estate, who, to plow or mow more, must pasture less, and consequently in trade upon their neighbors' rights. Then, we have met the poor man, who had not a foot of ground to call his own, and asked of him the profit of feeding streets. He did not know; it was cheaper for him, from the earnings of his daily labor, to hire his cow pastured, so she might be safe from accident, and when the labors of the day were ended, and fatigue bore down his frame, he should know where to find her.
So we see thai this vile and beastly practice does not arise from philanthropy to the poor, but is a device of narrow-minded, selfish men, got up and sustained for personal interest, in opposition to public good.
We have introduced this subject now, more particularly for the bearing it has on tree culture along our waysides. In charity we suppose there is not an individual in all our wide land who does not look upon a beautiful tree as an object fit to please the eye and elevate the soul. We cannot think that in our land of taste, education, and refinement, there is a soul so dull as not to appreciate the beauties of a lovely avenue, opening in new beauties at each angle of the street, presenting pleasing varieties of form and features, as varying circumstances prompt to their development. And how many are there, even of those who have no wayside lands to ornament, who would gladly contribute to carry out the plan of loveliness that would transform all our highways into beautiful avenues, if they could be assured that their labor would not be in vain! "I admire trees by the way-side, and would gladly plant them out if I could be assured of their success; but, as certainly as I plant one in the highway, it is rubbed down by cattle, or rooted up by hogs," is an expression in no way unfamiliar to our ears.
But allowing trees to live and even grow under these circumstances, they do so in a very objectionable manner. By being frequently rubbed against, the pores of the bark become closed, so that their health-giving functions cannot be performed; the tree becomes sickly, stunted in growth, so that a full and vigorous development cannot take place; disease which must result in death, soon shows itself in the premature fading of the foliage; the branches die off and fall from their places; decay fixes its throne in the heart, and though external appearances may dictate to the contrary, it works with vigorous and unremitting energy within, until its work is complete, and a blast from boreas prostrates to the earth, what was designed as a monument of beauty and taste.
Again, were this pernicious practice abandoned, other improvements in our streets might safely be ventured upon. Clumps of roses, or other beautiful plants might safely be planted at appropriate distances, without loss of land, even if the land devoted to such objects is ever lost, which we very much doubt, to perfume the the air with fragrance, and feast the eye of the traveler with objects of beauty and the mind with pleasing reflections. What a beautiful and attractive country that would be, where the thoroughfares were inviting avenues, fanned by cool and refreshing breezes and perfumed by flowers as sweet as those that gave their fragrance to the morning air of Eden! A great contrast, truly, to our highways, rooted up to a harvest of weeds, filled with animals, the very sight of which is justly a terror to nerveless females and children, whose power of protection is too feeble to shield them from the dangers to which they are constantly exposed.
And may we not anticipate the day when changes like these shall be fully realized!
If not, there must be an end to human progress before its object is accomplished. - Civilization and refinement must proclaim their work finished before their grand ultimatum is realized. Taste must be satisfied to leave her work undone. The sons of earth must conclude that deformity is pleasant to the eye and improving to the mind, and that the Eden created for man was not the paradise suited to his ambition, but scenes lower, prospects more dim, and enjoyments less attractive, are more congenial to the aspirations of his mind, than those which his Creator, in love and kindness provided for him.
I have further sayings to utter, on streets and street trees, of which the above are but introductory. A wrong and wasteful taste has prevailed on this subject - a taste which had no reference to circumstances. We have yet a great deal to do to get the world right in rural matters. Patience and perseverance under a constant train of discouragements can alone effect the object Let us go forward in all the strength a righteous cause can give, and though we have frequent discouragements, we shall triumph at last.