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.
This old and exquisite pear continues to fail with me. For the past four years, some forty fine and to all appearance healthy trees, both standard and dwarf, have hardly yielded a perfect specimen, - while for several years anterior, they not only fruited annually, but abundantly. They vary in age from 8 to 15 years, and are in varied soils, from stiff clay, vegetable loam, light loam, dry soils and moist, in all of which they make good growth. They blossom and set fruit freely, which, when half grown, cracks, and turns black with disgusting blotches of mildew. About one-half then ceases to enlarge, while the balance continues to increase to about the usual size. The best of them, in September, we pare, trim and stew in the usual way, and find them excellent in flavor; but none are otherwise edible. Various experiments have been tried with the soils to correct this malady, such as the application of lime, wood ashes, soda ash, iron filings, scoria, sulphur, burnt sod, etc, etc, with no other effect than to improve the growth and foliage of the tree.
What more can be done for them? Double work them, perhaps, may be said; but there we should disagree, for 1 entertain "constitutional" objections to double working dwarf pear-trees. Mr. Ernst, of Cincinnati, somewhere states, (I quote from memory,) that many fine trees of this variety in his grounds suddenly became similarly affected, when, after a total neglect of their cultivation for ten years, they recovered their pristine excellence, and so continued. Now to this who would not exclaim, mirabile dictu! And thus I mean to leave mine, hoping for a like result.