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.
Concluded from page 438.
Another object, far more interesting, invites your care. It is the culture of plants indigenous to our soil; they are confided to our guardianship. But look around you; see them perishing in multitudes beneath the plowshare and the axe. Certain species and varieties which in old time adorned the verdant mantle of the earth, but their memorials, transmitted to us in the rocks, is a demonstration of their original existence. And shall it ever be recorded of any valuable varieties of our native plants that their sweetness has expired on the "desert air?" By more active and energetic measures, I trust yet to see a garden established, in which will be collected from our woodlands and our fields a beauteous and bright floral galaxy - which would be both practical and scientific, discovering to us large views, which it is noble to possess, and could we but effect their consummation the reality would be magnificent. We might then call together, and exult as we contemplate, the rural families of a rural offspring. We might find within this native circle, when possessed of suitable advantages for their improvement, the rarest and most inestimable qualities to please and benefit mankind.
Among the changes that are exhibited upon the surface of the globe, none are more worthy of remark than the transmutations which are effected in the vegetable tribes. Our celery is but the parsley, or smallage, in an advanced state of cultivation. The cauliflower and the borecole have issued from the humblest plants. When in natural condition, the asparagus can scarcely be recognized as that which, when domesticated, is a table luxury; and the potato, which is the sustenance of millions of our race, has been but generally cultivated about one hundred and thirty years - and, the most useful of all esculents, it is insignificant and uninviting in its natural state. And can we for a moment think that the progress of discovery has been arrested 1 At this moment many are engaged in traversing our fruitful territories that they may answer the inquiry. Let us emulate their zeal, and let us not value at a lower estimate than others those rare gifts which the great God of nature has placed in our hands. Let us cooperate in the attainment of our interesting purpose; let us tie together our rods, in the manner of the Roman faces, and this union can not fail to give us permanence and power. Let us persevere to the full attainment of the object which we contemplate.
Then, by science and industry, we will contribute to the stores of human happiness, our science will take the lead, and our footsteps be honored. I view that our cause is a noble and benevolent one. It exerts a salutary, intellectual, and moral influence. It has rich resources for the head, and it has rich resources for the heart While it instructs and edifies, ennobles and exalts, it awakens feelings of philanthropy, and its motto should be Peace on Earth. The inscription above its portals should be: Enter, for here is the most magnificent display of the works of God. Like that holy faith which we profess, it calls up sympathies that would excite every one within the extensive sphere of its operation to partake of its innumerable enjoyments and its manifold rewards. Were it not as abundant in its resources as I have alleged, and were it to be merely pursued for the pleasure which flows from it, you will acknowledge, I doubt not, that it is a mental recreation the most liberal and polite; for other studies are not appropriate at all times, to all ages, and in every place; but this has nourishment for us while we are young, and pleasing joys when we are old. In prosperity it is an ornament, and in adversity a refuge and solace. It delights us when at home, and is no impediment abroad.
Whether we go forth to meditate at eventide, or are occupied in journeying from place to place, or are wandering through the country in our rural recreations, it is an agreeable companion and a constant friend. If any are themselves unable to pursue the subject, or want a relish for its charms, yet when they see it blooming about others they should not withhold the tribute of their commendation. Our literary institutions should instil into the youthful minds under their charge a love of nature. Teach them "To mark in every magic change of scene The grand diversity of Nature's laws, Yet find in all the ever-present God".
You will thus give them an instructive friend, whose voice will always be cheering, and life never have to be awakened from the slumbers of solitude - "They may read and read, And read again, and still find something new, Something to please, and something to instruct"
Could I accost the ladies of our city, whose attributes are symbolized by the delights of Flora, I might maintain the justice and propriety with which a certain oriental language uses the same words to designate both flowers and the fair. Every estimable virtue that adorns the sex has its type in these exquisite manifestations of the Benignant. And they are adapted not only to the personal embellishment, but for the intellectual and moral discipline of those to whom I would commend the contemplation of their loveliness. Their province is not only to afford the senses a rich feast, to fill with their rich perfume the air we breathe, and to allure the eye by their conformations and by their tints of color, but by sympathies the most refined, and pure, and amiable, to exalt the soul.
"The spleen is seldom found where Flora reigns, The lowering eye, the petulance, the frown, And sullen sadness, that o'ershade, distort, And mar the face of beauty, when no cause For such immeasurable woes appears - These Flora banishes, and gives the fair Sweet smiles and bloom less transient than her own".
I have urged upon our city authorities the importance of sustaining the cause that I have so long espoused, that we should have more parks, in one of which shall be a Botanical Garden, and that such as wo have should become pleasure-grounds, disposed and decorated to regale our citizens; within their walks should be no fumes of the intoxicating deity, but the pervading pure and salutary influence of natures God- There is a peacefulness and a serenity in rural scenes that have at all times had a charm for the philosopher and patriot That baud which held the destinies of ancient Roma, when it had guided and saved the nation, held the plow on the farm of Cincinnatus. In the hearts of all his country-men is the memorial of him who loved Mount Vernon s calm retreat. The shades of Monticello have been forever consecrated, and the memory of our Lafayette is in the memory of cultivating his Lagrange, We rejoice that there is a happy realm where can be realized the joy a which inspiration teaches were the first blessedness of man. I would desire to resort thither, with the entire human family, that in the tranquillity of the terrestrial Eden we might live in rural hap* piness, and die in peace ; but we shall in vain seek the enviable spot.
One tells us it was in the confines of the ancient Armenia ; another points us for its bliss to the lovely valley of Cashmere, and another teaches that in Persia were its gladdening groves; but it is no longer upon earth. Like good men of old, it has been translated. Yet I would indulge in reference to it my kindest sympathies - I would embody my best feelings in a devout ejaculation, that when our studies cease, and toil shall have ceased here below - when, like the grass that withers, we shall have mingled with the dust, we shall hereafter meet within the bowers, and be regaled with the enrapturing transports of that Eden in the skies, 1 have thus presented Horticulture and its influences, and the only source of regret that has overshadowed me is, that the mantle has not fallen on one far more able than myself to discuss such an important and absorbing subject, but such as I have presented to you are the thoughts that animate my intelligence, and I leave it with you to determine whether a subject so vast, unbounded, and magnificent is not worthy of your most profound consideration, culture, and support.