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.
Closely allied to this science is the subject of Architecture, to which our author next turns his attention; and in the following year he publishes his " Cottage Residences." Of this work Mr. Loudon also observes, " This book is highly creditable to him as a man of taste and an author, and cannot fail to be of great service." This latter work, in time, creates occasion for his " Architecture of Country Houses," including designs for Cot' tages, Farm Houses, and Villas, with remarks on the interiorsyjarniture, and the best modes of warming and ventilating.
Of these, the English and American press offer remarks so similar to those which we have already submitted on his Landscape Gardening, as to supersede the necessity of much amplification. We select the closing words of an English review of one of these works: -
" We stretch our arm across the ' big water' to tender our Yankee coadjutor an English shake and a cordial recognition." We will add two examples of the American estimate of these productions. Says a gentleman resident on the Atlantic shore, who is eminently qualified to form an enlightened judgment: - " Much of the improvement that has taken place in this country, during the last twelve years in Rural Architecture, and in Ornamental Gardening and Planting, may be ascribed to him." Another gentleman, equally well qualified to judge, speaking of suburban cottages in the West, says: - " I asked the origin of so much taste, and was told it might principally be traced to Down-ino's Cottage Residences and his Horticulturist".
Of his remaining works, the " Horticulturist," his monthly journal, which has entered its seventh year, is extensively celebrated for its appropriate, interesting and eloquent leaders - for its numerous and able correspondents - for its varied learning and ripe experience - for its just and faithful reviews - and for its tasteful embellishments and rural decorations.
His "Fruits and Fruit-Trees of America," - a volume of six hundred pages, was printed in 1846, both in New York and London, and in two different forms - the duodecimo with lineal drawings, and the royal octavo, both with these drawings and with colored engravings. It has passed through thirteen editions, and originally combined his personal observation and experience with those of other American fruit growers down to that date.
Besides these productions of his pen, he edited, with notes and emendations, " Mrs. Loudon's Gardening for Ladies;" also, "Lindley's Theory of Horticulture;" delivered various addresses; submitted reports to public bodies, and contributed numerous articles to the secular, literary and scientific journals of his day.
In addition to these labors, he rendered efficient services to the cause of agriculture and agricultural education. He constantly superintended his homestead - was a corresponding or active member in many horticultural and kindred associations - was influential and prominent in the establishment of this Congress, and from its origin chairman of its fruit committee - the author of the "Rules of American Pomology," which, with some modifications, have been extensively adopted. He advised and aided in the laying out of grounds, in the plans and specifications of various private and public buildings, and at the time of his death, not only had contracts for important professional services in New-burgh, Newport, Georgetown, Albany, Boston, and other places, but was actually on his way to Washington to prosecute the business in which he had been engaged by the national government, for the laying out and adornment of the public grounds in that city. He had also projected several new volumes in the departments of his peculiar studies and labors, as well as the revision of some of his present works.
The last effort of his pen was a postcript to a set of working plans to illustrate a design for an observatory proposed to be erected in one of our principal cities.
Alas! that one so eminently useful, with such brilliant prospects before him, and whose place it is so difficult to fill, should be so suddenly removed! Such is the common exclamation! But this general sorrow may find consolation in his own devout words, in a letter of condolenoe addressed to me a few days before his death. They seem prophetic of this hour. " God knows what is best for us".
This dispensation is indeed mysterious; a wonder of Providence such as the All-wise and Infinite rarely permits. He takes away one to whom we are most attached, and that, too, when we can least afford to spare him. But let us hope that this melancholy event may awaken public attention, and direct it from the man to his pursuits and to their connection with the public welfare, and thus become the occasion of raising up men to carry out and consummate his worthy enterprise.
We hare thus spoken of the last hours of our lamented friend - «of the dreadful catastrophe which terminated his earthly career - of the circumstances and influences in which his character was formed - of its most prominent and commanding features - of the great events of his public life - of his published works - and of,his plans of future usefulness.
As your humble servant, appointed to speak of his life, character, and virtues," it is not proper for me to indulge personal and private partiality. It has been my endeavor to form such an elightened judgment of his worth, and such an unbiassed estimate of his numerous excellencies, as shall be in harmony with your own opinion, and shall command public confidence and respect. The duty we perform is without any expectation of adding to the lustre of his fame. His works are his best eulogy - the most enduring monuments of his worth.
But he has gone! His seat in this Congress is vacant! Another will make the report which was expected from him! We shall much miss his wise and leading counsels in our deliberations and discussions, his prompt and energetic action in our endeavors to advance the worthy objects of this association, in the origin and grogress of which his agency was so conspicuous. He has gone! He is numbered with those patrons and promoters of the ornamental and useful arts who rest from their labors; - with the erudite and sage Pickering, the wise and laborious Buel, the ardent and scientific Mease, the humorous and poetic Fessenden, the practical and enterprising Lowell, the tasteful and enthusiastic Dearborn, the indefatigable and versatile Skinner, the scientific and volumnious Loudon, and others of noble design and enduring fame. These have fallen around us like the leaves of autumn; and Providence now calls on us to inscribe on that star-spangled roll the cherished name of Downing, struck down suddenly when his sun was at the zenith of its glory.
He rests in the bosom of his mother earth, in the city of his birth, and the sepulchre of his fathers, on the banks of that beautiful river where his boyhood sport, and where the choicest scenery inspired his opening mind with the love of nature - a spot which will be dear to the thousands of his admirers, and which our love to him will constrain us to visit. We may resort to his hospitable mansion, but he will no longer greet us with his cordial salutation, nor extend to us the right hand of fellowship. We may wend our way through his beautiful grounds, but he will not be there to accompany us. Instead of his pleasant and instructive voice, which once dropped words of wisdom and delight on our ear, we shall hear the trees mournfully sighing in the breeze - the cypress moaning his funeral dirge, and the willow weeping in responsive grief, " because he is not." " His mortal has put on immortality".
When we think of the place which he occupied in the hearts of his countrymen and cotemporaries - of the expanding interest which he has awakened in the rural arts, the refinements and comforts of society - of his unfinished plans, which others, inspired by his genius, will unfold and consummate - and of his works, which will be admired when the tongues that now praise him shall be silent in death, our sense of justice accords to him an early immortality - a fume which history will cherish, art adorn, and grateful posterity revere.
He is dead, yet how little of auch men can perish! The clayey tenement may indeed fall and crumble, but to him who dwelt in it, a place is assigned in the firmament of American genius, far above the storms and convulsions of earth - " in that clear upper sky," where he shall shine forever to illumine the path of intelligence, enterprise and virtue, and henceforth to enkindle in the human mind a love of order, taste and beauty. We rank him with those who start improvements which advance ages after they are dead, and who are justly entitled to the consideration and gratitude of mankind. Washington and his illustrious associates are dead; but the liberty which they achieved still lives, and marches in triumph and glory through the earth. Franklin is dead; but the spark which his miraculous wand drew from heaven, speaks with tongues of fire and electrifies the globe. Fulton is dead; but he Woke the spirit of invention which turns the machinery of man - aye, and he awoke also the genius of navigation.
"And heaven inspired, To love of useful glory roused mankind, And iu unbounded commerce mixed the world.'1
Downing also is dead; but the principles of artistic propriety and ornament, of rural economy and domestic comfort, which he revealed, await a more full and perfect development; and as they advance towards their glorious consummation, grateful millions shall honor and cherish his name. His memory shall lite forever.