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.
There has been an unusual interest for some time past, to learn something definite respecting a grape growing in California, of which almost every return traveller speaks in the most extravagant terms.
During the State Fair at Rochester, I was privileged with an interview with an intelligent officer in the U. S. Army, Cap?. H------, who, with his accomplished lady, spent a year or two in California, mostly at San Diego - and from whom I gained a more reliable and particular account than I have hitherto seen.
They assure me the grape is of richer flavor as a table fruit, than any of our foreign vinery grapes, and we had just been eating some of those superior Black Hamburgh and others, to which the first premium was awarded at the state fair.
The grape is a reddish purple, but a trifle larger than a full size Catawba, and yet the bunches are enormous - often weighing three pounds, and some twelve to eighteen inches long.
It is always cultivated in the vineyard mode, except each vine, instead of being trained to a pillar, is allowed to fall in a heap on the ground, under which hangs three or four enormous bunches of these unequalled grapes. They say as far as their observation extended in California, and certainly in the vicinity of San Diego, there is no such thing as a native or wild growing grape, to be found. Capt. H. says the grape makes a fine wine, yery similar to the Tarragonna wine of Spain, and he saw some immense wine vats for making wine on a vast scale, which were built a long time ago.
The general impression seems to be, that the grape was imported from Spain many years ago, and has improved in flavor by being cultured in the vary genial soil of California, so that now it cannot be identified with any foreign grape.
Whether these impressions are correct, could very soon be ascertained, if the cuttings were sent across the Isthmus this winter, and placed in a process of cultivation.
R. G. P
We have heard before of this fine grape - which is probably some variety from the South of Europe, not introduced into pur collections. Will not some of our readers who have friends travelling through San Diego, take a little pains to get some cuttings of this variety. In winter they might be carried in one's trunk, as easily as dry sticks. ED.
1. Address before the Norfolk Agricultural Society at Dedham, September 26,
1851: By George R. Russel. Mr. Russell's address before the Norfolk Society - one of the youngest, but certainly one of the most energetic in Massachusetts - deserves more than ordinary attention. It is a production full of vigor, earnestness and pith. It is replete with evidences of scholarly culture, adding what is even more important, a right understanding of the present condition and wants of the agricultural class; and it is enlivened with genial strokes of humour that doubtless gave it no little effect in the delivering.
Mr. Russel speaks to the point on the all important subject of agricultural education, and we cordially agree with his views as expressed in the following extract:
"The advance of our cultivation is often retarded by the indifference of the cultivator. There are to be found those who scoff at book-farming as useless, maintain that there can be no improvement in the management of the soil, and look at a newly-invented implement as an insult to their ancestors. They would go on as . the latter have done, not re&ecting, that if successive generations did not add something to the stock of knowledge, we might get back to that patriarchal period when the broadest branched tree was the best house, and red paint the most fashionable garment; when the economy of the kitchen consisted in robbing the hoard of the squirrel, and the ten fingers were the only tools that scratched the face of mother earth.
A blind reverence for the past is the great stumbling-block of the present, and flagrant injustice to the future. Do as our fathers did! It is well we should, when we can do no better; but man has been made a progressive creature, is endowed with aspirations after excellence, has implanted in him a restless energy that is continually urging him onward. He could not stop if he would. He partakes or that law of motion which governs all things, from the smallest particle of animated dust, up to the infinite worlds which, cluster on cluster, system within system, whirl in endless revolution round the throne of God.
The fanatic, who threw a stone at the Earl of Rosse's telescope, because it pryed into mysteries, intended, as he believed, to be concealed from human curiosity, was a type of that conservatism which would have no new farming. It would not encourage the undi-tiful longings of children, who strive to know more than their parents. It would level the school-house, entertaining Jack Cade's opinion of men "that usually talk of a noun and a verb and such abominable words." Of what use is education, but to engender self-conceit and encourage wasteful expenditure. Why buy volume on volume, and cover black-boards with cabalistic characters, when "our forefathers had no other books but the score and the tally?'*
Advancement is the destiny of man. He who stops in the race is run over, and left behind, crippled and forgotten. Whatever may be the limit to human attainment, it has not yet been discovered. We press forward to an eminence from which we hope to behold all created things, but it is reached only to find heights to be climbed and difficulties to be surmounted.
It is too generally supposed, that education should be confined to the "learned professions" - that it is well to fill the heads of lawyers, doctors, and clergymen; but as for the farmer, merchant, and mechanic, it is better that their drudgery should not be disturbed him into the street, slams to and bolts the door, and there he stands, in hopeless dejection, wondering what to do with himself. "Necessity's sharp pinch" arouses him. He finds that the speculations of philosophy do not yield an available income, nor can he feed on Greek roots. He discovers that the world is a very unclassical sort of a place, and requires an equivalent of more solidity than Latin verses, or the species of knowledge that can be applied to nothing. He begins to suspect that he must learn something useful; and he lays himself down to his new preparation, forgetting, with all possible celerity, the little he has acquired during his college life.