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.
Mr. Hovey, in the December number of his Magazine says, " It is with some hesitation that we again notice this fine Grape," and he goes on and covers six entire pages in his usual captious style. This we would not take the trouble to mention, were it not that he has dragged us in, with a view, very evidently, of making it appear that we have not spoken fairly and candidly of the Grape, but that we are one of a party who oppose it from jealousy of Mr. Bull's success. This is Mr. Hovey's aim, clearly enough, and he should be ashamed of it, - ashamed to range every man who will not endorse his exaggerated discription of this fruit, as a jealous enemy to it and to its originator. If he was not blind as a bat, (made to by selfishness,) he would see that such a course must lower him in the estimation of candid, intelligent men.
We spoke of the Concord Grape according to the best of our judgment, and in a manner which wo shall have no reason to regret, we think. We did not allow ourselves to be in the least influenced by overwrought descriptions on one hand, nor by what this or that committee said or did. We formed our judgment deliberately, after a careful examination and comparison of the fruits. After quoting our remarks, Mr. Hovey says:
"Here are two or three errors. In the first place we never 'very positively asserted'that the Isabellas he alludes to were Concords. We did, however, positively assert, and we do now positively assert, that the Isabellas, so called, exhibited from Weston, were not Isabellas. In the second place we have never changed our opinion; and what is more, we have never been to Weston to see the vine from which the Isabellas were gathered. We did, however, pay the owner of it, Mr. Cutter, one dollar for a little plant to set out in our collection, which he duly brought to us.
"And now, as Mr. Barry did not tell only half of the story about the Concord, we will finish it Mr. Barry was one of the Committee of the Pomological Society to examine American fruits. This committee attended to their duty, and after tasting the Concord examined the Isabella; but although there were fine specimens grown in Boston, where they are always two weeks earlier than in the country, there were none ripe enough to eat Fortunately for the committee, Mr. Cutter, of Weston, Mass., had just that moment brought in some Grapes which he called Isabellas, (this was the 14th of September,) splendid specimens, fully ripe. The committee tasted them, and pronounced them better than the Concord, and quite as early, as they were as sweet as the veritable Concords of Mr. Bull. It so happened that we were absent at our residence in Cambridge at the time, but upon our visit to the Society's pavilion, we found quite an excitement, and the welcome news that the Isabella was not only better, but earlier than the Concord. These Grapes we had not seen, as they were not on the table the day previous; we proceeded to examine them, and at once pronounced them not to be Isabellas; so certain were we that they were not that old and well-known variety, that we invited Mr. J. F. Allen, of Salem, to examine them, and give us his opinion.
He at once concurred with us, and further stated that if they were Isabellas 'he did not know what an Isabella was.' It is needless to say that Mr. Allen's judgment about Grapes will not be called in question. But, to confirm his opinion, he offered to send the next day a bunch of his Isabellas, grown in his cold Grapery. They were duly received, and the Chairman of the Fruit Committee invited gentlemen to examine the Weston Isabellas, Mr. Allen's Isabellas, and the Concords together. But, sorry as we are to state it, not one of the persons present, including Mr. Barry, ventured to express an opinion, so fearful that they might say something that would derange the tactics of the opposition. And thus, after all Mr. Allen's pains to enlighten the pomologists present, in regard to the identity of the Isabellas from Weston, no information was elicited. Why could not Mr. Barry have expressed an opinion, able as he was to give it, with the Grapes before him, and not wait until his return home to tell what 'we think,' and what 'we believe,' and finally, 'on the whole, to congratulate Mr. Bull on his successful attempt at raising seedling Grapes,' not equal to the Isabella! This is what we should term 'progressing backward.' This is the whole story.
It is hard work to sit on two stools".
In regard to the errors alluded to, we will state, that when Mr. Cutter's Isabellas were brought forward, Mr. Hovey asserted that they were not Isabellas; several other gentlemen asserted the same, much to the surprise of nearly all disinterested parties present, among whom were Dr. Brinokle, Samuel Walker, Charles Downing, H. E. Hooker, John B. Eaton, and many others, every way as competent trudge of the genuineness of an Isabella Grape as either Mr. Allen, Mr. Hovey, or any others could be - a fruit they had known from infancy. When Mr. Hovet was asked "What is it, if not Isabella ?" he replied, " I believe it is the Concord;" at least so we understood him, and so did several others. Mr. Bull and Mr. Breok were both quite sure it was the Concord; but Mr. Bull wrote us, shortly after, that he went to Weston on purpose to see the vine, and "found it to be an unmistakable Isabella"
W. W. Whieldon, Esq., Editor of the Bunker Hill Aurora, also paid it a visit, and gave a very full and interesting account of it in Hovey's Magazine, for October, and he pronounced it " the undoubted Isabella variety." Mr. Cutter bought it and cultivated it as an Isabella; and after all this, Mr. Hovey asserts it is not an Isabella; and to show us how sincere he is, he tells us he bought a plant from Mr. Cutter, and paid a dollar for it! Wo may expect to hear of another new Grape very soon - on that dollar's worth will hang a tale, or we shall be mistaken.
Wo were informed that Mr. Hovey did go to Weston, and then and there acknowledge Mr. Cutter's Grape to be Isabella; but it appears we were misinformed, and we admit this serious error.
Mr. Hovey complains that we did not proclaim our opinions in the Committee-room at Boston, rather than go home and do it through the Horticulturist. A reasonable complaint, surely. We were invited by Mr. Wight into the Committee-room, when several gentlemen were conversing on Grapes, and had various specimens there; but it did not occur to us that they meant to have our opinion, and we took care not to insult them with thrusting it in their faces. We think we took a more fitting opportunity.
We described the Concord as a large handsome Grape, ripening full two weeks earlier than the Isabella, but not quite equal in quality to that variety. We considered it, and now consider it an acquisition, and therefore congratulate Mr. Bull on his success. This Mr. Hovey elegantly describes as " sitting on two stools." What's to be said next about the Concord?