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.
P. B. Mead, Esq. : - l am opposed to any thing like personal controversies, considering them usually unpleasant and useless; but do not like to lie under an unjust accusation. 1 deny that my article at least was written with a design to "deliberately misrepresent" the Dr. The gentleman is unknown to me, and I have no interest in grape or any other culture, except as an amateur.
He says, "stripping the matter of many words," I said thus and so. It was these "many words" that made the trouble. If he had kept to his brief, no one could have objected; but 1 submit that his address, as a whole, was a tirade against and denunciation of native grapes, rather than a comparative statement of the profits of out and in-door culture; at least so it struck me at the time, and I know I was not alone in so thinking.
I think it probable that a housekeeper who uses a large amount of Strawberries, etc., "would not purchase five pounds of native grapes at six cents;" as, to get any fit to eat, she would have to pay two or three times that price. Why persist in talking about this trash? 1 for one was speaking of properly cultivated, ripened fruit. If you talk of apples, gardeners do not think you mean wild Crabs. Is the Doctor a homoeopathist? He seems to have a dread of large doses of Grape, at any rate. 1 will eat five pounds per day, as long as he chooses to furnish them; and have two little boys of five and seven, who will be glad of the chance to dispose of the same quantity between them. Yours, Brooklyn.
[THe impression left on the minds of many of the Doctor's hearers certainly was that he considered all native grapes unfit to be eaten; hence those accustomed to eating our best cultivated grapes felt aggrieved. If the Philadelphia market is supplied with wild grapes, (which might be inferred from the remarks made,) and the Doctor referred to these, the points of difference would be greatly lessened. Ninety-nine persons out of a hundred will not turn away from our best native grapes when set before them. Of well-known growers and consumers of foreign grapes, we have heard some give a decided preference to our best native varieties; we have heard otherS, again, give a decided preference to foreign varieties. These differences are matters of taste, which we can understand and appreciate. In view of the almost universal consumption of native grapes, it is a very grave matter indeed to say that our best varieties are unhealthy as articles of food. If they are really so, the fact ought to be known. On this point, we can only repeat what we have before said, that we never feel better than when eating native grapes, freely.
To make the testimony complete, we will add, that we feel equally good, if not better, when eating freely of Muscats and Hamburghs. There is one matter, however, back of this, which we do not so well understand, and that is the Doctor's failure with the natives. We shall have to appeal to him to explain this. Something of the late frosts we understand, but this is insufficient. - Ed. ]
P. B. Mead, Esq.: - Dear Sir., - Will you permit me some few remarks on "Brooklyn's" hints and suggestions about the Brooklyn Horticultural Society? 1 think, with him, that members who shall uot be induced to increase the members of the society except by the commission of 20 per cent., etc., will be a contemptible lot; but I hope there will be only honorable lots. I also, with him, disapprove of the "wet blankets;" by all means avoid the cooling treatment; on the contrary, "throw oil on the fire," when you shall discover it in the pathway of the Brooklyn Horticultural Society, or of any other localities. Gardeners and the society should be all one! Alas ! it is now seven or eight years since I expressed this opinion, in the columns of a Philadelphia horticultural paper, and the thing is in the statu quo yet. "Brooklyn" is doubly right; it would be much more satisfactory to deal with people who know what they want, than with ignorant persons, who only blame gardeners for their failures. I heartily endorse the remainder of this paragraph, and the following, inclusively to the "free trader," against which I protest.
What, B., you are a free-trader, (local free-trader;) you are afraid of free-trade, (probably between Fulton Ferry and Bay Ridge.) and you want to fold your skill, improvements, success, in the narrow limits of Long Island State! But I am wrong : you would only exclude foreign exhibiters, and curtail the extra inducements. It is magnanimous, not to use a different and more expressive adjective.
Foreign exhibiters seem to be your night-mare, dear B.; but will you plense tell me, if, since the waking of your society from its first slumber, (you might, perhaps, be ignorant that previous to 1854 the society had slumbered 14 years 1 rather a lethargic sleep,) seven years ago, foreign exhibitors had not been induced to overshadow, to frighten away, etc., your home ones, what would have been your exhibitions? Yours! to a certainty, and you would have been satisfied; but do you think visitors to the exhibitions would have been of your opinion? I doubt it. You think it is wrong that gardeners should be averse to playing second fiddle; but you are so yourself, inconsistent man. I suppose gardeners are like Caesar, they think it is better to be the first in a paltry town than second in Rome. But I perceive I have come to the peroration of your epistle, so allow me to express my opinion too.
I think that, in spite of those scarecrows of foreign exhibiters, and of all the tamed local ones; in spite of you and of all the pretty liberal patronage of visitors to the exhibitions, of all localities, yours and ours; in spite, or rather with the spite of gardeners, the society would not be slumbering, but dead.
Gardeners and horticultural societies to be one ! When this honorable Utopia of yours shall be a fact, virtue and vice, truth and falsehood, shall be synonymous. Gardeners, generally speaking, can kill institutions of the kind we are speaking of, as readily as they can kill plants. Mr. B., if your homonym, the Brooklyn Horticultural Society, is alive, it is not the fault of gardeners, or, at least, of a large majority of them; if it is alive, we may thank the exertions of your worthy President, Mr. Degrauw, who, more than once, has had wet blankets thrown over his zeal, good intentions, and civilities to all outsiders and others.