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.
In the January number of the Horticulturist for 1864, Mr. Mohan, of Philadelphia, introduces a new shade tree to the notice of American Arboriculturists, or rather he has reminded them of a worthy native whom they have forgotten to honor. It is the Liquidamber styraciflua. Is it the veritable 8weet Gum I loved when a child many thousand miles hence in my southern home? Tea, it must be. Can its graceful foliage be coaxed to flutter in the lake and praire winds of this stern, far northwest? Ah, I fear not, Would I might once more see the light and shadow of those glossy leaves playing in the soft air of a southern summer morning, feel its corky bark, and crush its leaves between my fingers to bring out their fragrance. Could I gather the pleasant, aromatic gum which exudes from it, and on which we children were wont to ruminate in school hours, verily if its shaft chanced to be not too broad of girth to be embraced, I should twine my arms about it for the take of old associations and the loved memories it recall*. I remember the "academic grovcs" that graced the aides of our "hill of knowledge," on which our village "temple of science" stood prominent The Sweet Gum tree was there. At the foot of the hill a storm once rudely felled a noble and aged specimen.
It lay shattered of its strength and shorn of its beauty, in the romantic glen where sprung the silvery stream at which we were wont to slake our thirst After this downfall the glen possessed an added charm. We made houses among its branches, and practiced equestrianship on its lithe limbs, and, better than all, delighted our salivary glands with the much-loved gum. I think this must have been a specimen of rare nobility. Certainly, as I look among memory's pictures, I see its daguerreotype of extraordinary size. It stood alone, the remnant of a magnificent forest that had its birth and uprising in some far back century. Yes, I see it distinctly - fallen low from its towering beauty, its limbs crushed and broken, its roots uptorn and withering in the sun, the great cavity of fresh earth showing where it once had been. There, perched among the branches, is a little girl of seven or eight summers, and resemblance beareth she to the group about me? From the southeast to the northwest seems (on the map) but a step across, and from the child among the Liquidambers and Magnolias of the former, to her children among the Burr Oaks and Tamaracks of the latter, but the turning a page in life's history.
The memory of the fragrance which this fallen tree imparted to the neighborhood of the spring, is with me still. So perceptibly was it roused as I read Mr. Median's description, that I thought its accompanying engraving a tangible medium bearing the actual odor hither. But no, in my heart it had lingered through years and changes, and needed but a hint to leap from my memory to my senses. Elsie, March 12, 1855.