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.
Gradually, as civilization develops itself, new resources spring up to cheer mankind on the journey of life. The fruit, formerly denied to northern climes, now finds its way where our grandparents had to be content with description only. Steamships, in one generation, have brought the products of the tropics to our very most northern latitudes. Twenty years ago a stray sugar vessel from Cuba brought a few oranges, mostly spoiled on the voyage; a rare bunch of bananas hung shivering without purchasers at a few of the confectioners' doors, and even in New York and Philadelphia the fruit of the West Indies was rare. The opening of California has now caused such an assemblage of steamships to pass the fruit-bearing islands, that oranges, ban* anas and pine-apples are accessible at cheap rates to all; they penetrate by the way of New Orleans or the Atlantic ports every village of the Union, and we venture to say are eaten abundantly in Canada when the ground is covered with snow, and the rivers bound in icy fetters.
On board the steamboats of the Mississippi, we found last season, fried bananas daily for breakfast, and the bar-keeper and steward were always ready with Havana oranges and pine-apples. These tropical luxuries reach us when our own fruits are becoming scarce, and disappear with the strawberry in June. They are a great boon to those in health, and particularly acceptable to the invalid. As commerce increases they will become more and more abundant, and as the demand for the North will be incredibly great where heretofore no sales could be made, a profitable opening for intelligent cultivators will be found at many points of our own coasts. At Key West, and the adjoining Keys, the Havana orange and the banana, as well as the cocoa-nut flourish as well as in Cuba. Our successors will be supplied from Florida with an abundance of wholesome fruit. In April, New York displays in her shop-windows melons and the finest fruits of the lands of the sun, and from her wharves they are shot off to every town connected by railways.
Such is not the least blessing of the invention of the steam engine, which so happily brings distant lands together.
There was a pretty story told in London, when we were there last, to this effect. England is supplied with excellent oranges by steam from Portugal. A wealthy member of the Jewish fraternity, who wished to benefit the poorer portion of his race, obtained the monopoly of the trade by selling oranges, to Jews only, at first cost of importation, or even, if necessary, a trifle below it. His agents would sell to none but needy Israelites; thus a good trade was insured to the profession, and the Londoners were content to purchase their Portuguese fruit from those who might otherwise have been mendicants, but for this liberal bounty of SIR MOSEs MONTEFIORE. By employing a small capital in a perishable article, he gave employment to a large number of families; many an urchin, who knew not his benefactor, has offered the fruit to Sir Moses in the streets, and as the story goes, he never refused to purchase at an advance what he himself had sold below cost.