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.
To one whose knowledge of human nature has been derived from intimacy with men in the crowded avenues of trade, the noisy political caucus, or the contaminating precincts of the bar-room, the country and rural pursuits seem eminently fitted to develope all the finer elements of man's nature.
Wearied with the city and all its evils, he procures a country home and devoting to its improvement all the appliances of a cultivated intellect, he sees growing around him his crops, his trees, and his garden, and in the intense enjoyment resulting from his pursuits, he feels his moral and religious nature, and his aesthetic qualities developing to a degree that is perfectly wonderful to himself. He thinks the result must be the same with others, and with his own heart full of the warm feeling of good fellowship, he mingles with nurserymen, gardeners, and horticultural editors. Among them he finds some whose minds have been developed as his own, but among a large class he is startled and shocked to find jealousies, bickerings, bitter and insulting words, and a degree of ill nature that put to flight all his nice theories respecting the soul enlarging and elevating tendencies of Horticulture. His theory was a fair deduction from a sound philosophy, but unfortunately not sustained by fact.
These jealousies and bickerings of those who either sell or write about plants for a living, has destroyed many promising Horticultural Societies through the country, prevents the success of those in one of our largest cities, and would effectually destroy another were it not for the rich endowment which holds it together. I have been led to think of these things by an article in the November number of Hovey's Magazine upon Dwarf Pear culture, in which "whining" and other opprobrious and insulting epithets are applied directly to the editor of the Horticulturist, and indirectly to all whose expressions are adverse to Dwarf Pears.
The whole article is so abusive that I am unwilling to believe it to be from the pen of the Editor, but rather from some one who has no conception of such qualities as courtesy, good breeding, and gentlemanly language. The Editor owes it to himself as well as the Horticultural world to explain why such an article obtained admission to his columns.
Unless Horticultural Magazines will steadily avoid all personalities, the Editors may rest assured that no man who has any self respect will write for or read them.
Editors may respond that they do not care for this, but they have no right to deprive the horticultural public of the opinions of experienced men.
Some nurserymen and amateurs about Boston were successful in growing Dwarf Pears in their gardens, under high culture. A nurseryman on Long Island, charmed with the results he saw at Boston, planted ten years ago an orchard of four acres of Dwarf Pears. He ploughed deep, manured highly (about $100 of stable manure to the acre), selected trees of the best quality of the five best sorts recommended by the President of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, and gave them throughout full garden culture. The first two or three years were highly encouraging. The trees grew so luxuriantly, and bore so abundantly that he considered the question settled, and wrote an article for the Horticulturist, accompanied by an array of figures to prove that orchards of Dwarf Pears were profitable beyond all previous calculation.
This article was widely copied and inserted in a book on Fruits prepared by a well known Nurseryman at the West, whose sales of Dwarf Pears were doubtless largely increased by it, for people will be taken by figures, however deceptive they may sometimes be. A year or two subsequent to this, however, the writer's orchard began to flag. Being rather a pet, it was cared for in every possible way, fed, nursed, trimmed, and trained, but all was of no avail, and the writer after ten years was forced to admit that he was mistaken, and to feel that in common honesty he was bound to tell it to the public, although a part of his business was to sell dwarf pears. He did tell it. He was preceded and followed by others who told the same story. Men from Pennsylvania, New York, and elsewhere, who had expended large sums upon Dwarf Pear culture, and who had no possible inter-est in giving a false impression.
One would think that these gentlemen had a perfect right thus to express their opinion, and that in this expression they were entitled to common courtesy. Reasonable men would readily understand that Dwarf Pears might succeed about Boston if they would not succeed any where else, that they might succeed in a garden, while they would fail with orchard culture. But our Massachusetts friends were not willing to hear a word against their favorite dwarf, and were as much surprised that New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians could not grow Dwarf Pears, as the Feejee Islanders would be that they could not grow Bread fruit.
They said it was owing to poor culture, while some of them at least knew that an amateur near Hempstead, Long Island, of large wealth and quicker intelligence, had experimented as largely with all the varieties, and cultivated as highly as any fruit grower in Massachusetts, and for a long series of years, and is now compelled to give up Dwarf Pears as unsatisfactory. .
If these Massachusetts gentlemen should simply say, "it may be that the climate and soil of other localities does not suit Dwarf Pears, but we know that we can grew them profitably," it would be all very fair, but when their best pomologists stigmatize all expressions adverse to their favorite as attempts to "write down" Dwarf Pears, then their position becomes offensive and discourteous. They must see that if fair expressions of opinion are so characterized, it will soon be difficult to elicit any horticultural information from those best qualified to give it. It was evident to thinking men at the late Pomological Convention, that this spirit of intolerance was increasing, and unless checked would destroy the usefulness of that organization.
The whole tone of this Pear controversy has been unfortunate. We once indulged the hope that the courtesies and amenities recognized among gentlemen, would generally prevail among all interested in Horticulture. The article which has furnished our text, does not give us much encouragement.
We hope, however, that such may not be frequent, and that every cultivator of trees and plants will always remember that in the mysterious processes of nature, success is not always the test of truth; that while climate and soil differ, there will ever be different results, and that no man or community of men can justly claim all knowledge or all experience, or announce to the world that wisdom dies with them. - S. B. P., Flushing, L. I.