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.
And the custom is met in the same beautiful spirit by the people at large; for in the main, those embellishments that turn the highway into pleasure grounds, are respected, and grow and bloom as if within the enclosures.
Does not this argue a civilisation among these "down-trodden nations*' of Central Europe, that would not be unwelcome in this, our land of equal rights and free schools?
A very palatable talk to all, except such professional gardeners and nurserymen as think that every thing they give away is lost. Yet your reasons why they should believe in such doctrine, are too palpable to be long resisted by them. Our agricultural and horticultural periodicals, are doing great things in tins line, among our country people, and planting once the fashion, every body's house will be smothered in trees and climbers. Railroads, too, help the people to travel. They thus see what other folks do; and they - that is, the most observant of the travellers - go home and do likewise. Rely upon it, the taste for planting is in progress. Compare the recently built farm-houses all over the country, with those of our boyhood, and mark the change! Then, they were as utterly bare of trres as of out-houses; stood all alone by themselves, naked, inhospitable, and desolate to the eye. Now, even the same old tenements, inhabited by people of better taste, are changed in their outward style; various offices are attached, and they are comfortably nestled amid the deep shadow of fine trees, and rejoice in plats of shrubbery and flowers.
It is wonderful to compare the taste of the laboring English with that of the same class of people in our own country. The one you can scarcely keep from cultivating his flowers; and if he, himself, has no time to attend to it, his wife and daughters will. The other you can neither drive nor coax into the slightest attempt of the kind. 1 have a quiet little cottage at one end of my principal farm - the tenement itself humble in appearance-scarce worth an hundred dollars. I put into it an American " hired man," who chopped wood in winter, worked on the farm in summer, and was a capital hand at all sorts of rough labor. I had some fine young forest trees about the place, a comfortable garden stored with currant bushes, roses, and such like little affairs, as would make a laborer's home cheerful - for I like to see every body about me in the enjoyment of such little pleasant things, not costing much, and looking pretty. When he removed into it, I told him how comfortable and convenient these little appendages would be about the place, yet observed the incredulous and staring look he gave me by way of reply.
To cut the matter short, during the year the man occupied the place, his " young barbarians" hacked into, girdled, and spoiled several of my trees; the currant bushes were mostly stripped of their branches to carry into the "shanty" to pick the fruit from, while the cow came in to browse the remainder. The pig was let loose into the wretched, weedy garden, after the potato and cabbage patches were cleared, and he rooted up the roses and hollyhocks, and the place was sadly in ruins. When I remonstrated against such vile destruction, the answer was, that " they had no use for such knick-knacks, and did'nt see the need of them!'1 This man " walked Spanish," of course, at the end of his year, and was succeeded by a quiet English laborer in like capacity, bating the " wood chopping" - Englishmen usually knowing little of such labor. And now came a change truly. "Oh, what destruction has been made here!" would he often exclaim. " I must fix these little things ail up again. A nice bit of fruit we'll get from these currants, and properly trimmed they'll grow some good shoots again; and, sir, may I go into your Aouse-garden and take up a few side-roots from the paeonys and roses, and sum'mut of other things that can be spared, and put in here? for I hate to see a place naked, and without something to rest one's eye on of a Sunday, and to give my wife a flower-pot now and then." " To be sure you can," was the reply, " and the more of them the better." All this was done in the course of the spring, and no time lost either - for it was accomplished out of the regular work hours; and in less than a twelvemonth the place was turned into a little paradise, where I often drop in and take a quiet chat as I pass, and learn from the laborer and his good-mannered wife, much of the humble and rural life of England.
This, to be sure, is in a sphere below the class for which the article under note is intended. But it is a part of the system, and the subject. The parallel will hardly, perhaps, hold good with the higher classes in America, but the difference in the taste of the two people is surprising. This difference is partly incidental to the newness of our land, but much more owing to a want of taste - that's the flat reason. Here, we go blundering and daun-dering along, looking to the "main chance," and to the main chance only, as if to gather together dollars and estates, with which to bespoil our children who are to come after us - and in which latter purpose we usually succeed to admiration - wero the only object worth striving for in life! On the whole, however, we are improving - but not half fast enough.