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.
PROBABLY there have been few periodicals of its limited circulation that have had around it a more attached and select list of leaders. It was popular, in the truest sense, from the moment it was known; though it never attained a very large patronage in comparison with some works of similar price, it found at once an apprecia-tive audience all over the country. Like a new railroad through a not over populous tract, it made its own customers, if we leave out of view the few who were found ready-made; but the latter were not numerous. As time progressed, the tract settled, the passengers increased, and, with every rolling year, those numbers have multiplied. It was undertaken with a view to the public good, but it was never very successful, in a commercial view, till the year 1854, from which period its increase of readers to a reasonably paying point may be dated. The first number was issued on July 1,1846, just ten years since; it came full-fledged from the press; its plan has been adhered to with little variation; its topics are much the same as they were at first; the progress of knowledge that has been made by cultivators, is regularly marked in its pages; in some things, on which the ideas of many were crude and unformed, principles have been established; the writers themselves have made progress; false notions have given place to correct views; in rural architecture, the best lessons have been taught, and are largely practised.
In some matters, the standard is so well established, that it would be useless to dwell any longer upon them, while new topics are constantly coming forward, where, indeed, the topics are inexhaustible.
In Pomology, and all the branches of fruit culture, the Horticulturist has been a pioneer; aided by the best minds in the country, this topic early attracted attention, and its founder, in this pursuit, was an acknowledged master, under whose direction the subject was safe. The strides made in this department are perfectly astonishing. And yet this ten years has been a period of a most desperately fought battle, in which it is to be regretted that the pomologists have been very partially the conquerors. The armies and implements employed for the siege have been pigs, poultry, and mallets; for powder, lime and sulphur; tree quaking and shaking, and the whole paraphernalia of deadly weapons have not routed the enemy, who, from the crescent-shaped puncture he makes in our fruits, is called "The Turk." Most heroically has he stood the siege, looking down upon his enemies with an equanimity and contempt highly creditable to his stoicism. The enrculro has been a more "fruitful" topic of this work than any other; it is quite curious to trace in its pages the progress of the war; the bulletins, proclamations, sieges, mines, syringings, hard knocks, and anathemas, that have been expended in vain; he remains very much master of the field, not having been alarmed in the least by the committee appointed to blow him up, or the secret remedy which has been held so long in terrorum over his head.
He is the wealthiest enemy ever attacked, being worth millions of plums!
In architectare, the work soon took a position which produced the happiest results. The mock Grecian fashion, then at its height, fell like a pack of loose cards; the Horticulturist was soon an authority to coax or to shame the builder in the country. We do not mean to say, that every one of the designs presented in the work was perfect - far from it. The editor, as must be the case with all successful conductors of the press, was himself a learner,* yet he enunciated so many truths, that the public taste was, at least, bent in the right direction. But for this effort, our extensive land would have been strewed with abortive attempts at the sublime, the beautiful, and the prodigious. Perfection is not to be reached in a ten years' journey in any great art, but we are much nearer to it than we were in those days of ignorant pretension, and-consequent erroneous execution.
Gardening has received an impetus during this decade that is very marked. The experience of "old diggers" and young delvers, has been freely communicated - line upon line, and precept upon precept, till here, too, we have settled some principles of the greatest moment, and we now produce, with the aid of guano and better adapted manures than formerly, nearly twice as much in a garden of given extent, and more valuable products by far than we did a few yean ago; this too, at less cost, and of better quality. The strawberry culture is improved and understood, and fetter varieties have become abundant. New introductions of various kinds have been adopted, and in all cases this periodical has been the pioneer in announcing the coming benefit, no less than in recording the best modes for its culture.
It is very true in this as in architecture, we have yet much to learn; it is also true, that like good scholars, we are conning over our lessons with praiseworthy attention, but, in the midst of it all, it is remarkable that we let some things that we once knew slip by us and be forgotten. As an instance: in an early number, we were informed that the best Black Hamburgh Grapes were obtained, and prizes given for them, from a mere shed built on a fence for the back, and with the melon frames, when done with in spring, used for the roofs; and yet, we still go on with expensive buildings for raising grapes, and have not yet produced the foreign fruit in such abundance as to be either cheap or plenty; on the contrary, these grapes command double the price they did in 1846. How is this? The necessity for glass at all, is to prevent mildew; it may yet be found, that a fence and prepared or oiled muslin, will answer every purpose, as we know that, in some seasons, these foreigners succeed very well without any covering whatever.
But this in parenthesis, and by the way, for there are many forgotten good things in the ten past volumes, as we can testify after a recent careful reperusal of the whole. †