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.
THE point of view we take in examining any subject is of the utmost importance in determining its character. This is folly illustrated by several personal interviews we have lately had when in a semi-somnambulent state, and as the observations we record illustrate the above position, we deem it well to print them. Some are not very flattering, but when we awoke we consoled ourselves with believing the point of view of the speakers was erroneous. At all events, the difficulties of the editor's position will be better understood by a perusal of the conversations and remarks.
[A Lady and Gentleman are seen entering a gate Lodge, conversing].
Gentleman.. Well, now, my dear, I like the Horticulturist as well, if not better than ever. It generally contains just what I want to know. I hope the mail has brought it.
Lady. I should think so, from your habit of re-reading it so often. For my part, I think it is dreadful dull. We've had but one or two stories in it the whole of last year.
Gentleman. Very true, but "stories" are no part ot its business. It is designed to impart information, and in a pleasant way to instruct us. Its composition is evidently a work of love, and great care and much time are bestowed upon it. My only fear is that it doesn't pay the publisher.
Lady. I should like to see more poetry and some fashion in it, for my part.
Gentleman. For that matter, if poetry and fashionable intelligence get into it, I give it up.
The Gatekeeper. Here are the newspapers and the other post-office matters. How I wish they'd stop that Horticulturalist! I never could see what people want to keep fishes in vases for, and are always trying to get newer grapes, as if they thought them better than our good old ones!
Gentleman. Ah I very true, Jonathan. You know better than that, don't you?
Gatekeeper. Certainly I do! Why, the old fox grapes never was exceeded, and as for Hamburghers, they're no touch to my old seedlins.
Gardener (stepping up). Jonathan, you know nothing, and never will learn it, neither. Why, nobody can do without the Horticulturist! I wish, however, he had told us last month a little more about the mildew. I'm sure it might be better. What business had they to waste the room with a foolish story about Aunt Charlotte's seedling strawberry? it was sheer nonsense.
Gatekeeper. I suppose it was; I never reads them are things, and wonder anybody can.
Lady. Any tales like the Strawberry Seedling in the Horticulturist this month? Gentleman. None; I have already said we don't want any tales in it.
Lady. Well, give me the Home Journal, and such as that.
Daughter. I'm sure, ma, there's a thousand better things in it than tales. Those articles on hanging plants, you know yon liked.
Lady. Why, yes - now and then I do see something I like, bat the fact is, I rarely read it!
Son. Then, ma, you certainly don't know what is in it. I wouldn't give it up for ten times its cost. It seems to me full of information and entertainment combined. But here comes neighbor Bob Acres, let's ask him.
Acres. If you ask me for an opinion, I'm always prepared. The Horticulturist isn't wuth three cents 1 It never has drawings of horses, cattle, sheep, or pigs; and as to your garden flowers, and frippery, who cares a copper, I don't!
Daughter. Well, Bob, but I wish you did. Do you think any young lady would live at Cloverdale and never see anything but hay? I won't, believe me.
Acres. Wait, my dear, till you're -!
Daughter. No, I won't wait till I'm asked! I hate to see a place without fruit, and a garden and flowers, and you needn't ask me - never!
Gentleman. There, Bob, you've got it; now you take the Horticulturist, and get up a garden, if you want ever to be married.
Bob. Well, if ever I do, then.
Son. We'll think you mean to pop the question.
Boh. No, no. I'll never read any such stuff. Why, do you suppose I don't know how to plant a tree, or cut it down either!
Daughter. Ah! Bob, you are perfectly incorrigible.
Bob. Incorrigible or not, you don't catch me reading books. Incorrigible, am I - that's one of your botanical terms, is it!
Gentleman. Come, Bob, that will do.
[Enter, a young Lady, with a basket].
Young Lady. Oh, Maria! I've got such beautiful mosses; I've been in the woods all the morning, collecting to make those elegant moss baskets described in the Horticulturist. I've made enough by their sale to purchase plenty of books for our little school, and they say in town they want two dozen morel That's the way I use my dear Horticulturist!
Bob (who evidently has a liking for the last speaker). Oh, Charlotte, why didn't you ask me to help you pick the mosses? I should have been so glad.
Charlotte. I'll never ask a favor of you, Master Robert, till you have a proper respect for reading and knowledge; and if ever I see you tearing out those colored pictures of apples and pears, I'll - I'll never speak to you again; mind that!
Bob. Oh dear, what a little hornet!
(Aside. I believe I must take to reading a little, or they'll never talk to me).
[Enter, Charlotte's mother].
Mother. Really, how perfect your garden looks this morning. Those plants recommended in the Horticulturist are all that was said of them. Can't I have cuttings?
Gentleman. Certainly you can; but here is neighbor Acres, who thinks this kind of thing all trash!
Daughter. He won't think so always; will you, Bob?
Bob looks a little crest-fallen, takes up the Horticulturist from the table, asks what it costs, and ends by ordering a copy. He reads it, too, and by next year we hope to record that one of the two young ladies - we believe it will be the basket-maker - has become Mrs. Acres, with a flower-garden, a lawn, some handsome plantations, and a reformed husband, who has been for six months vainly trying to complete his set of the Horticulturist!
Such are a few only of the contending views which go to make up the host of readers who "take in," as our grandfathers expressed it, a work like the present. The pomologist would like it better if it had no lowers iff it; the lover of flowers, perhaps, has no taste for cultivating fruit The man with a single idea for strawberries, wonders how we can ever dabble with architecture; the farmer too often sees no good in a vegetable garden; a "calendar of operations" to him should include pasturing and soiling cattle; and thus it is with us all; what we know, we Hie to read about, in the hope of knowing more. Surrounded, then, by these difficulties, we have, pretty much, to follow our own tastes, and the course marked out for us, and" be satisfied if we enlist people of our own way of thinking; well convinced that in the multitude and crowd of periodicals each one can be suited.
There has been much time and labor bestowed on the Horticulturist, by many minds, since it made Philadelphia its home; it has obtained a large additional patronage, which evidently grows with the wealth and taste of the country, and though its friends think its circulation not equal to the wants of the people, we have learned therewith to be content, as we know, after a tour which has embraced within the last eighteen months a very large part of the Union, that it has appreciative readers on its topics everywhere.