It is twenty-four years since this work was first published, and during the first fifteen of that period it passed through three large editions. The fourth appeared nine years ago, and that has long since been out of print. I have now finished the Fifth Edition, in which will be found a great deal of new matter, enlarging the work to upwards of 150 pages more than there were in the last.

The increase in size is mainly due to the introduction of additional descriptions of Fruits which are actually existing in our Gardens and Orchards, as I have been desirous of putting on record a description of all the fruits generally cultivated in the United Kingdom so far as it was in my power to do so. I could easily have increased the size of this volume if I had been so disposed by introducing fruits cultivated abroad or which are described in foreign works; but this would have answered no useful purpose, for until these have been grown in this country we can form no idea of what their merits or demerits might be. Much harm has already been done and much disappointment has been caused by the indiscriminate introduction and recommendation of foreign fruits with the merits they are reputed to possess in other soils and other climates. Fruits are so easily influenced by these two agencies that even in this country, in localities not far distant from each other, we meet with the most conflicting results. In the fertile valley of the Thames about Teddington and Twickenham every kind of hardy fruit might be expected to be produced in its greatest perfection; but the reports furnished by that experienced cultivator and acute observer, Mr. R. D. Blackmore, which will be found in the descriptions of Peaches and Pears, are quite staggering, and destroy the long-cherished opinion which some of us have held respecting our favourite fruits.

The new Classification of the Apple upon which I have for some years been engaged is another additional feature in this volume, and I trust that, when its principles have been mastered, it will be found of service in the identification of the different varieties.

The same success that has attended my Classification of the Apple has been denied me in my attempt to do the same for the Pear. I have merely given a sketch of a system which I hope to be able some day more fully to elaborate. If one could every year, or even at short intervals of years, ensure a crop of fruit the work might soon be accomplished; but in this uncertain climate we must be content to proceed by slow marches and wait with patience till our opportunities arise.

I have consented to a request which has been frequently made to introduce descriptions of the leading kinds of Pine-apples. Since the large importations of this fruit from the West Indies and the Azores, where it is extensively grown for the supply of the European markets, the cultivation of the Pine-apple has fallen off in British gardens. Nevertheless, it is all the more needful that some convenient record should be accessible for the identification of those varieties which have been grown in the pine-stoves of our large establishments.