« ForrigeFortsett »
tating their predecessors. And even with these limited qualifications, the gardener is generally permitted to reign lord paramount of his domain, the proprietors acquiescing in a complete dependence on his will and caprice, for whatever may be the produce. And whilst every expence is lavished in importing and fostering even the worthless weeds of foreign countries, our conservatories, as well as gardens and orchards, are too often found to be little better than exhibitions of deformity, distortion, disorder, and premature decrepitude. If it be thought worth while to enquire what is the cause of such a state of things, may it not be answered, that Botany is generally understood to comprise nothing more than a knowledge of the exterior construction and the classification of plants; and that it therefore affords no other occupation for the mind, than the study and application of dry rules and tables; that the garden is considered as administering to the animal functions only; and that its productions are regulated and determined by a mysterious art, a knowledge of which can be attained only by a laborious attention to coarse and unpleasant masters, and is, therefore, unworthy the occupation of a delicate and cultivated mind. But whatever may be said of Botany, it must surely be admitted, that such an opinion of Horticulture
is founded on a most deplorable error. What science présents a more extended and varied occupation for the mind than the Physiology of Plants ? and grounded on a knowledge of this, what a more healthful amusement than their cultivation ? and what can afford a more delightful and independent gratification than their productions? However élaborate and conclusive may have been the works of Phytologists; and however successful in their productions, the practical gardeners, it must be sufficiently obvious, that these two departments of Horticulture are very imperfectly connected; for although original principles or causes may be well understood and explained, and the most satisfactory effects partially produced, can a due knowledge of Horticulture be said to exist, unless the process or laws of nature, which lead from cause to effect, and connect the one with the other, be understood and elucidated ? Is it not to be desired that theory and practice be united ? and if it be so, are my endeavours to supply this connecting link, by removing those obstacles to improvement, and the existence of natural beauty, ignorance and prejudice, and to establish the practice of Horticulture on the fundamental principles of true science, deserving no better treatment from your Society than the affectation of silent contempt? It may be de
nied that I have any claim upon the notice of your Society; but it is clearly obvious, if I am correct, that the common practice of Gardening must be egregiously wrong. Then have I not, on the grounds of
your claiming and possessing a monopoly of the public patronage, of the authority you assume of influencing and leading the public opinion, and your having refused to investigate or acknowledge the correctness of my representations, and the principles upon which they rest, a right, on the part of the public as well as myself, to ask an explanation of such conduct? or is it to be inferred from your silence, that you will not affirm, and cannot deny, my claims ?
PRESIDENT AND MEMBERS
HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY OF LONDON.
MY LORDS AND GENTLEMEN,
ALTHOUGH I have the honour of being personally known to a very small number only of the Members of your excellent Society, the Philanthropy and National Spirit which dictate the liberal Principles of your Association, cannot but command my admiration and respect; and under the impulse of this feeling, united with the natural wish of obtaining the patronage and support of superior talents and acknowledged authority, to a Work prepared for the same purpose for which you are associated, that of improving and generally diffusing the Knowledge of Horticulture, I cannot resist the desire of doing myself the honour of dedicating the annexed Treatise to you.
Possibly it may appear to some, that from the very flattering attention which your Society have been pleased to bestow on such Papers as I have occasionally taken the liberty of submitting to your inspection at various times during the past eight or ten years, your offer of publishing them among your Transactions, and your professed desire of making Extracts for your public Readings, ought not to have been resisted. I could not be insensible to the honour thus intended me, and felt extreme regret at being obliged to decline it; but the Regulations of your Society, excluding all further right of an Author to Papers so published, was altogether incompatible with my
views of future revision and experiment. The study of Horticulture and Experimental Gardening has been my most pleasing amusement, and commanded my attention from
childhood. I am, however, not so vain as to imagine that the Work I now lay before the Public is so complete as to be free from error, or incapable of improvement.