It is much to be regretted, that of late years, so little attention has been given in this country, to the study of pomology, and that so few efforts have been made to encourge a taste for this most important, most instructive, and intellectual branch of horticultural science.
Towards the end of the last, and beginning of the present century, when the late Mr. Knight was in the full vigor of his scientific pursuits, this was the subject which engaged so much of his powerful intellect, and from which he succeeded in producing such great and beneficial results. With Mr. Knight as president, and Mr. Sabine as secretary, the Horticultural Society of London did much for the advancement of this subject, and in extending a knowledge not only of the fruits of this country, but of the most valuable varieties of the continent of Europe, and America. Through the exertions of these gentlemen, and in conjunction with the illustrious pomologists, Dr. Diel and Professor Van Mons, and other eminent continental correspondents, was obtained that vast collection of fruits which once existed in the Society’s garden; and by means of which that great undertaking of determining and arranging the nomenclature was accomplished. During this period the Society’s Transactions teemed with rich, and interesting pomological papers, and several works of a high character were ushered into existence. Of these the most important were the Pomonas of Brookshaw and Hooker, the Pomological Magazine, and Ronalds’s Pyrus Malus Brentfordiensis; but these are all of such a class, as from their great cost to be regarded more as works of art, than of general utility. The only one which was at all calculated to be of general benefit was, Lindley’s “Guide to the Orchard;” a work which furnished descriptions of, and embraced a greater number of varieties than had hitherto been attempted. This then may be regarded as the most complete work for general reference, with which pomologists in this country had ever been furnished.
Upwards of twenty years have now elapsed since the “Guide to the Orchard” issued from the press, and during that period, Knight, Sabine, and many great patrons of pomology have entered into their rest, leaving none behind them to prosecute, with the same vigour, that study which they so much loved and adorned. But although there has been no corporate effort to promote and stimulate this study, private enterprize has not altogether been awanting to keep pace with the rapid progression of the Continent and America; but for this, we might yet have been in total ignorance of many of the most desirable fruits of modern times, and particularly of those valuable varieties, the result of the later labors of Van Mons, Esperen, and others; together with several of considerable merit, furnished by the fertile pomology of the New World.
Since the publication of Lindley’s “Guide,” therefore, there has not only been such additions to our varieties of fruits, but such a complete reformation and arrangement of pomological nomenclature as to have rendered that book, as a work of reference of considerably less value; and it was on account of the necessity for a new work, adapted to the wants of the present day, and embracing the most recent information on the subject, that I entered upon the present undertaking. The facilities I have possessed for carrying it out, are perhaps greater than fall to the lot of most men.
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