ORIGIN OF THE BARTLETT PEAR
Mr Russell.—When the Barttett pear was first introduced to public notice, there were various opinions respecting its origin. Many persons believed it to be a native variety, accidentally raised from seed ; while others considered it a foreign fruit, the name of which (as is too frequently the case) was lost. During several years, I have sedulously endeavored to trace the derivation of this justly celebrated pear. I examined all my own varieties, procured specimens of most of the foreign pear trees in the public nurseries, and grafts from many private collections, but was unable to identify the Bartlett with any other fruit of authentic name. About two years since, I was struck with its resemblance to the description of Williams' Bon Chretien,—a pear raised from seed in England about thirtyfive years since,— I was convinced, that if not a native seedling, it would eventually be identified with this fruit.—Williams' Bon Chretien is described as follows in the 7th Edition of Forsyth:
'WILLIAM'S BON CHRETIEN.—This is a seedling (pear from Williams' Nursery at Turnham Green,) originally from Berkshire. It resembles a summer Bon Chretien, but is more juicy; it is a great bearer and ripens in (August on walls) September This pear will be a valuable acquisition to tha market gardeners, as it immediately succeeds the Windsor pear. It is of a large irregular pyramidal shape; the eye not sunk, of a pale green color, spotted with darker green and russet brown, turning yellowish, and faintly tinged with red next the sun when fully ripe; the flesh whitish, tender, and full of sweet and perfumed juice.'
The reader will at once perceive the near resemblance of the two fruits. In the spring of 1829, I procured a small tree of Williams' Bon Chretien, in order, by comparing the leaf and growth, to test the justness of my opinion. This tree however did not survive the removal, and in the spring of the present year, I obtained two of the same variety, one from William Prince of Flushing, who received it from the late Mr BRADICK, the other from BUEL & WILSON of Albany, by whom it was imported from the London Horticultural Society. As soon as the leaves expanded, I perceived those two were alike, that they possessed all the richness and beauty of foliage which distinguishes the Bartlett, and were so perfectly similar to it in every respect, that no person would hesitate to recognise them as the same. The transactions of the London Horticultural Society, vol. 2d Page 250, contain a figure and description of Williams' Bon Chretien, which I here copy.
'Dear Sir—I beg leave to lay before the Horticultural Society, an account which I have obtained, at your request, of a variety of Pear; specimens of which were communicated to the Society in August last, by Mr Richard Williams of Turnbam Green, and much approved.'
'This Pear, which has been called by Mr AITON, (in his Epitome of the Hortus Kewensis,) Williams' Bon Chretien, appears to have sprung from seed, in the garden of Mr Wheeler, a schoolmaster at Altlermaston in Berkshire, about twenty years ago, and was suffered to remain, in order to prove the value of its fruit. Subsequently grafts have been extensively dispersed, and many trees are now in Mr Williams' nursery and other gardens around London. I have added the following description.
'The trees of this variety are of vigorous growth, pnd fertile habit; their branches remarkably erect and straight, until bent by the weight of fruit. Leaves broad, deep green, very sharply serrated. Fruit of an irregular pyramidal anil somewhat truncated form ; large, being from 3 to 4i inches in length, and 2 to 3 inches in width at the widest part near the head. The Eye is inserted on the summit, and never sunk in a hollow cavity, as in the other varieties called Bon Chretiens. The Stalk is very gross or fleshy, about three fourths of an inch in length. The Color of the fruit is pale green, spotted over with a mixture of darker green and russet brown, becoming yellowish, and faintly tinged with red on the side next the sun when fully ripe. The Flesh is whitish, very tender and delicate, abounding with juice, which is sweet, and agreeably perfumed. Ripens in August when trained to a west wall, but on standard trees it is from weeks to a month later.
'This Pear I would recommend to the notice of the Horticultural Society as superior to any of its season with which I am acquainted. It immediately succeeds the Jargonelle, and is earlier than, as well as much superior to, the Doyenne or White Beurrée, and resembles in flavor the Summer Musked Bon Chretien. Its merits over the latter variety are, that on standard trees, as well as when trained, it seldom fails to produce fruit in abundance.
'The drawing which accompanies this, was taken from specimens which ripened on a west wall, and may be considered an average size; but I have seen fruit of this variety weighing from ten to twelve ounces.
I remain, Dear Sir,
most respectfully and sincerely yours,
Nov. 30, 1816. WILLIAM HOOKER.'
Being told that Mr JAMES CARTER of Boston had procured trees from England for Mr BREWER, the former owner of the Bartlett Estate, in Roxbury, I called on him. He informed me that he was in London, about 25 years ago, and had purchased a number of Pear Trees for Mr BREWER: and as his object was to obtain what was then rare and valuable, there can be no doubt that the tree now called the Bartlett was in this collection. In my own mind I am fully convinced. Those gentlemen who may entertain a different opinion, will not easily account for the appearance, in this country and in England, of two pears so nearly resembling each other in the wood, the leaf, the fruit, and the time of ripening.
I would recommend, to such as one less confident than myself, to insert buds of both pears in the bearing branches of the same tree.—In two or three years, they will find that the best of all our summer pears, and Williams' Bon Chretien, are the same.—R. M, Salem, June, 1930.
William's Bon Chretien