Some weeks since your correspondent, Mr. Burbidge, asked me if I would give, through your medium, information as to the origin of the Rose Mabel Morrison, and I regret the subject has escaped my memory till now. This Rose was raised by Mr. Joseph Broughton, of 43, New Bridge Street, Leicester, who double-budded a Brier stock with Tea Rose Niphetos, and Baroness Rothschild, The first bloom the latter produced came white; Mr. Broughton took two cuttings from this branch, and luckily one lived. The other died, also the original plant, so that it was as nearly being lost as possible. Mr. Broughton considered he had produced a graft hybrid. In this, I believe, he was in error, and consider it was only a common sport. I do not believe in the theory of hybridising by grafting, having experimented in all sorts of ways without success. The Rose is a beautiful one, though not generally double enough; but in my estimation, for bedding, it has not a rival as a garden white Rose. Occasionally it has come here quite full, much fuller than I have ever seen Madame Rothschild. In this state it is a splendid show Rose, being very large, and the petals beautifully reflexed. I have made many attempts to fix it in this way, without success, the young plants always going back to the normal condition. It can often be produced full by not cutting back, and allowing it to bloom from the terminals of the old wood; but it does not always follow that it comes quite full in this way.
Whilst on the subject of the Rose, I shall be glad if you will allow me a few words on the new class of Rose, hybrid Teas, or rather the way in which they are being catalogued by the French Rose growers and one English firm—Messrs. Paul & Son, of Cheshunt. This section is now being classed by itself for the first time, in a way I feel certain will lead to much confusion.
I will compare, for instance, two lists, viz., Guillot fils, of Lyons, and Messrs. Paul & Sons, of Cheshunt. Guillot's contain the following:— Beauty of Stapleford, Cannes la Coquette, Cheshunt, Duke of Connaught (Bennett's), Duchess of Connaught, Duchess of Westminster, Hon. George Bancroft, Jean Sisley, La France, Madame Alexandre Bernaix, Madame Etienne Levet, Mdlle. Brigitte Viollet, Michael Saunders, Nancy Lee, Pearl, Pierre Guillot, and Viscountess Falmouth. Now no doubt Guillot fils thinks he is the founder of this class with his Rose La France. He sent this out in 1867 as a Hybrid Perpetual, and retained it in his general list of H.P.'s till last year; but this year he suddenly discovered it was a pure bred Tea without the slightest stain, at least so he states it to be in an article he wrote to the Journal des Roses this spring. I will quote his own words, extracted from this article:— "I cannot give the pedigree of my Rose La France. Considering the great number of seeds I sowed in 1864 I could not well sow each variety separate, but judging from its wood, eyes, foliage, and flowers, I came to the conclusion that its parents were Tea Roses, and that it does not possess a single characteristic of other hybrids." But now he has shifted it into class No. 3, and styles it a Hybrid Tea. Further comment here I consider useless, unless it is that this is a chance Rose, the origin of which can never be known.
Now let us take Messrs. Paul & Sons' (Cheshunt) list, and see how they treat this class. They do not put the Roses in alphabetical order as Guillot does, nor as they themselves do in every other section of their catalogue, but head the list with Cheshunt Hybrid; then follow Beauty of Stapleford, Cannes la Coquette, Duchess of Connaught, Duchess of Westminster, Duke of Connaught (Bennett's), Hon. George Bancroft, Jean Sisley, Madame Alexandre Bernaix, Madame Etienne Levet, Mdlle. Brigitte Viollet, Michael Saunders, Reine Marie Henrietta, and Vicountcss Falmouth.
The principal difference in these lists is that Paul & Son omit La France and substitute Reine Marie Henrietta, a Rose that was sent out by Levet, of Lyons, in 1878, and in his prospectus he states it to be a Tea Rose of the Gloire de Dijon type; and also in his list of new Roses for this year he still calls it a Tea. Why, then, have the Messrs. Paul & Sons removed it into another class? and why have they omitted La France, which much more resembles a Hybrid Tea than their Rose Cheshunt Hybrid does? I cannot tell, except it is that they claim this Rose to be the beginning of the race (see foot-note in their list to this section, pp. 29, 30).
So far as I am concerned, they are welcome to this honour, but I do not see how they can establish it, as, according to their own showing, Cheshunt Hybrid is nothing but a "come by chance," no artificial means having been resorted to in its production, and, if my memory does not deceive me, when they announced this flower they stated it to be a seedling from Madame de Tartas, supposed to be crossed with Prince Camille de Rohan. Therefore the origin of this Rose being a Hybrid Tea is purely hypothetical.
It is not at all my wish to deprive these gentlemen of the ewe-lamb they have been nurturing so carefully for seven years past, but I object to have it turned in amongst my pedigree flock. Would it not have been much better to have left all these varieties in the respective classes in which they were originally placed, till they had seen a little more daylight, and then have allowed a scientific jury to have placed the doubtful ones?
Much has been written of late on the relative merits of English and French seedling Roses in our horticultural papers, and our brother florists on the other side of the Channel are becoming very captious on the matter, and think they have not had quite fair play. We should not forget that we Englishmen have not as yet produced anything like such good Roses as they have. All the elections that have taken place, not only here, but in Germany and elsewhere, have placed the French a long way ahead; and in no instance have I noticed an English Rose get a majority of votes. The French rosarians say, however, that some of the best Roses that have been sent out in England were raised in France and have been surreptitiously sent out by English tradesmen as originating from themselves. If such has been the case, I consider it a most dishonest proceeding. I have often been asked to expose this system, but would much rather that the Frenchman "washed his dirty linen at home." If any of our nurserymen have been guilty of this venality, it will, like murder, "sure to out," and will bring its just punishment.
It has often been hinted to me that the Roses I have this season placed in commerce were produced the sunny side of the Channel, but very many know to the contrary, and I hardly know how to convince the general Rose public except by the assurance that in the case of every Rose I have distributed, not raised by myself, I have honestly and publicly given the raiser's name; but as I cannot convey evidence to every rosarian that the Roses I have stated to have originated here have done so, at least I can convince all who will take the trouble to attend the Royal Horticultural Society's meeting on the 18th inst., that I can grow well ripened Tea Rose seed, produced entirely under artificial means as to culture and fertilisation as I intend placing some plants before the Scientific Committee of the Royal Horticultural Society on that day, for their inspection. H. Bennett, Manor Farm Nurseries, Stapleford, Salisbury, Nov. 12.