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gave to this Society the great benefit of his financial ability, with results far surpassing the money value of the beautiful statue with which he adorned this building. In this Hall, so largely the result of his untiring energy, he will be long and gratefully remembered.
Let me turn for a moment to one* among the living, whose active concern in this Society has spanned, saving a few months, the whole of its existence. Venerable leader of us all-old only by the written record, young in your enthusiasm for our captivating art-long may you be spared to us and to this world of flowers and of fruits.
Two only of the original members of the Society are now living. Henry A. Breed, of Lynn, whose presence we gladly welcome on this occasion, and John B. Russell, for some time resident in another state.
The finances of the Society appear to be in a very satisfactory condition. The Treasurer has not yet made up his final report, as the accounts of the Proprietors of Mount Auburn Cemetery will not be ready till later in the month; but, assuming that we receive the same sum from Mount Auburn that we did in 1885, and this is probable, the gross receipts for the year are (including the balance on hand January 1, 1885) in round numbers $34,330; total expenditures $17,723. Of the balance, $16,607, $6,376 have been added to the sinking fund, leaving a balance on hand January 1, 1886, of $10,231.
In September last the American Forestry Congress met in this city. In recognition of the necessary and intimate relations between Forestry and Horticulture, this Society gave to the Congress the use of these halls; and also appointed a Committee for the purpose of showing such attentions to the visitors as were within the power of the Society. The courtesies thus offered were warmly acknowledged.
The Committees on Fruits and Vegetables report respectively exhibitions of interest fully equal to those of preceding years. The latter committee call attention to the influence of prizes as superior to that of gratuities in a certain class of awards, and it seems to me that this conclusion may very properly be extended to awards made at any of the exhibitions. A prize to be awarded for some well-defined, well-understood quality in plant, flower, fruit, or
*Hon. Marshall P. Wilder.
vegetable, will, by awakening a sharp competition, be much more likely to bring out the best skill in gardening than the simple "gratuity," however large.
Fruits and vegetables have been objects of competition through so many years that any improvement in them must be the result of unusual skill. A former President publicly expressed the hope that grapes in this country, cultivated under glass, might be brought to equal the highest results of European culture. The general opinion, as well as the judgment of the Committee, upon the unusual merit of some grapes shown at the Annual Exhibition foreshadows the realization of that wish.
Our exhibitions have throughout the year attracted the attention of the public to a greater degree than ever before the total receipts therefrom reaching the very considerable sum of $3,540; to this general success the Rose Show (owing to unfavorable weather) makes the sole exception. Yet even then the President of the Society compelled the reluctant elements to yield to him his wonted prizes. The Annual Exhibition was one of the most successful ever held by the Society, and perhaps the best. The receipts of the Chrysanthemum Show - nearly equalling those of the main exhibition of the year- are an evidence of the increasing interest in this flower, possibly somewhat influenced by fashion, but with a real foundation in the fact that its blooming comes at the dullest season of the floral year. The generous prizes offered for Bulbs at the Spring Exhibition, brought out specimens and collections of exceptional merit; the same wise liberality will, undoubtedly, secure a success at least equal the coming spring.
The almost priceless collections of plants which have made so important a part of our displays in past seasons have been again placed at the service of the Society and the public with the generosity of former years. The Flower Committee express the belief that the increased competition is a direct result of the larger prizes of the past year; and, very properly as it seems to me, they urge the importance of bestowing the great prizes upon specimen plants, rather than upon miscellaneous collections of cut flowers.
The Committee on Gardens, in addition to the usual report upon the condition of the various private gardens visited, have given well-deserved and appreciative notice to two subjects of unusual importance. The first of these is the movement for the establishing of a Great Natural Park in the Middlesex Fells. Past efforts
in this direction, notwithstanding a general interest on the part of the public, owed much of their vitality to the untiring, unselfish work of the late Elizur Wright. It is to be hoped that some one
may succeed to his place, able as he to attract the attention of the public, and equally willing to make some sacrifices for the general good. Whatever help the influence of this Society can give will, I doubt not, be lent to a plan that offers, not to this generation alone but for all time, the educational advantages of a great wild garden, unequalled in extent or variety. The second subject treated is fortunately a fact accomplished, the Arnold Arboretum, endowed by an Honorary Member of this Society; carried to its present stage of success and abundant promise for the future, through many and perplexing difficulties, by our honored associate, Professor Charles S. Sargent.
The treasures of this collection, already known to a few, can only be properly appreciated when the Director's plans for final planting are fully carried out; but the advantages of a collection of trees and shrubs, hardy in this climate and correctly named, have already been felt.
The Library Committee and the Librarian report a continued increase in the number of our books, in the use made of them, and in the facilities offered for their use - but also the old and wellgrounded complaint of insufficient shelf accommodation.
A member of this Committee until the present year, I heartily agree to all that is said in this and preceding reports, and will again call your attention to a few points that appear to have occupied the minds of some of our members during the past year. The great value of this collection of books is admitted; it is the best horticultural library in this country, and I know of none in Europe to equal it, either in the possession of a society, or of a private individual; it is a collection rich, not alone in books of scientific or literary value, but in all that can be found of a distinctly practical character. The Chairman of the Committee, probably more familiar with the contents of these shelves than any other member except our Librarian, has made a practice of consulting booknotices, catalogues, and advertisements; from the titles thus collected the Committee has made selection, for immediate purchase, of those books most likely to meet the general want. The more valuable works of a scientific character, including Floras, and Reports of learned Societies, have been purchased as occasion offered
and our funds permitted. The conveniences for using the library have, notwithstanding our crowded condition, been much improved ; the increased though still very insufficient shelving has made books more accessible; the presence of an accomplished Librarian has helped the inquirer for knowledge to the more direct and shorter roads; the card catalogue of plant pictures, thanks to the chairman's perseverance, has also been of material service.
As the result of these improvements, there has come an enlarged use of the books. This may be seen in two ways; by the greater number of books recorded as borrowed, and by the more numerous readers here. The record-book (though it does actually show in the past year more books taken out) is not a conclusive test, for the following reason, to which I think all familiar with great libraries will assent:-that an increase in the conveniences for consultation will diminish the number of books taken out. Most of us come here to obtain information upon some limited subject,-the identity of a specimen, the question of a name, - if we can ascertain these facts without taking a large and costly volume home. with us, we are glad to do so; and care very little if the register does not show that we have been here; and observation does show this increase in the number of readers. It is also said that there are books not taken from the shelves from one year's end to another. Possibly this is so; and yet these very books, when wanted, may be of the greatest service. It is one of the functions of great libraries to store the books that the individual cannot afford to keep. It is also true that many books are in foreign languages. With regard to these I will quote Lord Bacon's saying — Some books also may be read by deputy" and I am very sure that any information so gained will, in this Society at least, come to the surface for the benefit of us all.
The Committee of Arrangements, to whose judicious and active care so much of the success of the exhibitions has been due, state forcibly the necessity for larger floor accommodations; and I feel sure that all present at the Annual Exhibition will agree with them. It was much to be regretted that the finest collection ever brought together by the Society should not have been more suitably displayed. A slight experience has brought forcibly to my attention the labor, the expense, and, more than all, the injury to plants, caused by the carrying of them to the upper hall. It can easily be understood, then, what serious damages an exhibition in
volves in the case of the extremely valuable plants shown by a number of our prominent exhibitors,-losses that can only be made whole by the fairly earned consciousness of a great public benefaction, gratefully acknowledged.
With regard, then, to our building, we find that the accommodations for our books are quite insufficient, that two at least of our exhibitions have outgrown the floor space of the halls, that social and business changes have rendered difficult, if not impossible, the earlier and more acceptable use of them; and I therefore urge upon the Society the immediate and careful consideration of what seem to me to be the most important questions now before us; the alterations, if any are necessary, and the future uses of this building.
Ladies and Gentlemen :-You have elected me to this your highest office.
I approach its many duties with diffidence, knowing full well how much will be expected of him who follows the many eminent men who have filled this place; but confidently trusting in your continued good will, I shall do all that is in my own power to protect and advance the interests of the Society.
On motion of Hon. Marshall P. Wilder, the thanks of the Society were unanimously presented to the outgoing and incoming Presidents for their interesting addresses.
On motion of C. M. Hovey, it was voted that a committee of three be appointed to take into consideration the suggestions made in the President's address. The chair appointed as that Committee Charles S. Sargent, C. M. Hovey, and F. L. Ames.
The appropriations recommended by the Executive Committee on the 7th of Novenber and the 26th of December were unanimously voted, as follows:
For Prizes and Gratuities,
For Plants and Flowers ($200 of this amount
being for gratuities during the winter months) $2,800