Archive.org has a host of old gardening books (from mid-19th to mid-20th Century) available in many formats and on a host of topics. I happened across a few in my Pinterest feed and gone completely down the rabbit hole in this treasure trove of information. Sure some ideas might be out of date, but you never know what you might find when you explore these books. I’ll be sharing more books as I find them in the coming weeks. –Douglas
I FEEL myself called upon, at this period of my labours, to address a few brief observations to my readers. I have, in the first place, to return my grateful acknowledgments for the very large share of public patronage which my works have hitherto enjoyed — a patronage which has conferred upon them success, and which, I trust, may still be awarded to such future publications of a similar character as, if permitted the exercise of life and health, I design further to embark upon the sea of public opinion. To the kindness with which the Press have treated my undertaking, I have also to acknowledge my gratitude, and to express a hope that, in the future performance of my pleasing task, I may continue to merit and enjoy the good opinion of that powerful and important organ of public sentiment.
I would now desire permission to speak a few words of myself, in order to explain, what possibly might otherwise, on some future occasion, create question or surprise — I allude to the circumstance of one individual undertaking to write, and that practically, upon so many different subjects. I am induced to advert to this, from a fear lest any of my readers should be inclined to regard my little books as mere compilations, in which case the authority which I could desire them to possess might be, to a great degree, lost. The facts of the case are these : From the very earliest period that I can remember, I was devotedly attached to animals. In infancy, this, of course, only amounted to a warm affection for such individual cats, dogs, or birds, as were inmates of the same house. In childhood, the sentiment became still further developed, in cutting out of, or drawing upon, paper, the forms of such animals as I was acquainted with from personal observation, or through the medium of prints. As childhood advanced to boyhood, so did my desires extend and derive additional gratification from making pets of such creatures as I could procure, and making all their little ways and habits my attentive study. In this pursuit I was greatly aided by a kind and indulgent mother, herself an ardent student of nature, whose liberal purse supplied the funds needful for the attainment of my objects, and whose instructions laid in my young mind the foundation of zoological knowledge.
To resume : As boyhood merged into manhood, so did my zoological predilections acquire additional strength, and it fortunately happened that at this period many circumstances combined to afford me facility for their indulgence. Need I add that I eagerly availed myself of these ; need I add that I cultivated poultry, and strove to improve our domestic varieties by intermixture with foreign stock ; that successively the Horse, Dog, Cow, Hog, and other animals, engaged, as opportunity offered, my close attention ; and when it will be recollected that I studied the habits and natures of these animals Avith an interest of a peculiar nature, is it to be wondered at that I should have done so with success, or that it should be now a source of so much gratification to me to publish, for the benefit of others, the result of my observations ?
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