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Write a Review. Related Searches. Indeed, it is hardly too much to say that we owe him obligations as the founder of pear-culture in this country. But the work of the Belgians does not end with Van Mons. There were other breeders of pears, who, though not to be classed with Van Mons as a Titan, lacking the quality of mind to set forth a new philosophy, helped to enliven the impulse given by their leader to the improvement of the pear by originating new varieties.
While, if the lists of varieties in the last two chapters of this text be scanned for Belgians who introduced but one, two, or three new pears, the list runs up into the hundreds. Labor finds its summit in the work of these Belgian pear-breeders, who obtained petty rewards by sifting millions of seedlings through the coarse meshes of the sieve of selection.
We can pardon these enthusiastic breeders with grace for over-zealousness in naming varieties obtained with such prodigious efforts. The pear can be improved only where the pear-tree flourishes, and then only when assisted by the foresight and desire of men.
The pear flourishes along the Danube, in parts of Austria  and southern Germany, and along the upper Rhine, but the people of these regions seem to have been followers rather than leaders in developing this fruit, having produced almost no meritorious varieties. America is indebted to the vast region of central and western Europe for but one major variety, the Forelle, and this sort is of little importance. Pomology, the world over, however, is indebted to Germany for much valuable pomological literature.
Cordus, Mayer, Christ, Diel, Dittrich, Truchsess, Hinkert, Dochnahl, Oberdieck, Engelbrecht, Lauche, and Gaucher, all Germans, and Kraft, an Austrian, have been industrious compilers, and have given pomology some of its best texts on systematic pomology.
Cordus, earliest German pomological writer, wrote an illuminating chapter in the history of the pear, which must be reproduced. Valerius Cordus, , a botanical genius, made botanical expeditions to nearly every part of Germany, in the course of which he made special study of the apple and the pear. He described fifty pears and thirty-one apples. These descriptions are noteworthy as the earliest for these fruits in Germany.
Cordus is entitled to honor in the history of pomology as first to print descriptions of fruits for the purpose of identifying varieties. No doubt as soon as the earth ceased to furnish spontaneously the primitive luxury of ready-to-eat food in the shape of fruit, making culture necessary, varieties were acquired and became commodities as they are today. Varieties were certain to originate under cultivation, and their value was certain to be recognized by our first ancestors, to whom the convenience, necessity, and expediency of having a diversity of kinds of any fruit as well as of a means of keeping them true to kind, must have been apparent at the beginning of fruit culture.
That such was the case, the most ancient sacred and profane writings assure us. Varieties of the fig, olive, grape, and other  fruits are mentioned by all early writers on plants. That varieties of fruits would not come true to seed was early known, and propagation by cuttings, layers, and grafting was invented to preserve choice sorts. Many of the early writers name varieties, tell from whence they came, and some set forth a remarkable character or two, but none give detailed descriptions.
Cordus was first to engage in this sort of enterprise. This chapter from Cordus is important, too, because it makes plain that the pears grown in Germany four hundred years ago possessed all the characters to be found in modern pears. Culture has increased size, modified shapes, augmented flavors, brightened colors, and softened textures, but no characters that can be considered new or distinct, unit characters of the plant-breeder, have been introduced in the four centuries that have gone by. The characters possessed by these German pears are the same, so far as can be made out, as those of the varieties grown by the Greeks and Latins nearly years earlier.
From this, the inference must be drawn that the characters of the pear have not originated under cultivation but exist in wild types. New and distinct characters can come only by hybridization with another species. Pears within a species are changed only by a recombination of the characters possessed by the species. The descriptions of varieties from Cordus  that follow are commended to pomologists as models of brevity and accuracy. These word-pictures reproduce the pears as vividly as an artist could paint them.
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One sees at once that Cordus was no compiler. Such descriptions as Cordus writes can be made only in the orchard with the pear in hand. Of the fruits themselves, which we call pears, there are innumerable kinds, of which we will describe some that are found in Germany, adding also their German names, which vary, however, in the different provinces. Their color is pale green, speckled with green spots or dots; they are astringent to the taste, and by the abundance of their juice extinguish thirst. They ripen at the beginning of autumn, and quickly decay because of the abundance of watery and rather cold juice.
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They are found in abundance at Eisleben near the Harz forest in Saxony. They ripen at the beginning of autumn and very easily decay. Their length is scarcely two inches; they rarely exceed this, but in width slightly exceed their length.
In color they are pale green, in taste and smell they rival the Lard with which also they come to ripeness; these too easily decay. They are found at Eisleben. These too are found at Eisleben. They are wholly of a yellow color spotted with dots, in length a little less than three inches, but in width they do not reach two inches. They have no unpleasant odor, especially when peeled; in taste they correspond to the Hemp, and reach maturity at the same time, and easily decay.
They grow in abundance at Eisleben. They are astringent to the taste and with a copious juice, and that sweet and something like wine, they allay thirst. They ripen when the sun has entered Libra, and do not so easily decay. There is a difference in color, for one kind has a bluish-gray color, the other reddish-gray. They have a juice similar in flavor to the Royal but more acid.
They ripen with the Royal. In Saxony there is great abundance of them, especially at Hildesheim. They have an almost spherical shape, except that near the stalk they end  in a blunt point. They are three inches in length, a little less in width. Their color is on one side green or pale, on the other, where they have been touched by the sun, reddish. They are moderately acid to the taste, and abound with copious juice, rather watery, very refreshing in effect. They ripen when the sun is hastening toward Scorpio.
They are abundant at Marburg in Hesse. Like gourds they are three inches in length or often more, but in breadth two and a half inches. They have a pale yellow color, a pleasing fragrance, but are very acid in taste, with the admixture of a peculiar, winey flavor; when insufficiently ripe and not thoroughly chewed or too greedily devoured they sometimes stick in the throat and choke the breathing; on the other hand, when ripe and well masticated they melt in the mouth like fat.
They ripen before the sun passes into Libra. They are found in Hesse, especially in Frankenberg, where there is great abundance of them. They have a watery juice mixed as it were with sour wine.