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disappeared every time we came to anything
that required more than a minute to examine.
Each disappearance had for its object the
injection of a dram into his weakly stomach,
which relieved me from listening to his
account of the lions. But, after a little
unsteadiness, he tripped and tumbled on the
ground, and concluded by running into an
iron post with a violence that must have
done serious damage to the post. I
confess to a prejudice against Belgian
commissionaires, and never employ them when I can
help it. They attack you in the very churches.
"You won't leave the cathedral without
paying the concièrge," was the parting
remark of a young commissionaire whose
services I persisted in declining; and, while
hunting for the Botanic garden, I can't
proceed without interruption, but am obliged to
say to a person who continually crosses my
path. " I have already told you three times I
do not want you. Cannot you take an answer,
and leave me to myself ? "

The garden, when found at last, is a painful
instead of a pleasurable sight, and must be
far from gratifying to the citizens of Ghent.
It is a warning to avoid, and not an example
to follow, as all botanic gardens ought to be.
The hardy perennials are the only plants in
good condition; among these is a remarkable
Andromeda arborea. The enormous carp,
rising and sinking in their pond, are a lingering
remnant of former prosperity. In the
houses, dirt, dust, thrips, scale, red spider,
and aphis, threaten to get the upper hand,
and to establish their dynasty on a permanent
footing. A fine Doum palm, in a handsome
but filthy cage of glass, excites pity by its
wretched want of comfort. Other unhappy
captives, lank and lean, bald and mangy, beg
hard for some one to have compassion on
them. There are many noble specimens in a
deplorable way.

Two small-leaved standard myrtles, in
boxes, cannot be less than a hundred and fifty
or two hundred years old. Their trunks
measure thirteen or fourteen inches in
circumference ; it would be difficult to find
many such in Europe. A leading English
nurseryman has endeavoured to get them
across the water; it is a pity he cannot, for
they would be properly cared for here. There
are many other far-from-every-day myrtles,
which the head of the establishment seems trying
hard to kill. He is the Celestine Doudet
of greenhouse evergreens; his pupils do not
thrive; his oleanders are in the last stage of
suffering. The alleged excuse is, want of
sufficient accommodation and hands; but when
a thing is to be done, it is not a bad plan to
do it yourself. Had I such handsome orange
trees, so neglected, so begrimed with soot, I
would get up at three in the morning, and,
in my shirt-sleeves, with an apron on, with a
bucket of soapsuds and a sponge in hand,
would mount an A ladder and work away,
day after day, till the task was done. But
are there no such things as garden engines in
Ghent? A Victoria, in a tank, contrives to
wash itself partially, though tattered and
torn about the leaves; but it is not clear
what business a pit of pine-apples has in a
place for study, where scantiness of room is
complained of. One plant, or two, are all
right and proper, but a botanical lecturer
does not want a crop of anything.

Near the entrance of the garden stands a
vase, conspicuously mounted on a pedestal,
in which grows what the official who did the
honours was pleased to point out as a rose-
bush grafted on an oak-tree. I shook my
head in disgust at the falsehood. " Look,"
he insisted, " the stem is an oak-stem, the
side branches are covered with oak-leaves,
and the central twig is the rose which has
been grafted in the middle. You can see
that its leaves are rose-leaves, can't you? —
and it is full of buds coming into flower."

"No, no; it is only a trick," I answered,
without apologising for flatly contradicting
him. " You have perforated the stem of the
oak from the root to the top; through the
tube thus made you have inserted the stem
of a rooted rose-bush; but there is no union
between the two, like the junction of a scion
with the stock. It grows independently in
the earth, as the oak-plant does, although
encased within it; and you call that grafting
a rose on an oak, which I am gardener enough
to know to be impossible."

"Ah! you know that. You have found it
out. And yet, many people, when they see
this specimen, go away persuaded that we
have succeeded in grafting a rose on an
oak."

I made no further remark than my looks
expressed; but I thought that botanic
gardens were instituted for the teaching of accurate
information and useful facts, and not to
mislead ignorant persons and to propagate
error. An educational establishment,
subsidised partly by the government and partly
by the town, forgets its duties when it blazons
forth a charlatanism which would upset the
principles of vegetable physiology and stultify
the hard-earned acquirements of science.

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