The Pear, also called Pyrrie, belongs to the same natural order of
plants (the Rosacoe) as the Apple. It is  sometimes called
the Pyerie, and when wild is so hard and austere as to bear the name
of Choke-pear. It grows wild in Britain, and abundantly in France
and Germany. The Barland Pear, which was chiefly cultivated in the
seventeenth century, still retains its health and vigour, the
identical trees in Hereford
hire which then supplied excellent
liquor, continuing to do so in this, the nineteenth century.
This fruit caused the death of Drusus, a son of the Roman Emperor
Claudius, who caught in his mouth a Pear thrown into the air, and
by mischance attempted to swallow it, but the Pear was so
extremely hard that it stuck in his throat, and choked him.
Pears gathered from gardens near old monasteries were formerly
held in the highest repute for flavour, and it was noted that the trees
which bore them continued fruitful for a great number of years. The
secret cause seems to have been, not the holy water with which the
trees were formally christened, but the fact that the sagacious monks
had planted them upon a layer of stones so as to prevent the roots
from penetrating deep into the ground, and so as thus to ensure their
The cellular tissue of which a Pear is composed differs from that of
the apple in containing minute stony concretions which make it, in
many varieties of the fruit, bite short and crisp; and its specific
gravity is therefore greater than that of the apple, so much so that by
taking a cube of each of equal size, that of the Pear will sink when
thrown into a vessel of water, while that of the apple will float. The
wood of the wild Pear is strong, and readily stained black, so as to
look like ebony. It is much employed by wood-engravers. Gerard
says it serveth to be cut  up into many kinds of moulds; not
only such fruits as those seen in my Herbal are made of, but also
many sorts of pretty toies for coifes, breast plates, and such like;
used among our English gentlewomen.
The good old black Pear of Worcester is represented in the civic
arms, or rather in the second of the two shields belonging to the
faithful city; Argent, a fesse between three Pears, sable. The date of
this shield coincides with that of the visit of Queen Elizabeth to
Virgil names three kinds of Pears which he received as a present
Nec surculus idem,
Crustaneis, Syriisque pyris, gravibusque volemis.
The two first of these were Bergamots and Pounder Pears, whilst the
last-named was called a volemus, because large enough to fill the
hollow of the hand, (vola).
Mural paintings which have been disclosed at Pompeii represent the
Pear tree and its fruit. In Pliny's time there were proud Pears, so
called because they ripened early, and would not keep; and winter
pears for baking, etc. Again, in the time of Henry the Eighth, a
warden Pear, so named (Anglo-Saxon wearden) from its
property of long keeping, was commonly cultivated.
Her cheek was like the Catherine Pear,
The side that's next the sun,
says one of our old poets concerning a small fruit seen often
now-a-days in our London streets, handsome, but hard, and
The special taste of Pears is chemically due for the most part to their
containing amylacetate; and a  solution of this substance in
spirit is artificially prepared for making essence of Jargonelle Pears,
as used for flavouring Pear drops and other sweetmeats. The acetate
amyl is a compound ether got from vinegar and potato oil. Pears
contain also malic acid, pectose, gum, sugar, and albumen, with
mineral matter, cellulose, and water. Gerard says wine made of
the juice of Pears, called in English, Perry, purgeth those that
are not accustomed to drinke thereof, especially when it is new;
notwithstanding, it is as wholesome a drink (being taken in small
quantity) as wine; it comforteth and warmeth the stomacke, and
causeth good digestion.
Perry contains about one per cent. alcohol over cider, and a slightly
larger proportion of malic acid, so that it is rather more stimulating,
and somewhat better calculated to produce the healthful effects of
vegetable acids in the economy. How eminently beneficial fruits of
such sort are when ripe and sound, even to persons out of health, is
but little understood, though happily the British public is growing
wiser to-day in this respect. For instance, it has been lately
discovered that there is present in the juice of the Pine-apple a
vegetable digestive ferment, which, in its action, imitates almost
identically the gastric juices of the stomach; and a demand for
Bananas is developing rapidly in London since their wholesome
virtues have become generally recognised. It is a remarkable fact
that the epidemics of yellow fever in New Orleans have declined in
virulence almost incredibly since the Banana began to be eaten there
in considerable quantities. If a paste of its ripe pulp dried in the
sun be made with spice, and sugar, this will keep well for years.
At Godstone, as is related in Bray's Survey, the water  from a
well sunk close to a wild Pear tree (which bore fruit as hard as iron)
proved so curative of gout, that large quantities of it were sent to
London and sold there at the rate of sixpence a quart. Pears were
deemed by the Romans an antidote to poisonous fungi; and for this
reason, which subsequent experience has confirmed, Perry is still
reckoned the best thing to be taken after eating freely of
mushrooms, as also Pear stalks cooked therewith.
There is an old Continental saying: Pome, pere, ed noce guastano
la voce--Apples, pears, and nuts spoil the voice, And an ancient
rhymed distich says:--
For the cough take Judas eare,
With the parynge of a pear;
And drynke them without feare,
If ye will have remedy.
All Pears are cold, and have a binding quality, with an earthy
substance in their composition.
It should be noted that Pears dried in the oven, and kept without
syrup, will remain quite good, and eatable for a year or more.
Most Pears depend on birds for the dispersion of their seeds, but one
striking variety prefers to attract bees, and the larger insects for
cross-fertilization, and it has therefore assumed brilliant crimson
petals of a broadly expanded sort, instead of bearing a succulent
edible fruit, This is the highly ornamental Pyrus Japonica, which
may so often be seen trained on the sunny walls of cottages.