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ture, and been engaged with some assiduity in experimenting on the subject, I have come decidedly to the conclusion that it will become a great and profitable branch of agriculture, a business of immense importance to us as a nation, and as individuals. And should silk one day rival all our other staple commodities, it would not excite my surprise. But the business is yet in its infancy, although far more has been done the present season than its most sanguine friends contemplated. After encountering all the opposition generally attendant on any new enterprize, the silk growers have thus far succeeded in establishing the fact, if nothing more, that the business is practicable and profitable in this country. The sound of “ humbug,” of “merino sheep mania, and of “ multicaulis mania,” which we have heard, has been found to be a mere phantom, and has nothing to do with practical silk growing. The fact is, we shall never succeed in raising silk, unless we try.
Is it to be credited that a people so renowned for enterprize and industry as those of New England, would shrink back from even a trial of their skill to raise silk? Inhabiting a climate, equalled by no other in the world, except that of China, as to the great desideratum, (dryness,) excelling all the humid climates of Europe, where only one half the worms hatched are calculated to come to maturity, and where the execrable siroc winds often prevail to the destruction of whole broods of silk-worms, and where also, in many of the silk growing kingdoms the heavy tax of thirty three cents is paid for every pound of silk raised, and sixteen cents for every mulberry tree. Favored, as we are, with a free government, where industry is never taxed, shall we fear to enter into competition with those foreign vassals? Should we make the trial, and should we succeed in introducing an employment that would tend to keep our young men from wandering away, leaving the tombs of their fathers, often to find an
early grave among the infested prairies of the west; and our young women from flying to the manufacturing towns to be immured in loathsome prisons, where all improvement in household concerns with them must cease; a great and philanthropic purpose will be accomplished.
I will only add, in conclusion, that from all experiments that have been promulgated, the Morus Multicaulis seems to be the only tree with which we may expect to succeed in a profitable cultivation of silk. Although this tree is classed among the tender varieties of the mulberry, yet, so luxuriant is its growth, that if taken up in the fall and placed in the cellar, or buried in the field, and replanted in the spring, it will produce a pound of leaves to a tree in the same season of planting. Some may be startled at the proposal of this extra work of taking up and replanting yearly, yet I can assure any whose fears may be thus excited, that an acre of these trees may be taken up, secured, replanted, and cultivated through the season, at less trouble and expense than an acre of potatoes can be planted and cultivated ; and if properly managed, not a tree will be lost. It has also been found, that the foliage will put forth as early as if they could be left standing in the field. As to the product of an acre thus planted the follow"ing simple elements may be deduced from the practice of numerous individuals:
1. On an acre of ground may be planted ten thousand trees.
2. Each tree on land of fair quality, will produce, on an average, one pound of leaves.
3. One pound of leaves will feed sixteen worms until they spin.
4. Three thousand worms will produce one pound of silk.
Thus an acre, containing ten thousand trees, will produce fifty three pounds of raw reeled silk. I should not rely on these premises, were they not sustained
by numerous experiments promulgated by men of undoubted authority, and among them the Rev. D. V. McLean, of Newhold, New Jersey, who raised twelve pounds of reeled silk on one quarter of an acre in 1839, planted with morus multicaulis trees. Although all my own experiments on a smaller scale seem to come to about the same result, yet I much doubt if a proportionate result can be realized on a larger scale. But this remains yet to be
With regard to the cost of production, Mr. McLean observes, that from his experience, he is satisfied that silk can be produced at $2 25 per pound, and is inclined to the belief that it may be produced at $2, Now, as to this, if the farmer was to charge each ordinary crop raised on his farm with every item of expense, board of workmen, rent of land, manure, &c., at the price usually paid, he would find the cost more than the value of the produce. But if silk now worth five dollars per pound can be produced for two dollars and twenty five cents, here is a net profit of two dollars and seventy five cents per pound, or one hundred and thirty seven dollars and fifty cents per acre, if fifty pound to the acre is raised. But it was not my intention to go into any minute estimate of the profits of the silk culture; my own experience in the production and reeling the silk exhibited to the committee warrants me in the belief, that the estimates above referred to, are mainly correct, and within bounds. I would only state, that in the production and manufacturing silk stocking-yarn from floss and perforated cocoons, a sample of which is exhibited, that I accord with the statement of a quaker lady of York, Pennsylvania, lately made, that the whole expense of raising and manufacturing a certain number of knots or cuts of such yarn, would be, not more than one quarter the expense of raising and manufacturing an equal number of cuts of flax-thread.
I hope, gentlemen, before the conclusion of anoth
er year, some persons will be able to give the society a more perfect account of the state and prospects in our county of the silk culture, from experiments on a more extended scale. Mr. Joshua Tappan and lady, of Newbury, seem to have done the most of any in the county, within my knowledge, in this culture; and should they persevere with the assiduity they have manifested, they ought to be encouraged. As for myself, if the unavoidable misfortunes which have interrupted my experiments the present season, should not again intervene, I shall pursue the enterprize in future on a larger scale, and hope to show the society a better result.
I would only remark, that in my experiments I have pursued exclusively the natural system, no artificial heat was employed, and none is required by this system. It is this, which farmers and all those who may practise silk growing incidentally will follow. It is well known that in the silk growing countries of Europe, it is necessary to create artificial heat, even to hatch the eggs, that the peasants often carry them in their bosoms several days for this purpose; but in our climate, so congenial to this culture, nothing of this is necessary, nor is artificial heat required to promote the progress and growth of the worm. But when pursued as an exclusive business, it may be well to adopt what is called the artificial system, as more profit could undoubtedly be derived. By the former system, no thermometers, no stoves for heating the apartments, and, according to the new theory which has been before mentioned, no ice-houses, or refrigerators for retarding the hatching of eggs, will be required. Any common out-building, or room of the house, kept clean and well ventilated, will answer all the purposes required.
I must apologize for making so many general remarks, aside from the duty required of me, that of a simple statement of facts, giving the manner of conducting the experiments for which I have asked a
premium. But in perusing the published transactions of our society for the several years past, I have been astonished that so little apparent interest seems to have been taken in the silk culture in our county. Less seems to have been done here than in any portion of the United States, and, as I believe, few portions are better adapted to the culture. Little has been said in the transactions except in the general remarks of a respected member of this committee, in whose statements I perfectly accord; and, although I have decidedly recommended the introduction of the improved varieties of mulberry, yet we ought not to lose sight of the just remarks referred to, as to the management of the white mulberry; for I consider it expedient to continue to plant and cultivate the latter, especially in hedges to surround the fields of the multicaulis. And although I should despair of profitably raising silk with no other tree than the white mulberry, yet, a considerable business has been done in Connecticut with this tree alone ; and it may be found to be valuable in producing early foliage.
Hamilton, September 13, 1840.
NOTE:-We publish with pleasure, the detailed experiments of Mr. Cutler, who appears to be zealously engaged in the culture of silk, because we think it an interesting subject of inquiry;—but we would not be understood as adopting the views, so confidently entertained by Mr. Čutler;—on the contrary, we have much doubt on the subject. But few of the mulberry orchards, that we have seen in the county, have been worth preserving.
J. W. P.