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carth, if a tanner turns skins into leather, if a machinist makes a steam engint, if a cunning workman fabricates and puts together a watch, if an optician constructs a telescope, the last disclosure of science guides his hand and moulds his workand why should not the farmer bring, to alleviate his hard toil, and make more exuberant the fruits of his labor, whatever aid science as well as art can furnish? There is a wide distinction between fancy and scientific farming. A man comes into the country from city or college, and sets out to be a model agriculturalist. He buys a place, pulls down all the old structures and builds a small palace. He erects a greenhouse, and hennery, and piggery, and buildings for his cattle, which surpass in their appointments the habitations of decent people around him. He imports at fabulous prices foreign stock which he knows not how to use or raise. He buys whatever in the way of implements or tools is advertised as new, without knowing whether they are good or bad. And then he gets his books, and without previous experience, and spurning the advice of old cultivators, he sets up for a gentleman farmer. For a year or two he runs on swimmingly, makes a great figure, throws into the shade his humble competitors, and then, as might have been expected, he miserably fails, and a sheriff's auction closes the scene.
And his neighbors cry out, “So much for your scientific farming !” It is no such thing. It is fancy farming.
Now look upon another picture. A gentleman (he may or may not have had early practical acquaintance with farming, but he has good sense and sound judgment), with resolute mind and purpose, and in gratification of long cherished wishes, devotes his attention and wealth to agriculture. He proceeds carefully and systematically. He has taste, and he makes his place an object of beauty as well as utility. His buildings are ornamental as well as useful. His fences are both handsome and durable. His fields are clean as well as fruitful. If there is an unsightly bog, he reclaims it and makes it fertile. If there are impoverished acres, he studies and experiments, and finds what elements are lacking, and supplies them. If, upon
trial, he ascertains that his lands will not profitably raise certain accustomed crops, he rotates, and finds those which will yield remuneratively. His tools and implements are the best, and therefore the most economical. If the stock upon the farm is poor, he learns by inquiry and research what breeds are most prolific and hardy, best fitted for labor and for market. He eagerly avails himself of the practical experience of those around him, but at the same time he studies books and seeks the aid of science. From geology he learns the origin, nature and composition of soils, from chemistry to analyze and improve them, the condition requisite for the most perfect growth and maturity of vegetation, and the mode of preparing the best fertilizers,—from botany the structure and habits of plants, and what soils and modes of treatment they demand, from zoology those laws by which the re-production of animals is regulated and their highest perfection attained,—and so, from all the natural sciences he gathers knowledge and applies it in his daily tasks, till complete success crowns his efforts, till the former waste becomes a garden, until what was once a wilderness is made to bud and blossom like the rose. This is the scientific farmer. We have such in this county. We have them in this town. They are efficient officers and members of this society. They have striven hard to promote its welfare and extend its usefulness. They are in our midst here to-day-men whose talents, and wealth, and social position might give them public eminence and honor, but who, as exemplars of progressive agriculture, are doing more good than though they were conspicuous in public councils, or were ruling the storm of debate in legislative halls. Let the young farmer emulate such examples. Let him understand that to keep up with the times, he must read and study,--that to become entirely successful, he must add to industry and economy and toil, science and skill. In no other way can he excel, in no other way can he improve his art and benefit his fellows. Our soil is not only comparatively poor, it is impoverished and worn out. Science and skill, and they alone, can restore its exhausted powers
and they can. They can make it as productive as Western prairies or Southern valleys. There is no reason why the ag. riculture of New England should not rival that of Old England. There is no reason why Massachusetts should not feed her whole population. To make her truly independent she should do so. The responsibility rests upon the rising generation of farmers. Let us hope that they will cheerfully assume and nobly discharge it.
A few words, and but a few, upon one other topic, and I have done. You may call it, if you please, æsthetics, poetry, sentiment, by what name you will, but it is a subject upon which, if I had felt at liberty to follow my own inclinations, I should have filled my whole discourse. The young farmer will mistake his mission who makes that an end which should be but an incident or means. He may grow rich, may add barn to barn, and acre to acre, but if he neglects to wreathe the brow and soften the hands of labor with refinement and grace, his whole life will be a failure, and his example a wrong. Farming must be made attractive—and though its profitable exercise will tend to this, yet if, through the want of other attractions, it does not gain the right class of recruits, it will soon cease to yield profit. Is not our farm-life too rugged and harsh? Has it sufficiently recognized the amenities of life? Has it adequately encouraged social culture and delights? Has it not deemed exclusive devotion to labor as indispensable to success, frowned upon whatever interfered with unremitting toil, and grudged the expended mite which would have added to its hoards? Has it not looked upon the exercise of taste, the gratification of the eye, the love of ornament and beauty, as something foreign and out of place, and recognized nothing as desirable or useful which would not pay in dollars and cents ? Such, at all events, has been the prevailing tendency—and in it is to be found the great secret of that aversion to farm-life which “has taken directly from our farming population its best elements—its quickest intelligence, its most stirring enterprise, its noblest and most ambitious natures."
Let the young
farmer, then, begin life aright. Remembering the well established fact of physiology, “that hard labor, followed from day to day and year to year, absorbing every thought and every energy, has the direct tendency to depress the intellect, blunt the sensibilities, and animalize the man,” let him be sure to cultivate the mental, moral and social nature. Let him feel that « his farm has higher uses for him than those of feeding his person or his purse.” As he looks out upon his green meadows and waving fields, as he plants the brown seed and gathers in the golden harvest, as he listens to the song of birds, the lowing of herds, the sweet hum of animated nature, as he sees the morning sun rise to gild and gladden the earth, and the evening shadows falling longer from the hills,
“ And then the moon, like to a silver bow
New-bent in heaven,"
“Earth-treading stars, that make dark heaven light,"
coming out to rule and glorify the night, as in the spring-time he watches the ever-recurring but ever great mystery of nature, and when the winds of autumn wail in mournful cadence, muses upon the decay of nature, less mysterious but more solemn than its bursting life, let him remember that he is one of God's creatures, but created for glory and honor, entrusted with an earthly mission, but required hereafter to render an
of his stewardship. Let him think of his family and his home of his wife and children,-she, the choice of his youth and the solace of his manhood, who, in travail and pain has borne them to him, and they, who are to cheer and support his old age, and transmit and bring honor to his name. Let him make his and their home pleasant and cheerful. let it be grateful to the sight, and delightful to the memory. Let there be the smooth, green sward upon which the shadows come and go, the clean-swept walk, the neat, white paling, the blooming and fragrant flowers, the climbing vine upon the
rustic porch, the graceful trees which shade from sun and shelter from the storm. Within, let it be the abode of domestic joys and cultivated life. Let it have some sacred retreat, where labor shall forget its irksome tasks,—where tired nature shall find sweet repose,—where everything shall charm the ear, delight the eye, or gratify the mind,—where shall be comfort, propriety and refinement,—not needing luxury or wealth, but only “that unbought grace” which neither gold can buy nor station give, and which may breathe alike around the rich man's stately mansion and the poor man's humble cottage. Living thus, with trust in Heaven, with nurturing care for the dear ones upon the earth, seeing God in nature, and recognizing labor and its rewards as but the means and not the end, the farmer will lead another and a higher life. Existence will have a new meaning. There will be for him new heavens and a new earth. Drought, and mildew, and blight may come, but hope and happiness are left. He walks through life, it may be amid storms, beneath clouds, surrounded by misfortunes, beset by carking cares, yet seeing forms of light in the gathering darkness, and drawing joy from out the very gloom.
“ The meanest floweret of the vale,
The simplest note that swells the gale,
Gentlemen of the Society-Farmers of Essex: In what pleasant places have your lines fallen to you-how goodly is your heritage. It is not alone an occupation, healthful, profitable and useful; it is not alone a home, pleasant, comfortable and refined; it is not alone an ancestry, the record of whose pious deeds and heroic lives is far dearer than would be the proudest escutcheon of heraldic vanity; it is not alone a County, populous aud rich, washed upon one side by the bounding waves of the Atlantic, traversed by beautiful and fertilizing streams, diversified all over with lake and forest, and swelling hills and teeming vales, with all the great material interests of