Page images

us that superphosphate of lime has come to sustain such a relation to the turnip crop and forage grasses of England, that the crops of meat and grain have been increased to the same extent as if an addition of one-fifth had been made to her arable land. For nearly a century she has been an importer of bones, gathering them even from the battle fields of Europe and the Sicilian catacombs. Our agriculture still has no such demand for bones as to make it unprofitable for her to import them in ship loads from America. She has loaned forty million dollars of the public money for the encouragement of drainage, and immense amounts of private capital have been expended in these improvements. Her systems of crops, of root culture, of sheep husbandry, her improved breeds of cattle, are in themselves studies, and the results of experiment, enterprise and skill. One obstacle after another has been met and overcome. When, on the repeal of the corn laws, cheap produce from abroad brought a pressure upon English farmers like that which Western produce and railroads brought upon the farmers of Massachusetts, they did not succumb, but put forth more strenuous exertions, and by improved methods and greater prudence, succeeded in raising wheat at fifty-seven shillings, with the same profit as before at seventy shillings per quarter. By these means, the English farmer bears the yearly burden of twenty-five dollars per acre in rent and taxes, and gradually attains a competence.

I do not cite these facts to show that the English system of agriculture is a model, which it is either possible or desirable for the American farmer to imitate. That system as a whole, and especially in its relation to labor and the tenure of land, grows out of the structure of English society, which in most essential respects differs from our

I cite them for the purpose of showing that the new methods, processes and resources I have indicated, are real and substantial accessions to the farmers' power, that they are not the mere inventions of men who can afford to sacrifice to the sciences, but that they have become indispensable in a


national system of agriculture, a ground of constant reliance in the most profitable and productive farming; in short, that they represent the farming of farmers. The people of England depend upon them for that necessary surplus of food which it is the business of farmers to raise for the sustenance of the great mass of the population engaged in other employments. The uncounteracted effect of the sudden extinction of these new resources of agriculture where they are relied upon, might reasonably be expected to produce bankruptcy, famine, and even social revolution. The general principles, however, of such farming must be applicable here. The application of these principles in immediate proximity to the demand furnished by a populous manufacturing state, and the increased productiveness that would result, could not but greatly enlarge the farmer's revenues. The increasing burdens of taxation, nothing when compared with the salvation of the government for which they are sustained, insignificant when compared with the burdens of other civilized states, are still an incentive to a higher culture. The growing cheapness of railroad transportation deepens the need to our farmers of reinforced energies to enable them to maintain their hold upon their own markets, against the products of the newly-broken soils both of the East and the West.

Schools, colleges, and institutes have been among the most important and useful agencies of agricultural progress abroad. The experiment has been tried with success. The measure of American enterprise in its boldness and originality might almost be expressed by the phrase—What has not been done, can be done. Surely, no one will suggest that Massachusetts, in the important matter of agricultural education, is to fall below the standard of the familiar teaching, that what has been done can be done again. The Commonwealth has'accepted the bounty of the nation and the trust which it imposes. She has undertaken and bound herself to provide for her young men an institution at which they can be instructed in the principles and economy of agriculture. It is no longer a question whether

we are to have a college, but what kind of a college it shall be. Shall it be worthy of Massachusetts, and rank with her other institutions of learning, education, and science ? Shall it have a vital relation to her farms and farmers, and be felt by them as a power? She can do a great service to herself and the country, and give the prestige of success to a cause of national importance, by furnishing the example of an efficient agricultural college of the best stamp. The governor of the Commonwealth, whose mind is always open to the best thought of his time, and two successive legislatures, intelligent and devoted to the good of the state, have taken up this work with earnestness and zeal. This unanimous official action indicates a sympathy with the undertaking on the part of the community at large that is most hopeful and significant. The people welcome an institution that is to open new paths to skilled and instructed industry. The stimulation of the educational system of the state greatly multiplies the number of those who crave a sphere in which disciplined faculties can find appropriate exercise. The young men that annually go out from your high schools, eagerly seek employments which call for the intellectual activity required in the application of systematic knowledge. They ask for vocations vitalized with the life of principles, and with unsatisfied hearts put on the harness of a calling that stagnates in routine. Very much of the highest and best instructed talent of the country, which was formerly absorbed by the three professions and by statesmanship, is devoted to the arts, the management of business and productive industry. And these employments furnish scope for such talent. To organize some of these great industrial establishments, to wield the enormous masses of capital embarked in them, to build railroads, to direct the ventures of a large commerce, and with success, requires the grasp and vigor of mind that would be equal to the administration of. In occupations of this class, but on a smaller scale, educated and instructed intellect finds congenial activity and liberal rewards. There are farms and farmers on them in our

county, that are abundant proofs that agriculture furi.ishes an occupation for the man, of thoughtful, trained and cultivated mind. But the agricultural college is the visible, conspicuous sign to the people that such is the fact.

And indeed, what industrial or business pursuit gives more real scope for educated capacity, or holds out more inviting attractions ? The selection of the crops, the distribution of the land between them upon proper plans of rotation, a systematic economy under which nothing shall go to waste and all the operations of the farm shall have their requisite adaptations to each other and contribute to the ultimate profit, the combinations of the compost, the choice of implements and stock, the direction of the labor, the determination of the time and mode of harvest, the preservation of the gathered crop, the making of the necessary purchases and sales, call for sound judgment and real ability. A constant watchfulness must attend the growing crops. A wise forethought must anticipate and counteract injurious influences. Farm improvements, the reclamation and restoration of lands, and the whole unexplored domain of agricultural experiment are open to enterprise. The field of the higher husbandry lying almost untouched, waits to bestow its liberal bounties upon those who will take possession of it with the required courage, capital and skill. The tasks that have most severely taxed the farmer's strength, mechanical ingenuity is continually lightening. Above all modes of life, the farmer's is exempt from the struggles of competition, the frivolities of ostentation, the hazards of chance, the temptations that corrupt the heart and deaden the conscience, and the fever of the over-wrought brain. He feels the movement of the intense life of the central city, but escapes its wear and tear, its tumult and excitement. He enjoys the health and strength of vigorous manhood. His home is the seat of calm delights, of tranquil comfort, contentment, plenty, and a cheerful hospitality. How alluring are his proper studies! The history of his art, his implements, and the tenures of land is the history of mankind since history was written. In his

country's agriculture, he investigates the foundations of his country's greatness. From the acres of his farm, lead the avenue of science, to the whole realm of nature.

-a realm of knowledge, wonder, mystery. With science he may descend into the sepulchre of growths and races that have perished. With science he may read with awe from the rocks the record of the globe's long agonies. With science he may explore the kingdoms of the earth, the sea, and air, their infinite variety and perfect harmony, and may pass to the verge of that fathomless gulf, the mind of man can neither sound nor cross, that separates organic from inorganic nature. With science he may raise his eyes to the heavens, and survey the wilderness on wilderness of lighted worlds, drifting in their trackless, destined courses in the shoreless universe of God. These studies of the farmer are most appropriately described by that famous passage of Cicero in which he celebrates the charm of letters. “Hæc studia adolescentiam acuunt, senectutem oblectant, secundas res ornant, adversis perfugium ac solatium præbent; delectant domi, non impediunt foris, pernoctant nobiscum, peregrinantur, rusticantur.”*

While, however, this institution may hope to receive the general good will and favor of the people of the commonwealth, it should especially receive the encouragement of farmers. To promote their interests, it has been established by the nation and the state. Let them regard it as peculiarly their own. Let them insist upon its proper organization and maintenance, and co-operate in all efforts to insure for it the beneficent career of which it is capable. Let no lurking suspicion or distrust that science has no benefits in store for agriculture, chill the cordiality of your support. Still less let the old wrangle between the man of science and the man of practice, in which the presumptaousness of the one was met with

* These studies are a discipline to youth, a pleasure to old age, an ornament to prosperity, a refuge and a solace in adversity; they delight in the house, out of doors they are not in the way; they are companions by night, they travel with us in foreign lands, they stay with us on the farm.

« PreviousContinue »