Page images
PDF
EPUB

the contemptuousness of the other, be revived. The farmer has tested too many theories, and thrown their broken frag. ments into the faces of their authors to cherish much revenge. The man of science has achieved too much not to be able to bear with composure to be reminded of his failures. And let no misconception of what science is prevent a proper estimate of its worth. Doubtless, there are too many professors who seek to impose upon the general thought, as science, the baseless phantoms of their own minds; who speculate and soar, but are incapable of standing on the solid ground and working at the tasks of men. Science, however, is not the dreams, vagaries, rash generalizations of such men. Nor do the true and genuine men of science always escape mistakes. But even their mistakes are of real utility. They show where the truth is not, and that is one step towards showing where it is. In justice to them it must ever be remembered, that man's search after truth is a perpetual wandering, and his onward progress is written on the same page of the great history as the record of human error.

Science, cleared of the fancies of its weak men, and the profitable mistakes of its strong men, is knowl. edge - knowledge accumulated from all sources, the lucky blunder of ignorance, the inspired suggestion of genius, the careful labors of a life-time. It is knowledge tested, explained and codified in principles. It is law, causation, force. It endows man with dynamic energies that give him everywhere mastery and dominion. All the other industries seek and find in it their constant aid. The statesman-manufacturer whose name is given to this city, the best part of whose life was devoted to the promotion of the national industry, did not feel that his work was completed, until he had established a school to teach the application of science to the industrial arts. It is impossible to suppose that the systematic inculcation and diffusion of the knowledge of the demonstrated facts and principles of agriculture by means of an institution of instruction, will not give a new and invigorating impulse to the farming interests of the state.

Science is knowledge. The love of knowledge is the characteristic of man as a rational creature. What will he not do and dare to attain it? The icy deserts of the frigid zone have no terrors for him, if he can but gain one glimpse of the open polar sea. The torrid heats, the sickly air, the savage beasts, the more savage men of tropical Africa, are but exhilarating incidents to the explorer bent on discovering the sources of the Nile. There is no process so hidden, no secret so withdrawn, no mystery of life or death, of mind or matter, so dark that it is not tried with his incessant questioning. Sickness and poverty, privation and death, he will endure to obtain knowledge. The divine hunger of his thought is never satisfied, its immortal thirst is never quenched. Knowledge to knowledge is fuel added to the flame. The desire grows with what it feeds on. Its universal sign is an unresting activity of intellect that starts a new vitality and growth in every field of human life which it touches. This is the spirit that dominates the age--a

“spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought."

Science too is power. How grand are its achievements! They are the pride of the race, which they exalt and ennoble. It bridges the river, it tunnels the mountain, it constructs the water-wheel, it builds the dam ; the monster steam it harnesses to every burden, and sets him grinding in the mill; across continents and through roaring gulfs, it darts the articulate message; it parries the lightning stroke; it gives the landscape and the portrait from the flashing pencil of the sun; the tortures of the scalpel it turns to a peaceful dream. Among its myriad manifestations contemplate for a moment

the brilliant demonstration of Le Verrier. Basing his calculation upon certain observed perturbations of the celestial bodies, he announces that on a given night upon

the front of the heavens, there will appear a planet whose light

one

is not known to have ever reached the intelligence of man. The night comes ; the telescope is levelled at the point of the heavens indicated; when, at the predicted moment, up

from the vast of space, out from the abyss of dark eternity, swings the shining planetary world! These are the miracles of man! They declare the power of science.

And now when science comes to the farmer and exhibiting her trophies fain would fertilize his fields, improve his crops, and herds, and increase his gains, shall he reluct and turn aside, nay rather, shall he not go forth to meet her, welcome her, crown her and prepare for her the seat in the high place of honor ?

Gentlemen of the Society,– You are engaged in the honorable work of promoting the advancement of agriculture at a most interesting period. It is one of transition, and as such, is full of the buoyant expectancy of hope. That which has been accomplished by science and experiment, is justly regarded as the guaranty of still more important results. There is great encouragement in the reflection that much as has been done for agriculture by science, even at the lowest estimate, Sir Humphrey Davy, the father of agricultural chemistry, the science most relied on as an organ of progress in your pursuit, began his labors so recently as the beginning of the present century. As late as thirty years ago a constituent of the soil essential to vegetation, still remained undetected. It is only within the last thirty years, that there has been a general advancement in the art. I have not concealed what I believe to be the fact, that there is still much to be done. There is much to be done in the public economy of civilized communities to insure to agriculture the conditions of a self-sustained fertility. There is much to be done in our own commonwealth in the application of known and available resources to increase the productiveness of its soil. Whatever there is to be done, which is within the appropriate sphere of this society, it will undoubtedly do. Its action in the past, has been of the highest advantage to the agriculture of the state and the county.

The intelligence, ability and earnestness which it now organizes, insure to it an increasing usefulness and a continuance of that public confidence it has always deserved and received. Let it enlarge the scope of its activity. . Let it test its usages by the standard of the highest utility. Let it be liberal to the new thought and welcome all effective co-operation. Let it concentrate its influence upon the vital points of a true agricultural economy. Let its whole attitude bend towards the future. Progress in agriculture is slow. But the tardiness of its movement is compensated by being the ground of its preeminence among all the pursuits of life. For its advancement is the long-combining product of all the other arts and sciences. The ripened agriculture is the last best fruit of time. The ages labor to develope and perfect the consummate farmer, and so restore to man his Paradise.

But, fellow-citizens, our contemplations of the present and our hopes for the future are solemnized by the thought of our country and her perils. In four long years of desolating strife, felt in all our homes, her fields have been the scenes of the slow-evolving tragedy of war. It still goes on. .

It is a war for country, freedom and the right, assailed by petty domestic despots in arms to overthrow the government. A war for the Union. Shall it be preserved? Shall self-respecting yeomen yield to masters who insultingly deny that he who tills the soil is fit to own the soil he tills ? Shall loyal owners of the land, tenacious of their rights, cleaving to the patrimony saved and transmitted by their fathers, surrender in a single inch, between the Great Lakes and the Gulf, the easements of nationality ? In this great cause that seeks the judgment of the wise and just, shall Slavery prevail—the gipsy thief that claimed with brazen lies America, the child of Freedom, as her own, and yet would gleefully cut with treason's knife the sacred body in twain amid the shrieks of its true mother? Shall any power of revolt be suffered to break, or guilty compromise to unlock, the adamantine clasp with which the constitution binds these states in

national unity, and loose them from their ordered spheres, madly to rush and tumble in the destructive tumult of a social chaos ? Shall man's last hope for man go down, as though the sun should set never to rise again? These are the transcendent issues of the hour. How awful, how urgent, how irresistible are the appeals that come to every American heart! The dead hand of the past is laid upon us, and thrills us with its ghostly admonition. The multitudes that throng the coming generations turn suppliant faces towards us, and plead for a country. Everywhere, they who had faith in liberty, observing us, anxiously inquire “Can liberty corrupt a people ?" And them, ah! them, the noble men who have fallen and been covered with the flag! Bear them to their rest; scatter the flowers upon their graves; bedew the turf that enfolds them with tears for patriots to their country lost; and set as on yonder sculptured stone* the enduring traces of their names. But oh! if you would give the guerdon of eternal honor, if you would build their proper monument, deep as the sea, high as the stars, finish the work they have begun ; reconstitute the state, uplift with arms of strength its prostrate pillars, and on the arch of empire, ranged anew and founded on the rock of ages, grave the imperishable words, “ Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable." The sacred oath is on the soul of the people of America that the work is begun shall be accomplished, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against the vow.

- For Freedom's battle once begun,

Though baffled ost, is ever won.”

Even now, hear the shouts of the soldiers, hear the shouts of the sailors, as their voices go up in joy and triumph.

• The monument to the Massachusetts soldier, Sumner H. Needham, who was killed in Baltimore, April 19th, 1861.

« PreviousContinue »