Page images
PDF
EPUB

PENOBSCOT AND AROOSTOOK UNION SOCIETY.

The Secretary writes me that the Society embraces 80 members. Its Annual Exhibition was held at Patten on the 13th and 14th of October, 1859. The first day was pleasant, and there was a larger attendance than usual, and a fine display of animals. Mr. Cushman's full blood Durhams, lately introduced, and the cows of Messrs. Twichell, Peake and Miles, excited much interest. The second day was rainy, but did not debar the citizens from the satisfaction of listening to an instructive Address from Mr. Cushman.

AN ADDRESS Delivered at Patten, at the Annual Fair of the Penobscot and Aroostook Agricultural

Society, October 14, 1859, by ALFRED Cushman, Esq. Ladies and Gentlemen :- Again, has ever rolling time, brought another autumnal harvest. Again, are we assembled, as friends and neighbors to give and receive the friendly hand; and see what improvement each other has made in the greatest of all pursuits, that for which man was created, agriculture. Again can we bear witness to the truth of the sacred promise, that seed time and harvest shall not fail. Although tilling the soil is the oldest of all occupations and a very large majority of men are engaged in italthough nearly every article of food and clothing consumed by the 1,000,000,000 of the human race are the direct productions of agriculture, yet very little improvement, in scientific knowledge has been made in it in this country. Men have been content to do as their fathers did, each succeeding generation following in the foot steps of its predecessor, and thus, while the rest of the world has been rapidly advancing, agriculture has stood nearly still. While no other pursuit is so sure to produce happiness and competence, none is so sure to produce morality and virtue. It is said of the Reform Schools of Maine and Massachusetts, that no farmers

sons are there. No other occupation is so exempt from panic, or hard times. Witness the late financial storm, which swept over the country like a wild tornado, prostrating thousands, supposed to be independent, while its effect upon the farmer, was like the cold and driving winter's storm to the inmates of the warm and comfortable house-it only served to increase their happiness. Yet with all the advantages it possesses over other pursuits, how many farmers' sons in the country leave their quiet and happy homes to seek employment in the city-away from the friendly counsel of father, mother, brothers and sisters, surrounded with temptation on every hand, like a ship upon an unknown ocean, without compass, uncertain into what port or upon what rocks, it will be ultimately driven. As cause and effect are inseparably connected, let us inquire what is the cause? Why is it, when the farmers constitute four-fifths of the population and possess an equal amount of wealth, that they exercise so little influence in the counsels of the nation? Is it not because they have not the scientific attainments of the learned professions, that they do not attain a position to which they are entitled ? How is it in our halls of legislation ? When have we had a legislature over which a few scheming lawyers did not exercise an almost entire control ? But few farmers hold office of trust or profit. From the eighty thousand farmers in this State, not even a candidate for Governor, has ever been selected. All the Presidents of these United States have been lawyers except the first; he was a farmer and we have never had his equal. While many thousands of the farmers' money is freely given to endow seminaries to educate the learned professions, agriculture, and that only, is neglected. The friends of agricultural education, saw with hopeful anxiety, a bill introduced at the last Congress to wrest from the grasp of greedy speculators a sufficient quantity of the public lands, to endow a college in each State in the Union, for the promotion of agricultural and mechanical knowledge. That bill, after passing both branches of Congress, was struck down by that arbitrary, anti-democratic power, the President's veto; thus inflicting upon the great productive energies of the nation, the deepest wound which his high position, as executive of this nation, could possibly enable him to do. It may be asked, why was it done?' The answer is, in nearly half the States in this Union, all learning is denied the laborer; and for them to build a college to educate the farmer would be like putting a blacksmith's shop in a powder mill. In other enlightened nations

it is not so. In Europe, agricultural colleges are a source of great national wealth and prosperity; and doubtless would be in this, were they established. Some may think because we export breadstuffs to Europe, our agricultural knowledge is as good as theirs, and that Americans are as wise and learned as Europeans. That this country has produced men of world wide fame, for their scientific and philosophic research and inventive skill, cannot be denied. But shall we presume because our Franklin chained the lightning, and Morse made it carry the news, because our Fulton invented the steamer, and Hoe the lightning press, there is no attainment in agriculture to which Yankee enterprize has not already arrived ? Let us look at Great Britain and see. When the famous corn laws of England were repealed, popular clamor was raised against it. They said our soil is old and exhausted, we cannot raise our bread, whence shall we obtain it? But wise and learned men thought otherwise, and by the aid of chemistry, Baron Liebig and others analyzed soils and plants, ascertained and pointed out of what the plants were composed and the soil deficient, and the fertilizing remedy for the soil, which resulted in astonishing increase of crops. In the older parts of this country the cultivation of wheat is abandoned because they think the country is so old it will not grow. But in England, an average crop of wheat is over thirty bushels per acre, almost double ours, yet that Island had been cultivated more than two thousand years when Columbus discovered this. It is sometimes said that no other country is accumulating wealth as rapidly as ours, especially in the rise of real estate. And when we consider that a large proportion of our territory was obtained of the Indians for a few worthless trinkets, and still more worthless rum, the opinion seems well founded. But let us look at France and see. When the desolating wars of Napoleon were ended, by his grand defeat at Waterloo, the nation's attention was turned to agriculture. By the valuation of 1820, the real estate of France was less than $8,000,000,000. After a period of thirty years, in 1850, that same real estate was valued at over $16,000,000,000, an increase of over $8,000,000,000 in thirty years --while all the taxable property in these United States, including real estate, commerce, manufactures, live stock, the southern slaves, valued at $1,000,000,000, amounts to only $6,500,000,000; or $1,500,000,000 less than the rise of real estate alone in France, in thirty years. The all important question for us to ask is, how did they manage to increase their wealth at such an enormous rate.

The answer is plain and simple, no witchcraft or anything supernatural about it. The great, the wise, the learned men, for which France is so renowned (whose attention for twenty years had been engrossed by the arts of war) were now turned to agriculture. Every available means to enrich the soil was resorted to. Manufactories were established, for the purpose of converting the bodies of dead animals, the offal of slaughter houses and other unwholesome and offensive matter into deodorized and highly valuable fertilizers. They adopted the system of turning the products of the farm into their most concentrated form. The hay, the grain, and the roots were fed to pork, beef, mutton, poultry, &c., and much returned to the farm to fertilize it. Agriculture was the pride of the nation. No man was too great or too good to labor. Incredible as it may appear, we can do the same if we will. I do not believe there is a single farm, within the limits of this Society or even State, which may not be doubled in value in less than thirty years. Notwithstanding the great improvement in agriculture in France, her's is far behind that of Great Britain. It should be the object of every farmer in this country to raise the agricultural standard, at least as high, as it is in any other. For that purpose, the first and most important step is, to acquire knowledge. How little we know and realize the thousand blessings kind Providence has spread around us. How little we know how to appropriate them to our advantage and comfort. Are we not, in that respect, too much like the Californian Indian, who remains miserably poor, hungry and naked, while roving over the richest mines of gold? No

man should engage in any pursuit without securing the best knowledge of it which he can obtain ; for ignorance of one's own business is almost certain to result in failure. No farmer should be without the best agricultural books and newspapers. But are there not many who do not furnish themselves with any agricultural work whatever? Do farmers generally read and regard, as they should, the valuable information given the public by the reports of the Secretary of our Board of Agriculture? Do they take and read that excellent journal, the Maine Farmer? We have eighty thousand farmers in the State, yet only ten thousand copies of that paper are published. Are there not a majority of the farmers in this State, aye and in this Society too, who not only take no agricultural work, but no newspaper whatever?And the excuse they generally give is, they are too poor to take a paper. But I believe no industrious farmer is so poor that he cannot afford to

take two good weekly newspapers.

I am sure he cannot afford to do without the information they bring him. By them he learns the price of any article he wishes to buy or sell; the best mode of cultivation; the best and most improved implements; the best breeds of stock, kinds of seeds, &c.

It is highly important for the farmer to select the best and most improved implements, of which the plow stands at the head; no other implement is so indispensable ; no other can take its place. The man who wields the plow is a thousand times more the benefactor of mankind, than he who wields the sword; yet the one is immortalized and the other forgotten. Great improvements have been made in the plow within the last forty years. Then the neighboring carpenter made the wooden part and the nearest blacksmith ironed it. The old broken hoes and shovel blades were carefully laid aside to nail upon the moldboard. Well do I remember the first plow I ever held, which if here to-day would be the greatest curiosity at this exhibition. And well too, do I remember my vain attempts to keep the little awkward thing in the ground; and when I denounced it as worthless, grandfather said “it was an excellent plow," and it probably did excel the plow described by Stevens, in his Arabian travels, drawn by an old woman and jackass harnessed together. But now, how changed; not only are large manufactories making every description of plows, where the farmer may get any size or pattern his fancy may dictate, but already is the steam engine attached to a gang of plows, capable of plowing in the best manner, a hundred acres per day. Nor are improvements lacking in other things; the horse reaper and mower may be seen sweeping down whole fields, while the old scythe and sickle cut their acres.

Perhaps the greatest improvement farmers have made is in neat stock. I can recollect when it was said in my native town, that steers three years old, girthing five and a half feet, were middling; now it is common to see yearlings above that size. That is occasioned mainly by improvement in breeds. Since the introduction of the Durhams, Devons and IIerefords, a very great improvement has been made. I was told by a member of the Board of Agriculture, that by the introduction of improved breeds in his vicinity, neat stock had doubled in value within the last five years. Here, improvement is but just begun; and like other improvements it has its deadly foes. Some say one thing and some another. Some say the Durhams are large and handsome, but they are nothing

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »