Page images
PDF
EPUB

ham, with his usual acuteness, had long before invited the attention of Sir Humphry Davy to the chemisty of Agriculture, and even especially retained a Mr. Grisewood's services for Norfolk ; but the public were not yet ripe for instruction, and the lever of superphosphate of lime and guano was wai ing to move their minds from traditionary routine. From that period the work went on with railroad celerity. When Mr. Josiah Parkes called on Mr. Handley in 1837, he found him experimenting on “a new manure called guano." Ten years later, although the consumption was enormous, many farmers looked upon its use as a sort of treason, and met innovators with a maxim, which is in one sense sound: Nothing like muck.” Others equally ignorant, but more enterprising, used it freely, and grew great crops without caring to know the reason why. The desire to ascertain the reason why quickly followed, and has already converted many a farmer into a creature of reason from a creature of rule of-thumb.

If it be asked what has been practically gained within the last twenty years by the investigations of the agricultural chemist, we would answer, certainty. We knew years ago that farmyard manure was excellent; by the light of chemical science we learn why it is “ perfect universal manure," we learn how to manufacture and employ it best, and we learn why on clay soils it may be safely, nay advantageously, left for weeks on the surface before being plowed in. Chemical science again teaches us why lime, which is not an active manure, although valuable as a destroyer of elements hostile to fertility, produces great effect for a series of years, and then not unfrequently ceases to show any profitable results; it teaches us to what crops guano, to what superphosphate of lime, to what farmyard manure may be most profitably applied, and when a mixture of all three. Chemistry settles the comparative value of linseed cake, cotton cake, and karob beans; shows when pulse should be used for sattening pigs, and how to compound a mixture of Indian corn and bean meal which shall fat bacon neither hard nor wasteful. The conclusions of science were previously known empirically to a few, but their range was limited and their application accidental. They have been reduced to order and rendered universally available for the use of plain farmers by the investigations of men like Lawes and Voelcker. As the latter observes, " there are too many modi. fying influences of soil, climate, season, &c., to enable us to establish any invariable laws for the guidance of the husbandman ;” but the more we can trace effects to their causes and ascertain the mode in which nature operates, the nearer we are to fixed principles and a sure rule of practice.

then, that the first great epoch of modern agricultural improvement began with Lord Townshend, who demonstrated the truth embodied in the adage,

“ He who marls sand

May buy the land,” showed the value of the turnip, and, as we presume, must have been a patron of the four-course system, which had its rise in Norfolk about the same time. The second epoch was that of Bakewell, whose principles of stock-breeding have ever since continued to raise, year by year, the average value of our meat-producing animals. The third epoch dates from the exertions of such men as the Duke of Bedford and Coke of Holkbam, the latter of whom, combiniog usages which had been very partially acted upon, brought into favor drilled turnip husbandry, carried all the branches of farming as far as was permitted by the knowledge of his time, and did the inestimable service of inoculating hundreds of landlords and tenants with his own views. The fourth epoch, if we were to take each advance from its earliest dawn, would comprise the various dates of the opening of the first railroad, the importation of the first cargo of guano, the publication of Liebig's first edition of the “ Chemistry of Agriculture," and the deep draining of the Bonesotter's field on Chat Moss ; but in general terms it may be said to date from the first meeting of the Royal Agricultural Society at Oxford in 1839, when farmers began to be

It would seem,

familiarized with men of science, and men of science learned not to despise agricultural experience. This last era is almost the birth of yesterday, and already, as compared with any former period, the results read more like a page from the Arabian Nights than like a chapter in the history of agricultural progress. Deep drainage, artificial manures, artificial food, improved implements, and railroad conveyance, have been the leading means by which the change has been wrought. Deep drainage has brought into play the inexhausted fertility of our strong clays : portable manures and purchased food have increased the crops on land of every degree. Mangold and swedes have been made to fourish on stiff soils, and cereals on sieve-like sands. Downs have been transformed from bare pastures to heavy root and rich grain bearing fields. The visitors to Salisbury Plain at the agricultural show of 1857 were surprised to find a large part of it converted into productive corn land-a change wbich has been almost entirely effected within the last twenty years. The scientific mechanic has provided the tools and machinery for breaking up and pulverizing the ground, for sowing the seed, for gathering the crops, for preparing it for market, for crushing or cutting the food for the stock, with an ease, à quickness, and a perfection unknown before. The railroad is the connecting medium which maintains the vast circulation, conveying the agencies of production to the farmer, and the produce of the farmer to market. The steam cultivator is, perhaps, about to be added to the triumphs of mechanism, and then will be realized the expression in the fine lines of Mr. Thackeray on the Great Exhibition of 1851-an expression which was premature if it was in. tended to be bistoric, but which we hope, and almost believe, will prove to be prophetic :

“ Look yonder where the enginos toil;

These England's arms of conquest are,
The trophies of her bloodless war;

Brave weapons those.
Victorious over wave and soil,

With these she sails, she weaves, she tills,
Pierces the everlasting bills,

And spans the seas." The spirit of the old agriculture and the new are diametrically oppositethat of the old agriculture was to be stationary, that of the new is to progress. When Young made his tour through the east of England in 1771, he remarks as a peculiarity that the turnip cabbage of a Mr. Reynolds, which had a special superiority, was gradually adopted by his neighbors---" a circumstance," he adds, " that would not happen in many counties.” His works are, in fact, a narrative of individual enterprise and general stupidity. A Mr. Cooper who went into Dorsetshire from Norfolk could only get bis turnips hoed by working himself year after year with his laborers, and refusing to be tired out by their deliberate awkwardness for the purpose of defeating his design. After he had continued the practice for twenty years, and all the surrounding farmers had witnessed the vast benefits derived from it, not a single one of them had begun to imitate him. Mr. Cooper, with two horses a breast, and no driver, plowed an acre of land where his neighbors with four horses and a driver plowed only three-quarters of an acre. Yet not a laborer would touch this unclean implement, as they seemed to think it, and no farmer, with such an example perpetually before his eyes, chose to save on each plow the wages of a man, the keep of two borses, and the extra expenditure incurred by the diminished amount of work performed in the day. No longer ago than 1835, Sir Robert Peel presented a Farmers' Club at Tamworth with two iron plows of the best construction. On his next visit the old plows with the wooden mould-boards were again at work. " Sir," said a member of the club, “we tried the iron, and we be all of one mind that they made the weeds

:” On Young recommending the Dorsetshire agriculturalists to fold their ewes in the winter, they treated the idea with contempt; and on pressing them for their reasons, they replied, “that the flock, in rushing out of

grow.'

the fold, would tread down the lambs," though no such accident had ever been heard of, " and that the lambs would not be able to find their dams in a large fold,” though certainly, says Young, “a lamb in Dorsetshire bas as much sense as a lamb elsewhere." Whether the method had been beneficial or not, the grounds for rejecting it were equally absurd. Of two neighboring counties one was sometimes a century behind the other. A lazy desire to creep with sluggish monotony along an established path, and a feeling of impatience at being pushed into a novel traek, helped to maintain hereditary prejudices, and tenants invented fanciful excuses for not doing what was plainly advantageous to be done, because they preferred present sloth to future profit. They were like a man who had lain upon one side till he shrunk from the trouble of turning over to the other, though when the process was performed the new posture might be easier than the old. But once roused and put in motion, and the inherent reluctance to stir being overcome, the gain in interest as well as in pocket was felt to be great. He who has profited by one innovation is ready to try another, and his pride and his pleasure is to inprove where his fathers gloried in resisting improvement. There are still large districts of England which have yet to be converted to a rational system of agriculture-landlords who are ignorant of the principles of management which attract or create intelligent tenants—and tenants who are ignorant of the methods by which the land is made to double its increase. But the wave of agricultural progress has acquired irresistible might, and they must mount it or it will sweep them away. The best thing which can be done for these laggards in the race is to persuade them to take in an agricultural pewspaper, to get them to consult the commercial travelers who collect orders for the manufacturers of artificial manures, to talk them into replenishing their worn out implements from the mart of the great makers, to prevail on them to visit the annual shows of the Royal Agricultural Society, to throw them, in short, in the way of seeing the products of advanced husbandry, and of hearing the ideas of enlightened cultivators. By some or all of these means they may be put upon the high-road to improvement, and when they have gone an inch there is little fear, unless they are afflicted by a hopeless incapacity, that they will refuse to go the ell. He who lives within the diameter of a little circle has ideas as narrow as bis horizon, but the influence of numbers and skill together is irresistible, and no impersonation of ignorance or bigotry has probably ever visited a single great agricultural exhibition without returning a wiser and a better farmer.

The present volume being in press when the following document appeared, place is given to it here rather than in that for 1860, in order that it may have an earlier circulation.

AUGUSTA, May 28, 1860. To S. L. GOODALE, Esq., Dr. Amos NOURSE, Dr. E. HOLMES.

Gentlemen :-In view of the existence of a contagious and fatal disease among the cattle of a neighboring State, and the magnitude of the interest involved, should the malady extend to this State, it has seemed to me important to be possessed of full information as to the nature and extent of the disease, the method of treatment, the manner of infection, and what measures may be deemed necessary to prevent its spread, or arrest its progress. For this purpose, and to provide for the safety of this important interest, and preserve it, if possible, from the impending calamity, I have instituted this commission, and authorize and request you, without delay, to visit the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and especially the district therein infected with the disease, for the purposes above mentioned, and make report at your earliest convenience. Very respectfully yours,

LOT M. MORRILL, Gov. of Maine.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »