This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
Ladies and Gentlemen : Another year of seed-time and harvest has passed away since we last assembled on these grounds to witness the excellence of this county in producing the necessaries and luxuries of life. Rain and sunshine, spring and autumn, and summer and winter, have wrought their mysteries of nature, and here we see the noble work that they have perfected. On every hand we behold these generous products of the soil, the fruits of the orchard, the flowers of the garden, the handiwork of the dairy, the loom, and the kitchen. Delicate fingers have wrought this beautiful embroidery, these artificial flowers, these dainty quilts and rugs, which excite our admiration by the skill which they display, and appeal to our senses by the air of comfort and luxury which surrounds them.
It is gratifying to me to observe these triumphs of the outer and inner life of the farm, for it indicates a good degree of prosperity, praiseworthy industry, and the exercise of a taste that only needs specific culture to excel in the fine-arts that make home beautiful and elevate the sentiment of the household.
Not far off I hear the lowing of sightly cattle, the bleating of sheep, the sonorous utterances of swine, the cackling of hens, and the defiant crow of the Shanghai. It is only another indication that other branches of farm-life as well as the raising of grain, vegetables and fruit, have prospered during the past twelve months. For my part, I am glad it does not devolve on me to award the prizes upon this exhibition. If it did, I think the blue ribbon would grace everything here offered for competition. But that should not be, and the managers, with a greater wisdom and a better sense of justice, have entrusted that labor to men and women more competent to judge between good and evil than I am. No doubt you will all be satisfied, and some of you very happy, when their awards are made.
Near by I observe that the manufacturers of farm-machinery have not forgotten to be present with their labor-saving instrumentalities, glittering with bright paint and gold, to decorate the space allotted to them. The interest that you have in these things, however, goes be-low the gilding and the paint, and you have long since learned to appreciate the usefulness and value of them as important agents in your agricultural success.
I have been at many county fairs in my time. I was at twenty last year. Some of you may remember seeing me here. I thought then that in all points you rather excelled your neighbors by the variety and true excellence of your exhibition, and now I am convinced that - county yields the palm to none in these particulars.
Last year Senate county raised an average of thirty-five bushels of winter wheat to the acre, and No. 1 at that. But since I came here to-day I am assured that you overlap Senate county by three bushels per acre, and you ought to be very proud of the record, for Senate county claims to be the best in the State.
I hear that your county is also furnishing many very fine road and draught horses of the Norman and some other lighter breeds. I have seen several specimens of travelers while on my way hither, and I am satisfied that in this direction you are making gradual and important improvements.
Of course, in making this branch of industry successful, you import blooded stock to mix with your best domestic animals, and so, from year to year, the improvement will increase. At your trials on the course, however, you will, I hope, be careful not to let the love of money or fast horses outweigh other superior qualities in your estimation.
Farmers' boys and girls, I have a word for you! Don't leave the farm. Stay there and work, and earn an honest, healthful living in the pure air of the country, rather than rush headlong into the crowded streets and contaminated atmosphere of city life. There may be more excitement, more to see and hear and learn, than on the farm, but it is dangerous to health and morals and comfort. Make your homes, with the assistance of your parents, pleasant places by exercising your own good taste and skill in devising new attractions and decorations; and, above all, read, learn and master the arts and sciences that are most easily reached in the retirement of the country fireside. Good books cost little now, comparatively, and are easily obtained. From them gather wisdom and entertainment as you can - but however much you may visit the city, stick to the farm.
And, farmers, a word to you. Cease making farm-life a drudgery. Dress up and put your homes in attractive condition. Commence your labors at a reasonable hour in the morning, and close at a reasonable hour at night. Beginning work at four o'clock in the morning and ending at nine at night, the year round, will drive the best boy living off to the city. Make your homes charming. Why not? Must your children go to the city to find beauty! Must they go there to see beautiful pleasure-grounds, attractive architecture and handsomely decorated homes? Must they go away from home in order to find that pleasure, beauty, and attraction, which young people love? In landscape-gardening, and floriculture, you have the finest of opportunities. In the growing of fruit and ornamental trees, in opportunity for sports and games, you have a thousand advantages where the city has one.
"Can't afford it?" You can't afford to do otherwise. The noblest mission of man is to live long, be happy, and make others happy about him. No man that overworks can live to a great age. No man's family living in the midst of constant toil, drudgery, and lack of re-creation, can have perfect health and real enjoyment.
Nature will not be cheated. The body will endure so much toil and no more. The innate love of the beautiful will not be deprived of its gratification. Make your farm a treadmill of hard, grinding toil: let your house go unpainted, and the door-yard grow up to weeds; let your horses go uncleaned, and your wagon be covered with mud; let your pig-pen be close upon one side, and the cow-yard near by the other; let this spirit of neglect and hard work characterize your farm-life, and the children will quit, and you will be deprived of their assistance long before they are grown to an age whereby they can aid you.
"Can't afford to spend time and money to fix up about the house?" Do you wish to have your children interested with you in all your labors? Would you like to have one of them carry forward the farm, after you have done with it, while the rest settle in the immediate vicinity? Then give plenty of time for growth and recreation to the children.
Reduce your work to a system. Take down your fence in the near vicinity of the house, and give yourself several acres of beautiful green lawn about your home. Leave an abundance of open space for air, light and view in the front of your house; but on this broad lawn, on either side of the residence, set groups of evergreens, fruit and ornamental trees. Not too many, but enough to give variety.
Cultivate a love of the beautiful, and show it in your works about your homes. It does not cost much money to do this. It is mostly a matter of taste and love of order and neatness. The rustic summer-house, with trailing vines that hang upon it, need not be expensive. The preparation of the flower-beds will cost you but little time. The floral beauties that will make your home brilliant will cost you nothing. The ladies and the children of the household will care for them with the greatest pleasure. Place a broad piazza on the front of your house, upon which the family can sit when they rest from the active labors of the day in the warm season. Trim your house and outbuildings handsomely and paint them; keep the grass cleanly cut upon your lawns, and with the accessories I have mentioned your homes will be beautiful; they will be attractive to the children - they will be charming to all that come within their influence; and in them you will be vastly happier than when living in homes and on farms that present, as many do, only dreariness and evidences of bare, hard life.