The condition of a western emigrant is not greatly dissimilar. That long covered wagon, which is the Noah's ark of his preservation, is also the concrete essence of house and home to him. He emigrates, he "squats," he "locates," but before he can be fairly said to have a fixed home, the spirit of unrest besets him; he sells his "diggins" to some less adventurous pioneer, and tackling the wagon of the wilderness, migrates once more.
It must not be supposed, large as is the infusion of restlessness in our people, that there are. not also large exceptions to the general rule. Else there would never be growing villages and prosperous towns. Nay, it cannot be overlooked by a careful observer, that the tendency "to settle" is slowly but gradually on the increase, and that there is, in all the older portions of the country, growing evidence that the Anglo-Saxon love of home is gradually developing itself out of the Anglo-American love of change.*
It is not difficult to see how strongly horticulture contributes to the development of local attachments. In it lies the most powerful philtre that civilized man has yet found to charm him to one spot of earth. It transforms what is only a tame meadow and a bleak aspect, into an Eden of interest and delights. It makes all the difference between Araby the blest, and a pine barren. It gives a bit of soil, too insignificant to find a place in the geography of the earth's surface, such an importance in the eyes of its possessor, that he finds it more attractive than countless acres of unknown and unexplored territory. In other words, it contains the mind and soul of the man, materialized in many of the fairest and richest forms of nature, so that he looks upon it as tearing himself up, root and branch, to ask him to move a mile to the right or the left. Do we need to say more, to prove that it is the panacea that really "settles" mankind?
* The philosophy of Mr. Downing in this chapter is profound and his analysis of American character most penetrating. The evil effects of this spirit of unrest and the desirability of neutralizing it through the simultaneous cultivation of the soil and of home ties were never more manifest than in these days of revolution and reconstruction following the World War. - F. A. W.
It is not, therefore, without much pleasurable emotion, that we have had notice lately of the formation of five new horticultural societies, the last at St. Louis, and most of them west of the Alleghanies. Whoever lives to see the end of the next cycle of our race, will see the great valleys of the West the garden of the world; and we watch with interest the first development, in the midst of the busy fermentation of its active masses, of that beautiful and quiet spirit, of the joint culture of the earth and the heart, that is destined to give a tone to the future character of its untold millions.
The increased love of home and the garden, in the older states, is a matter of every-day remark; and it is not a little curious, that just in proportion to the intelligence and settled character of its population, is the amount of interest manifested in horticulture. Thus, the three most settled of the original States, we suppose to be Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania; and in these states horticulture is more eagerly pursued than in any others. The first named state has now seven horticultural societies; the second, seven; the third, three. Following out the comparison in the cities, we should say that Boston had the most settled population, Philadelphia the next, and New York the least so of any city in the Union; and it is well known that the horticultural society of Boston is at this moment the most energetic one in the country, and that it is stimulated by the interest excited by societies in all its neighboring towns. The Philadelphia society is exceedingly prosperous; while in New York, we regret to say, that the numerous efforts that have been made to establish firmly a society of this kind have not, up to this time, resulted in any success whatever.
Its mighty tide of people is as yet too much possessed with the spirit of business and of unrest." *
* "The New-York Horticultural Society" was organized in the spring of 1852, and is already in a flourishing condition. - G. W. C.