But some of our readers who have tried the thing may say that it is a very expensive thing to settle oneself and get well established, even on a small place in the country. And so it is, if we proceed upon the fallacy, as we have said, that everything in the country is cheap. Labor is dear; it costs you dearly to-day, and it will cost you dearly tomorrow and the next year. Therefore in selecting a site for a home in the country always remember to choose a site where nature has done as much as possible for you. Don't say to yourself as many have done before you - "Oh! I want occupation, and I rather like the new place - raw and naked though it may be. I will create a paradise for myself. I will cut down yonder hill that intercepts the view, I will level and slope more gracefully yonder rude bank, I will terrace this rapid descent, I will make a lake in yonder hollow." Yes, all this you may do for occupation, and find it very delightful occupation too, if you have the income of Mr. Astor. Otherwise, after you have spent thousands in creating your paradise and chance to go to some friend who has bought all the graceful undulations and sloping lawns and sheets of water, natural, ready made - as they may be bought in thousands of purely natural places in America, for a few hundred dollars, - it will give you a species of pleasure-ground-dyspepsia to see how foolishly you have wasted your money.
And this more especially when you find, as the possessor of the most finished place in America finds, that he has no want of occupation, and that far from being finished, he has only begun to elicit the highest beauty, keeping and completeness of which his place is capable.
It would be easy to say a great deal more in illustration of the mistakes continually made by citizens going into the country; of their false ideas of the cost of doing everything; of the profits of farming; of their own talent for making an income from the land, and their disappointment, growing out of a failure of all their theories and expectations. But we have perhaps said enough to cause some of our readers about to take the step to consider whether they mean to look upon country life as a luxury they are willing to pay so much a year for, or as a means of adding something to their incomes. Even in the former case they are likely to underrate the cost of the luxury, and in the latter they must set about it with the frugal and industrial habits of the real farmer, or they will fail. The safest way is to attempt but a modest residence at first, and let the more elaborate details be developed, if at all, only when we have learned how much country life costs, and how far the expenditure is a wise one.
Fortunately it is art and not nature which costs money in the country, and therefore the beauty of lovely scenery and fine landscapes (the right to enjoy miles of which may often be had for a trifle), in connection with a very modest and simple place, will give more lasting satisfaction than gardens and pleasure grounds innumerable. Persons of moderate means should, for this reason, always secure, in their fee simple, as much as possible of natural beauty, and undertake the elaborate improvement of only small places which will not become a burden to them. Millionaires, of course, we leave out of the question. They may do what they like. But most Americans buying a country place may take it for their creed, that Man wants but little land below, Nor wants that little dear.