This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Dear Sir: The literary character of the principal editor of the Evening Post, gives importance to whatever he may write upon education, its means and ends. I enclose an article from his paper of to day, in reply to some other article recommending the i establishment by the state, of agricultural schools, (only these) in imitation of Prussia. This reply, unnecessarily dragging-in the method of teaching, and political lessons taught, is just as applicable to all our schools. As well say have no common schools, no free acade mies, no colleges, because Prussia in her schools, academies, and colleges, teaches her children to be quiet subjets of an absolute government. It is a feint to conceal the true issue - to cover it with a prejudice - as if our farmers must be denied suitable means of instruction, because forsooth, Prussia teaches her farmers political submission with agriculture. To keep freedom's end equal then, we should provide equal means of instruction, and with the agricultural science, teach the doctrines of self and free governments.
If I have read correctly of the course of instruction in the higher agricultural schools of Prussia, it teaches nothing that a lover of the largest liberty need fear - no more dangerous absoluteism than that of absolute obedience to the laws of physical science. (If I am in error you will know it).
But it is to the latter part of bis article I would ask your attention and rebuke: "If agricultural schools are wanted in this state" etc. This is either a compliment to the existing state of agricultural knowledge, or an insult to the farmer. Really, it says to the farmer, that his occupation is so low that it needs not education, as provided to elevate and improve other professions. We know the editor values education highly; it is only the farmer - the clown in the country - that needs none, or if he discovers that he could work his farm to better advantage, with some other than mere intuitive knowledge, he must provide it for himself. Oh, I wish the farmers of New York would make themselves heard this winter, not in the begging terms of a few, "pestering the next legislature," but in their strength, demanding to be placed in a position of equal privileges in the means of instruction, with the schools of Law, Physic and Divinity. It was to ask your rebuke to the tone and spirit of this article - the same that has damped every effort hitherto - that I enclose it.
Your good efforts in behalf of agricultural education, are telling surely, though slowly, and gathering strength.
I am about leaving this city for Apalachico-la, where I shall be pleased to obtain and send for you or your foreign friends, or others, any indigenous plants, seeds, Sec., that you may wish, and that may be obtainable. Very respectfully, B. F. N. New-York,8th Nov. 51.
We thank our intelligent correspondent for his timely notice of the leader in the Evening Post - which we reprint for the benefit of our readers.
We believe the Editors of the Evening Post belong to that class of politicians who imagine that government has nothing to do but collect taxes and pay its own salaries, and let the people take care of themselves. Very well. Then sponge out at one sweeping dash, all government connection with, or care of, all institutes and seminaries of learning of every kind, whatever, and let those who want them, get them up, as these editors think the farmers can get up agricultural schools - on their own hook. We don't object to that, provided all interests shall be served alike. One would suppose that men as observant of our institutions as the Editors of the Post, would know that no such political teachings as are practiced in the Prussian Agricultural Schools, could be taught in the schools of this country, under any circumstances. It is just such stuff as this that pervades the minds of many of the farmers themselves, and has prevented our having, years ago, at least one leading agricultural school in this boasted " Empire" State of New-York. Every winter, for years past, a proposition has been introduced into our legislature to create an institution of this kind; and at once, a majority of the farmer members, like the old rat in the fable, discover " a cat in the white heap yonder." Thus, year alter year, our great agricultural interest is cheated by its own guardians, out of its equal share in the common property of the state, for its own improvement.
When we see anything better, it will be, probably, when a new generation of farmer legislators rise up, who, knowing what their true interests are, will have the courage to serve them. The measure could now, in three weeks time, be accomplished, if our farmers in the legislature would only say the word. But they prefer lending their aid to the "soulless corporations" of the non-producers, to doing anything for the benefit of the wide-spread, and long-neglected class to which they, themselves, belong.
A truer thing never was said than by yourself, Mr. Editor, in this very article; that "farming is either an intelligent occupation, and demands education, or it is not, and demands only brute force." Our legislators hold to the latter; and so long as they practice on that opinion, we may knock at their doors till doomsday, with our petitions, before we can get a successful hearing. But let * body of men go at the work with the same energy and determination of purpose, and the same appliances that others do, when they want to get a legislature enactment for private benefit, and the work would be accomplished "in a jiffey." JEFFREYS.