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.
We have received the following letter, which we publish for the benefit of our readers, at least all of those who take an interest in the subject of which it treats. The writer has been long known to us as one of the most successful poultry breeders in this country - not for profit, but purely from love of the occupation. He proposes to give us, from time to time, articles in which the various breeds, their merits and faults, will be freely discussed, and in this he will avail himself of the experience of another poultry breeder of note. T-----, Mass., May 19,1868.
F. W. Woodward, Esq., Publisher "Horticulturist," New York - Dear Sir: Having received, through our mutual friend Mr. E, of your city, an invitation from you to become a contributor to the Poultry Department of your interesting and widely circulated monthly magazine, I drop you this hasty note to say that, whenever the demands of an active business vocation may be so far relaxed as to permit me, I shall take great pleasure in contributing an occasional paper upon a subject in which I take a very lively interest myself, and in which almost every household in the land is more immediately or remotely interested. Why, sir, the poultry question seems like a rather insignificant matter from a mere casual glance at it; but when you critically survey it in its diversified ramifications it looms into an impressive significance, just as the pin does in the economy of the toilet and the demands of a refined civilization. Without poultry and pins what would the dear women do ? Why, sir, I stand aghast at the consequences to the cuisine and to the drawing-room at the obliteration of these indispensables! Just think, for a moment, what a wonderful commotion would arise in your great city if an immediate embargo were laid upon the transportation of poultry and eggs into the metropolis ! Why, the question of Presidential impeachment is a tame and insignificant matter in comparison thereto.
Every household would rally in rebellion; popular meetings would be called, and a monster indignation meeting would fill the Central Park to denounce the cutting off of the omelets, the custards, the cakes, and the innumerable other dishes into which the indispensable egg enters, and to clamor for the restoration of the broilers, and the capons, and the poulets, which contribute so largely to the necessities of the invalid and to the gratification of the epicure.
There is a wide-spread demand for poultry, and that demand is all the while swelling and enlarging, and he who makes the largest contribution to it is a real benefactor - a benefactor who is far more worthy of the applause and patronage of men than the blatant demagogue who inflames the passions of party zealots that he may gratify a low and selfish ambition, or even the bedizened warrior whose guilty march to triumph and to power is not unfrequently over the forms of violated purity and innocence, and the prostrate remains of right and justice and liberty.
I take it for granted that you desire to have me give you the results of my own experience touching the varieties and characteristics of the several breeds of fowls with which I am most familiar, together with whatever facts relative to their breeding, management, diseases, etc., I may conceive to be of general interest to your readers.
The bare mention of the more prominent points to be elaborated opens up before the vision of the poultry fancier an almost boundless field. But when it is remembered that the space in your magazine which may be allotted to this subject is extremely limited, and besides, that the pressure of active daily business duties prescribe limits to the moments which I may give to the task, it will hardly be feared that any dissertation will grow into such voluminous proportions as to become burdensome.
As I can not enter analytically into my prescribed theme in this initiatory paper, it will not be amiss to premise that the question will be considered mainly from a utilitarian stand-point - the point from which, no doubt, the mass of your readers who take an interest in it would prefer to have the subject considered. Some men breed poultry for pleasure, while the mass of them breed for profit - just as some of your neighbors and friends, no doubt, of different tastes and views, cultivate their gardens and their fields. While the garden of one enchants the eye with the blushing and multiform beauty of a thousand flowers, and intoxicates the senses by the tide of incense which they pour upon the summer air, the field of the other spreads its smiling sheaves of plenty as a blessed ministry to the grosser needs of men. The beautiful and the useful blend together their charms and forces, and pay a grateful tribute to the poetry and prose of mortal life.
Experience is assumed to be the only sure and trustworthy guide in testing the merits or qualities of the different breeds of fowls. And though there must, of necessity, be somewhat diverse results with the same kinds of fowls, because of the different management and care bestowed, yet the weight of the general and intelligent testimony assures a proper verdict in the end. There can be no assured and unfailing success in poultry growing without careful attention to the whole routine of duties demanded in the hennery. The generally accepted axiom, that "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," carries an impressive lesson to the poultry breeder, whose experience will ultimately demonstrate, in that specialty, that constant watchfulness is the price of success. Some men seem to imagine that to secure a good breed of fowls will guarantee their success, irrespective of any agency on their part to keep them good by proper feeding, breeding, etc. Never was there a greater delusion. No inherent excellences in the entire scale of animated nature can bear up under the pressure of ignorance and neglect.
Adam's great transgression has written the fearful word decay in such impressive characters upon all animated life, that we can only hope to bribe its swift consummation by paying the tribute of exacted toil and sweat. We can hardly win success without deserving it, and we shall not certainly deserve it, and ought not to expect it, without the employment of rational and well-directed efforts.
Very truly, etc., E. W.