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.
Why have we no tutor farmers? No thoroughly practical and efficient instructors for our sons in the noble science of agriculture? We find as we pass along the highways of life, hundreds of lawyers and doctors, whose doors are ever open to students, and thousands of merchants eager to secure capable and honest clerks, but no farmers advertising for young men to become candidates for the high honors of their grand and elevating profession. Now why is this, and why is it that year after year we find hundreds of young men, sons of farmers, wending their ways to our large cities in search of employment, when there is such an extended field of usefulness at home? Why are our Theological Seminaries, our Law Schools, and our Medical Colleges crowded to repletion with eager aspirants for power and wealth, most of whom are the sons of farmers and planters?
These arc grave questions, but we think they are not incapable of solution, as these things are all the legitimate effects of causes which are quite ascertainable.
In the first place, we have sadly perverted the heavenly principle of civil and religious liberty, and by our shameful abuse of this benediction of Providence, have almost made it a curse. The idea of freedom in its largest sense, has penetrated so thoroughly the delicate framework of society, that time-honored customs, and distinctions between virtue and vice, that have been hallowed by the approval of the wise and good in all ages, are daily upturned, and the time is fast approaching when the principle of obedience to parental authority, the very shield and bulwark of our national existence, will be trampled under foot.
Destroy these safeguards entirely, and the despotism of France would be far preferable to liberty at such a sacrifice. It is a moral-impossibility for "Young America," in either town or country, now-a-days, to follow in the footsteps of his grey-haired sire. In his vocabulary the word "Progress" means to commence in everything where his father ends; consequently, if he decides to become a merchant, as soon as he comes into power, the counting-room in which for thirty years his father had transacted business, and had grown rich by saving money, suddenly becomes very dingy and dark, and must be enlarged; must have a lofty ceiling, with light admitted from above through purple and crimson glass; must have new desks and a fine Brussels carpet, etc, etc.; and the storefront, of elegant pressed brick, which for many years was the handsomest on the street, must give place to an elaborately wrought brown stone or richly carved marble facing, of high cost. Or if he becomes a farmer, the idea of cutting wheat with a scythe and threshing it with a flail for twenty years, as bis father had done, until he becomes rich enough to purchase the latest improvements, is positively absurd.
He must have at the outset, the very best "reaper, and mower, and raker," with, ii possible, a binder and stacker combined, and the best "horse power" in the known world; and as not one farmer in fifty can afford to buy these for all his sons, away they go as soon as their coarse voice comes, and their beards begin to grow, to the larges cities, where the chances of making a fortune are said to be greater, but where they are in reality, at the present time, incomparably less: and what is the consequence? The cause of agriculture loses a brave champion for want of a proper training when young; and Commerce, Physic, or the Bar, has to support an indifferent or altogether worthless member, whose ultimate failure is almost certain from the fact that his affections were not in his business, - his heart was amongst the birds and flowers of his native hills, - and who, in nine cases out of ten, after wasting fifteen or twenty of those ripe full years, "when life was in its morning prime," - those strong, fruitful years that never return - will crawl back to the old homestead a broken-hearted and disappointed man, to eke out a miserable existence, perhaps to die, "unwept, unhonored and unsung".
This is not an overdrawn picture. It must be evident to every reflecting mind, that for half a century this evil has been annually growing worse and worse, and that unless the unerring hand of Divine. Providence is mercifully outstretched to remove the forces which have so disturbed the beautiful relations of town and country, a long night of anarchy and confusion will close in around us, from which, for many generations, there will be .no awaking.
In a truly healthy state of society, the relations of town and country are very similar to those of husband and wife, indissolubly connected for the common good; and, as it was once beautifully said of married partners, "their independence was equal, their dependence mutual, their obligations reciprocal," so it may be said of, them. As soon as these relations are disturbed, as soon as the equilibrium is destroyed, disorder creeps in, the devil sets up his throne, and in a very short time a jail and penitentiary are needed. That these relations are now disturbed, no one will deny who has observed the large number of idle vagabonds prowling about the streets of all large towns, and marked the fearful increase of crime which the police records indicate.
What then is the remedy proposed? What will restore the equilibrium, and check the gigantic strides of this insatiate monster, who is daily, hourly robbing the green hill-sides of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Carolinas, of their fairest flowers, and crowding them into our heated cities to sicken and die? The plan is a simple one; - based upon the heaven-descended principle of reciprocity, it must commend itself to the earnest attention of all. There must be mutual action and reaction, equal rights and mutual benefits enjoyed and yielded by each. Away with all petty jealousies. Let the towns restore to the country what they have deprived her of, - her glory and strength, her young men, those to whom she must look for power, for wealth, and advancement. If they cannot do this, let them give their own sons. Let the sons of the merchants, who have grown rich by trading in the produce of the soil, become the pupils of the farmer. Let them be instructed in every branch of agricultural science. Let them be told, whilst at their mother's knee, of Cincinnatus, of Alfred the Great, of Charlemagne, and the incomparable Washington; and when they are old enough, let them follow the plow, and learn to watch over the golden grain until it is safely housed from the wintry rain.
Let them learn to cut off a pig's tail and slit his ears; to cure him of the staggers, as well as to bridle and mount the untamed Bucephalus; and when they graduate, give them good lands, and good tools to work with; and this above all, - let them feel that in their hands, under the direction of an ever-watchful Providence, are the destinies of the American Republic, and all will be well.
What will be the result? Ten thousand young men, with means to farm profitably, annually sent to the country,will richly compensate for ten thousand poor young men who come to town for employment, and ten hundred thousand acres of land, now lying waste, would annually be brought under cultivation, thereby increasing the productions of the country to an incalculable extent, and enhancing the value of every acre of land throughout the Union. Nor is this all; of the hundreds and thousands of merchants, and mechanics, and lawyers, who annually go to the country because it is fashionable, consequently necessary, as soon as their wealth reaches a certain point, and who, after spending a fortune in doing nothing but deep and lasting injury to the cause of agriculture, by downright ignorance of the first principles of farming, return to town, thoroughly disgusted with country life, after an experience of a few months, a large number would have competent and efficient managers in their own sons, and would not only have the pleasure of seeing the wealth they had labored to acquire well and wisely used in the accomplishment of great ends, the natural result of the union of mind and means, but would have the proud satisfaction of seeing their sons ascend, step by step, to high places in the estimation of their fellow-men.
In the earnest hope that abler minds will take hold of this subject, and give it the consideration it appears to deserve, this article is written. There are, without a doubt, in all our large cities, great numbers of wealthy men, who are willing, this day, to place their sons with tutor farmers if they had an opportnnity. Some of the States are waking up to the importance of Agricultural Colleges, and a vast amount of good will be done in that way; but boys educated in masses cannot possibly be so well prepared as where only two or three are in the hands of a competent instructor; and besides, in the family circle of the farmer they would have the blessed home influence, so dear to every parent's heart.
Gentle reader, whoever thou art - brother, countryman, neighbor or friend, - do not pass this suggestion by. Take it home with thee; talk of it by thy fire-side. Look at that rosy-cheeked, brown-haired boy by thy side. What is to be his future? His bright eyes look imploringly to thee for help. Speak to him gently and tenderly, and he will do for thee whatever thou wishest. Choose for him, and he will one day bless thee for thy goodness. Leave him to choose for himself, and perhaps he will curse thee for thy neglect.
Baltimore, March 29th, 1859.