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.
Mr. Editor: I send you a translated extract from Cicero's well-known essay "De Senectute." If you print it, I shall be justified in announcing the first of Roman orators as one of your occasional contributors. We shall thus be even with the spiritualists. Perhaps you will think I am sending coals to Newcastle; for it is true that your great-grandfather, James Logan, founder of the Loganian Library of Philadelphia, wrote out a translation of Cicero's "De Senectute," with an extensive body of entertaining and scholarly notes, which was published by his friend, Benjamin Franklin in 1744, and was the second classical work issued in America. My own rendering of the chapter on the pleasures of rural life, is rather loosely made. Mr. Logan's may be better. But most of your readers will never know, unless you print the two together. I promise to keep the peace with Mr. Logan. It will be an honor to be outshone by one who had Franklin for his printer, and who was the secretary of William Penn.
James Logan, in 1735, communicated to Peter Collinson of London, an account of his experiments on maize, with special reference to the sexual doctrine, which was printed in the Philosophical Transactions. This was afterwards printed in a Latin essay at Leyden, with the title Experimenta et meletemata de Plantarum Generatione. The same work was republished in London, with an English translation by Dr. Fothergill in 1747.
Cicero talks somehow thus in chapter xvi.:
"I come now to speak of the enjoyments of farmers, with which I am wonderfully pleased. They are hindered by no age, and seem to me to belong most appropriately to the wise man's life. For farmers keep an account with the soil, which never repudiates their sovereignty, and never returns without interest what it receives. Indeed, crops alone do not delight me, but also the vitality and nature of the soil itself. This, when it has taken to its softened and subdued bosom the scattered seed, at first holds it buried, next it swells the seed warmed with its own heat and pressure, and brings forth from it the springing greenness; which relying upon the fibers of its roots, gradually matures, and reared on its jointed stalk, is enclosed in sheaths, now growing pubescent, as it were. When it has emerged from these, it yields the produce of the ear, arranged in order, and is protected against the depredations of the smaller birds by a chevaux-de-frise of bearded spikes. Why should I describe the plantings, growings, and multiplyings of vines? That you may understand the refreshment and comfort of my old age, I allow I cannot be sated with delight.
I pass by the energy itself of all plants reared from the soil, which from the fig-seed so small, or from the grape stone, or from the very minute. seeds of other plants and trees, produce so great trunks and branches. As for mallet-shoots, suckers, cuttings, quick-sets, layers, do they not cause these results that they fill every one with admiration? The vine, for example, is naturally a trailer, and unless sustained, falls to the ground. In order to erect itself, it embraces with its tendrils, as with hands, whatever it meets. Creeping along with a manifold and devious growth, the skill of the farmer pruning it with a knife, keeps it in check, lest it become over-woody, with branches, and too widely diffused in all directions.
"As spring advances there appears at the joints of the branches what is called the bud. Springing from this, the grape discloses itself, which increasing, both from the earth's nutriment and the sun's warmth, is at first very sour to the taste; then, having matured, it grows sweet. Sheltered with leaves, it neither wants a gentle heat, nor protection from the sun's excessive fervors. What can be more welcome in use, or more beautiful in appearance? Not only the profit pleases me, but also the culture, and characteristics; the rows of props; the yoking together of their tops; the tying and propagating of vines and shoots; those processes which I have mentioned- the amputation of some branches, the layering of others.
"Why should I describe the waterings, ditchings, trenchings, by which land is made richer, more productive? What shall I say about the advantage of manuring? Homer makes Laertes beguile the sorrow he felt for his son, by tilling the soil and manuring it. Not only are rural pursuits joyful in crops and meadows, and vineries, and plantations, but also in gardens and orchards; also in the pasture of flocks, the swarming of bees, and the vari-' ety of flowers. Not only do plantings please, but likewise ingraftings, than which agriculture has nothing more curious. I finish the subject with the brief remark, that nothing can be richer in use, or finer in appearance than a field well cultivated. For enjoying this, age not only presents no hindrance, but even invites and allures. To themselves, therefore, let the young keep their arms, their horses, their spears, their club, their ball, their bathings, and runnings. To us, the aged, let them leave the huckle-bones and . dice. Let them leave whichsoever of these two amusements they please, since, without them, old age can be happy." E. N.
Hamilton College, Aug. 6, 1858.