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.
Edward Everett lately delivered an Address before the New York State Agricultural Society, at Buffalo, from which we make the following too true extract. It deserves to be carefully read and preserved :
"In acknowledging, as I do most cheerfully, the important relations of city life and commercial pursuits to the entire social system of the country, I leave of course out of the account - I have no words but of abhorrence - for the organized conspiracies, swindling, and plundering which exist side by side with the legitimate transactions of the stock exchange. It is not one of the least perplexing anomalies of modern life and manners, that while avowed and thus far honest gambling (if I may connect those words) is driven by public opinion and the law, to seclude itself from observation within carefully tyled doors, there to fool away its hundreds, perhaps its thousands, in secret - discredited, infamous - blasted by the anathemas of deserted, heart-broken wives and beggared children - subject at all times to the fell swoop of the police - the licensed gambling of the broker's board is carried on in the face of day; its pretended sales of what it does not own, its pretended purchases of what it does not expect to pay for, are chronicled in the public prints to the extent of millions in the course of a season, for the cruel and dishonest purpose of frightening innocent third parties into the ruinous sacrifice of bona fide property, and thus making a guilty profit out of the public distress and the ruin of thousands.
I do not claim for agricultural life in modern times the Arcadian simplicity of the heroic 1 aces; but it is capable.with the aid of popular education and the facilities of inter-communication of being made a pursuit more favorable than city life to that average degree of virtue and happiness to which we may reasonably aspire in the present imperfect state of being. For the same reason that our intellectual and moral faculties are urged to the highest point of culture by the intense competition of the large towns, the contagion of vice and crime produces in a crowded population a depravity of character, from which the more thinly inhabited country, though far enough from being immaculate, is comparatively free. Accordingly, we find that the tenure on which the land is owned and tilled - that is, the average condition of the agricultural masses - decides the character of a people. It is true that the compact organization, the control of capital, the concentrated popular talent, the vigorous press, the agitable temperament of the large towns, give them an influence out of proportion to numbers; but this is far less the case in the United States than in most foreign countries, where the land is held in large masses by a few powerful landholders.
Divided as it is in this country into small or moderate-sized farms, owned, for the most part, and tilled by a class of fairly-educated, independent, and intelligent proprietors, the direct influence of large towns on the entire population is far less considerable than in Europe. Paris can at all times make a revolution in France; but not even your imperial metropolis could make a revolution in the United States. What the public character loses in concentration and energy by this want of metropolitan centralization, is more than gained, by the country, in the virtuous mediocrity, the decent frugality, the healthfulness, the social tranquillity, of private life. I trust I do full justice to the elegant refinements, the liberal institutions, the noble charities, the creative, industrious, the world-encompassing energy, of the cities; but the profuse expenditure of the prosperous, the unfathomed wretchedness of the destitute, the heaven-defying profligacy of the corrupt, the insane spirit of speculation, the frantic haste to become rich, the heartless dissipations of fashionable life, the growing ferocity and recklessness of a portion of the public press, the prevailing worldliness of the large, towns, make me tremble for the future.
It appears to me that our great dependence, under Providence, must be more and more on the healthy tone of the population scattered over the country, strangers to the excitements, the temptations, the revulsions of trade, and placed in that happy middle condition of human fortune, which is equidistant from the giddy heights of affluence, power, and fame, and the pinching straits of poverty, and as such most favorable to human virtue and happiness".
TOWNSEND OR SEAGER APPLE.