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.
It is not my intention to undervalue classical education. There are scholarly men to whom it is as the breath of life, and who, in sustaining its refining inliuences, take that share in the well-being of society for which they are adapted by taste and temperament. But it is one thing to feel enthusiasm for the charm of ancient genius, and another to limp along through
"The drill'd dull lesson, forced down word by word."
All things are not intended for all men. The usual course of university education, excellent as it may be in some cases, is the exception, not the rule applicable to the necessities of this age and this country, which, in general, require sciences that can be applied to the useful arts, and knowledge that can be turned to account.
While learning has rarely called in vain for assistance, when its object has been to swell the already overcrowded ranks of what is generally understood by professional life, there has been little or nothing done to educate young men as farmers. The most important and the most honorable occupation, which is co-extensive with civilization, which employs millions of men in daily labor, and on which the whole population of the globe depends for subsistence, has not a single institution devoted to it in all this broad land. It is left to help itself as it can, without Government protection, and with only such encouragement as can be derived from societies formed by farmers themselves. The exertions which have been made to establish an Agricultural School in this State, have not yet been successful, but it is to be hoped that they will be renewed and persisted in, until this great branch of industry shall receive the care and attention it demands. It is not supposed that an institution will turn out ready-made practical husbandmen to order, from the mere learning of books. There is no such intention or expectation.
But it is believed that a course can be followed, which will combine theory with practice, and produce young men of intelligence and activity, whose hard hands and bronzed faces will bear honorable testimony that they have seen as much of the field as the study-room.
It was a saying of Napoleon, that "battles make soldiers." It is equally true, that hard work makes farmers. He who would "thrive by the plough," must leave his doves with his Sunday coat. He must not expect to walk daintily over the earth, in holiday garb, and have her productions spring up in his footsteps. He who courts her favors, must' go manfully to the work. She is not to be trifled with, and does not yield to coy wooing. The badges of her successful suitors are the dust of the ploughed ground, the sweat of the hay-field, the marks of honest industry wrought out in shirt sleeves. She loves the pressure of the cowhide boot, smiles on the tanned countenance, and the sinewy limbs, on which the insignia of manhood have been ingrained by the elements. But she does not look less winningly,if the calculating head, which guides the laboring hand, has drawn information from recorded wisdom, gathered hints from the periodical, interchanged opinions with fellow workers, and brought thought to bear on the great mystery of nature. Excellence in agriculture is neither the result of closet study nor of assiduous labor. It can be effected only by a union of both.
May the sagacity of Government consult the best interests of this people, by establishing the means of producing that as yet unknown prodigy, a perfect farmer."
Though Mr. Russel is a highly educated man, he is too much of an American to forget, as many college men do, that he belongs to a new age and a new country. He recognizes the spirit of the times and characterizes with trueness and point the master element of our modern enterprises:
"The guarding genius who presides over the New England cradle, is a very matter-of-fact working day spirit. Should he embody himself to mortal sight, then would appear no ethereal oeing, wreathed with flowers, hovering between earth and heaven, but a burly solid actuality; fixed on the firm ground, his hair filled with hay seed or cotton, his but in stout frocking, or factory skirting rolled up at the elbows. There is nothing green about him."
There is a large catholic spirit in the following remarks - which contain a worthy rebuke to those who distrust the tendencies of immigration:
"What is said of England, equally applies to the other highly cultivated countries of Europe, it being conceded that there is no one whose productiveness might not be increased to the necessities of its population. Yet, worn-out civilization broods, despondingly, over the apparently exhausted elements of fertility, and covering the seas with the superabundance of the old world, extends an unbroken line of emigration towards the setting sun. It comes to spread itself over this new land of promise. It comes with the antiquated usages of past generations, to renew, on a virgin soil, the hopes which have withered in ceaseless and unrequited labor. It comes to demand from the reclaimed earth, food and raiment and shelter; to seek comfort, independence, protection; to trust to an unknown land for the peace and subsistence denied in the much-loyed places of its nativity. It comes to clear the forest, drain the morass, open the dark dank face of nature to the breath and light of heaven. It comes with limbs accustomed to delve and burrow, to do the rough work of this young country - to build her cities - to construct her railroads and aqueducts - to level her hills, fill her valleys, tunnel her mountains, span her rivers.
It comes to unfold the resources of this vast continent, to people its recesses with active life, and to disturb the silence of its solitudes with the hum of industry. It comes to carry out the designs of the Creator, a predestinated agent to work his will, and take its allot-ed part in the great drama enacting on this new stage of human destiny. Let Europe, then, pour out her population upon us if she will. There is room for all. Room in the primeval forest, on the boundless prairie, on farm and in workshop. Room in the school-house, where the children of ignorance may be qualified for the duties and objects of life, preparing for future usefulness by a process of regeneration that shall atone for the neglect and degredation of the past. Withhold not from others the privileges we possesss. They come as our fathers came. Grudge them not a portion of this ample inheritance, which is for all the sons and daughters of God who need a home."