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.
Let the table which has always stood under the looking glass, against the wall, be wheeled into the room, and plenty of useful (not ornamental) books and periodicals be laid upon it. When evening comes, bring on the lights - and plenty of them - for sons and daughters - all who can - will be most willing students. They will read, they will learn, they will discuss the subjects of their studies with each other; and parents will often be quite as much instructed as their children. The well conducted agricultural journals of our day throw a flood of light upon the science and practice of agriculture; while such a work as Downing's Landscape Gardening, [or the Horticulturist,] laid one year upon that centre table, will show its effects to every passer-by, for with books and studies like these, a purer taste is born, and grows most vigorously.
Pass along that road after five years working of this system in the family, and what a change! The thistles by the roadside enriched the manure heap for a year or two, and then they died. These beautiful maples and those graceful elms, that beautify the grounds around that renovated home, were grubbed from the wide hedge-rows of five years ago; and so were those prolific rows of blackberries and raspberries, and bush cranberries that show so richly in that neat garden, yielding abundance of small fruit in their season. The unsightly out-houses are screened from observation by dense masses of foliage; and the many climbing plants that now hang in graceful festoons from tree, and porch, and column, once clambered along that same hedge raw. From the meadow, from the wood, and from the gurgling stream, many a native wild flower has been transplanted toa genial soil, beneath the homestead's sheltering wing, and yields a daily offering to the household gods, by the hands of those fair priestesses who have now become their ministers. By the planting of a few trees, and shrubs, and flowers, and climbing plants, around that once bare and uninviting house, it has become a tasteful residence, and its money value is more than doubled.
A cultivated taste displays itself in a thousand forms, and at every touch of its band gives beauty and value to property. A judicious taste, so far from plunging its possessor into expense, makes money for him. The land on which that hedge row grew five years ago, for instance, has produced enough since to doubly pay the expense of grubbing it, and of transferring its fruit briers to the garden, where they have not only supplied the family with berries in their season, but have yielded many a surplus quart, to purchase that long row of red and yellow Antwerps, and English gooseberries; to say nothing of the scions bought with their money, to form new heads for the trees in the old orchard.
These sons and daughters sigh no more for city life, but love with intense affection every foot of ground they tread upon, every tree, and every vine, and every shrub their hands have planted, or their taste has trained. But stronger still do their affections cling to that family room, where their minds first began to be developed, and to that center-table around which they still gather with the shades of evening, to drink in knowledge, and wisdom, and understanding.
The stout farmer, who once looked upon his acres only as a laboratory for transmitting labor into gold, now takes a widely different view of his possessions* His eyes are opened to the beautiful in nature, and he looks with reverence upon every giant remnant of the forest, that by good luck escaped his murderous axe in former days. No leafy monarch is now laid low without a stern necessity demands it; but many a vigorous tree is planted in the hope that the children of his children may gather beneath the spreading branches, and talk with pious gratitude of him who planted them. No longer feeling the need of taxing bis physical powers to the utmost, his eye takes the place of his hand, when the latter grows weary, and mind directs the operations of labor. See him stand and look with delighted admiration at his sons, his educated sons, as they take hold of every kind of work, and roll it off with easy motion, but with the power of mind in every stroke.
But it is the proud mother who takes the solid comfort, and wonders that it is so easy after all, whin one knows how, to live at case, enjoy the society of happy daughters and contented sons, to whom the city folks make most respectful bows, and treat with special deference as truly well-bred ladies and gentlemm.
Now, this is no more a fancy picture than the other. It is a process that I have watched in many families, and in different states. The results are everywhere alike, because they are natural. The same causes will always produce the same effects, varying circumstances only modifying the intensity".
This article speaks for itself - Major Patrick included. " 0 that /(not mine enemy,) could write a book." That book should be on domestic education - not boarding-school dissipation, miscalled by the true term, instead ! How I would score up the paltry, narrow pride of thousands of parents, who think - and act upon the thought - that the education of their daughters is accomplished only when they have taken a degree at some distant " Female Institute," fashionable " Seminary," or other fantastic place, (the schools are not all so, however,) where girls are spoiled in having all sorts of superficial nonsense put into their heads, instead of good, sound knowledge, and every-day common sense, which should fit them to excel in the sphere which Providence has marked out for them: and that of their boys, when sent to some equally improper place, to learn that for which they have no natural taste; but instead, do acquire notions that turn their heads all topsey-turvey, into exalted fancies which they can never realize, and from thence graduate into professional offices, town trade, California, or to the--------, a nameless gentleman, where, in vulgar parlance, many an otherwise clever boy, brings up at last.
No, no, No, as Mr. Daniel Webster says; that is not the right way. " But the world is progressing," says the kind, misjudging parent. So it is, in steam-engines, railways, telegraph-wires, all sorts of domestic extravagance, and French revolutions. But in the way of mind, and attention to the homely, agreeable duties of life, I incline to the opinions of an old fashioned author, not much consulted in these progressive days. I fear that " there is nothing new under the sun." I cannot now go into this subject as I would; but to my thinking, they manage these things much better at the south, and west, than they do at the north. There, Planters and Farmers are not ashamed of their profession. Here, cultivators of the soil are. If we are not thus ashamed, why not bring up our children to an honest, manly appreciation of our own calling, instead of encouraging them to sneak away into everything else, reputable or not, so long as they can make money by it, and thus shirk honest labor, and the true dignity of agricultural life?
Do, my kind, rural friends, read this chapter once a month for the coming year, and practice upon its teachings. Your children will forever thank you for it, notwithstanding a little domestic rebellion in the outset.