Virginia Georgics, by Charles Carter Lee, Part I

Virginia Georgics,




“Well we may afford
Our givers their own gifts, and large bestow
From large bestowed, where Nature multiplies
Her fertile growth, and by disburdening, grows
More fruitful, which instructs us not to spare.


The Hole and Corner Club



In things the same the greatest difference seen
Is that perhaps betwixt the fat and lean:
None know the steed his master rode in pride,
In the poor jade that on the common died;
And e’en the face of beauty, though it rise
Above decay in soul-revealing eyes—
Yet the pale cheek and lustre-lacking skin
Betray the difference between plump and thin.
But of all things, what chiefly loose their charms,
As they grow poor and wasted, are our farms.

How rich this earth in soil, how fair in face,
When the Creator gave it to our race!
How stored with game, how beautiful with birds,
And all its ranges filled with various herds.
The Indian arrow-heads we pick up here,
How many more they slaughtered of fat deer
Than all our boasted fire-arms! And so
Corn crowned the labours of their wooden hoe
With more abundance than our acres now
Yield to the furrows of the iron plough.
And why? Because the earth was fertile then,
And now impoverished by the waste of men.
Then what we have to do is, if we can,
To make the soil such as ’twas given to man;
This how to accomplish I shall try to show
By reasons wrought to rhyme, if rhyme will flow.
    Above man’s learning Nature’s ways are wise,
These are the lessons taught us from the skies.
The untutored Indians, who upon this spot
Dwelt years, which all our knowledge numbers not,
Had one great rule to curb their varied hunts,
Ne’er to kill more than to supply their wants:
The rest they kept to multiply the stores
Which filled the rivers and their wooded shores.
So of the corn they raised ’twas all consumed
Upon the spot on which its tassels bloomed,
Naught of the rich ingredients of the plain
Was sent far from it in the shape of grain;
Whatever product from its bosom grew
Returned again that product to renew,
And thus the savage held his daily feast,
Nor wood, nor field, nor stream experienced waste.
    To these unwasted realms the white man came
In his terrific arms of steel and flame:
What naked valour could ’gainst such a foe
Achieved the native with his bended bow—
But all in vain I IIis race became the slaughter
Of fire-arms and deadlier fire-water.
What then ensued? The fairest in creation
Of virgin realms and highest civilization
Embraced each other; from such marrying
Hope looked to see results the brightest spring—
But the old tale was told on earth again;
The sons of God embraced the daughters of men,
And desolation followed—not of flood,
That lasted but one year and was for good.
This new-world desolation was the toil
Of labouring thousands withering out their soil—
Of its most precious life-blood made to bleed
To furnish distant nations with a weed,
Which they would take in snuff—and laugh and joke
And puff Virginia’s life away in smoke.
Briars and broom-straw, galls and gullies then,
Each drearer in succession, followed men;
’Till ’twas affirmed by the learned of other lands,
A desert next there ’Id be of floating sands.
The worn-out soil’s restorer, old field’s nurse,
The evergreen pine, redeemed us from this curse—
That plasters o’er the gall, the gully heals,
And covers with its boughs the naked fields.
    ’Tis sweet but melancholy, yet to see,
Above its growth, some bald old cherry tree,
The only mark of where a dwelling stood—
ABrent, perhaps, owned the primeval wood;
Perhaps a Cary, or perhaps a Grymes,
Or some old honored name of the old-times;
No matter which, he’s gone, to be more lucky,
On the Ohio’s banks, or in Kentucky—
Or more unhappy still, in seeking bliss, he
Has perished in some swamp of Mississippi.
In the sweet spot where once his mansion stood,
Filled with domestic joy and every good,
Some lingering mock-bird on his starry wings,
Or in lament, or in derision sings,
That man who boasts to be so highly blessed
Should loose his home, where he still holds his nest.
    Well! that has passed from all but memory,
end lives in that of none, perhaps, but me:
Then let it pass from every heart but mine,
And save my own, fill not an eye with brine;
But, O, let me, whose race so long has been here,
Be pardoned when I grieve for old Virginia!
    Th’ evil became so glaring, that a note
Of warning roused the land. Arator wrote
His stirring numbers—Garnett lectured on
The way to farm, while Waring worked his corn.*
Then Agricultural Societies grew,
And spoke and published what they thought they knew:
Tobacco must be banished, farming now
Must occupy the labours of the plough;
Keep off the hoof, put on the lime, and sow
Clover wherever on your land ’twill grow—
Haul all your corn-stalks, as the weather allows,
To make manure when they have fed your cows;
Condemned to broom-straw fields, their Summer walks,
Rather than pastures, winter them on stalks—
Add enough wheat-straw, a rude sheltering arch,
And half may safe survive the winds of March;
And of this management to crown the charm
Adopt the five field system on your farm.
“But then the galls and gullies?” “Trash, manure,
And horizontal ploughing* these will cure,”
“But how then to enrich those fields, you know,
On which nor grass, nor clover yet will grow?”
“On these your new rotation carry out,
Keep off the hoof, and above all the snout,
And all will soon come right, or I’m mistaken.”
“But without hogs, what shall I do for bacon?”
“Your bacon, sir? Why don’t you know ’tis best
Not to raise pork, but buy it from the West?”
“But how get money thus my pork to buy?”
“Why, sell more grain, and thus the means supply.”
    The improved system, this was called, of farming,
And the fair future it proclaimed was charming.
Galls should no more fertility entomb,
But every broom-straw field with clover bloom—
The pabulum in every new rotation
Of larger and larger crops to enrich the nation.
To speed the happy work mechanics toil
To improve the implements which till the soil,
And rack their brains to make by every means,
Wit can invent, all labour-saving machines.
The work went bravely on, the instructed toil,
Spurning the surface wasted the sub-soil;
Each fertile particle twelve inches clown
Was turned to grain and sent off to some town:
When lo! ’twas found that all this deeper skill in
Farming was but the art of deeper killing.
Not all the precious dust from t’other zone,
Swelled as it has the products of our own,
Has made the broom-straw its dominion yield,
Nor stopped the gullies in a single field:
The crops if greater still will scarcely pay—
Yet take what’s precious in the soil away,
And farmers vainly think their wealth expands,
Nor see while selling crops they are selling lands.*
    what’s precious in the earth, to bless his days,
Is gathered, for man’s use in various ways:
The miner’s sturdy hands the pickaxe hold,
And crushing engines break the rocks of gold—
And those, who pander to the world’s great lust,
The coarser earths wash from the glittering dust.
It is the farmer’s task from earth to get
Ingredients of its soil more precious yet,
These he collects by tender rootlets, grown
From seeds by, skillful labour duly sown.
Their little mouths suck up the ash of plants
In water, which the shower kindly grants;
Quickened by these, the tiny leaflets spring,
And catch the nourishment the zephyrs bring:
The little plants thus fed by air and earth,
Grow on apace, leaf after leaf has birth,
And then the crowning flowers, and then the fruits,
All springing from and nurtured through the roots;
These precious contents of earth’s surface come,
Some in its fragrant weeds, in cerials some—
Others in fibrous wealth for cloth or cable,
Others as tubers, dainties for the table;
But in what shape, or for what use their birth,
All that is mineral in them comes from earth.
    O, how much of the soil of Old Virginia
Has gone abroad since Captain Smith came in here!
Think of the realms which have so long been pleased at
The fragrant weed, as chewed, or smoked, or sneezed at;
Think of how many tons of grain have gone
To nourish other realms and starve our own,
And then say is it strange our lands are poor,
That year by year is closed some happy door,
And that the Sheriff breaking up the nest
Of young Virginians, drives them to the West?
And in their new abode, the virgin plain,
Sees the old drama acted o’er again:
’Tis cleared, then worked until to work too poor,
And then the unhappy owner moves once more,
If he has strength to move; for now his mind
Is weakened by disease—and O, behind
What may he have to leave? How many lives
Are buried there? and what of all survives?
Himself, perhaps his wife, perhaps a child,
The rest are buried in the dreary wild.
A pale-faced darling, which the mother’s care
Is wild to save, is all that’s left them there,
The very negroes have their laugh subdued—
How gay it rung along James river’s flood,
And Rappahannock’s, and the river of swans!
You’ld think “the Quarters” bred flocks of black ones,
So merrily their voices ring and chime!
But exiled to that far and feverish clime,
If one a joyous song should sing therein, he
Would sing “O, Carry me back to Old Virginny.”

    Why should we ever go? ’Tis the old sin,
’Tis that we eat forbidden fruit agen:
The fruits forbidden now to mortals are
The fruits forced from the earth it cannot spare:
For all her bounties all she asks—”Return
That of my fruits which fire cannot burn;
I’ll give you every thing my bosom yields
If you’ll restore their ashes to my fields—
Even of those I can a portion spare
For what my plants can win you from the air:
O, never think my losses are your gains!
Can you grow rich impoverishing my plains?
O, why for all I feed you with reduce
My food to stalks and straw, things of poor use—
And to reduce me more, e’en now prevails
A custom to send off my shucks in bales:
Ah! why should you to death my bosom work
To send to Cincinnati for your pork?
Why, don’t you know that thus you topple down
The prices of your products at your town,
And, as competitors for your supply,
Enhance the value of whate’er you buy?
Why not return to me the grain I give,
As the things eat it, upon which you live?
O, don’t you know that mothers love the best
To nourish all their offspring at their breast?
Let me do this, and I will all supply,
Refuse it, and ye perish or ye fly—
And whither? Li some wretched swamp to die.”

Such are the words of our own mother earth,
Strong in their truth and sacred from their birth:
For God said when He made us in our turn,
“Of dust thou art, to dust shalt thou return!”
’Tis from sustaining earth and vital air
That we get all of which our bodies are.
The Blessed One now on his heavenly Throne
Hath said, “man does not live by bread alone;”
He hath his soul to feed with Heavenly truth,
Thereby to flourish in immortal youth;
But here where he receives his mortal birth.
And hath his orders to replenish earth,
How deep the sin of those by folly chased,
And avarice, who reduce it to a waste!
    The fairest spot man e’er on earth did claim here
Was on the Euphrates, the old Mesopotamia—
There was the Paradise where Adam dwelt,
And Eve first wore the sin-born fig-leaf belt;
There Babel rose to make mankind diviner,
But fell confounded on the plain of Shinah;
There Babylon, with its surrounding mounds,
And hanging gardens, empress of the towns—
There Ninevah by mighty Ninus built,
Where reigned Semiramis in power and guilt—
And which when memories of splendour assail us,
Crowned with earth’s sovereignty, shows Sardanapalus.
What is it now? The wandering Bedouin
Roves with his cattle o’er its spots of green,
And his chief wife, to guard the public weal,
Selects for her rude throne the bag of meal;
In their scarce realm, to save from waste’s abuses,
For want of other locks herself she uses!
If you doubt this, and deem the account stretched far,
You’ve but to turn to Ledyard’s Ninevah.
And why is this? Where myriads once were gathered,
Why are the camels of the Bedouin tethered?
Where once earth’s conquering armies used to pass,
Why can but a few cattle now find grass?
Where mighty Babylon once held her reign,
Why doth the wandering Arab own the plain?
It is because her agriculture failed
Because what here prevails had there prevailed;
Because their soil’s requirements long they spurned,
And from it took much more than they returned.
    Many suppose political constitutions,
Just forms of government, free institutions,
Or the reverse, make nations rise and fall;
And arts and agriculture are nothing at all
In the great scale where empires are weighed,
Or as the causes why they grow and fade.
    In forms of government, I would ask these
Were the Assyrians worse than the Chinese?
Why then hath one third of its people birth
On that mere little corner of the earth?
Why in their numbers are they e’en distressed?
Because their agriculture is the best.
’Twas that which furnished the supplies for all
The host that built their anti-Tartar wall; ’
Tis that enables them mankind to defy;
They have such numbers scarce enough can die!
But the old race go on in the old way,
Howe’er the plague may waste, or sword may lay.
With all their ills they have not the worst, the vulture
That eats out the land’s heart, bad agriculture.
Fair forms of government! and what are they
When those whom they should bless are gone away,
Or lingering on through stages of decay?
Why buy a purse with nothing to put in it?
Or house, when one expects death every minute?
And what are abstract rights unless complete
By numbers in whom they become concrete?
Without those to enjoy them, why the fine
Old resolutions of ninety-eight and nine?
And for State-rights themselves there’ll be few sighers,
When the State is a little more given up to briars.
    An empty realm is a poor hollow thing,
Alike if ruled by democrat or king;
And when I hear proud, patriotic vaunts
O’er regions much distinguished by their wants,
I can but think of the traveller, and the host
Whose glittering sign swung from a gaudy post,
And told, with all the village painter’s force,
That here was “Entertainment for man and horse.
The traveller rejoiced, and soon as able
Dispatched his horse by a servant to the stable,
And said to the landlord, as the steed went on—
“Get him oats.” “We keep none.” “Give him corn.”
“We keep no corn, we are feeding now on chop.”
“Well then, with that we must his hunger stop;
And to relieve my own, broil me a chicken,
And add an egg, or any other fixin’.”
“We don’t keep eggs or chickens.” “Well, then, get
Whate’er you please; but something now to wet
My whistle let me have, ’Tis very dry—
French brandy, apple jack, or good old rye.”
“We keep no liquors, sir.” “Then give me wine
Or ale, or even beer, before I dine.”
“We keep them neither.” “You don’t, sir!” (said
The traveller, now with indignation red;)
“What do you keep? Ask what I may, you have none!”
“What do I keep? Why, sir, I keep a tavern!”
Replied mine host in all his dignity;
“Then keep it and be starved! you sha’nt keep me!”
And off he went, and never more has been there!
Just as our people leave our own Virginia—
Regretting their fine government to be sure,
But human wants require something more.
Who for a casket cares without the jewel?
Or a bright grate in Winter with no fuel?
Without a church who cares to build a steeple?
And what’s a government without a people?
Some love the house, some those therein that dwell,
The wise prefer the oyster to the shell;
Yet treasury-pap-fed sharp ones, the sweet moisture
Dip in the emptied shell and scorn the oyster—
Save when some great financial conundrum
They seek to solve by drawing on the fundum.
And we’ll be left a shell, if we go on
In Agriculture as we yet have gone;
Unless a change come o’er us ere too late,
The hour when we must fall is fixed as fate—
The hour when o’er Virginia and her glory
“Was” must be written as o’er Ilion’s story;
Fait Ilium et ingems gloria Teuerorum;
And States once ruined, nothing can restore them.
    Yet only think there’s yearly taken away
Of potash and phosphoric acid, they say,
From the soil, of the-whole country, twenty millions
Of dollars’ worth! And one and a half billions
Of bushels of corn are yearly wasted too,
In the mineral contents of the food men chew;
The ashes of six hundred millions of grain
Are from our lands’ thin surface yearly ta’en,
And of all this, the country’s annual spoil,
We return scarcely any to the soil!*
For farmers here, like politicians, hiss them
Much as you may, yet cling to the spoils system,
And say with the miser, far back on time’s tide you know.
Populus me sibilat, numero nummos et rideo:
(Which means, the people hiss me, the poor chaff,
I count the money in my purse and laugh;)
Let both be rather warned by him, I beg,
Who killed the goose that laid the golden egg.
    In this work of destruction, it is clear
Eastern Virginia does, at least, her share;
Her ruin then, as plain as reason and rhyme
Can make it, is a question but of time.
    But of one time no doubt can cloud a brow,
The time to avert this ruin, which is now;
In this earth-butchering, prodigal career,
Let us not even close this waning year—
But deem it robbery, and as robbery spurn
To take more from the earth than we return;
It is but fair to those who are to live
On earth when we are gone, that we should give
Back to her breast as much as she bestows,—
If we give more, the act as generous glows:
But who to improve the earth does all he can,
Is the best patriot, the true nobleman!*
It is not at his overloaded board
That luxury makes the feast she can’t afford;
It is not he, who sacks his land to buy
From other lands what his own can supply;
He does not deem the earth, nor earth’s produce,
Merely for his, or his generation’s use,
But reverentially directs his toil
As tenant, not as owner of the soil;
And innocently seeks his wholesome food
From mother earth’s rich milk, not her life’s blood;
By him good ways of farming are presumed,
Not from the most produced, but most consumed;
With him, he highest as a farmer stands
Who spends not on himself but on his lands;
And by him, too, ’Tis thought the commonest sin here.
Is labour spent in ruining Virginia.
    This to avoid, the rules we should receive
Are both of negative and positive—
A negative one, from which we ne’er should roam,
Is, never buy what you can raise at home;
Earth’s profitable commerce is the exchange
Of realm with realm of things to each other strange;
The unprofitable, to the realm which pays,
Is to buy that the realm itself could raise:
And why? It pays the transportation’s cost
Of the bulky article—all that is lost;
And next it looses the consumption made
Upon the land, with which it drives the trade,
And third, of what you buy the price you swell,
And lower that of what you raise to sell.
Thus ’gainst yourself with both your hands you work,
One pulls down grain, the other tosses up pork:
O, what insanity one’s self to tear,
With one hand playing bull, the other bear!
Such will be soon in rags, with “nothing to wear.”
    Now for a positive rule—have sense and nerve
Never from this one when, while you can, to swerve:
Reduce the bulk of what from your plantation,
You sell, to cost the least for transportation;

Thus all the offal to your land you’ll give.
And while you live enable that to live.
To give some illustrations, few and brief.
Never sell corn, except as corn-fed beef,
Or pork, or mutton—never sell a veal
Or lamb, except to help a neighbour’s meal:
When rules of strict economy must yield
To laws by social feelings signed and sealed,
The calf and lamb will very soon increase,
From one the butter sell, from one the fleece;
The very carbon in their breath will earn
Almost what you will give them in return.
So of one’s horses; ’Tis at little cost
You raise them; what they eat is far from lost;
What to your land is not returned, is grown
Into the noblest servant man doth own:
He shares our pleasures, dangers and our toil,
Whirls on the carriage, and subverts the soil;
Gentle in peace, and terrible in war,
Amid its sounding trumpets saith ha! ha!
Would you begrudge a little grass and grain,
With this fine creature to adorn your plain
And thus increase Virginia’s bill of losses,
Famed as she is for statesmen and stock-horses
Besides this occupation pleasure brings—
We must not make our labours dreary things,
But in the operations of the farm,
Besides in their mere profit find a charm;
Reduced to that their pleasures sink to vice,
And that, of all the basest, avarice.
The colt you raise in a domestic way,
Will in your children’s raptures fairly pay;
When it first comes they clap their hands in joy,—
The rocking-horse is less a favourite toy.
Your little pets upon its mother ride,
Delighted with their plaything at her side;
When larger grown your largest boy may take him,
And to perfect his horsemanship may break him:
A blooming (laughter then more bloom may gain,
By cantering the new favourite o’er the plain;
And the old man the good old mare may ride,
With children on her children by his side—
A double family circle, whose delights
Power may envy on its thorny heights.
    Another positive rule, alike of sense,
And what is better still, benevolence,
(For in delightful harmony are joined
All the best promptings of the heart and mind,)
Is to keep fat, and to the utmost fed,
Whatever on your farm is worked or bred.

There is no maxim in economy’s store
Than this more precious—Nothing pays that’s poor.
When one condemns whate’er any one meets here,
He does it in these words—”It’s a poor creature!”
When any rival politician hates men
Who thwart him, he speaks of them as poor statesmen;
When Gallic magnanimity was at zero,
They spoke of Wellington as a poor hero;
(But England had reflected e’en more sorely on
The heroism of the great Napoleon:)
When neighbourhoods a member would belabour
For selfishness, they call him a poor neighbour;
Of women too, who vex their husbands’ lives,
’Tis said in condemnation, they’re poor wives;
And when the purse-proud fiercely as they can
A man denounce, they call him a poor man;
So when against the price of beeves you battle,
Or horses even, you call them poor cattle.
    ’twas said of yore the Gods ne’er came alone,
But in bright groups on mortal vision shone;
Mars, Venus, Bacchus—valour, love, and laughter,
And Jove, Apollo, and Pallas followed after;
Juno and Iris, and Diana came,
And Vulcan, though behind, for he was lame.
But now the world seems farther from the skies,
And ills come grouped instead of deities;
Poor creatures make poor farmers, these poor stock,
And all poor lands, a miserable flock.

    To save this realm’s presenting such a sight,
The rules above insisted on are right;
Embraced in these is—when ’tis in your power,
Never sell wheat but in the form of flour,

Consume the offal, give back to your lands
All but that part which the best price commands,
And costs least to transport. Work upward still,
Sell but the pork and not the sows and swill.
Follow this plan and you’ll enrich your soil,
And plenty and contentment crown your toil.
Your liberal governments may then be decked
With laurels; they’ll have people to protect,
Clustered in happy crowds, instead of briars,
And pine and broom-straw fields, whose annual fires
Trim pastures lean, for cattle lean, whose loan
Possessors languish few and far between.
These rules are general, and to prove them true,
Like other rules have their exceptions too;
They need not all be followed by the livers
On the rich borders of our creeks and rivers;
These by rotation, gypsum, clover, lime,
Improve their lands in a reasonable time,
They also get the mineral they require,
And ashes too from the soap-boilers fire;
At little cost by means of sails and oars,
That waft the precious freightage to their shores.
The waters also, whether fresh or brine,
Their treasures yield, caught by the seine or line,
And e’en the last are in such numbers taken,
That sturgeon once was called Charles City bacon.
Through these advantages, the farmers on
The river lands may sell both wheat and corn,
Yet among these the most judicious are
Those who do’nt push this selling very far,
But raise at least their mutton, beef and pork,
And pleasure horses, if not those for work.
By all these various means the land receives
More of her cereals’ ashes than it gives:
Hence its abundant yield and heavy cover,
And fields and owners live alike in clover.
    Long may they do so! long the old mansions stand,
Surrounded year by year with finer land!
Long the old hospitality remain,
Supplied each season from a richer plain!
And nobler structures to the old succeed,
As those round Dover now and fair Belmead!
But would you have a narrow belt of land
Along the rivers with its mansions grand,
And the rolling region spreading wide between,
With people sparse, with lands and houses mean,
And horses, cattle, every creature lean?
    Nor in this state could matters long remain—
Who’ld pay the taxes, who the poor maintain?
Who’ld fill the churches, who the school-house fill,
And who the ranks when the militia drill?
O, no! the country of a prosperous race
Must numbers have proportioned to its space;
Without this there’s nor strength nor progress either,
And e’en its civilization ’s doomed to wither;
For men, weak singly, all their power find
In the energy of numbers well combined:
The more their numbers, better their combination,
The more their power, higher their civilization.
The combination ’s perfect when you find
Employments suited to each hand and mind,
And hands enough to work what heads devise,
For every human good beneath the skies.
The civilization ’s perfect which enjoys
The fruits of all the labour man employs.

Still the foundation of the bliss, which toil
And art, and wisdom bring, is in the soil.
However high in air the fruit may grow,
’Tis nourished by its root in earth below;
Therefore the way to make a nation strong,
To make it happy and be happy long,
To make it to each good and joy give birth,
Is to take care, of all things, mother earth;
Let not the white man a destroyer come
To this now world, his refuge and his home,
But keep at least as fertile all her lands
As he received them from the Indians’ hands.
This how to effect, and even to restore
Those which, alas! are made already poor,
The rules above inculcated may show;
Yet that’s but half a farmer ought to know.
How to enrich the ground by these are taught,
Not how its treasures from it should be wrought,
What cultivation makes the cereals yield
The greatest crop and leasts exhausts the field,
How labour may be best economized
On the smoked weed from planting until prized;
What various roots in various climates grow,
And upon each what culture to bestow—
What breed of herds to low upon his plain,
What kind of team to cultivate his grain;
Of all the various swine which best to keep,
And what the fairest flock of fleecy sheep;
What fruits should in his orchard most abound,
What vegetables fill his garden ground;
(For ’tis a mountain adage worth receiving,
That a good garden makes one half your living;)
Clothed in what turf how far to spread your lawn,
What trees and flowers your dwelling should adorn;
How group the evergreens to break the storm,
And make the winter with their colours warm
To have the holly’s scarlet berries glow,
And varnished foliage glitter through the snow,
While sheltering cedars with their azure store
Of food for birds, attract them to your door,
And give a glimpse of summer to your eyes,
While winter hangs around his leaden skies.
All this and more, too numerous to tell,
The country gentleman should study well;
But they are secondary, and little worth,
In comparison, to keeping rich the earth.
This, I entreat you, strive for now; O, save
Virginia’s soil from desolation’s grave
Unless to this the farmer’s efforts tend,
The more his skill, the worse his labours end
For as with greater art the plough is sped,
The more the yield, and more the land is dead.
    Saved from this fate, I feign would help to show
The modes the best to make its products grow,
And other things that farmers ought to know
But this must be reserved for another time,
For that ’s arrived at which to end this rhyme.
It was a labour of love, for all I wrote
Was but our country’s interest to promote—
That of the farmer first, and then of those
Who on the farmer’s interests repose—
That is of all—for either last or first,
All at this planet’s generous breast is nurs’d—
Repay the filial debt with liberal hand,
And thus with good and glory crown the land.


NOTE 1.—It was said of that accomplished gentleman, the late James M. Garnett, that he was a better Agriculturist in theory than in practice, and that while he was lecturing in Fredericksburg on Agriculture, his neighbour, Mr. Waring, perceiving his corn field to be very grassy, had it worked out nicely for him, saying he did not like to see Mr. Garnett’s own farm suffer while he was labouring in behalf of the farming interest of the whole State. And certainly the State is much indebted to Mr. Garnett for the impulse he gave to Agricultural studies.

NOTE 2.—It would seem that horizontal ploughing and ruta-bagas were introduced into Virginia about the same time, if we may judge from an anecdote told of that able and facetious gentleman, the late Governor Barbour, the sound of whose periods came not from their emptiness, like that of “empty barrels,” (of which from a toast of his own his political opponents dubbed him the Earl,) but from being well charged, like that of great guns. It is said that the Governor, addressing a plain farmer on the Court-green, said: “Well, sir, have you yet adopted the modern method of subverting your soil at angles of equal departure?” When the man replied: “I s’pose you mean ruta-bagas—yes, I sowed some last month.”

NOTE 3.—The subjoined article was published some time since, entitled,


Our readers are aware that a bill has been submitted in the House of Representatives, by Mr. Morrill, of Vermont, proposing to grant to the several States 5,920,000 acres of land, to be divided among them in proportion to the number of Senators and Representatives they send to Congress. The object of the bill is to encourage Agriculture, which he claims is declining in all the States in the Union. He says that it will “do something to induce farmer’s sons and daughters to cluster around the old homestead; something to remove the last vestige of pauperism from our land; something for peace, good morals, churches and common schools; something to enable sterile railroads to pay dividends; something to enable the people to bear the enormous expenditure of the national Government; something to check the passion of individuals and of the nation for indefinite territorial expansions, and to preserve them from ultimate decrepitude.”

In relation to the decline of agriculture in the United States, Mr. Morrill says:

The quantity of food produced bears each year a smaller proportion to the number of acres under cultivation, and that over a very wide area some of the most useful crops bid fair to become extinct. In the New England States alone, he says the wheat crop, instead of increasing with the population, fell, in the ten years between 1840 and 1850, from 2,014,111 bushels to 1,090,132; and the potato crop in the same period from 35,180,500 bushels to 19,418,191. The Southern States are hardly any better off. In the four States of Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and Alabama, there was a falling off in the wheat produced during the same period of 60 per cent, or more than half. The State of New York is probably one of the best, in an agricultural point of view, in the Union. The farms are larger, and more capital invested in them, and more skill applied in cultivation than in any other. Yet the number of sheep in the State now is 300,000 less than it was thirty years ago, and within the last five years has declined at the rate of fifty per cent. The product of wheat has fallen from 13,391,770 bushels in 1845 to 6,000,000 in the past year.

In a word, Mr. Morrill assumes, as the St. Louis Democrat observes, that in every State in the Union agricultural statistics tell the same story. With the largest area of arable land of any nation in the world; with the smallest population in proportion to the square mile; with the lowest rate of taxation; with skill, enterprise, ingenuity, and freedom from all feudal trammels, we appear to be fast returning to the wilderness state, and upon a condition of absolute dependence upon taxed and over-crowded Europe, for the bread we eat, the beef we roast, and the horses we ride.

Mr. Morrill’s scheme of relief is the construction of thirty-two agricultural colleges—one in each State—which are to inaugurate a new era in agriculture, revivify it from its present retrograde condition, and establish it upon a solid and enduring basis.

We do not know whether Mr. Morrill is right in his facts or not, but we are in favor of the bill, as a means of getting a small portion of the public lands for State purposes. These lands are daily being squandered upon the North Western States, and we see no earthly reason why Virginia and the South should not receive a slight benefit, while they are going. Let Mr. Morrill push his bill through Congress, if possible, and he will entitle himself to the thanks of the whole country. Wonder if our Virginia representatives could’nt help him a little, and thus evince their purpose to serve their constituents in a single particular, during their Congressional lives?

NOTE 4.—I get this statement from the tenth of a series of letters addressed by H. C. Carey to the President of the United States, which I earnestly recommend to the attentive study of the very few persons in the world who study for the purpose of learning the truth instead of confirming themselves in error. But why should I even do that, when

Men convinced against their will
Are of the same opinion still?

NOTE 5.—In this line I have condensed and given the meaning of nearly two lines in Horace—(Sat. 1, Book 1, Line 66:)

Populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo,
Ipse domi, simul ac nummos contemplor in arcâ.

NOTE 6.—”The king of Brobdignag gave it as his opinion ‘that whoever could make two ears of corn or two blades of grass grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would do more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together.’ This passage might have been written upon Lord Townshend, who retired in 1730 from public affairs, which went on none the worse without him, and devoted the remaining eight years of his life to improving his estate. He originated practices which increased the produce not only two, but a hundred fold, and of which the world continues to reap the benefit at this hour.” London Quarterly for April, 1858, page 221.

Mr. Coke, of Holkhaut, afterwards Earl of Leicester, was a conspicuous example—”that no profession in the world was so lucrative as that of a landlord who devoted his life to the improvement of his property. The wealth, nevertheless, which accrued to himself was the smallest part of the gain. He was a national benefactor upon a mighty scale, and was the cause, directly and indirectly, of adding a countless mass of corn and cattle, of beef and mutton, bread and beer, to the resources of the country.” Same Article, page 23.

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