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Nihil est agriculturâ melius, nihil uberius, nihil dulcius, nihil homine, libero dig, nius.Cicero.
DISCLAIMING all disparagement of any portion of our citizens, and denying that any class have a right to arrogate to themselves the title of the “best,” we, at the same time, desire to indulge in a few reflections respecting Agriculture and the Farmer. To the consideration of these topics, we freely confess our feelings, if not our prejudices, strongly invite us. But while thus expressing our individual preference for the occupation of the farmer, we cannot omit to remark, that we respect worth, whether found in the mansion or in the hut, and ascribe the highest honor to honest labor, mental or corporeal, whatsoever may be its employment. In speaking of cultivators of the soil, we refer not to those landed aristocrats who rule their fellow-men with rods of iron, and tread the earth with steel-clad heels, nor to those miserable human beings, who, cringing beneath the lash, are doomed to hopeless servitude and abject degradation, amid the blazing lights of liberty and progress, but to the independent freemen, who till the earth with their own hands, who gain subsistence by the sweat of their brows, and who constitute, in our judgment, a large proportion of the most vigilant guardians of the public weal. These are the yeomanry—these are the men respecting whom, and whose employment, we invite atten tion to some general remarks.
Agriculture has been aptly styled “the nursing mother of all the arts.” It is the basis, the soul of our national prosperity. Commerce and manufactures conduce, in a great measure, to wealth, but the cultivation of the soil ever has been, and ever will continue to be, the fountain-head of all the streams of a country's resources.
There can be no strength in a State, 'and no moral health among the people, when the tillage of the land is neglected. We can date
* An Address delivered in the Linonian Society.
the decay of the power and virtue
of many nations, from the decline of their agricultural industry. In Rome, for instance, when the wise policy of fostering agriculture was pursued, a healthful spirit pervaded the whole State. Then the laws were impartially administered, and justice done to all. Then labor was accounted honorable, and statesmen, and generals, and philosophers, cultivated their farms with their own hands.
It was then that from among the tillers of the soil, arose a Regulus, a Cincinnatus, and an invincible soldiery. It was then that the
seven billed city” breathed defiance to her enemies, and caused nation after nation to yield to the resistless power of her legions, until the Roman eagle waved over the known world. But when largesses of corn were bestowed upon an idle populace, when agriculture was neglected, and war laid waste the fertile fields of Italy, then Roman virtue and Roman vigor fled. Soon intrigue, vice, and venality took firm hold in the State, until finally, the “pale mother of empires” was abandoned to her enemies, and the palaces of the Cæsars echoed the tread of the victorious barbarian. History abounds in examples illustrative of the important fact, that the enduring greatness of a nation is mainly founded upon its agriculture, and rulers will do well to increase the prosperity of those who swing the scythe and hold the plough.
That country which does not possess within itself the means of affording subsistence to its own inhabitants, is, if we may trust the voice of experience, destined to sink to early ruin. National power, based upon commerce alone, unsupported by a flourishing industry, which ministers to human wants and qualifications, must fall to the ground. Merely commercial States dependent upon contingencies for their very life-blood, and iinbued with that spirit of speculation which tends to enervale the body and corrupt the mind, contain within their own bosoms the seeds of dissolution. Phenicia, Carthage, Genoa, Venice, and Holland of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, all bear witness to this fact. There is much truth in these verses of Goldsmith:
-trade's proud empire hastes to swift decay,
As rocks resist the billows and the sky." To her unsurpassed agriculture, England is most indebted for her support in the midst of those tremendous pressures which so often have threatened to crush her. It is the unparalleled cultivation of her soil, that has enabled the British people, placed upon a rock-bound island, to excel the world in every article of fabric, to maintain an unrivaled navy, and plant their power in every quarter of the globe. Firm are the foundations of the strength of that nation, which, in time of
peace, is nourished from the resources of its own industry, and in war can rely upon the strong arms and undaunted hearts of its yeomanfy, to sustain its rights in the din of strife or in the roar of battle !
Upon agriculture, in addition to the necessaries and common comforts