Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

mastery of all the knowledge belonging to your business will give the greatest success.

I do not belong to that school which thinks that ignorance is good enough for the masses of the people ; that because a inan must labor with his hands his intellect is a useless appendage. The first man God made, the highest, most intelligent of the race was a farmer. He made it his business to apply his intelligence to the tilling of the soil and the cultivation of its fruit. He, who could go through the highest operations of the human mind, the work of giving fit names to all the objects of nature, was not too learned or too scientific to be a cultivator of the earth. This same principle of intelligence, which in everything else gives success, has its place here as the characteristic of the most successful operator. When you pass by a farm where everything is in its place, the fences all right, the fields waving with the finest crops, the trees bending beneath the weight of the best kind of fruit, the stock such as would adorn the park of a king, the house arranged for comfort, the barns and stables well planned and well kept, you feel instinctively that there is something there higher than mere diligence and labor, that an intelligent mind a master of his business, has guided the hand of labor and the result is success.

Take your mower and reaper for an illustration. It is but a mass of wood and iron. But reflect a moment what an amount of intelligence is involved in making these effective. You must first discover the ore then guide the hand of labor in quarrying. Then you must build your furnace and separate the stone and the iron. Then, by another process, you must change the internal structure of a part of it and crystallize it into steel, Then you must give shape to all its different parts. Then you must combine them into a certain relation, so as to make your force tell where you wish it. Then you must select the right kind of wood and fashion and fit it. Then apply your force. But if you use horses, you must first train and then harness them. You must tan your skins into leather, and shape and cut and sew it. And now harness your team to it, and let a man, not a clod, not an animal, hold the rein. See then how intelligence flashes from every part of it as it moves along. See through what long travail of patient thought, searching, inventing, experimenting, analyzing, combining, you have made a machine-a reaper-an American reaper, that shall command the homage of the best minds in christendom, and bear away the palm over all similar contrivances in all parts of the world.

Take still another illustration—what, to some, may seem no illustration at all. Take one of those fruits—a pear, an apple--so large, rich and luscious. It may be that here and there nature alone may produce such fruit; but you cannot trust nature on a large scale. To raise such fruit uniformly you must put your mind into it; you must add your intelligence to guide the operations of nature; you must select the right position, the best soil, and the best fruit; you must graft and prune and care for your trees before you can secure so fine a product. Nature does much; but nature, directed by your intelligence, will do vastly more. Every one of these products is a result of nature's work and your work combined. And so God meant it should be. He meant that in this very way your own minds should find exercise and development, and you should fill out the measure of an intelligent man. He does not bring these things to you and say, eat and drink and enjoy yourselves. But he says, use your minds, let them guide your hands, and then nature will bless you with her richest fruits. But, gentlemen, if you would have a just idea of the real dignity of your profession, you must view it in connection with the sciences to which it is intimately related; you must survey the field of knowledge which it actually covers in order to understand the high intelligence which, in this age of the world, its most successful prosecution imperatively demauds. It is a libel upon the age and upon your department of labor to suppose that the least education and smallest amount of knowledge are sufficient to qualify you to master it. Let us look for a moment at the science of vegetable chemistry. It is only within a few years this science has assumed its present large proportions. The name of Liebig will at once suggest the immense progress it has made in a short period. Now, this science introduces you at once into that beautiful system of laws God has constituted for the production of food. It lays bare the secrets of nature, hidden from the foundation of the world. It associates your intelligence with that of Him who made this world for your benefit. It enlarges at once your sphere of thought. It stimulates, it exalts your thinking powers. It furnishes elements of thought, new ideas, which you can combine and follow out in a hundred directions. And all this, too, lies legitimately within your own field of observation and labor. It takes the grain of wheat and tells you what are its component parts, what it gets from the air, the sun and the rain, and what it derives from the soil. It analyzes the soil and tells you of what it is composed, and instantly determines what soils are adapted to the different crops you wish to raise. Nay, more than this, it tells you not only of what elements your crops deprive the soil, but since God has kindly provided the materials to repair the waste made by production, it analyzes the vegetable, animal and mineral manures, and tells you how to combine, and then how to apply them so as to prepare your ground for the special harvest you wish to gather. Thus, it prepares you for your work. It enables you to see as with the eye of God. It gifts you with an intelligence as high, as noble, as quickening as that of the physician, or the lawyer, or the statesman.

I know some say, this is all theory; give us that which is practical. Very well; I, too, am seeking for that which is practical—that which will make you the finest producers in the world; that which will make our American farmers the most intelligent and successful in their business of any on the globe. And I say that, to be successful, you must avail yourselves of all the knowledge that appropriately belongs to this business. Now, this science of which I speak, is both experimental and theoretical. The mere experimenter is blind-he knows not what he does. He is like an empirical physician who kills a dozen patients while he succeeds in saving one. He tries this and he tries that, with no real knowledge to guide him, and, of course, while he occasionally succeeds, in most cases he fails. So the mere theorist lives in the clouds, he swings in air, he has no anchorage. But this science puts these together. It assumes that God has built the world according to a wise plan; it finds out that plan by actual experiment; it rises to a comprehension of the laws which govern nature in all her generative processes. It associates you with God in your work. It tells you to know his laws and follow them, and you cannot fail of success; and in doing this it makes you most practical, because it has made you intelligent in those things on which production depends.

I have spoken of this science more particularly because it is intimately connected with these great interests. But this is far from being the only science which legitimately belongs to the agriculturist. There is botany, which will teach you the form and organic structure of the plants and trees you are to raise, and the flowers with which your wives and daughters are to adorn your dwellings. There is geolegy and mineralogy and metallurgy, teaching you the character and structure of the earth, and its minerals and metals—all of which belong to you, as one who should know how the world is built, and what precious things lie beneath and around you. There is natural philosophy, the principles of which are available in a hundred directions and for a great variety of objects. There is civil engineering; since you should know how to run your fences and construct your ditches, drains, embankments and roads. There is the law which controls the possession and alienation of lands and property, and which teaches you your rights and duties as a farmer and an American citizen. There is horticulture and rural architecture, and landscape gardening-cultivating your taste, and giving you the principles which will enable you to lay out your walks and plant your trees in such forms of beauty as will make all hearts glad as they look upon the surroundings of your home. Nor should it be deemed aside from your profession to understand political eoonómy, of which you constitute one of the great national elements; or the character of the markets and productions of your own and other countries; or the history of improvements in agriculture and arts; and to all this I would add a knowledge of mechanism, especially of those mechanical implements which belong to your business. There was an old law in Wales, that no man should handle a plow who could not make one. Now, this was making a mechanic of a farmer. But the principle is a good one, that he who is to use these tools daily should understand their structure and their application, and be able to use them so as to get the greatest benefit from them.

I have thus briefly enumerated a part of those sciences and arts which connect themselves directly with agriculture. Some of these are essential to the greatest success, while others belong to the literature of the profession; but they all combine to create the high and broad intelligence which should characterize the independent American farmer.

I know that many of you will say this is a fine ideal, but an ideal it is impossible to realize; that if the agriculturists of our land should rise to this degree of intelligence, they would be the most anomalous and extraordinary race of men in the world. Now, I will not say merely that every man who means to do something should have a high ideal before him, even though he should not fully realize it; that he should have a higher ideal still for his own and his neighbors' children, and help them to work up to it. The man who aims at small results will not pass much beyond them; while the man of high aims may not fully attain them all, yet will he rise far beyond the less thoughtful and aspiring.

But, gentlemen, I propose to take high ground to-day, and justify this position to your intelligence. This is an age of progress; the last fifty years constitute the grandest cycle of progression known to history. In this advance, this nation of ours has stood and now stands in the front, and she is to lead the world for generations to come. We are an extraordinary people; planted as no other people ever was planted; developed as no other nationi ever was developed; possessed of elements of power and progress such as no people have possessed since the world was formed. We have a Christianity that is living, active, untrammeled by the State, and free to work out the elevation of the masses; we have institutions of learning, and the means to give every child of this republic a good education; we have free civil institutions that train us to self-government and stimulate us to self-development; we have a vast, a rich territory, where for centuries to come we shall have room to increase, and win independence and all material comforts. We combine the best energies of the most intelligent, the most active nations of the world. The Scot and the Saxon, the Irishman and the Frenchman, the Hollander and the German are here to-day, mingling their blood to form one product that shall illustrate all their excellencies without their defects, and that product is expressed by the proudest patent of nobility on earth—the name of an American citizen. We have already achieved what the old world regards with wonder-we have subdued a continent, net-worked it with canals and railroads; dotted it over with thriving towns and beautiful villages; built large cities; reared, on a vast scale, institutions of learning and religion; spread our commerce over every sea; and raised armies as brave, as skillful, as large as those of the greatest nations of the past. In science, in art, in literature, in jurisprudence, in statesmanship, we hold no mean position; and you, sir,* can testify how proudly the genius of America, expressed in the practical arts, lifted itself beside the emblazoned Lion of England and the Lilies of France. And now, with all these advantages in actual possession, these triumphs already won, will any one say it is unworthy the profoundest intelligence and the clearest foresight to hold the opinion that we are to be an extraordinary people; that we ought to, and, unless some wonderful catastrophe shall dwarf these vast energies, we shall illustrate, on a grand scale, more fully than the world has ever before seen, the capacity of a whole people for the most intelligent self-development in all the elements that constitute the highest style of manhood ? I say, then, that as a people we should have a grand ideal ever before us. And while there is to be an advance in all other departments of life in this republic, will any one dare utter the sentiment that there is one class, and that representing interests the most vital to our success, which is not to share in this progress—which is not to rise in intelligence and show itself worthy of a high place among the most successful workers for our national aggrandizement; that the farmers of America are to lag behind in this race, and not put forth the powers of

• Colonel Johason.

their manhood to do and to be all that shall make them worthy of these privileges-fit to stand among the princes of the earth ?

Gentlemen, this is no Utopian idea. The advance, which has been made in popular education justifies me in asserting that many years will not pass before we shall see it realized. It is but a few centuries siitce, in old England, the ability to read and write would, by the common law, be pleaded in abatement of punishment for crime; since the privilege of clergy, of the clerks, the clerici, the men who could read and write, saved many a rogue from the halter; since stout-fisted barons and lords had to make their marks instead of signing their names. What a contrast does this age of common schools and academies and colleges present to that! And what reason can any man assign for the limitation of our progress to that which we have already attained ? The power to reach this advance is in your hands. The process is simple. All solid progress begins with the young. You bud or graft the young tree when you wish to obtain the best fruit. The foundations of rapid and permanent advancement can be laid most successfully in the minds of the generation that is now rising to the stage of action. Give the young the culture which will fit them for their life work, and in a few years you will put a new face on society.

Nor is this so difficult a work as some may imagine. Allow me to make a supposition—to suppose that within the next decade every village or town should have appended to its central school or academy a department in which some of the branches most vital to your interests should be taught; that schools specially devoted to instruction in agriculture and the mechanical arts should be established in our State-not one or two, but, if need be, a dozen, so as to bring the advantages of this higher instruction home to your doors; that in every college there should be a department where men could be most thoroughly trained to occupy the post of instructors in these schools. Suppose all this to be true, and it needs no prophet to anticipate the magnificent result. This you have the power to effect. You are the strongest, the most independent power in the State. When you are ready to combine for the accomplishment of this great object, you will find men of high intelligence prepared to second your efforts and make them successful. When, mindful of the importance and dignity of your profession—no longer suffering the man whom you elect to represent you to neglect your best interests—your voice shall be heard in our Legislature, as a power not to be resisted, then we shall see a new and nobler order of things rising around us. It was one of the earliest lessons taught me by parental lips, not to speak evil of dignities. And though sometimes the impulse to do it is strong, I do not intend to yield to it. But when I see a Legislature largely elected by the farmers and mechanics of this State, spending months of turbulent agitation on the question whether the city of New York shall have another street railroad; when I see the rights and interests of a whole State held in abeyance until they are shaped to suit the narrow views and partisan feelings of the advocates of a merely local project; when I see a great measure, involving the interests of the farmers and mechanics of this State for generations to come, allowed but a few hours' debate; when I see a magnificent gift of a million acres of land, designed for your benefit, limited for years to come to a small section of the State,

« ElőzőTovább »