Page images

rank of the fourth section; which, for a redheaded urchin under thirteen years of age, and standing four feet six in his shoes, was thought to be doing famously. Well, sir, our corps had a uniform, and that uniform was a jacket and overalls of plain white India cotton. It was intended, I suppose, by this pacific garb, to tame down the terrors of our array; to smooth, in some degree, the wrinkled front of grimvisaged war; and to show that, even while preparing for its dire summons, we were still willing to put on the vestments of white-robed peace. At any rate, sir, we wore white jackets and trousers; and here is my jacket, which has, by I know not what domestic chance, been preserved to the present day.

Here it is, sir, an authentic specimen of the India cotton once brought in great abundance to this country. The name of such a fabric is unknown to me; whether it is from a piece of Baftas, or Sanahs, or Beerboom Gurrahs, or Mow Mahmoodies, or Gutchpoor Mammicollies, I pretend not to say. I can only say that they used to come by the ship-load; and specie by the ship-load went back to pay for them. It is, as you see, coarse as hop-sack; you could almost shoot peas between the threads. If you ever wove a piece of cloth like that at Lowell, you would think it dear at five cents per yard;- and yet I assure you that to the best of my recollection, this very piece cost, at retail, when it was bought at Exeter, in New Hampshire, forty-four years ago, twenty-five cents per yard!

Now, sir, compare the cloth of which this poor little jacket is made, with the cottons furnished at a third of the price, at the present day, by the manufacturers of Middlesex, and see the progress of the useful arts. Then remember that the cottons of India were to be paid for in specie, the least ad. vantageous form of trade; and that the cottons of this country are manufactured from a material which grows on the soil of the United States; and is woven in your own looms, by those who eat bread raised by your own husbandmen, Recollect all this, and you will, I think, understand a little better what Middlesex manufacturers have done for Middlesex husbandmen;- and what both, while they sustain each other, have done for the rest of the community.

[ocr errors]

I beg leave, Mr. President and gentlemen, in taking my seat, to thank you again for your most kind reception.



I do not take the chair this evening either as a scientific or practical farmer. I have no right to occupy it in either capacity; but I should wish to be regarded as a citizen, deeply impressed with the importance of Agriculture, as the interest, which in many respects lies at the foundation of every other interest in a civilized country, especially as that which feeds and clothes them all. It is also to a great extent the depositary of the political power of the State. It is impossible that a person who has contemplated with any degree of attention the condition of man, where his nature has been most improved, should not be convinced of the importance of this leading pursuit.

The subject of discussion this evening is “ Farm Stock," under which comprehensiye name may be included all the domestic animals associated with man, as the humble partners of his industry or as purveyors to his wants. These are, I need scarce say, the horse, the ox family, the swine, the sheep, the goat, the dog, and a few other quadrupeds, and various members of the winged race. The list varies a little in different countries and climates. The Laplander has added the reindeer, the Arab the camel, the Hindoo the elephant, the Peruvian the llama.

These animals, with their proper care and treatment, form one of the most important topics in all discussions relative to

* Remarks made on taking the chair, at the meeting of the Legislative Agricultural Society, in the Hall of the House of Representatives, in Boston, on the 17th of February, 1852. VOL, III, 13


agriculture. I should be disposed to say “the most important,” if I did not feel that there is a temptation to give that designation to every branch of the subject, when we take it up for separate consideration. But certainly, the subject of “Farm Stock” leads directly to inquiries of the highest order; and forcibly, I think, shows the importance of agricultural education.

Allow me to dwell a moment on this point. In all that regards the soil, methods of culture, and implements of husbandry, we deal with lifeless matter, operating by mechanical forces or chemical affinities; a vast field of inquiry, in which the most important results have been attained. Where husbandry has been greatly improved, thin and sterile soils have been transformed by a mixture of those materials in which they were deficient; others have been regenerated by drainage; others rendered fertile by irrigation; and improved implements of the most varied kinds, such as McCormick's reaper, have put a new face upon agriculture. Further improvements in this department will no doubt be made ; but in all this we deal with the properties of inorganic matter.

When we turn to the subject of crops, to the various articles of vegetable growth which spring from the soil, as the food or the clothing of man, or for manufacturing purposes of any kind, we evidently encounter a higher principle, that of organized vegetable life; — the curious structure and functions of every living thing which grows out of the ground, from the humblest herb, which reaches its maturity and is gathered or perishes in a few weeks, to the oak, which braves the storms of centuries. Every one feels that when we enter upon this branch of agricultural inquiry, we have to deal with higher principles, and a class of objects in which the lowest and most imperfectly organized is infinitely beyond the reach of the most consummate skill of the engineer or of the mechanician. A man may make a chronometer which will carry a ship in safety to the furthest ends of the earth. He may construct a telescope with which he can resolve the nebula in Orion. But if he should devote his whole life to the effort, and gather into his tubes and retorts every element in exact

proportion which enters into its composition, he could not put together a living blade of grass. There is a secret in that word life which defies his most subtile operations and his most delicate reagents.

And yet this is comparatively an humble branch of agricultural inquiry. The subject of discussion this evening far transcends it. Higher principles rise to view. This plain, business-like designation of " Farm Stock," ushers us, so to say, into the sanctuary of animated nature. Mystery sits guardian at the portal. The vegetable world, as I have said, has organic structure and principles of life, assimilation, growth, and reproduction, which bear a certain analogy to the same qualities and processes in animated natures, but which still fall vastly below those natures in sensation and instinct, the name which we give to that lower degree of intelligence and reason with which brute animals, as we call them, are endowed.

Now, the nature, laws, and requirements of this organization, of these partially intelligent and rational instincts, force themselves upon us, when we take up the subject of this evening's discussion; and turn our thoughts to those humble partners of our toils with which Providence has associated us. I say with which Providence has associated us; for I think there are few things in which the wisdom and goodness of a superintending Providence are more apparent, than in the relation established between man and those domestic animals which compose his family.

I suppose there was a time in the infancy of our race, when the horse, the ox, the swine, the sheep, the ass, the goat, the dog, were as wild as the deer and buffalo, the wolf and the tiger at the present day, -as wild though not as savage. What could have conducted man to the selection of those animals with which he has surrounded himself, to share his labors and minister to his wants, but the unseen power of Providence guiding him to those whom time and patience would enable him to domesticate, to the exclusion of others destined to preserve their native ferocity? It is evident to

« PreviousContinue »