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We subjoin the following remarks from the introductionwhich contains a syllabus of the course-exhibiting the phenomena of vegetation:
“The phenomena of vegetation must be considered as an important branch of the science of organized nature; but, although exalted above inorganic matter, vegetables are yet, in a great measure, dependent for their existence upon its laws. They receive their nourishment from the external elements; they assimilate it by means of peculiar organs; and it is by examining their physical and chemical constitution, and the substances and powers which act upon them, and the modifications which they undergo, that the scientific principles of agricultural chemistry are obtained.
“ According to these ideas, it is evident that the study ought to be commenced by some general enquiries into the composition and nature of material bodies, and the laws of their changes. The surface of the earth, the atmosphere, and the water deposited from it, must either together separately afford all the principles concerned in vegetation, and it is only by examining the chemical nature of these principles that we are capable of discovering wbat is the food of plants, and the manner in which this food is supplied and prepared for their nourishment. The principles of the constitution of bodies, consequently, will form the first subject for our consideration.
“By methods of analysis, depending upon chemical and electrical instruments discovered in late times, it has been ascertained that all the varieties of material substances may be resolved into a comparatively small number of bodies, which, as they are not capable of being decompounded, are considered, in the present state of chemical knowledge, as elements. The bodies incapable of decomposition, at present known, are forty-seven. Of these, thirty-eight are metals, six are inflammable bodies, and three substances which unite with metals and inflammable bodies, and form, with them, acids, alkalies, earths, or other analogous compounds. The chemical elements, acted upon by attractive powers, combine in different aggregates. In their simple combinations, they produce various crystalline substances, distinguished by the regularity of their forms. In more complicated arrangements, they constitute the varieties of vegetable and animal substances, bear the higher character of organization, and are rendered subservient to'the purposes of life. And by the influence of heat, light, and electrical powers, there is a constant series of changes; matter assumes new forms, the destruction of one order of beings tends to the conservation of another, solution and consolidation, decay and renovation, are connected, and 'whilst the parts of the system continue in a state of fluctuation and change, the order and harmony of the whole remain unalterable.” pp. 7-9.
Sir Humphrey, in the same part of his works, superadds some valuable remarks concerning the organization of plants; the effect of air, earth, and water, in producing their different natures, the philosophy of fallowing and irrigation, and also the character of manures, and their chemical effect upon the soil.
The aid of science has not only been exerted in advancing the best modes of tillage, but also in conjunction with the mechanic arts, it has led to the invention of new, and the improvement of old instruments of husbandry. The plough, the harrow, and many utensils of less consequence, have been gradually
advancing from the rough model of the original inventor, to the finished and commodious instruments now in use, which have vastly augmented the profits and lightened the labour of agricultural industry.
But notwithstanding science has very materially aided the progress of agriculture, it is, after all, mainly owing to the strict observation of practical results, that the most solid advantages have been obtained. For this object, the experience of practical farmers is invaluable. By comparing the results of their practice, general facts have been established. To furnish an organ for the collation of these facts, societies have been formed, and agricultural journals have been published, in almost every state of the Union. It is only within the last ten or twelve years, however, that the public mind has been awakened to an effective impulse in the cause of husbandry, as well as the other branches of national industry. Among the most prominent societies which have been established in this country for that object is the American Institute, the title of whose Journal we have placed at the head of this paper. That society was organized about eight years ago in the city of New York, “ for the promotion of agriculture, commerce, manufactures, and the arts.” Its design is to arouse and concentrate the public mind upon a great American system of domestic industry. It is founded on the fact that the United States possesses within its boundaries all the means of national comfort and strength, without a necessity of dependence for any thing upon foreign markets; and that all which is required for the development of the resources which are spread around us, is active, intelligent, vigorous industry. The American Institute, in accordance with its charter, holds its stated periodical meetings, annual addresses are delivered before the society, fairs are held, contributions made of valuable facts, new discoveries, improvements, or inventions in the arts; and premiums are awarded to the most approved articles of domestic manufacture. The Journal of the Institute, which we regard as a valuable compendium, professes to give, in monthly numbers, a record of the transactions of the society. It is also in contemplation by the Institute, to establish, in connection with a library, a repository in the city of New York, which shall be a general receptacle of models in the arts—we mean those models which have been recently invented. Whoever visited the patent office at Washington, before its destruction, could not fail to be surprised at the amazing activity of the American mind in new inventions, or to be convinced that an institution like that which we have last mentioned, would be desirable in the commercial metropolis of the country. The vast advantages of a society like the American Institute must be manifest to everybody. It concentrates public VOL, XXI.NO. 41.
attention upon improvements in domestic industry. It enlarges the boundaries of practical knowledge, by the establishment of facts founded upon the experience of different minds, and excites emulation in the arts, by the prizes which it holds out to competition. Besides this society, others of like character have been instituted in the different states of the union, some, we believe, under government patronage. The establishment of agricultural societies and journals in the different states, we trust, is the harbinger of greater advancement in science and the arts throughout the country. It is clearly right that inventions in the arts, or great skill and care in raising stock, should meet with reward, and accordingly the premiums which are awarded at our agricultural fairs, to the owners of first-rate cattle and approved specimens of domestic manufacture, are attended with the benefit of exciting the ambition of these two classes of producers.
Societies, similar to those which we have mentioned as existing in this country, have for a long time been established in Great Britain, which hold annual fairs, where the most approved breeds of sheep, cattle, and horses, as well as agricultural productions, are exhibited. Similar societies have been organized in France, and the report of the Central Royal Society of that country, read at its last public sitting in April, 1836, by M. Bodin, may be found in the Journal of the American Institute. Several enterprising gentlemen of the northern as well as southern states, independently of these societies, have made extraordinary individual exertions in the cause, by iinporting exotic plants, and the most approved stock.
Horticulture, which may be considered the fine arts of agriculture, has also received considerable attention in this country, through the agency of private and public enterprise; and the annual horticultural exhibitions in our large cities give promise of brilliant success. Besides the various public gardens devoted to this object, there are private establishments deserving of all commendation.
In Boston, Philadelphia, and New York, public spirit has made still farther advances. The departed, who were before consigned to the barren heath, or the crowded grave-yards of tumultuous cities, may now be congregated in beauty and peace, among silent groves, where nature, learning, architecture, poetry, and sculpture weave their brightest trophies over the monuments of the dead.
Why has not husbandry advanced more rapidly in this country, with its wide field of operation, aided as it is by the
! We need scarcely allude to the Franklin Institute of Pennsylvania, a noble monument of the skill and enterprise of this powerful and growing state.
most valuable agricultural journals, and such apparently energetic societies? To this question we answer, that there are two prominent causes which tend to impede the progress of agricultural industry throughout the United States. The first which we shall mention, may perhaps appear somewhat paradoxical. It is the excess of good land. In a country of limited extent and dense population, there is necessarily a resort to artificial means to augment the produce of the soil, and this tends to the advancement of husbandry. This is doubtless the foundation of the progress of that science in England. Where, however, the territory is so wide and fertile as our own, farmers are unwilling to expend their labour and money in cultivating a naturally barren or worn out soil by artificial means, when the vast regions of the west are spread out before them. Doubtless the high cultivation of a small surface of naturally barren soil would be more advantageous to the owner, than a great extent poorly cultivated, but it seems to be the ambition of our American farmers to extend their operations over large tracts. It is equally clear, that the same labour would, if expended upon the western soil, produce, upon an average, double the amount of that at the east. There has been, heretofore, a counterbalancing advantage in favour of the eastern farmer in the greater price of his products. But this we believe does not now hold good. The increasing emigration to the west, and the too general neglect there of agriculture, causes an excess of population over the products of
the earth, while the market at the east is making greater demands on account of the emigration from abroad; and this tends vastly to increase the value of these products. It is a fact within our immediate knowledge, that the farmers of Michigan, even in the interior, have a ready market for all they can produce, at their own doors, as the emigrants to that country must be maintained by the produce raised by others, until they can clear and bring under cultivation their own land. The establishment of internal improvements, by facilitating the means of communication, has enhanced the price of western productions. It is known to every farmer of the west, that within a few years corn was sold in the interior of Ohio at about six cents per bushel, and that it is now more than doubled in price. It is hardly to be imagined, therefore, that very rapid advances will be made in the science of husbandry while so much good land can be procured at so small a price, and where its products can be obtained with comparatively little toil. Men here require nature to do what in many other countries is effected only by laborious art. When, however, the country becomes so densely populated as to require economy of space, art will come in to supply the deficiencies of nature, and husbandry will be greatly advanced.
Another cause of bad husbandry in this country, is that spirit of speculation, the auri sacra fames, which is abroad. All classes, and among them the farmers, are induced to neglect straight forward industry, and to embark in extraordinary and hazardous enterprizes, and this produces an unnatural state of things. There is, doubtless, in the rapid advancement of the Union, a wide field for the mere accumulation of wealth by speculation, but it impedes the solid prosperity of the country. Although the price of agricultural produce is high at the west, the farmers of that country are unwilling to engage in the arduous labour of tilling the soil, when there may be secured such immense advances in the value of property by judicious investments, and accordingly we find them a race of consumers, and not of producers. The exorbitant prices which are now affixed to a great proportion of the western lands by individuals, outrun the sober calculations of common sense, and must retrograde. The growth of a country generally follows and not precedes the cultivation of the soil. Imaginary valuations may feed the midnight visions of the greedy speculator; but they will not feed the body. It is to the facts which we have mentioned, conjoined with the scanty harvests of the last year, and perhaps, in some measure, to the accumulation of marketable products by speculators, that we may attribute the high price of produce at the present time. Let the farmers return to their ploughs, and they will not subject themselves to the bitter disappointments which must always follow in the path of visionary speculation. Let them reclaim the wilderness and the exhausted fields, and scatter over their broad surface the waving harvests and bleating flocks, and their gains, if less rapid, will be more solid. To this important class of our citizens, both at the east and the west, we would quote the sentiment of the Roman poet:
“O fortunatos nimium sua si bona norint
Agricolas" Let them recollect that Washington was a husbandman, and returned to his farm after he had worked out the salvation of his country; that it is an honourable and virtuous employment; that it was the farmers of the revolution, who, grasping their muskets from the hooks of their cottages, were the most important instruments in accomplishing our independence, and that they, as a class, have ever been regarded as the bone and muscle of the republic.
To the neglect of agricultural industry in this country, and also the amount of foreign emigration which is daily pouring in upon us, may be attributed the fact, that wheat and other staples are imported into the United States at the present time