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AMERICAN AGRICULTURAL LITERATURE.

BY DANIEL LEE, M. D.

There are more agricultural journals published in the United States than in all the world beside. This is a pregnant fact, and one that prom. ises future achievements in rural literature which no other nation is likely to equal. In fifty years this republic will contain one hundred million inhabitants, all speaking and writing a common language, and enjoying all the advantages and blessings of popular education, in an unprecedented degree. Then, as now, three-fourths of the people will be happily engaged in agricultural and horticultural pursuits. What, then, is likely to be the most prominent, interesting, and commanding feature of American literature? What other department of human knowledge presents so many points of attraction to the popular mind in all the Siates as the knowledge that relates to tillage, husbandry, fruit culture, rural literature, and sciences? As an intellectual employment, the field to be cultivated is almost unlimited, while the harvest that may reasonably be expected far transcends, in dignity and importance, anything which the world has ever witnessed.

Hitherto, educated men have strangely overlooked the wealth that lies on the very surface of American soil, in its vegetable and animal products. Such, however, is the keenness and activity of American intellect, that every branch of agriculture and horticulture will, ultimately, have its text books, its special schools, its professors, its museums, its science, and its literature. This division of labor is indispensable to advance any department of the most comprehensive of all professions. Let a gifted mind concentrate all its powers on one object, and the chances are greatly increased that the end aimed at will be attained. The climates of the several States and Territories between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are so various that they secure to agriculture and horticulture almost the widest possible diversity of employment and study. All tastes, and every grade of talent, may find fitting and congenial associations. In this circumstance, coupled with a common and earnest effort to improve, may be seen the elements of universal success.

Among the early cultivators of agricultural literature in this country, the name of Robert R. Livingston, of New York, long distinguished as chancellor of the State, deserves honorable mention. Mr. L. was over twenty years president of the first State society for the promotion of agriculture in New York, which was organized in 1791, and supported till after the death of the chancellor in 1813. In point of literary and scientific merit, the papers of no other society in the United States connected with agriculture excel, if they equal, those published by the one over which Mr. Livingston presided with so much dignity and usefulness. To Pennsylvania is due the honor of originating the first agricultural society after the Revolution established in this country. It was founded in 1785, and Judge Richard Peters was its president and most active promoter and patron. In 1792, a similar association was formed in Massachusetts; and we believe, soon after, a society, having the same object in view, was called into existence in Connecticut. We have not the transactions or records of any of the societies founded in the last century, (nor the time to do them justice if we had,) except that of New York. On another occasion we shall endeavor to bring before the present generation of agricultural readers the merits of the home correspondents and agricultural compeers of the illustrious Washington. As agriculturists, the great men of the Revolution and the authors of our present incomparable constitution deserve far more consideration than they have hitherto received. Although not learned in the technicalities of modern sciences, nor thoroughly educated in literary attainments, yet no men of any age ever had a clearer perception of the wants and interests of an agricultural people, or labored more faithfully to elevate the calling and improve the condition of the tillers of the soil. Washington and his compatriots were too far in advance of the masses and public opinion to be duly appreciated as agricultural writers; and the public duty devolves on us, their posterity, to bring out their many excellences, that the world may know what they thought, and said, and did, in behalf of American agriculture. We know not how to promote the great farming interest better than to appeal to the united testimony of the founders of our republican institutions, and the fathers of our first agricultural societies. If the statesmen and sovereign people of this day will not regard the teachings of the wise men of the last century, and of the first quarter of the present, no arguments drawn from recent history are likely to be more successful.

Robert Robert Livingston was born in 1745. The family of Livingston is a very ancient and respectable one in Scotland,“ distinguished for its numbers, opulence, talents, Christian virtue, and attachment to liberty.” That branch of the family vhich came over to this country emigrated about 190 years ago. On their first arrival, there were but two heads of families, an uncle and a nephew, from whom have descended the numerous persons bearing the name of Livingston in the United States. In the first American Congress, which sat in Philadelphia, Robert R. Livingston was a member, and a distinguished advocate of an immediate declaration of independence. By his education, talents, wealth, and position in society, Mr. L. gave to the cause more than a common support, and was wisely selected as one of the immortal committee to draught the declaration which separated the Thirteen Colonies forever from the crown of Great Britain. Mr. Livingston was chairman of the committee that draughted the first constitution of the State of New York, to the excellences of which that prosperous Commonwealth owes much of its wonderful success and present unequalled wealth, population, and greatness.

George Clinton, the first governor of New York after the Revolution, was a working member of the agricultural society under consideration. The distinguished Dr. Samuel Mitchell was secretary, and contributed several valuable papers to its transactions. John Jay, Ogden Hoffman, Philip Van Cortlandt, Simeon De Witt, Samuel Jones, Ezra L'Hommedieu, Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, and many more of the most talented men of the 19th century, appear by their names as members, or in the act of incorporation. They had read Roman history, poets, and orators with care ; and they admired the sentiment of Cicero, a name synony

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mous with eloquence itself, who declared that “of all pursuits, none is better, none more productive, none more delightful, none more worthy a freeman, than agriculture.” Rome saw her best days when such prac

." tical farmers as Cincinnatus and Cato were honored with the confidence of the people, and the farmer of Clermont, on the Hudson, next to the farmer of Mount Vernon, on the Potomac, did most to foster a taste for rural literature and occupations in the young republic, for which they jeoparded so much, and labored so long, and so successfully. Chancellor Livingston administered the first oath to the first President of the United States; and at the conclusion of the solemn ceremony, he pronounced, "Long live George Washington," declaring as the oracle of Heaven, " that Washington should forever live in the hearts of his countrymen.

Mr. Livingston was the first to introduce the use of gypsum, or plaster of Paris, as it was then called, into the United States. He was a liberal importer of Merino sheep, improved Durham neat stock, and of many valuable seeds. When Mr. L. and his associates began their organized efforts in behalf of an improved system of tillage and hus. bandry, New York was the fourth State in the Union in population; and its cultivators were emigrating out of it because the old farms were “worn out.” In the twenty years that intervened between 1790 and 1810, when this State society was in active operation, her truly great men, co-operating under a charter, inade New York the most populous State in the Confederacy. Instead of losing by emigration out of the State, its farmers were made so prosperous by the diffusion of agricultu. ral knowledge, that thousands and tens of thousands of immigrants from New Eugland on the east, and Pennsylvania on the south, came and settled upon the soil of the Commonwealth, whose statesmen appreciated its value, and labored to improve its cultivators. The same enlightened policy led to the construction of the Erie canal--a work projected before the death of Chancellor Livingston, although not commenced till 1817. If the agricultural history of New York were fully and properly written, it would be one of the most instructive and useful books that could be placed in the hands of the American people. It was the farmer of Clermont who expended many thousands of dollars in France and on the Hudson, in experiments, before he and Fulton got a steamboat to operate successfully. This educated, scientific farmer was too deeply engaged in practical operations to write much for the instruction of posterity. In 1796, he applied to the legislature for exclusive privileges in the use of steam on the Hudson river in case he was successful in the construction of steamboats. The liberal education of farmers in this country has ever been attended with useful results; and the historical evidence of this fact may rightfully be considered as a part of our agricultural literature.

After the British had burnt the village of Kingston, the farmer of Clermont

the distressed inhabitants five thousand acres of valuable but uncultivated land, to aid them in rebuilding their town. Generous feelings and noble sentiments should be cultivated as well as the soil. It is an exceedingly short-sighted policy that prevents the establishment of agricultural colleges and schools in the United States. Sixty years ago the secretary of the New York State Agricultural Society discovered the importance of azote or ammonia as one of the constituent elements of plants. Although the fact was published at the time, as a matter worthy of the attention of all farmers, and the inhabitants of cities and villages, who are so often poisoned by the pestilential effluvia generated by the decomposition of manures and other vegetable and animal substances, yet the information attracted no notice until Liebig wrote a small book on the subject, about ten years since. One hundred thousand copies of Dr. Liebig's speculations on the growth of cultivated plants have been printed and sold in this country, while the more correct.views of Dr. Mitchell, written and printed before Liebig was born, have received no consideration whatever. We all neglect, and too often repudiate, the rural science and literature of our own citizens as worthless, and receive as law and gospel in agriculture the hastily-formed opinions of foreigners. It appears to be easier to adopt the notions of other nations, whether right or wrong, than to think, study, and reach the truth by original investigations of our own.

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On page 41 of the first volume of Transactions, Mr. Livingston makes the following statement:

"May 20, 1791.- I received a piece of flax, about half an acre, sown by a poor tenant, very injudiciously, on a dry, sandy declivity; it looked (as might be expected) extremely sickly, and, as it was evident that it had not sufficient stamina to sustain the heat of summer, he proposed ploughing it up. I took upon me to be its physician, and prescribed three bushels of gypsum, to be taken the next morning while the dew was on the ground. I sent him the dose, which was faithfully administered, and I had the satisfaction of seeing him gather more flax from this half acre, notwithstanding the uncommon drought of the summer, than any acre in this neighborhood afforded.

“N. B.- I borrowed this hint from Mr. William Cockburne, who had experienced the beneficial effects of gypsum on flax."

To “borrow” useful knowledge never impoverishes the lender; therefore it is that the wisest men are able to lend and borrow the most valuable information. Dr. Elliot, of Connecticut, in the last century experimented in feeding hogs on dry corn and corn soaked in water. The latter was found to be much the better way, in an economical point of view. This and many other useful suggestions are given to the public in his essay on husbandry. We can now add, from recent experiments, that boiled corn is better than soaked, or ground and not cooked.

Under the heading “ The manure of leached ashes,” Mr. L'Hommedieu

says: - Ten loads of this manure on poor land [on Long Island] will produce ordinarily twenty-five bushels of wheat, which exceeds by five dollars the expense of the manure; the five dollars pays for the expense of labor in raising the crop. The land is then left in a state for yielding a crop of hay of between two and one and a half tons per acre, which it will continue to do for a great number of years. In short, no manure has been found as yet to continue so long in the ground as leached ashes.'

One of the best articles on the tarring of seed-corn before planting and rolling it in plaster or ashes was from the pen of James G. Graham, esq., and read before the Society, February 28, 1798. He calls particular attention to the still common error of tarring dry corn, which has the effect to exclude moisture when planted, and of course prevent the germination of the seed. Seed.corn should be soaked before it is coated

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with either cold or warm tar; and it should be immediately planted in fresh earth. To dry again, either before or after planting, affects injuriously the vitality of the germ. Tar protects the seed from the attacks of grubs and worms, birds, squirrels, and mice.

A well-filled volume of a thousand pages might be compiled from contributions to the agricultural literature of the United States in the 18th century, showing that the farmers of the Revolution, their fathers and grandfathers, were in no respect the inferiors of men of their class in any other nation. Under date of April 28, 1797, Noah Webster gives an interesting account of his success and experiments in growing potatoes. To form the most perfect tubers, he says that potato hills should not be less than four feet apart, especially where the soil is rich and the tops or vines spread much. L'Hommedieu's description of the Hessian fly, showing that two generations are produced in a year, has never been essentially improved, although written over sixty years ago. The most serious defect in our present rural literature is an excess of agricultural papers, and the too voluminous records of the proceedings of State and county agricultural societies. The popular taste is vitiated and cloyed by a superabundance of the chaff and parasitic fungi of science, while the pure grain and nourishing bread, needed by all, are forcibly driven out of the market. Quacks in agricultural science and literature, and speculators in farm implements, manures, neat stock, sheep, swine, seeds, and fruit trees, are reaping a rich harvest. Notwithstanding these drawbacks, agriculture is advancing faster than ever before, so far as the production of crops, domestic animals, fruits, and dairies is concerned. But we do not hesitate to express our belief that agricultural sciences are less cultivated now than they were thirty years ago. The popular mind is so taken by the showy flash exhibitions of mere pretenders, that scores of the best men in the country, whose attainments, properly directed, would qualify them to instruct the millions aright, have ceased to labor for the benefit of an unappreciating public. The friends of popular education, and of the best possible agricultural books, should discriminate between truth and error, selfishness and patriotism. Agriculture demands the services of men who are not only learned in the natural sciences, but skilled in the art of teaching them to uneducated laboring persons. In place of a sound and profitable agricultural education, young farmers are taught to grasp and attempt to comprehend the most recondite problems in geology, chemistry, vegetable and animal physiology, at the beginning of their professional studies. The intellect of the masses is overtasked at the outset of its labors, and it soon becomes discouraged, and ceases to make an effort to master sciences which appear perfectly incomprehensible.

Wise and valuable professors of the principles of tillage, farm economy, agricultural engineering and physiology, have yet to be educated in this republic. The truth of this remark cannot be seriously questioned, and the only debatable point is the length of time we ought to wait before the principles of agriculture shall be publicly recognised as worthy of systematic study in schools adapted to the teaching and learning of the

Shall the owners and cultivators of American soil wait twentyfive, fifty, or one hundred years longer, before the first agricultural school or college is founded on this continent? This is really the only Sitorary agricultural question before the public at this time; and until it

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