Agriculture is the greatest among the arts, for it is first in supplying our necessities. It is the
mother and nurse of all other arts. It favors and strengthens population; it creates and
maintains manufactures, gives employment to navigation and materials to commerce. It
animates every species of industry, and opens to nations the surest channels of opulence. It is
also the strongest bond of well-regulated society, the surest basis of internal peace, the
natural associate of good morals.
We ought to count among the benefits of agriculture the charm which the practice of it
communicates to a country life. That charm which has made the country, in our own view,
the retreat of the hero, the asylum of the sage, and the temple of the historic muse. The strong
desire, the longing after the country, with which we find the bulk of mankind to be
penetrated, points to it as the chosen abode of sublunary bliss. The sweet occupations of
culture, with her varied products and attendant enjoyments are, at least, a relief from the
stifling atmosphere of the city, the monotony of subdivided employments, the anxious
uncertainty of commerce, the vexations of ambition so often disappointed, of self-love so often
mortified, of fictitious pleasures and unsubstantial vanities.
Health, the first and best of all the blessings of life, is preserved and fortified by the practice
of agriculture. That state of well-being which we feel and cannot define; that self-satisfied
disposition which depends, perhaps, on the perfect equilibrium and easy play of vital forces,
turns the slightest acts to pleasure, and makes every exertion of our faculties a source of
enjoyment; this inestimable state of our bodily functions is the most vigorous in the country,
and if lost elsewhere, it is in the country we expect to recover it.
"In ancient times, the sacred plow employ'd
The kinds, and awful fathers of mankind:
And some, with whom compared, your insect tribes
Are but the beings of a summer's day,
Have held the scale of empire, ruled the storm
Of mighty war, then, with unwearied hand,
Disdaining little delicacies, seized
The plow and greatly independent lived."
--- THOMSON'S SEASONS.
We deplore the disposition of young men to get away from their farm homes to our large
cities, where they are subject to difficulties and temptations, which but too often they fail to
Depend upon it, if you would hold your sons and brothers back from roaming away into the
perilous centres, you must steadily make three attempts - to abate the task-work of farming,
to raise maximum crops and profits, and to surround your work with the exhilaration of
intellectual progress. You must elevate the whole spirit of your vocation for your vocation's
sake, till no other can outstrip it in what most adorns and strengthens a civilized state.
We have long observed, and with unfeigned regret, the growing tendency of young men and
lads, yet early in their teens, to abandon the healthful and ennobling cares of the farm for the
dangerous excitements and vicissitudes of city life and trade. Delightful firesides and friendly
circles in the quiet rural districts are every day sacrificed to this lamentable mania of the
times. Young men, favored with every comfort of life, and not overworked, fancy that they
may do far better than "to guide the ox or turn the stubborn glebe;" and with the merest
trifle of consideration their hands are withdrawn from the implements of agriculture and
given to the office or shop-work of the city, which generally proves vastly less agreeable or
profitable than they had (in their inexcusable thoughtlessness) anticipated. Disappointed and
chagrined, they faint under the advance of
"Nimble mischance, that comes so swift of foot,"
and where one is enabled to withstand the sweeping tide of temptation, five are submerged in
its angry waves and hurried on to ruin. Every year finds hundreds, ay, thousands, of such
victims irrecoverably allied to the fallen and vicious of every class, from the
smoothed-tongued parlor gambler and rake, to the more degraded, if not more despicable,
"Bowery Boy" and "Dead Rabbit," while the prison doors, and worse, the gates of hell, close
on many "lost ones" who had been saved but for the foolish desertion of home and true
friends. It has been well said that "for a young man of unstable habits and without religious
principles, there is no place where he will be so soon ruined as in a large city."
Parents throughout the country have not failed to realize this startling truth, and to sorely
mourn the strange inclination of their sons to encounter the fascinating snares and pitfalls of
city residence and fashion. In brief, let the country lad be as well educated for the farm as his
city cousin is for the bar, or the counting-room. And by all possible means let the farmer be
led to properly estimate his high and honorable position in the community. Ever remember,"
writes Goldthwait, "that for health and substantial wealth, for rare opportunities for
self-improvement, for long life and real independence, farming is the best business in the
world." History tells of one who was called from the low to the palace, from the farm to the
forum; and when he had silenced the angry tumults of a State resumed again the quiet duties
of a husbandman. Of whose resting-place did Halleck write these beautiful lines?
"Such graves as his are pilgrim-shrines,
Shrines to no code or creed confined --
The Delphian vales, the Palestines,
The Meccas of the mind."
He referred to Burns, the plow-boy, afterward the national bard of Scotland. And Burns
himself has left evidence that he composed some of the rarest gems of his poetry while
engaged in rural pursuits.
It would require volumes to enumerate the noble men who have imperishably recorded their
exalted appreciation of rural life and enterprise. Every age has augmented the illustrious
number. Our own immortal Washington was ever more enamored of the sickle than the
sword, and unhesitatingly pronounced agriculture "the most healthy, the most useful, and
the most noble employment of man."
When we walk abroad in nature, we go not as artists to study her scenes, but as her children
to rejoice in her beauty. The breath of the air, the blue of the unclouded sky, the shining sun,
and the green softness of the unflowered turf beneath our feet, are all that we require to
make us feel that we are transported into a region of delights. We breathe and tread in a
pure untroubled world, and the fresh clear delight that breathes round our senses seems to
bathe our spirits in the innocence of nature. It is not that we have prized a solitude which
secludes us from the world of life; but the aspects on which we look breathe a spirit; the
characters we read speak a language which, mysterious and obscurely intelligible as they
are, draw us on with an eager and undefined desire. In shapes and sounds of fear; in naked
crags, gulfs, precipices, torrents that have rage without beauty, desolate places; there is to
that temper of mind an attractive power. All speak in some way to the spirit, and raise up in
it new and hidden emotion, which, even when mingled with pain, it is glad to feel; for such
emotion makes discovery to it of its own nature, and the interest it feels so strongly springs
up from and returns into itself.
Of all occupations, that of agriculture is best calculated to induce love of country, and rivet it
firmly on the heart. No profession is more honorable, none as conducive to health, peace,
tranquility and happiness. More independent than any other calling, it is calculated to
produce an innate love of liberty. The farmer stands upon a lofty eminence, and looks upon
the bustle of cities, the intricacies of mechanism, the din of commerce, and brain-confusing,
body-killing literature, with feelings of personal freedom, peculiarly his own. He delights in
the prosperity of the city as his market place, acknowledges the usefulness of the mechanic,
admires the enterprise of the commercial man, and rejoices in the benefits that flow from the
untiring investigations and developments of science; then turns his thoughts to the pristine
quiet of his agrarian domain, and covets not the fame that accumulates around the other
The Royal Path of Life - Aims and Aids to Success and Happiness - 1882 by T.L. Haines & L.W. Yaggy