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the end of the row. I had almost forgot to tell you, that, if the hole in the leather band, through which the seed is to pass, when it comes in contact with the hole in the barrel, should incline to gape, or the lips of it turn out, so as to admit the seed between the band and barrel, it must be remedied by riveting a piece of sheet tin, copper, or brass, the width of the band, and about four inches long, with a hole through it, the size of the one in the leather. I found this effectual. I am, dear Sir, &c.
TO ARTHUR YOUNG.
Mount Vernon, 1 November, 1787. Sir, Your favor of the 1st of February came to hand about the middle of May last. An absence of more than four months from home, will be the best apology I can make for my silence till this time.
The grain, grass seeds, ploughs, &c., arrived at the same time, agreeably to the list; but some of the former were injured, as will always be the case, by being put into the hold of the vessel ; however, upon the whole, they were in much better order than those things are generally found to be, when brought across the Atlantic.
I am at a loss, Sir, how to express the sense which I have of your particular attention to my commissions, and the very obliging manner in which you offer me your services in any matters relating to agriculture, that I may have to transact in England. If my warmest thanks will in any measure compensate for these favors, I must beg you to accept of them. I shall always be exceedingly happy to hear from you, and shall very readily and cheerfully give you any information relative to the state of agriculture in this country, that I am able.
I did myself the honor to hand the set of “Annals" to the Agricultural Society in Philadelphia, which you sent to that body through me. The president wrote a letter to you, expressive of the sense they entertained of the favor which you did them; and mentioned therein the effects of some experiments which had been made with plaster of Paris as a manure. I intended to have given you an account of it myself, as I find the subject is touched upon in your “Annals,” but this letter has precluded the necessity of it.
The fifth volume of the “ Annals,” which was committed to the care of Mr. Athawes for me, did not come to hand till some time after I had received the sixth.
The quantity of sainfoin, which you sent me, was fully sufficient to answer my purpose; I have sown part of it, but find that it comes up very thin ; which is likewise the case with the winter wheat, and some other seeds which I have sown.
I have a high opinion of beans, as a preparation for wheat, and shall enter as largely upon the cultivation of them next year, as the quantity of seed I can procure will admit.
I am very glad that you did not engage a ploughman for me at the high wages which you mention ; for I agree with you, that that single circumstance, exclusive of the others which you enumerate, is sufficiently objectionable. I have tried the ploughs which you sent me, and find that they answer the description which you gave me of them ; this is contrary to the opinion of almost every one, who saw them before they were used; for it was thought their great weight would be an insuperable objection to their being drawn by two horses.
I am now preparing materials to build a barn precisely agreeable to your plan, which I think an excellent one. Before I undertake to give the information you request, respecting the arrangements of farms in this neighbourhood, I must observe, that there is, perhaps, scarcely any part of America, where farming has been less attended to than in this State. The cultivation of tobacco has been almost the sole object with men of landed property, and consequently a regular course of crops has never been in view. The general custom has been, first to raise a crop of Indian corn (maize), which, according to the mode of cultivation, is a good preparation for wheat; then a crop of wheat; after which the ground is respited (except from weeds, and every trash that can contribute to its foulness,) for about eighteen months; and so on, alternately, without any dressing, till the land is exhausted ; when it is turned out, without being sown with grass-seeds, or any method taken to restore it; and another piece is ruined in the same manner. No more cattle are raised, than can be supported by lowland meadows, swamps, &c., and the tops and blades of Indian corn; as very few persons have attended to sowing grasses, and connecting cattle with their crops. The Indian corn is the chief support of the laborers and horses. Our lands, as I mentioned in my first letter to you, were originally very good; but use and abuse have made them quite otherwise.
The above is the mode of cultivation which has been generally pursued here; but the system of husbandry, which has been found so beneficial in England, and which must be greatly promoted by your valuable “ Annals,” is now gaining ground. There are several, among whom I may class myself, who are endeavouring to get into your regular and systematic course of cropping, as fast as the nature of the business will admit; so that I hope in the course of a few years we shall make a more respectable figure as farmers, than we have hitherto done.
I will, agreeably to your desire, give you the prices of our products as nearly as I am able; but you will readily conceive from the foregoing account, that they cannot be given with any precision. Wheat, for the last four years, will average about 4s. sterJing per bushel, of eight gallons. Rye, about 2s. 4d. Oats, 1s. 6d. Beans, pease, &c., have not been sold in any quantities. Barley is not made here, from a prevailing opinion that the climate is not adapted to it. I, however, in opposition to prejudice, sowed about fifty bushels last spring, and found that it yielded a proportionate quantity with any other kind of grain which I sowed ; I might add, more. Cows may be bought at about £3 sterling per head. Cattle for slaughter vary from 21d. to 4 d. sterling per pound, the former being the current price in summer, the latter in the winter or spring. Sheep at 12s. sterling per head ; and wool at about 1s. sterling per pound. I am not able to give you the price of labor, as the land is cultivated here wholly by slaves, and the price of labor in the towns is fluctuating, and governed altogether by circumstances.
Give me leave to repeat my thanks for your attention to me, and your polite offer to execute any business relating to husbandry, which I may have in England ; and to assure you, that I shall not fail to apply to you for whatever I may have occasion for in that line. I am, Sir, with very great esteem, &c.
P.S. I observe in the sixth volume of your “ Annals,” there is a plate and description of Mr. Winlaw's mill, for separating the grain from the heads of corn. Its utility or inutility has, undoubtedly, been reduced to a certainty before this time; if it possesses all the properties and advantages mentioned in the description, and you can, from your own knowledge, or such information as you entirely rely on, recommend it as a useful machine, where laborers are scarce, I should be much obliged to you to procure one for me, to be paid for and forwarded by Mr. Welch, provided it is so simple in its construction, as to be worked by ignorant persons, without danger of being spoiled, (for such only will manage it here,) and the price of it does not exceed £15, as mentioned in the “ Annals,” or thereabouts.
TO RICHARD PETERS.
Mount Vernon, 4 March, 1788.
When I had the pleasure to be at your house last summer, you showed me a triangular harrow with trowel tines, for the purpose of cultivating your dell crops. The appearance was prepossessing. But I forget whether you spoke of its merits from theoretical or practical knowledge. If the latter, will you permit me request the favor of you to direct your workmen to furnish me with one complete in all its parts, accompanied with tines, or trowels, sufficient for four more. Colonel Biddle will pay the cost upon demand.
That you may be enabled to judge of the proper sizes, I will inform you for what particular uses they are intended.
From the experience of two years, one the wettest, the other the driest, that ever was felt in this neighbourhood, I am persuaded, that as much Indian corn can be raised in rows as in any manner, which has yet been tried, in such middling land, and with such management as is usually allowed for this grain, and that, by drilling potatoes between, the quantity of the latter will, at least, quadruple that of the former. Whether potatoes, in addition to the corn, will bear too hard upon the soil, is a question that has received an affirmative and negative answer, and both, it is said, from the experience of husbandry. I mean, therefore, to learn that which seems most profitable, and I am already making the experiment. These harrows, then, are to work the intervals between the corn and potatoes ; which being four feet only, the dimensions of them must be proportioned to the space they are to operate in. But, notwithstanding the levelness of my land, and the straightness and equidistance of my rows, it would seem, nevertheless, dangerous to depend upon a single bout of this implement, because, if perchance the width between the rows should exceed four feet, the ground will not be broken, and, if it falls short, the plants will be cut up. Twice, therefore, in each row, seems necessary for safe and proper tillage. I mention it for your consideration only; my own opinion of the matter, I must confess, is (but it yields to experience), that two feet from centre to centre of the hindmost tines would be a proper medium. This, with the outer tines of the trowel, will stir near or quite two feet and a half of earth; and under certain circumstances may be sufficient, without going twice in the same row, for cultivation of the plants; at all events, two bouts will give part of it a double stirring.
I am, &c.
TO MATHEW CAREY.
Mount Vernon, 25 June, 1788. Sir, Although I believe the “American Museum,” published by you, has met with extensive, I may say, with universal approbation from competent judges, yet, I am sorry to find by your favor of the 19th, that, in a pecuniary view, it has not equalled your expectations. A discontinuance of the publication for want of proper support would, in my judgment, be an impeachment on the understanding of this country. For I am of opinion, that the work is not only eminently calculated to disseminate political, agricultural, philosophical, and other valuable information ; but that it has been uniformly conducted with taste, attention, and propriety. If to these important objects be superadded the more immediate design of rescuing public documents from oblivion, I will venture to pronounce, as my sentiment, that a more useful literary plan has never been undertaken in America, or one more deserving public encouragement. By continuing to prosecute that plan with similar assiduity and discernment, the merit of your “ Museum” must ultimately become as well known in some countries in Europe, as on this continent; and can scarcely fail of procuring an ample compensation for your trouble and expense.
For myself, I entertain a high idea of the utility of periodical publications, insomuch that I could heartily desire copies of the “ Museum," and magazines, as well as common gazettes, might be spread through every city, town, and village in America. I consider such easy vehicles of knowledge more happily calculated than any other to preserve the liberty, stimulate the industry, and meliorate the morals of an enlightened and free people.
With sincere wishes for the success of your undertaking in particular, and for the prosperity of the typographical art in general, I am, Sir, &c.