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We are breaking life's fine elixir
In the waft of the perfumed breeze, The sudden showers, the sunlit hours,
The rustle of leaves on the trees.
The fathomless blue of the heaven,
The beauty and bloom of the day,
Of the years that have passed away.
'Tis the radiant rare September,
With the clusters ripe on the vine, With scents that mingle in spicy tingle
On the hill-slope's glimmering line.
And summer's a step behind us,
And autumn's a thought before,
Is an angel at the door.
Or thou shalt weep
Then plow down deep,
In joy shall reap.
PART III. MEN INFLUENTIAL IN IMPROVING AGRICULTURE.
No man in the eighteenth century did more to improve farming in America than George Washington. Our histories are full of his political and military achievements, but little is said of his great service for the agricultural improvement of the new Republic. His life was so full of the most important things bearing on the life of our country that it is difficult to estimate in which line he was of most service to humanity. Notwithstanding his success as a soldier and a statesman, he was first and last a farmer.
He owned estates located in many different States, and his published utterances contain many letters about his farms and how he was trying to improve the methods of farming. He induced Gen. Lafayette to send some improved seed from France. He corresponded with the agricultural experts of England and sought the best advice on sheep raising. He imported improved stock from Spain and Holland and bought the latest machinery in England. At that time Scotland was perhaps making more progress in agriculture than any other country, and he sent his agent to Scotland to secure overseers for his plantations.
His home was really a veritable agricultural experiment station, and he had both friends and agents in Europe sending him improved seeds and cuttings and giving him the best ideas in agriculture. He kept weekly records of planting, and made experiments in seed selection and cultivation. He became an expert agriculturist for that day and was consulted by leading scientists of Europe.
He saw with concern the declining fertility of old estates, and advocated crop rotation, the use of fertilizers, and seed selection as the best means to prevent decline. He favored the establishment of agricultural schools and was an active member of the first American agricultural society, which was established in 1785. While he was leading the armies of the Revolution he received regular reports from his overseers. During the most stormy periods of his administration as President, he followed his overseers' work, and he wrote them letters full of advice about planting, cultivating, and caring for the stock. When he grew tired of political affairs, it was to Mount Vernon that he retired to spend his last days. Thus the greatest man in American life looked upon farming as the greatest of all occupations. The following extracts from his letters show it:
I think that the life of a husbandman of all others Is the most delectable. It Is honorable, it is amusing, and, with judicious management, it is profitable. To see plants rise from the earth and flourish by the supreme skill and bounty of the laborer fills a contemplative mind with ideas which are more easy to be conceived than expressed.
The more I am acquainted with agricultural affairs the better I am pleased with them, insomuch that I can nowhere find so great satisfaction as In these innocent and useful pursuits. In indulging these feelings, I am led to reflect how much more delightful to the undebauched mind is the task of making improvements on the earth than all the vainglory that can be acquired from ravaging it by the most uninterrupted career of conquest.
I know of no pursuit In which more real and important service can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman's care.
SEAMAN A. KNAPF.
Essex County, N. Y., gave to America one of the greatest men that has lived in this or in any age. This man was Seaman A. Knapp, born December 16, 1833. It was no part of his great work to lead armies, guide political parties, or write essays on the theory of government and the rights of man. His achievements were greater. He sought freedom and independence in the soil, and he found both, and gave them to the world.
A sketch of the first 70 years of his life is merely the story of his preparation for a great career. Dr. Wallace Buttrick summed it up by saying, " Seventy years of preparation for seven years of work "— a work that is referred to by Dr. Walter H. Page, the Ambassador to England, as " the greatest single piece of constructive educational work in this or any age."
As a boy he took advantage of such schools as were available in that early day in the country districts of New York. Later he entered and graduated from Union College, Schenectady, N. Y. He taught school for several years after graduating. But at the age of 32 he moved to Vinton, Iowa, and settled on a farm. There he regained his health and vigor. During the sojourn in Iowa Dr. Knapp was called to manage several lines of work, all of which were good training for the greater work yet to be done. He established a farm paper. There were few such papers in the country at that time. He, with others, conducted an agricultural campaign. The first course in agriculture in the Iowa College was organized and the graduation of the first class took place during his incumbency as professor and president.
Another crisis in Dr. Knapp's life came about this time. His health gave way under a severe attack of rheumatism. Physicians said he must give up college work. Turning his face to the sunny South he organized a great development company, bought a million acres of land in southwest Louisiana and sent invitations all over the Northwest, "Come South, young men, and grow up with the country." Several thousand came. For many years he had believed that the South was destined for a wonderful future. He said, " Here is a people of pure Anglo-Saxon stock, energetic but conservative, without much admixture of foreign blood. These people should be the conservators of the best American traditions. Here is a productive soil, delightful climate, and long growing seasons."
He at once began to conduct demonstrations in rice growing and diversified farming for benefit of native farmers and immigrants. In 1898, however, he was authorized by the Secretary of Agriculture to visit China, Japan, and the Philippines, to make rice investigations. In 1801 he made a second trip to the Orient; he went to Europe in 1901 to study agricultural conditions, and later to Porto Rico to report on agricultural resources and possibilities.
His training was complete after 70 years of study to begin his great work. In 1903 the Mexican boll weevil began to make such destruction in the Texas cotton fields that Dr. Knapp was sent into Texas to fight its deadly ravages. He began by organizing the farmers and instituting the Farmers' Cooperative Work. Dr. Knapp visited one small farm near Terrell, Tex., about twice a month and directed the operations there. Neighboring farmers met him in field meetings. At the close of the year he had proved that cotton could be grown in the face of the boll weevil, and was urged to extend his teachings and his methods throughout the whole country devastated by the pest. The next year, with funds furnished by Congress and by local business men, he appointed a few agents and began to organize different counties in Texas. The work soon attracted the attention of the country. Congress enlarged its appropriation, local aid was increased, and the work was extended to Louisiana and Mississippi. About this time the General Education Board of New York asked to be allowed to appropriate money for similar work in other cotton States. In a few short years this great work had covered the entire South, had a force of 1,000 agents, an enrollment of 100,000 farmers, 75,000 boys in the corn clubs, and 25,000 girls in the canning clubs. Every State in the South began to show an increase in the average corn production per acre, as well as other crops, and southern corn club boys attracted the attention of the world by producing more than 200 bushels of corn to the acre at low cost. Girls, too, demonstrated practical, scientific work in garden and home. During the year of his death, Russia, Brazil, England, South Africa, and Argentina sent representatives to this country to study the demonstration work. Sir Horace Plunkett, the great Irish reformer, came for the same purpose, and at the request of the King of Siam, Dr. Knapp sent one of his agents to take charge of agricultural matters in that country.
Dr. Knapp died in Washington, D. C, April 1,1911. But he lived long enough after this important work was begun to see something of the wonderful results. Although his work was confined chiefly to the Southern States of America, every State and nearly every nation has felt his influence.
SOME OF KNAPP's EPIGRAMS.
The greatest of all acquisitions is common sense.
A prosperous, intelligent, and contented rural population is essential to our national perpetuity.
A patent to land is a title to nobility, a right to sovereignty.
A great nation is not the outgrowth of a few men of genius, but the superlative worth of a great common people.
It is impossible to impress upon anyone that there is dignity in residing upon a farm with impoverished soil, dilapidated buildings, and an environment of ignorance.
The Income of the farm can be increased from three to five fold by the use of Improved methods.
Double the crop to the acre and halve the cost.
More power and less hand work.
Increase the earning capacity of country toilers.
No nation can be great without thrift.
Training is the great item which fashions a race.
The world's most important school is the home and small farm.
The public school teacher's mission is to make a great common people and thus readjust the map of the world.
You can cause the soil to become more responsive to the touch of industry and the harvest more abundant to meet the measure of a larger hope.
The common toiler needs an education that leads to easier bread.
The basis of the better rural life is greater earning capacity of the farmer.
It appears to be a philosophy of the southern people to let money slip through their fingers without sticking.
Let it be the high privilege of this great and free people to establish a republic where rural pride is equal to civic pride, where men of the most refined teste and culture select the rural villa, and where the wealth that comes from the soil finds Its greatest return in developing and perfecting the great domain of nature which God has given to us as an everlasting estate.
The demonstration work may be regarded as a system of adult education given to the farmer upon his farm by means of object lessons in the soil, prepared under his observation and generally by his own hand.
Any race betterment to be of permanent value must be a betterment of the masses.
An idle saint only differs from an idle sinner In a coat of paint and direction.
The greatest failure as a world force Is the man who knows so much that he lives In universal doubt, injecting a modifying clause into every assertion, and ending the problems of life with an interrogation point