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every weed as a thief, and on the labor expended in securing neatness, cleanliness, and order as certain to increase the final profit ; and which leads, by intelligent steps, from improvement in the culture of earth to the yet more profitable and the far more noble culture of the man. These steps I have endeavored to point out in part. Sometimes I have invited the reader to trace them with me, hoping that he may find the result to which they lead eminently practical.
The calendar form, and the general divisions which recur in every month, have been adopted as facilitating reference.
The course announced in the opening pages, viz., to give but one method in cases where many are practised, and each has warm advocates, may expose me to the charge of ignorant conceit and dogmatism, but it has been deliberately chosen for the convenience and advantage of the general reader, who is not supposed to be an adept in any of the departments treated of. To him this book is offered as a manual for guidance ; it would but confuse him if it presented many methods, and left him to choose between them. I have myself often suffered from the difficulty of ascertaining what was the best way of doing something I had in hand, when I had books enough which told in how many ways the thing was done, a matter to which one is perfectly indifferent when work presses upon him; and in my profession of Landscape Gardener, I have often remarked that much of the expense of obtaining answers to the innumerable questions put to me on all the subjects treated in these pages, might be saved to my employers by a simple printed statement of leading principles and rules. The adept likes to decide between different methods presented; the tyro is glad to learn what his teachers prefer.
I have tried to make all obscure operations and descriptions more clear by illustrations, where the eye often reads more at
a glance than in many pages of print, and I here acknowledge my obligations to Mr. A. C. Warren, of Boston, the artist who drew the illustrations which form so important a part of the book. Also, I would again mention my indebtedness to J. H Shedd, both for the quotations I have made, and for the system of drainage shown upon the plan with which our book opens, which was arranged by him.
To my friend Frederick Winsor, M. D., of Salem, I owe much gratitude for assistance, which none but an intimate friend could have given, in revising and correcting my hastily written manuscript. But for his aid the short time which my engagement with the publishers allowed for the preparation of the book would scarcely have admitted of critical revision.
Bulky as the book is, it does no more than open many approaches to an exhaustless subject, and I lay down my pen with a feeling of deep regret that I have done so little justice to what is so near my heart.
One word on a point to which many words are given in this volume; the spirit in which one should deal with his farm, his flowers, his grounds. Surely it should be that of reverential friendship, not of cold and superficial business relation. This complex, and beautiful mystery, which we call Nature, surely offers us something more than food and clothing ; and, believing as I do, that man's “life is more than meat," I cannot speak of the life of that class who seem to live nearest Nature as nothing more than a struggle for that miserable pittance known as a “living."
With these explanations I leave my book to the reader, asking him only to bear in mind the words of a Boston orator, who said, “ that a book should be judged not merely by its contents, but by the intention of the author.”
PREFACE TO FIFTH EDITION.
In the preface to the first edition of “Country Life," I maintained, that, in agriculture, experience must govern theories, and that any treatise on the subject must owe much of its value to the degree in which its rules and principles are based upon the results of experience.
Whilst this is true, we must not allow ourselves to become the slaves of experience, which, it may be said, is the constant tendency of farming life. To this day, many men sneer at book-farming as theoretical and unreliable, and resist, as an encroachment on their rights, those theories of cultivation which seem to disagree with the wisdom of the ancients.
Nothing would have broken down this feeling and resistance but necessity. When men have a certain result to obtain, and to obtain it must use the labor of men and animals, and supply tools and machines, they are compelled, if the labor is scanty, to try to devise, either methods for getting the result without the labor, or to perform the labor in some different way. If a man's tools and machinery are worse and less profitable than his neighbor's, the fact that the result in dollars and cents is against him will incline him to copy his neighbor.
The long war we have passed through has absorbed so much of the available labor of the country, and at the same time increased the value of the products of agricultural labor, that farmers have been compelled to invent either new machines or new crops, and methods of culture.
As a consequence, we have made vast improvements in agricultural machinery, particularly in harvesting tools. The mowers and reapers of 1866 are so much better than they were in 1859, that the work of haying and harvesting is reduced from severe to easy work, and a man and boy will now do the work on a farm which formerly required half a dozen men.
In Horticulture, new plants and fruits are introduced every year: some, upon trial, are proved to be of little value, and soon disappear, whilst a few become permanent friends and comforts to man. In the cultivation of grapes, there has been a great advance; and not only do we now have very greatly improved varieties, but a thousand cultivate grapes to-day in place of a hundred six years ago. With these new varieties and the widely spreading cultivation, new diseases have come, and some men have suffered so severely, that they have lost heart, and are inclined to abandon the vine; but, fortunately, man is a persevering animal, particularly when eating and drinking are the stimulants to his efforts, and we may rest assured that the grape or grapes will yet be found which will overcome all obstacles, and be equally good for the table and the vineyard. In the Supplement, the subject is extensively treated, and the reader will find there not only the best varieties for different parts of the country, but also the opinions of eminent cultivators as to the causes and cures of the most annoying diseases to which grapes are liable.
In the Flower-garden, I have introduced many new plants, as well as new lists of old friends, and have urged strongly the claims of some which I had hitherto neglected.
In the Agricultural division, I have brought together a large number of facts about Merino sheep, and have endeavored to urge farmers generally to do more to derive, by the aid of sheep, the full value from their farms. When we comprehend the real benefits which sheep confer on their owners, it is difficult to understand why so few persons, comparatively, have flocks. The Merino sheep is a proof of what may be done in New England to raise the value of agriculture and stockraising.
I have presented in the Ornamental department, somewhat at length, the horticultural capabilities of cities. I do not seek to persuade the reader that the citizen can have the beauty, the wealth, or comfort of the country; but there is undoubtedly a great deal of space wasted in cities, which might be turned to good use, and give both amusement and real enjoyment to those who have only a brick house for a
Doubtless the careful reader of “Country Life” has found methods of doing work with which he could not agree, or which seemed to him to be better done in some different manner. To all such let me say, that I never professed to give all the ways of conducting the operations incident to a life in the country, — only one way, which I was well assured would give a good result; and if, by disagreeing with me, I have stirred the active minds of men to investigate the subject, and produce newer and better methods than my own, I have certainly conferred a favor on them and all mankind, and may well feel satisfied with the labor and time I have expended.
Hoping that the Supplement to this edition may bring the book up to the present time, I leave it once more to make its way through the world, trusting that whoever reads it will find more to approve than condemn.