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No. CCCXXX. APRIL, 1843. VOL. LIII.
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THE PRACTISE OF AGRICULTURE,
POEMS AND BALLADS OF SCHILLER.--NO. VII.,
THE LAST OF THE SHEPHERDS,
THE FOUNDING OF THE BELL. BY CHARLES MACKAY,
AMMALAT BEK. A TRUE TALE OF THE CAUCASUS FROM THE
RUSSIAN OF MARLINSKY.--CHAPTER III.,
OCCUPATION OF ADEN,
CALEB STUKLEY. PART XIII.,
IMAGINARY CONVERSATION, BETWEEN MR. WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR
AND THE EDITOR OF BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE,
THE BURIAL MARCH OF DUNDEE,
LORD ELLENBOROUGH AND THE WHIGS,
* * * * *
WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS, 45, GEORGE STREET;
AND 22, PALL-MALL, LONDON.
_To whom Communications (post-paid) may be addressed_.
SOLD ALSO BY ALL THE BOOKSELLERS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM.
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PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND HUGHES, EDINBURGH.
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No. CCCXXX. APRIL, 1843. VOL. LIII.
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THE PRACTICE OF AGRICULTURE
Skilful practice is applied science. This fact is illustrated in
every chapter of the excellent and comprehensive work now before us
In a previous article, (see the number for June 1842,) we
illustrated at some length the connexion which now exists, and which
hereafter must become more intimate, between practical agriculture
and modern science. We showed by what secret and silent steps the
progress and gradual diffusion of modern scientific discoveries had
imperceptibly led to great improvements in the agriculture of the
present century--by what other more open and manifest applications
of science it had directly, and in the eyes of all, been
advanced--to what useful practical discussions the promulgation of
scientific opinions had given rise--and to what better practice such
discussions had eventually led. Above all, we earnestly solicited
the attention of the friends of agriculture to what science seemed
not only capable of doing, but anxious also to effect, for the
further advance of this important art--what new lessons to give, new
suggestions to offer, and new means of fertility to place in the
hands of, the skilful experimental farmer.
It is but a comparatively short time since that article was written,
and yet the spread of sound opinion, of correct and enlightened views,
and of a just appreciation, as well of the aids which science is
capable of giving to agriculture, as of the expediency of availing
ourselves of all these aids, which within that period has taken
place among practical men, has really surprised us. Nor have we been
less delighted by the zeal with which the pursuit of scientific
knowledge, in its relations to agriculture, has been entered upon in
every part of the empire--by the progress which has been made in the
acquisition of this knowledge--and by the numerous applications
already visible of the important principles and suggestions embodied
in the works then before us, (JOHNSTON's _Lectures and Elements of
Agricultural Chemistry and Geology_.) But on this important topic we
do not at present dwell. We may have occasion to return to the
subject in a future number, and in the mean time we refer our
readers to the remarks contained in our previous article.
The truly scientific man--among those, we mean, who devote themselves
to such studies as are susceptible of important applications to the
affairs and pursuits of daily life--the truly scientific man does
not despise the _practice_ of any art, in which he sees the
principles he investigates embodied and made useful in promoting the
welfare of his fellow-men. He does not even undervalue it--he rather
upholds and magnifies its importance, as the agent or means by which
his greatest and best discoveries can be made to subserve their
greatest and most beneficent end. In him this may possibly arise
from no unusual liberality of mind; it may spring from a selfish
desire to see the principles he has established or made his own
carried out to their legitimate extent, and their value established
and acknowledged--_for it is the application of a principle that
imparts to it its highest value_.
[Footnote 1: THE BOOK OF THE FARM. By Henry Stephens.]
Science is to practical skill in the arts of life as the soul is to
the body. They are united as faith and works are in concerns of
higher moment. As both, though separately good, must yet be united
in the finished Christian, so the perfection of husbandry implies
the union of all the lights of existing theoretical knowledge with
all the skill of the most improved agricultural practice.
Though such is the belief of those scientific men who are able and
willing to do the most for practical agriculture, who see most
clearly what _can_ be done for it, and the true line along
which agricultural improvement may now most hopefully direct
her course--yet with this opinion the greater part of practical
men are still far from sympathizing. Some voices even--becoming
every day more feeble, however, and recurring at more distant
intervals--continue to be raised against the utility and the
applications of science; as if practice with _stationary_ knowledge
were omnipotent in developing the resources of nature; as if a man,
in a rugged and partially explored country, could have too much
light to guide his steps.
In the history of maritime intercourse there was a time when the
timid seaman crept from port to port, feeling his cautious and wary
way from headland to headland, and daring no distant voyage where
seas, and winds, and rocks, unknown to him, increased the dangers of
his uncertain life. Then a bolder race sprung up--tall ships danced
proudly upon the waves, and many brave hearts manned and guided them;
yet still they rarely ventured from sight of land. Men became
bewildered still, perplexed, and full of fear, when sea and sky
alone presented themselves. But a third period arose--and in the same
circumstances, men not more brave appeared collected, fearless, and
full of hope. Faith in a trembling needle gave confidence to the
most timorous, and neither the rough Atlantic nor the wide Pacific
could deter the bold adventurer, or the curious investigator of
And yet it was not till this comparatively advanced stage of the
nautical art--when man had obtained a faithful guide in his most
devious and trackless wanderings--when he was apparently set free
from the unsteady dominion of the seas and of the fickle winds--and
amid his labyrinthine course could ever and at once turn his face
towards his happy and expectant home;--it was not till this period
that science began to lend her most useful and most extensive aids,
and that her value in the advancement of the sailor's art began to
be justly appreciated. The astronomer forthwith taught him more
accurately to observe the heavens, and compiled laborious tables for
his daily use. Geography and hydrography obtained higher estimation,
and harbour-engineering and ship-building were elevated into more
important separate arts, chiefly from their applications to his use.
Nautical schools and nautical surveys, and lighthouse boards, with
all their attendant scientific researches, and magnetic observations,
and voyages of discovery all sprung up--at once the causes and the
consequences of the advancement of his art towards perfection; and
latest, though yet far from being the last, all the new knowledge
that belongs to steam-navigation has been incorporated in the vast
body of nautical science. _The further an art advances, the more
necessary does science become to it_.
Thus it is with agriculture. It cannot be denied that the tillage of
the soil, with almost every other branch of husbandry, has made
large strides among us--that we have more productive and better
cultivated provinces, and more skilful farmers, than are to be found
in any other part of the world in which equal disadvantages of
climate prevail. Any one will readily satisfy himself of this, who,
with an agricultural eye, shall visit the other parts of Europe to
which the same northern sky is common with ourselves. And it is
because we have reached this pitch of improvement--at which many
think we ought to be content to stop--because we have dismissed our
frail and diminutive boats, and sail now in majestic and decorated
ships, provided with such abundant stores that we need not, night by
night, to seek the harbour for new supplies--that we begin to feel
the want of some directing principle--to look about for some
favouring star to guide our wanderings upon the deep. To the
tremblirg needle of science we must now turn to point our way.
Feeble and uncertain it may itself appear--wavering as it directs
us--and therefore by many may be depreciated and despised--yet it
will surely lead us right if we have faith in its indications. Let
the practical man then build his ships skilfully and well after the
best models, and of the soundest oak--let their timbers be Kyanized,
their cables of iron, their cordage and sails of the most approved
make and material--let their sailors be true men and fearless, and
let stores be providently laid in for the voyage; but let not the
trembling needle of science be forgotten; for though the distant
harbour he would gain be well known to him--without the aid of the
needle he may never be able to reach it.
In thus rigging out his ship--in other words, in fitting up his farm
and doing all for it, and upon it, which experience and skilful
practice can suggest--he cannot have a better guide than the book
now before us.
THE BOOK OF THE FARM is not a mere didactic treatise on practical
agriculture, of which we already possess several of deserved
reputation; nor yet a laborious compilation, systematically arranged,
of every thing which, in the opinion of the author, it should
interest the farmer to know. Of such Cyclopaedias, that of Loudon
will not soon find a rival. But, as its name implies, The _Book of
the Farm_ contains a detail of all the operations, the more minute
as well as the greater, which the husbandman will be called upon to
undertake upon his farm--in the exact order in point of time in
which they will successively demand his attention. Beginning at the
close of the agricultural year, when the crops are reaped and housed,
and the long winter invites to new and peculiar, and, as they may be
called, preparatory labours, the reader is taught what work in each
succeeding month and season should be undertaken--why at that season
for what purpose it is to be done-in what way it can best be
performed--how at the least cost of money and the smallest waste of
time--and _how the master may at all times ascertain if his work has
been efficiently performed_.
We confess that we have been much struck with the wide range of
_practical_ subjects on which the author gives, in such a way a to
show that he is himself familiar with them, the most minute
directions for the guidance at once of the master farmer himself,
and for the direction of those who are under his orders. We have
satisfied ourselves that by carefully _examining_ the contents of
this one book, we should be prepared not merely to pass an
examination, but actually to undertake the office of public examiner
in any or all of the several crafts and mysteries of the farm-builder,
the weather-seer, the hedge-planter, the ditcher, the drainer, the
ploughman, the cattle-feeder, the stock-buyer, the drover, the
pig-killer, the fat cattle seller, the butcher, the miller, and the
grieve or general overseer of the farm. We know not what other
gentle crafts the still unpublished parts of the work may hereafter
teach us; but so faithfully and so minutely, in general so clearly,
and with so much apparent enjoyment, does the author enter into the
details of all the above lines of life, that we have been deceived
(we suppose) into the persuasion that Mr. Stephens must, in his
lifetime, have "played many parts"--that he has himself, as occasion
offered, or as work fell in his way, engaged in every one of these
as well as of the other varied occupations it falls in his way to
How, otherwise, for instance, should he so well understand the
duties and habits, and sympathize with the privations and simple
enjoyments of the humble and way-worn drover?--
"A drover of sheep should always be provided with a dog, as the
numbers and nimbleness of sheep render it impossible for one man to
guide a capricious flock along a road subject to many casualties;
not a young dog, who is apt to work and bark a great deal more than
necessary, much to the annoyance of the sheep--but a knowing
cautious tyke. The drover should have a walking stick, a useful
instrument at times in turning a sheep disposed to break off from
the rest. A shepherd's plaid he will find to afford comfortable
protection to his body from cold and wet, while the mode in which it
is worn leaves his limbs free for motion. He should carry provision
with him, such as bread, meat, cheese or butter, that he may take
luncheon or dinner quietly beside his flock, while resting in a
sequestered part of the road; and he may slake his thirst in the
first brook or spring he finds, or purchase a bottle of ale at a
roadside ale-house. Though exposed all day to the air, and even
though he feel cold, he should avoid drinking spirits, which only
produce temporary warmth, and for a long time after induce chilliess
and languor. Much rather let him reserve the allowance of spirits he
gives himself until the evening, when he can _enjoy it in warm toddy
beside a comfortable fire_, before retiring to rest for the night."
--Vol. ii. p. 89.
Then how knowingly he treats of the fat upon the sheep:--
"The formation of fat in a sheep commences in the inside, the
_net_ of fat which envelopes the intestines being first formed.
After that, fat is seen on the outside, and first upon the end of
the rump at the tail head, which continues to move on along the back,
on both sides of the spine to the bend of the ribs, to the neck. Then
it is deposited between the muscles, parallel with the cellular
tissue. Meanwhile it is covering the lower round of the ribs,
descending to the flanks until the two sides meet under the belly,
from whence it proceeds to the brisket or breast in front and the
shaw behind, filling up the inside of the arm-pits and thighs. The
spaces around the fibres of the muscles are the last to receive a
deposition of fat, but after this has begun, every other part
simultaneously receives its due share, the back and kidneys
receiving the most--so much so that the former literally becomes
_nicked_, as it is termed; that is, the fat is felt through the
skin to be divided into two portions. When all this has been
accomplished, the sheep is said to be _fat_ or _ripe_."--Vol. ii. p.
But the enjoyment of tracing the accumulating fat is not enough for
our author--as soon as his sheep is ripe, he forthwith proceeds to
slaughter it; and though he describes every part of this process
accurately, and with true professional relish, coolly telling us,
that "the _operation_ is unattended with cruelty;" yet we must be
content to refer our readers to the passage (vol. ii. p. 96) as an
illustration of his skill in this interesting branch of farm-surgery.
He is really an amiable sheep-operator, our author--what placid
benevolence and hatred of quackery appear in his instructions--
"Learn to slaughter _gently_, dress the carcass neatly and cleanly,
in as plain a manner as possible, and without _flourishes_."--p. 167.
But whisky-toddy and fat mutton are not the only things our author
relishes. He must have been a farm-servant, living in a bothy, at
least as long as he drove on the road or practised surgery in the
slaughter-house. After describing the farm-servant's wages and mode
of living, he thus expands upon the subject of Scottish brose:--
"The oatmeal is usually cooked in one way, as _brose_. A pot of
water is put on the fire to boil--a task which the men (in the bothy)
take in turns; a handful or two of oatmeal is taken out of the small
chest with which each man provides himself, and put into a wooden
bowl, which also is the ploughman's property; and, on a hollow being
made in the meal, and sprinkled with salt, the boiling-water is
poured over the meal, and the mixture receiving a little stirring
with a horn-spoon, and the allowance of milk poured over it, the
brose is ready to be eaten; and, as every man makes his own brose,
and knows his own appetite, he makes just as much as he can consume." 
[Footnote 2: "The fare is simple, and is as simply made, but it must be
wholesome, and capable of supplying the loss of substance occasioned
by hard labour; for I believe that no class of men can endure more
bodily fatigue for ten hours every day, than those ploughmen of
Scotland who subsist on this brose three times a-day."--Vol. ii. p.
But if the _life_ of the ploughman is familiar to our author, the
_work_ he has to do, and the mode of doing it well, and the reason
why it should be done one way here, and another way there, are no
less so. The uninitiated have no idea of the complicated patterns
which the ploughman works, according to the nature of the soil and
the season of the year in which he labours. He may be "gathering
up--crown-and-furrow ploughing--casting, or yoking, or coupling
ridges--casting ridges with gore furrows--cleaving down ridges with
or without gore furrows--ploughing two-out-and-two-in--ploughing in
breaks--cross-furrowing--angle-ploughing, ribbing, and drilling--or
he may be preparing the land by feering or striking the ridges."--
(Vol. i. p. 464.) All these methods of turning up the land are
described and illustrated by wood-cuts, and we are sure quite as
effectually done upon paper as if the author had been explaining
them upon his own farm, guiding one of his own best ploughs, and
strengthened by a basin of good brose made from his own meal-chest.
But the practical skill of Mr. Stephens is not confined to the lower
walks of the agricultural life. The ploughman sometimes qualifies
himself to become a steward, that he may rid himself of the drudgery
of working horses. He has then new duties to perform, which are thus
"The duty of the _steward_ or _grieve_, as he is called in some
parts of Scotland, and _bailiff_ in England, consists in receiving
general instructions from his master, the farmer, which he sees
executed by the people under his charge. He exercises a direct
control over the ploughmen and field-workers.... It is his duty to
enforce the commands of his master, and to check every deviation
from rectitude he may observe in the servants against his interests.
It is not generally understood that he has control over the shepherd,
the hedger, or the cattleman, who are stewards, in one sense, over
their respective departments of labour.... He should always deliver
the daily allowance of corn to the horses. _He should be the first
person out of bed in the morning, and the last in it at night_. On
most farms, he sows the seed in spring, superintends the
field-workers in summer, tends the harvest-field and builds the
stacks in autumn, and thrashes the corn with the mill, and cleans it
with the winnowing-machine in winter. He keeps an account of the
workpeople's time, and of the quantity of grain thrashed, consumed
on the farm, and delivered to purchasers."--Vol. i. p. 221.
The practical man who reads the above detail of the steward's duties,
will see at once that it must have been written by "one of themselves;"
and, by its correctness, will be able to judge of the full faith
which may be placed in the numerous other details upon every branch
of practical farming with which the work now before us is so full.
We have brought prominently forward the above extracts in relation to
the _minutiae_ of the farmer's life--to the detailed practical
knowledge which is so valuable to him, as being those upon which it
appeared to us that a writer who was capable of getting up a book at
all, much more such a book as this professes to be, in reference to
the higher branches of the farmers' art, was most likely to fail.
But these parts of the work are written not only knowingly and well,
but with an evident relish for the subject. Let us turn, therefore,
to the more intellectual part of the book, and see how far this part
of the task has been satisfactorily accomplished.
_The Book of the Farm_ is mainly intended as a manual for the
master-farmer, accompanying him every where, and at every season of
the year, counselling, guiding, and directing him in all his
operations. But it has a higher and more useful aim than merely to
remind the practical agriculturist of what he already knows. It is
fitted, without other aid, to teach the beginner nearly every thing
which it is necessary for him to know in order to take his place
among the most intelligent practical men; and to teach it precisely
at the time, and in the order, in which it is most easy, most useful,
and most interesting for him to learn it.
The beginner is supposed by Mr. Stephens to have undergone a previous
course of instruction under a practical man, and to enter upon a
farm of his own in the beginning of winter. This farm is a more or
less naked and unimproved piece of land, without a farm-stead or
farm-house, with few hedge-rows, and wholly undrained. On entering
the farm, also, he has servants to engage, stock to buy, and
implements to select. In all these difflculties, _The Book of the
Farm_ comes to his aid. The most useful, approved, and economical
form of a farm-steading is pointed out. The structure of barns,
stables, cow-houses, piggeries, _liquid-manure tanks_, poultry-yards,
and every other appendage of the farm-house, and, finally, the most
fitting construction of the farm-house itself, according to the size
and situation of the farm, are discussed, described, and explained.
Plans and estimates of every expense are added, and woodcuts
illustrative of every less known suggestion. These are not only
sufficient to guide the intelligent young farmer in all the
preliminary arrangements for his future comfort and success, but will,
we are sure, supply hints to many older heads for the reconstruction
or improvement of farm-steadings, heretofore deemed convenient and
complete. The following chapter aids him in the choice of his
servants, and describes distinctly the duties and province of each.
And now, having concluded his domestic arrangements,  he must
learn to know something of the weather which prevails in the
district in which he has settled, before he can properly plan out or
direct the execution of the various labours which are to be
undertaken upon his farm during the winter. A chapter of some length,
therefore, is devoted to the "weather in winter," in which the
principles by which the weather is regulated in the different parts
of our islands, and the methods of foreseeing or predicting changes,
are described and illustrated _as far as they are known_. This is the
first of those chapters of _The Book of the Farm_ which illustrates
in a way not to be mistaken, the truth announced at the head of this
article, that _skilful practice is applied science_.
[Footnote 3: Hesiod considered one other appendage to the homestead
indispensable, to which Mr. Stephens does not allude, perhaps from
feeling himself incompetent to advise.]
To some it may appear at first sight that our author has indulged in
too much detail upon this subject; but he is not a true practical
farmer who says so. The weather has always been a most interesting
subject to the agriculturist--he is every day, in nearly all his
movements, dependant upon it. A week of rain, or of extraordinary
drought, or of nipping frost, may disappoint his most sanguine and
best founded expectations. His daily comfort, his yearly profit, and
the general welfare of his family, all depend upon the weather, or
upon his _skill in foreseeing its changes_, and availing himself of
every moment which is favourable to his purposes. Hence, with
agricultural writers, from the most early times, the varied
appearances of the clouds, the nature of the winds, and the changing
aspects of the sun and moon, and their several significations, have
formed a favourite subject of description and discussion. Thus of
the sun Virgil says--
"Sol quoque, et exoriens et quum se condet in undas,
Signa dabit; solem certissima signa sequuntir.
Et quae mane refert, et quae surgentibus astris."
And then he gives the following _prognostics_, as unerring guides to
the Latian farmer:--
"Ille ubi nascentem maculis variaverit ortum,
Conditus in nubem, medioque refugerit orbe;
Suspecti tibi sint imbres....
Caeruleus pluviam denuntiat, igneus Euros.
At si quum referetque diem condit que relatum
Lucidus orbis erit: frustra terrebere nimbis
Et claro silvas cernes aquilone moveri."
Mr. Stephens recognises similar solar indications in the following
"If the sun in red should set,
The next day surely will be wet;
If the sun should set in grey,
The next will be a rainy day."
"An evening red, or a morning grey,
Doth betoken a bonnie day;
In an evening grey and a morning red,
Put on your hat, or ye'll weet your head."
In his next edition we recommend to Mr. Stephens's notice the Border
version of the latter:--
"An evening red and a morning grey,
Send the shepherd on his way;
An evening grey and a morning red
Send the shepherd wet to bed."
The most learned meteorologists of the present day believe the moon
to influence the weather--the practical farmer is sure of it--and we
have known the result of the hay crop, in adjoining farms, to be
strikingly different, when upon the one the supposed influence of
the time of change was taken into account and acted upon, while in
the other it was neglected. Mr. Stephens gives as true proverbs--
* * * * *
"In the wane of the moon,
A cloudy morning bodes a fair afternoon."
"New moon's mist
Never dies of thirst."
But Virgil is more specific--
"Ipsa dies alios alio dedit ordine Luna
Felices operum; quintam fuge....
Septuma post decumam felix et ponere vitem,
Et prensos domitare boves."
And in these warnings he only imitates Hesiod--
[Greek: Pempias de hexaleasthai, hepei chalepai te chai ainai.]
[Greek: Maenos de isamenou trischaidecha taen haleasthai,
Spezmatos azxasthai phuta de henthzepsasthai arisa.]
But the vague prognostics of old times are not sufficient for the
guidance of the skilful and provident farmer of our day. The
barometer, the thermometer, and even the hygrometer, should be his
companions and guides, or occasional counsellors. To the description
and useful indications of these instruments, therefore, a sufficient
space is devoted in the book before us. We do not know any other
source from which the practical farmer can draw so much
meteorological matter specially adapted to his own walk of life, as
from this chapter upon the weather.
All this our young farmer is not supposed to sit down and master
before he proceeds with the proper business of his new farm; it will
be a subject of study with him in many future months, and winters too.
But after a most judicious recommendation, to observe and _record_
whatever occurs either new or interesting in his field of
labour--without which record he will not be able to contribute, as
he may hereafter do, to the extension of agricultural knowledge--he
is taught next, in an able chapter "upon soils and sub-soils,"
to study the nature of his farm more thoroughly; to ascertain
its natural capabilities--the improvements of which it is
susceptible--the simplest, most efficacious, and most economical
means by which this improvement may be effected--and the kind of
implements which it will be most prudent in him to purchase for
tilling the kind of land of which his farm consists, or for bringing
it into a more fertile condition. This chapter also draws largely,
especially upon geological and chemical science, and affords another
illustration of what, I trust, Mr. Stephens's book will more and
more impress upon our working farmers, that _skilful practice is
applied science_. We have not room for any extracts, but when we
mention that in the chemical part of it the author has been assisted
by Dr. Madden, readers of the _Quarterly Journal of Agriculture_
will be able to form an estimate of the way in which this chapter
has been got up.
Having now satisfied himself of the nature of his farm as to soil
and capabilities, he sees that new enclosures and shelter will be
necessary--that some fields must be subdivided, others laid out
anew--that old hedge-rows must be rooted out or straightened, and
new ones planted in their room. Of what all this may be made to
accomplish for his farm, and of how the work itself may be done,
even to the minutest details, the chapters on "enclosures and shelter,"
and on "planting of farm hedges," will fully inform him. The
benefits of shelter on our elevated lands, are not half understood.
Thousands upon thousands of acres are lying in comparative barrenness,
which, by adequate shelter, might be converted into productive fields.
The increase of mean temperature which results from skilful
enclosures, is estimated at 5 deg. to 8 deg. Fahrenheit; while in regard to
the increased money value, Mr. Thomas Bishop gives the following
"Previous to the division of the common moor of Methven in Perthshire,
in 1793, the venerable Lord Lynedoch and Lord Methven had each
secured their lower slopes of land adjoining the moor with belts of
plantation. The year following I entered Lord Methven's service, and
in 1798 planted about sixty acres of the higher moor ground, valued
at 2s. per acre, for shelter to eighty or ninety acres set apart for
cultivation, and let in three divisions to six individuals. The
progress made in improving the land was very slow for the first
fifteen years, but thereafter went on rapidly, being aided by the
_shelter derived from_ the growth of the plantations; and the
whole has now become fair land, bearing annually crops of oats,
barley, peas, potatoes, and turnips. In spring 1838, exactly forty
years from the time of putting down the plantation, I sold four
acres of larch and fir (average growth) standing therein, for L.220,
which, with the value of reserved trees and average amount per acre
of thinnings sold previously, gave a return of L.67 per acre."--Vol.
i, p. 367.
We are satisfied that in localities with which we are ourselves
acquainted, there are tens of thousand of acres which, by the simple
protection of sheltering plantations, would soon be made to exhibit
an equal improvement with either the moor of Methven, or the lands
upon Shotley Fell, which are also referred to in the work before us.
At a time when such strenuous endeavours are making to introduce and
extend a more efficient drainage among our clay lands, the more
simple amelioration of our cold uplands by judicious plantations,
ought neither to be lost sight of, nor by those who address
themselves to the landlords and cultivators, be passed by without
especial and frequent notice.
Did space permit, we could have wished to extract a paragraph or two
upon the mode of planting hedges, and forming ditches, for the
purpose of proving to our readers that Mr. Stephens is as complete a
_hedger_ and _ditcher_, as we have seen him to be cunning as a
drover and a cattle surgeon. But we must refer the reader to the
passages in pp. 376 and 379. Even in the planting of thorn hedges he
will find that science is not unavailing, for both mathematics and
botany are made by Mr. Stephens to yield their several contributions
to the chapters we are now considering.
But the fields being divided and the hedges planted, or while those
operations are going on, a portion of the land must be subjected to
the plough. Next in order, therefore, follows a chapter upon this
important instrument, in which the merits and uses of the several
best known--especially of the Scotch swing-ploughs--are explained
and discussed. Here our young farmer is taught which variety of
plough he ought to select for his land, _why_ it is to be preferred,
and _how_ it is to be used, and its movable parts (plough-irons)
_tempered_ and adjusted, according to the effect which the workman
is desirous of producing. We are quite sure that the writer of such
parts of this chapter as refer to the practical use of the plough,
must himself have handled it for many a day in the field.
The part of this chapter, again, which relates to the theoretical
construction--to the history of the successive improvements, and to
the discussion of the relative merits of the numerous varieties of
ploughs which have lately been recommended to notice--is drawn up by
Mr. James Slight, curator of the museum of the Highland Society, a
gentleman whose authority on such subjects stands deservedly high.
To this monograph, as we may call it, upon the plough, we may again
refer as another illustration of the union between agriculture and
science. Mechanism perfects the construction of instruments,
chemistry explains the effects which they are the means of producing
in the soil--says also to the mechanic, if you could make them act
in such and such a way, these effects would be more constantly and
more fully brought about, and returns them to the workshop for
further improvement. Thus each branch of knowledge aids the other,
and suggests to it means of still further benefitting practical
One of the most interesting, and not the least important, of those
practical discussions which have arisen since the establishment of
the Royal Agricultural Society of England, has been in regard to the
relative merits and lightness of draught of the Scottish
swing-ploughs, and of certain of the wheel-ploughs made and
extensively used, especially in the southern counties. It is admitted,
we believe, on all hands, that a less skilful workman will execute
as presentable a piece of work with a wheel-plough, as a more
skilful ploughman with a Scotch swing-plough. This is insisted upon
by one party as a great advantage, while the other attaches no
weight to it at all, saying, that they find no difficulty in getting
good ploughmen to work with the swing-plough, and therefore it would
be no advantage to them to change. Still this greater facility in
using it is a true economical advantage, nevertheless; since that
which is difficult to acquire will always be purchased at a dearer
rate; and in an improving district, it is some gain, that it is
neither necessary to import very skilful ploughmen, nor to wait till
they are produced at home.
But it is also conceded, we believe, that the swing-plough, in
skilful hands, is more easily or quickly managed than a wheel-plough;
that it _turns more readily_, and when doing the same kind of work,
will go over the ground quicker, and consequently do more work in a
day. Theoretically, this seems undeniable, though it does not appear
to be as yet clearly established in what precise proportion this
theoretical acceleration ought to increase the extent of ground gone
over by a diligent ploughman in the ten hours of his daily labour.
It is said that, with the wheel-plough, three-fourths of an acre is
an average day's work, while with a swing-plough, an acre is the
ordinary and easy work of an active man on soil of average tenacity.
The _pace_, however, must depend considerably both upon the horses
and their driver; and to whatever extent such a difference may
really exist--and opinions differ upon the subject--it is clearly an
argument in favour of the swing-plough.
But a third and equally important element in the discussion, is the
relative draught of the swing and wheel-ploughs. This element has
been lately brought more prominently forward, in consequence of some
interesting experiments, made first, we believe, by Mr. Pusey, and
since repeated by others, as to the relative draught of different
ploughs in the same circumstances, as measured by the dynamometer.
This, as well as the other parts of this question, is taken up, and
ably discussed, by Mr. Slight; and he has, we think, satisfactorily
shown, that no wheel-plough (or plough with a foot) can be lighter
in draught, _merely because it is wheeled_--that, on the contrary,
its draught must be in some small degree increased, other things
being equal, (vol. i. p. 463.) This, we think, is probable, on other
grounds besides those stated by Mr. Slight; yet there appears
satisfactory reason for believing, that some of the wheel-ploughs
which have been made the subject of experiment, have actually been
lighter in draught, when doing the same work, than any of the
swing-ploughs that have been opposed to them. But this does not show
that, in _principle_, the swing-plough is not superior to the
wheel-plough--it only shows that, in _construction_, it is still
capable of great emendations, and that, in this respect, some of the
wheel-ploughs have got the start of it. But the Scotch makers, who
first so greatly improved the plough, are capable still of competing
with their southern rivals; and from their conjoined exertions,
future ploughmen are destined to receive still further aid.
When the ploughs are brought home, and while the winter ploughing is
going on, an opportunity presents itself for laying out, and probably,
as the weather permits, of cutting a portion of the intended drains.
Upon this important subject, Mr. Stephens treats with more even than
his usual skill. How true is the following passage:--
"Land, however, though it does not contain such a superabundance of
water as to obstruct arable culture, may nevertheless, by its
inherent wetness, prevent or retard the luxuriant growth of useful
plants, as much as decidedly wet land. The truth is, that deficiency
of crops on apparently dry land is frequently attributed to
unskilful husbandry, when it really arises from the baleful
influence of _concealed_ stagnant water; and the want of skill is
shown, not so much in the management of the arable culture of the
land, as in neglecting to remove the true cause of the deficiency of
the crop, namely, the concealed stagnant water. Indeed, my opinion is,
and its conviction has been forced upon me by long and extensive
observation of the state of the soil over a large part of the
country--that this is the _true cause of most of the bad farming to
be seen_, and that _not one farm_ is to be found throughout the
kingdom that _would not be much the better for draining_."
--Vol. i. p. 483.
Draining is now truly regarded as a great national work, involving
considerations of the highest moment, and bearing upon some of the
most vital questions of our national policy. It is a subject,
therefore, the practical discussion of which is of the greatest
importance, especially in reference to the mode in which it can be
most _efficiently_ and most _cheaply_ done. Into these points,
Mr. Stephens enters minutely, and the course he prescribes is, we
think, full of judgment. He explains the Elkington mode of draining,
and he gives due praise to the more recent improvements of Mr. Smith
Every one knows how difficult it is to persuade our practical men to
adopt any new method; but even after you have satisfied them that the
adoption of it will really do good to their farms, it is almost as
difficult to persuade them, that a partial adoption of the method,
or some alteration of it--as they fancy some _improvement_ of
it--will not best suit their land, or the circumstances in which
they are placed. Thus, one thinks, that a drain in each alternate
furrow is enough for his soil--that his drains need not be above
twelve(!) or eighteen inches deep--or that on his clay, the use of
soles is a needless expense. On all these points, the book before us
gives confident opinions, with which we entirely coincide.
In regard to the depth of drains, it is shown, that in order that
they may _draw_, they should never be shallower than thirty inches,
and should always leave a depth of eighteen inches clear of the
draining materials, in order that the subsoil and trench plough may
have full freedom of action, without risk of injury to the drain;
while of the use of soles he says--
"I am a strenuous advocate for drainsoles _in all cases_; and even
when they may really prove of little use, I would rather use too many,
than too few precautions in draining; because, even in the most
favourable circumstances, we cannot tell what change may take place
beyond our view, in the interior of a drain, which we are never again
permitted, and which _we have no desire to see_."
This passage expresses the true principle of safety, by which, in
the outlay of large sums of money for improvements, the landowner,
and the holder of an improving lease, ought to be actuated. Though
great losses have already been incurred by shallow drains, and by
the rejection of soles, the practice, especially in the more
backward districts, still goes on, and thousands of pounds are still
expended upon the principles of a false economy, in repetition of
the same faulty practice. We know of drainings now going on to a
great extent, which will never permit the use of the subsoil plough;
and of the neglect of soles, upon soils generally of clay, but here
and there with patches of sand, into which the tiles must inevitably
sink. When a person drains his own land, of course reason is the
only constraint by which he can be withheld from doing as he likes
with his own; or where a yearly tenant drains part of his farm at
his own expense, the risk is exclusively his, and his landlord, who
perhaps refuses to give any effectual aid, can have no right to
dictate as to the mode in which the draining is to be performed; but
when the landlord contributes either directly or indirectly to the
expense, he, or his agent--if he has one who is skilful
enough--should insist upon every thing being done according to the
most improved, which, in reality, are also ultimately the most
While the draining thus proceeds on the best and most economical
principles, the ploughing is supposed to be still in progress.
Indeed the arrangements for the two operations, the selection and
purchase of the implements for both, may go on simultaneously. The
plough, indeed, is sometimes used as a draining implement for making
a deep furrow, in which, with more or less emendation from the spade,
the tiles or other draining materials may subsequently be laid. But
in this case, the draught is excessive, and many horses must often
be yoked into the same plough, in order to drag it through the ground.
Here, therefore, the young farmer must learn a new art--the art of
harnessing and yoking his horses, in such a way as to obtain the
greatest possible effect, at the least expense, or with the smallest
waste of animal strength. This is a very important subject for
consideration, and it is one which the author who is best acquainted
with the practice, and with the state of knowledge regarding it,
over a great part of our island, will feel himself most imperatively
called upon to treat of in detail. This is done, accordingly, in the
chapter upon the "Yoking and Harnessing of the Plough," in which, by
the able assistance of Mr. Slight, the principles upon which these
processes should be conducted, as well as the simplest, strongest,
and most economical methods, in actual practice among the most
skilful farmers, are illustrated and explained.
To this follows a chapter upon "Ploughing stubble and lea ground,"
in which, with the aid of his two coadjutors, the practical and
scientific questions involved in the general process of ploughing
such land, are discussed with equal skill and judgment. We have been
particularly pleased with the remarks of Mr. Slight upon
ploughing-matches, (Vol. i. p. 651,) in reference especially to the
general disregard among judges, of the nature of the _underground_
work, on which so much of the good effects of ploughing in reality
depends. They will, we doubt not, have their due weight, at future
ploughing-matches, among those--and we hope they will be many--into
whose hands the work before us may come.
Second in importance to draining only, are the subjects of "subsoil
and trench ploughing," operations which are also to be performed at
this season of the year--and a chapter upon which concludes the
first volume of Mr. Stephens's work. Those who are acquainted with
the writings of Mr. Smith of Deanston, and with the operations of
the Marquis of Tweeddale at Yester, will duly estimate the importance,
not merely to the young farmer himself, but to the nation at large,
of proper instruction in regard to these two important operations--in
the mode of economically conducting them--in the principles upon
which their beneficial action depends--and in the circumstances by
which the practical man ought to be regulated in putting the one or
the other, or the one _rather_ than the other, in operation upon his
own land. Our limits do not permit us to discuss the relative merits
of subsoil and trench ploughing, which by some writers have unwisely
been pitted against each other--as if they were in reality methods
of improving the land, either of which a man may equally adopt in
any soil and under all circumstances. But they, in reality, agree
universally only in this one thing--_that neither process will
produce a permanently good effect unless the land be previously
thorough-drained_. But being drained, the farmer must then exercise
a sound discretion, and Mr. Stephens's book will aid his judgment
much in determining which of the two subsequent methods he ought to
adopt. The safer plan for the young farmer would be to try one or
two acres in each way, and in his after procedure upon the same kind
of land to be regulated by the result of this trial. Mr. Stephens
expresses a decided opinion in favour of trench-ploughing in the
"I have no hesitation in expressing my preference of trench to
subsoil ploughing: and I cannot see a single instance, with the sole
exception of turning up a very bad subsoil in large quantity, in
which there is any advantage attending subsoil, that cannot be
enjoyed by trench ploughing: and for this single drawback of a very
bad subsoil, trenching has the advantage of being performed in
perfect safety, where subsoil ploughing could not be, without
"But whilst giving a preference to trench ploughing over subsoil, I
am of opinion that it should not be generally attempted under any
circumstances, however favourable, without previous thorough-draining,
any more than subsoil ploughing; but when so drained, there is no
mode of management, in my opinion, that will render land so soon
amenable to the means of putting it in a high degree of fertility as
trench ploughing."--Vol. i. p. 664.
We confess that, in the first of the above passages, Mr. Stephens
appears to us to assume something of the tone of a partizan, which
has always the effect of lessening the weight of an author's opinion
with the intelligent reader who is in search of the truth only. What
is advanced as the main advantage of trench-ploughing in the first
passage--that it can be safely done without previous draining, is in
the second wholly discarded by the advice, _never to trench-plough
without previous draining_. At the same time it is confessed, that
in the case of a bad subsoil, trench-ploughing may do much harm.
Every practical man in fact knows that bringing up the subsoil in
any quantity, he would in some districts render his fields in a great
measure unproductive for years to come. On the other hand, we believe
that the use of the subsoil-plough can never do harm upon drained
land. We speak, of course, of soils upon which it is already
conceded that either the one method or the other ought to be adopted.
The utmost evil that can follow in any such case from the use of the
subsoil-plough, is that the expense will be thrown away--the land
cannot be rendered more unfruitful by it. Subsoiling, therefore, is
the _safer_ practice.
But in reality, there ought, as we have already stated, to be no
opposition between the two methods. Each has its own special uses
for which it can be best employed, and the skill of the farmer must
be exercised in determining whether the circumstances in which he is
placed are such as to call specially for the one or for the other
instrument. If the subsoil be a rich black mould, or a continuation
of the same alluvial or other fertile soil which forms the surface--it
may be turned up at once by the trench-plough without hesitation. Or,
if the subsoil be more or less full of lime, which has sunk from above,
trenching may with equal safety be adopted. But, if the subsoil be
more or less ferruginous--if it be of that yellow unproductive clay
which in some cases extends over nearly whole counties--or of that
hard, blue, stony till which requires the aid of the mattock to
work out of the drains--or if it consist of a hard and stony,
more or less impervious bed--in all these cases the use of the
subsoil-plough is clearly indicated. In short, the young farmer can
scarcely have a safer rule than this--to subsoil his land first,
_whenever there is a doubt of the soundness of the subsoil_, or a
fear that by bringing it to the surface, the fertility of the upper
soil will be diminished. It is no reply to this safer practice to
say that even Mr. Smith recommends turning up the subsoil afterwards,
and that we have therefore a double expense to incur. For it is known,
that after a time any subsoil so treated may be turned up with safety,
and consequently there is no risk of loss by delaying this deeper
ploughing for a few years; and in regard to the question of expense,
it appears that the cost of both draining and subsoiling are
generally repayed by the first two or three crops which succeed each
improvement. What more, then, can be required? The expense is
repaid--the land is, to a certain extent, permanently improved--no
risk of loss has been incurred, and there still remains to the
improving farmer--improving his own circumstances, as well as the
quality of his land, by his prudent and skilful measures--there
still remains the deeper ploughing, by which he can gradually bring
new soil to the surface, as he sees it mellow, and become wholesome,
under the joint influences which the drain and the subsoil-plough
have brought to bear upon it.
There can, therefore, it is clear, be no universal rule for the use
of the two valuable instruments in question, as each has its own
defined sphere of action. This, we think, is the common-sense view
of the case. But if any one insists upon having a universal rule
which shall save him from thinking or observing for himself in all
cases, then we should say--_in all cases subsoil, because it is the
With this subject the first volume of _The Book of the Farm_ is
brought to a close; but winter still continues, and in other
winter-work of scarcely less importance the young farmer has still
to be instructed. We have hitherto said nothing of the more expensive
and beautiful embellishments of the book, because the most
interesting of them are portraits of celebrated short-horns, working
horses, sheep, and pigs--a subject of which the author begins to
treat only at the commencement of the second volume. The feeding of
stock is one of those parts of the winter's labours, in improving
husbandry, upon which not only the immediate profit of the farmer,
but the ultimate fertility of his land, in a great measure depends.
The choice of his stock, and the best mode of treating and tending
them, therefore, are subjects of the greatest consequence to the
young farmer. In the choice of his stock he will be aided at once by
the clear descriptions, and by the portraits so beautifully executed
by Landseer and Sheriff, by which the letterpress is accompanied. In
the subsequent treatment of them, and in the mode by which they may
be most profitably, most quickly, or most economically fed _in the
winter season_, he will be fully instructed in the succeeding
chapters of the book.
Turnips and other roots are the principal food of cattle in the
winter: a preliminary chapter, therefore, is devoted to the
"drawing and storing of turnips and other roots." Had we our article
to begin again, we could devote several pages, agreeably to ourselves,
and not without interest, we believe, or without instruction, to our
reader, in discussing a few of those points connected with the
feeding of cattle, upon which, though the means of information are
within their reach, practical men have hitherto permitted themselves
to remain wholly ignorant. Of these points Mr. Stephens adverts to
several, and suggests the advantage of additional experiments; but
the whole subject requires revision, and, under the guidance of
persons able to direct, who are acquainted with all that is yet known,
or has as yet been done either in our own or in foreign countries,
experiments will hereafter, no doubt, be made, by which many new
truths, both theoretically and practically valuable, are sure to be
We may advert, as an illustration, to the feeding properties of the
turnip. It is usual to reckon the value of a crop of turnips by the
number of tons per acre which it is found to yield when so many
square yards of the produce are weighed. But this may be very
fallacious in many ways. If they are white turnips, for instance,
nine tons of small will contain as much nourishment as ten tons of
large--or twenty-seven tons an acre of small turnips will feed as
many sheep as thirty tons per acre of large turnips. Or if the crop
be Swedes, the reverse will be the case, twenty-seven tons of large
will feed as much stock as thirty tons of small.--(Vol. ii., p. 20.)
Mr. Stephens points out other fallacies also, to which we cannot
advert. One, however, he has passed over, of equal, we believe of
greater, consequence than any other--we allude to the variable
quantity of water which the turnip grown on different soils in
different seasons is found to contain.
It is obvious, that in so far as the roots of the turnip, the carrot,
and the potatoe, consist of water, they can serve the purposes of
drink only--they cannot feed the animals to which they are given. Now,
the quantity of water in the turnip is so great, that 100 _tons
sometimes contain only nine tons of dry feeding matter_--more than
nine-tenths of their weight consisting of water. But again, their
constitution is so variable, that 100 _tons sometimes contain more
than twenty tons of dry food_--or less than four-fifths of their
weight of water. It is possible, therefore, that one acre of turnips,
on which only twenty tons are growing, may feed as many sheep as
another on which forty tons are produced. What, therefore, can be
more uncertain than the feeding value of an acre of turnips as
estimated by the weight? How much in the dark are buyers and sellers
of this root? What wonder is there, that different writers should
estimate so very differently the weight of turnips which ought to be
given for the purpose of sustaining the condition, or of increasing
the weight, of the several varieties of stock? Other roots exhibit
similar differences; and even the potatoe, while it sometimes
contains thirty tons of food in every hundred of raw roots, at others,
contains no more than twenty--the same weight, namely, which exists
at times in the turnip. 
[Footnote 4: For our authority on this subject, we refer to
Johnston's _Suggestion for Experiments in Practical Agriculture_, No.
111. pp. 62 and 64, of which we have been favoured with an early
copy by the author.]
This latter fact, shows the very slippery ground on which the
assertion rests, that has lately astonished the weak minds of our
Southern cattle-feeding brethren, from the mouth of one of their
talented but hasty lecturers--that the potatoe contains two or three
times the weight of nourishment which exists in the turnip. It is
true that _some_ varieties of potatoes contain three times as much
as _some_ varieties of turnip--but, on the other hand, some turnips
contain as much nourishment as an equal weight of potatoes. But no
man can tell, by bare inspection, as yet, to which class of turnips,
the more or less watery, his own may belong--whether that which is
apparently the most prolific may not in reality be the least
so--whether that mode of manuring his land which gives him the
greatest weight of raw roots may not give him the smallest weight of
real substantial food for his stock. What a wide field, therefore,
for experiment? To what useful results might they not be expected to
lead? If any of our readers wish to undertake such experiments, or to
learn how they are to be performed, we refer them to the pamphlet
mentioned in the note.
In connexion with the chapter "on the feeding of sheep," we could
have wished to advert to the advantages of shelter, in producing the
largest weight of meat from a given weight of turnips, or other
food--as illustrated by the experiments of Mr. Childers, Lord Western,
and others; but we must refer our readers to the passage itself,
(vol. ii. p. 51,) as we must also to the no less important
comparative view of the advantages of feeding cattle in close byres
and in open hammels, (vol. ii. p. 129,) and to the interesting
details regarding the use of raw and steamed food, contained in the
chapter upon the feeding of cattle, (vol. ii. p. 120 to 148.)
But our author is so cunning in the qualities of mutton--which, as
we have already seen, he can "kill so gently," performing the
operation without pain--that we think our readers will enjoy the
"The gigot is the handsomest and most valuable part of the carcass,
and on that account fetches the highest price. It is either a
roasting or a boiling piece. Of black-faced mutton it makes a fine
roast, and the piece of fat in it called the _pope's eye_, is
considered a delicate _morceau_ by epicures. A gigot of Leicester,
Cheviot, or Southdown mutton makes a beautiful 'boiled leg of mutton,'
which is prized the more the fatter it is, as this part of the
carcass is never overloaded with fat. The loin is almost always
roasted, the flap of the flank being skewered up, and it is a juicy
piece. For a small family, the black-faced mutton is preferable; for
a large, the Southdown and Cheviot. Many consider this piece of
Leicester mutton roasted as too rich, and when warm, this is
probably the case; but a cold roast loin is an excellent summer dish.
The back-ribs are divided into two, and used for very different
purposes. The fore-part, the neck, is boiled and makes sweet
barley-broth, and the meat, when well boiled, or rather the whole
pottage simmered for a considerable time _beside_ the fire, eats
tenderly. The back-ribs make an excellent roast; indeed, there is
not a sweeter or more varied one in the carcass, having both ribs
and shoulder. The shoulder-blade eats best cold, and the ribs warm.
The ribs make excellent chops. The Leicester and Southdowns afford
the best mutton-chops. The breast is mostly a roasting-piece,
consisting of rib and shoulder, and is particularly good when cold.
When the piece is large, as of Southdown or Cheviot, the gristly
part of the ribs may be divided from the true ribs, and helped
separately. The breast is an excellent piece in black-faced mutton,
and suitable to small families, the shoulder being eaten cold, while
the ribs and brisket are sweet and juicy when warm. This piece also
boils well; or, when corned for eight days, and served with onion
sauce, with mashed turnip in it, there are few more savoury dishes
at a farmer's table. The shoulder is separated before being dressed,
and makes an excellent roast for family use, and may be eaten warm or
cold, or corned and dressed as the breast mentioned above. The
shoulder is best from a large carcass of Southdown, Cheviot, or
Leicester, the black-faced being too thin for the purpose; and it was
probably because English mutton is usually large that the practice
of removing it originated. The neckpiece is partly laid bare by the
removal of the shoulder, the fore-part being fitted for boiling and
making into broth, and the best end for roasting or broiling into
chops. On this account this is a good family piece, and in such
request among the tradesmen of London that they prefer it to any part
of the hind-quarter."--(Vol. ii. p. 98.)
Nor is he less skilful in the humble food and cooking of the
farm-labourer; indeed, he seems never satisfied until he fairly
exhausts all the useful matter contained in every subject upon which
he touches. He not only breeds, and feeds, and kills, and cooks, but
he does the latter with such relish, that we have several times
fancied that we could actually see him eating his own mutton, beef,
and pork. And, whether he luxuriates over a roast of the back-ribs
of mutton, "so sweet and so varied," or complains that "the
hotel-keepers have a trick of seasoning brown-soup, or rather
beef-tea, with a few joints of tail, and passing it off for genuine
ox-tail soup,"--(vol. ii. p. 169,) or describes the "_famous fat
brose_, for which Scotland has long been celebrated," as formed by
skimming off the fat when boiling the hough, pouring it upon oatmeal,
and seasoning with pepper and salt; or indulges in the humbler
brose of the ploughman in his bothy, he evidently enjoys every thing
set before him so much, that we are sure he must lay on the fat
kindly. We should not wonder if he is himself already _nicked_; and
we cannot more warmly testify our good wishes, than by expressing a
hope, that, when he is fully _ripe_, the grim surgeon will operate
upon him _without pain_, and kill him _gently_.
One of Mr. Stephens's humbler dishes is the following:--
"The only time Scotch farm-servants indulge in butcher-meat is when
a sheep _falls_, as it is termed; that is, when it is killed before
being affected with an unwholesome disease, and the mutton is sold
at a reduced price. Shred down the suet small, removing any flesh or
cellular membrane adhering to it; then mix amongst it intimately 1/2
oz. of salt and a tea-spoonful of pepper to every pound of suet; put
the mixture into an earthen jar, and tie up tightly with bladder.
One table spoonful of seasoned suet will, at any time, make good
barley-broth or potato-soup for two persons. The lean of the mutton
may be shred down small, and seasoned in a similar manner, and used
when required; or it may be corned with salt, and used as a joint."
--Vol. ii. p. 105.
How much of the natural habits and manners of a country, and of the
circumstances and inner life of the various classes of its
inhabitants, is to be learned from a study of their cookery!
Reader, what a mystery hangs over the _handling_ of a fat beast! A
feeder approaches a well filled short-horn--he touches it here--he
pinches it there--he declares it to have many good _points_ about it;
but pronounces the existence of defects, where the uninitiated see
only beauties. The points of a fat ox, how mysterious they are, how
difficult to make out! The five points of Arminianism, our old vicar
used to say, were nothing to them. But here, too, Mr. Stephens is at
home. Listen to his simple explanation of the whole:
"The first point usually _handled_ is the end of the rump at the
tail-head, although any fat here is very obvious, and sometimes
attains to an enormous size, amounting even to deformity. The
hook-bone gets a touch, and when well covered, is right.... To the
hand, or rather to the points of the fingers of the right hand, when
laid upon the ribs, the flesh should feel soft and thick and the
form be round when all is right, but if the ribs are flat the flesh
will feel hard and thin from want of fat. The skin, too, on a rounded
rib, will feel soft and mobile, the hair deep and mossy, both
indicative of a kindly disposition to lay on flesh. The hand then
grasps the flank, and finds it thick, when the existence of internal
tallow is indicated.... The palm of the hand laid along the line of
the back will point out any objectionable hard piece on it, but if
all is soft and pleasant, then the shoulder-top is good. A
hollowness behind the shoulder is a very common occurrence; but when
it is filled up with a layer of fat, the flesh of all the
fore-quarter is thereby rendered very much more valuable. You would
scarcely believe that such a difference could exist in the flesh
between a lean and a fat shoulder. A high narrow shoulder is
frequently attended with a ridged back-bone, and lowset narrow hooks,
a form which gets the appropriate name of _razor-back_, with which
will always be found a deficiency of flesh in all the upper part of
the animal, where the best flesh always is. If the shoulder-point is
covered, and feels soft like the point of the hook-bone, it is good,
and indicates a well filled neck-vein, which runs from that point to
the side of the head. The shoulder-point, however, is often bare and
prominent. When the neck-vein is so firmly filled up as not to
permit the points of the fingers inside of the shoulder-point, this
indicates a well tallowed animal; as also does the filling up
between the brisket and inside of the fore legs, as well as a full,
projecting, well covered brisket in front. When the flesh comes down
heavy upon the thighs, making a sort of double thigh, it is called
_lyary_, and indicates a tendency of the flesh to grow on the
lower instead of the upper part of the body. These are all the
_points_ that require _touching when the hand is used_; and in a
high-conditioned ox, they may be gone over very rapidly."--Vol. ii. p.
The treatment of horses follows that of cattle, and this chapter is
fitted to be of extensive use among our practical farmers. There are
few subjects to which the attention of our small farmers requires
more to be drawn than to the treatment of their horses--few in which
want of skill causes a more general and _constant_ waste. The
economy of _prepared_ food is ably treated of, and we select the
following passage as containing at once sound theoretical and
important practical truths:
"It appears at first sight somewhat surprising that the idea of
preparing food for farm-horses should only have been recently acted
on; but I have no doubt that the practice of the turf and of the road,
of maintaining horses on large quantities of oats and dry ryegrass
hay, has had a powerful influence in retaining it on farms. But now
that a more natural treatment has been adopted by the owners of
horses on fast work, farmers, having now the example of post-horses
standing their work well on prepared food, should easily be
persuaded that, on slow work, the same sort of food should have even
a more salutary effect on their horses. How prevalent was the notion,
at one time, that horses could not be expected to do work at all,
unless there was _hard meat_ in them! 'This is a very silly and
erroneous idea, if we inquire into it,' as Professor Dick truly
observes, 'for whatever may be the consistency of the food when
taken into the stomach, it must, before the body can possibly derive
any substantial support or benefit from it, be converted into
_chyme_--a pultacious mass; and this, as it passes onward from the
stomach into the intestinal canal, is rendered still more fluid by
the admixture of the secretions from the stomach, the liver, and the
pancreas, when it becomes of a milky appearance, and is called
_chyle_. It is then taken into the system by the lacteals, and in
this _fluid_, this _soft_ state--_and in this state only_--mixes
with the blood, and passes through the circulating vessels for the
nourishment of the system.' Actuated by these rational principles,
Mr. John Croall, a large coach-proprietor in Edinburgh, now supports
his coach horses on 8 lb. of chopped hay and 16 lb. of bruised oats;
so does Mr. Isaac Scott, a postmaster, who gives 10 lb. or 12 lb. of
chopped hay and 16 lb. of bruised oats, to large horses: and to
carry the principle still further into practice, Captain Cheyne
found his post-horses work well on the following mixture, the
proportions of which are given for each horse every day; and this
constitutes the second of the formulae alluded to above."
In the day,
8 lb. of bruised oats.
3 lb. of bruised beans.
4 lb. of chopped straw.
22 lb. of steamed potatoes.
1-1/2 lb. of fine barley dust.
2 lb. of chopped straw.
2 oz. of salt.
"Estimating the barley-dust at 10d. per stone; chopped straw, 6d.
per stone, potatoes, steamed, at 7s. 6d. per cwt.; and the oats and
beans at ordinary prices, the cost of supper was 6d., and for daily
food, 1s. with cooking, in all 1s. 6d. a horse each day."--Vol. ii. p.
The reader will also peruse with interest the following paragraph,
illustrative at once of the habits of the horse, and of our author's
familiarity with the race:--
"The horse is an intelligent animal, and seems to delight in the
society of man. It is remarked by those who have much to do with
blood-horses, that, when at liberty, and seeing two or more people
standing conversing together, they will approach, and seem, as it
were, to wish to listen to the conversation. The farm-horse will
not do this; but he is quite obedient to call, and distinguishes
his name readily from that of his companion, and will not stir
when desired to stand until _his own name_ is pronounced. He
distinguishes the various sorts of work he is put to, and will apply
his strength and skill in the best way to effect his purpose,
whether in the thrashing-mill, the cart, or the plough. He soon
acquires a perfect sense of his work. I have seen a horse walk very
steadily towards a feering pole, and halt when his head had reached
it. He seems also to have a sense of time. I have heard another
neigh almost daily about ten minutes before the time of loosening in
the evening, whether in summer or winter. He is capable of
distinguishing the tones of the voice, whether spoken in anger or
otherwise; and can even distinguish between musical notes. There was
a work-horse of my own, when even at his corn, would desist eating,
and listen attentively, with pricked and moving ears and steady eyes,
the instant he heard the note of low G sounded, and would continue
to listen as long as it was sustained; and another, that was
similarly affected by a particular high note. The recognition of the
sound of the bugle by a trooper, and the excitement occasioned in
the hunter when the pack give tongue, are familiar instances of the
extraordinary effects of particular sounds on horses."--Vol. ii. p.
We recollect in our younger days, when we used to drive home from
Penrith market, our friend would say, "come, let us give the horse a
song--he will go home so briskly with us." And it really was so, or
seemed so at least, be the principle what it may.
Pigs and poultry succeed to cattle and horses, and the author is
equally at home in regard to the management of these as of the more
valued varieties of stock--as learned in their various breeds, and
as skilful in the methods of fattening, killing, and cutting up. How
much truth is contained in the following remarks, and how easily and
usefully might the evil be amended:--
"Of all the animals reared on a farm, there are none so much
neglected by the farmer, both in regard to the selection of their
kind, and their qualifications to fatten, as all the sorts of
domesticated fowls found in the farm-yard. Indeed, the very
supposition that _he_ would devote any of _his_ time to the
consideration of poultry, is regarded as a positive affront on his
manhood. Women, in his estimation, may be fit enough for such a
charge, and doubtless they would do it well, provided they were not
begrudged every particle of food bestowed upon those useful creatures.
The consequence is what might be expected in the circumstances, that
go to most farm-steads, and the surprise will be to meet a single
fowl of any description in _good_ condition, that is to say, in such
condition that it may be killed at the instant in a fit state for
the table, which it might be if it had been treated as a fattening
animal from its birth."--Vol. ii. p. 246.
The methods of fattening them are afterwards described; and for a
mode _of securing a new-laid egg to breakfast every winter morning_,
a luxury which our author "enjoyed for as many years as he lived in
the country," we refer the reader to page 256 of the second volume.
Besides the feeding of stock, one other in-door labour demands the
attention of the farmer, when the severity of winter weather has put
a stop to the ploughing and the draining of his land. His grain
crops are to be thrashed out, and sent to the market or the mill. In
this part of his work Mr. Stephens has again availed himself of the
valuable assistance of Mr. Slight, who, in upwards of 100 pages of
closely printed matter, has figured and described nearly all the
more useful instruments employed in the preparation of the food of
cattle, and in separating the grain of the corn crops. The thrashing
machine, so valuable an addition to the working establishment of a
modern farm-steading, is minutely explained--the varieties in its
construction illustrated by wood-cuts--and the respective merits of
the different forms of the machine examined and discussed. With the
following, among his other conclusions, we cordially concur.
"I cannot view these two machines without feeling impressed with a
conviction that both countries would soon feel the advantage of an
amalgamation between the two forms of the machine. The drum of the
Scotch thrashing-machine would most certainly be improved by a
transfusion from the principles of the English machine; and the
latter might be equally improved by the adoption of the
manufacturing-like arrangements and general economy of the Scotch
system of thrashing. That such interchange will ere long take place,
I am thoroughly convinced; and as I am alike satisfied that the
advantages would be mutual, it is to be hoped that these views will
not stand alone. It has not been lost sight of, that each machine
may be said to be suited to the system to which it belongs, and that
here, where the corn is cut by the sickle, the machine is adapted to
that; while the same may be said of the other, where cutting by the
scythe is so much practised. Notwithstanding all this, there appears
to be good properties in both that either seems to stand in need of."
--Vol. ii. p. 329.
Other scientific, especially chemical information, connected with
the different varieties of grain, and the kind and quantity of food
they respectively yield, is incorporated in the chapters upon
"wheat, flour, and oat and bean meal," to which we can only advert,
as further illustrations of the intimate manner in which science and
skilful or enlightened practice are invariably, necessarily, and
every where interwoven.
* * * * *
And now the dreary months of winter are ended--and the labours of
the farmer take a new direction.
"Salvitur acris hiems grata vice veris et Favoni,"
* * * * *
"Ac neque jam stabulis gaudet pecus, aut arator igni."
But we cannot follow Mr. Stephens through the cheerful labours of the
coming year. Our task is so far ended, and from the way in which the
whole of the long weeks of winter are described, the reader must
judge of Mr. Stephens's ability to lead him safely and surely
through the rest of the year.
A closing observation or two, however, we beg to offer. We look upon
a good book on agriculture as something more than a lucky speculation
for the publisher, or a profitable occupation of his time for the
author. _It is a gain to the community at large,--a new instrument
of national wealth_. The first honour or praise in reference to
every such instrument, is, no doubt, due to the maker or
inventor--but he who brings is into general use, merits also no
little approbation. Such is our case with respect to the book before
us. We shall be glad to learn that our analysis of it contributes to
a wider circulation among the practical farmers of the empire, of
the manifold information which the book contains, not so much for
the sake of the author, as with a view to the common good of the
country at large. It is to the more general diffusion of sound
agricultural literature among our farmers, that we look for that more
rapid development of the resources of our varied soils which the
times so imperatively demand. To gain this end no legitimate means
ought to be passed by, and we have detained our readers so long upon
the book before us, in the hope that they may be induced to lend us
_their_ aid also in attaining so desirable an object.
We do not consider _The Book of the Farm_ a perfect work: the author
indulges now and then in loose and careless writing; and this
incorrectness has more frequently struck us in the later portions of
the work, no doubt from the greater haste of composition. He sets
out by slighting the aids of science to agriculture; and yet, in an
early part of his book, tells the young farmer that he "must become
acquainted with the agency of _electricity_ before he can understand
the variations of the weather," and ends by making his book, as we
have said, a running commentary upon the truth we have already
several times repeated, that SKILFUL PRACTICE IS APPLIED SCIENCE.
These, and no doubt other faults the book has--as what book is
without them?--but as a practical manual for those who wish to be
good farmers, it is the best book we know. It contains more of the
practical applications of modern science, and adverts to more of
those interesting questions from which past improvements have sprung,
and from the discussion of which future ameliorations are likely to
flow, than any other of the newer works which have come under our eye.
Where so many excellences exist, we are not ill-natured enough to
magnify a few defects.
The excellence of Scottish agriculture may be said by some to give
rise to the excellent agricultural books which Scotland, time after
time, has produced. But it may with equal truth be said, that the
existence of good books, and their diffusion among a reading
population, are the sources of the agricultural distinction possessed
by the northern parts of the island. It is beyond our power, as
individuals, to convert the entire agricultural population of our
islands into a reading body, but we can avail ourselves of the
tendency wherever it exists; and by writing, or diffusing, or aiding
to diffuse, good books, we can supply ready instruction to such as
_now_ wish for it, and can put it in the way of those in whom
other men, by other means, are labouring to awaken the dormant
desire for knowledge. Reader, do _you_ wish to improve agriculture?
--then buy you a good book, and place it in the hands of your tenant
or your neighbouring farmer; if he be a reading man, he will thank
you, and his children may live to bless you; if he be not a reader,
you may have the gratification of wakening a dormant spirit; and
though you may appear to be casting your bread upon the waters, yet
you shall find it again after many days.
* * * * *
POEMS AND BALLADS OF SCHILLER.
(The two following poems, "The Ideal," and, "The Ideal and Life,"
are essentially distinct in their mode of treatment. The first is
simple and tender, and expresses feelings in which all can sympathize.
As a recent and able critic, in the Foreign Quarterly Review, has
observed, this poem, "still little known, contains a regret for the
period of youthful faith," and may take its place among the most
charming and pathetic of all those numberless effusions of genius in
which individual feeling is but the echo of the universal heart. But
the poem on "The Ideal and Life" is highly mystical and obscure;--
"it is a specimen," says the critic we have just quoted, "of those
poems which were the immediate results of Schiller's metaphysical
studies. Here the subject is purely supersensual, and does not
descend to the earth at all. The very tendency of the poem is to
recommend a life not in the actual world, but in the world of
appearances --that is, in the aesthetical world."
It requires considerable concentration of mind to follow its
meaning through the cloud of its dark and gigantic images. Schiller
desired his friend Humboldt to read it in perfect stillness, 'and
put away from him all that was profane.' Humboldt, of course,
admired it prodigiously; and it is unquestionably full of thought
expressed with the power of the highest genius. But, on the other
hand, its philosophy, even for a Poet or Idealist, is more than
disputable, and it incurs the very worst fault which a Poet can
commit, viz. obscurity of idea as well as expression. When the Poet
sets himself up for the teacher, he must not forget that the
teacher's duty is to be clear; and the higher the mystery he would
expound, the more pains he should bestow on the simplicity of the
elucidation. For the true Poet does not address philosophical
coteries, but an eternal and universal public. Happily this fault is
rare in Schiller, and more happily still, his great mind did not
long remain a groper amidst the 'Realm of Shadow.' The true Ideal is
quite as liable to be lost amidst the maze of metaphysics, as in the
actual thoroughfares of work-day life. A plunge into Kant may do
more harm to a Poet than a walk through Fleet Street. Goethe, than
whom no man had ever more studied the elements of the diviner art,
was right as an artist in his dislike to the over-cultivation of the
aesthetical. The domain of the Ideal is the heart, and through the
heart it operates on the soul. It grows feebler and dimmer in
proportion as it seeks to rise above human emotion.... Longinus does
not err, when he asserts that Passion (often erroneously translated
Pathos) is the best part of the Sublime.)
[Footnote 5: Rather, according to Aesthetical Philosophy, is the
_actual_ world to be called the _world of appearances_, and the
Ideal the world of substance.]
TO THE IDEAL.
Then wilt thou, with thy fancies holy--
Wilt thou, faithless, fly from me?
With thy joy, thy melancholy,
Wilt thou thus relentless flee?
O Golden Time, O Human May,
Can nothing, Fleet One, thee restrain?
Must thy sweet river glide away
Into the eternal Ocean-Main?
The suns serene are lost and vanish'd
That wont the path of youth to gild,
And all the fair Ideals banish'd
From that wild heart they whilome fill'd.
Gone the divine and sweet believing
In dreams which Heaven itself unfurl'd!
What godlike shapes have years bereaving
Swept from this real work-day world!
As once, with tearful passion fired,
The Cyprian Sculptor clasp'd the stone,
Till the cold cheeks, delight-inspired,
Blush'd--to sweet life the marble grown;
So Youth's desire for Nature!--round
The Statue, so my arms I wreathed,
Till warmth and life in mine it found
And breath that poets breathe--it breathed.
With my own burning thoughts it burn'd;--
Its silence stirr'd to speech divine;--
Its lips my glowing kiss return'd;--
Its heart in beating answer'd mine!
How fair was then the flower--the tree!--
How silver-sweet the fountain's fall!
The soulless had a soul to me!
My life its own life lent to all!
The Universe of Things seem'd swelling
The panting heart to burst its bound,
And wandering Fancy found a dwelling
In every shape--thought--deed, and sound.
Germ'd in the mystic buds, reposing,
A whole creation slumber'd mute,
Alas, when from the buds unclosing,
How scant and blighted sprung the fruit!
How happy in his dreaming error,
His own gay valour for his wing,
Of not one care as yet in terror,
Did Youth upon his journey spring;
Till floods of balm, through air's dominion,
Bore upward to the faintest star--
For never aught to that bright pinion
Could dwell too high, or spread too far.
Though laden with delight, how lightly
The wanderer heavenward still could soar,
And aye the ways of life how brightly
The airy Pageant danced before!--
Love, showering gifts (life's sweetest) down,
Fortune, with golden garlands gay,
And Fame, with starbeams for a crown,
And Truth, whose dwelling is the Day.
Ah! midway soon, lost evermore,
Afar the blithe companions stray;
In vain their faithless steps explore,
As, one by one, they glide away.
Fleet Fortune was the first escaper--
The thirst for wisdom linger'd yet;
But doubts with many a gloomy vapour
The sun-shape of the Truth beset!
The holy crown which Fame was wreathing,
Behold! the mean man's temples wore!
And but for one short spring-day breathing,
Bloom'd Love--the Beautiful--no more!
And ever stiller yet, and ever
The barren path more lonely lay,
Till waning Hope could scarcely quiver
Along the darkly widening way.
Who, loving, linger'd yet to guide me,
When all her boon companions fled?
Who stands consoling still beside me,
And follows to the House of Dread?
_Thine_, Friendship! _thine_, the hand so tender--
Thine the balm dropping on the wound--
Thy task--the load more light to render,
O, earliest sought and soonest found!
And _thou_, so pleased with her uniting
To charm the soul-storm into peace,
Sweet _Toil_! in toil itself delighting,
That more it labor'd, less could cease:
Though but by grains, thou aid'st the pile
The vast Eternity uprears--
At least thou strik'st from Time, the while,
Life's debt--the minutes, days, and years!
[Footnote 6: That is to say--the Poet's occupation--The Ideal.]
[Footnote 7: Though the Ideal images of youth forsake us--the Ideal
still remains to the Poet.--Nay, it is his task and his companion;
unlike the worldly fantasies of fortune--fame, and love--the
fantasies the Ideal creates are imperishable. While, as the
occupation of his life, it pays off the debt of time; as the exalter
of life, it contributes to the building of eternity.]
* * * * *
THE IDEAL AND THE ACTUAL LIFE.
The _first title_ of this Poem was "The Realm of Shadow." Perhaps in
the whole range of German poetry there exists no poem which presents
greater difficulties to the English translator. The chief object of
the present inadequate version has been to render the sense
intelligible as well as the words. The attempt stands in need of all
the indulgence which the German scholar will readily allow that a
much abler translator might reasonably require.
For ever fair, for ever calm and bright,
Life flies on plumage, zephyr-light,
For those who on the Olympian hill rejoice--
Moons wane, and races wither to the tomb,
And 'mid the universal ruin, bloom
The rosy days of Gods--
With Man, the choice,
Timid and anxious, hesitates between
The sense's pleasure and the soul's content;
While on celestial brows, aloft and sheen,
The beams of both are blent.
Seek'st thou on earth the life of Gods to share,
Safe in the Realm of Death?--beware
To pluck the fruits that glitter to thine eye;
Content thyself with gazing on their glow--
Short are the joys Possession can bestow,
And in Possession sweet Desire will die.
'Twas not the ninefold chain of waves that bound
Thy daughter, Ceres, to the Stygian river--
She pluck'd the fruit of the unholy ground,
And so--was Hell's for ever!
The weavers of the web--the Fates--but sway
The matter and the things of clay;
Safe from each change that Time to matter gives,
Nature's blest playmate, free at will to stray
With Gods a god, amidst the fields of Day,
The FORM, the ARCHETYPE, serenely lives.
Would'st thou soar heavenward on its joyous wing?
Cast from thee, Earth, the bitter and the real,
High from this cramp'd and dungeon being, spring
Into the Realm of the Ideal!
[Footnote 8: "Die Gestalt"--Form, the Platonic Archetype.]
Here, bathed, Perfection, in thy purest ray,
Free from the clogs and taints of clay,
Hovers divine the Archetypal Man!
Like those dim phantom ghosts of life that gleam
And wander voiceless by the Stygian stream,
While yet they stand in fields Elysian,
Ere to the flesh the Immortal ones descend--
If doubtful ever in the Actual life,
Each contest--here a victory crowns the end
Of every nobler strife.
Not from the strife itself to set thee free,
But more to nerve--doth Victory
Wave her rich garland from the Ideal clime.
Whate'er thy wish, the Earth has no repose--
Life still must drag thee onward as it flows,
Whirling thee down the dancing surge of Time.
But when the courage sinks beneath the dull
Sense of its narrow limits--on the soul,
Bright from the hill-tops of the Beautiful,
Bursts the attained goal!
If worth thy while the glory and the strife
Which fire the lists of Actual Life--
The ardent rush to fortune or to fame,
In the hot field where Strength and Valour are,
And rolls the whirling, thunder of the car,
And the world, breathless, eyes the glorious game--
Then dare and strive--the prize can but belong
To him whose valour o'er his tribe prevails;
In life the victory only crowns the strong--
He who is feeble fails.
But as some stream, when from its source it gushes,
O'er rocks in storm and tumult rushes,
And smooths its after course to bright repose,
So, through the Shadow-Land of Beauty glides
The Life Ideal--on sweet silver tides
Glassing the day and night star as it flows--
Here, contest is the interchange of Love,
Here, rule is but the empire of the Grace;
Gone every foe, Peace folds her wings above
The holy, haunted place.
When through dead stone to breathe a soul of light,
With the dull matter to unite
The kindling genius, some great sculptor glows;
Behold him straining every nerve intent--
Behold how, o'er the subject element,
The stately THOUGHT its march laborious goes.
For never, save to Toil untiring, spoke
The unwilling Truth from her mysterious well--
The statute only to the chisel's stroke
Wakes from its marble cell.
But onward to the Sphere of Beauty--go
Onward, O Child of Art! and, lo,
Out of the matter which thy pains control
The Statue springs!--not as with labour wrung
From the hard block, but as from Nothing sprung--
Airy and light--the offspring of the soul!
The pangs, the cares, the weary toils it cost
Leave not a trace when once the work is done--
The artist's human frailty merged and lost
In art's great victory won!
If human Sin confronts the rigid law
Of perfect Truth and Virtue, awe
Seizes and saddens thee to see how far
Beyond thy reach, Perfection;--if we test
By the Ideal of the Good, the best,
How mean our efforts and our actions are!
This space between the Ideal of man's soul
And man's achievement, who hath ever past?
An ocean spreads between us and that goal,
Where anchor ne'er was cast!
But fly the boundary of the Senses--live
the Ideal life free Thought can give;
And, lo, the gulf shall vanish, and the chill
Of the soul's impotent despair be gone!
And with divinity thou sharest the throne,
Let but divinity become thy will!
Scorn not the Law--permit its iron band
The sense (it cannot chain the soul) to thrall.
Let man no more the will of Jove withstand,
And Jove the bolt lets fall!
If, in the woes of Actual Human Life--
If thou could'st see the serpent strife
Which the Greek Art has made divine in stone--
Could'st see the writhing limbs, the livid cheek,
Note every pang, and hearken every shriek
Of some despairing lost Laocoon,
The human nature would thyself subdue
To share the human woe before thine eye--
Thy cheek would pale, and all thy soul be true
To Man's great Sympathy.
But in the Ideal realm, aloof and far,
Where the calm Art's pure dwellers are,
Lo, the Laocoon writhes, but does not groan.
Here, no sharp grief the high emotion knows--
Here, suffering's self is made divine, and shows
The brave resolve of the firm soul alone:
Here, lovely as the rainbow on the dew
Of the spent thunder-cloud, to Art is given,
Gleaming through Grief's dark veil, the peaceful blue
Of the sweet Moral Heaven.
[Footnote 9: The Law, i.e. the Kantian ideal of Truth and Virtue.
This stanza and the next embody, perhaps with some exaggeration, the
Kantian doctrine of morality.]
So, in the glorious parable, behold
How, bow'd to mortal bonds, of old
Life's dreary path divine Alcides trode:
The hydra and the lion were his prey,
And to restore the friend he loved to day,
He went undaunted to the black-brow'd God;
And all the torments and the labours sore
Wroth Juno sent--meek majestic One,
With patient spirit and unquailing, bore,
Until the course was run--
Until the God cast down his garb of clay,
And rent in hallowing flame away
The mortal part from the divine--to soar
To the empyreal air! Behold him spring
Blithe in the pride of the unwonted wing,
And the dull matter that confined before
Sinks downward, downward, downward as a dream!
Olympian hymns receive the escaping soul,
And smiling Hebe, from the ambrosial stream,
Fills for a God the bowl!
* * * * *
THE FAVOUR OF THE MOMENT.
And so we find ourselves once more
A ring, though varying yet serene,
The wreaths of song we wove of yore
Again we'll weave as fresh and green.
But who the God to whom we bring
The earliest tribute song can treasure?
Him, first of all the Gods, we sing
Whose blessing to ourselves is--pleasure!
For boots it on the votive shrine
That Ceres life itself bestows
Or liberal Bacchus gives the wine
That through the glass in purple glows--
If still there come not from the heaven
The spark that sets the hearth on flame;
If to the soul no fire is given,
And the sad heart remain the same?
Sudden as from the clouds must fall,
As from the lap of God, our bliss--
And still the mightiest lord of all,
Monarch of Time, the MOMENT is!
Since endless Nature first began
Whate'er of might the mind hath wrought--
Whate'er of Godlike comes from Man
Springs from one lightning-flash of thought!
For years the marble block awaits
The breath of life, beneath the soil--
A happy thought the work creates,
A moment's glance rewards the toil.
As suns that weave from out their blaze
The various colours round them given;
As Iris, on her arch of rays,
Hovers, and vanishes from heaven;
So fair, so fleeting every prize--
A lightning flash that shines and fades--
The Moment's brightness gilds the skies
And round the brightness close the shades.
EXPECTATION AND FULFILMENT.
O'er ocean with a thousand masts sails on the young man bold--
One boat, hard-rescued from the deep, draws into port the old!
* * * * *
TO THE PROSELYTE--MAKER.
"A little Earth from out the Earth, and I
The Earth will move"--so said the sage divine;
Out of myself one little moment try
Myself to take;--succeed, and I am thine.
* * * * *
VALUE AND WORTH.
If thou _hast_ something, bring thy goods, a fair return be
If thou _art_ something--bring thy soul, and interchange with mine.
* * * * *
THE FORTUNE-FAVOURED. 
[Footnote 10: The first verses in the original of this poem are placed
as a motto on Goethe's statue at Weimar.]
Ah! happy He, upon whose birth each god
Looks down in love, whose earliest sleep the bright
Idalia cradles, whose young lips the rod
Of eloquent Hermes kindles--to whose eyes,
Scarce waken'd yet, Apollo steals in light,
While on imperial brows Jove sets the seal of might.
Godlike the lot ordain'd for him to share,
He wins the garland ere be runs the race;
He learns life's wisdom ere he knows life's care,
And, without labour vanquish'd, smiles the Grace.
Great is the man, I grant, whose strength of mind,
Self-shapes its objects and subdues the Fates--
Virtue subdues the Fates, but cannot bind
The fickle Happiness, whose smile awaits
Those who scarce seek it; nor can courage earn
What the Grace showers not from her own free urn!
From aught _unworthy_, the determined will
Can guard the watchful spirit--there it ends.
The all that's _glorious_ from the heaven descends;
As some sweet mistress loves us, freely still
Come the spontaneous gifts of heaven!--Above
Favour rules Jove, as it below rules Love!
The Immortals have their bias!--Kindly they
See the bright locks of youth enamour'd play,
And where the glad one goes, shed gladness round the way.
It is not they who boast the best to see,
Whose eyes the holy apparitions bless;
The stately light of their divinity
Hath oft but shone the brightest on the blind;--
And their choice spirit found its calm recess
In the pure childhood of a simple mind.
Unask'd they come--delighted to delude
The expectation of our baffled Pride;
No law can call their free steps to our side.
Him whom He loves, the Sire of men and gods,
(Selected from the marvelling multitude,)
Bears on his eagle to his bright abodes;
And showers, with partial hand and lavish, down
The minstrel's laurel or the monarch's crown.
Before the fortune-favour'd son of earth,
Apollo walks--and, with his jocund mirth,
The heart-enthralling Smiler of the skies.
For him grey Neptune smooths the pliant wave--
Harmless the waters for the ship that bore
The Caesar and his fortunes to the shore!
Charm'd, at his feet the crouching lion lies,
To him his back the murmuring dolphin gave;
His soul is born a sovereign o'er the strife--
The lord of all the Beautful of Life;
Where'er his presence in its calm has trod,
It charms--it sways as some diviner god.
Scorn not the Fortune-favour'd, that to him
The light-won victory by the gods is given,
Or that, as Paris, from the strife severe,
The Venus draws her darling,--Whom the heaven
So prospers, love so watches, I revere!
And not the man upon whose eyes, with dim
And baleful night, sits Fate. The Dorian lord,
August Achilles, was not less divine
That Vulcan wrought for him the shield and sword--
That round the mortal hover'd all the hosts
Of all Olympus--that his wrath to grace,
The best and bravest of the Grecian race
Fell by the Trojan steel, what time the ghosts
Of souls untimely slain fled to the Stygian coasts.
Scorn not the Beautiful--if it be fair,
And yet seem useless in thy human sight.
As scentless lilies in the loving air,
Be _they_ delighted--_thou_ in them delight.
If without use they shine, yet still the glow
May thine own eyes enamour. Oh rejoice
That heaven the gifts of Song showers down below--
That what the muse hath taught him, the sweet voice
Of the glad minstrel teaches thee!--the soul
Which the god breathes in him, he can bestow
In turn upon the listener--if his breast
The blessing feel, thy heart is in that blessing blest.
The busy mart let Justice still control,
Weighing the guerdon to the toil!--What then?
A god alone claims joy--all joy is his,
Flushing with unsought light the cheeks of men.