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block houses, for the protection and safety of the emigrants to California. These stations could also afford horses, riders and escorts for the mail.
In that country, a journey on horseback once a month, of fifty miles in twelve hours-four miles an hour-would not be considered impracticable either for man or beast; with relays to accompany the riders, six miles an hour, or seventy-two miles in twelve hours would not be impracticable. But suppose the rate to be only fifty miles in twelve hours, or one hundred in the twenty-four, it would then be practicable-continuing the mail day and night-to reach Independence, Missouri, or Fort Gibson, Arkansas, from Monterey, in ten or twelve days, and thus letters from China might be delivered in New York, within forty-five days after date. It now takes more than twice that time.
When this mail route shall be established, the merchant in Boston, forty five or fifty days after his ship shall have sailed for China may send via. Monterey, fresh instructions, and they will reach consignees as soon the ship will.
Whether San Diego, Monterey or San Francisco shall be selected, as the terminus of the rail road and the line to China, will, or ought to depend partly upon the comparative facilities by which these ports may be reached from Memphis, and partly upon the advantages which they offer for the principal dock-yard hereafter to be established on the Pacific. The necessary surveys and examinations are wanting to decide this point.
The bills and reports submitted by you to the House of Representatives, in 1841, and subsequently, have caused you to be considered in the Navy, as the leader in Congress, upon the subject of ocean steamers, as connected with the naval defences of the country. In the policy of encouraging merchants to build for our lines of mail steamers, vessels that are convertible, at the pleasure of the government, into efficient men-of-war, is contained a principle of naval expansion, and the sinews of that maritime strength which, when rightly understood by the people, and properly carried out by the government, will make us, in war, the strongest power on the ocean, that the world ever saw.
This system of man-of-war built mail steamers, constructed with the aid of a trifling bounty from the government, and commanded by educated officers of the Navy, but manned and sailed on private account, will be to the Navy in war, precisely what the militia, led by West Point graduates, have proved themselves to the Army. Closely and intimately connected, is this great national rail road with that beautiful system of public defence.
M. F. MAURY, Lt. United States Navy., N. B. I send you a chart, with the routes marked off. The distances mentioned are in nautical miles.
HON. T. BUTLER KING,
Chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs, House of Representatives,
ART. VI.-HISTORY AND HABITS OF THE POTATOE.
OWING to the arrangement of the matter for the present number of the JOURNAL, we have no room for a discussion upon the interesting subject contained in the following article. The history of plants, (especially those of greatest importance,) like that of nations, runs back into fable; and hence, it is not wonderful that authors disagree. We are in search of truth, and if we fall into error, we esteem him our friend, who sets us aright. Those who are curious to know something of the value of the potatoe in its normal or wild state, and its particular location, will find some interesting facts in "Smee on the Potatoe Plant,” a work which we recommend to the perusal of our readers.
MESSRS. EDITORS:-We cannot agree on the habits and economy of the potatoe. The nature of this all-important plant should be fully understood. Its being a native of a tropical country gave rise to a popular error as to its economy, which was believed to conform to hot and dry climates; whereas, experience has conclusively shown that the very reverse of climate is most adapted to its nature. This led you, and thousands of others, to suppose that nature, in this case, committed an error in placing the potatoe where it did not naturally belong-while it is an established fact, that almost the whole arctic flora grows within the tropical latitudes of America, on account of the great elevation of its mountainous regions, some of which are covered with everlasting snow and ice. Peru, the native country of the potatoe, includes every climate on the globe, from the hottest to the coldest. What, then, does it signify that the potatoe is a tropical plant? I have proven that its habits conform to its place of nativity, and that Canada and the northern parts of Europe have, during summer, a similar temperature, like the elevated mountain ranges of middle America, which should plainly account for the thriftiness of the plant therein. Preston, who comes endorsed by the high authority of Alexander von Humboldt, as "the historian who has not now his equal living, neither in England nor Germany," has not given fancy sketches when he lets the potatoe spring up spontaneously in those cool regions, where, however, winter is unknown-there being no changes within tropical latitudes, which, with us, form winter and summer-there being a sameness of temperature the year round, as every geographer should know. The temperature of these elevated ranges, between eight and ten thousand feet, vary from thirty-five to sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit, where one crop of potatoes may follow the other without intermission of frost or winter. Preston further says, that the Peruvian Indians cultivated the potatoe next to the corn region of their mountains, from time immemorial before the conquest; that, therefore, it was not worse than a worthless weed, first discovered by the Europeans, but that it was a very important esculent to said Indians, from whom, no doubt, the Europeans learned its culture and use.
I have said, that if nature had placed the potatoe in the northern parts of
America, it would not have perpetuated its kind. Suppose a Mr. Smith has raised seed proper of the plant the same season, from seed under a hot-bed culture, does that prove that nature would do the same if left to chance? That under a natural course of vegetation it would at least require three years to mature tubers from seed, before they would re-produce the same, is a positive fact, of which every practical cultivator must be convinced. The following may serve as a test question :
Suppose the entire potatoe crop of this season, in North America, north of the 36° of latitude, were left ungathered next fall, and the land on which it grew turned out, and left to chance; does any body suppose that five years hence a single plant could be found within this entire region? I venture to say, not one! They might partially escape one or two winters, but never five in succession!
Now, gentlemen, all that you say in favor of potatoe seed, I fully endorse; hut if farmers expect to raise full sized tubers from seed, before the second and third year, they will be undeceived by experience-which I have had for twenty-five years with the same. For my part, I have never been able, under the best culture, to raise a full grown potatoe from seed, before the third year.
SCRAPS FROM THE EDITOR'S TABLE.
THE VERNAL SEASON.-It is the vernal season-and now, in obedience to Nature's voice, the vegetable world is bursting into life and beauty, while the husbandman, with strength renewed by the invigorating frosts of winter, is called forth again to the labors of the field. Would that I could escape from the stony street, and dull unchanging walls that obstruct my view, and, amidst ever varying rural scenes, unite my lot with his. But I hear him say: "Alas! my lot is hard-this doom of labor deprives me of my rest, and obstructs all earthly joy." Deem not so. Suppress the fatal thought, and accept with grateful heart the blessings which attend thy high estate. Thou wast not doomed to toil alone, for Nature was ordained thy help-meet. She is thy servant, and obedient to thy will-awaits thy high behests, and even now, as a bride robed in rich attiredecked with flowers and exhaling odors sweet-she welcomes thee to thy vernal labors. The minstrels of the air, from every grove, with song of sweetest note, greet thy coming; the insect tribe, with wing of every hue, disport about thy path, and in fairy mazes dancing, proclaim the happy season-while brutes of grosser natures modulate their hoarse voices to tones of love and joy.
It is the season of beauty-and of love, the source of all life. For every organic animated form, from the humblest plant to the highest intelligence, is conceived in love and nurtured by affection.
At such a season-amidst such demonstrations of joy and of homage to man who was commissioned from on high to subdue the earth-shall he alone be mute, and, in sullen mood, murmur at his lot? It is impious to repress the swelling tide of joy which springs from scenes like these. Then open thy heart and let flow in every stream of joy, until filled with gladness, it shall overflow with love and gratitude to the Author of thy being.
THE PORK TRADE OF THE WEST.
WE are indebted to the St. Louis Republican for the following statistics and facts, in relation to the pork trade of the west. It is much to be desired, that some system of collecting and publishing facts in relation to this important in terest should be established, which would enable the farmers to regulate in some degree, the number of hogs raised and fattened for market. Such information would tend to prevent the great fluctuations which so frequently occur in the price, and be alike beneficial to both the grower and the dealer. We should be pleased to publish all such facts, in relation to this branch of industry, as our agricultural friends may esteem beneficial to their interest.
Owing to the want of system in noting and collecting statistics in the west, perfect accuracy cannot be expected; but we imagine that the following tables are sufficiently accurate for all practical purposes. The enterprising and industrious editors of the St. Louis Republican, are entitled to much commendation for the labor which they have bestowed upon this subject; and if the publishers of newspapers throughout the country would follow their example, they would add greatly to their usefulness.
Number of Hogs Slaughtered in the West in 1843-4, 1844-5, and 1845-6.