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the great railroad county of the State, being intersected by the four inland lines from Boston to New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, beside various cross-routes and branches.
“The lines already constructed or chartered in this county, and sure to be finished, exceed two hundred miles in length, furnishing one mile of rails for less than four square miles of surface. So numerous have these lines become, that the average distance between them does not exceed four miles, and the population of the county live within an average distance of one mile from the iron-way.
"The combined effect of manufactures and railroads has been to furnish Middlesex with numerous markets. Within its area are the three cities of Lowell, Charlestown and Cambridge, of recent growth, with an aggregate population of sixty thousand, and at least a dozen towns with a population varying from two to five thousand each.
"Close to its borders are the embryo cities of Lawrence, Fitchburg and Nashua. Even Assabet, too, in our immediate vicinity, gives promise of a future city; while Boston, the populous and wealthy capital of New England, touches the south-eastern angle of the county.
"With such markets, and facilities for communication, which nearly equal those of the most prosperous districts of Europe, and are surpassed by none in America, what are the agricultural products of Middlesex, and how far are they capable of expansion?
"Their aggregate amount, by the census of 1845, is but $2,300,000—an amount large in itself, and yet but one-tenth of the produce of its manufactures; and may we not safely infer from this disparity, if from no other obvious facts, that the agricultural resources of the county are not yet fully developed; and that, when developed, the markets of the county require a vast amount of products not raised within its limits, and furnish an overplus of clothing and other manufactures, which may with advantage be applied to their purchase?
"If we can scan the agricultural returns of Middlesex, for the year 1845, we find its stock as follows:
43 to the square mile.
34,728 head of cattle, or 9,776 head of horses, or 4,428 head of sheep, or "Let us contrast these returns with those of England and Wales. This highly cultivated country exhibits, in an area of less than 60,000 square miles
67 to the square mile.
4,000,000 cattle, or 1,500,000 horses, or 26,000,000 sheep, or
25 66 450 66
"If we reduce these to one standard, it must be apparent that Middlesex, with all her improvements, does not sustain one-half the amount of stock to the square mile which is reared by England and Wales.
"While we concede to England and Wales some superiority in soil over Mid
dlesex, we must not forget that there are barren mountains, both in Wales and the northern districts of England; that a vast extent is there devoted to wheat and barley, to preserves for game, and ornamental parks; and may we not, then, safely infer that our county is competent, under improved husbandry, to double or treble its stock of -animals?
"What are the cereal and vegetable products of Middlesex? The census of 1845 apprizes us that Middlesex produces, in round numbers:
427,000 bushels of corn and grain, worth
2,174,000 bushels of esculent vegetables and fruit,
78,000 tons of hay,
Milk, valued at
Butter, valued at
Cheese, eggs, poultry, honey, berries, &c.,
Stock sold estimated, as in England, at one-fourth of the whole,
"May we not anticipate from improved husbandry, the increase of cattle, and consequent growth of manures, a large increase in the amount of some of these productions?
"The tables to which I have adverted, gleaned with much care from the census of 1845, are fraught with interest to the farmer of Middlesex. Let us glance at some of the varied lessons which they teach him.
"First. That the principal products of his industry, vegetables, fruit, hay, milk and fuel, or nearly three-fourths of the whole, are of such perishable or bulky character, as not to admit of easy transportation to his market towns from the remote interior.
"His close vicinity to the market enables him to supply it with the least cost, to avail of the highest prices, and to carry back to his farm a return-load of enriching substances; while the farmer of the remote interior would find his profits in a great measure absorbed in the cost of compressing of hay, the deterioration of milk and vegetables, and the increased expenses of conveying all to market. This advantage adds to the value of a Middlesex farm, and holds out to the Middlesex farmer a strong incentive to exertion.
"Second. These tables teach us that nature has peculiarly adapted Middlesex for those bulky products which are most appropriate for its position. While it is prolific in fruits, roots, fuel, grass and milk, its supplies of grain, corn, pork, wool, butter and cheese, which admit of transportation from a distance, (for the produce of many acres may be packed into a single car,) are moderate in extreme. Middlesex plies at least 400,000 spindles. She raises not one pound of cotton. Her 4,428 sheep would not supply her spindles for a day, nor furnish her popu lation with one annual dinner of lamb and another of mutton. Her sheep, too,
are annually diminishing, giving place to milch cows and cultivation; and she must depend on the interior for both wool and mutton, both indispensable to her comfort and prosperity.
"Third. With respect to breadstuffs, Middlesex produces, annually, but 427,000 bushels of wheat, corn, rye, oats, barley, and buckwheat, not one-third enough to supply her own population, to say nothing of her adjacent markets. Her whole annual production will barely suffice to give each horse in the county half a peck of corn per day for his sustenance, and no generous or judicious farmer can think of allowing less. The annual wheat crop of Middlesex, but 1,952 bushels, would provide but one treat of doughnuts for the people of the county, and all the pork we can afford to raise will scarcely suffice to fry them and dress those fresh codfish, mackerel and halibut which Providence has placed around our shores, but denied to the prolific regions of the West.
For pork and breadstuffs, and, I may add, for butter and cheese, as the railroads are converting all Middlesex into a milk farm, the county is dependent on the remote interior.
Let us glance for a moment at a single county of the West, about two-thirds the size of Middlesex. The county of Genesee, New York, by the census of 1840, exhibits 1,940,000 bushels of grain and corn, 154,000 sheep, and 49,000 swine. As a Middlesex farmer, I see nothing to regret in this excess, or to tempt me to exchange my acres in Middlesex for as many or more in Genesee. Nature has bestowed different blessings on different sections of the Union. If at the West she has placed her layers of limestone beneath a fertile soil, adapted it to wheat and corn, or spread her beech-nut forests over the hills to furnish mast for the swine, and created pastures congenial to the sheep, she has placed us near the ocean, the great highway of nations; she has shaped out ports and harbors for commerce; rivers to impel spindles; has clad our rocky hills with forests for timber or fuel; and, if she has planted boulders in our fields, a market exists for them in the wells, cellars and walls of our growing towns and cities. She has given us land which enlightened industry will adapt to our position, and endued us, I trust, with sufficient energy to make it available.
"Within the last twenty years agriculture has made great advances in Middlesex; meadows have been reclaimed; drains have been opened; beautiful orchards have been planted; tasteful houses and improved cottages and barns been constructed; the races of animals have been improved; the sources of fertility have been guarded; land more highly cultivated; and the society I have the honor to address has, no doubt, contributed to the progress of agriculture.
"But why should not further and more rapid progress be made, and why should not Middlesex present as bright an aspect as the most productive counties of England? Why should we not become the pattern county in agriculture as well as manufactures? We have markets for our produce nearly, if not quite equal, to those of England. The price of hay, straw, milk and vegetables here,
is quite as high as the average prices of England. In Indian corn, with its masses of fodder, which will not ripen in England, we have decided advantages. In the apple, congenial to our soil, but which does not attain perfection in England, we are also before her. In addition to all this, every frugal and industrious man may here own his farm in fee, is free from the burthen of fuedal tenures, from oppressive taxes, and poor-rates; and may worship God, educate his children, and vote according to his conscience-a privilege not always accorded to the English tenant.
"If our land be less fertile than the soil of Illinois or Wisconsin, the crop is not absorbed in the cost of transporting to market, and we have no occasion to dread the fever and ague. If our climate is harsh, the wind from the ocean invigorates and animates our frames, and our wives are not saddened in the rude cabin of the lone prairie by the remembrance of an early home. Here we have intelligence, science, capital, and the arts of life. Around us are schools and seminaries of learning for our children, and in our midst is that venerable institution, Harvard University, the mother of piety and learning, nourished by the beneficence of the honored dead.
"And Middlesex, too, has one living son who defers not his munificence until wealth loses its value; until the candle of life flickers in the socket; who, amid a career of usefulness and honor, which has signally advanced the great interests of the county, devotes a fortune to the advancement of the arts. Middlesex will alike appreciate and enjoy the noble donation of Lawrence to found a school for the practical sciences, to create engineers, miners, machinists and scientific farmers, to form ingenious heads that shall guide the hard hands ever ready to toil on her hard materials.'
"But while the farmer of Middlesex enjoys these advantages and incentives to exertion, does not much still remain for him to accomplish? Do we not occasionally see half-tilled fields where the plough has barely skimmed over the surface, and little or no aid has been given to nature? Does not the waving grain, by its light unfilled heads, sometimes indicate the deficiencies of the sower? Do not some mowing-fields, brown with their unprofitable herbage, and checkered with white weed, mourn the absence of plaster, compost, and ashes? And when we reflect that a single acre of rich pasture is competent to maintain a cow, is not our sympathy often excited for that useful and most respectable animal, as well as for her neglectful owner, when we see her threading her weary way through barren acres where not a single blossom of white clover perfumes the air; now roving through alder-swamps; now climbing hills covered with birches or brambles; at times lost amidst the thicket, and recognized only by the tinkling bell.
Again, let me ask, is not the county studded with deep meadows and swamps where the leaves and decaying vegetables of the country, swept down from the hills and plains by rain, have accumulated for centuries? - where the sounding rod of the engineer discovers trunks of trees at the depth of twenty or thirty feet
below the surface?-are not these mines of vegetable mould for enriching the upland?—may they not be converted into luxuriant grass-fields and pastures, almost insensible to drought, and enduring in their fertility?
"Are there nct rocky hills, which have been wastefully stripped of wood unfit for cultivation, where the forest should again be tempted to rise, since it flourishes among ledges and rocks, twining its roots around them, and drawing potash from the decomposing granite? Would not such transition from a waste of rocks to wood-crowned eminences embellish the county, as well as provide timber and fuel?
"Is not the importance of this apparent when we consider the inducements offered by groves for country-seats, and remember the high prices of ship-timber, during a season in which a single white oak of Middlesex has produced $100 for timber? Neither must we forget that the locomotives which will traverse the county when the railroads which are now chartered are finished, will require the annual produce of at least 40,000 acres of forest.
May not our nurseries and orchards be extended, and new varieties of fruit be introduced, and all our lands be more highly cultivated, with increased profit to the husbandmen ?
"Are not the sewers and drains of our towns often suffered to run to waste, when thousands of acres might be fertilized by their contents?-and are not hundreds of tons of oil-cake, bones and ashes, annually shipped from the county to enrich distant shores, which could be used profitably at home? These are questions which demand the consideration of the Middlesex farmer. If he can solve these problems aright; if he can justly appreciate and avail of his position; if he will endeavor to improve it instead of complaining of the competition of those who can best furnish what he cannot well supply; if he possesses that generous spirit which delights to see others prosper while he prospers himself, a Middlesex farm offers a suitable field for his exertions.
"Does he aim at a life useful and beneficial to his race! let him remember that every acre that he reclaims, every blade of grass that he bids to grow where none grew before, ameliorates the condition of his fellows.
"Does he aspire to wealth!-let him reflect that his gains, if less brilliant and striking than those of trade and professions, are more certain and uniform; and that gradual improvement of his estate, and the silent but continued rise in the value of property, promise eventual prosperity.
Is he tasteful! he will here find a theatre for taste in woods, orchards, and flowers, and the design of his buildings.
"Is he ambitious!- here are obstacles to be surmounted, subjects to be controlled, races to be improved, a kingdom in minature to be governed by wise and wholesome regulations.
Is there anything warlike in his composition!-if his country does not de