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A YEAR'S RESIDENCE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA;
Treating of the Face of the Country, the Climate, the Soil, the Products, the Mode of Cultivating the Land, the Prices of the Land, of Labour, of Food, of Raiment; of the Expenses of Housekeeping and of the usual manner of Living; of the Manners, Customs and Character of the People, and of the Government, Laws, and Religion.
BY WILLIAM COBBETT.
Containing—III. Experiments as to Cabbages.—IV. Earth-burning.—V. Transplanting Indian Corn.—VI. Swedish Turnips.—VII. Potatoes.—VIII. Cows, Sheep, Hogs, and Poultry—IX.—Prices of Land, Labour, Working Cattle, Husbandry Implements.—X. Expenses of Housekeeping.—XI. Manners, Customs, and Character of the People.—XII. Rural Sports.—XIII. Paupers and Beggars.—XIV. Government, Laws, and Religion.
PRINTED FOR SHERWOOD, NEELY AND JONES,
MR. RICHARD HINXMAN,
OF CHILLING, IN HAMPSHIRE.
North Hempstead, Long Island,
15th Nov. 1818.
MY DEAR SIR,
The following little volume will give you some account of my agricultural proceedings in this fine and well-governed country; and, it will also enable you to see clearly how favourable an absence of grinding taxation and tithes is to the farmer. You have already paid to fund-holders, standing armies and priests more money than would make a decent fortune for two children; and, if the present system were to continue to the end of your natural life, you would pay more to support the idle and the worthless, than would maintain, during the same space of time, ten labourers and their families. The profits of your capital, care and skill are pawned by the boroughmongers to pay the interest of a debt, which they have contracted for their own purposes; a debt, which never can, by ages of toil and of sufferings, on the part of the people, be either paid off or diminished. But, I trust, that deliverance from this worse than Egyptian bondage is now near at hand. The atrocious tyranny does but stagger along. At every step it discovers fresh proofs of impotence. It must come down; and when it is down, we shall not have to envy the farmers of America, or of any country in the world.
When you reflect on the blackguard conduct of the Parsons at Winchester, on the day when I last had the pleasure to see you and our excellent friend Goldsmith, you will rejoice to find, that, throughout the whole of this extensive country, there exists not one single animal of that description; so that we can here keep as many cows, sows, ewes and hens as we please, with the certainty, that no prying, greedy Parson will come to cat up a part of the young ones. How long shall we Englishmen suffer our cow-stalls, our styes, our folds and our hen-roosts to be the prey of this prowling pest?
In many parts of the following pages you will trace the remarks and opinions back to conversations that have passed between us, many times, in Hampshire, la the making of them my mind has been brought back to the feelings of those days. The certainty, that I shall always be beloved by you constitutes one of the greatest pleasures of my life; and I am sure, that you want nothing to convince you, that I am unchangeably.
Your faithful and affectionate friend,
157. IN the First Part I adopted the mode of numbering the paragraphs, a mode which I shall pursue to the end of the work; and, as the whole work may, at the choice of the pur chaser, be bound up in one volume, or remain in two volumes, I have thought it best to resume the numbering at the point where I stopped at the close of the First Part. The last paragraph of that Part was 156: I, there fore, now begin with 157. For the same reason I have, in the Second Part, resumed the paging at the point where I stopped in the First Part. I left off at page 186; and, I begin with 187. I have, in like manner, resumed the chaptering: so that, when the two volumes are put together, they will, as to these matters, form but one; and those, who may have purchased the volumes separately, will possess the same book, in all respects, as those, who shall purchase the Three Parts in one Volume.
158. Paragraph 1. (Part I.) contains my reasons for numbering the paragraphs, but, be sides the reasons there stated, there is one, which did not then occur to me, and which was left to be suggested by experience, of a description which I did not then anticipate; namely, that, in the case of more than one edition, the paging may, and generally does, differ in such manner as to bring the matter, which, in one edition, is under any given page, under a different page in another edition. This renders the work of reference very laborious at best, and, in many cases, it defeats its object. If the paragraphs of BLACKSTONE'S COMMENTARIES had been numbered, how much valuable time it would have saved. I am now about to send a second edition of the First Part of this work to the press. I am quite careless about the paging: that is to say, so that the whole be comprized within the 134 pages, it is of no consequence whether the mat ter take, with respect to the pages, precisely the same situation that it took before; and, if the paging were not intended to join on to that of the present volume, it would be no matter what were the number of pages upon the whole. I hope, that these reasons will be sufficient to convince the reader that I have not, in this case, been actuated by a love of singularity. We live to learn, and to make improvements, and every improvement must, at first, be a singularity.
159. The utility, which I thought would arise from the hastening out of the First Part, in June last, previous to the time for sowing Swedish Turnips, induced me to make an ugly breach in the order of my little work; and, as it generally happens, that when disorder is once begun, it is very difficult to restore order; so, in this case, I have been exceedingly puzzled to give to the matter of these two last Parts such an arrangement as should be worthy of a work, which, whatever may be the character of its execution, treats of subjects of great public interest. However, with the help of the Index, which I shall subjoin to the Third Part, and which will comprise a reference to the divers matters in all the three parts, and in the making of which Index an additional proof of the ad vantage of numbering the paragraphs has appeared; with the help of this Index the reader will, I am in hopes, be enabled to overcome, with out any very great trouble, the inconveniences naturally arising from a want of a perfectly good arrangement of the subjects of the work.
160. As the First Part closes with a promise to communicate the result of my experiments of this present year, I begin the Second Part with a fulfilment of that promise, particularly with regard to the procuring of manure by the burning of earth into ashes.
161. I then proceed with the other matters named in the title; and the Third Part I shall make to consist of art account of the Western Countries, furnished in the Notes of Mr. HULME, together with a view of the advantages and disadvantages of preferring, as a place to farm in, those Countries to the Countries bordering on the Atlantic; in which view I shall include such remarks as appear to me likely to be useful to those English Farmers, who can no longer bear the lash of Borough mongering oppression and insolence.
162. Multifariousness is a great fault in a written work of any kind. I feel the consciousness of this fault upon this occasion. The facts and opinions relative to Swedish Turnips and Cabbages will be very apt to be enfeebled in their effect by those relating to manners, laws and religion. Matters so heterogeneous, the one class treated of in the detail and the other in the great, ought not to be squeezed together between the boards of the same small volume. But, the fault is committed and it is too late to repine. There are, however, two subjects which I will treat of distinctly hereafter. The first is that of Fencing, a subject which presses itself upon the attention of the American Farmer, but from which he turns with feelings like those, with which a losing tradesman turns from an examination of his books. But, attend to it he must before it be long; or, his fields, in the populous parts of this Island at least, must lay waste, and his fuel must be brought him from Virginia or from England. Sometime before March next I shall publish an Essay on Fencing. The form shall correspond with that of this work, in order that it may be bound up with it, if that should be thought desirable. The other subject is that of Gardening. This I propose to treat of in a small distinct volume, under some appropriate title; and, in this volume, to give alphabetically, a description of all the plants, cultivated for the use of the table and also of those cultivated as cattle food. To this description I shall add an account of their properties, and instructions for the cultivation of them in the best manner. It is not my intention to go beyond what is aptly enough called the Kitchen Garden; but, as a hot-bed may be of such great use even to the farmer; and as ample materials for making beds of this sort are always at his command without any expence, I shall endeavour to give plain directions for the making and managing of a hot-bed. A bed of this sort, fifteen feet long, has given me, this year, the better part of an acre of fine cabbages to give to hogs in the parching month of July. This is so very simple a matter; it is so very easy to learn; that there is scarcely a farmer in America, who would not put the thing in practice, at once, with complete success.
163. Let not my countrymen, who may hap pen to read this suppose, that these, or any other, pursuits will withdraw my attention from, or slacken my zeal in, that cause, which is common to us all. That cause claims, and has, my first attention and best exertion; that is the business of my life: these other pursuits are my recreation. King ALFRED allowed eight hours for recreation, in the twenty-four, eight for sleep, and eight for business. I do not take my allowance of the two former.
164. Upon looking into the First Part, I see, that I expressed a hope to be able to give, in some part of this work, a sketch of the work of Mr. TULL. I have looked at TULL, and I cannot bring my mind up to the commission of so horrid an act as that of garbling such a work. It was, perhaps, a feeling, such as that which I experience at this moment, which restrained Mr. CURWEN from even naming TULL, when he gave one of TULL'S experiments to the world as a discovery of his own. Unable to screw himself up to commit a murder, he contented himself with a robbery; an instance, he may, indeed, say, of singular moderation and self-denial; especially when we consider of what an assembly he has, with little intermission, been an "Honourable Member" for the last thirty years of his life.
North Hempstead, Long Island,
15th November, 1818.