A public entertainment was proffered on Thursday evening to the officers of the State Society, on behalf of the city of Rochester, which was attended by ex-President Tyler , Gov.
Senator Douglas arrived in the train just before the gathering broke up. The presence of ladies, and the absence of liquors, were the most commendable features of this festivity, which was convened at an absurdly late hour, and characterized by an afflictive amount of dull speaking. Such an entertainment is very well on an occasion like this, merely as a means of enabling the congregated thousands to see and hear the celebrities convened with them; but it should be given in the afternoon or beginning of the evening, should cost very little the speaking being dog-cheap and the eatables no object , and should in nearly all respects be just what the Rochester festival was not.
As an exercise in false hospitality, however, and a beacon for future adventurers in the same line, this entertainment had considerable merit. Neat Cattle stood first in intrinsic value among the classes of articles exhibited at the Fair. Of these we could not now say whether the Durham or Devonshire breed predominated, but the former had certainly no such marked ascendency as at former Fairs. Our impression from the statements of disinterested breeders was and is, that where cattle are bred mainly for the market, a larger weight of flesh may be obtained at an early age from the Durham than from any rival breed, though not of the finest quality; while for milk or butter the Devon is, and perhaps one [Pg ] or two other breeds are, preferable.
But this is merely the inference of one, who has no experience in the premises, from a comparison of the statements of intelligent breeders of widely differing preferences. The subject is one of the deepest interest to agriculturists, and is destined to receive a thorough investigation at their hands. Of Horses, the number exhibited was of course much smaller—perhaps two hundred in all—embracing many animals of rare [Pg ] spirit, symmetry, and beauty. Some Canadian horses, and a few specimens of a famous Vermont breed the Morgan were among them.
Our attention was not specially drawn in this direction, and we will leave the merits of the rival competitors to the awards of the judges. Of Sheep, there were a large number present—at a rough guess, Two Thousand—embracing specimens of widely contrasted varieties. The fine-wooled Saxonies and Merioes were largely represented; so were coarse-wooled but fine-fleshed Bakewells and Southdowns.
For three or four years past, the annual product of wool, especially of the finer qualities, has been unequal to the demand, causing a gradual appreciation of prices, until a standard has this year been reached above the value of the staple. Speculators, who had observed the gradual rise through two or three seasons, rushed in to purchase this year's clip, at prices which cannot be maintained, and the farmers have received some hundreds of thousands of dollars more for their wool than the buyers can ever sell it for.
This has naturally reacted [Pg ] on the price of sheep, whereof choice specimens for breeding have been sold for sums scarcely exceeded during the celebrated Merino fever of These reports, whether veritable or somewhat inflated, indicate a tendency of the times. Where sheep are grown mainly for the wool, it is as absurd to keep those of inferior grades, as to plant apple-trees without grafting and grow two or three bushels of walnut-sized, vinegar-flavored fruit on a tree which might as well have borne ten bushels of Spitzenbergs or Greenings. But there is room also for improvement and profit in the breeding of sheep other than the fine-wooled species.
The famous roast-mutton of England ought to be more than rivaled among us; for we have a better climate and far better sheep-walks than the English in the rugged mountain districts of New-England, of Pennsylvania, and of our own State. The breeding of large, fine-fleshed sheep of the choicest varieties, on the lines of all the railroads communicating with the great cities, is one of the undertakings which promise largest and surest returns to our farmers, and it is yet in its infancy.
A hundred thousand of such sheep would be taken annually by New-York and Philadelphia at largely remunerating prices. Thousands of acres of sterile, scantily timbered land on the Delaware and its branches might be profitably transformed into extensive sheep-walks, while they must otherwise remain useless and unimproved for ages.
These lands may now be bought for a song, and are morally certain to be far higher within the next dozen years. Of Swine there were a good many exhibited at the Fair, but we did not waste much time upon them. The Hog Crop once stood high among the products of the older States, but it has gradually fallen off since the settlement of the great West, and the cheapening of intercommunication between that section and the East, and is destined to sink still lower.
Pork can be made on the prairies and among the nutwood forests and corn-bearing intervales of the West for half the cost of making it in New-England; no Yankee can afford to feed his hogs with corn, much less potatoes, as his grandfather freely did. Only on a dairy farm can any considerable quantity of pork be profitably made east of the Ohio; and he who keeps but a pig or two to eat up the refuse of the kitchen cares little perhaps too little for the breed of his porkers.
So let them pass. The "Hen Convention," which was a pet topic of Boston waggery a year or two since, might have been easily and properly held at Rochester. Many of these choice barn-yard fowls were scarcely inferior in size while doubtless superior in flavor to the ordinary turky, while the farmer who opens the spring with a hundred [Pg ] of them may half feed his family and at the same time quite keep down his store-bill with their daily products.
Small economies steadily pursued are the source of thrift and competence to many a cultivator of flinty and ungenial acres; few farmers can afford to disregard them. If thrice the present number of fowls were kept among us, their care and food would scarcely be missed, while their product would greatly increase the aggregate not only of thrift but of comfort.
This city seems the natural centre of the finest fruit-growing district on the American continent—yes, in the whole world. Its high latitude secures the richest flavors, while the harsh northern winds, which elsewhere prove so baneful, are here softened by passing over lake Erie or Ontario, and a climate thus produced, which, for fruit, has no rival. Large delicious grapes of innumerable varieties; excellent peaches; delicate, juicy, luscious pears; quinces that really tempt the eye, though not the palate; and a profusion of fair, fragrant, golden, mammoth apples,—these were among the products of the immediate vicinity of Rochester exhibited in bounteous profusion.
In the department of Vegetables also there were beets and turnips of gigantic size; several squashes weighing about one hundred and thirty pounds each; with egg-plants, potatoes, tomatoes, and other edibles, which were all that palate could desire. The fertility of western New-York is proverbial; but it was never more triumphantly set forth than in the fruit and vegetables exhibited at the State Fair. And in this connection the rock salt from our own State works around Syracuse deserves honorable mention. New-York salt has been treated with systematic injustice by western consumers.
In order to save a shilling or two on the barrel, they buy the inferior article produced by boiling instead of the far better obtained by solar evaporation; then they endeavor to make a New-York standard bushel of fifty six pounds do the work of a measured bushel of Turks Island weighing eighty pounds; and because the laws regulating the preservation and decomposition of animal substances will not thus be swindled, they pronounce the New-York salt impure and worthless. Now there is no purer, no better salt than the New-York solar; but, even of this, fifty-six pounds will not do the work of eighty.
Buy the best quality, and even this is dog cheap, use the proper quantity, and no salt in the world will preserve meats better than this. The New-York solar salt exhibited at Rochester could not be surpassed, and that which had been ground has no superior in its adaptation to the table. There were many tasteful Counterpanes and other products of female skill and industry exhibited, but the perpetual crowd in the 'halls' devoted to manufactures allowed no opportunity for their critical examination.
Nothing, however, arrested our attention in this hall but the specimens of Flax-Cotton and its various proportions exhibited by E. Roberts, assignee of [Pg ] Claussen's patents for the United States.
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We saw one intelligent influential citizen converted from skepticism to enthusiasm for flax-cotton by his first earnest examination. It will go inevitably.
A cotton fibre scarcely distinguishable from Sea Island may be produced from flax by Claussen's process for six cents per pound; and a machine for breaking out the fibre from the unrotted stalk was exhibited by Mr. Clemmons of Springfield, Massachusetts, which is calculated materially to expedite the flax-cotton revolution. This machine renders the entire fibre, with hardly a loss of two per cent.
Its operation is very simple, and any man who has seen it work a day may manage it. It will be a shame to American agricultural enterprise if flax-cotton and linen are not both among our country's extensive and important products within the next three years. The department of Agricultural Machinery and Implements was decidedly the most interesting of any. No other can at all equal it in the rapidity and universality of progress from year to year.
Of Plows, there cannot have been less than two hundred on the ground, exhibiting a great variety of novel excellence. One with two shares, contrived to cut two furrows at once, seemed the most useful of any recently invented. The upper share cuts and turns the sward to the depth of five inches, which is immediately buried seven inches deep by the earth turned up by the deeper share.
Since it is impossible to induce one farmer in twenty to subsoil, this, as the next best thing, ought to be universally adopted. A Mower with which a man, boy, and span of horses, will cut and spread ten acres per day of grass, however heavy, on tolerably level land—both cutting and spreading better than the hand-impelled scythe and stick will do—was among the new inventions; also two threshers and cleaners, each of them warranted to thresh and nearly clean, by the labor of four men, a boy, and two horses, over one hundred bushels of wheat or two hundred bushels of oats per day.
The testimony of candid citizens who had used them, and the evidence of our own senses, left no doubt on our mind of the correctness of these assertions. But we do not write to commend any article, but to call attention to the great and cheering truth which underlies them all. It is not merely progressive, but rapidly progressing, so that fifty days' labor on the same soil produce far more grain or hay now than they did half a century ago.
And every year is increasing and rendering more palpable the pressing need of a Practical College , wherein Agriculture, Mechanics, and the sciences auxiliary thereto shall be ably and thoroughly taught to thousands and tens of thousands of our countrymen, who shall in turn become the disseminators of the truths thus inculcated to the youth of every county and township in the country.
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz?
And thus shall Agriculture be rendered what it should be—not only the most essential but the most intellectual and attractive among the industrial avocations of mankind. Of the large number of young men in this country who write verses, we scarcely know of one who has a more unquestionable right to the title of poet than William Ross Wallace , who has just published, in a very handsome volume, a collection of his writings, under the title of Meditations in America.
Wallace has written other things which in their day have been sufficiently familiar to the public; in what we have to say of his capacities we shall confine ourselves to the pieces which he has himself here selected as the truest exponents of his genius, and without giving them indiscriminate praise shall hope to find in them evidences of peculiar and remarkable powers, combined with a spirit eminently susceptible to the influences of nature and of ideal and moral beauty.
Wallace is a western man, and was born in Lexington, Kentucky, in the year His father was a Presbyterian minister, of good family, and marked abilities, who died soon after, leaving the future poet to the care of a mother whose chief ambition in regard to him was that he should be so trained as to be capable of the most elevated positions in society. After the usual preparatory studies, he went first to the Bloomington College, and afterwards to the South Hanover College, in Indiana, and upon graduating at the latter institution studied the law in his native city.
When about twenty-two years of age, having already acquired considerable reputation in literature, by various contributions to western and southern periodicals, he came to the Atlantic states, and with the exception of a few months passed in Philadelphia, and a year and a half in Europe, he has since resided in New-York, occupied in the practice of his profession and in the pursuits of literature. Of his numerous poetical compositions, this is the first collection, and the only volume, except Alban, a Romance , intended to illustrate the influence of certain prejudices of society and principles of law on individual character and destiny, which was published in His works generally are distinguished for a sensuous richness of style, earnestness of temper, and much freedom of speculation.
The late Mr. Poe in his Marginalia refers to the following as one of the finest things in American literature; it is certainly very characteristic. The next poem is in a vein of lofty contemplation, and the rhetoric is eminently appropriate and well sustained.