« PreviousContinue »
canals. How far is it essential to our seaports and factories? They require a constant and uninterrupted communication, which canals cannot give, as the ice closes them nearly half the year.
“What do those factories demand? The cotton and wool of distant States and countries; the iron and coal of Pennsylvania and Cape Breton; the lumber and lime of Maine; the indigo and drugs of India; the oil of the Pacific and of Africa; and the factory girls of all New England. Obliterate the railroads, and would their business be worth pursuing ?
“Obliterate the railroads, and would not half of Boston go to decay?
“ At the commencement of the railroad system in New England, some fears were entertained that the effect might be injurious to the farms which encircle our metropolis.
“This opinion was countenanced, for a brief period, by the competition of the new milk farms along the line of the Boston and Worcester Railroad, with the dairies in the suburbs, and by the depression of agricultural products through the country, which followed the commercial revulsion of 1837.
“ Doubtless, some changes were effected; but have not the suburban dairy farms been required for building lots, at treble prices ? 'Are not the streets of the metropolis extended far into the country, on seven great lines, and is not land sold by the foot, more than ten miles distant from the Merchants’ Exchange of Boston ? and are not farms, once supposed to be ruined by the location of railroads, like the Winship and Hunnewell estates, in Brighton and Newton, at least quadrupled in their value? Have they not shown that the railroad is by no means the road to ruin? Do not milk, butter, corn, oats, pork, and beef, command remunerating prices ?— the latter, in particular, when you cannot buy a sirloin in the Quincy Market under a shilling a pound! If, occasionally, produce from the interior competes in our market with that of farms in the vicinity, does it effect more than a change of use, or of the course of cultivation, and does not the increased size of the market draw in the market-wagon from a larger circle ? Or, if any temporary depression occurs, are not farms in the outskirts of the counties around Boston, more elevated than the adjacent farms are depressed?
“What would be the position of the farms around Boston to-day, if our railroads and inland marts had no existence, were we to banish the hundred millions of wealth and the one hundred thousand people, which have accumulated in and around Boston since the first movement in railroads, and send them to New York and New Orleans, where they would have been planted, if such movement had not been made:
“Do the one million of tons now moved annually by the railroads out of Boston, doubling once in four years, give no impulse to industry in and around the city? or do these great works of amelioration, which bear industry, the only marketable commodity of the poor man, to the best theatre for its exercise, give no increased value to industry itself?
“Does not every house erected in and around the city, and every ship added to its rolls, require nearly an acre of land to supply its immediate demands, and is not every such house and ship a market ? and are not every drain, vault and chimney, a source of fertility? Are or are not the effects which attend the progress of the railroads of Massachusetts injurious or beneficial to the county of Middlesex, and what are its position and prospects with reference to agriculture ?*
“Our county of Middlesex embraces an area of 800 square miles ; and its population, rapidly increasing since the census of 1840, may now be safely estimated at 120,000, or 150 to the square mile.
“The surface presents no high mountains or deep valleys; but, diversified by hill and dale, meadow and plain, and watered by four large rivers, the Merrimac, Nashua, Concord and Charles, offers numerous water-falls and sites for manufactories.
“ Although modern art has to a great extent superseded modern labor, the constant progress of manufactures in Middlesex creates a demand for operatives far exceeding the home supply. Prolific as the county may be in one branch of production, that of boys and girls, all New England, and even New York, Nora Scotia and Canada, have contributed to its supply. More than twenty-six thousand operatives are now assembled in Middlesex from that wide region which lies between the Hudson, the St. Lawrence, and the sea. The annual produce of their industry appears in the cottons and woolens of Lowell, Waltham, Dracut, Billerica, Shirley and Framingham; in the ships of Medford; the lead of Concord; the soap, candles and glass of Cambridge; the cabinet-ware and leather of Charlestown, Woburn and Reading; the paper of Newton and Pepperell : the boots and shoes of Natick, Holliston, Hopkinton, Stoneham, South Reading and Malden ; and the varied manufactures of many other flourishing towns
“ In manufactures, Middlesex annually produces $23,000,000, and is, in this great department of industry, the leading county of the State and of the Union. The annual products of manufactures, in this single county, are more than double the average exportation of breadstuffs from the whole Union, and would pay far more than a moiety of all the flour, grain and corn exported during this season of famine. Rapid as has been the improvement of agriculture, and wide as has been its expansion in new counties and States during the last twenty years, the advance of manufactures has been quite as rapid; and if there be truth in the remark of a great British statesman, that every loom stopped in England stops half a dozen ploughs, how many American ploughs have the looms of Middlesex set in motion.
« The county of Middlesex is alike distinguished by railroad enterprise. It is 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 effect of railroads, thus far, appears to be to ameliorate the condition of those residing at a distance from seaports, and to elevate the value of their farms and products, without depressing property nearer to the great markets. The increased resources of the interior are illustrated by the fact that, in August last, nearly $3,000,000 was subscribed in the country for a short railroad from Manchester 10 Lawrence; while it took nearly twenty years, half a century since, to raise threequarters of a million to construct the Middlesex Canal.
“ 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:34,728 head of cattle, or
43 to the square mile. 9,776 head of horses, or
12 4,428 head of sheep, or
6 “ 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 4,000,000 cattle, or
67 to the square mile. 1,500,000 horses, or
25 26,000,000 sheep, or
450 “If we reduce these to one standard, it must be apparent that Middlesex, with all her improvements, does not sustain one-hall 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
$264,000 2,174,000 bushels of esculent vegetables and fruit,
554,000 78,000 tons of hay,
777,000 Milk, valued at
153,000 Butter, valued at
163,000 Cheese, eggs, poultry, honey, berries, &c.,
34,000 Stock sold estimated, as in England, at one-fourth of the whole, 216,000 Wood and charcoal, products of forests,
$2,368,000 “ 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-loal 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 population 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 com, 154,000 sheep, and 49,000 swine. As a Middleses 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,
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,