Page images

and worsted gloves. Port also was put on the table with dessert, this being the bottle which had been opened at the last dinner-party; and when Lady Whittlemere had eaten a gingerbread and drank half a glass of water, they went not into the morning-room, which they had used during the day, but to the large drawingroom up-stairs, with the Louis Seize furniture and its cut-glass chandeliers. Every evening it was all ablaze with lights, and the fire roared up the chimney; the tables were bright with flowers, and rows of chairs were set against the wall. Majestically Lady Whittlemere marched into it, followed by Miss Lyall, and there she played Patience till 10:30, while Miss Lyall looked on with sycophantic congratulations at her success, and murmured sympathy if the cards were unkind. At 10:30 Branksome, the butler, threw open the door, and a footman brought in a tray of lemonade and biscuits. This refreshment was invariably refused by both ladies, and at eleven the house was dark.

Now, the foregoing catalogue of events accurately describes Lady Whittlemere's day, and in it is comprised the sum of the material that makes up her mental life. But it is all enacted in front of the background that she is Lady Whittlemere. The sight of the London streets, with their million comedies and tragedies, arouses in her no sympathetic or human current; all she knows is that Lady Whittlemere is driving down Piccadilly. When the almond-blossom comes out in Regent's Park, and the grass is young with the flowering of the spring bulbs, her heart

never dances with the daffodils; all that happens is that Lady Whittlemere sees that they are there. She subscribes to no charities, for she is aware that her husband left her this ample jointure for herself, and she spends such part of it as she does not save on herself, on her food, and her house and her horses and the fifteen people whose business it is to make her quite comfortable. She has no regrets and no longings, because she has always lived perfectly correctly, and does not want anything. She is totally without friends or enemies, and she is never surprised or enthusiastic or vexed. About six times a year, on the day preceding one of her dinners, Miss Lyall does not read aloud after tea, but puts the names of her guests on pieces of cardboard, and makes a map of the table, while the evening before she leaves London for Hastings or Scotland she stops playing Patience at ten in order to get a good long night before her journey. She does the same on her arrival in town again to get a good long night after her journey. She takes no interest in politics, music, drama, or pictures, but goes to the private view of the academy as May comes round because the thing recommends it. And when she comes to die, the lifelong consciousness of the thing will enable her to meet the King of Terrors with fortitude and composure. He will not frighten her at all.

And what on earth will the recording angel find to write in his book about her? He cannot put down all those drives round the park and all those games of Patience, and really there is nothing else.

By CARL VROOMAN Assistant Secretary of Agriculture



GRICULTURE, though one of the oldest of the arts, is the youngest the sciences. Less than two years ago, for the first time, the American Academy for the Advancement of Science admitted agriculture into the family circle by giving it a place on its program and in its organization. Thus agriculture has become a sort of modern Cinderella. For thousands of years the servant and drudge of civilization, at last she has found the magic slipper and is making her début as a veritable and acknowledged princess, a royal dispenser of bounty and happiness.

As a result of recent scientific and economic developments along agricultural lines, we are to-day in the midst of an agricultural revolution that seems destined to be as significant and as far-reaching in its effects upon civilization as was the industrial revolution of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In the light of these developments, agriculture appears not only as the youngest of the sciences, but also as the most important.

What this new science will do for the world ultimately it would be inexpedient to attempt to prophesy. Therefore I shall endeavor to confine myself to a discussion of what the new agriculture may confidently be expected to do for this country. in the near future; that is, when our farmers in general have learned to make a profitable application of the principles of scientific agriculture that already have stood the test of experience. From data as unquestionable as the multiplication table we may affirm that the new agriculture will accomplish certain definite results:

First, it will show the farmer how to increase his yields of standard crops anywhere from twenty-five to one hundred per cent., and, what is almost equally important, the percentage of such possible increase as will yield him a maximum profit.

Second, it will show the farmer how to market his produce to better advantage. while at the same time reducing the relative cost of farm produce to the consumer.

Third, it will show the farmer how to make his purchases more advantageously.

Fourth, upon a solid foundation of increased yields, increased profits upon what he has to sell, and lower costs for what he has to buy, it will enable the farmer to build a splendid superstructure of more intelligent, more enjoyable, and more purposeful living.

It is indeed highly important that the farmer learn the agronomic lesson of how to increase his yields and the economic and business lesson of how to buy and sell to advantage, but in a larger sense these matters are important only as stepping-stones to a realization of the higher possibilities of life. A scientific success has little importance to the farmer unless it can be made the basis for a business success, and a business success in turn has little real significance unless it can be translated into terms of life. I know farmers who have broad fields, great herds, huge barns, and large bank-accounts, but whose successes end right there; who live narrow, dull, purposeless lives-lives devoid of aspiration, happiness, or public spirit. The wealth of such men is like much of the fertility in our soil: it is not available. These men need instruction in the art of living as much as their less-prosperous neighbors need instruction in the art of growing and marketing crops. For, after all, it is only the wealth that we dominate and dedicate to some useful or noble purpose that we can be said actually to possess. All other wealth that stands to our credit is either inert or actively sinister, and in the latter event it often gains the upper hand and finally comes actually to

possess us.

The agricultural possibilities that open

out before the American farmer in bewildering profusion are for the most part yet unrealized. The lot of the up-to-date, scientific, and businesslike farmer has improved greatly during the last few years. but the lot of the average farmer still leaves much to be desired, still lacks much that has been chronically lacking to the tiller of the soil for thousands of years. On a western Iowa farm there was a young boy who plowed corn and did divers other things from dawn to dusk. When asked what he got for all his hard work, a momentary fire of revolt flared up in his brain, and he said: "Get? Get? Nothin' if I do, and hell if I don't."

That boy summed up in one terse phrase the annals of husbandry for all the centuries before the advent of the science of agriculture. He is Millet's "Man with the Hoe" before he grew up. From time immemorial civilization has rested on the broad shoulders of the agricultural workers of the world, but before their eyes has opened up no vista of opportunity or of hope for them or for their children. Theirs has been the bitter choice between a life of unending drudgery on the one. hand and the hell of starvation on the other.

In the last half-century the Department of Agriculture has spent some two hundred and fifty million dollars largely in research and experiment, to the end that American agriculture might be put on a high plane of efficiency. The results of this research and experiment have been agronomy and animal industry, a vast, but largely undigested and uncoördinated, mass of information about how to grow crops and "critters." During this entire period the department has been accumulating and hoarding a vast store of facts about how to increase production.

Thus during the first fifty years of its existence the department was chiefly a bureau of scientific research that gave the farmer from time to time an assortment of miscellaneous scientific information that he might or might not be able to utilize. to his financial advantage. Unfortunately, a world of practical problems that de

stroy the farmer's peace of mind and involve the success or failure of his business

namely, his business and economic problems were virtually ignored. In other words, for the first fifty years of its life. the department hopped along on one leg, the scientific leg. Happily, during the last three years a miraculous thing has happened the department has grown another leg, the leg of business and economic efficiency. Now it begins to walk, and we confidently expect in the near future to see it going forward with giant strides.

During the last three years, for the first time in its history, the Department of Agriculture has had at its head an economist. Under the direction of Secretary Houston it has achieved a new point of view and a new conception of its mission. For half a century the department has used its utmost endeavors to show the farmer how to fight the chinch-bug and the army-worm, the cattle tick and the Hessian fly and other insect pests, but had not even so much as attempted to show him how to protect himself from the yearly toll levied upon the fruits of his toil by such human pests as the usurer, commercial pirates posing as legitimate middlemen, and the other business parasites of the agricultural world.

The farmer who makes two blades of grass grow where only one grew before may be a good agronomist, but if he cannot sell his second blades at a profit, he is a poor farmer. In other words, farming is primarily a business. Very few practical farmers till the soil to demonstrate principles of agronomy. principles of agronomy. They produce crops to live rather than live to produce crops. Even more than large production they want profitable production. Upon the realization of this fundamental fact is founded the agricultural renaissance which recently has been begun.

It seems strange that a fact as simple as this should have been overlooked for many years. Every farmer, at one time or another, has been brought face to face with the paradox of big crops and small returns. He has often been forced to the conclusion that the larger crops you raise

[ocr errors]

the less money you make. And statistics all too frequently have backed up this conclusion. In 1912, for example, the country produced 677,758,000 more bushels of corn than in 1913, and yet the farmers received $171,638,000 less. In 1906 a wheat crop 101,174,000 bushels larger than that of 1907 brought $64,104,000 less. In 1906 the corn crop, too, was unusually large, more than 150,000,000 bushels larger than in 1909, and it brought the farmers $500,000,000 less.

In order to find a solution for this and a host of other problems in agricultural economics that involve the farmers' financial success or failure, the present administration created a new bureau, called the Office of Markets and Rural Organization. It has been in operation only two years, and has not yet solved any large number of these problems, but the very. fact of its creation, the fact that the Department of Agriculture at last has undertaken the stupendous task of charting for the farmer the treacherous and tempestuous economic sea and of pointing out to him the shoals and reefs, the tides and undertows which have brought shipwreck to many thousands in the past, is a matter of historic moment. It will take years to get this work satisfactorily in hand, but it is a momentous achievement to have begun it. Some people have criticized the Office of Markets and Rural Organization for not having rounded out its lifework during its teething period. It would be almost as intelligent to belittle the work of Columbus because, having discovered America, he failed to populate and develop it.

In addition to the creation of the Office of Markets and Rural Organization in the Department of Agriculture, Congress has passed a number of laws, and is now in process of passing several more, dealing with the farmers' economic and business problems. Among these may be mentioned the Cotton Futures Act. Before this law went into effect the producer was virtually at the mercy not only of the local buyer, but also of the big operators on the cotton exchanges, who were able

to boost or depress the market at will through the exertion of undue influence within the exchange. Since the act became effective, such manipulation would involve the control of the price of cotton on the leading future exchanges of the country, a manifest impossibility. The establishment of official cotton standards for grade, promulgated under the provisions of this act, has worked also to the decided advantage of the producer, since it gives a definite basis for bargaining, whereas under the old system, with its multiplicity of standards, the grade was frequently a matter of guesswork, with the buyer in the habit of guessing to promote his own ends.

The Warehouse Bill, which was recently attached as an amendment to the appropriation bill for the Department of Agriculture, will probably become a law within a few days. The purpose of this measure is to enhance the value of warehouse receipts in order to facilitate the obtaining of loans thereon, and thus enable the farmers to market their crops more slowly, thereby securing better and more even prices for their commodities. This act was designed originally to apply solely to cotton, but it has been broadened to cover virtually all the other leading staple and non-perishable agricultural products, and its enactment will greatly aid in the equitable disposition of our chief farm products.

A matter of great importance to the grain farmer is the recent establishment of official grades for corn. This action is to be followed up as fast as practicable by the establishment of grades of wheat and other cereals. Moreover, there is now pending in Congress a bill which has passed the House and has been favorably reported by the Senate agricultural committee providing for Federal regulation of state grain inspection. This will provide farmers' elevators, individual farmers shipping in car-load lots, and groups of farmers shipping in car-load lots, the right of appeal to a Federal official whenever they feel that state grain-inspectors have not given them a square deal.

Another law of interest to farmers and consumers alike is that granting the secretary of agriculture authority to provide the same inspection for imported meats as for domestic meats.

Among the important measures in the interest of the farmer now pending in Congress that probably will be enacted into law during the present session, the most important is the so-called Rural Credits Bill, providing for the establishment of a system of land banks. This law does not attempt to provide additional personal credit facilities for farmers. That is a distinctly different problem, and one which ought to be and no doubt will be taken up by Congress at its next session. The Rural Credits Bill has a definite object, to furnish the farmer having the proper security to offer, first, more money, secondly, money on longer time loans, and thirdly, money at a lower rate of interest than he has been able to get it in the past. Every farmer will realize the vital importance of these three features of the bill. Every farmer will realize that a bill which furnishes him with these three things is an invaluable single step in the direction. of a complete system of rural credits.

Another highly important piece of legislation now pending in Congress is the Good Roads Bill. If enacted into law, this measure will do more to provide our country with good roads than has all past legislation on that subject put together. This is a matter of primary economic importance to the farmer. At present it costs the average farmer more to haul his produce to his local market than to ship it to the nearest terminal market. The heaviest tax he pays is the penalty extorted from him for having bad roads.

Another recent achievement of prime importance has been the working out of a system of direct retail distribution to the farmer of the accumulated results of the scientific research of the last half-century. While each of the older bureaus of the department has many years of honest and invaluable research work to its credit, in the main little has been done until recently toward putting the results of the

work of the department's scientific men before the farmer properly condensed, correlated, and couched in terms easily understood. Fewer than a dozen years ago the Department of Agriculture was almost as far removed from actual contact with the masses of our farmers as the State Department or the Coast and Geodetic Survey. No wide-spread, continuous, and systematic effort has yet been made to carry agricultural education to the farmer by word of mouth or by demonstration; the Office of Farm Management was a minor appendage of one of the older bureaus; the publications of the department were lucky if they escaped being still-born, so little was the effort made to popularize them and to interest the farmers in them by means of the press. It is difficult to realize that a major government department, established for the specific purpose of informing the people, spending millions of dollars of the people's money every year for research work, could ever have been so indifferent to the practical application of the results of its research as the Department of Agriculture seemed to be until a few years ago. Yet one has only to glance over the current list of farmers' bulletins to find evidence of that seeming indifference.

Many of the so-called farmers' bulletins are really technical papers. Much of the information published on vitally important practical problems is scattered about in so many bulletins as to be entirely unget-at-able by the average farmer. The teachings of the department with regard to a number of the most vital farm problems have not been properly differentiated regionally and special bulletins prepared for the different important agricultural regions in the United States. Some of the most fundamental features of every-day farming have been almost entirely ignored. Indeed, here and there appears a most astonishing hiatus. For example, we find listed a bulletin on guinea-pigs, but no satisfactory popular bulletin on the rearing of the colt; a treatise on silver-fox farming, but until this year no farmers' bulletin containing all the available prac

« PreviousContinue »