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the gasses thus confined would, from time to time, so increase in volume, or quantity, as to generate periodical explosions such as occur in the Haywood Mountain.
Probably in the vicinity of Stone Mountain there may, among the rocky masses and gorges near it, have already been opened fissures through which gasses may escape.
That there will be an eruption of lava, the phenomena hitherto observed, afford very little grounds for apprehending. At the great silver mine near Guanaxuato, in Mexico, there were almost continuously for three weeks, loud noises resembling the discharges of artillery under ground. They were, however, unattended with any agitation of the earth or other manifestations of violence.
At Mt. Cenis and other localities in the Alps, as well as in some parts of the United States, noises and shakings of the earth have been repeated irregularly for considerable periods of time. Before the eruption of lava at Jorillo, there were continuously for three months, terrific noises accompanied with violent agitation of the earth. For some days small elevations had appeared at the surface, and on the day preceding the eruption fine ashes began to fall.
After continuous agitation of the ground increasing in violence at any locality threatened, the next indications of volcanic action would probably be, the escape of gasses, steam, mud, ashes, hot rocks projected into the air, and finally the eruption of lava. It is highly improbable that there would occur any such disturbances as might endanger the lives of the residents, until the agitation had become more violent and incessant, and followed by some other of the phenomena mentioned. When we take into account these indications at different points in the North Carolina mountains, it seems evident that there is beneath the surface a condition of things that extends over a considerable area. A portion of the globe which, from its geological structure, ought to be regarded as being as stable as any part of our planet, is nevertheless not free from change. Whether this is to be regarded as due to the diminishing force, which, at one time was sufficient to heave up this tract of country, with all its mountain chains, or whether it is to be considered as evidence of a gradual return of that volcanic action which manifests itself still elsewhere, to so great an extent, it is perhaps difficult to decide until further observations have been made. Is it not of sufficient interest to justify the managers of the Coast survey, or some other competent agency, to make such careful measurements of the height of certain points, as to ascertain within the next twenty-five or fifty years, whether any, and to what extent, changes may be occurring in this region?
LETTER TO COL. JOHN D. WHITFORD, EDITOR OF THE "STATE AGRICULTURAL JOURNAL.”
By Hon. T. L. CLINGMAN.
RALEIGH, May 15, 1875.
COLONEL J. D. WHITFORD
Dear Sir: You are kind enough to express a wish that I should write you an article on some subject suitable for the State Agricultural Journal of which I am gratified to observe you have taken charge. Though not myself a cultivator of the soil, yet one who has traveled much and observed somewhat, may occasionally make suggestions interesting to your readers.
I see in your paper many advertisements of fertilizers, and have often heard discussions on the subject of the best methods of improving lands. I have observed two modes of using manures very unlike in themselves, and followed by very different results. When driving out of Rome one day in an open carriage, the driver paused for a few moments at the outer edge of the city. Immediately opposite me on the left side there were two women with white aprons on a piazza, and in front of a house adjoining this several men were at work. Suddenly the younger of the two women came running to the carriage, as I supposed probably to speak to the driver before he started again. She, however, got down on her knees, extended her apron forward on the ground, and with her hands rapidly drew into it, fresh and clean as it was, a pile of manure just dropped. As soon as she had scraped in every particle of it, she gathered up the edges of the apron and started back with the load. I heard a laugh among the men, and on looking towards them, I saw one of them, who had a bucket and a shovel in his hand, and who had started to secure the manure. The time he lost in getting hold of his utensils enabled the woman, who was already equipped, to carry off the prize, and the laugh was wholly at his expense.
I had a momentary feeling of surprise, but on reflection said, "This will pay." It would not, perhaps, require more than ten minutes of labor to restore the hands and apron to a condition of cleanliness, while the article secured might be a dinner's worth of vegetables for several persons.
Such was the Italian mode. And next consider the other, or Buncombe, mode. An intelligent citizen of that famous county lived in
the beautiful Swananoa Valley, and a clear mountain stream, called Beetree, ran just in front of his house. As the surface of the stream was almost level with the surface of the ground, my fellow-citizen being of good intellect and considerable reading, saw on reflection that he could with little trouble utilize its waters. He constructed his stable just as near to it as possible, and then cut a slight ditch to the stream, and with the aid of a hastily made gate of boards, he could at will let the water into his stable. When, therefore, his stable became rather full of manure, he had only to turn his horses on the pasture for a day, raise his little gate, and in a few minutes the stream of water carried everything away, and left his stable much cleaner than it would have been had he used a mattock and spade. His neighbors all admired his ingenuity in having been able to plan such a labor saving operation. Indeed, this operation brings to the mind of the classic reader one of the most famous achievements of the great Hercules.
Which of these two methods is most advantageous to a country? Italy is certainly the most beautiful region that I have yet beheld, but this is not entirely due to its natural features, wonderful as they are. Old Buncombe and its surroundings possess a beauty marvelous to the human eye, but Italy has had certain adventitious aids that place it far in advance.
No mere selection and arrangement of words will convey to those who have not seen it an adequate idea of the richness and variety of its vegetation. Every foot of ground seems to have been used in the best manner to produce in the greatest abundance grain and grass, tree and vine. No land is given to division fences. Even the roads, finer than any others in the world, are allowed to interfere as little as possible with production. These roads, macadamized in the best manner, with their surfaces as smooth as daily sweeping can render them, have, at intervals of twenty yards on each side, octagonal stone pillars, immediately outside of which are rows of Lombardy poplars. But these poplars have their limbs trimmed off so as to remind one of the old fashioned May pole. The tufts of branches at the top are suffered to grow, while such limbs as shoot out from the sides are annually trimmed away and converted into fuel. In rear of the trees are shallow ditches, which in the month of May, on their bottoms and sides, were covered with a good coat of grass. The muleteers paid a small sum for the privilege of letting their mules get their dinners in these ditches. These animals, left for the time by themselves, continued to graze, without ever attempting to step out into the half-grown wheat and rich cultivated grasses near them.
As I looked at the country around Capua, I ceased to wonder that Hannibal and his veteran Africans preferred staying there, to marching against Marcellus and Scipio.
When one travels through Buncombe, the landscapes make a different impression on him. The distant valleys and green and picturesque mountains fully satisfy him, but he sees near him, often exhausted hillsides furrowed with gulleys, which, when first cleared, produced sixty or seventy bushels of corn to the acre. As elsewhere in North Carolina, the impression is produced on his mind that the land
even that has been cleared, is not utilized to the extent of one-fourth of its capacity. When I ask why North Carolina is not like Italy, the ready reply is, that we have not the labor to do the work required to produce such a result. This is undoubtedly true. While land is superabundant with us labor is scarce. What, then, ought we to do? Clearly, we ought to save labor as much as possible, or rather make the labor we have effect the greatest practicable result. But, in fact, the opposite policy has been usually pursued in those parts of the State with which I am familiar. The largest amount of labor is expended to produce the smallest return. Indian corn costs more labor to produce it, in proportion to the number of animals it will feed, than anything else. Certainly in all the upper parts of the State it requires more labor to feed horses or other cattle on corn than any food grown. When in Burnsville, Yancey county, some years since, I was struck with the richness of a clover lot. The owner told me that for two years past he had fed his horses entirely on clover, either green or cured. He assured me that his wagon horses were thus kept in as good condition as they were when formerly fed on corn and oats. I have seen it stated that one pound of good clover hay was worth more than any grain for a horse, or in fact superior to any known substance except oil cake. This gentleman said that he salted his green clover well and put it up before it was quite dry. He estimated one acre of his clover as worth for horses as much as nine acres of corn in Yancey, calculating the average product of the county at twenty-five bushels to the acre, which he thought above the real yield of the county. He also said that two acres of clover did not require more labor than one in corn, and that he believed that one man could feed in Yancey as many horses by his labor in producing clover as eighteen men could with corn.
This seems a large difference, but a farmer in Transylvania to whom I repeated the statement, made a calculation which was fifteen to one. If either of these statements approximates the truth, the difference is enormous. I think it clear that no one who examines the subject will doubt but that it costs far more labor to feed live stock on corn than any other kind of produce.
Some years since when I was stopping at a house in Haywood county, I had some conversation with the proprietor. He told me that he had under cultivation in corn thirty-five acres, and said that he did not expect to obtain more than three hundred bushels. I observed that the greater portion of his land, though naturally fertile, was hilly and had evidently been very imperfectly cultivated. After dinner, we took a walk to look at a native grape vine. I found it near his stable, situated in a piece of bottom on the creek, of about eight acres. Some corn was looking well on the part near the stable, but four-fifths of the ground seemed chiefly covered by weeds. He said that the land was very rich, a large part of it inclined to be wet, and that having so much land to tend he had not been able to work it enough to keep the weeds under, and that he had been obliged to give up the greater part of it. I said to him, "Suppose you were to cut a ditch through the centre of it, and dry it, and then throw your surplus
manure from the stable on such parts as would derive the most benefit from its application, have you any doubt that this piece would yield you forty bushels to the acre?" He answered that he had no doubt of it. Then I added, "You would get more corn on this lot than you look for on your entire farm, and with perhaps not more than onefourth of the labor, for as this land lies level and is free from stumps, you could cultivate it with great ease. The rest of your land you might let stand in grass with small grain." Every acre of his land would produce fine crops of clover, orchard grass or timothy.
In Asheville, Mr. Winslow Smith assured me that on one acre of land set in orchard grass, with a little clover intermixed, he had obtained of cured hay, at a single cutting, eight thousand five hundred and thirty-five pounds. The best clover I have ever seen was grown on some of the lots about Asheville. What our people in the upper part of the State on the undulating lands ought to do, is to plant corn patches instead of corn fields. They might thus obtain enough of that grain for bread and to fatten hogs, and depend mainly on other kinds of produce to sustain their stock. In this manner they could economise labor and also improve their farms from year to year.
Even if there be some exaggeration in the calculations I have referred to, no one can doubt that the difference is many to one in favor of feeding stock on grass rather than corn. All animals not at work could be kept in good condition without grain, and even if when at hard work, something more was required, very little grain need be added to the hay.
Before discussing remedies for this vicious or unwise mode of agriculture, let us consider briefly a kindred subject: In former times, travelers would see at a road-side inn, the words "Entertainment for man and beast." We have often read articles suggesting the best modes of providing food for domestic animals, but the welfare of man seldom is deemed worthy of consideration. A highly educated physician of large experience has said that dyspepsia was the national disease of the United States. When I was in Faris in 1859, Mr. Mason, our Minister at that court, told me that a physician of as much skill and of as large experience as any in Paris, said "that he had never known a case of dyspepsia to originate in that city." Why such a difference against the United States? We have as good a climate as that of France, and a much greater abundance of wholesome food.
It has been said that the frying-pan is the great enemy to our people. There can be no doubt but that it has slain its thousands; but bad bread is the slayer of tens of thousands. While traveling in Europe for eight months, I saw nothing but cold bread, nor did I, while there, see or hear anything that tended to induce me to believe that anybody in Europe had ever eaten a piece of hot bread. I invariably, however found, the bread good, and the people I saw appeared healthy and robust. Some, as the English and Germans, were especially so.
With respect to the United States, the condition of things may be more strikingly and pointedly presented by references to individual cases. Many years since, I stopped at the house of an acquaintance,