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churches and raise money as we see fit, but the wail which has already commenced clearly indicates the rural parochial decline. Even the literary headship of Boston feels the financial attractions of the great metropolis. Even the Atlantic Monthly and Old and New fly away, like the coot of Labrador, to the milder shores of Long Island Sound. Of course there are two sides to this subject. What is fun for the boys is death to the frogs. The decline of New England means the marvelous development of the West. It is force not lost to the country at present, but only transferred from one section to another.
The ambition to rise is the second cause we have assigned. Of course this may be all wrong, and some one else on the other side may set us right. But after looking at the subject carefully over the rides and fishing excursions of a vacation in Massachusetts, it seems as if these reasons assigned for the real or imagined decline of New England were not very far astray. Now concerning this second cause, the American ambition to rise, let us say a few words briefly.
“ Ambition, powerful source of good and ill," as the poet has termed it, is like a horse, very good or very hurtful, according as it masters or is mastered.
The way the phrenologists have of linking your bumps in groups so as to intensify your good qualities and destroy your bad ones, is a pleasing and suggestive method. For instance, they say, “Great ideality here; this with color and language will lead to poetry of a high order; but with constructiveness it will tend towards mechanical inventions." This of course makes the subject feel happy, as the examiner, metaphorically, shampoos his head, and having paid his money freely, he as freely takes his choice. And thus ambition with self-conceit and general smartness all around is a different sort of thing from ambition ballasted and dove-tailed in with other virtues of the passive order.
I heard this summer of a farmer who was rendered unhappy, not because of any worms or potato-bugs, but because his daughter wasn't a school mistress and his son failed in a political election.
I have in mind now a certain nursery-maid, who, on being asked her religious convictions, said it did n't make much difference to her, she went wherever the minister was “cute" and they had “smart preaching."
It is this hand-over-hand rise into social position and self-made riches, a tendency which the thousands of subscription books about the great men of America, circulated from door to door by bookagents through the interior of the land, is constantly stimulating, which begets dissatisfaction, and exalts the most pernicious kind of ambition.
Young men will become book agents or brakemen on a train before they will do one honest day's work in the field, and American girls will starve over a hard-running sewing machine day and night before they will demean themselves by going out to service.
Of course I know I am writing myself down a croaker on the great unpopular other side; but where will we spin ourselves in the next hundred years if we all climb up into a higher condition of existence, with none but riff-raff and rabble to come after us and live in the warm nests we have left behind?
There is one other cause of this decline, viz: the defiance of the laws of health.
A philosophical farmer who is a business man in Boston ten months of the year and a farmer the other two, a gentleman who raises stock and looks broadly on the problems of humanity as he looks at cause and effect in his colts and heifers, posted me up recently with facts and figures on this important subject. He lives in a proverbially dry and healthful section of Massachusetts, but a place where the country people die off rapidly and regularly with consumption. First the health is broken by dyspepsia, then cold sets in, and consumption follows on the wasted frame. My farmer friend says his horses would die in the same way if they ate correspondingly poor food and slept in the same vitiated atmosphere.
Three or four girls will sleep sometimes in one room together with window down and door shut. The boys of the family do the same down stairs, perhaps. Regular airing of the house there is none. The frying-pan is used at every meal. Pie at breakfast, dough-nuts and pie sent off to the working men or factory hands for dinner, and a greasy, hot fry for supper, is the daily bill of fare. The delights of the French stew, economical, healthful and savory, are utterly unknown, and then comes dyspepsia and decline and consumption.
This is a dismal picture. It may be somewhat overdrawn, but still it becomes us to give it serious attention, and not laugh or frown it down before we look into it.
My friend suggests that if some of the medical faculty would make a health crusade through the interior towns of Massachusetts, after the manner of temperance lecturers or circuit riders in the missionary field, great good would be accomplished. Will not some one prepare cheap health tracts after the plain, terse, vigorous style of Sydney Smith's advice to his parishoners? He once said of a certain little friend : “He has not body enough to cover his mind decently with ; his intellect is improperly exposed." We have revival meetings and political stump orations for the
If the mind of New England is not decently covered with body, cannot the medical faculty come to her help?
WM. W. NEWTON.
INDUSTRY AND AGRICULTURE.'
FEW months ago we communicated to our readers the sub
stance of an article in the London Economist, in which this financial paper ventilates the great question, why, in those countries which produce raw materials, the pressure of the present commercial condition is more felt than in industrial countries. The Economist found the solution of this question mainly in the over-production of countries exporting grain and raw materials, as well as in the scarcity of capital in such countries. We, on our part, maintained, however, in refutation of these allegations, that the real source of the evil was to be found in the dependence of countries exporting provisions and raw materials upon industrial countries, and in the interruption of the circulation of money and stoppage of all business relations, resulting from the diminished demand of the latter. The Economist now adduces, in confirmation of its views, the report of the British Consul General in Odessa, Mr. Stanley, for the year 1874, in which we find the following passage :
“There was in Southern Russia) a very injudicious over-speculation (in grain), and its consequences could be foreseen, when merchants and speculators, after two poor crops, toward the end of 1873, and at the arrival of the first grain in 1874, bought up what
Translated from the Merkur of Frankfort, for the PENN MONTHLY, The Merkur of the same date contains a translation of Mr. H. C. Carey's Letter on the Currency.
ever they could, often with borrowed money, in the hope of a rise in the price. The harvest of 1874 (in Southern Russia) was on the whole an excellent one; and as the crops were good throughout Europe and in America, prices fell rapidly everywhere. The same over-speculation may occur again; but what is more serious, there is every appearance that grain grown in Southern Russia cannot, even in a good year, be brought to this market (Odessa) at a price sufficiently low to bear the cost of transportation to England and France, whenever the harvests in the rest of Europe are generally good; so that not only the speculators, but even the land-owners, have of late years sustained losses. The only classes, besides consumers in general, that profit by good harvests, are the laborers and the emancipated serfs, who are compensated by the higher wages they receive, for what they lose in the price of their own corn. For this dearness of grain, which is so contrary to what might be expected of so fruitful a soil, many causes may be assigned, some of them unavoidable, others such as may be overcome. Among the former are the scantiness of the population and the consequent high price of labor. During the last five years the ordinary scantiness of population has been even increased by the great migration of the country people into the cities, as the period during which the people were compelled to remain on the lands assigned them at the abolition of serfdom, expired in 1870, and they are no longer required to pay a compensation to the land owners for permission to change their residence.”
The Economist explains this report in the following way:
“There are, in other words, inevitable causes which render the production of grain in Southern Russia at the low prices which can be secured in a year of generally good crops, unprofitable. Such a year as the last was disastrous for Southern Russia, as also for many other agricultural countries. There is, in a good year, no sufficient market for the grain product of the world, while, as has often recently proved the case, even in a bad year, prices do not rise to the excessive rates that they once reached. We may add that these facts prove how utterly groundless the fears which were entertained in the time of the Corn Laws, that the English market would be glutted with foreign and especially with Russian g rain. No such glut takes place, even now, when the facilities for commerce are so widely extended in Russia, that the crops can actually be transported. Corn cannot permanently be produced at so low a price as has been supposed. The corrective of the fall in prices is partly reached also in one of the ways that had been anticipated, viz: in an improvement [?] in the condition of the foreign producers, so that these will no longer work for the lower wages and profits which were to be had before the active demand from abroad, which has now set in. At the same time the gain to England and other countries from a steadily moderate price of wheat, in contrast to the excessive variation in price that there used to be, is beyond all computation, while the injury to our agricultural industry, which some expected, has not taken place.”
These remarks of the English paper offer much material for thought, and ought to be well heeded by the agriculturists of those countries which depend upon the export of the products of the soil. There has an over-production of grain taken place, and even in Russia, the export of grain, &c. to England does no longer pay. What then is left for the agriculturist in Southern Russia ? There is no industrial population, from which he could expect any market for the surplus of his grain, as the people rather emigrate to improve their condition, and that, of course, to regions of industrial pursuits, since these only open the prospect for a more profitable employment of labor. But this, of necessity, raises the standard of wages in the agricultural districts of South Russia still higher, and thus more and more lessens the possibility of exporting the produced grain to countries where there is a demand for it. Thus the agriculturalists of Southern Russia have to face the alternative, either entirely to abandon agriculture altogether sooner or later, or to create a home-market for their grain, which can be done only by establishing home industry. Thus we find the same conditions in South Russia, as in the Baltic provinces, whose condition, according to all probability, will constantly deteriorate, the more they remain dependent upon the export of their agricultural products.
Very strange, to say the least, sounds the remark of the English agent in Odessa, that the inevitable cause of the high price of grain in Southern Russia, is to be found in the scarcity of the population and the subsequent high wages. To a champion of the laisser aller and of free trade the scarcity of population may indeed seem inevitable. But he who has an opportunity for more closely observing the commercial policy of Russia, should certainly be somewhat careful in declaring the scarcity of population inevitable. We, or