Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/400

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go to the West, or the qualities in demand in the manufacturing towns.

In some towns is found an increasing element of Canadian French, good-natured, easy-going, thriftless people, living in a slipshod way from their labor when things go well, but, if sickness comes, or crops are short, or the winter long and hard, more or less dependent upon the poor-fund. This floating population, and especially its French element, is the bane of local and even State politics, especially in New Hampshire, for many of its voters are purchasable at least once at each election, and, as it holds the balance of power in many small towns, purchasers for both parties are rarely wanting, and prices rule high. I have personally known voters who openly counted their election wages an important item in the year's revenue. It will be readily believed that all public interests have suffered enormously by the substitution of such people for the thrifty, public-spirited farmers who preceded them. This French element is further objectionable in that it keeps itself aloof from the spirit of its adopted country, intact in language as well as religion, and has declared its purpose to change New England to New France.

2. Many farms are without resident cultivators, and in all probability will never again be homesteads. The New Hampshire Commissioner of Agriculture reports eight hundred and eighty-seven such farms, and these are only a small part. I know a district where eight contiguous farms have been thus abandoned, and, taking the farm on which the writer was born as the center, a circle with a radius of five miles would inclose twenty farms abandoned within the last few years.

Some of these have good buildings, stone fences, apple and sugar orchards, and all have made comfortable homes. On some of them a few acres of the best land are tilled, while the rest produces a lessening crop of hay or is used for pasture. The fine old orchards, uncared for, are wasting away, a lilac or a few rosebushes struggling for life in the grass show the site of the old garden, the buildings are falling to decay, and homesteads that have fostered large and prosperous families for generations are a desolation and will soon be a wilderness. In some districts the old country roads are becoming impassable from the growth of bushes and the cessation of all repairs. An eminent New England judge told me last summer that public sentiment in these districts will not allow a jury to find damages against the authorities in case of injuries to travelers from such defective highways, on the ground that the diminished population can not keep them in repair.

The abandonment of this rough country and the transfer of its population to more fertile regions or more remunerative em-