on the reform of our architecture. It is hardly too much to ask that writers on the state of modern architecture will, before pronouncing absolute condemnation, make the acquaintance of our leading architects, visit their offices, study their methods, familiarize themselves with the great difficulties and amazing complications of the architectural problem, and carefully examine the effort? which these men are making for its satisfactory solution.
|Yours, etc.,A. D. F. Hamlin,|
|Adjunct Professor of Architecture,|
|School of Mines, Columbia College.|
|New York, December 17, 1890.|
Editor Popular Science Monthly:
Sir: I have just been reading Prof. Currier's article on The Decline of Rural New England. It does not in any degree satisfy me as an exposition of things as they are. Like him, I was born close to the soil; like him, I have been and am a student; but, unlike him, I am now, and have been for most of my life, a practical farmer. My diagnosis of the case is (consequently) quite different. I agree with him only in thinking that our tariff laws have generally done the farmer more harm than good. He utterly ignores the chief of all the reasons why farming has declined, so far as a decline can be noted. This decline is in the hill-farms chiefly, and it has been coincident with the opening up of Western free lands. But it has also been coincident with a great decline in the fertility of those farms, with no corresponding increase among the farmers of knowledge how to prevent such decline, or how to restore lost fertility.
The comfort and prosperity of the earlier generations of our farmers are exaggerated. There was as much debt, as little general advance, and very much more vice among New England farmers fifty years ago than now. Prof. Currier makes the common mistake of comparing the valley farmers of fifty years ago with the hill farmers of the present day. By the enforcement of prohibitory laws, and the general reprobation of intemperance in the rural districts of New England, the moral condition of the hill farmers has been, on the whole, much improved, and their manner of life—their civilization—much advanced. But, in the mean time, for lack of instruction, their lands have become infertile to the degree that they fail to give them a good living; while free farms in the West have been made so cheaply accessible to them that they have sold out and gone away. This is the whole explanation of what has been and is called the "decline of New England farming." The census does not reveal any real decline. The value of the agricultural products of New England is still as large, per acre and per man; while compared with other sections New England yet stands with the best States, even without allowance for the natural inferiority of much of her soil. "Plenty of food, plenty of children." As the fertility of the hill-farms disappeared, so came the decline in the size of the families on them. Is this only a coincidence? I think not; although I admit an equal decline elsewhere, from different causes.
If religion has declined among our people, there has been no accompanying decline of morality. The ministers have lost much of their influence, chiefly because they have been educated away from the people. In my youth the rural ministers were among the best farmers we had. Now, I do not know in a whole county a minister who takes any interest in agriculture. A farming ministry would be a great help to New England agriculture, and equally to moral social life. But our classical schools and colleges all educate away from the farm and from sympathy with the plain people. Our rural ministers are almost to a man the outspoken foes of science, as being destructive to the dogmas upon which their religious systems are built.
The hill-farms in New England are "played out." Many of them are going back to forest, which is perhaps their best use. But one has only to take a carriage trip through our river valleys to see abundant signs of agricultural progress and prosperity. Not that even our valley farmers have not their "ups and downs"—their years of bad as well as of good times—but they and their families live better, have more, and enjoy more, much more, than did their fathers and grandfathers. They are better educated; and many of them, and of their families, are careful readers and students of their art, as well as interested in the general progress of the world. Their great need is for better schools, in which scientific instruction should have the first place. The old literary methods, though still supported by the college and seminary bred clergy, are obsolete, useless, and prejudicial to the advance of true civilization and the industrial arts, especially the art of agriculture.
|T. H. Hoskins.|
|Newport, Vt., January 10, 1891.|
Editor Popular Science Monthly:
Sir: Some of the difficulties that trouble your correspondent K——, in regard to evolutionary ethics, will, I think, disappear by enlarging his conception of happiness so as to include the happiness of society as well as that of the individual. In the long run, and in the main, these two coincide; but it is evident that with our present imperfect moral development there must arise many instances where the welfare of society runs counter to the happiness of the