Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/395

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THE ROTATION OF THE FARM.

midst of the Reign of Terror many of the gentle born, who could not escape from the bloody French cities, hid in garrets or other penetralia, and kept body and soul together by making lace or decorating fans or tapestry; for there was always, it seemed, somebody to buy the yield of fripperies. As long as anything can be produced upon them there should be no abandonment of farms in the vicinity of markets.

We might note, too, that this curious phenomenon of "abandoned" farms in Massachusetts is seen to be further complicated by the fact that it occurs—if it occurs at all—in the face of the extraordinary efforts of that noble State for the educational, the agricultural-educational, betterment of her sons in her agricultural colleges. And, still more suggestively, it appears to the reader of this pamphlet that the Massachusetts farms now "abandoned," or sought to be abandoned, are actually nearer to natural markets or to adequate markets for their produce than any better lands, however served by competing railroads, can possibly be. Nor do I think that the cheap "long haul" which might be supposed to bring the Western prairie into competition with the New England farm will be found to have that effect. The haul is too long and not cheap enough to make the large difference necessary to any such theory. Statistics need not be quoted, surely, to show that the great cities of the Atlantic debouch some thousands untold of their population for at least a third—for certainly a quarter—of the year, into the vicinity of these very markets; or that the great transoceanic facilities—the huge steamships with their abridged transits which have made Europe into a sort of American watering place—have worked no appreciable difference in the mass of Eastern city life which, for that third or quarter of the year, summers in these New England States, and certainly does not draw its consumption of food from any other than these New England markets. Those great laws of compensation (quite as little capable of formulation perhaps as they are perfectly constant and understood) may be relied upon to provide at least this much, to wit, that the increased facilities for visiting Europe from our large trading cities would themselves enrich a non-Europe-visiting class sufficiently to enable it to itself seek a nearer vacation at home, in New England itself, let us say, and so offset the class which, with increasing wealth, yearly finds itself able to cross the Atlantic for its annual outing.

Why, then, in the teeth of this very law of compensating economy, in the teeth of applied science, and in the teeth of the constant rules of supply and demand, should farms in New England be or seek to become "abandoned"?

I believe that certain statistical societies find the reason in what they call sometimes "overeducation," and again sometimes