Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/397

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THE ROTATION OF THE FARM.

sands of employees who were waiting for those factories and mills to be built would be a serious item in the national wealth! Most of us would not be kept awake of nights by the fear of decreasing national wealth, I think, from that particular state of affairs! Some labor, no doubt, would be required to build those same mills and factories. The laborers who were to build them would perhaps be drawn from somewhere, and so leave vacancies to be filled from somewhere else. But the prospect as it seems was enough to seriously alarm this gentleman; and I doubt not that, from a standpoint the reverse of his, it might still have its terrors to even less special and specious theorists, who still cling to the old fallacy that figures always tell the truth, and will not hear of the proposition of the Irish gentleman in Christie-Murray's delightful novel, who called figures the biggest liars in existence! Because, then, the farmer's daughter prefers her piano to her milking stool, and her brother his bicycle to his fodder scythe: or—let us say, because the one would rather sell ribbons and the other foot up columns of figures in city establishments than to continue in the duties which a residence upon the ancestral acres imposes—the whims or caprices of a few boys and girls are creating great gaps in the agricultural precincts which the supreme, even if elusive, laws of economical compensation are unable to fill!

It would seem to be a rather violent proposition this: namely, that one's personal whim can explode or dominate the laws of supply and demand.

Instead of the rotation of crops, is it not what might be called the "rotation of the farm," brought on by the exchange of farm for city employments by a constant or periodic ratio, which has called for the Massachusetts pamphlet?

The man who lives in the country yearns for the city. The man who lives in the city yearns for the country. The farmer would seek pent precincts of the town and bend over ledgers; the clerk, already bent double over his ledgers, craves the free air and the unconfined horizons of the farm, the distant hills, and the broad acres between. Variety, is it not, which they both seek? In opposite currents, doubtless, but both continually by immutable tendencies. Such is certainly the optimistic theory of the situation implied by these "abandoned" farm pamphlets. Is it the true one?

To assume that the farmer will farm no more would be a fearful prospect for our race—quite as fearful as to assume that the soldier would not fight for his country against any other country, that the tailor would not make us clothes, or that the shoemaker would not supply us with shoes. Surely it would be great gain, not only to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts but to the national commonwealth, if, instead of drawing grewsome and doleful mor-