Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/398

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als from a pamphlet with the pathetic title, Catalogue of Abandoned farms in Massachusetts (or New Hampshire or Vermont), we could infer that the issuing of these catalogues was but a rational and normal detail by way of facility in the progression of that great law which moves communities of individuals back and forward, and back and forward again, from one precinct to another, and from one vicinage to another on the map of societies and of States, but always conserving and preserving the equation of prosperity, of tranquillity, and of the general content in and between and around them all.

Taking the Massachusetts pamphlet as exemplary of them all, it seems to me that the above is the fact. For I find, first, that this abandonment amounts rather to a desire to sell at some fair or "lump" price (and I may add always one somehow approximate to the general value of the land, which certainly is not even as a figure of speech an "abandonment"); secondly, I find that the "abandonment" is larger the farther we leave the seacoast and traverse toward the interior countries. The pamphlet shows that 3·45 per cent of the total farm average of the State now offered for sale lies outside of the limits of cities, in the extreme interior, while only about 0·87 per cent of such farm land is situated toward the seacoast.

In Nantucket and Suffolk Counties—the one an island and the other a peninsular county open on three sides to the seacoast—no such "abandoned" land is offered for sale at all. In Essex County, adjoining Suffolk, where the interior nature of the territory is a trifle larger than in Suffolk, we have a return of salable land under this pressure, of a trifle less than 0·06 per cent. In Hampshire County, where several settlements are to this day without railroad or telegraphic facilities, containing perhaps but a single town of any size, and where intercommunication is about as rare as an eclipse of the sun, the percentage of land offered for sale is the highest, being 6·85 per cent; thus clearly proving, if figures can prove anything, that it is the desire for community, the weariness of isolation, the craving for society, rather than a seeking for the precariousness of new employments, or a failure of the land he has tilled so long, which leads the ruralist to woo forced markets for his farm lands and new industries elsewhere for himself. And not only is this the case, but in a study of this very pamphlet there appears the confirmation of this proposition that normal forces and attractions invariably find their counter-forces and attractions. It appears that as soon as the Massachusetts authorities announced their purpose of issuing this list of "abandoned farms," inquiries concerning these farms were received in considerable numbers. These the Bureau of Agriculture carefully tabulated to the States whence they came,