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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/784

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Mr. Hyde disclaims any intention to give his own views, but yet no one can read his treatise without noting a substantial agreement with Sir William Crookes, perhaps almost unconsciously to himself. In his closing paragraph he says: "To discuss the extent to which under conceivable conditions the United States may, notwithstanding the somewhat dubious outlook, still continue to contribute to the food supply of other nations, would be little more than speculation."

The Italics are my own.

I venture to point out that the use of the word "speculation" is an example of many instances. Like a dog, one may give a word a bad name, yet it may be a good dog and a very good word when rightly used. In the true and very innocent meaning of the word "speculation" we find exactly what the public has a right to expect and even to demand from the Department of Agriculture. In Webster's Dictionary I find that, when used in such a connection as this problem of the potential of this country in farm productions, the word "speculation" stands for "a mental view of anything in its various aspects and relations; contemplation; intellectual examination."

If any "mental view" has yet been taken in the Department of Agriculture of the proportion of the land of this country which may be termed "arable," I have yet to find the record. If any "contemplation" has been devoted to the proportions of this arable land which may be devoted to different crops in each section, I have been remiss in not securing the reports. If any "mental view" has been taken of the relative area now devoted to each principal crop, and that which may be so devoted hereafter in order to meet the prospective demand upon the land, either for the supply of our own population or of other nations, where is the record? If there is no such "speculation" now of record, is it not time that a true agricultural survey corresponding to our geologic and geodetic surveys should be entered upon? I have reason to believe that such surveys have been made by many European states in which all the arable land in some kingdoms is classified, listed, and so recorded that any one wishing to know the best place for any special product can get the information by reference to the proper department of the Government.

I have had occasion to make several studies of this kind. In order to inform myself on the potential of the South in the production of cotton, I undertook a study of the physical geography and climatology of the cotton States and of other cotton-producing countries nearly forty years ago. The results of this research were first given in Cheap Cotton by Free Labor, published in 1861. In that pamphlet and in many treatises following, finally in an address in Atlanta, in 1880, a true forecast or "speculation" or "intellectual examination" will be found of the production of the cotton fiber, the potential