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Title: Village Improvements and Farm Villages
Author: Waring, George E. (George Edwin), 1833-1898
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Village Improvements and Farm Villages" ***

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(CHLA), Cornell University)





   (Late Ticknor & Fields, and Fields, Osgood, & Co.)

   COPYRIGHT, 1877,


The following papers on Village Improvements and Farm Villages are
reprinted, with some amendments, from "Scribners Monthly." These
constitute the more practical part of the book, so far as villages are

It has, however, been judged appropriate to add to them a paper on
Eastern Farming, which originally appeared in "The Atlantic Monthly,"
and which continues the discussion of the question of village residence
as a means for mitigating some of the hardships which beset the lives of
isolated country families.

The wide-spread and growing interest in the topics considered makes it
seem worth while to give these short essays a more permanent form.

   G. E. W., JR.
   NEWPORT, R.I., June, 1877.


   VILLAGE IMPROVEMENTS                            11

   VILLAGE SANITARY WORK                           69

   FARM VILLAGES                                  114




   FIG. 2.--SECTION OF ROAD WITH DRAINS            44



   FIG. 5.--GREASE-TRAP                            79

   FIG. 6.--FIELD'S FLUSH-TANK                     80

   FIG. 7.--THE EMERSON VENTILATOR                 86

   DISPOSAL AT LENOX, MASS.                        97

   FIG. 9.--SETTLING BASIN                        102


   CENTRAL VILLAGE                                124


   OF THE VILLAGE                                 131

   TRACT IN RHODE ISLAND                          133

   VILLAGE                                        135

   ISLAND FARM VILLAGE                            139


It may be because the newness of our country and the fragile character
of our early structures have prevented the accumulation of inferior,
ugly, and uncomfortable houses, as the nucleus around which later
building has crystallized; it may be from circumstances which have
prevented the isolated residence of the better classes of our people; or
it may be the result of accident. Whatever the reason, it is beyond
dispute that the United States is _par excellence_ a land of beautiful
villages. North, south, east, and west, there are plenty of hideous
conglomerations of poor-looking houses, with an absence of every element
of beauty; but there are thousands of other villages scattered all over
the land, which are full of the evidences of good taste in their
regulation and in their management.

As a rule, these more attractive features are very much modified by the
presence of badly-kept private places or neglected public buildings, and
by a general air of untidiness. Still, the foundation of attractiveness
is there; and nothing is needed beyond a well-organized and well-guided
control of public sentiment, to remove or to hide the more objectionable
features, and to permit such beauty as the village may possess to
manifest itself.

The real elements of beauty in a village are not fine houses, costly
fences, paved roadways, geometrical lines, mathematical grading, nor any
obviously costly improvements. They are, rather, cosiness, neatness,
simplicity, and that homely air that grows from these and from the
presence of a home-loving people.

To state the case tersely, the shiftless village is a hideous village,
while the charm which we often realize without analyzing it comes of
affectionate care and attention.

There are villages in New England, in Western New York, and all over the
West, even to the far side of Arkansas, which impress the visitor at
once as being homelike and full of sociability and kindliness; which
delight him, and lead him almost to wish that his own lot had been cast
within their shades. These are chiefly villages where the evidences of
public and private care predominate, or are at least conspicuous. A
critical examination would, in almost every case, develop very serious
evidence of neglect, unwholesomeness, and bad neighborhood.

Within a few years, beginning, I believe, in Massachusetts, the more
thoughtful of those whose affections are centred in their village homes
have united in organized efforts to make their villages more tidy, to
interest all classes of society in attention to those little details the
neglect of which is fatal, and to make the village, what it certainly
should be, an expression of the interest of its people in their homes
and in the surroundings of their daily life.

The first of these associations of which I have any knowledge (though,
as such work is unobtrusive, there may have been many before it) was the
"Laurel Hill Association" of Stockbridge, Mass. It takes its name from a
wooded knoll in the centre of the village, which had been dedicated to
public use. The first object of the association was to convert this
knoll into a village park. Then they took in hand the village
burial-ground, which was put in proper condition and suitably surrounded
with hedge and railing. Then the broad village street was properly
graded and drained, and agreeable walks were made at its sides.
Incidentally to this, the people living along both sides of the streets
were encouraged to do what they could to give it an appropriate setting
by putting their own premises into tasteful condition and maintaining
them so. The organization worked well, and accomplished good results.
The Rev. N. P. Eggleston, formerly of Stockbridge, in a paper on village
improvements written for the "New York Tribune," thus describes the
collateral work and influences of the Laurel Hill Association:--

     "Next followed the planting of trees by the roadside wherever trees
     were lacking. The children, sometimes disposed in their
     thoughtlessness to treat young trees too rudely, were brought in as
     helpers of the association, while at the same time put under a
     beneficial culture for themselves. Any boy who would undertake to
     watch and care for a particular tree for two years was rewarded by
     having the tree called by his name. Other children were paid for
     all the loose papers and other unsightly things which they would
     pick up and remove from the street.

     "Gradually the work of the association extended. It soon took in
     hand the streets connected with the main street. Year by year it
     pushed out walks from the centre of the village toward its outer
     borders; year by year it extended its line of trees in the same
     manner; and year by year there has been a marked improvement in the
     aspect of the village. Little by little, and in many nameless ways,
     the houses and barns, the dooryards and farms, have come to wear a
     look of neatness and intelligent, tasteful care, that makes the
     Stockbridge of to-day quite a different place from the Stockbridge
     of twenty years ago. Travellers passing through it are apt to speak
     of it with admiration as a finished place, and, compared with most
     even of our New England villages, it has such a look; but the
     Laurel Hill Association does not consider its home finished, nor
     its own work completed. Still the work goes on. Committees are even
     now conning plans for further improvements. By itself, or by
     suggestions and stimulations offered to others, the association is
     aiming at the culture of the village people through other agencies
     than those of outward and physical adornment. It fosters libraries,
     reading-rooms, and other places of resort where innocent and
     healthful games, music and conversation will tend to promote the
     social feeling, and lessen vice by removing some of its causes."

No one can drive through this beautiful old place without realizing the
effect of some influence different from that which has usually been at
work in country towns. One feels that it is a village of homes; that the
people who live in it love it, and that it has no public or private
interest so insignificant as to be neglected.

I have cited this instance somewhat at length, because it was the first,
as it is the most complete, that has come to my notice. In other places,
more serious work of improvement has been undertaken in the direction of
sewerage, gas-lighting, &c. In fact, the present writing was suggested
by frequent requests for information and advice on the more practical
parts of the subject.

At the outset it is to be said that the organization and control of the
village society is especially woman's work. It requires the sort of
systematized attention to detail, especially in the constantly-recurring
duty of "cleaning up," that grows more naturally out of the habit of
good housekeeping than out of any occupation to which men are
accustomed. Then, too, it calls for a degree of leisure which women are
the most apt to have, and it will especially engage their interest as
being a real addition to the field of their ordinary routine of life.
The sort of enthusiasm which has led to marked success in the Dorcas
Society and other organized action outside of the household, for which
American country women are noted, will find here a new and engaging
object. This, however, is only a suggestion by the way, and one which
may or may not be appropriate under varying circumstances.

If we assume, which is not altogether true, that the main purpose of
village improvement is to improve the _appearance_ of the village, we
must still understand that the direct object of the society should not
be alone nor chiefly in the direction of appearance.

What it is especially desirable that a village should appear to be is: a
wholesome, cleanly, tidy, simple, modest collection of country homes,
with all of its parts and appliances adapted to the pleasantest and most
satisfactory living of its people. All improvements should therefore
have this fundamental tendency, and every element of adornment, and
every evidence of careful attention, should be only an outgrowth of the
effort to obtain the best practical results. Costly park railing where
no railing is needed, width of roadway greater than the needs of the
community require, formal geometric lines and surfaces where more
natural slopes and curves would be practically better, elaborate
fountains or statuary out of keeping with the general character of the
village, (the gift of a public-spirited, ambitious, and pretentious
fellow-townsman,) and isolated examples, as in a church or schoolhouse,
of a style of architecture which would be more appropriate for a
city,--all these are obtrusive and objectionable, and are consequently
in bad taste. In so far as these or any other elements of improvement
are unsuited to the conditions in which they are placed, they are
undesirable; and it would be well for those having the interest of the
village in charge, to adopt an early resolution to accept no gifts, and
to allow no work of construction or embellishment, which is not, first
of all, appropriate to the modest character of a well-regulated country

If every public building is sufficient for its uses and suggests no
undue outlay for show alone; if the roads and walks are such as the uses
of the people require; if the fountain suggests a tasteful ornament and
centre of freshness and coolness, rather than a monument of some
citizens liberality and ambition; if the village green or park is a
proper pleasure-ground for old and young; and, in short, if every thing
that is done and every dollar that is expended has for its object only
the improvement of the conditions of living,--then there will be needed
only the element of careful keeping to maintain always the best sort of
beauty that is possible under the circumstances.

No satisfactory result can be attained without organization. The work
will necessarily require much money and more time in order to avoid an
undue tax upon individuals. It is desirable, too, that, so far as
possible, every member of the community should be interested in the
work, and should contribute in labor or in money according to his means.
This general interest can be secured much better through the influence
of an organization in which all are interested, than by any individual

The association should become the distributor, not only of the moneys
accruing from membership fees, &c., but of contributions made by
citizens, or subscriptions raised by combined effort for general or
specific works of improvement. It should be, in fact, not only the
inciter of public spirit, but the director of public effort.

The precise form of constitution for such an association must
necessarily depend more or less on circumstances; and I sketch only as a
basis for discussion, the following form suggested by the regulations
governing the Laurel Hill Association of Stockbridge:--


     This Association shall be called "The Village Improvement
     Association of ----."


     The object of this Association shall be to improve and ornament the
     streets and public grounds of the village by planting and
     cultivating trees, establishing and maintaining walks, grading and
     draining roadways, establishing and protecting good grass plats and
     borders in the streets and public squares, securing a proper public
     supply of water, establishing and maintaining such sewerage as
     shall be needed for the best sanitary condition of the village,
     providing public fountains and drinking-troughs, breaking out paths
     through the snow, lighting the streets, encouraging the formation
     of a library and reading-room, and generally doing whatever may
     tend to the improvement of the village as a place of residence.


     The officers of this Association shall be a President, two
     Vice-Presidents, a Secretary, and a Treasurer, who shall constitute
     the Executive Committee. These officers shall be elected at the
     annual meeting, and shall hold their offices until their successors
     shall have been elected.


     It shall be the duty of the President, and in his absence of the
     senior Vice-President, to preside at all meetings of the
     Association, and to carry out all orders of the Executive


     It shall be the duty of the Secretary to keep a correct and careful
     record of all proceedings of the Association, and of the Executive
     Committee, in a book suitable for their preservation; to give
     notice of all meetings of the Association and of the Executive
     Committee; to make all publications, and to give all public and
     private notices ordered by the Executive Committee, and to attend
     to all the correspondence of the Association.


     It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to keep the funds of the
     Association, and to make such disbursements as may be ordered by
     the Executive Committee.


     It shall be the duty of the Executive Committee to manage all the
     affairs of the Association, to employ all laborers, to make all
     contracts, to expend all moneys, and generally to direct and
     superintend all improvements which in their discretion, and with
     the means at their command, will best serve the public interest.
     The Executive Committee shall hold a meeting at least once in each
     month, and as much oftener as they may deem expedient.

     The Executive Committee shall have power to institute premiums to
     be awarded for planting and protecting ornamental trees, and for
     doing such other acts as may seem to them worthy of such
     encouragement. They shall also encourage frequent public meetings
     of the Association and of citizens generally, both with a view to
     maintain an interest in their work, and for the general
     encouragement of the habit of meeting for discussion and amusement.


     Three members of the Executive Committee present at any meeting
     shall constitute a quorum for transacting business; and the vote of
     a majority of those present shall be binding on the Association.


     No debt shall be contracted by the Executive Committee beyond the
     amount of available funds within their control to pay it; and no
     member of this Association shall be liable for any debt of the
     Association beyond the amount of his or her subscription.


     Every person over fourteen years of age who shall plant and
     protect a tree under the direction of the Executive Committee, or
     who shall pay the sum of one dollar annually, and shall obligate
     him or herself to pay the same for three years, shall be a member
     of this Association; and every child under fourteen years of age,
     who shall pay or shall become obligated to pay as before the sum of
     twenty-five cents annually for three years, shall be a member of
     this Association.


     The payment of ten dollars annually for three years, or of
     twenty-five dollars in one sum, shall constitute a person a member
     of this Association for life.


     The autograph signatures of all members of the Association shall be
     preserved in a book suitable for that purpose.


     An annual meeting of the Association shall be held at such place as
     the Executive Committee may direct, on the fourth Wednesday of
     August, at two o'clock, P.M. Notice of such meeting shall be posted
     on each of the churches and at the post-office at least seven days
     prior to the time of holding said meetings, and a written notice
     shall be sent to all non-resident members. Other meetings of the
     Association may be called by the Executive Committee on seven days'
     notice as above prescribed.


     At the annual meeting, the Executive Committee shall report the
     amount of money received during the year, and the source from which
     it has been received; the amount of money expended during the year,
     and the objects for which it has been expended; the number of trees
     planted at the cost of the Association; the number planted by
     individuals, with the location, the kind of tree, and the name of
     the planter; and generally all of the acts of the Committee. This
     report shall be entered on the record of the Association.


     Any person who shall plant a tree under the direction of the
     Executive Committee, and shall protect it for five years, shall be
     entitled to have such tree known forever by his or her name.


     This Constitution may be amended by the Executive Committee with
     the approval of the majority of the members present at any annual
     meeting of the Association, or at any special meeting, the notice
     of which shall have been accompanied by a copy of the proposed
     amendment, with the statement that the amendment is to be voted on
     at such meeting.

I have provided, in the above draft of a constitution, for an executive
committee of only five members; for the reason that, while it will be
comparatively easy to secure the services of this number, the duties and
responsibilities of a larger committee would be so distributed that
there would be too often occasion for the application of the old adage:
"What is everybody's business is nobody's business." The Laurel Hill
Association has an executive committee of fifteen, in addition to seven
officers. This large committee (twenty-two) serves to secure the
interest of a larger number of citizens; but the same thing may be as
well accomplished by inviting the co-operation of citizens in the work
of sub-committees, the chairman of each of which would be a member of
the regular executive committee. In Easthampton, Mass., there is a board
of fourteen directors, and there are committees on sanitary matters, on
setting out trees, on sidewalks and hitching-posts, &c. It would be
prudent to restrict the number of members of these sub-committees to
three; one from the executive committee and two from outside.

Besides special executive work, a vast deal has been done wherever
improvement societies have been organized, in the way of stimulating
citizens to adorn their private grounds, or at least to keep their
grounds and fences in good order, removing weeds and rubbish from the
sidewalk, keeping the grass well trimmed and free from litter and
leaves. What most detracts from the good appearance of any village is
the slovenly look which comes from badly hung gates, crooked fences,
absent pickets, and general shiftlessness about private places; and it
is by encouraging citizens to take a pride in attention to these minor
details, that the association will do its best work. This result may be
accomplished almost entirely without the expenditure of money. It is in
attention to little things and in securing the co-operation of private
owners,--a co-operation which will call for an inappreciable amount of
labor,--that the most telling work of the officers of the society is to
be done.

So far as these details are concerned, it is hardly necessary in a paper
of this sort to do more than to call attention to them. They are within
the capacity of every citizen, and they will naturally suggest
themselves to any person who would be likely to undertake the direction
of an improvement association. There are other and really more important
objects looking to a certain amount of landscape gardening and
engineering, on which specific instruction may be desired, and often in
cases where it will be impracticable to employ professional assistance.
These are as follows:--

1. The construction of sidewalks.

2. The construction and care of roadways.

3. The supply of water, and the construction of drinking-troughs.

4. The laying-out and adornment of public squares and other open spaces.

5. The establishment of a system of sewerage or sanitary drainage,
including the removal of excessive soil moisture.


No one thing has more to do with the comfort of those living in country
villages than sidewalks which are good at all seasons of the year. Those
fortunate villages which are built on a gravelly soil, with a perfect
natural drainage, need little more in this direction than such a
conformation of the surface as will prevent water from standing on the
footway when the ground is frozen. At all other times it sinks naturally
away into the earth. It is much more often the case that the character
of the soil or subsoil prevents a settling away of water, or that
subterranean oozing from higher ground keeps the earth throughout the
spring and autumn, and after heavy rains in summer, damp, and often
sloppy. Wherever the ground is of such a character as to prevent the
rapid sinking to a considerable depth of all excessive moisture, there
is sure to be a disagreeable condition of the footway whenever the lower
soil is locked with frost, and the surface is thawed. Even with the best
drainage, natural or artificial, this condition will exist for a short
time while frost is coming out of the ground; but with good drainage it
is of so temporary a character as hardly to justify any expensive
finishing of the surface, except perhaps in the case of the most
frequented walks.

To overcome occasional sloppiness where the difficulty is not
deep-seated, there is no cheaper nor better device than to dress the
surface with coal-ashes. Indeed, if these are used to a sufficient
thickness, they are practically as good as concrete or the best gravel.
When first applied, they are dusty and unpleasant; but the first wetting
lays the dust, and they soon settle to a firm consistency, and make a
very pleasant walk, with the great advantage of being entirely barren,
and preventing the growth of weeds and grass. If the ashes of a village
are collected and screened, the cinders being used at the bottom, and
the surface being smoothly dressed with the finer material, they will
make as satisfactory walks, even where the use is considerable, as any
other material. The color is unobtrusive, and the surface soon becomes
hard enough to bear sweeping. Those who are more ambitious for effect
may prefer a walk made of tar-and-gravel concrete; and this, if well
made, is good, durable, and satisfactory. So far as the improvement
association is concerned, it can find many ways for expending the
difference of cost between ashes and concrete, which will accomplish a
much more telling result.

If gravel can be obtained without too much expense, it may be used with
excellent results to a depth of from one to three inches, according to
the porosity of the subsoil,--more being needed where the ground is
inclined to become soft. In using gravel it is best either to screen it,
using the coarser parts below and the finer parts at the surface, or,
after applying it, to add a thin layer of earth, barely sufficient to
fill its spaces,--to "bind" it so as to give it a firm and solid
consistency. Loose and rattling gravel makes a handsome walk to look at,
but an unpleasant one to walk upon. Nothing is more agreeable than
well-trodden, dry, root-bound earth, as where grass has been worn away
by frequent use; but this becomes at once objectionable on being
saturated with rain or moistened by melting frost.

[Illustration: FIG. 1.]

It is a common impression, that all thoroughly good foot-paths must be
dug out to a considerable depth, filled with loose stones, and dressed
at the top with some good finishing material; but this is not necessary
even for the best work. The great point is to secure a thorough draining
of the sub-stratum, so that there shall be no rising of ooze-water from
below, and so that the ground shall be free from such saturation as to
cause heaving during frost. This condition may be secured by a suitable
draining of the ground immediately under the walk, and by the use of a
well-compacted and tightly-bound surface covering of such form as to
shed or turn away rain-water. Figure 1 (p. 31) shows the cross section
of a foot-path six feet wide on slightly sloping ground, where we have
to apprehend an oozing of subsoil water from the land at the highest
side. The centre of the walk is slightly crowning,--say one inch higher
than the sides,--so that rain falling upon it will flow readily toward
the grass-border at either side. To prevent the ponding of water at the
sides when the ground is frozen, the surface of the walk at its edges
should be well above the level of the adjoining ground; but it may be
necessary under some circumstances to furnish, here and there, a channel
or surface-gutter across the walk, to allow the accumulation at the
higher side to escape. Rarely will deep gutters at the sides be
necessary or desirable. If the walk is laid at a sufficient height to
turn water on to the adjoining ground instead of receiving water from
this, it will be easy to keep it dry. We will assume that the path in
question is to be made over a tenacious clay soil, with a considerable
oozing from the hillside,--the most unfavorable condition that can be
found, especially in cold climates. The first thing to be secured is the
cutting-off of the subsoil water from the hill. This may be done by
digging a trench as narrow as possible,--six inches will be better than
more, as requiring less filling material,--to a depth of three feet. In
the bottom of this drain lay a common land-tile drain, with collars at
the joints if these can be procured, and, if not, with a bit of paper
laid over the joints to prevent the entrance of loose material, and to
hold the pipes in place during construction. The ditch should then be
filled with cinders, gravel, or coarse sand. If stones are to be used,
they should be broken to a small size,--not more than one inch in
diameter,--and the loose bits should be mixed with them in the filling.
Very small interstices will be sufficient to allow water to pass freely
through, while if large stones are used, with large interstices, there
will be danger of a washing-in of earth sufficient in time to obstruct
both the stonework and the tile. The smaller the tile, so long as it is
sufficient for its purpose, the better; for lengths of five hundred feet
or less, an interior diameter of an inch and a quarter will be
sufficient; from this to one thousand feet, use an inch and a half bore.
If possible, before exceeding this length, secure an outlet for the
water in the roadside gutter or some other channel of exit. The
tile-drain, at a depth of three feet, will remove all subsoil water from
under the walk, and all that may be delivered into the loosely filled
trench at its side. The loose filling of the trench should not be
carried nearer than within six inches of the surface of the ground, and
should be covered with fine and well-packed earth to prevent the
entrance of _surface_-water which would soon carry in silt enough to
stop its action. Whatever covering is adopted for the walk itself, it
must be of such a character as to prevent any thing like a free
admission of surface-water. Concrete will do this perfectly; and either
ashes, or gravel dressed at the top with ashes, if well raked and rolled
at the outset to a smooth surface, will soon become so bound together as
to shed pretty nearly all rain falling upon it. The difference in cost
between a walk made in this way, and one dug out for its whole width to
a depth of two feet, and filled first with stone and then with gravel
and a suitable surface dressing, will be very important; and it is safe
to say that the cheaper will be at least as good and durable as the more
expensive method. In all construction of sidewalks, whether public or
private, regard must be had to the surface conformation, and some device
must be adopted for preventing the flow of water upon the walk from the
adjoining ground, and for the easy delivery of storm-water falling upon
the walk itself.


The great expense of Macadamizing or Telfordizing puts these systems
almost out of the reach of small communities. Wherever the original
expense can be borne, the subsequent cost of maintenance will be so
slight, and the result generally will be so satisfactory, as to make it
always a good investment. The circumstances under which these costly
forms of construction may be adopted will be greatly extended if we can
overcome the prevalent American prejudice in favor of _wide_ roadways.
Against wide _streets_ there is, as a rule, no objection, though
exceptional narrow and well-shaded lanes have a rural charm that will
always commend them to persons of taste. A wide street, that is, broad
spaces between fences, by no means implies a broad roadway. All we need
in the principal thoroughfare of a busy village is such a width as will
allow of the easy passing of vehicles in the middle of the road, and the
standing of one vehicle at rest at each side. This will be accomplished,
even in the business street of a village, by a width of roadway of
thirty feet. Under most other circumstances twenty feet of roadway will
be ample. This will allow of the moving of three vehicles side by side,
and will give a leeway of six feet between two vehicles passing each

On both sides of this roadway, except for the necessary sidewalks, the
whole space to the fences should be in well-kept grass, which is the
cheapest to secure, the most economical to maintain, and the most
agreeable to see, of all ground covering. It is not unusual in country
towns to find a width of from sixty to eighty feet devoted to a muddy,
dusty, and ill-kept roadway. From one-half to two-thirds of this width
is waste space, which must either remain an eyesore, or entail an undue
cost for maintenance. When both sides of the street are occupied by
places of business, it may be necessary to provide for some occasional
driving close to the buildings for the delivery of merchandise; but this
occasion will rarely be so regular as to cause any serious damage to
grass. If the line of hitching-posts is placed within fifteen feet of
the centre of the roadway on each side, it will be seldom that any one
will drive over the bordering grass, especially if there is, as there
generally should be, a well-defined gutter or well-kept grass with a
curbstone border at each side.

In considering the width to be given to roadways, it should be
understood that every form of road is more or less costly to make and to
keep in order, and that the cost of both items is in direct proportion
to the width. If to the cost of making and grading an ordinary roadway
sixty feet wide, we add the capital sum whose interest would be
necessary to keep this width in good repair, we shall have an amount
that would go far toward the construction and maintenance of a road of
the very best quality only thirty feet wide. Furthermore, while it is
impossible to estimate such items exactly, and while the amount thus
saved cannot be controlled for the road-making account, the saving in
the wear and tear of vehicles, and in the team force needed to move
heavy loads, constitutes an important argument in favor of the best
construction. The amount thus saved in the short streets of the village,
where the principal traffic is over rough country roads, would not be
very great, but it would enable the road authorities of the township to
realize the advantage of first-rate roads and the degree to which the
narrowing of the roadway cheapens construction. As a result, there would
soon be an extension of the improvement over the more important highways
into the country; where a well-metalled width of twelve feet would
accommodate nearly the whole traffic, and where the proper application
of a cheap system of under-drainage would make well-metalled roads
extremely cheap to maintain.

In the island of Jersey, there are many excellent roads only six feet
wide. These are provided with frequent little bays or turn-outs to allow
teams to pass each other. Although such extremely narrow roads are not
to be recommended, the difference in comfort and economy of teampower
between these and the average American dirt road is enormously in their
favor. The widest roads in Jersey, leading from a busy town of thirty
thousand inhabitants into a thickly settled farming region where
business and pleasure travel is very active, and where "excursion cars"
carrying thirty or forty persons are constantly passing, are only
twenty-four feet wide; often only of this width between the hedge-rows,
the road itself being an excellent footpath for its whole width. Nowhere
else in the world is the rural charm more perfectly developed than in
Jersey, and no element of its great beauty is so conspicuous and so
constantly satisfactory as its narrow and embowered lanes and roadways.

This, however, by the way, and only as a suggestion, for the sake of
variety. As a rule, we may at least accept much less width than is now
usual for our country and village roads. Wherever it is intended to
build expensive stone roads, those having the work in charge will
naturally employ a competent engineer, or will at least appeal to Prof.
Gillespie's work on road-making, or to some other authority. Space need
not be given here to engineering details, which would require a lengthy
elucidation. There is, however, a sort of road-making materially more
costly at the outset than that now in vogue, but much less costly in the
long-run, if we consider the element of practical value and the cost of
maintenance. It depends more on fundamental principles of construction
than on special processes of finishing, and will be more or less
satisfactory according to the character of the soil and of the covering
material available.

The great enemy of all roads is excessive moisture; and the chief
purpose of all methods of improvement is to get rid of this, or to
counteract its effect. As in the case of foot-paths, wherever the porous
character of the subsoil, and the absence of higher-lying wet lands, is
such that no accumulation of water upon or under the roadway need be
feared, the greatest difficulty is at once set aside. Roads lying on
such a soil may be over-dusty in dry weather. When the subsoil is
temporarily impervious because of its frozen condition, they may become
unduly muddy, or, when the situation is such as to lead hill-water upon
them, they may be badly washed; but they are free from the great
difficulties that beset all roads which for a large part of the year
are underlaid by an over-saturated, compact subsoil. Where such natural
drainage is secured, no artificial under-drainage will be needed. In
many more instances, all that will be required in the way of draining
will be to lead away the sources of wet-weather springs, which break
through the road-bed and cause deep sloughs. Where incomplete or partial
artificial under-draining is needed, the need is absolute; and whether
we consider the durability of the road, or the degree to which its
traffic is interfered with by its wet condition, we may be confident
that every dollar spent in well-directed under-draining will be invested
to the very best advantage. The varying conditions of wetness, and the
different sources of surplus water, must be regarded in deciding
precisely how much of this work is needed, and how it should be done.
Details cannot be fully considered here; but as a general rule it may be
said, that where the subsoil generally is of an impervious character,
and where the road is more or less wet and weeping after long rains, a
continuous system of under-drains is required. If the trouble is local,
here and there in spots, and is obviously caused by the breaking up of
springs from the road-bed, such partial work may be adopted as will tap
the sources of these springs, and lead their water harmlessly away.
Gisborne, one of the best agricultural writers of England, put the case
tersely and well when--objecting to the system of circumventing
springs--he said, "_Hit him straight in the eye_, is as good a maxim in
draining as in pugilism." It is best not to pass up at the side of a
spring, and so creep around behind it to head off its water; but to
drive the drain straight through it, and far enough beyond it to tap and
lead away at a lower level the water which causes it. These drains, as
well as all others intended simply to remove subsoil water, and not to
cut off a weeping stream, are best made with common drain-tiles laid as
before directed, and covered immediately with well-packed earth. Water
enters an under-drain, not from above, but from below; that is to say,
as water, from whatever source, fills the subsoil, it rises therein
until it reaches the floor of the drain, when it enters and is led away,
just as water falling into a cask which stands on end flows off at the
under side of the bung-hole when it reaches its level. Even if the cask
be filled to the top with earth, the rain falling upon it will descend
perpendicularly to the bottom, and will flow off at the bung only when
the soil to that level has become saturated. It will descend through the
soil by the straightest course, and will raise the general level. It
will not violate the laws of gravitation, and run diagonally toward the
point of outlet, as seems to be the general supposition when the
perplexing question, "How does water get into the drain?" is first
considered. When we drive a drain through a spring and into the
water-bearing stratum which feeds it, we simply make it easier for the
water to escape by the drain than to keep on at the higher level, and
break out at the surface of the ground.

As in the case of the sidewalk illustrated in Figure 1, in cutting off a
continuous weeping or ooze from higher land, it is best to introduce a
vertical filling of porous material through which the water will descend
and enter the drain; but, excepting this single instance, all that we
need to do, so far as subterranean work is concerned, is to furnish an
easy and sufficient channel for the removal of subsoil water.

What constitutes a sufficient drain is something very much less than
what is generally supposed. In ordinary agricultural drainage, where the
lines of tiles are forty feet apart, a well-laid tile an inch and a
quarter in diameter is sufficient for a length of one thousand
feet--that is, it is sufficient to remove the water of filtration from
an acre of land. If laid with only an inclination of six inches in one
hundred feet, its delivery will be so rapid as to amount to more than a
heavy continuous rain-fall upon this area. In road drainage, the same
rule would hold true; but, as the soil offers a certain resistance to
the rapid descent of water, it is best to give a means of outlet at
smaller intervals; and for the best work in roads thirty feet wide or
more, three drains could be used with advantage. In no case, however,
need the size of pipes be larger than above indicated, if the form of
the tiles is true, and if they are well joined together at their ends.
Tiles of less perfect form had better be an inch and a half or even two
inches in diameter; but, as a rule, they should not be of a larger size,
for the reason that the amount of water that they may be expected to
carry will not be sufficient to keep them prop erly freed from silt
unless the flow is concentrated within a narrow channel.

[Illustration: FIG. 2.]

Figure 2 shows the cross section of a country road thirty feet wide,
with three lines of tile-drain laid at a depth of about three feet below
it. Except in case of necessity, these drains should have an inclination
of not less than six inches in one hundred feet. There is no objection
to their having more than this wherever the lay of the land permits or
requires it. They may often have considerably less in case of need; but,
the smaller the rate of inclination, the greater the care needed in
securing a true grade. The water of these drains should be collected
into a single drain, and led away at intervals of from five hundred to
one thousand feet. It may be delivered into a roadside gutter, or into a
collecting under-drain, according to the requirements of the situation.

It is now possible to procure drain-tiles at reasonable cost in almost
all parts of the country; and these are not only very much better than
any form of stone drain, but they are also much cheaper in
construction,--the labor of preparing and handling the stone, and of
excavating the wider trench that stone requires, amounting to more than
the cost of the tile, even with a high charge of transportation added.
Incidentally it is proper to say that where tiles cannot be had, a mass
of gravel or fine cinders, six inches wide and six inches deep, placed
at the bottom of the drain, and _covered with well-packed soil_, is
preferable even to broken stone or any other form of channel that would
permit of the rapid running of water and the washing into the drains of
even a slight amount of silt.

The removal of excessive subsoil moisture being secured, attention
should next be given to the surface of the road, which should be
finished with the firmest material at hand,--with the common earth of
the subsoil where nothing better can be afforded,--and which should be
brought to a true grade, with a _very slight_ slope from the centre to
the edge. For a road thirty feet wide, the elevation of the centre
above the level of the edges should not be more than four to six inches,
and the grade should be made on a straight line rather than on a curve.
If the road is made as flat as the turning-off of surface-water will
permit, it will be travelled upon in all its parts; while if it is
crowned to a high arch, as is often the case, it will soon be found that
the best place to drive is in the middle of the road, and foot-tracks
and wheel-tracks will soon form slight channels or ruts which will lead
water lengthwise along the road, and which will cause an undue amount of
wear and washing. A road may be actually flat to the eye, and equally
convenient for travel at every part of its width, and still have enough
lateral slope to cause water to run off from it.

It is especially desirable that no surface-water flowing from the
roadside (above all, when frost is coming out of the ground in the
spring) be permitted to run on to the road. This should be effectively
prevented by the formation of sufficient gutters, with such outlets as
will prevent ponding at the sides of the road. When it is necessary to
carry the water of the gutters from one side of the road to the other,
culverts should be provided; and wherever the slope of the road is
sufficient to cause water to flow along it lengthwise,--that is,
wherever the inclination is more than about one in fifty,--there should
be frequent slight depressions from the centre diagonally toward the
gutters to carry the flow away before it can accumulate sufficiently to
form a washing current.

If it can be done without hauling additional material, it is always well
to raise the road-bed somewhat above the level of the adjoining land,
and this may usually be accomplished by throwing upon it the subsoil of
the gutters. In no case should surface-soil sods or fine road-mud be
used for repairs. The most serious objection to the absurd system of
road-mending so common in this country lies in the fact that the annual
repairing is little more than the ploughing up and throwing back upon
the roadway of the soft and unsuitable material which has been washed
into the gutters.

What is said above applies especially to country roads; but it is
appropriate, so far as it goes, to the better-made and better-kept roads
of a village. In the case of these latter, except where the soil is
naturally dry and firm, some attention should be given to the
improvement of the surface; and it is to be considered whether to adopt
the expensive process of covering with broken stone road-metal, or to
use gravel. One or the other of these is desirable in all cases where
there is much tendency to sloppiness in wet weather; but any form of
artificial covering is so costly that the early efforts of the
improvement association will produce a more telling result if applied in
other directions. The necessary cross-walks may be satisfactorily made
with coal-ashes.

It is even more easy in a village than in the country, to have the
grades of all roadways so regulated as to shed rain-water falling upon
them, and to have them so furnished with side gutters so as to prevent
water from the roadside from running on to them. The simplest way to
effect this, and the neatest way too, is to make gutters outside of the
line of the road, say six inches deep and eight feet wide, these being
at once sodded or sown with grass and grain to give an early protection
against washing; made on such a shallow curve, they will afford no
obstruction to any system of mowing that may be adopted, while their
great width will give them sufficient capacity to carry away the water
of considerable storms.

The work of construction having been duly attended to, it is no less
important to provide for regular and constant care. Any rutting that
comes of heavy traffic in bad weather should be obliterated either by
raking, or, better still, by filling the ruts with gravel or ashes. If
such work is attended to immediately on the occasion for it arising, the
amount of labor required will be very slight; for it is especially true
with reference to roads, that "a stitch in time saves nine." If the
filling of ruts and wheel-tracks be done in time, the serious damage
that comes from guttering flows of water lengthwise along the road may
be almost entirely avoided.

The mere cleaning work of both the roadway and roadside grass spaces, it
will be easy to induce children to perform for slight rewards and
encouragement. The daily removal of bits of paper and other rubbish will
have an excellent effect on the general appearance of the village. In
the autumn the removal of the fallen leaves will call for something
more than children's work; but ordinarily this source of cheap labor
will be found sufficient if properly directed.


As a field for encouragement, rather than as an object for the
expenditure of the association's funds, the furnishing of an ample
supply of water is entitled to very early consideration. Not only is the
question of public health very seriously involved in the water problem;
but as a mere beautifying element an abundance of water, to be obtained
without labor, will have a very telling effect by the facility it gives
for preserving the fresh appearance of lawns and shrubbery, and for the
cultivation of flowers and vines.

Regarded from the horticulturist's point of view, the climate of pretty
nearly the whole of this country is simply detestable. We may arrange to
withstand very well the severity of our northern winters; we expect an
entire shutting-up of all garden industries, and long cold seasons are
an accustomed matter of necessity: but we have never yet learned to
accept with patience the almost annual destruction of our lawns and
gardens and flower-beds by scathing drought. No public water supply
available for an ordinary village would suffice to overcome the effects
of a dry season over the whole of even a small homestead; but we may
hope to secure enough to keep one or two small sprinklers flowing
steadily through the hot months, and so keep a little grass measurably
green, and preserve a semblance of life and beauty in flower-beds and
delicate shrubbery. It is very rarely that it will be possible to supply
water enough in a whole week to equal in its effect a half-hour's rain;
but the difference between towns where even the small amount of water is
available for the garden and those which are hopelessly given over to
drought shows how much may be accomplished in this direction even with
limited means.

As in the case of road-making in any thing like a complete and thorough
manner, the providing of a water supply must necessarily be directed by
professional advice. Although the simpler principles of hydraulics are
sufficiently understood, and although it would be quite within the
ability of a number of the more intelligent men of any village to secure
and distribute a satisfactory amount of water, the cost of doing such
work in an experimental way by persons unaccustomed to its details, as
compared with the cost of doing it under the direction of an engineer
whose natural judgment and capacity are supplemented by experience and
skill, would be without doubt far beyond the fee demanded for his
services. In this case, as in many others connected with public and
private works, it is always bad economy to save the cost of proper
knowledge. Very likely--perhaps indeed very generally--the actual
performance of the work, the buying and laying of the pipe, and all
that, can be as cheaply done under home direction as under that of a
public contractor; but the making of the plans--the deciding upon the
source of the supply, upon the means for securing a sufficient head, the
sizes of the pipes, the location and construction of fire-plugs, and all
the minor details of the work--will be more or less economical,
according to the skill, experience, and capacity of the person who
directs it.

The sources from which water may be obtained are various. Often enough
water of the best quality may be procured by driven, dug, or artesian
wells; but, whenever this course is adopted, the wells should be located
far enough away from the village, or on land sufficiently high, to make
it impossible that there shall be any fouling of the water-bearing
strata by the filtration from barn-yards, privy-vaults, or cesspools.
Generally, water so secured will have to be raised to an elevated
reservoir by some mechanical force. If the demand is to be a large one,
and if the community can afford the cost, the most reliable plan will be
to use steam-power for pumping; but in smaller places, and where economy
is a great object, wind-power may serve an excellent purpose.

If a stream of pure water is available at a sufficient height, it may be
led directly to the reservoir, or its current may be used to drive a
water-wheel sufficient to do the pumping. In a majority of cases there
will be found at no great distance a stream capable of supplying the
water needed throughout the dryest season of the year, but not entirely
free from organic impurities. In such cases it is often feasible, by
excavating a filtering sump or pump-well at a little distance from the
side of the stream, and at a sufficient depth below the level of its bed
to secure a supply tolerably purified by filtration through the
intervening earth. The distance at which this sump should be placed from
the bed of the stream will depend on the character of the soil. The more
porous this is, the greater should the distance be. This question as to
the source from which the water is to be taken is one which, more than
any other, calls for experienced judgment.

Frequently the conformation of the surrounding country is such that,
even where there is no constant stream, it is possible by the
construction of dams to pond an amount of water, to be furnished by
surface washing, sufficient to supply the demands of the longest
drought. In this case, as in all others where reservoirs are used, it is
important to have a good depth of water, and not to allow, even toward
the edges, any considerable shallow area. So far as possible, the depth
should be everywhere great enough to prevent vegetation, and in all the
shallower parts the surface soil should be entirely removed. As a rule,
there should be a depth of at least fifteen feet of water, except near
the very edges of the pond, and as much more than this as circumstances
will allow.

The distribution of water for private use is a simple question of
construction; but, as a matter of taste, too vehement a protest cannot
be entered against the common misconception as to what is desirable in
the way of public fountains. An instance in point is furnished by the
public drinking-fountain in Newport. Some years ago there stood at the
foot of the Parade a grand old stone bowl, hewn out of a solid block of
granite, and filled by a pipe leading from a copious spring. This was a
good, sensible, substantial drinking-trough, perfectly adapted to its
use, unpretending and handsome. Later, a public-spirited gentleman,
desiring to leave a monument of his regard for the city, gave a
considerable sum to be used in providing a suitable drinking-fountain at
this point. Those who had the control of the fund lacked either the good
taste or the courage to refuse to expend it. The result is that this
granite horse-basin--one of the best of its sort--has been removed to an
obscure position; and there has been erected in its place a wretched
cast-iron combination of bad architecture and bad statuary, such as form
a conspicuous defacement of the public squares in Philadelphia, where
they serve the double purpose of furnishing water to the people, and
advertising a cheap clothing establishment. The one compensation for the
violation of good taste inseparable from these constructions is to be
found in the fact that they must, sooner or later, lead the public to
realize the absolute unfitness of cast iron for monumental and
decorative uses. With the artistic influences which are now so active in
the instruction of the American people, it is not perhaps unreasonable
to look forward to the day when all of these piles of pot-metal shall be
relegated to the scrap-heap, and when less offensive fountains shall
take their place. We may even hope to see the iron statue and its
stove-like support which supplies water to the horses of Newport
condemned to the foundry, and its solid old predecessor restored to the
position which it ornamented for so many years.

A wide margin may be allowed for the exercise of taste in the
arrangement of village fountains; and where private munificence enables
the expenditure of a considerable sum, a good amount of exterior
decoration may be admissible: but it should always be borne in mind that
so much of the outlay as is needed for the purpose should go to secure
a good artistic design. Especially should the use of cast iron be
avoided, as being from every point of view, and under all circumstances,
whether in the shape of cast-iron dogs or deer, or attempts at the
divine human form, absolutely and entirely inadmissible for artistic
uses. Better a dug-out log horse-trough, overflowing through a notch in
its side, as an ornament to the best-kept village green, than the most
elaborate pitcher-spilling nymph that was ever cast in an iron-foundry.
So far as the mere construction work of public drinking-fountains and
horse-troughs is concerned, not much need be said except in connection
with the overflow. In cold climates, there is apt to be from all such
structures a spilling of water which covers the ground for some distance
with ice. This may be avoided by carrying the overflow by a vertical
pipe descending through the body of the water by some well-protected
channel directly into a drain in the ground, at a depth beyond the
direct action of frosts. If the stream is constant, this depth need be
nothing like that to which frost penetrates into the soil,--for the
constant movement of the water will prevent its freezing, even if
covered only a foot deep, though to something more than this depth it
will be desirable to have the metal pipe enclosed in a larger pipe of
earthenware, giving a space of enclosed air.

       *       *       *       *       *

Where there is no public supply of water, it is better in most cases
(considering the nearness of wells in villages to cesspools and
privy-vaults), to depend entirely upon cisterns. In our climate, where
rain is abundant during a considerable portion of the year, the water
falling upon the roof of any house, if properly collected and stored, is
ample for the whole supply of the family which that roof shelters. This
water as it falls is ordinarily free from any impurity that can affect
its taste, and from every source of serious fouling; though, after a
long-continued drought, it is well to divert and discharge upon the
surface of the ground the first ten minutes' flow of a shower, so that
the impurities of the air and the dust of the roof may first be removed.
After this first dash, lead to the cistern all that follows. Even with
this precaution, the water will be more agreeable for use if filtered.
There are numerous systems for making filters in cisterns, but no other
is so simple nor so durable and satisfactory as the separation of that
part of the cistern from which the suction-pipe leads by a wall of brick
and cement. It is simply necessary to build a wall of brick set on edge
(two and a half inches thick), so as to include about one-quarter of the
area of the bottom, sloping it back so as to terminate against the side
of the cistern at a height of from four to six feet. This wall should be
so well cemented at its joints that water can only pass through the
material of brick, and for strength its form should be slightly bulging.
A wall of this sort, measuring say six feet at its base, and rising to a
height of six feet at its highest point, will transmit an amount of
water sufficient to supply the demand of the most constant pumping that
any domestic use can require.


As a rule, the open spaces in a country village are subject to no other
criticism than that of neglect; but the exceptions are not rare where an
attempt at improvement has resulted in a sort of cemetery look that
gives any thing but a cheerful, pleasure-ground aspect.

There is not much danger that persons who are enthusiastic for the
improvement of the town in which they live will err on the side of too
great simplicity. The public squares and parks of large and wealthy
cities are regulated and maintained at great cost and under skilful and
artistic management; and they cannot fail to strike country visitors as
being in all ways desirable. So indeed they are. They are a chief
element of the city's beauty, and, from an æsthetic point of view, their
influence is the best to which its people are subjected. But their
beauty and their æsthetic influence are both the result of a
well-directed expenditure of large sums of money. It is quite natural
that an enriched manufacturer or merchant, proud of his native village,
should be ambitious to perpetuate the memory of his benefaction by
providing for some corresponding decoration of its public green, and
that he should attempt to reproduce there, on the smaller scale
proportionate to the circumstances, the sort of magnificence that he has
seen in the city park. If left to his own sweet will,--as he often is if
he is willing to spend money for the public benefit,--he will, unless a
rich man of the rarer sort, succeed only in producing a conspicuous

A park-railing of artistically-worked wrought-iron will be represented
by a cast-iron substitute of much more elaborate device; and there will
probably be "piled on," here and there, an amount of cheap ornamentation
which at the first glance will have a certain imposing effect. In the
matter of planting there may be an amount and variety of foreign
shrubbery and sub-tropical plants, which, under proper care, would be of
great value and beauty, but which, with the neglect to which they are
doomed in their village home, are quite certain to abort. In fact, we
may expect to see, what indeed we may now see, in painful degree, in
many of our smaller towns, a halting attempt at the outside show of the
city park, which, in the absence of those elements of artistic selection
and appropriateness to the conditions which are to prevail, develop, as
time goes on, into an ignominious failure.

The trouble is, that, in all expenditures of this sort, we are apt to
begin at the wrong end. In the making of a park, every step that is
taken, whether the park be large or small, is a costly one; and, if
taken in their reverse order, every step is a wasted one. The chief
reason why the final decoration of a city park is so satisfactory is
that it is only the crowning work of many processes which have had the
best and most careful attention from the outset. The wrought-iron
grille, the architectural fountain, the bronze statue, the delicate
trees and shrubbery, and the smoothly-finished walks and drives, depend
for their success upon a vast amount of costly fundamental work, and a
provision for constant skilful care, which have cost a deal of money,
and which look to a large permanent outlay. The elaborate fence must
stand on no unstable foundation; the fountain must be only the
ornamental central point of artistic and well-kept lawns and approaches;
the statue must stand amid appropriate surroundings; and all but the
simpler native vegetation must have its suitable soil, and be insured
its needed protection and care at all seasons. The degree to which these
more ornamental features may be given to the village green with any hope
of satisfaction will depend almost entirely upon the thoroughness with
which it has been prepared to receive them. Could the enthusiastic
members of the improvement association be brought face to face with the
cost that is needed for quite hidden fundamental work in order to
prepare their green for the more elaborate artistic decoration, they
would be deterred at the outset from attempting any thing so ambitious.
Could they know the cost of the mere work of grading and subsoil
cultivation, under-draining, manuring, laying the deep foundation for
foot-paths, and securing that perfect growth of grass without which all
park-like ornament is robbed of half its value, they would set their
faces resolutely against all propositions on the part of public-spirited
citizens to veneer their unprepared grounds with misplaced exterior

If money enough can be provided to do the work thoroughly well from its
very foundation, then of course nothing more is needed than that its
direction be placed in accomplished hands; but unless this is fully
assured, if--as is nearly always the case,--economy is the first thing
to be considered, then the rule of action is fully stated in two words,
_simplicity_ and _thoroughness_.

Avoid all fantastic ornament, and all decoration of every sort, that
would be appropriate only to work of a more complete and substantial
character. Let whatever is done be done in the most thorough way. If the
ability is only enough to secure good grass, then do every thing that is
necessary to furnish the best conditions for the growth of grass, make
suitable provision for its care, and attempt nothing further. Good
lawn-like grass surfaces, crossed only by foot-worn pathways over the
turf, will be more beautiful and more satisfactory than will poor grass
and cheaply made and ill-kept walks.

If something more than securing the best grass is possible, then let the
next expenditure be in the direction of paths, applying to the
construction of these the principles set forth in what has hitherto been
said about sidewalks. In the case of level walks, with imperfect means
of drainage, it is often desirable to secure the better foundation that
is given by filling in to the depth of a foot or more with small stone.

       *       *       *       *       *

Whatever may be the natural character of the soil, unless always well
drained by a porous subsoil, the first step toward establishing a good
lawn is to secure perfect underdrainage. Establish a good outlet at the
depth of three and a half or four feet below the surface at the lowest
point of the area to be drained, and then, selecting the necessary lines
for main drains, lay out parallel lines (thirty feet apart at a depth of
three and a half feet, or forty feet apart at a depth of four feet) to
include the whole area, and on these lines lay well-constructed drains
of small open-jointed tiles. Cover these tiles with the most compact
earth that has been excavated, and, after filling to a depth of one
foot, tramp or ram this earth tightly. Then fill the rest of the trench,
heaping over the lines any excess of material that may need the settling
effect of heavy rains to work it into place.

The next step is to reverse or thoroughly mix the whole soil to a depth
of at least fifteen inches. This work can be completely done only with
the aid of hand-shovelling, but the aid of the plough will greatly
facilitate it. Its purpose is to secure such an admixture of the organic
matter of the surface soil with the more compact material of the subsoil
as will make it sufficiently porous and fertile for the easy
penetration of roots. It is best that this work should be done in
autumn; and, if the land is level, that the freshly raised subsoil
should be left exposed in its rough and lumpy condition--without
harrowing--to the frosts of winter. If washing is to be apprehended,
then sow the ground thickly with rye, harrowing in the seed only
roughly. If the seed is sown early enough, the growth will be sufficient
to protect the surface from washing. During the winter, let the whole
surface be heavily covered with stable-manure,--the more heavily the
better, as there is no limit to the amount of coarse manure that may
with advantage be used for the establishment of permanent grass. In the
spring, as soon as the ground is dry enough to work easily, plough in
the manure with as shallow furrows as will suffice to cover the most of
it; then harrow repeatedly, bringing the surface to as true a grade as
possible, and sow it heavily with a mixture of Rhode Island bent grass,
Kentucky blue grass, and white clover. As soon as the seed is well
sprouted, showing green over the whole ground, roll the area repeatedly
and thoroughly until it is as smooth and hard as it is possible to make
it. As soon as the grass has attained the height of three inches, let
it be cut with a lawn-mower, and let the cutting be repeated at least
weekly throughout the season of rapid growth, and as often as necessary
until the end of autumn.

If paths are to be made, it will simplify matters to make them after the
grass has become well established, supposing only a good surface footway
of ashes or concrete to be needed; for the small amount of excavation
necessary under either of these systems may be scattered over the grass
spaces without injury. But if the more thorough system is adopted of
underlaying the walk with a foot or more of stones, then the work,
except the final dressing of gravel or ashes, should be done in the
autumn, or, in any case, before the final preparation of the soil for

       *       *       *       *       *

Concerning trees and ornamental shrubbery for parks and open spaces, it
is not possible to give detailed directions here, beyond recommending,
as in the case of roadside plantations, that, unless the work is to
remain permanently in the charge of an experienced gardener, with the
necessary appliances for the care and protection of the more delicate
specimens, the arrangement and the selection should be confined to the
more hardy and vigorous trees and shrubs which experience has shown to
be adapted to the climate and soil of the locality.

For roadsides, and largely in parks and village greens, the world offers
no tree that can compare in dignity and grace with the broad-spreading
American elm; though, for the sake of variety, and for the sake of an
earlier effect, many other trees may be added.


It is a recently recognized but an old and universal truth, that human
life involves the production of refuse matters, which, unless proper
safeguards are taken, are sure to become a source of disease and death.
The danger is not confined alone nor chiefly to that element of
household waste which is most manifestly offensive, but in almost equal
degree to all manner of organic refuse. It is true that fæcal matters
are often accompanied by the inciting agent of the propagation of
infectious diseases. For convenience, and as indicating the more
probable means for disseminating infection, we may call this agent
"germs." It has not yet been demonstrated with scientific completeness
that a disease is spread by living germs whose growth in a new body
produces a corresponding disorder; but all that is known of the
circumstances of infection, and of the means for preventing it, may be
fully explained by this theory. Typhoid fever, cholera, epidemic
diarrh[oe]a, and some other prevalent diseases, are presumed by the germ
theory to be chiefly, if not entirely, propagated by germs thrown off by
a diseased body. So far as these ailments are concerned, there is
therefore a very serious element of danger added in the case of fæces to
the other evil effects which are produced by an improper disposal of any
refuse organic matter. That any one or all of these diseases can
originate from the decomposition, under certain circumstances of fæcal
matters, is not clearly determined. There is, however, good reason for
believing that one common effect of the gases arising from improperly
treated matters of this kind is to debilitate the human system, and so
to create a disposition to receive contagion, or to succumb to minor
diseases which are not contagious.

The same debilitating effect and the same injurious influences often
result from the neglect of other organic wastes. The refuse of the
kitchen sink is free from fæcal matter; but it contains, in a greater or
less degree, precisely the kind of organic material which has gone to
make up the more offensive substance. If its final disposition is such
as to contaminate the water that we drink or the air that we breathe
with the products of their decay, the danger to life is hardly less than
that from the decomposition of fæcal accumulations.

It is proposed now to set forth, in the simplest way and without much
discussion of principles (which may be studied elsewhere), the methods
and processes by which village households and communities may be
protected against the influences that come from an excess of
soil-moisture, from damp walls, and from imperfect removal or improper
disposal of organic filth.

We will assume that a village has a water supply sufficient to admit of
the use of water-closets in all houses, and to furnish a good flushing
for kitchen sinks, &c. A necessary complement of this work--indeed, it
should properly precede it--is the establishment of a system of sewers
by which all of this liquid outflow may be carried safely away. It would
be out of the question in a small or scattered community, especially
where roadways are unpaved, to establish any system which should
include in its working the removal of surface water. The moment we
undertake to make sewers of sufficient capacity to carry away the storm
water of large districts, then we enormously increase the scale and cost
of the work.

So far as the removal of house sewage alone is concerned, the work need
by no means be very costly. If a tolerable inclination can be given to
the line of sewers,--say a fall of one in two hundred,--a six-inch pipe
will have a capacity quite up to the requirements of a village of two
thousand inhabitants using one hundred gallons of water per day per
head. It will, however, be safe to use a pipe of this size only when it
is true in form and carefully laid, so that there shall be no retarding
of the flow at the joints from the intrusion of mortar, or any other
form of irregularity. Unless the joints are wiped quite smooth, the
roughness remaining will serve as a nucleus for the accumulation of
hair, shreds of cloth, and other matters which will hold silt and
grease, and form in time a serious obstruction. Nothing smaller than
six-inch pipe should be adopted for a street sewer. Unless the work is
to be most carefully done, for all but the branch lines, for a
population of five thousand, or less according to the fall of the sewer,
it will be safer to use eight-inch pipes. These pipes must be laid with
great accuracy as to grade and direction. All corners should be turned
with curves of large radius and regular sweep, and with an additional
fall to compensate for the increased resistance of curves. The weight of
the pipe should not be supported upon the sockets (see Figure 3), partly
as a question of strength, and partly because any irregularity of form
or thickness of the socket would change the inclination of the sewer.
The bottom of the trench being brought exactly to the required grade,
let there be dug out a depression greater than the projection of the
socket, the pipe resting upon its finished bottom for its whole length.
(See Figure 4.) Too much care cannot be given to the thorough filling
with cement of the space between the socket and the pipe inserted into
it; the whole circle being well flushed and wiped, so that there may be
no possibility of leakage.



The objection to leakage is twofold: sewage matters escaping into the
soil might contaminate wells and springs; and it would also rob the flow
through the pipes of water needed to carry forward the more solid
contents. The continued efficiency of these small drains for carrying
away the solid or semi-solid outflow of the house is dependent very
largely upon the presence of sufficient water to create a scouring
current. While eight-inch pipes are admissible as a safeguard against
imperfect laying, they are liable to the grave objection, that, where
the service to be performed is greatly less than their capacity, the
stream flowing through them will not be sufficiently concentrated to
carry forward the more solid parts of the sewage. Up to the limit of
their capacity, six-inch pipes properly laid are greatly to be
preferred, as insuring a deeper stream which will more generally attain
the velocity of three feet per second, needed to move the heavier
constituents of the sewage. The difference in cost between six-inch and
eight-inch pipes will be sufficient to cover any extra cost of the most
careful workmanship. However much attention may be given to the
cementing of the joints, it will be impossible to prevent the running
into the pipes of a certain amount of mortar; and the workman should
have a swab or a disk of India rubber of the exact size of the bore of
the pipe, with a short handle attached to its middle, to draw forward as
each joint is finished, and so scrape away any excess of mortar before
it hardens.

Wherever it is, or may probably become, necessary to attach a
house-drain or land-drain, there should be used a length of pipe having
a side branch, oblique to the direction of the flow, to receive such
connection. The location of these branches should be accurately
indicated on the plan; and they should be closed with a flat stone or a
bit of slate, well cemented in place.

It will at times be necessary to use larger conduits than even an
eight-inch pipe. Up to a diameter of fifteen inches, it is cheapest to
use pipes, but for eighteen inches or more, brick-work is cheaper; and
at that size--a considerable regular flow of water being insured--the
slight roughness of brick-work offers no serious objection. The use of
oval or egg-shaped sewers will rarely be necessary under the
circumstances that we are considering; but there may be exceptional
conditions where the covering-in of a brook, or storm-water course,
cannot be avoided; and in such cases the volume of water may vary so
greatly that there will at times be a mere thread of a stream, and at
times a torrent. Here the oval form is the best, as concentrating a
small flow within a narrow and deep channel, and still giving the
capacity needed for exceptionally large volumes. All bricks used for
sewers, man-holes, &c., should be of the very hardest quality, and true
in form. The general rule is to be kept in mind, that the thickness of
the wall of a brick sewer should not be less than one-ninth of the inner
diameter; that is to say, that up to a diameter of three feet the
thickness of the wall should equal the width of a brick,--four inches.
This applies to circular sewers only: the oval form, being less strong,
calls for a wall of a thickness equal to one-eighth of the largest

Connecting drains leading from houses to the sewer are to be made at
private cost; but they should be made in accordance with plans furnished
by the public authority, and by a workman acceptable to that authority.

The householder might be permitted to take the responsibility of the
finishing of his drain, but for the fact that the working of the public
sewer calls for the largest amount of water in proportion to the amount
of solid matters that it is possible to secure, and thus makes it
imperative that this drain should be absolutely tight, so that the
liquid parts of the house outflow shall not trickle away through its
joints, leaving only the more solid parts to flow into the public sewer.

Properly graded and smoothly jointed, a four-inch pipe will carry more
water than even the largest boarding-house or country hotel is likely to
discharge. There is, however, a tendency in all house-drains to become
filled in the early part of their course by the accumulation of grease
and solid matters caught in the grease. Where no form of grease-trap is
used, there is a certain argument in favor of the use of six-inch pipes
for the upper part of house-drains. The use of a grease-trap, however,
should always be insisted upon; and with its aid these obstructing
matters will be retained, and the outflow may be perfectly carried by a
four-inch pipe.

So far as the public sewer is concerned, it makes little difference what
is the size of the house connection drain through the greater part of
its course; but the junction with the sewer should, under no
circumstances, where six-inch sewer-pipes are adopted, be more than four
inches. I should even insist on four-inch connections with an eight-inch
sewer. Through neglect, or by reason of improper management, many kinds
of rubbish find their way into house-drains; and a four-inch opening
will admit as many of these into the sewer as it will be able to carry
away. If, by reason of bad construction or neglect, an obstruction is to
be caused at any point, it should be in the drain, which the person
responsible for it must cleanse or repair.

The grease-trap referred to above may be any form of reservoir which
will retain the flow from the kitchen sink until it has time to cool,
when its grease will be solidified, and will float at the surface. The
outlet from this trap should be at such a distance below the surface of
the water, that there will be no danger of its floating matter passing
in with the discharge. A very simple device for this purpose is shown in
Figure 5. From a trap of this sort the flow is constant whenever
additions are made to its contents.

[Illustration: FIG. 5.--GREASE-TRAP. I, Inlet; V, ventilator; O,

[Illustration: FIG. 6.--FIELD'S FLUSH-TANK.

A, Receiver; B, grating; C, ventilator; D, siphon; F, entrance to drain;
I, delivery from sink.]

Figure 6 shows the invention of an English engineer, Mr. Rogers Field,
which has the effect of retaining all of the outflow from the kitchen
sink until it is entirely filled,--say thirty gallons. When filled, any
sudden addition of a few quarts of water, as from the emptying of a
dish-pan, brings into action a siphon whose entrance is near the bottom
of the tank; and this siphon rapidly discharges all of the contents
above its mouth in a flow having sufficient force to carry forward not
only any solid matters which it may contain, but also any ordinary
obstructing accumulations in the drain below. The soil-pipe, carrying
the discharge of water-closets, should not be delivered into the
flush-tank, but at a point farther down the drain, so that any solid
matter it may deposit shall be swept forward by the next action of the
flush-tank. The more often the flush-tank is filled, and the greater the
proportion of its water to its impurities, the more efficient will be
its action. Therefore the slop closet waste leading from the upper
story, and even the outlet pipes of bathing-tubs, may with advantage be
delivered into it.

Although the flush-tank may receive no fæcal matter, and even though the
housemaid's sink may not deliver into it, it will contain in the
discharge from the kitchen alone an amount of organic matter which will
produce offensive and dangerous gases by its decomposition. To provide
for the safe removal of these gases, a ventilating pipe should be
carried up to some point not near to any window or chimney-top.

From the time the sewers are ready for service no accumulation of fæcal
matter or other organic household waste should be allowed to remain in
the village. All old vaults and cesspools should be filled with earth,
and disinfected by the admixture of lime with the upper layers of the
filling. The use of water-closets in all houses should be made
imperative; and the construction and arrangement of soil-pipes and of
all outlets should be regulated by the health authorities.

It is not worth while here to discuss the details of the construction
of water-closets and other interior plumbing work, except with reference
to soil-pipes and such drains as may deliver the outflow of soil-pipes
to the public sewer. The soil-pipe should be of cast iron, carefully
jointed with lead, not less than four inches in diameter, and carried by
the straightest course possible up through the roof and generally higher
than the ridge-pole. Its open top must not be near any window, and if
within ten feet of a chimney it should be at least one foot below the
level of the top of that chimney. There should be no trap in the
soil-pipe, and no trap in a private drain between the outlet of the
soil-pipe and the sewer. The reasons for this rule are twofold:--

1. No matter what amount of water may be used for flushing out the
soil-pipe, its sides will always be more or less coated with organic
filth; and, however slight this coating, there will be a certain amount
of decomposition. The decomposition of all such matters must be rapid
and complete, not slow and partial. A necessary condition of complete
destructive decomposition is an abundance of atmospheric air to supply
the oxygen which complete decomposition demands. If the soil-pipe is
closed at its top, or if it is obstructed by a trap in the lower part of
its course, there can be no such circulation of air as safety requires.

If there is an opportunity for the free admission of air from the
well-ventilated sewer to feed the upward current almost constantly
prevailing in a soil-pipe open at both ends, the gases resulting from
the decomposition will be of a different and less injurious character
than where the air is confined,--and by the mere volume of air passing
through the pipe they will be so diluted that even were they originally
poisonous their power for harm will be lessened.

The gases formed by the decomposition of organic matter in the sewer
itself, or in the soil-pipe, have a certain expansive force which is
greatly increased by the elevation of temperature, caused, for example,
by the discharge of hot water into the pipe or sewer. If the soil-pipe
is open at its upper end this expansion will be at once relieved; but if
the top of the pipe be closed there will always be danger of the forcing
of the feeble barrier offered by the ordinary water-seal trap of a
branch pipe leading from a wash-basin or sink. Then, too, the
sealing-water of the trap readily absorbs any foul gases presented at
its outer end, toward the soil-pipe, and gives it off in an unchanged
condition at the inner or house end. Such traps retard, but do not
prevent, the entrance of sewer gases into the house. Water-seal traps
which are unused for any considerable time are emptied by evaporation,
and thus open a channel through which the air of the soil-pipe may find
its way into the house.

It is usual in modern plumbing to relieve the pressure of gas in the
soil-pipe by what is called a "stench-pipe." This is a pipe from one to
two inches in diameter, leading from the highest point of the soil-pipe
to the outside of the roof, where it is bent over to prevent the
entrance of foreign matter, or is closed at the top and perforated with
holes to allow the gas to escape. This small stench-pipe is inadequate
for the necessary work. It is very important that there be the freest
possible channel for the movement of air; and nothing will suffice for
this save the continuing of the pipe, at its full size, to its very
outlet. Indeed, angles and bends in a pipe by increasing friction form a
serious obstruction.

The arrangement of the soil-pipe here indicated, although excellent and
efficient, is susceptible of further improvement by the use of a
ventilating cowl or hood at its top. There are many forms of such cowls
in use which are effective whenever there is a sufficient current of
wind; but most of them require a certain force to bring them into
action, and when this force is absent they usually retard the flow they
are intended to increase. This is true of a recent invention known as
"Banner's ventilating cowl," which so long as the wind blows is a most
effective device. When the air is perfectly still, however, it offers by
its curved air-way a certain resistance to the current, and in the case
of baffling winds and flaws the air may blow directly into its opening.

Among the various inventions of this sort nothing seems so free from
objection as the old arrangement known as the "Emerson" ventilator,
shown in Figure 7. This gives a straight outlet, protected by a disk far
enough above it not to prevent its delivery of air; and it becomes an
effective suction cowl, with the least movement of the wind from any
side or from above or below. No eddy caused by the angles of gable
roofs can give it a backward draught; and if a pipe armed with it be
held toward the strongest gale a puff of smoke blown into its other end
will be instantly drawn through. As the patent for this invention has
run out, it is competent for any tinsmith to make it, and it is a common
article of manufacture.

[Illustration: FIG. 7.--THE EMERSON VENTILATOR.]

2. What is said above concerning the ventilation of the soil-pipe from
end to end relates to the interest of the private owner. The interest of
the public gives an equally strong argument in its favor. The sewer
should be as far as possible removed from the condition of an
"elongated cesspool." There must be no halting of its contents, and no
deposit of filth or silt at any point. Within the shortest time
possible, every thing received into the sewer must be passed on and
delivered at its outlet. Still, however perfectly this may be
accomplished, there will always be a certain adhesion of slime to the
walls of the sewer; and this slime must always be in a state of
decomposition, a constant source of offence and possible danger. The
only way to avert this danger is to give the sewer such a thorough
ventilation that the decomposition shall be rapid and safe, and that the
resultant gases shall be at once diluted with fresh air.

This may be measurably accomplished by the simple ventilation of the
sewer itself, through open-topped man-holes; but such ventilation is
less effective in the case of small sewers than of large ones. In the
case of either large or small sewers, it will be vastly increased if we
compel every householder who makes a connection with the sewer, to carry
a drain and soil pipe, nowhere less than four inches in diameter, from
the point of junction with the main line to the open air above the roof.
Where houses are near enough to make the use of a public sewer
advisable, the aggregate of these soil-pipes, having almost constantly
an upward current, will make such a draught upon the sewer, to be
supplied by a downward current through the man-hole covers, as will
maintain a perfect and continuous ventilation.

       *       *       *       *       *

Important as it is to secure the proper arrangement and construction of
sewers and house-drains, it is still more important to provide for the
safe disposition of the sewage.

We must begin at the outset with the understanding that all sewage
matters not only are of no value to the community, but that it will cost
money to get rid of them.

There is hardly an instance, after all the efforts that have been made,
of the _profitable_ disposal of the outflow of public sewers. The
_theoretical_ value of the wastes of human life is very great, but the
cost of any method for utilizing them seems at least equally great. The
question of cost is so much more important (to the community) than the
question of agricultural value, that the practical thing to do is to
make such disposition as will cost the least, while fully meeting the
best sanitary requirements.

So far as village sewage is concerned, there are three means open for
its disposal: to discharge it into running water or into deep
tide-water, to use it for the surface irrigation of land, or to
distribute it through sub-irrigation pipes placed at little distance
below the surface of the soil. Experiments are being made with more or
less promise of success in the direction of the chemical treatment of
this liquid so as to purify its effluent water, and retain in a solid
form, and in combination with certain valuable added ingredients, all of
its undissolved impurities. None of these processes can as yet claim
consideration in regulating public works.

The cheapest way to get rid of sewage is to discharge it into a running
stream or into tide-water. So far as the community itself is concerned,
this is often the best way; but there will very often arise the
objection that the community has no moral or legal right to foul a
stream of which others make use in its further course. Where the amount
of water constantly flowing is very large, and where the discharge is
rapid,--any given part of the sewage reaching the open air within a few
hours from the time of its entering the pipes,--and where it flows in
moving water for a considerable distance before reaching others who may
have occasion to use the stream, no practical danger is to be
apprehended. But where the sewage is more foul, more sluggish, or
exposed in the open current for a shorter time, the danger may be
serious. The pouring of sewage into tide-water is always admissible
where floats show that there is no danger of a return and deposit of
solid filth; but the delivery at all stages of the tide, in the
immediate neighborhood of salt marshes and mud flats, and in land-locked
harbors, is to be avoided.

Where an unobjectionable natural outflow cannot be provided, the
irrigation of agricultural lands affords the best relief. The action of
vegetation, the oxidation which takes in the upper and well-aërated
layers of soil, and the well-known but not yet fully explained
disinfecting qualities of common earth, are effective in removing the
dangerous and offensive impurities, and in converting them into a more
or less important source of fertility. Precisely how far this system
may be available during winter, it is not easy to say. While the earth
is locked with frost, there must be very little, if any, infiltration;
but, as an offset, the action of a low temperature upon the sewage
matters will clearly be antiseptic; and it is only necessary to provide
against an undue washing away of the surface of the ground during thaws,
and against the flowing of the sewage beyond the proper limits.

Generally in the neighborhood of villages it will be easy to find lands
over which the delivery may be carried on throughout the year without
objection. The sewer, or some form of covered channel, should lead far
enough from any public road to avoid offence. From this point it may be
led by open gutters to the land over which it is to be spread,--or
rather through such a system of surface gutters as will enable us to
deliver it at different parts of the field, according to the
requirements of the crops, and so as to use fresh land at frequent
intervals, leaving that which has been saturated to the purifying
processes of vegetation and atmospheric action.

The gutters having been made, it is easy, by the use of portable
dams,--of thin boiler-iron, like broad shovels,--which may be set in
the course of the flow, to divert the current into any branch channel,
or to stop it at any desired part of this channel. All the gutters
having sufficient descent to lead the sewage rapidly forward, it is
usual to set a dam near the far end of the gutter, and allow the sewage
to overflow and run down over the surface until it has reached as far as
the formation of the ground and the quantity of the liquid will allow it
to spread. This portion having received its due amount of the liquid,
the dam is moved to a higher point, and the overflow is allowed to
spread over a second area. In this way, step by step, we irrigate all
that may be reached by a single gutter. Then the moving of the dam in
the main line turns the water into another gutter, and this is proceeded
with in like manner. In practice it is found best to begin the overflow
at the farthest end of the lowest-lying gutter, working back step by
step until the higher parts of the field are reached. It would be better
that there should be land enough to require the irrigation of any given
area not oftener than once in one or two weeks. The amount required for
a given population cannot be determined by any fixed rule,--so much
depending on the amount of water used _per capita_, and on the
absorptive character of the irrigated soil. In the case of villages, one
acre to each five hundred of the population would generally be found

There are several instances of the successful use of a much smaller area
than is here indicated, by the use of intermittent downward filtration.
The most noted success in this direction is that at Merthyr-Tydvil in
Wales, a large mining town, where the allowance is only one acre to each
two thousand of the population. There are two filter-beds of light loam
over a gravelly subsoil thoroughly underdrained with tiles at a depth of
six feet. One of these beds is cultivated with some crop like Italian
rye-grass, which bears copious irrigation; and the other by some crop
like wheat, which, in the absence of irrigation, will thrive on the
fertility left over from the previous season. The volume of sewage is
very great, but the action of the six feet of earth in removing its
impurities seems to be complete; the water flowing out from the drains
having been proved by analysis to be really far purer than the standard
fixed by the Rivers Pollution Commission.

It is an important condition of this system that the sewage, where its
quantity is small, shall be stored in tanks until a large volume has
accumulated, and that it then be rapidly discharged over the soil. There
is no objection to an actual saturation of the ground, provided the soil
is not of such a retentive character as to be liable to become puddled,
and so made impervious. The tanks being emptied, the flow ceases until
they are again filled. During the interval, the liquid settles away in
the soil, by which its impurities are removed. Its descent is followed
by the entrance of fresh air, and the oxidizing action of this,
accompanied during the growing season by the purifying effect of the
growing crop, leads to an entire decomposition or destruction of all
organic matters.

The third system--the distribution of sewage through irrigation-pipes
laid at a depth of ten or twelve inches below the surface of the
ground--has its efficiency attested by numerous instances in private
grounds. I have adopted this system for disposing of the sewage of the
village of Lenox, Mass., where there was no other means available short
of cutting an outlet, at great expense, through a considerable
elevation. This method is an extremely simple one, and is available in
every instance where even a small area of land lying slightly below the
level of the outlet is to be commanded. The arrangement of the
sub-irrigation pipes is easily made: Suppose that in land having an
inclination of about one in two hundred, occupied by grass or other
growth, a trench be dug twelve inches deep, that there be laid upon the
bottom of this trench a narrow strip of plank to insure a uniform grade,
and that upon this plank is laid a line of common agricultural
land-drain tiles, say two inches in diameter. However carefully these
tiles may be placed, there will be at their joints a sufficient space
for the leaking out of any liquid they may contain; the tiles being laid
either with collars around the joints, or with bits of paper laid over
them, to prevent the rattling in of loose earth during the filling. The
excavated earth is to be returned to its place, well compacted, and
covered with its sod. Suppose this drain to have a cross-section equal
to three square inches, and a length of one hundred feet, its capacity
will equal about sixteen gallons, or a half-barrel. If this amount of
liquid be rapidly discharged into the drain, the inclination being
slight, it will at once be filled or nearly filled for its whole length,
and the liquid will leak away in tolerably uniform proportion at every
joint along the line, and will saturate the surrounding earth. The plan
adopted at Lenox, and recommended for all small villages which cannot
secure a better outlet, is simply a multiplication of these drains to a
sufficient extent.

A description of the manner in which the Lenox work is arranged will
illustrate the adaptation of the system to its circumstances. As
circumstances vary, the adaptation must be modified. (See Figure 8.)


The main outlet sewer delivers at a distance of about one-half mile from
the last junction with a branch sewer. It is a six-inch pipe five feet
below the surface of the ground, and it delivers into a flush-tank like
that shown in Figure 6, but having a capacity of about five hundred
cubic feet. This tank stands at the upper side of a field having an
inclination of seven in one hundred. There is a branch from the main
sewer, above the tank, supplied with a stop-cock, by which, in case of
need, the sewage may be carried on down the hill without going into
the tank. The outlet from the chamber below the siphon leads off in
another direction down the hill, and has a stop-cock and a branch which
will allow its flow to be diverted. The discharge of this diverted
stream and the discharge through the branch of the main above the tank,
both deliver into a horizontal surface gutter to be well grassed, and
lying at the top of the land to be irrigated. By this arrangement,
should repairs become necessary in the tank, the flow may be turned into
the gutter; or, should it be desired for any reason to use the outflow
of the tank for surface irrigation, the second branch outlet will
deliver it into the same gutter, where, the outflow being uniform along
the whole length of five hundred feet, the stream will pass in a thin
sheet off on to the descending ground. The hill-side, immediately below
the gutter, is brought to a true grade and covered with grass. As its
inclination is much greater than would be admissible for sub-irrigation
drains, these are laid _obliquely_ in parallel lines at intervals of six
feet from one end to the other over the whole graded slope. These drains
are connected at their upper ends with the direct outlet-pipe leading
from the siphon chamber. They have an aggregate length of about ten
thousand feet. The method of operation is as follows:--

The capacity of the tank is supposed to equal about two days' discharge,
or about thirty-five hundred gallons; and the whole capacity of the
drains is about half that of the tank, so that the rapid emptying of the
whole volume into them will insure their being pretty thoroughly filled
from end to end. This arrangement will provide for the saturation of the
soil about once in two days, and will leave a sufficient interval
between the periods of saturation for the thorough dispersal and
aëration of the filth.

The extent to which this system will be interfered with by frost, it is
impossible to say. This will probably be less than would be supposed,
for the reason that the ground would often be covered with snow, and
that the sewage will have sufficient warmth to exert considerable
thawing influence. Whenever the discharge of the liquid through
irrigation pipes is shown to have become obstructed by freezing, it will
only be necessary to divert the flow, and turn it into the surface
gutter to be distributed over the ground.

It is possible that in this case, as in the one which has been under my
observation for six years past, there will be no interruption of the
working because of cold; but, should the interruption become serious, I
shall propose the planting of evergreen trees in parallel rows midway
between the drains. The protection that would thus be afforded, both by
the trees and by the drifting snow which they would gather, would
probably keep the ground free throughout the winter. Incidentally to the
chief advantage of this system, there will be, so long as the land is in
grass, quite an addition to its product.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are hundreds of villages, with and without a water supply, where
the houses are too scattering and the street lengths too great to make
it advisable that the cost of any form of public sewerage should be
assumed. In all such villages, the public authority or the active
influence of the village improvement association should be exerted to
secure a regular and systematic adoption of some more perfect system for
the private disposal of household drainage than is usual. Fortunately,
the best system is the cheapest.

No form of cesspool, no leaching vault, and no cemented tank, should be
allowed under any circumstances. Neither should there be permitted any
form of the old-fashioned out-of-door privy with a vault. Every
household should be supplied with water-closets or well-arranged
earth-closets, to which reference will be made below.

[Illustration: FIG. 9.--SETTLING BASIN.]

The foul water discharge of kitchen sinks, or of whatever form of
slop-sink is used for the water of bedrooms, should discharge into a
flush-tank, and should be led from this by a tightly cemented four-inch
drain to a tight settling basin in the ground beyond. If water-closets
are used, the soil-pipe should deliver into the drain between the
flush-tank and the settling basin. The settling basin should be
constructed as shown in Figure 9; and this, as well as the flush-tank,
the soil-pipe, and the connecting drains, should be amply ventilated.
The outlet from the settling basin should be carried by well-cemented
vitrified pipes (four-inch) to the connection with the subsoil
irrigation pipes. The flush-tank discharging at each operation of its
siphon about thirty gallons of liquid, two hundred feet of drain,
unless the soil is very compact, will dispose of the whole discharge
with sufficient rapidity. The tank being emptied, the flow ceases; and
within a very short time the drain becomes empty of its contents, which
are absorbed by the sponge-like action of the earth, and are subjected
to the combined influence of the roots of plants, and of the
concentrated oxygen contained among the particles of the soil. They will
soon have their character entirely changed, so that the earth will
become purified, and will be ready to receive the next discharge from
the tank. In the case of my own drains, after five years of unremitted
use, the gradual accumulation of bits of grease and more solid matters
obstructed the drains, and there appeared undue moisture about their
upper ends. All that was then necessary was to re-open the trenches, and
remove, wash, and replace the tiles. This operation cost, for a length
of two hundred feet, less than three dollars.

For any ordinary household of six or eight persons, where the
water-closet is not used, two hundred feet of drain of this sort will be
sufficient. If there are water-closets, it may be well to duplicate the
length; and, to provide for the necessary connections to lead the liquid
to the drains, we may assume that in all five hundred feet of length
will be required. The cost of two-inch tiles at the works, in small
lots, and where collars are furnished, is about three cents per foot;
and we will suppose that transportation will increase the cost to five
cents per foot, making the cost of this item twenty-five dollars. The
strips of board (three inches wide) will cost, at a very liberal
estimate, five dollars more, and the cost of digging and laying not more
than another five dollars; so that the establishment of this means of
disposal, under the most liberal allowance of prices, will not exceed
thirty-five dollars. Ordinarily, especially where neighbors combine to
buy their material in larger quantities, it will hardly exceed one-half
of this amount. This, be it understood, is for a complete and permanent
substitute for the expensive and nasty cesspool now so generally
depended upon in the country.

A piece of ground fifty feet square, having ten rows of tile five feet
apart and fifty feet long, will suffice for even a large household with
an abundant water supply. For the better illustration of the arrangement
of this system, I give in Figure 10 a plan for the work in the case of a
lot fifty feet wide, with a depth of open ground behind the house of
somewhat more than fifty feet. The leaching drains may safely begin at a
distance of even ten feet from the back of the house, requiring for the
whole a clear area of only fifty feet by sixty feet. With small
households, the length of drain may be very much shortened. In my own
case, where water-closets are not used, the total length of irrigation
drain is, as before stated, only two hundred feet.

[Illustration: FIG. 10.]

The earth-closet was invented by the Rev. Henry Moule, vicar of
Fordington, in England, more than ten years ago. Its progress in England
has been considerable, and its introduction there has resulted in a
profit to the company undertaking it. In this country it has met with
less general favor. Two companies with large capital, after expending
all their resources, have been obliged to abandon their attempts to
build up a profitable business. Having been actively interested in the
enterprise from its inception, and having given constant attention to
the merits of the system, I am to-day more than ever convinced that the
solution of one of the most difficult problems connected with country
and village life is to be sought in its general adoption. The public
reports of sanitary officers in England, who have investigated the
subject to its foundation, fully confirm every thing that has been
claimed by the advocates of the earth-closet, unless perhaps in
connection with the incidental question of the value of the product as a

The only thing which now deters the authorities of some of the larger
manufacturing towns of the North of England from adopting the
dry-earth-system as a means of relief, under the sharp exaction of the
law that prohibits their further fouling of water-courses, is the belief
that the labor of bringing into the town the enormous amount of earth
required to supply such an immense number of closets, and the labor of
removing the product at frequent intervals, would be so great as to
constitute an insurmountable obstruction.

Prof. Voelcker, in a paper published in the Journal of the Royal
Agricultural Society, shows pretty conclusively that even the use of the
same earth four or five times over, although perfectly successful in
accomplishing the chief purpose of deodorization, fails to add to it a
sufficient amount of fertilizing matter to make it an available
commercial manure. Extended experience in small villages and public
institutions seems to confirm his view, that, if the earth-closet is to
be adopted by towns, they cannot depend either on farmers buying the
manure, or undertaking the labor of supplying and removing it. It is
estimated, that, for a population of one hundred thousand persons, there
would be required seventy-five tons of earth per day, to say nothing of
heavy refuse matters which would be thrown into the closets, and would
increase the amount to be removed. Even the quantity required for a
village of a few hundred inhabitants, if it were to be brought in and
carried out, would entail a considerable cost for handling.

I have recently concluded an experiment of six years' duration, the
result of which seems to show that this objection to the adoption of the
earth-closet system may be set aside, or at least reduced to such
proportions as to make it unimportant. In the autumn of 1870 I had
brought to my house, where only earth-closets are used, two small
cart-loads of garden earth, dried and sifted. This was used repeatedly
in the closets; and, when an increased quantity was required, additions
were made of sifted anthracite ashes. I estimate that the amount of
material now on hand is about two tons. We long since stopped adding to
the quantity, finding that the amount was ample to furnish a supply of
dry and decomposed material whenever it becomes necessary to refill the
reservoirs of the closets.

The accumulation under the seats is discharged through simply arranged
valves into bricked vaults in the cellar. When these vaults become
filled,--about three times in a year,--their contents, which are all
thoroughly decomposed, are piled up in a dry and ventilated place with a
slight covering of fresh earth to keep down any odor that might arise.
After a sufficient interval these heaps are ready for further use,
there being no trace, in any portion, of foreign matter nor any
appearance or odor differing from that of an unused fresh mixture of
earth and ashes. In this way the material has been used over and over
again, at least ten times; and there is no indication to the senses of
any change in its condition.

A sample of this material has recently been analyzed by Prof. Atwater,
at the Connecticut Agricultural Station at Middletown. The analysis
shows that it contains no more organic matter than Prof. Voelcker found
in fresh earth prepared for use in the closet,--say about two hundred
pounds,--nearly all of which organic matter it undoubtedly contained
when first made ready for use. In my case, there was an addition, at a
moderate calculation of at least, 800 pounds of solid dry matter during
the six years' use by an average of four adult persons. Prof. Voelcker's
analysis showed that the unused earth contained about twelve pounds of
nitrogen. Prof. Atwater's analysis shows that my two tons contained only
about eleven pounds of nitrogen. By calculation, the 800 pounds of solid
dry matters added in the use of my material contained 230 pounds of

Doubtless the constitution of Prof. Voelcker's sample was somewhat
different from the original constitution of my own; but practically,
except perhaps for the addition of a trifling amount of residual carbon
remaining after the decomposition, they were about the same; and, after
being used ten times over, the whole of the 800 pounds of organic matter
added, including 230 pounds of nitrogen, seem to have entirely

It becomes interesting and important to know what has become of this
added matter. That it was absorbed into the particles of the earth, is a
matter of course; and the result proves that after such absorption it
was subjected to such a chemical action of the concentrated oxygen
always existing in porous dry material as led to its entire destruction.
Porous substances condense gases--air, oxygen, etc.--in proportion to
the extent of their interior surface. The well-known disinfecting action
of charcoal--the surface of the interior particles of which equal from
fifty to one hundred square feet to each cubic inch of material, and all
of which surface is active in condensing oxygen--is due not simply to
an absorption of foul-smelling odors, but to an actual destruction of
them by slow combustion, so that the same mass of charcoal, if kept dry
and porous, will continue almost indefinitely its undiminished
disinfecting action.

The earth used in the closet is a porous material, sufficiently dry for
the free admission of air or of oxygen. The foulest materials when
covered with dry earth at once lose their odor, and are in time as
effectively destroyed by combustion (oxidized) as though they had been
burned in a furnace. The process is more slow, but none the less sure;
and it is clear that in the case of my dirt-heap the foul matters added
have thus been destroyed. The practical bearings of this fact are of the
utmost importance. Earth is not to be regarded as a vehicle for the
inoffensive removal beyond the limits of the town of what has hitherto
been its most troublesome product, but as a medium for bringing together
the offensive ingredients of this product, and the world's great
scavenger, oxygen. My experiment seems to demonstrate the fact that
there is no occasion to carry away the product from the place where it
has been produced, as after a reasonable time it has ceased to exist,
and there remains only a mass of earth which is in all respects as
effective as any fresh supply that could be substituted.

The quantity necessary to be provided can be determined only by extended
trial. My experiment proves that the amount needed does not exceed one
thousand pounds for each member of the household, and that this amount
once provided will remain permanently effective to accomplish its

With a suitable public supply of water for the purpose, and with a
suitable means of disposal, nothing can be better and nothing is more
easily kept in good condition than well-regulated and properly
ventilated water-closets. Where these are available, with enough water
for their flushing, their use is to be recommended. Where there is not
sufficient water, there a well-regulated system of earth-closets seems
to be imperatively demanded. By one process or the other we must prevent
the fouling of the lower soil, and the consequent tainting of wells and
springs, and the ground under houses and adjoining their cellars. With
a system of sub-irrigation pipes which deliver foul matters into earth
that is subject to the active operation of oxidizing influences, we need
fear no contamination of the deep and unaërated soil. It would be
better, however, where this system is used for the disposal of the
outflow of soil-pipes, to avoid the use of wells. As a general rule, it
is safer not to use for drinking purposes the water of any well near a
house or a stable: practically, it is better not to use wells at all as
a source of water for domestic supply. Filtered cistern-water is greatly
to be preferred.


     "God made the country, and man made the town."

Cowper's view of the charm of country life as compared with life in the
town is a very natural one. The same view suggests itself to every
cultivated denizen of the city who finds himself in the country on a
beautiful June morning, or under a warm September sun, or during the
time of brilliant autumn foliage, or when the sun sets with a warm glow,
gilding the clean, bare boughs of November trees, or when the whole
countryside is covered with spotless snow, or when grass and leaves and
buds and birds first feel the awakening warmth of spring. The scene is
full of a charm and a novelty which appeal to him most strongly; and he
believes, for the moment at least, that nothing could make him so
entirely happy as to spend his life away from the noise and confusion
of the town, and amid such scenes of rural peace and beauty. Filled with
this enthusiasm, one builds with reference to a magnificent view, and
without regard to the practical inconveniences of the site, fancying
that true happiness requires only a continuance of the novel charms
which have enraptured him.

The cultivated countryman, too,--one who has learned to use his eyes,
and to see what nature has to offer him,--appreciates even more
thoroughly, if not so keenly, the never-ending and ever-changing
interest by which he is surrounded. His admiration and enthusiasm,
however, are tempered by familiarity with some disadvantages of country
life,--just as the romantic house-builder finds on closer acquaintance
that, magnificent though a hill-top view may be, a hill-top residence is
not without its grave drawbacks, nor free from annoyances and practical
objections which too often throw a veil over the most majestic outlook.

A blue-sided, white-capped mountain, reflected in a broad, placid,
shimmering lake, and framed between fleeting clouds, graceful trees, and
verdant lawn, is beyond compare the strongest inducement and the best
reward one can offer to a visiting friend; but vile roads, distant
neighbors, discontented and transitory servants, and all the thousand
and one obstructions to the machinery of domestic life, soon blind the
eye of the unhappy householder to the beauty which lies ever before him,
until at last the one great good thing which commands his constant
thought is that romantic and pecunious friend who shall come some happy
day to purchase his estate.

There is another class, and a very large one, whose opinion concerning
the godlike character of the country it is our especial purpose to
consider here. The farmer and the farmer's family may or may not be
cultivated persons. Cultivation does not come by nature; and the
incessant and increasing duties of farm life leave one, however well
disposed, but little time and but scant strength for æsthetic study. The
farmhouse is the centre of the home life and of the homely thought and
feeling of its inmates. The farm on which one has been born and bred is
the centre and standpoint from which he regards the world without. All
those more tender emotions which are common to our nature, and which
attach themselves to the home, find their development on the farm as
well as in the town. Sentimentally considered, it matters little whether
the object of these emotions be on the farm, in the wilderness, in the
village, or in the city. Fortunately, man is by no means a creature of
emotion alone; and the satisfaction and good of living are less a matter
of feeling than of activity, industry, and intelligence. The place in
which one lives is more or less satisfactory in proportion as it
facilitates and encourages the better and more useful living.

Just as the citizen feels the attractions of the country, which are so
novel to his town-bred taste, so the countryman finds a charm in the
novelty of the town. As one is led toward the quiet and solitude of the
fields and woods, so the other is drawn by the life and interest of the

As a rule, at least in America, where the facilities for pleasant
country living are far less than in England, the countryman who goes to
town is less likely to wish himself back on the farm than is the
town-bred farmer to long for the comforts and conveniences of his former

"Man is a social animal," and the aphorism is especially true of his
wife and daughter. As the lives of the wife and daughter are much more
confined to the immediate surroundings of the domicile than is that of
the man himself, so the question as between town and country should be
considered more especially with reference to them.

There is a certain amount of truth on both sides of every question; and
the one which we are now considering is not to be answered by a decision
in favor of the heart of a great city, or of the entire solitude of an
outlying farm. As is so often the case, its solution lies between the
two extremes. If one may be permitted to imagine the conditions best
suited to the perfect physical, intellectual, and social development of
the human being, one would naturally think of a small town or a large
village where society is sufficient, where the facilities for
instruction are good, where communication with the large centres is
easy, where the conveniences and facilities for household economy are
complete, and where the country with its beauty and quiet and freshness
is close at hand,--where one feels on this side the influence of a
complete social organization, and on that the sweet breath of mother

Unfortunately, these imaginings can never be freed from the practical
bearing of the bread-winning and money-making interests. Men must live,
not where they prefer to live, but where their interests compel them to
live. The town and the country have their mutual economic duties by
which their life must be controlled. All that we can hope to do is, on
one hand, to ameliorate the hardness and solitude of country living,
and, on the other, to bring the citizen into nearer relation with the
invigorating fields and woods and boundless air of the country.

Devising no modern Sybaris, where all possible good of life may follow
from the unaided operation of a perfect social and industrial
organization, I propose to confine myself to the simple question of the
best practical development of village life for farmers. The village or
its immediate vicinity seems to me to offer the urbanist the nearest
approach to the country that is available for his purposes; and in like
manner village life, so far as it can be made to fit his conditions,
offers to the farmer as much of the benefit of town life as the needs of
his work will allow him to obtain. If those who now seek the pleasures
of retirement in costly and soul-wearying country-seats would congregate
into spacious and well-kept villages, and if those who now live in the
solitary retirement of the mud-bound farmhouse would congregate into
villages, we should secure far more relief from the confinement of the
town and a wider-reaching attractiveness in agricultural life; this
latter leading to the improvement of our farming by a solution of that
long-mooted problem, "How to keep the boys on the farm."

Nearly everywhere on the Continent of Europe those who are engaged in
the cultivation of the land live in villages. An observation of the
modes of life and industry of these villages has led me to consider
whether some similar system might not tend to the improvement of the
conditions of our own farmers, and to the amelioration of some hardships
to which their families are subjected.

In Europe, as here, the methods of living have grown from natural
causes. There it was a necessary condition of agricultural industry,
that those who tilled the soil should be protected by the military
power of their lord or chief; and their houses were clustered under the
shadow of his castle wall. The castles have crumbled away, and the
protecting arm of the old baron has been replaced by the protecting arm
of the nation.

The community of living, which grew from necessity, having proved its
fitness by long trial, is still maintained; but there seems to have been
no general tendency toward the formation of such little communities
here. Save in a few exceptional cases,--as in the old villages of the
Connecticut Valley, where protection against Indians or safety from
inundation compelled the original settlers to gather into
communities,--the pioneer built his cabin in his new clearing, and, as
his circumstances improved, changed his cabin for a house, and his small
house for a larger one, and finally established his comfortable home in
connection with his fertile fields. This method has been adopted
throughout the whole country; and the peculiarly American system of
isolated farm-life has become almost universal throughout the length and
breadth of the land.

I am not so enthusiastic as to believe that a radical change from this
universal system is to be hoped for at any early day; but I believe that
it is worth while for farmers to consider how far they may, without
permanent harm to the interests for which they are working, secure for
themselves, and especially for their families, the benefits of village

To this end are adduced the following examples, both of which are of
course purely imaginary. The first has reference to a new settlement of
wild land, where, by the Government's system of division, the boundaries
are rectangular, and where the political subdivisions are of uniform
measurement. The second relates to the necessary change of conditions
now existing in the longer-settled parts of the country.

For this latter, the illustration is taken from an actual accurate
survey[1] of a purely agricultural district in Rhode Island, showing the
roads, houses, and field boundaries as they now exist, followed by a
suggestion as to the manner in which the same division of estates might
be made to conform to the assembling of their owners into a village.

[Footnote 1: A map of the United States Coast Survey.]

The Government division is into townships six miles square. It is
proposed to divide each township into nine settlements, giving to each a
square of two miles, or 2,560 acres. Each of these settlements should
have its whole population concentrated in a village at its centre. A
suitable method of division would be that indicated in Figure 11, where
a public road crosses the middle of the tract north and south, and east
and west. The outside of the tract, for the width of half a mile all
around, is laid off in farms of 80 acres and 160 acres. These are
bounded on the inner sides by a road. Inside of this road again is a
series of smaller farms (40 acres), and inside of these a tier of still
smaller places (10 acres), separated from the central village by a
narrow road. The village itself occupies 40 acres.

The division of the agricultural land is as follows:--

    4 farms of   160 acres   640
   16     "       80   "   1,280
   12     "       40   "     480
   12     "       10   "     120

in all, 44 tracts, aggregating 2,520 acres, and averaging nearly 60
acres each, the most distant being less than a mile from the village
green. This division is arbitrary; in practice, the more industrious
members of the community would buy land from their less industrious
neighbors, and the size and arrangement of the farms would vary. Often,
too, the division would be into farms averaging more than sixty acres.
In such cases there would usually be about the same population, as the
larger holders would employ more workmen.


What is attempted is chiefly to show how four square miles of land may
be so divided that its occupiers may be conveniently gathered into a
village; and it may fairly be assumed, that, except in the more remote
grazing and grain-growing regions, the population (including laborers)
would generally be about one household for each sixty acres. In the more
thickly settled regions, this limit is exceeded now; and, as population
increases, this condition will extend. In any case, the principle
advanced remains the same, whether there be thirty households or sixty.

A suitable division of the village is shown in Figure 12. Its centre is
occupied by a public square at the intersection of the main roads. The
road surrounds a piece of ornamental ground, containing about one acre.
North and south of the square are the sites of two churches, a
schoolhouse, and a store and public house. This is again arbitrary; the
purpose is to have these spaces occupied by somewhat important
buildings, which it will not be necessary to enclose by fences, so that
an appearance of more size may be given to the central feature of the


The spaces set apart for these buildings, as well as the village green,
should be surrounded by regularly planted trees, such as will grow to a
large size, like the American elm. But the whole open space should
remain otherwise free from planting. Smooth, well-kept grass, and large
trees planted in formal lines, with an entire absence of fences, posts,
chains, bushes, and all decorations, will give a dignity and character
which an excess of ornamentation would spoil. A certain amount of
judicious bedding would be permissible, but it would be best that even
this should be confined to private places. Any fund available for
embellishing the village green will be best used in keeping its grass
cut and its walks clean,--entire neatness and simplicity being its most
effective characteristics.

On the streets leading east and west from the green there are shown
sixteen lots 100 X 250 (one-half acre), eight 50 X 250 (one-quarter
acre). These lots all open on narrow lanes at the rear. On the streets
leading north and south there are twelve lots 50 X 650 (three-quarters
acre), and eight lots 100 X 650 (one and one-half acres). These are the
village lots proper, but the twelve ten-acre tracts which front on its
surrounding street would be the residences of their owners; and these
semi-detached houses--the most distant not a quarter of a mile from the
green--would form a part of the village, and come within the operation
of its rules of association. Probably the blacksmith, the wheelwright,
and the builder would occupy these outlying places, with an "annex" of
farming to supplement their trades.

The village lots proper are all large enough for a kitchen-garden, barn,
barn-yard, &c.; and all have means of access from the rear, so that
their street fronts may be kept for ornamental purposes.

It would be a good rule that no house should stand nearer to the street
line than thirty feet, and that no fence should be made nearer to the
street than sixty feet. This would add very much to the largeness of
appearance of the whole village; would decorate every street with the
ornamental fronts of the houses and with their plants and shrubbery, and
would, at the same time, shut off from the ornamental parts every thing
belonging to the working department of the village life. Even the baker
and the shoemaker should conform to this rule, and their shops should be
made to help the neatness of appearance of the village.

The larger farmers, having the most cattle, would occupy the largest
lots, which would readily accommodate their larger needs. The more
ambitious of them would probably buy land, for night pasture or for
cultivation, from a ten-acre neighbor opposite their rear line.

The village population would be somewhat as follows: two clergymen, one
doctor, one teacher, one baker, one shoemaker, one tailor, two
store-keepers, one carpenter, one wheelwright, one blacksmith, one
dressmaker, one innkeeper, forty-four farmers: total, fifty-eight heads
of families. Probably, including hired laborers and servants, the
average would be six persons to each household. This would make the
population of the village about 350. No part of the whole scheme is more
arbitrary than this arrangement of its human element; and no part of it
would be more modified in different cases by the element of human
nature. Still, this sketch of the industrial division of the community
would probably be approximated in any purely agricultural village of
this size,--with such changes in the detail as would come from
individual enterprise or indolence.

Taking the whole area at 2,560 acres, and the population at 350
persons, we have an area of about 7-1/3 acres to furnish the support and
home of each member of the community,--an amount ample for the purpose.

Figure 13 suggests the arrangement of the central open space of the
village,--all of which should be in well-kept grass, except where roads
and paths are needed. Paths should be reduced to the least amount that
will furnish the necessary accommodation, and they should be kept in
neat condition. If no provision can be made for this, it will be better
to leave the people to beat their own tracks across the grass as their
needs direct. These beaten foot-paths are never unsightly (in small
villages), for the reason that they are never large, and that they are
only of such width as their regular use will keep clean: the grass
maintains its effort to spread, and grows always close up to the
necessary foot-way. Even in Hyde Park (London), where the people have
made short cuts across the broad lawns, the paths thus marked out, and
receiving no attention, are not only unobjectionable, but are a charming
feature of that beautiful pleasure-ground.


The foot-path indicated for the village green will be demanded by the
more ambitious village improvers; but were I making an ideal village for
moderate and tasteful people, the road surrounding the green should
enclose only a level, close-cropped lawn, neatly trimmed at its edges,
surrounded by fine and simple trees, and traced here and there with the
foot-paths that honest use had marked out and made, and by the
suggestive diamond-shaped track and bases of the village base-ball club.
It should be perfect in grade, in outline, in regularity of planting,
and in mowing; but it should be a perfect lawn _plus_ the wear of
constant use and frequent pleasure.

       *       *       *       *       *

The second example is taken from existing conditions in my own
neighborhood. The United States Coast Survey has furnished all the
necessary details save the _farm_ boundaries. The field boundaries and
roads are exact.

The tract is of the same size with the one just considered,--two miles
square. Its centre is in one direction about two miles from a small
village, and in the other about seven miles from a large town which
furnishes the chief market for its agricultural products, and is the
source of all (or nearly all) of its supplies.


Figure 14 shows the present settlement of this area, the houses, about
sixty in number, being scattered over the whole tract, with no near
approach to a "neighborhood" at any point. These are practically all
farmers' houses, some trade being carried on here and there in
connection with the farm-work. A few of the houses belong to farms
which lie mainly outside of my lines. Deducting a fair proportion for
this, and others for the wheelwright, blacksmith, &c., we shall have
about the same number of farmers as in the former instance, say
forty-four; and, taking the same area for the village, we shall have the
same amount of farm and village property for their support.

Figure 15 shows a suitable division of property and the location of the
village, on a short cross street running from one to the other of the
main public roads, and extending a short distance up and down these

It would be a necessary condition precedent, that the whole property
taken for the village should be set apart for the purpose. This
requirement and the cost of moving buildings from the farms to the
village would doubtless be an serious obstacle to the immediate carrying
out of the plan. And thus the theory must long remain a theory only. No
sudden change of the sort could be made in practice.


It would not be impossible, however, to bring about the end in time, if
a few of the larger proprietors could secure possession of the village
tract by exchange, and would dedicate it to the purpose, agreeing at any
future time to sell small lots for building at a fixed low rate. In the
instance under consideration, the village tract is thinly settled, and
so situated as to be available at moderate cost. If a church, a
schoolhouse, and a store could be established as a nucleus of the
village, the young couples of the neighborhood might incline to settle
there; and in time the settlement could be made so attractive--as
compared with the outlying farmhouses--as to lead to the concentration
of the whole population.

This part of the subject is, however, foreign to the present purpose. If
the _desirability_ of village life for farmers can be established, the
ways and means may safely be left to those interested in securing it.
The influences now at work to make the farmers' children seek a better
social condition, together with the necessity which confines them to
some form of agricultural work, must be depended on to secure the relief
suggested, unless some better relief can be found.

In this case, as in every other of village construction, the original
plan should include some quality or feature, which, while appropriate to
the modest end in view, will give character to the place.

Every village has in its situation, its uses, or its origin, some
characteristic which may be developed into a leading and an attractive
feature. Especially when the work is to be begun from the foundation,
and when there are no buildings to be torn down or removed, a consistent
and dignified result may be planned for at the outset.

The characteristic feature of the village we are now considering is that
it is to consist of a single long, straight street cut off at each end
by other roads. After removing one unimportant house, there remains no
obstacle to the laying-out of one straight street two hundred feet wide,
with either two or four rows of spreading elms. This street, two
thousand feet long, mainly in well-kept grass, with only the necessary
width of road and the requisite paths,--having perhaps a well-kept and
home-like private place opposite each of its ends,--would stamp the
village at once with an attraction which would have a constant
civilizing effect on those living under its influence.

Such a village street, entirely without costly ornamentation, and
requiring only the simplest care, would soon take on a look of
appropriate neatness and freshness; and, as the trees grew, it would
acquire a dignity and beauty which could in no other way be so well

The church and the schoolhouse, being placed in broad recesses opposite
the central point of the street, would gain importance from their
position; and, these main features being attended to, the _character_ of
the village would be fixed, and it would be difficult to make any
arrangement of its private places which would spoil its beauty. Neatness
and a reasonable care in the matter of house-gardening, the planting of
flower-beds, vines, etc., are all that would be needed.

With so wide a street, it would be as well to bring all house-fronts to
the street line, completing this line with simple fences, and paying
some attention to the ornamentation of the enclosed yards.

In this village, as in the other, all meretricious ornamentation should
be avoided, whether public or private. All money available for such
improvement should be spent in securing perfect neatness. In fact, the
two radical requirements of good taste in all such cases are an absence
of obvious money-spending, and the evidence of constant care and
attention. "Showiness" is common in every trumpery village in the land.
What we should seek in our farm-villages is the most modest simplicity,
shining with the polish of an affectionate care. Every spot should
breathe of homely influences and moral peacefulness.


Figure 16 shows the general plan of the village. If other public
buildings are needed, they might very well be placed opposite the ends
of the main street.

It is not possible, in remodelling an old farming district, where
boundaries and roads are irregular, to apportion the division of land
among the population with especial reference to its distance from the
village; so, for example, that the small farmers, who have little
team-force, shall not have so far to go as the larger ones who are
better equipped; but, even in this case, the most distant farm will be
rarely a mile from the village, where all the farmers, their families,
and their work-people, and their flocks and herds, would be gathered
together, under the best circumstances for getting out of their lives as
much good as the need for earning a living by arduous work will allow
them to get anywhere,--more than they could hope to get in the isolation
of the distant farmhouse.

Having now considered the methods by which farmers may congregate their
homes and their farm-buildings, and live in villages, let us take up
the more important question of policy.

Which would be better for a young man, just starting in life with a
young wife,--to go to a distant farmhouse to found his home, or to
settle in a well-ordered farm-village under substantially the conditions
described above?

There is much more to be said, on both sides of this question, than
there is room to say here; but certain points are worthy of

There is no doubt that in a strictly money-making aspect there is an
advantage in having the animals on the land from which they are fed, and
the men on the farm which they are to work. It is certain, also, that
the men and the women must be near the stables, that the early and late
work of feeding and milking may be promptly and regularly performed. If
the family is to live in the village, the cattle must live in the
village too. This involves the hauling home of all the hay and grain,
and the hauling out again of all manure,--no slight task. If the work is
all concentrated on the farm, under the immediate supervision of the
farmer, there will be a certain convenience and economy of time.

The same principle holds true in all other relations. The merchant would
find a certain advantage in living at his warehouse, the engine-builder
at his factory, the cotton-spinner at his mill, the carpenter at his
shop, and the grocer at his store. All of these have found that, so far
as may be, they get certain other and greater advantages in living away
from their business. One and all carry to their homes, at least
occasionally, books, papers, and plans for work that needs attention out
of the regular business hours.

The farmer alone--and in this country especially--disregards the
benefits of living away from his shop, and passes his whole life--day
and night--in close contact with his field of operations. He might, if
he chose, make his home nearer to other homes, taking with him so much
of his work as is not necessarily confined to the farm.

For his own sake, it does not make so much difference; but for the sake
of his wife and children it makes all the difference between life and
stagnation. The business needs which call him to town, and the habit he
has of passing his evenings at "the store," give him a certain
amount--and a certain kind--of social intercourse which keeps him from
absolute rust. The amount of society available for his family is not
usually great, and the dulness and confinement of farmhouse life need no

The main reason for preferring village life is principally because it is
better for the women and children; but there are reasons, in the same
direction, why better social conditions would give the farmer himself
decided benefits. The life, too, would be more _attractive_ for both
boys and girls, and would be divested of that naked and dismal gloom and
dryness which now drive so much of the best farmer blood of the whole
country to work-benches and counters,--to any position, in fact, which
promises relief from the stifling isolation of the country.

While conceding that, just as a cabinet-maker would make more money if
he lived in his back shop, and had little thought from early dawn until
late evening except for his work, so the farmer may make more money if
he lives on his farm than if he lives at a distance, still it must be
said that the difference in profit is by no means so great as would be

It may be fairly assumed, that, at least in the more thickly settled
farming regions at the East, the average distance at which farmers live
from the nearest centre of population that supplies their "shopping,"
and from church, is not less than three miles. The visiting acquaintance
of the family is nearly or quite as remote; and there is, altogether, so
much driving to be done, as to make it necessary to keep a decent
carriage and horses, and to supply a certain amount of extra horse
service. Indeed, among those who are tolerably well off it would be
moderate to set down the total services of one good horse as needed to
supply the family's demand for transportation.

Then, too, the need of the farmer himself to go to town to sell and to
buy, to get repairs and information, and (a much more generally
gratified taste than he would always care to confess to his wife) to
satisfy his craving after intercourse with his kind,--who shall estimate
the aggregate of all this travel, or even of that part of it which,
under the pretext of business, is really only an habitual going for
gossip? All of this driving is confined to no season; it is
perennial,--in good weather and in bad,--and it costs an amount of time
and money that few farmers would like to put down in black and white,
and charge to their expense accounts. It would form one of the most
serious items of their budget.

Did the farmer live in a pleasant and attractive village, among
neighbors and friends, nearly all of this driving would be saved. The
appliances for the family's pleasure-driving might be entirely done away
with, for the wife and daughters would gladly exchange the means for
occasional visiting and for distant shopping, for an agreeable circle of
friends near at hand and a good village store and post-office within
five minutes' walk. In such a settlement as is contemplated, most of the
business needs of the farmer would be amply supplied, and he would find
the companionship at hand even more satisfactory, because more familiar,
than that which he now finds in the town.

It is not worth while to calculate the cash saving that would come of
this reduction of road-*work. It is enough to consider it as an
important offset to the cost of carrying men and manure to the field and
of bringing crops to the village.

Under the present system the women have the worst of it. They have the
confinement and seclusion and dulness. Under the village system the men
would have the discomfort, and this is why it will be less easy to
secure its adoption; for the men control, and prefer _not_ to have the
heavy end of life's log to carry.

Under either of the plans given herewith, the greatest--not the
average--distance from the house to the farm would be about one mile,
and it would have to be travelled only during the working weather of the
warmer months, and during the good wheeling of winter. In summer, all
hands would have to set off early, and come home late, often carrying
their dinner with them as mechanics do; but when field-work did not call
them out, as during rains, or when the ground is too wet to be
disturbed, their barn-work and shop-work would be at home; and, all the
winter through, the only road-work to be done would be to send the teams
to haul out the manure, and to bring home the hay, which would be best
stored under "Dutch hay-barracks" in the fields when it was made. This
work would be systematic and simple; and it may fairly be questioned
whether it would not, in many cases, amount to _less_ than the cost of
the "driving" that is now done, and which in the village might be
foregone. Especially would this be the case when all the heavy farm-work
is done by oxen, which when idle, instead of eating their heads off like
horses, are accumulating valuable flesh. With sufficient ox-power to do
the work easily, the whole transportation of tools and men, and all the
hay-tedding and hay-raking, would be easily done by one horse, with
leeway enough to allow for a fair amount of business or pleasure travel.

So far as the presence of the farmer himself is concerned, it is to be
considered that if his farm and cattle are near his house in the
village, he will be within easy reach of them very often at times when
his visits to the distant town would take him away from them if they
were on the farm. In the village, during the whole winter, and in bad
weather at other seasons, he would have little necessity or temptation
to absent himself from home. Indeed, those who have had an opportunity
to watch the life of the exceptional farmers whose houses and barns and
stables are in a village cannot have failed to notice how much more
home-like and engaging is the whole farm establishment than it usually
is in the country. It is hardly too much to say that the few instances
that we have, as in the farm-villages of New England, show that these
village-living farmers are apparently more attentive to their home
duties than are their isolated brethren, at least in the matter of

To complete the comparison with the merchant or manufacturer, who takes
his papers or plans home with him for work out of regular hours, one
might say that the farmer who lives at a distance from his land, with
his flocks and herds gathered about his homestead, has such of his work
as needs early and late attention close at hand, while his regular
workshop, the farm, calls him away for certain regular hours and regular

It is not worth while here to enter into the details of the question.
They are of serious moment, and involve among other things the driving
of animals to and from pasture, _versus_ the raising of soiling crops to
be fed in the stall or yard. All of these questions have been
satisfactorily solved in the experience of many exceptional cases in
this country, and of the almost universal conditions obtaining in
Europe. They present no practical difficulty, and need constitute no
serious objection to the general plan.

The items of economical working and money-making being fully weighed,
the more serious considerations of the mode of life, and the good to be
got from it, demand even greater attention. It may seem a strange
doctrine to be advanced by a somewhat enthusiastic farmer, but it is a
doctrine that has been slowly accepted after many years' observation, a
conviction that has taken possession of an unwilling mind, that the
young man who takes his young wife to an isolated farmhouse dooms her
and himself and their children to an unwholesome, unsatisfactory, and
vacant existence,--an existence marked by the absence of those more
satisfying and more cultivating influences which the best development of
character and intelligence demand. It is a common experience of farmers'
wives to pass week after week without exchanging a word or a look with a
single person outside of their own family circles.

The young couple start bravely, and with a determination to struggle
against the habit of isolation which marks their class. But this habit
has grown from the necessity of the situation; and the necessities of
their own situation bring them sooner or later within its bonds. During
the first few years they adhere to their resolution, and go regularly to
church, to the lecture, and to the social gatherings of their friends;
but home duties increase with time, and the eagerness for society grows
dull with neglect. Those who have started out with the firmest
determination to avoid the rock on which their fathers have split, give
up the struggle at last, and settle down to a humdrum, uninteresting,
and uninterested performance of daily tasks.

In saying all this,--and I speak from experience, for I have led the
dismal life myself,--it is hardly necessary to disclaim the least want
of appreciation of the sterling qualities which have been developed in
the American farm household. But it may be safely insisted that these
qualities have been developed, not because of the American mode of farm
life, but in spite of it; and, as I think over the long list of
admirable men and women whose acquaintance I have formed on distant and
solitary farms, I am more and more impressed with certain shortcomings
which would have been avoided under better social conditions. If any of
these is disposed to question the justice of this conclusion, I am
satisfied to leave the final decision with his own judgment, formed
after a fair consideration of what is herein suggested.

If American agriculture has an unsatisfied need, it is surely the need
for more intelligence and more enterprising interest on the part of its
working men and women. From one end of the land to the other, its crying
defect--recognized by all--is, that its best blood, or, in other words,
its best brains and its best energy, is leaving it to seek other fields
of labor. The influence which leads these best of the farmers' sons to
other occupations is not so much the desire to make more money, or to
find a less laborious occupation, as it is the desire to lead a more
satisfactory life,--a life where that part of us which has been
developed by the better education and better civilization for which in
this century we have worked so hard and so well, may find responsive
companionship and encouraging intercourse with others.

It so happens that the few farm villages to which we can refer--such as
Farmington, Hadley, and Deerfield--have become so attractive by means of
their full-grown beauty, or have been so encroached upon by the wealth
that has come over the district to which they belong, that they are no
longer to be taken as types of pure country villages; nor do I recall a
single village in the land which is precisely what I have now in mind.

Assuming that a farming neighborhood--two miles, or at the utmost three
miles, square--had been so arranged as to have all of its buildings
(with the exception of hay-barracks in the fields, and cattle-shelters
in the pastures) in a village, let us consider what would be the
advantages in the manner of living which it would have to offer.

The social benefits, and the facilities for frequent neighborly and
informal intercourse, are obvious. To say nothing of the companionships
and intimacies among the young people, their fathers and mothers would
be kept from growing old and glum by constant friction with their kind;
and, in so far as a more satisfactory social relation with one's
fellow-men gives cheerfulness and the richness of a wider human
interest, in that proportion would the village life have a wholesome,
mellowing effect that is not to be found in the remote farmhouse, nor
even in the sort of neighborhood we sometimes find in the country where
several farmhouses are within a quarter of a mile of each other. The
habit of "running in" for a moment's chat with a neighbor is a good one,
and it gets but scant development among American farmers. This view of
the case will suggest itself quite naturally on the first consideration
of the subject.

If the first need of the rising generation--the men and women of the
future--is education, then the village beats the farm by long odds. The
country school-district, sparsely settled and chary of its taxes, is apt
to obey the law in the scantiest way possible. Three months school in
winter and three months more in summer, under the supervision--it can
hardly be called the instruction--of a young miss who is by no means
well educated herself, and who is entirely often without training as a
teacher, gathers together all of the school-going children of a wide
neighborhood. Big and little, boys and girls, are huddled together in a
sort of mental jumble, where the best that the most skilful manager can
hope for is to regulate the instruction and the discipline to suit the
average of the scholars. The best result attainable is to secure a good
amount of _schooling_: the word "education" would be quite misapplied

In the village, the number of scholars would be sufficiently large to
warrant the establishment and to bear the maintenance of one good
school, with one, if not more, teachers, regularly employed, and worthy
to be called teachers rather than "school-marms." Pupils would be graded
according to their ages and acquirements, and a due use could be made of
the stimulus of competition. A real school, a real instrument of
education, would take the place of the noisy congregation of
uncontrolled boys and girls, who, in the country district-school, are
apt to acquire less of valuable learning than of the minor viciousness
that prevails among country children.

In this connection, I was forcibly struck with the announcement of a
German farmer once in my employ, whose reason for leaving me, after his
children had reached the ages of seven and eleven, to return to his
little village in Germany, was that it was impossible in this
country--and this, be it remembered, was in New England--to secure
satisfactory instruction for them. He thought that in their experience
at school here they had gained little beyond a familiarity with English,
and with a large admixture of "bad words" at that. At home they would
have, within the elementary range of a primary-school education, a
thorough training and a severe drilling which he could not hope for
here, and without which he was unwilling that they should grow up. I
have seen his village school in Germany, and the cloud of tow-headed
children who fill it; and I am prepared to believe that his preference
was not without foundation. Of course we have all the material for as
good or better schools in this country. What we need is longer terms,
better trained and educated teachers, graded classes, and better books
and appliances. These cannot be afforded in the small country
school-district. They can be had in their perfection in even a small
village; and this consideration alone, even if this were all, should be
a controlling argument in favor of village life.

But this is by no means all. Another great benefit is to be found in the
post-office near at hand, with its daily mail as an encouragement to
correspondence and to interest in the affairs of the outside world. A
village, such as is here pictured, could afford its weekly or
semi-monthly public lecture, furnishing a means for instruction and
entertainment, and for frequent gatherings. The church, too, would
probably be conducted in a more satisfactory way than is usual in the
country; and the conditions would be the best suited for fostering that
interest in the collateral branches of the church, the Bible-class, the
Sunday school, and the Dorcas society, by which the women of the
community get, aside from the other good that they receive and do,
advantages of a character somewhat corresponding to those which men get
from their clubs.

I should hope further, as an outgrowth from the community of living, for
a modest village library and reading-room. Indeed, if I could have my
own way, I should not confine the attraction and entertainment of the
village to strictly "moral" appliances. It would probably be wiser to
recognize the fact that young men find an attraction in amusements which
our sterner ancestors regarded as dangerous; and I would not eschew
billiards, nor even, "by rigorous enactment," the milder vice of social
tobacco. Better have a little _harmless_ wickedness near home and under
the eye of parents than to encounter the risk that boys, after a certain
age, would seek a pretext for more uncontrolled indulgences in the
neighboring town.

One might go on through the long range of incidental arguments--such as
lighted streets, well-kept sidewalks, winter snow-ploughs, and good
drainage, and a wholesome pride in a tidy, cosey village, until even the
most close-fisted of all our class would confess that the extra cost
would bring full value in return, and until he would recognize the fact
that the attractions of such a home as the village would make possible
would be likely to insure his being succeeded in his wholesome trade by
the brightest and best of his sons,--a result that would surely be worth
more than all it would cost.

But my purpose has been only to suggest a scheme which seems to me
entirely, even though remotely, practicable, and in which I hope for the
sympathy and help of the country-bound farmers' wives and daughters,--a
scheme which promises what seems the easiest, if not the only, relief
for the dulness and desolation of living which make American farming
loathsome to so many who ought to glory in its pursuit, but who now are
only bound to it by commanding necessity.


We are all familiar with the lavish praise bestowed--especially when
votes are to be secured--upon the "bone and sinew of the country;" but
the farmers themselves are very far from accepting as true, even if
sincere, the estimate of their qualities which the editor and the public
speaker so loudly profess.

The average farmer is precisely what any other average man would be who
had grown up under the same conditions. There is no mysterious charm
belonging to his occupation which removes him beyond the reach of the
influences by which all mankind are controlled. Coming from the same
original stock and inheriting the same peculiarities of race, he is
essentially the same as men in other vocations. The character of his
work, the necessities of his financial condition, and the social
surroundings amid which he has been reared, have had the same influence
in moulding his character that similar conditions have had in moulding
the characters of others.

Farming is in a certain sense the basis of all individual and national
prosperity; but the case would be more fairly stated were we to say that
farming happens to be the first step in an industrial process, many
steps of which are alike essential to civilization. The farmer produces
raw material, and without raw material the world must come to a stop;
but the butcher, the baker, the spinner, the weaver, and every artisan,
render as essential service in the development of this raw material into
the forms demanded by modern life, as does the farmer in growing it.

As a member of the farmer class, I hasten to disclaim for it any
_especial_ consideration given it because of its contribution to the
welfare of mankind. We are as useful as any other hard-working people,
no more and no less. We claim no higher appreciation for muscular effort
exerted in swinging the flail than for that applied to the wielding of
the hammer.

The controlling motive of a farmer in performing his work and carrying
on his business is the hope of material gain. He works for the money
that he expects to earn, and not with any conscious reference to the
service he is rendering to the world. In this capacity as a farmer he is
neither a philanthropist nor a patriot, only a man of business. If we
wish properly to estimate his character and his value as a factor of
modern civilization, we must not be misled by sentimental considerations
as to his relation with nature and his "noble" occupation.

The conditions of Eastern farming and of Eastern farm life are the true
index, as they are the true cause, of the character of the Eastern
farmer. These conditions are constantly varying, and their effect is
always modified by individual qualities.

It may be possible to strike such an average as shall afford a tolerably
good suggestion of the real character and condition of the farmer, and a
hint as to his future; that is to say, certain prevalent influences tend
to mark the type, and certain modifications of these influences may lead
to its improvement. Any attempt to portray the class as a whole would
be met by such a list of exceptions as would seriously affect the
result; but the following may be considered true in a large number of
cases, and applicable, with minor changes, to many more.

Let us take the case of an outlying farm in New England, of one hundred
acres,--a farm that has been in cultivation from the earlier settlement
of the country, and which is of the average degree of improvement, with
the usual division into arable, mowing, pasture, and wood land. It lies
two or three miles away from a considerable town or village, and its
chief industry is the selling of milk in the town. With an allowance of
two acres per cow for summer pasture, and of one and a half acres of
mowing-land for winter feeding, the cows it keeps number about a dozen.
For team-work on the farm and for road-work and pleasure-driving, there
are kept two horses and two oxen. In addition to these there will be a
greater or less amount of young stock and the usual swine and poultry,
and perhaps a few sheep. The farmer himself is the chief workman on the
place, and he has the regular help of a hired man or a grown son. An
extra hand during the working season is usual; but in winter the farmer
and his one assistant will do all of the work of feeding, milking,
delivering the milk, hauling out manure, etc.

A few years ago the housework was done almost entirely by the mother of
the family and her daughters, or by a girl taken to "bring up;" but
latterly the more troublesome element of an Irish girl in the kitchen
has become general, for the daughter of the farmer has aspirations and
tastes which disqualify her for efficient household drudgery. In spite
of all modern appliances, much of the work of the farmer's household
must be so characterized. The life of American farm women is, however,
not now under discussion: the subject is a fruitful one, and has
important bearings upon the development of the race; but what we are to
consider here is simply the work and condition of the farmer himself.
The milk-selling farmer--and this industry is one of the most
wide-spread in Eastern farming--is more regularly employed than any
other. Winter and summer his cows must be milked twice a day. Evening's
milk must be cooled and safely kept until morning; and morning's milk
must be ready for early delivery. It is usual for the farmer to rise at
three every morning, winter and summer, to milk his cows,--with one
assistant,--and to start as early as five o'clock to deliver his milk.
Returning about the middle of the forenoon, he is able to attend to the
details of barn-work in winter and field-work in summer, until half-past
two or three o'clock in the afternoon, less the brief interval needed
for the consumption of food. Early in the afternoon the cows must be
again milked, and the cans of milk must in summertime be set in spring
water for cooling. Then comes the feeding of the stock and the greasing
of axles, the mending of harness, the repairing of tools, and the
thousand and one odds and ends of the farmer's irregular work. In the
winter, save for the early rising and the work of cold mornings, life is
by no means hurried; and after a very early supper there is often a
stroll to the corner store or to a neighbor's house, for a little
wholesome idleness and gossip,--the latter not invariably wholesome. At
about the hour when the average reader of "The Atlantic" has finished
his after-dinner cigar, all lights are extinguished, and the farm
household is wrapped in heavy slumber; for such early rising as the
milk-farmer is condemned to must needs trench upon the valuable evening
hours for requisite rest and sleep.

In summer the conditions of life are immeasurably hardened. The farmer
himself is necessarily absent several hours every morning with his
milk-wagon; but, although he cannot lend a hand at the early field work,
this work must go on with promptness, and he must arrange in advance for
its proper performance. From the moment when he has finished his late
breakfast until the last glimmer of twilight, he is doomed to harrowing
and often anxious toil. There is no wide margin of profit that will
admit of a slackening of the pace. Land must be prepared for planting;
planting must be done when the condition of the ground and the state of
the weather permit. Weeds grow without regard to our convenience, and
they must be kept down from the first; and well on into the intervals of
the hay-harvest the corn-field needs all of the cultivation that there
is time for. Regularly as clock-work, in the late hours of the night and
the early hours of the afternoon, the milking must be attended to; and
the daily trip to town knows no exception because of heat, rain, or
snow. At rigidly fixed hours this part of the work _must_ be done; and
all other hours of the growing and of the harvest seasons are almost
more than filled with work of imperative need. These alone seem to make
a sufficient demand on the patience and endurance of the most
industrious farmer; but, aside from these, he is loaded with the endless
details of an intricate business, and with the responsibility of the
successful management of a capital of from fifteen to twenty thousand
dollars, upon the safety and the economical management of which his
success entirely depends; he must avoid leakage and waste, and make
every dollar paid for labor, or seed, or manure, or live stock, bring
its adequate return.

Probably no occupation in the world can compare with farming in the
opportunity that it offers for the _losing_ of money. Nothing is so
enticing as slate-and-pencil farming. Ten acres of land can be ploughed,
manured, and planted with corn, and the crop can be well cultivated and
harvested for so many dollars. Such land with such manuring and
cultivation may be trusted to yield so many bushels of corn to the
acre; and, after making due allowance for chance, the balance of the
calculation shows a snug profit. In like manner we may figure out a
corresponding return from the hay-fields, from the root-crops, from two
or three acres of potatoes, and from a patch of garden-truck for which
the neighboring village will furnish a good market. Then the poultry
will return a profitable income in eggs and in "broilers;" and
altogether it is easy for an enthusiastic person to show how interest on
invested capital and good compensation for labor are to be secured in

But when the test of practice is applied to our well-studied and proven
scheme; when we see how far our allowance for "chances" has fallen below
what is needed to cover the contingencies of late springs, dry summers,
early frosts, grasshoppers, wire-worms, Colorado beetles, midge, weevil,
pip, murrain, garget, milk-fever, potato-rot, oats-rust, winter-killing,
and all the rest; when we learn the degree of vigilance needed to keep
every minute of hired labor and team-work effectively employed; and when
we come finally to the items of low markets and bad debts,--we shall
see how far these and similar drawbacks have undone our arithmetic, and
how often our well-contrived balance must be taken into the footings of
the other column of figures.

The regular work of the farmer, as indicated in the foregoing sketch of
his occupations, and as perceptible to the summer boarder who watches
his work from the piazza, although arduous and exacting, may be quite
compatible with a happy life; and, when we estimate the promise of the
occupation as offering a pleasant livelihood, no able-bodied man need be
deterred by it. But when we add this long list of contingencies, and
consider the ceaseless anxiety that they bring, we may well hesitate
before adopting such a life for ourselves or desiring it for our
children. No true estimate of the developed character of the farmer can
be formed without giving due value to this uncertain factor in the

Instances are hardly exceptional where a clear natural intelligence, an
indomitable courage, and great industry, have turned themselves into a
real source of mental and moral strength. Success achieved in spite of
such drawbacks is all the sweeter and all the more inspiriting because
of them. But if we take the case of the average farmer with average
human weaknesses, we cannot fail to see, that, however well he may have
borne up against the more obvious requirements of his work, he has been
warped and cramped, and often made in many ways unlovely, by the hard
and anxious toil through which his halting success has been attained.

In nearly every other occupation than farming, the hardest worker finds
a daily relief from his toil, and from the suggestion of toil, in a home
that is entirely apart from his industry. However arduous and anxious
and long-continued the work, there comes a time when it is laid aside,
and when the workman goes into a new sphere, where the atmosphere is
entirely changed. His home is a place of rest and pleasure, or at least
a place of change. The pen and the hammer are left in the counting-room
and in the shop; and, however far the home may fall below his desires
and ambition, it is at least free from the cares of the day's

The American farmer has no such relief. His house is a part of his farm;
his fireside is shared by an uncongenial hired man, his family circle
includes too often a vulgar and uninteresting servant; and from one year
to another, his living-room being the kitchen and work-room of the busy
farmhouse, he rarely knows what it is to divest himself of the
surroundings of his labor and business, and to give himself over to the
needed domestic enjoyment and recreation. It is this feature of his
life, more than any other, which seems objectionable. If it is
objectionable for him, it is infinitely more so for his wife and
daughters, who, lacking the frequent visit to the town or occasional
chat with strangers, and the invigorating effect of open-air work, yield
all the more completely to depressing cares. They become more and more
deficient in the lightness and cheerfulness and mental gayety to which
in any other occupation the chief toiler of the family would look for
recreation at his own fireside.

So far as interest in his business is concerned, the farmer's condition
is in every way elevated when he devotes himself to some improved form
of agriculture, or to some special industry which gives him better
compensation for his work. This benefit by no means generally results
from an attempt at "scientific" agriculture, nor is the adoption of a
special industry by any means generally successful. Failure in either of
these directions is disheartening and discouraging to those who are
watching his example. There are many well-tried improvements upon the
old methods of our fathers which are universally adopted, especially in
the direction of the use of better implements and more judicious care in
the application of manure. But the average agricultural newspaper, while
doing great good, has naturally led enthusiastic men to see a chance for
ameliorating their condition by the adoption of processes which are not
suited to their circumstances, or which they themselves are not
qualified to carry out. It is this that has led to the outcry--much more
prevalent a generation ago than now--against "book-farming." On the
whole, whatever may have been the influences of agricultural writers
upon the fortunes of their early converts, they have vastly modified and
improved all modern farm-work, and have greatly benefited the more
recent farmer.

The conditions of the industry are hard, chiefly because the business of
farming is a laborious one, and one in which an enormous population is
working, with dogged industry, for a moderate reward. However
enterprising and intelligent a farmer may be, when he goes to market to
sell his crops he finds himself in active competition with men who are
working for their bare subsistence.

Much is said about the competition of the farmers of the rich West as a
serious obstacle to success at the East. This is the case only in so far
as the Eastern farmer attempts to compete with the Western in the
production of crops which will bear storage and long transportation. As
a business proposition, it seems clear that this drawback is to be
overcome only by the cultivation at the East of such products as it is
not within the power of Western competition to supply, or only such as
our situation and the good quality of our land will enable us to produce
at low cost. Milk, fresh butter, and hay are the three most promising
staples, for which so large a demand exists as to furnish employment for
the whole farming population. Hay from its bulk does not bear a very
long transportation. Milk will always bring a higher price when
produced near to the point where it is to be consumed. Butter-making is
not an especially profitable industry if we depend upon the average
grocery-store demand; but it is possible for any farmer at the East, who
will take the trouble to make and to retain a good reputation for his
dairy, to secure a price enough higher than that of the regular market
to constitute a good margin of profit.

So far as relief in Eastern farming is to be achieved with no material
change in the character of life and work, it must apparently be sought
in these directions. In his relation to Eastern civilization, past,
present, and prospective, it may fairly be questioned whether the
influence of the Eastern farmer is increased since the general
introduction of railroads; and we are justified in looking with some
anxiety to the relative position which he is to hold hereafter.

There are well-known influences at work which are not promising. The
desire of the sons and daughters of the farmer to obtain some other
means of livelihood, and the too frequent yielding to this temptation on
the part of the more intelligent of these young persons, is the most
obvious danger to the future of the industry.

Much has been said of the dignity and independence which come of the
ownership of land; but it is possible that this influence has been
over-estimated, and that our ideas of it have been derived more or less
from our European traditions. Perhaps, after all, we ought to and do
attach the most importance to that which is the most rare. In England,
where the ownership of land carries with it a certain social dignity,
and where the mere possession of money has a less marked influence in
this direction, there is no doubt that the title-deeds to broad acres
constitute a certain sort of patent of nobility. In this country, where
land is plenty and cheap and where large fortunes are rare, a farmer
gets consideration less for the amount of land that he himself owns,
than for the sum-total of the mortgages which he holds upon his
neighbors' land. That is to say, it is better to be rich in money than
in land; and instances are comparatively rare, even among those who are
cultivating their ancestral acres, where the farm would not be gladly
sold for a sum of which the income would secure a better and easier mode
of life. The farm is not regarded with especial affection: it is mainly
regarded--along with its stock and tools--as an instrument for making

The American farmer is distinguished from the English farmer chiefly by
having his capital invested in the land which he cultivates, rather than
in the tools and live stock and working capital needed to carry on his
business. As a general rule the farmer's whole fortune is invested in
his land. Often his farm is mortgaged, and he has little loose money
with which to improve his system of work. The necessity for making a
living and paying interest, without sufficient capital for the best
management, makes the life of the farmer too often a grinding one. If he
is skilful and industrious and prudent, he may hope with certainty to
free himself from debt, and to accumulate a respectable support for his
old age.

When we consider any class of working people, as a class, this is
perhaps all that we can hope for under any circumstances. The unhopeful
thing about it all is that while farmers work less hard than their
fathers did, and while they get a better return for their work, the
surroundings of their life have not improved as have those of men
engaged in other industries, so that although actually much better off
than their ancestors were, they are relatively less well off in the more
attractive conditions of other classes of workmen; and this deficiency
is driving away the children on whom they ought to depend for assistance
and for succession.

In the abstract, farming is a dignified occupation, and in proportion as
it borrows aid from science it becomes more dignified. So far as the
casual observer can see, it combines more of what is desirable than does
any other pursuit. While it promises no brilliant reward, it insures a
steady, reliable, and sufficient return for the capital and labor
invested in it. It promises a sure provision for old age, and it secures
the wholesome pride that comes of the ownership of visible property.
Indeed, look at it and argue about it as we may, it is not easy to see
why it is not the best occupation for a wholesome and intelligent man.

Those who know the condition of the art intimately, and who have studied
the influences of its work and its life upon those who are engaged in
it, recognize serious drawbacks which must in some way be removed unless
it is to fall away still more from its original character, and is to be
given over to German and Irish immigrants, who, during one or two
generations, will be contented with what it has to offer. It is
difficult even to theorize as to the means of relief, if farming must be
considered, first of all, as a means for obtaining a livelihood and for
making money; and no effort to improve the situation of the farmer will
be successful which does not keep this prime necessity always in view.
It is easy to see how the condition of any farmer's family might be
improved by a large additional income; but there is no obvious source
from which this increase is to be drawn, nor will he adopt any scheme
that will endanger the income that he now receives.

If we could convert the farmer into a chemist and physiologist, and give
him the satisfaction that comes of controlling the combinations of
physical and chemical materials according to laws which he understands,
and of securing his results with scientific accuracy, we should
accomplish our purpose; for no man with such scientific knowledge,
realizing its relation to his daily work, could fail of an enthusiastic
fondness for his profession. But the worst of it is that all efforts in
this direction have generally ended in producing a "smatterer," whose
theories are baffled by constant disappointment, and whose worldly
prosperity is lessened by his mistaken experiments.

Successful farming implies, first of all, steady and dogged hard work,
coupled with prudent and watchful skill. When the hopes of enthusiastic
agricultural reformers are considered with the practical eye of cold
common sense, they must inevitably be condemned to disappointment. In so
far as they constitute an incentive towards improvement, they work great
good; but the success of the future is to be attained too often through
the distressing failure of the present. The art is an experimental one,
and the temptations to extend experiments are enticing. Unfortunately,
novel processes depend for their success upon contingencies which are
likely to be disregarded at the outset; and, however much any
improvement may be destined to prosper after its application shall have
been practically tested and modified, it is altogether likely that its
first introduction will result in failure. The mere money losses coming
of these failures are not so serious; but the discouragement and
disappointment that they entail exert the gravest influence where what
is chiefly needed is the encouragement of success.

It is something to know the direction that improving effort should take;
and it seems to be generally conceded that what American agriculture
needs, at the East and at the West, but especially at the East, is _an
improvement in the character of its personnel_. There is everywhere
ample opportunity for the profitable and successful introduction of
modified processes and of new industries. There is, too, hardly an
instance where the processes and industries now pursued are not
susceptible of great improvement of detail. There are few farms so well
managed and so successful, that if given into the hands of better, more
intelligent, and more enterprising farmers, they would not produce
better results. The father is working according to his light, and is
directing his work by such intelligence as his natural capacity and his
training have given him. His brighter son, with more natural
intelligence, with a better education, and less trammelled by
traditions and prejudices, might so modify the same industry as to make
it more certain, more profitable, and in every way more satisfactory.

The change that is now taking place, especially in New England, is
toward the greater economy of living, and the harder work and closer
management of business, that comes with immigrant proprietorship; and
this element is by no means to be depended upon for the improvement of
our farming. It may result in a more money-making agriculture, but it
will supplant our best political element by the introduction of what has
thus far seemed to be one of the worst.

Look at this question as we will, it is difficult to see how else than
by improving the race of American farmers we are to accomplish any
result whose good effect will be radical and lasting. This brings us
around to that threadbare subject of the vague discussion of
agricultural writers: "How to keep the boys on the farm."

The devices recommended for accomplishing this result have thus far
failed of their object. The average farmer boy is not a sentimentalist,
and he is not likely to be moved by the sort of talk so often lavished
upon him. To use a vulgarism, he has an extremely "level head." He fails
to realize the attraction and the dignity which are implied by what he
is told of the nobleness of his father's calling, of the purifying and
elevating influences of a daily intercourse with nature. He is not to be
caught with this sort of chaff. His cultivation has not been of that
æsthetic character that he has an especial drawing toward nobleness, or
purity, or elevation. Nature, as he knows it, shows at times an
unattractive side; and he fails to recognize precisely what is meant by
Mother Earth as a source of dignity. To him Mother Earth is an exacting
parent, calling for constant and regular toil, and whipping him on day
by day with weeds to be hoed, dry gardens to be watered, snowdrifts to
be shovelled, and an almost endless round of embarrassments to be
overcome. As for the purity and simplicity of the farmer's life, he
knows very much better than to pin his faith to it. To him the farmer's
house is too often a place where the mother is overworked, tired,
wearied with constant annoyance, and made peevish and fretful. The
conversation of hired men and young neighbors and brothers is not
marked by refined delicacy and simplicity, as he understands these
terms. At the end of all our preaching he will say, at least to himself,
that this is probably the sort of talk that we consider appropriate to
the occasion, but that, if we knew what he knows about farming, we
should see how little effect it is likely to have. If he sought our
motive in saying it, he would conclude that we were interested in
keeping up the supply of farm labor; and that so far as _he_ was
concerned, since he must work for a living, he would work at some other
industry if he could get a chance, and leave those who were less
fortunate to work on the farm.

The more sentimental and more influential considerations governing in
this matter were very well set forth by Dr. Holland in a paper on Farm
Life in New England, published in "The Atlantic Monthly" some twenty
years ago. While acknowledging the frequency of bright exceptions to the
rule, he does not hesitate to set it down as a rule that the life
described is in every way a hateful one; where every member of the
family, from father to child, is driven by the lash of stern necessity,
and where many conditions which are deemed requisite in the life of all
other classes of the same wealth are comparatively rare; where the
expectant mother of the child is worked without stint to her last day,
while the mother of the colt is relieved from all hard toil and treated
with consideration throughout the last months of her time; where, in
short, whether from interest or from a mistaken idea of necessity, hard
work long hours, poor food, and dismal surroundings are the rule of the
farmer's household.

Since that time there have been noticeable modifications, involving the
introduction of more or less tastefulness, because of the cheap
literature and cheap music of these later days. But, much as these have
done to affect the individual characters of the younger members of the
family, they have only aggravated the evil, so far as farm-work is
concerned, by creating a desire, born of knowledge, for the pleasanter
manner of life which the town has to offer. The young girls whom one now
sees about railway stations in the most distant part of the country are
dressed after the instructions of "Harper's Bazar" and "Peterson's
Magazine;" and they know more than their older sisters did of the
difference between their own life and that of their city cousins. They
are certainly not to be blamed if they long for some vocation in which
they can more freely indulge their growing ideas of luxury, and gratify
their growing desire for better dress and more interesting

All that has here been said is seriously true and important. The
circumstances described are so generally prevalent as to constitute,
with constant minor variations, an almost universal rule. Where we are
to look for relief, is the most serious problem. Relief must be found,
or the character of our farming class must assuredly degenerate. In one
way or another we must change, in a radical degree, the conditions of
the farmer's life. We can perfectly understand why it should be
distasteful to any young person of ordinary ambition or intelligence;
and we know, from the constant flocking of farmers' sons and daughters
to even the least attractive employments of the town or village, that
this distaste is everywhere a controlling one.

It is easy to say that the farmer's life must be made more cheerful,
attractive, and refined, and less arduous; but it is by no means easy
to see how the improvement is to be brought about. The cardinal defect
is the loneliness and dulness of the isolated farmhouse. Intelligent and
educated young women, brought up among the pleasantest surroundings,
marry young farmers, and undertake their new life with the determination
that, in their case at least, the more obvious social requirements shall
be met. During the earlier years after marriage they adhere to their
resolution, and are regular in attendance at the church and public
lecture; and they keep up, so far as possible, social intercourse with
their neighbors. But as time goes on, as the family increases, as toil
begins to tell on health and strength and energy, they drop out, little
by little, from the habit of going abroad, until often for weeks
together they never exchange a look or thought with any human being
outside of their own households. Aside from the overworked members of
their own families, their companionship is confined to hired men who
smell of the stable, and to hired girls with whom they are yoked in the
daily round of household duties.

Having given much consideration to the subject, I have come to believe
that the agriculture of Continental Europe is far more wisely arranged
than ours; for there, almost as a universal rule, isolated farm-life is
unknown. The reward of the cultivator is less, and his labor is at least
as great. The people are of a very much lower order, and are lacking in
the cultivated intelligence which distinguishes so many of our own
farming class. Women and even young girls perform rude labor in the
field and in the stable; and those aspirations which are born of a
universal diffusion of periodical literature are almost unknown. At the
same time, when the hard and long day's work is over, there comes to all
the inexpressible relief and delight of the active social intercourse of
the village, where the tillers of the country for a mile around have
gathered together their homes and their herds, and where the most
intimate social life prevails.

Observation even indicates that the habit of out-of-door labor has had
no injurious effect upon the women of these villages. The "nut-brown
maid" grows too fast into the wrinkled-brown woman; but better a
sunburnt and weather-beaten cheek than that pallor that comes of
anthracite and in-door toil. Better the broad back and stout limb of the
peasant mother than the hollow chest and wasted energy of the American
farmer's wife.

I by no means intend to say that our own farming class is not far
superior to the peasantry of Europe; but I do believe that if a good
system of village life for farmers could be adopted here under the
modifying influences of the more refined and intelligent American
character, we should have gained a most important step in advance. We
have in New England many villages almost exclusively of
farmers,--villages where the old-time settlers gathered together for
defence against the Indians, and for the protection of houses and stock
and store from river floods. These villages are as different as it is
possible to conceive from the ordinary European cluster of unattractive
cottages, lining both sides of a street which is filled for one-half of
its width with manure-heaps. It may be naturally assumed that any
adaptation of the village system among us would be governed by the same
refining influences which have made our few existing agricultural
villages so beautiful and attractive.

That which most distinguishes American people is the general spread of
education among them; but it is, after all, an education which soon
reaches its limit, and, so far as the district-school of a
sparsely-settled country neighborhood is concerned, it goes little
beyond the simplest rudiments. An inexperienced young miss holds school
for not more than one-half the year in an unattractive and inconvenient
room, in which are gathered together most of the boys and girls of the
school-going age from all the farms about. The books and other
appliances of instruction are inadequate. There is no grading of the
pupils, and the frequent change of teachers prevents the possibility of
experienced instructions. Even in the meanest peasant village of
Germany, a village always prolific in children, an inexorable law
compels all between the ages of five and fourteen to attend regularly
the teaching of a master, an officer of the state, who has generally
adopted his profession for life, and who adds to a certain specified
degree of capability the advantages of long experience.

No thoughtful person can fail to be convinced, after a due consideration
of the argument in its favor, that, if the social influences
inseparable from village-life could be secured to the American farmer,
the greatest drawback of his life would be done away with. It remains,
unfortunately, a serious question, how far such a radical change is
practicable. There is little doubt that the family would naturally drift
into some more costly style of living; and the necessity for hauling to
a distant home all the crops of the fields, and of hauling out the
manure made at the homestead, would add somewhat to the expenses of the

In the case of the individual farmer now cultivating land upon which he
lives, it is not unlikely that he would find a certain pecuniary
disadvantage in the change. But, as a broad question of the future
benefit of our agriculture, it must be conceded that whatever will tend
to make the occupation more attractive cannot fail, by enlisting the
services of more intelligent minds, to insure its very decided
improvement. As the case now stands, the farmer's son will become a
clerk or a mechanic rather than remain a farmer, because clerks and
mechanics live in communities where there is more to interest the mind,
and where, too, the opportunities for enjoyment and amusement are
greater. The farmer's daughter will marry the clerk or the mechanic
rather than a farmer, because she knows the life of a farmer's wife to
be a life of dulness and dearth, while she believes that the wife of the
clerk or mechanic will be condemned to less arduous labor, and will have
much more agreeable surroundings. I have no means of judging what may
have been the experience in Deerfield, Mass., for instance; but I am
confident that many a mechanic's daughter, and indeed many young women
of much higher position in life, would consider her lot a fortunate one
in becoming the wife of a farmer whose homestead lay on the beautiful
street of this old village.

All that is here said is, to a certain extent, mere theory; but the
subject is one that has not thus far met any practical solution, and in
which, therefore, nothing except theorizing is possible. The broad fact
is that the farming class in this country is degenerating by the
withdrawal of its best blood; and still more serious injury is being
done to it by the introduction of the lower class of foreigners. It may
well be doubted whether it is possible so to modify the manner of life
of the isolated farmhouse as to make it materially more attractive to
American boys and girls. All that can be done is to rob it of its
isolation by withdrawing its people, and placing them under better
conditions of life.

In a word, the only way that seems to offer to keep the boys on the farm
is to move everybody off of the farm, bringing them together into snug
little communities, where they may secure, without abandoning the
manifest advantages of their occupation, the greater social interest and
stimulus which they now hope to enjoy by going into other callings whose
natural advantages are less. That such a course as this would restore
the farmer to his former position as a leading element in Eastern
civilization, cannot be questioned. That he will retain even the
relative influence that he exercises to-day, unless some radical change
is made, is at least very doubtful.

In considering the questions here suggested, we must never lose sight of
the fact that the controlling element is economy. The farmer exists
because he is needed. The world demands the products that he produces,
and the world must needs pay him a living compensation for them. No
change will be possible which disregards this; and all who know the
present circumstances which control the reward of the farming class know
that these circumstances would be inadequate to maintain him in a life
of greater ease, while calling for greater expense. This gives the added
embarrassment that we must not only change the mode of life, but must
also increase the ratio of profit, if this is possible. This is possible
only through a reduction of the area cultivated, the cultivation of this
reduced area in a more thorough and profitable way, and the turning of
farming industry into channels better adapted to securing a profitable

To discuss a modification of the whole system of farming would involve
far more detail than is possible in this paper, since such a discussion
must include the consideration of features which would change with
changing locality; but, by way of illustration, we may take the
previously supposed case of a farmer owning one hundred acres of land,
and milking a dozen cows, selling the milk as before in the distant
town. Assume that he and his neighbors within a radius of about a mile
are living in a central village, from which his land is one mile
distant. During the working season, say from the middle of April until
late in October, he must, with his teams and assistants, spend the whole
day on the land. The cows are milked and all stable work done before
breakfast, and some one drives them out to pasture. The men remain
a-field until an hour before sunset. They must be content with a cold
dinner, as is the usual custom with mechanics and laborers. The cows are
driven home in time for the evening milking, and are put into the
barnyard at night with green fodder brought home by the returning teams.
After the "chores" are done, and a hearty and substantial supper is
eaten,--the principal meal of the day,--all hands will be too weary for
much enjoyment of the evening, but not so weary that they will not
appreciate the difference between the lounging places of a village and
the former dulness at the farm. Other farmers in the neighborhood will,
many of them, also be milk producers; and, as the stables are near
together, they will naturally co-operate, sending their milk to market
with a single team, employing the services of a single man in the place
of five or six men and teams heretofore needed to market the same milk.
I have recently received an account of this sort of co-operation, where
the cost of selling was reduced to a fraction over eight cents for each
hundred quarts.

This arrangement will have the still further benefit of allowing the
farmer to remain at home and attend to his more important work, leaving
the detail of marketing to be done by a person especially qualified for
it and therefore able to do it more cheaply than he could do it in
person. During the working season there will be enough rainy weather to
allow the work of the stable, the barnyard, and the woodshed to be
properly attended to. There will of course be sudden showers and
occasional storms, and other inconveniences, which will make the farmer
regret at times that he lives at such a distance from his field work;
but he will find more than compensation in the advantages that come
naturally from living in a village.

For his wife and children the improvement will be absolute; and it will
be no slight argument in favor of the change, that both in doors and
out of doors a better class of servants will be available, because of
the better life that can be offered. It will be easier to secure the
services of laborers who are married and who live in their own houses,
and so avoid the serious annoyance to the household that attends the
boarding of hired men.

To make this radical change in any farming neighborhood as at present
constituted, would be impracticable. It would probably take a generation
to convince the farmers of a community of its advantages; it would cost
too much, even if not entirely impracticable, to move the house and
stables to the central point; and it would involve such a change of
habits of labor and of living as must necessarily be the work of time.
However, if the principle commends itself to the leading men of the
neighborhood, and especially to young men about to marry, the nucleus of
a village may be established, and sooner or later the present or the
coming generation will find a way to come into the fold.

If we assume that by this or some other means the more intelligent of
the young men are induced to remain farmers, it is interesting to
consider in what way their greater intelligence is to be made to tell on
their work so as to secure the necessary improvement. It would not be
unreasonable to suppose that young men of the class we have in mind,
those who now seek occupations which afford a better field for their
intelligence, and who seek them because of their intelligence, would
establish such centres of discussion and interest in improved farming as
would not only mitigate the worthless gossip now so common at the
country store, but would awaken a real enthusiasm in better processes
and systems.

Not only would there be this tendency toward improvement; but where
farmers are close neighbors, and are able to conduct their interests in
such a way as to help each other, there would naturally grow up some
sort of co-operative business. By the establishment of a butter-factory
or cheese-factory, or by the common ownership of a milk-route, or where
tobacco is grown by the undertaking of its manufacture as an employment
for winter, or by the raising of honey or of poultry, or by the
establishment of some valuable breed of live stock with a reputation for
excellence that will cause it to be sought for from abroad, or by some
other combination, they would secure profitable business.

Of course all the farmers in New England cannot within the next ten
years move into villages; but what is suggested is that the farmers of
some one community should try the experiment. Their success might induce
others to follow the example; and little by little, in proportion to the
promise of a good result, more and more would seek the advantages which
the system would offer, so that sooner or later the benefits which are
now experienced in village life in Europe might be felt here in the
higher degree which greater intelligence and greater freedom would be
sure to produce.

While advancing these suggestions, with much confidence in their
practical value, I would by no means confine the outlook for Eastern
farming to this single road to success. Co-operative industry may be
largely adopted among farmers living at some distance from each other.
The cheese-factory has become an institution. The better quality of the
product when made in large quantities, and the better price that its
quality and the improved system for marketing have secured, constitute
a very decided success in our agriculture. Butter-factories are coming
into vogue with a promise of equally good results.

A very good substitute for the co-operative management of a milk route
is in very general adoption throughout New England, where some single
farmer who devotes himself to selling milk buys the product of his
neighbor's dairies for a certain fixed price, taking upon himself the
labor, the risk, and the profit of marketing. The co-operative breeding
of live stock cannot as yet be said to have become well established, but
its possibilities of success are considerable. A community can afford to
buy and keep a thorough-bred horse, or bull, or boar, or buck, which
would cost far too much for the means of a single owner, and thus
gradually give to the stock of the whole neighborhood a superiority that
will secure it a wide-spread reputation and insure good prices. Let us
keep always in view the important principle of making two blades of
grass grow where but one grew before; but let us remit no effort which
may tend to make one blade worth what two were worth before.

Incidentally, there may be combinations to secure good outlet drainage
for tracts of land belonging to different owners, and later a provision
for the general irrigation of these lands.

It is not to be hoped, that, either as a whole or in its details,
agricultural improvement is to be advanced with any thing like a rush.
Farmers are generally "conservative" in the worst sense of the term.
They have during the past generation adopted many improvements and
modifications in the methods of their work, the mere suggestion of which
would have been scouted by their fathers; but they are themselves as
ready as their fathers were to scout any further new suggestion, and it
is only by iteration and reiteration that the shorter steps of tentative
experiment can be urged upon their acceptance.

In reviewing what is written above, the thought arises that the one
impression that it will surely produce will be that its writer fails to
appreciate the better influences that cluster around the better class of
farmers' homes. Such an inference would be quite unjust. Knowing as I do
the intrinsic worth and the charming qualities of very many of these
households, I appeal to the best of the thoughtful men and women whom
they include, to confirm my statement that they find many elements of
their life to be pinching and hard, and that however admirable they may
now be, they would be in no way injured, but in many ways improved, by
more frequent intercourse with their equals, and especially with their

That the picture I have sketched of the average farmer's family is not
overdrawn, I appeal to every country clergyman and physician to bear
witness. The truths suggested are patent to all. They are set forth in
no spirit of hypercriticism, and with no other view than to help to
ameliorate the condition of those to whom they refer. Knowing the farmer
more intimately than does the average editor or orator, I am confident
that my estimate of his character and of his life will strike him as
being more just, if not more honest.

       *       *       *       *       *


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Account of the Drainage of the Great Haarlem Lake in Holland; Notes on
Dutch Farming; a Journey in Normandy and Brittany; and an Elaborate
Description of the Channel Islands,--their Agriculture, Social Customs,
Scenery, &c. Beautifully illustrated. Price $3.00.

~WHIP AND SPUR.~ Papers reprinted from the "Atlantic Monthly,"--largely
about Army Experiences; and certain Horses, at Home and in the Field.
Price $1.25.

~THE ELEMENTS OF AGRICULTURE.~ A work of Practical Science for Farmers.
Price $1.00.


the Drainage of Agricultural Lands, Swamps, Malarious Districts, &c.
Fully illustrated. Price $1.50.

~THE HANDY BOOK OF HUSBANDRY.~ A Manual for American Farmers. Fully
illustrated. Price $2.50.


IN PRESS. _THE BRIDE OF THE RHINE; Two Hundred Miles in a Mosel

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