Thursday, March 10, 2011

Want: A Taste for Farm Life

James Johnston, a British agriculturist, wrote in his 1851 Notes on North America:

As yet in New England and New York [there is] scarcely any such thing as local attachment — the love of a place, because it is a man’s own, because he has hewed it out of the wilderness, and made it what it is; or because his father did so, and he and his family have been born and brought up, and spent their happy youthful days upon it. Speaking generally, every farm from Eastport in Maine, to Buffalo on Lake Erie, is for sale.

Apparently Mr. Johnston wasn’t kidding. By the 1872(ish) publication of the Dictionary of Every-day Wants, Victorian-era brain drain must have been a serious concern indeed: The book’s farming chapter includes more than just the practical advice you’d expect for things like getting rid of ants and cultivating barley. It also provides this best-practices entry for inspiring a boy to love his family’s farm.

(click to enlarge)

As for the farmer’s daughter? I guess Youman expected her to know her place—this entry is indexed as “boys, to attach to farm life.” There is no index entry for “girls.”

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