In my opinion the Beauty of the Home is a very important matter. There are a few people who pass it by as “nonsense,” say they “have no time for it,” and that they must “spend their efforts on what has a cash value;” being narrow-minded, or near-sighted, they do not perceive that Beauty in a home has a very decided cash value. I say this, first, because if we cultivate Beauty in the Home, we produce there greater care and better and more cheerful spirits, consequently better health, and therefore less outlay for sickness, besides having more effective working-force.
Again, a Home, in village or country, where Beauty is created, possesses a higher market value. A Home where an outlay of care, a little labor and forethought has created beauty in the shape of garden, shade trees, rows of fruit trees, grapes, flowering vines, a post or two draped in roses and honeysuckles, with a bird-house a-top, a little arbor or summer house — these things, created in summer evenings after working hours, in winter leisure time, in early mornings, noon-rests, or on holidays, lend an air of refinement to the whole establishment, directly and indirectly tend toward the good order of the whole, give it a higher market value and would secure a purchaser more quickly if it were for sale.
In another regard the culture of Beauty in a Home is of immense value. A growing family will be much more likely to remain cheerfully in a Beautiful Home, even if that beauty is extremely simple and inexpensive. A family who are home-keepers are an inexpensive family. Sons and daughters do not waste their money at home: they are tempted into rash outlays when they are in the company of strangers, hanging about public places and striving to vie with those who have either no need of saving, or no honest desire to do so.
I hear so much complaint that farmers’ sons and daughters do not want to stay at home — they “hate the farm” — want other business; the girls had rather be mantua-makers or store-clerks, than be at home helping their mothers, making butter, and raising fruits and vegetables; the sons want to try their fortunes in the city; the parents find themselves, when their children are old enough to be efficient help, left to hired servants, who have little care to aid them in making and saving money, who are no company indoors, and, meanwhile, the parental heart is burdened with fears and anxieties for the absent children, and possibly the parental purse is burdened with their business failures.
I was at tea at Mrs. Winton’s the other day, with Mr. and Mrs. Burr and some others, and Mr. Winton said:
“We shall have constantly recurring ‘panics’ and ‘crashes’ and ‘hard times’ until our people learn that the tilling of the soil is the true source of wealth; that golden corn above the ground is really of more value to the country than the gold in the earth; that the soil of our country has abundance for all her children; it is a mother who never for bread offers a stone. When the immigrants who come to us shall be agriculturists; when our emigrants and our moving Eastern population seek the West for farms, and not for gold or silver claims; when instead of our rural population crowding to the cities in a mad zeal for speculation and hasty fortunes, which, in ninety-nine cases out of an hundred, are fortunes as quickly lost as made; when every acre of land in our farming districts is made to produce to its fullest capacity, and not left lying in marsh, or barren, or scrub for years, then we shall be a solidly wealthy people — these great financial convulsions and crises which have kept us in a state of fever and excitement will be unknown.”
“Undoubtedly,” said Mr. Burr, “our farming and arable lands are capable of producing a far greater amount than they do at present; diligent cultivation, rotation of crops, and care not to exhaust the land for the sake of a hasty cash return, would bring our crops up to a value thus far quite unknown in this country. Consider what a population the small country of Palestine once supported: over nine millions of people in an extent of less than ten thousand square miles — that is, about the size of the State of New Hampshire. Egypt was the grain-house of the world, besides supporting over twenty thousand towns and villages, ten very great cities, of which one was twenty miles in circumference. The valley of the Euphrates around Babylon formerly produced two hundred-fold for seed sown.
“I believe if land is well tilled and cropped according to its nature, there is absolutely no limit to its power of production. If the population, which is now swarming in our cities and towns, fretting in poverty and idleness, nursing communism and breeding disease, would pour out as workers into the country, filling it so that swamps must be drained, and dry wastes irrigated, and hills terraced for grapes, and that barrens must be cleared off, in behalf of crops of corn, melons and sweet-potatoes, and the woods must be cleared of underbrush, and set to growing large timber — then we should find a reign of plenty, and all our present beggars might be on horseback, at least while they were tilling their fields and driving their market-wagons.”
“Instead of that rush to the country,” said I, “the rush is away from it; the young folks think they must go to town as soon as they are grown. Every one wonders why and how Cousin Ann’s three boys have stayed on farms.”
“I think,” said Mrs. Burr, “that one reason of that restless haste to leave the farm is owing to a neglect of making the farm and the farm-house attractive. So many of these homesteads have a lonely, desolate look. No trees, no flowers, a neglect of a little ingenuity in making a pretty porch and fence for the house-front, an over-carefulness which refuses to open the front rooms for the use of the family, a neglect of making the bed-rooms neat and pretty — things get a sameness and shabbiness, and young eyes pine for something more attractive.”