Address delivered before the Philadelphia society for promoting agriculture, [book]

Richard Peters
1823 unpublished
It is not with any conviction of my capacity to throw on the subject of our institution any new lights, or to bring forward any new incitements to our zeal, that I have, from necessity, consented to pronounce a plain and narrative, and, I fear, desultory address on this thirty-eighth annual return of the season in which our Society commenced its disinterested and useful labours. It was formed in 1785, by a number of the most respectable citizens, whose views were not biassed by any selfish
more » ... by any selfish motives; for few of them had any direct interest in the subject. Their objects were purely patriotic ; and calculated to serve the interests of Husbandmen ; without any prospects of emolument or even fame accruing to themselves. They perceived, with regret, that no such associations existed in any other part of our country; or, if in existence, no publicity was given to their proceedings. Sensible of the necessity of encouraging and informing the practisers of the art on whi^h the prosperity of our country mainly depends, they spared neither necessary expense, nor zealous endeavours, to accomplish their ends. Their task was difficult; for their influence, among practical farmers, was neutralized by almost unconquerable prejudices. Few believed that those who did not follow the plough, could possibly advise or direct the tillers of the soil. They persevered with unremitting en-4deavours, till many among the intelligent farmers, not only in our own, but in other States, were convinced of, and assisted, their usefulness. I reverence their memory, having well known their pure and patriotic excitements to well doing. I was, then, one of the few practical farmers among them. I profited by the instructive lessons promulgated by this infant association; and gratefully returned my obligations in every way my capacity and power enabled me. Being almost the only survivor of those who first formed our Society ; I think myself bound to pay my thankful tribute to the memory of my departed coadjutors and friends. To them and their successors, our country is indebted, for at least the rudiments of the agricultural zeal and intelligence which now so happily, and so generally, pervade our Union. And if, by the progress of improvement, and the increase of meansfavoured by more enlightened views of the subject, among those whose prosperity was the object of their aimtheir early endeavour? have been outdone; their merit is not the less praiseworthy. The seed, then sown with more zeal than hope, has fallen in a fertile soil, and the harvest is abundant. Part of their original design, was to promote the formation of societies similar to their own. Long indeed was the accomplishment of this most desirable object delayed; but I have lived to see, by a kind of spontaneous and general conviction, such associations widely spread throughout our country. And if, with more means, but not with more zeal, some of them have given more brilliant and repeated instances of active exertions, than our limited resources have enabled us to exhibit; it afibrds to mc the most pure and unalloyed delight. Through a gloomy period of apathyamong our rural fellow citizens particularlywe kept alive the fire on the altar of our devotion to the great and leading interest of our country. Many have lit their torches at our constant, if not always lambent, flame: and the brighter they burn, the more they contribute to our most sincere satisfactionsolid, not boastful ; admiring, not invidious. It was the earnest wish of our Society, that our State should set the example of providing not only for the practical, but the scientific, instruction of our farmers. So long ago as the year 1794, a plan was drawn up by myself, and approved by my able and highly respectable coadjutors, " For establishing a State Society of Agriculture ;^^w herein will be found every facility for promoting agricultural knowledge, scientific as well as practical. Among such facilities was that of connecting the education of youth with the instruction afforded to those in advanced life; and thus grounding the rising generation in the knowledge of the most important of all arts, while they are acquiring other useful knowledge suitable for the agricultural citizens of the state. This plan was laid before our then Legislature. Every endeavour was used for its adoption: but that Legislature, nor their successorswith whom I faithfully laboured, when one of themcould be prevailed on to give their sanction to an arrangement so highly important. This plan will be seen in our first volume of Memoirs. It was printed in a small pamphlet and the papers of the day; and had it not been recorded in our volume, would have been lost and forgotten. I know this to have been the fate of a riiultitude of the early literary and practical, and many of them very able, productions of our Society, and its members ; which were intrusted to the ephemeral and fugitive promulgations of newspapers. This misfortune induced us to collect in volumes, o?rr papers; which are in general circulation and good repute. They nevertheless did great service, and assisted in laying a foundation on which the pre-6 went superstructure is built. Although our Societ}'-would have been merged in a plan so general and superior, we were content to become humble partakers in its provisions ; never
doi:10.5962/bhl.title.41011 fatcat:l6njk4loujb4lbtph7p76pgbgm