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In what way, then, can land be most profitably cultivated? Why, in the words of our agricultural oracles, "by making good out of bad." But here it is only right that we should say a word in justification of our forefathers, who in their precepts on this subject had nothing else in view but the benefit of mankind: for when they use the term "bad" here, they only mean to say that which costs the smallest amount of money. The principal object with them was in all cases to cut down expenses to the lowest possible sum; and it was in this spirit that they made the enactments which pronounced it criminal for a person who had enjoyed a triumph, to be in possession, among his other furniture, of ten pounds' weight of silver plate: which permitted a man, upon the death of his farmsteward, to abandon all his victories, and return to the cultivation of his lands—such being the men the culture of whose farms the state used to take upon itself; and thus, while they led our armies, did the senate act as their steward.

It was in the same spirit, too, that those oracles of ours have given utterance to these other precepts, to the effect that he is a bad agriculturist who has to buy what his farm might have supplied him with; that the man is a bad manager who does in the day-time what he might have done in the night, except, indeed, when the state of the weather does not allow it; that he is a worse manager still, who does on a work-day what he might have done on a feast-day;1 but that he is the very worst of all, who works under cover in fine weather, in- stead of labouring in the fields.

I cannot refrain from taking the present opportunity of quoting one illustration afforded us by ancient times, from which it will be found that it was the usage in those days to bring before the people even questions connected with the various methods employed in agriculture, and will be seen in what way men were accustomed to speak out in their own defence. C. Furius Chresimus, a freedman, having found himself able, from a very small piece of land, to raise far more abundant harvests than his neighbours could from the largest farms, became the object of very considerable jealousy among them, and was accordingly accused of enticing away the crops of others by the practice of sorcery. Upon this, a day was named by Spurius Calvinus, the curule ædile, for his appearance. Apprehensive of being condemned, when the question came to be put to the vote among the tribes, he had all his implements of husbandry brought into the Forum, together with his farm servants, robust, Well-conditioned, and well-clad people, Piso says. The iron tools were of first-rate quality, the mattocks were stout and strong, the plough-shares ponderous and substantial, and the oxen sleek and in prime condition. When all this had been done, "Here, Roman citizens," said he, "are my implements of magic; but it is impossible for me to exhibit to your view, or to bring into this Forum, those midnight toils of mine, those early watchings those sweats, and those fatigues." Upon this, by the unanimous voice of the people, he was immediately acquitted. Agriculture, in fact, depends upon the expenditure of labour and exertion; and hence it is that the ancients were in the habit of saying, that it is the eye of the master that does more towards fertilizing a field than anything else.

We shall give the rest of these precepts in their appropriate places, according as we find them adapted to each variety of cultivation; but in the meantime we must not omit some of a general nature, which here recur to our recollection, and more particularly that maxim of Cato, as profitable as it is humane: "Always act in such away as to secure the love of your neighbours." He then proceeds to state his reasons for giving this advice, but it appears to me that no one surley can entertain the slightest doubt upon the subject. One of the very first recommendations that he gives is to take every care that the farm servants are kept in good condition.2 It is a maxim universally agreæd upon in agriculture, that nothing must be done too late; and again, that everything must be done at its proper season; while there is a third precept, which reminds us that opportunities lost can never be regained. The male- diction uttered by Cato against rotten ground has been treated of at some length already;3 but there is another precept which he is never tired of repeating, "Whatever can be done by the help of the ass, will cost the least money."

Fern will be sure to die at the end of a couple of years, if you prevent it from putting forth leaves; the most efficient method of ensuring this is to beat the branches with a stick while they are in bud; for then the juices that drop from it will kill the roots.4 It is said, too, that fern will not spring up again if it is pulled up by the roots about the turn of the summer solstice, or if the stalks are cut with the edge of a reed, or if it is turned up with a plough-share with a reed placed5 upon it. In the same way, too, we are told that reeds may be effectually ploughed up, if care is taken to place a stalk of fern upon the share. A field infested with rushes should be turned up with the spade, or, if the locality is stony, with a two-pronged mattock: overgrown shrubs are best removed by fire. Where ground is too moist, it is an advantageous plan to cut trenches in it and so drain it; where the soil is cretaceous, these trenches should be left open; and where it is loose, they should be strengthened with a hedge to prevent them from falling in. When these drains are made on a declivity, they should have a layer of gutter tiles at the bottom, or else house tiles with the face upwards: in some cases, too, they should be covered6 with earth, and made to run into others of a larger size and wider; the bottom, also, should, if possible, have a coating of stones or of gravel. The openings, too, should be strengthened with two stones placed on either side, and another laid upon the top. Democritus has described a method of rooting up a forest, by first macerating the flower of the lupine7 for one day in the juice of hemlock, and then watering the roots of the trees with it.

1 Virgil, Georg. I. 268, et seq., speaks of the work that might be done on feast days—making hedges, for instance, irrigating land, catching birds, washing sheep, and burning weeds.

2 "Ne familiæ male sit."

3 In B. xvii. c. 3.

4 The Pteris aquilina, or female fern. No such juices drop from it as here mentioned by Pliny, Fée says.

5 A superstition quite unworthy of our author and the same with respect to that mentioned in the next line.

6 Sub-soil drainage is now universally employed, with the agency of draining-tiles, made for the purpose.

7 The flower of the lupine could not possibly produce any such effect; and the juice of cicuta, or hemlock, in only a very trifling degree.

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