IN an afternoon in April, after a long walk, I traversed an orchard where boys were grafting apple‑trees, and found the Farmer in his cornfield. He was holding the plough, and his son driving the oxen. This man always impresses me with respect, he is so manly, so sweet‑tempered, so faithful, so disdainful of all appearances ; excellent and reverable in his old weather‑worn cap and blue frock bedaubed with the soil of the field ; so honest withal that he always needs to be watched lest he should cheat himself. I still remember with some shame that in some dealing we had together a long time ago, I found that he had been looking to my interest in the affair, and I had been looking to my interest, and nobody had looked to his part. As I drew near this brave laborer in the midst of his own acres, I could not help feeling for him the highest respect. Here is the Caesar, the Alexander of the soil, conquering and to conquer, after how many and many a hard‑fought summer’s day and winter’s day ; not like Napoleon, hero of sixty battles only, but of six thousand, and out of every one he has come victor ; and here he stands, with Atlantic strength and cheer, invincible still. These slight and useless city limbs of ours will come to shame before this strong soldier, for his have done his own work and ours too. What good this man has or has had, he has earned. No rich father or father‑in‑law left him any inheritance of land or money. He borrowed the money with which he bought his farm, and has bred up a large family, given them a good education, and improved his land in every way year by year, and this without prejudice to himself the landlord, for here he is, a man every inch of him, and reminds us of the hero of the Robin Hood ballad, —
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Literature is but a poor trick, you will say, when it busies itself to make words pass for things ; and yet I am far from thinking this subordinate service unimportant. The secondary services of literature may be classed under the name of Rhetoric, and are quite as important in letters as iron is in war. An enumeration of the few principal weapons of the poet or writer will at once suggest their value.
Writing is the greatest of arts, the subtilest, and of most miraculous effect ; and to it the education is costliest. On the writer the choicest influences are concentrated, — nothing that does not go to his costly equipment : a war, an earthquake, revival of letters, the new dispensation by Jesus, or by Angels ; Heaven, Hell, power, science, the Neant, exist to him as colors for his brush.
In this art modern society has introduced a new element, by introducing a new audience. The decline of the privileged orders, all over the world ; the advance of the Third Estate ; the transformation of the laborer into reader and writer has compelled the learned and the thinkers to address them. Chiefly in this country, the common school has added two or three audiences: once, we had only the boxes; now, the galleries and the pit.