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necessity, the sweet pleasure of acting my part, the part of an husband and father, with an attention and propriety which may entitle me to my good fortune. It is true these pleasing images vanish with the smoke of my pipe; but though they disappear from my mind, the impression they have made on my heart is indellible. When I play with the infant, my warm imagination runs forward, and eagerly anticipates his future temper and constitution. I would willingly open the book of fate, and know in which page his destiny is delineated; alas! where is the father who in those moments of paternal extacy, can delineate one half the thoughts which dilate his heart? I am sure I cannot; then again I fear for the health of those who are become so dear to me and in their sicknesses I severely pay for the joys I experienced while they were well. Whenever I go abroad, it is always involuntarily. I never return home without feeling some pleasing emotion, which I often suppress as useless and foolish. The instant I enter on my own land, the bright idea of property, of exclusive right, of independence, exalts my mind. Precious soil, I say to myself, by what singular custom of law is it, that thou wast made to constitute the riches of the freeholder? What should we American farmers be, without the distinct possession of that soil? It feeds, it clothes us; from it we draw even a great exuberancy, our best meat, our richest drink, the very honey of our bees come from this privileged spot. No wonder we should thus cherish its possession, no wonder that so many Europeans who have never been able to say, that such portion of land was theirs, cross the Atlantic to realize that happiness. This formerly rude soil has been converted by my father into a pleasant farm, and in return it has established all our rights; on it is founded our rank, our freedom, our power as citizens, our importance, as inhabitants of such a district. These images, I must confess, I always behold with pleasure, and extend them as far as my imagination can reach: for this is what may be called the true, and the only philosophy of an American farmer. Pray do not laugh in thus seeing an artless countryman tracing himself through the simple modifications of his life; remember that you have required it; therefore with candour, though with diffidence, I endeavor to follow the thread of my feelings; but I cannot tell you all. Often when I plough my ground, I place my little boy on a chair, which screws to the beam of the plough, its motion, and that of the horses please him; he is perfectly happy, and begins to chat. As I lean over the handle, various are the thoughts which croud into my mind. I am now doing for him, I say, what my father formerly did for me; may God enable him to live, that he may perform the same operations, for the same purposes, when I am worn out and old! I relieve his mother of some trouble, while I have him with me; the oderiferous furrow exhilerates his spirits, and seems to do the child a great deal of good, for he looks more blooming since I have adopted that practice; can more pleasure, more dignity, be added to that primary occupation? The father thus ploughing with his child, and to feed his family, is inferior only, to the emperor of China, ploughing as an example to his kingdom.
[From Letters from an American Farmer, describing Certain Provincial Situations, Manners, and Customs, and conveying Some Idea of the State of the People of North America. Written to a friend in England, by J. Hector St. John [Crèvecæur], a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1782.]
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