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like, leaving his family naked and unfed for several years—but that is doubtless due to his poetical temperament and intense love of nature. In the same spirit, therefore, no matter how frequently I may refer to money matters in the course of the following pages, even if I should occasionally condescend to speak of food and raiment--those commonplace necessities--it must be understood to be with no sordid view; and if I keep these matters before the reader's attention, it will be for the sole purpose of benefiting and enlightening him, and pointing out clearly the financial consequence of investing in rural residences.
The country --- how beautiful it is! To a man wearied with the cares of city life; who has pursued an exhausting profession for several years with vigorous energy; who has taken a hand in politics, attended caucuses and Conventions, and helped to "run the machine;" who has a philanthropic turn of mind, and gone on committees and made public collections; and who, moreover, has abundant means—this, though last, is by no means least—the country, with its green leaves, its lovely flowers, its waving grass, its early vegetables, and its luscious fruits, is most attractive; and where a residence can be obtained which combines all these luxuries with pure air, and no chills and fever, and which is not too remote from city life and its attractions, it is as near to Paradise as this world permits.
There are many such places near New York. Gorgeous villas dot the banks of the Hudson, and congregate together thickly on Staten Island; there are beautiful spots along the coves of Westchester County, and persons who do not mind expatriating themselves go to Jersey; but there is one locality that far surpasses all others. The steep banks of the Hudson, cut off as they are from the westerly winds by the Palisades and higher hills beyond them, are uncomfortably hot; Staten Island is overrun by sourkrout-eating, lager-beer-drinking, and small - birdshooting Germans, who trespass with Teutonic determination wherever their notions of sportsmanship or the influence of lager leads them; Westchester County, like some of our famous prima donnas, is fair to look upon, but great on shakes--too much so for perfect repose ; and Jersey will be a pleasant place to live in when the inhabitants, individually and as a government, cease to live off strangers.
The locality referred toấthe chosen spot of this earth--the Eden of a country village-has none of these drawbacks. An invigorating breeze blows over pure salt marshes; Germans do not trespass nor
make one afraid; no man residing there has ever had a case of chills and fever, no matter what may have happened to his neighbor, where the boys are forever out o' nights and exposed to the dew; and the inhabitants are always ready to kindly take a stranger in.
It is a village, and yet country houses stand embosomed in majestic trees; cows pasture in the vacant lots and bellow in the streets; nurseries for the propagation of trees and shrubs give a condensed edition of miniature forests, and furnish in one rod the flowers that Nature, if left alone to her parsimonious way, would scatter over an acre; gas is in the residences, pigs root in the public roads, and early peas are combined with plank side-walks. This unequaled concentration of attractions can be reached in thirty minutes from either the upper or lower part of the city-of course New York city is meant, as no one need leave Philadelphia or Boston to get into the country-—and by a most delightful route, partly on water and partly by railroad. The trains run every hour all through the day, and the line is the safest in the world. This spot, so desirable, so infinitely superior to all others, is Flushing, Long Island.
I have some property at Flushing which I should
like to sell in lots to suit purchasers; in fact, it is five acres of such lots the five acres that this book is all about. I owned this superior investment when “ Ten Acres Enough” led me to thinking that if the author could make such a delicious thing of a plot of sand in New Jersey, as much could probably be done with half the area in the fine soil of Flushing. Unfortunately, my land had no improvements, but then it was a magnificent level square, precisely like a block in the city, and admirably adapted to building. Otherwise
my five acres were full as good as the half of his ten acres; the grass seemed to be abundant, for the cows of the entire neighborhood had grazed on it from time immemorial; a previous owner had been once known to plant cabbages, and the tradition is that they grew and came out cabbages, and did not, as they usually do, spread themselves and become very fine but rather loose leaves. The soil was deep, a well having been sunk on the adjoining property without descending beyond it, or reaching any water worth speaking of; and the exposure was as sunny as could be desired--there being only six trees, and one of those in doubtful health, on the entire five acres. Teachers generally say, on receiving a new pupil from another master, that there is more trouble to unlearn than to learn; here there was nothing to be undone-everything was to be done. It was not exactly a virgin soil, but, like a lovely widow, it had lain fallow—a friendly farmer made use of that word-so long, that it would be grateful for the touch of a rake or a hoe. There was no garden, no fence, no orchard, and no fruit-trees of any kind except one apple-tree, but then the nurseries and a little labor would make this right.
An unpleasant suspicion crossed my mind that perhaps it would have been better if some of these things had been done to my hand, and that possibly I was not exactly the man to do them in the best way; but a second perusal of “ Ten Acres Enough” was enough for me, and these absurd doubts were banished forever. If an uneducated mechanic could leave Philadelphia, rescue a decaying farm, and make it splendidly remunerative, why could not an educated lawyer from New York convert an uninjured farm into the eighth or ninth--we Americans have added a few to them-wonder of the world?
The affair was as simple as could be. With a classbook of botany, a recipe from Professor Mapes, a few cuttings of some wonderful new berry-of which, doubtless, there were plenty, and Bridgman's “Gardener's Assistant," the result was certain. It was merely a question of seeds, weeds, and manure--the