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Besides, the Greeks and Romans were not the only people that esteemed agriculture as the Hebrews did : the Carthaginians, who were originally Phænicians, studied it much, as appears by the twenty-eight books which Mago wrote upon that subject. The Egyptians had such a reverence for it, as even to adore the creatures that were of use in it. The Persians, in the height of their power, had overseers in every province to look after the tillage of the ground. Cyrus the younger delighted in planting and cultivating a garden with his own hands. As to the Chaldeans, we cannot doubt of their being well skilled in husbandry, if we reflect upon the fruitfulness of the plains of Babylon, which produced two or three hundred grains for one. In a word, the history of China teaches us, that agriculture was also in high esteem among them in the most antient and best
tenance: but their descendants use it as a species of pleasure, without being impelled to it by any kind of necessity. Often the peaceable inhabitants of a whole country are thrown into confusion by vast numbers of dogs and horsemen breaking through their enclosures, and destroying the hopes of their agricultural toil. And all this to run a poor timid helpless animal out of breath! Is not such a practice as this as disgraceful to humanity as it is to common sense ? Should not the farmers every where make this unprincipled species of trespass an object of common concern, and prosecute all such marauding spoilers. • Varro's Preface.
Xenoph. Econ. * Τον δε της Δημητρος καρπον ωδε αγαθη εκφερειν εςι, ωςε επι SimxoriQIS ETI Tpiyxora sx peper. Herodot. Clio, p. 89. Edit. Steph. 1592.
times. Nothing but the tyranny of the northern nations has made it so generally disesteemed.
Let us then divest ourselves of the mean opinion we have conceived of it from our infancy. Instead of our villages, where we see on one side castles and houses of pleasure, and on the other miserable huts and cottages, let us imagine we saw those spacious farms which the Romans called vilLAS, that contained an apartment for the master, an inner yard for poultry, barns, stables, and servants' houses ; and all this in exact proportion, well built, kept in good repair, and exceedingly clean. We may see descriptions of them in Varro and Columella. Their slaves were most of them happier than our country-people, well fed, well clothed, and without any care upon their hands for the sustenance of their families. The masters, frugal as they were, lived more to their satisfaction than our gentry. We read in Xenophon of an Athenian citizen, who, taking a walk every morning into the fields to look after his workmen, at the same time promoted his health by the exercise of his body, and increased his substance by his diligence to make the most of it.' So that he was rich enough to give liberally to religious uses, the service of his friends, and country. Tully mentions several farmers in Sicily, so rich and magnificent, as to have their houses furnished with statues of great value, and were possessed of gold and silver plate of chaced work. s
Xenoph. CEcon, and Cie. Cato Major, c. 17. • Lib. iv. in Ver. Edit. Lond. 1680, Vol. II. p. 272.
In fine, it must be owned, that as long as the nobility and rich men of a country were not above this most antient of all professions, their lives were more happy, because more conformable to nature. They lived longer, and in better health; their bodies were fitter for the fatigues of war and travelling, and their minds more serious and composed. Being less idle, they were not so tired of themselves, nor so solicitous in refining their plea
Labour gave a relish to the smallest diversions. They had fewer evil designs in their heads, and less temptation to put them in execution. Their plain and frugal way of living did not admit of extravagance, or occasion their running into debt. There were, of consequence, fewer lawsuits, selling up of goods, and families ruined: fewer frauds, outrages, and such other crimes, as real or imaginary poverty makes men commit, when they are not able or willing to work. The worst is, that the example of the rich and noble influences every body else : whoever thrives so as to be never so little above the dregs of the people is ashamed to work, especially at husbandry. Hence come so many shifts to live by one's wits ; so many new contrivances as are invented every to draw money out of one purse into another. God knows best how innocent all these unnatural
ways of living are. They are at least most of them very precarious ; whereas the earth will always maintain those that cultivate it, if other people do not take its produce from them. So far then is the country and laborious life of the Israelites from making them contemptible, that it is a proof of their wisdom, good education, and resolution to observe the rules of their fathers. They knew the first man was placed in the terrestrial paradise to work there ;' and that, after his fall, he was condemned to more laborious and ungrateful toil. They were convinced of those solid truths so often repeated in the books of Solomon : that Poverty is the fruit of laziness.' That he who sleeps in summer, instead of minding his harvest, or that plows not in winter for fear of the cold, deserves to beg and have nothing." That plenty is the natural consequence of labour and industry.' That riches, too hastily got, are not blessed.” There we see frugal poverty, with cheerfulness and plainness, preferred to riches and abundance, with strife and insolence;' the inconvenience of the two extremes of poverty and wealth, and the Wise Man's desires, confined to the necessaries of life.” He even enters into a minute detail of economical precepts : Prepare thy work, says he, without, and make it fit for thyself in the field, and afterwards build thine house;" which is the same with that maxim in Cato, that planting requires not much consideration, but building a great deal.
Now that which goes by the name of work, business, goods, in the book of Proverbs, and throughout the whole Scripture, constantly relates
'Gen. ii. 15.
Gen. iii. 17.
Prov. X. 4. 5.
to country affairs ; it always means lands, vines, oxen and sheep. From thence are borrowed most of the metaphorical expressions. Kings and other chiefs are called shepherds ; and the people, their flocks ; and to govern them, is to find pasture for them. Thus the Israelites sought their livelihood only from the most natural sources, which are lands and cattle: and from hence all that enriches mankind, whether by manufactures, trade, rents, or trafficking with money, is ultimately derived."
The Nature of the Soil.-Its Fruitfulness.
THE Israelites dwelt in the land that was promised to the Patriarchs, which the Scripture often describes as flowing with milk and honey, to express its great fertility. This country, which is so hot in comparison of ours, lies a great way within the temperate zone, between 31 and 33 degrees of northern latitude. It is bounded on the south by very high mountains, that defend it from the scorching winds that blow from the Arabian desarts, and which run as far to the east as they do.
What a blessing would it be to the world, were these times of primitive simplicity and common sense restored to mankind !