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tries, it differs as to its details. In Scotland, for example, it is the last cut handful which is thus honored, and he who is dexterous enough to carry off this prize, is said to have "won the kirn."* In England, the stalks of corn to be preserved, are those taken last from the field, at the conclusion of the ingathering. They are carried on a pitchfork in a kind of procession, which usually takes place when the last load of corn is borne from the field. Much ceremony was formerly employed on that occasion. The stock-cart, as it was called, came home with a burden covered with a sheet, while all the horses were ornamented in a similar manner, and the laborers followed from the field, crowned with ears of corn, and singing, "Harvest-home." The following simple lines of Herrick, describe some other ceremonies which attended this rural procession.

"Some bless the cart, some kiss the sheaves,
Some prank them up with oaken leaves;
Some cross the thill-horse; some with great
Devotion stroke the home-borne wheat;
While other rustics, less attent

To prayers than to merriment,
Run after with their garments rent."

The superstitions which these observations indicate, are happily fast passing away under the light of a purer Christianity. It were well, however, if a more ardent and manly piety could be said to supply their place; for it is one thing to reform a creed, and another to imbue the heart with devotional feeling.

In this, as in other agricultural customs, an obvious change is rapidly taking place. The old ceremonies which graced the harvest-home are disappearing, one by one; and even the festive enjoyment, with which the season was crowned, "the joy of harvest," as it is emphatically called in Scripture, will probably soon be known only as a subject of tradition or of history.


* This expression probably arises from the ancient custom of producing at the feast, which followed the conclusion of the reaper's toils, a quantity of half-churned cream, newly taken from the churn, or as it is in Scotland named, "the kirn." The feast itself is, from the same circumstance, called the "kirn."

this will turn out to be for the advantage of rural morals or otherwise, I shall not stop to inquire.* The growing change, at least, indicates a striking feature in the character of the age, which is rapidly throwing off all regard for antiquity, and even passing to the opposite extreme. If the pious mind did not find consolation in beholding, in this restless state of society, proofs of the fulfilment of prophecy, and did not assure itself that there is an unseen "Governor among the nations," the prospect would appear ominous, and full of terror. Nothing can be more tremendous than the anticipation of human society thrown loose from all moral and religious restraint, and rampant with the insane love of change. We need, however, entertain no such gloomy fears, because we know that the progress of society is leading to the most glorious results. If, in that progress, we should sometimes find that the breaking down of ancient customs, trifling though they be, is a symptom that the foundations of society are unsettled, it is, at the same time, an indication that better times are approaching, when, after overthrow and turmoil, a surer and firmer basis shall be laid for the happiness of the human race.



WE must regard it as another instance of beneficent contrivance, that the various kinds of corn are more easily

* [I cannot find that, in New England, there are any ceremonies accompanying the gathering-in of the harvest. Our puritan ancestors probably left all such behind them when they quitted the mother-country, regarding them as heathenish or popish. The very phrase," harvest-home," seems to have fallen into disuse among us. It is to be regretted, that, in parting with what was puerile or pernicious in old customs, we could not have retained what was poetical and innocent. We have, indeed, toward the close of autumn, when the Indian corn, which has been previously harvested, is to be deprived of its husks, our "husking frolics,' as they are called, which are very pleasant meetings of neighbors, commencing in the social labor of husking, and ending in a feast; but though there is merriment and good cheer at these huskings, there is little or no ceremony.-AM. ED.]


preserved than almost any other species of food. Man is so dependent on this article, which forms the material of what has been appropriately called the staff of life, that, if it were subject to those disadvantages which render the storing of most other edible substances difficult and precarious, very calamitous consequences might ensue. Indeed, it is the facility it affords for storing which gives to corn one of its most distinguishing advantages, and, combined with its nourishing qualities, has raised it to the rank it has always held among the articles of human subsistence. There are chiefly two properties on which this facility depends, both of them intimately connected with the close and careful packing, as it may be called, which Nature has given to the farinaceous substance it contains. The one, is its capacity of being stored in small bulk, and the other, its quality of being easily preserved from decay. Each grain of corn may be regarded as a little package, wrapped neatly and tightly up in its own cover, and so kept from immediate contact with the surrounding mass, as well as from the external atmosphere, both of which would prove injurious. The importance of this compact form will distinctly appear, if we only attend to the difference produced by the breaking up of these natural parcels, when the corn is reduced to the form of flour or meal by passing through the mill. The very same substance. is now rendered difficult of preservation, becoming liable to many accidents, from which, in a state of grain, it is easily defended.

It was not, however, the intention of Providence that man should possess almost any advantage without the exercise of his own labors and ingenuity; and the same care to stimulate and reward skilful industry, which we find in the processes of agriculture, is extended to the management of the grain after it is removed from the field into the barn-yard and the granary.

When the corn is properly secured in the stack, it may be preserved for years without further attention, if care has only been taken to place it so as to be free from the depredations of rats and mice, which may be effected with ordinary attention. The straw is itself an excellent pre

servative, by keeping the grain separate, and free from injurious atmospheric influences, under an equable heat; and the farmer well knows the advantage which arises from suffering his grain to remain unthreshed till he has occasion to send it to market, or apply it to use.

The mode of separating the corn from the straw has undergone many improvements. The ancients performed this operation by causing oxen to tread upon the sheaves, or by drawing a heavy carriage over them, both of them awkward, and not very efficient contrivances.* A more advantageous, but at the same time a more tedious and laborious method of later times, was the use of the flail, which, indeed, is still employed where farms are of small extent. Within the last half century, however, after machinery had made great progress in almost every species of manufacture, that power came at last to be applied to this agricultural object; and now a threshing machine has come to be an indispensable appendage to every farm of even moderate size.

After the grain has been thus disengaged from the ear, it is separated from the chaff by means of fanners, an improvement on the ancient method of winnowing in the wind, and is then removed into the granary. Here it requires frequent turning and winnowing for the first six months, to keep it from the effects of moisture, and from the depredations of insects. After this period, it has acquired such hardness as to demand less labor and attention, and, provided it be kept dry, may, with moderate care, be preserved for many years.


In the Memoirs of the French Academy of Sciences,' for 1708, it is mentioned, that in the preceding year, a magazine of corn was opened in the castle or fortress of Mentz, which had been lodged there in the year 1578, and that the bread which was made of grain thus preserved for a period of one hundred and thirty years, proved to be excellent. Another instance of the same kind is recorded by the Abbé de Louvais, who, when travelling to the fron

* The Italians and inhabitants of Gascony, till lately, employed wains and sledges in this manner. Perhaps the custom may not yet be altogether abandoned.

tiers of Champagne, was conducted to a magazine of corn in the castle of Sedan, which had been laid up there for more than a century. The store had suffered some injury from damp, but the greater part of it was made into bread, and turned out to be perfectly sound.

The author of the Spectacle de la Nature,' who states these facts, founds on them a proposal for the erection of public magazines, in which quantities of grain should be constantly kept stored up at the expense of the government, and under its superintendence, to be only opened for sale during years of threatened scarcity. This proposal, which reminds us of the method of avoiding a similar calamity adopted in Egypt by Joseph, is so reasonable, that it seems surprising it is not more frequently acted on. In Spain and Russia, indeed, this precaution against scarcity has been taken to a considerable extent, and I believe in some other continental countries also.* "Though an attempt of that nature," says the ingenious but somewhat antiquated author alluded to, "might seem ridiculous in such a country as France, yet it must be acknowledged, that such an expense, were it once defrayed, would, in case of the failure of crops, not only secure the poor and needy from paying exorbitant prices, and the rich from the insults of an incensed populace, but preserve both from a public calamity, which is shocking in its nature, obliges thousands to remove out of the land, and exposes such as stay behind to frequent tumults and the most malignant distempers."

* The Mark-Lane Express for 20th April, 1835, says, "In foreign countries, magazines of grain are erected by government in different parts of the kingdom, to provide for a scarcity. In Spain, there are upwards of five thousand of these depositories. Every occupier of land is compelled to bring in a certain quantity of corn, proportionate to the size of his farm. In the following year, he takes back the corn, and replaces a larger amount of the new growth. Thus he continues annually to increase the stock by these contributions, until a certain measure of grain is deposited. Then each party receives back the whole of the corn he has furnished, returning in lieu of it an equal quantity of new corn."

+ Dialogue xv. Both in this and the twelfth Dialogue, the author mentions a method by which grain may be effectually secured, that it

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