Page images


while, perhaps, all commodities are subsiding to the gold standard of price, we shall hear as many of those superficial observers, who always judge the fature by the present, croaking over an imaginary permanent downfall of wool production, as now see in it the best, if not the only, highroad to El Dorado. Then the inexperienced men, the speculators, and those "rolling stones” who continually roll from one pursuit to another, according to the fashion or "fever” of the day, will' beta ke themselves elsewhere. They

"as fleet as forest deer"—they will be “driven back as tame." Gentlemen, I have lived through quite a number of these ups and downs, and I have learned to take them with great composure. If I had described only the former, and predicted only the former for the future, it is possible that I should have pleased some of my hearers better. But I could only do so by sacrificing or suppressing what I believe to be the truth.

If I have succeeded in destroying or weakening any exaggerated expectations, I confess I rejoice in it-for they lead only to individual disappointment and loss, and to ultimate reaction against the wool growing in. terest. But I have uttered nothing which will even tend to discourage the sensible producer, who does not mistake illusions for realities—who is not intoxicated enough by the haschish of a prevailing excitement to fancy every sheep.pasture Sinbad's valley of diamonds.

To the true wool grower, the future is full of rational hope. Everything goes to show that his industry will be better rewarded in the future than it has been in the past. The general tariff policy of our country is better settled. That long struggle is over between the extreme protectionists and non-protectionists, which kept up agitation and uncertainty, and led to those sudden vascillations in legislation which are so fatal to protected industry. The extreme protectionists have learned that the consumers -in other words, the body of the people—will not long endure their policy. The non-protectionists dare not urge a policy below the standard of revenue, or one without discriminations; and henceforth the revenue standard will admit of all necessary protection.

Another highly auspicious circumstance for the future of the American wool grower, is, the solidity and success attained by the wool manufacturing interest. There has been a former class of manufacturers-hybrids between speculators and politicians and stock-jobbers in legislation—to whom we owe little. Their manævres kept the market unstable and feverish. They overacted and fell. Their successors are generally practical, straightforward men, who seek their gains in the legitimate channels of business. Their prosperity is, therefore, certain, and the steady expansion of their business is equally certain, opening still wider markets for our wool. Let the latter fact not be forgotten when we ask changes in the woolen tariff. If in those changes we could obtain a particle of undue advantage over the manufacturer--if, to recur to my former simile, we do not leave him full half the bed—it is worse than a barren victory, for we injure both him and ourselves. His decay is our decay. His death is our death.

I will name one more decided advantage which the future possesses over the past. It is in the great and manifest improvement of our wool. producing breed of sheep. The prime American Merino of to-day yields 100 per cent. more wool than the Spanish sheep introduced into the United States by Livingston, Humphreys, and the other original importers. There is no proportionable difference in the size and consumption of the animals; and from all the specimens I have seen, and all the facts I can collect, I judge the American wool to be fully equal to the early Spanish wool in quality. In our prime flocks, it certainly exceeds the present Spanish wool. I have not time to pursue this theme here, but I assert without fear of contradiction, that as a profitable medium wool-producing animal, the improved American Merino has no rival on the globe. My friend Col. Needham, in his interesting remarks last night, gave convincing proof of that fact,

In casting my eyes down the vista of the future, I think I foresee, as already said, a few months' depression of the wool interest at the close of the present war. I also anticipate that to the end of time this and every other branch of industry will experience occasional fluctuations, owing to states of the currency, national exigencies, and variations in those natural circumstances which affect the production and sale of raw staples. But beyond such transient draw-backs—which all observing men know to be incidental to every human pursuit-I cannot, under a just and equal system of tariff legislation, discover a solitary cause for, or indication of, any permanent check to the prosperity of the wool producers and wool manufacturers of the United States.

In view of all the preceding facts, in view of the present situation of the currency, and in view of the prices of other things and the prospect of their advance should the war continue, the present prevailing prices of sheep cannot be considered unreasonable ones. Am I asked, if, after such an elaborate argument against extravagant expectations—against bubble blowing-I am also willing to declare that my judgment approves of those extraordinary prices which have been paid for full-blood sheep within the past year? I reply: That depends upon circumstances. If extraordinary prices have been paid for ordinary animals, then the buyer has not only been deluded out of his money, but out of his anticipated improvements. But great actual improvements justify great prices. Let me cite an exam. ple: A friend of mine owned a flock of ewes, of mixed Saxon and Spanish Merino blood, which yielded, on an average, four pounds of wool per head. He purchased what was then considered a very high priced American Infantado ram for the purpose of improving his flock. He found, quite contrary to his previous experience, that he could raise nearly 100 per cent of lambs. In the spring of 1863, his three year old, two year old and yearling ewes, numbered upwards of two hundred. Three year olds unfortunately had their wool mixed, at shearing, with that of some of the old ewes, so that their separate product cannot be determined. The two year old and yearling ewes, one hundred and fifty-seven in number, yielded 1,1197 lbs. of washed wool, or 7 lbs. 2 oz. per head, exclusive of tags; and with wool averaging over two inches in length, tagging down to the skin necessarily subtracts a considerable amount. The entire fleeces would have exceeded 77 lbs. of washed wool per head. The sheep had been well kept, but not in the least degree pampered. The well known wool merchant who bought the wool, informed me that it was fairly washed, and that the manufacturer who worked it up expressed peculiar satisfac-tion with its qualities, and declared that he had never manufactured a more profitable lot. All the preceding facts, of which I am not personally cognizant, rest on the implicit testimony of well known men of as unsuspected truthfulness as any in the State of New York. To show the public appreciation of the sheep, I will add that the three year olds and two year olds would have sold last winter in a lot for $30 a head. Their dams, if put back to the same ages, would not, probably, have sold, for $8 a head.

When we consider the gain in fleece, the gain in breeding qualities, and the gain in time over the ordinary slow course of improvement, produced by one such cross, is the highest price I have named as having been paid for rams the last year, the fine dust in the balance, when weighed against the value of an animal capable of effecting such an improvement and this, too, even were sheep at their ordinary prices?

It is, indeed, when prices are low, that the wool grower most stands in need of improvement. When wool is high, even inferior sheep are profitable. In any state of the markets, in any situation of the tariff laws, with any amount of competition domestic or foreign, the breeders of first class sheep can sustain themselves. Their profits are fifty per cent. higher than those of breeders of what are ordinarily called prime sheep. That degree of competition, therefore, which would bring low profits to the former, would prove ruinous to the latter, and consequently the weeding out of the latter would again give more room and greater profits to the former.

* In lamb by an ordinary ram, they would not, in my opinion, have sold for over $6 a head.

The improvement of our sheep should now be the first and greatest aim of American wool growers. We may call on the Atlas of the goverment to lend us a reasonable degree of aid, but our main dependence must be on ourselves.

I am unwilling to close my remarks on this occasion without acknowledging my indebtedness to several gentlemen who have kindly furnished me with important facts-Messrs. Livermore, Bond and Atkinson, of Boston; Messrs. Samuel Lawrence, Walter Brown and Euston & Co., of New York, and Messrs. Grinnell and Dodge, of the Agricultural Department, Washington. Mr. Dodge, who is a resident of this State, has been inde. fatigable in collecting the facts and statistics which I desired to obtain from the different bureaus of the government. Gentlemen, I thank you for the attention with which you have listened to my extended remarks.




The genus to which our cattle belongs is called bos-ox, but the kind or species named bos taurus is the common or domesticated cattle.

The domesticated cattle are distinguished from the other kinds by smooth horns, generally in the form of a crescent.

The other known species of cattle are: 1. The Musk ox, (bos moschatus,) found in the prairies in the vicinity of Hudson Bay, from the 60th degree of northern latitude to Melville Island. This animal is of small size; it is brown, having long curly hair on the shoulders, at the throat, and on the breast., Among this long hair is found a very fine wool, of which stockings are made, which are as nice as if they were made of silk. In their wild condition, these animals live in small herds, and climb somewhat like goats.

2. The Cape Buffalo (bos caffer) is one of the largest kinds of cattle, having very large horns. These buffaloes live in large numbers at the Cape of Good Hope, and towards Caffraria. They are dark red, and very

fleet in their motions, and have a hide so thick that a rifle ball only can penetrate it. They are dangerous animals; when irritated they run through fire and water, and fear or spare nothing. Their flesh is coarse and hard to digest.

3. The Buffalo (bos bubolus) is larger than our common ox, has a thicker and shorter head, and an arched forehead. The horns are somewhat compressed and long, with a slight backward curve; between them there is a tuft. The dewlap is small, and the hair thin and brownish black. It is found wild in the East Indies, where this animal is used for draught. In the sixth century it was imported into Greece, Turkey, and Italy, where it is generally kept as domesticated cattle are in the American savannahg.

The female or buffalo cow does not give a large quantity of milk, but

« PreviousContinue »