Winter in NW Florida is settling in, the leaves have left the trees and there is a definite chill in the air most nights. We have also finally had a few weeks of consistent rain after nearly a 3 month dry spell and the pond is beginning to fill up again. Over the past 12 years of keeping bees winter has become the time of the year I cherish the most. For three months, the pace of life slows for more leisure, reflection and recreation. The chores simplify on the homestead with a focus on maintaining and repairing in hopes of preventing the scramble in the busy beekeeping season. The sun sets early, the nights are longer and the glow of the candle is appreciated even more during our family rosary after dinner. 

In some of my downtime, I came across this essay by Louis de Bonald written in 1826 near the peak of the industrial revolution and thought how relevant it is still today in regards to making the case for living close to the land. Hope you enjoy.


Agriculture feeds her children, but industry gives birth to children she cannot feed.

The child who comes into the world in an agricultural family finds his sustenance already assured, for the earth that his parents cultivate in his turn awaits him to give him is bread.

The child born into an industrial family expects his sustenance from the salary he will earn if a master employs him, and if his industry is not stricken by events that could make it falter, or shut down, or prevent the sale of its products.

The farmer lives from his produce even when he does not sell it.  The industrial worker cannot live unless he sells what he produces.

Thus, the agricultural family enjoys an existence independent of men and events, while the industrial family is dependent upon them both.

A farm is indeed a family whose head is the father.  Whether he owns or rents the farm, he busies himself with the same labors as his servants and eats the same bread, often at the same table.  The farm nourishes all its offspring.  It has occupations for those of all ages and both sexes.  Even the elderly, who cannot perform heavy labor, finish their careers as they began it and stay around the house watching the children and animals.

There is nothing similar to this in the industrial family, whose members work in isolation and often in different industries, and who do not know their master apart from the exigencies of his commands.  Industry does not nourish all ages and both sexes.  It does employ the child, and often so young that his health and strength are ruined.  The child may receive some instruction, but he is abandoned in his advanced years when he can no longer work.  Then the industrial worker has no bread except what he takes from his children’s salary or what he receives from public charity.

The farmer toils from the rising to the setting of the sun but never at night.  He rests on Sunday and takes up his work again on Monday.  The industrial worker works even at night in order to gain a higher salary, especially when he works at home by the piece.  Whether he rests on Sunday or not, overheated by his forced labor, on Monday he debauches.

The farmer works outside and standing up.  He strengthens his body by the hard and painful labor of the fields and exerts his intelligence upon the numerous details and variations in the culture of the earth, trees, and beasts.  He tames the animals and forces rebellious nature to submit to his care.  The industrial worker works hunched over and sedentary, turns a crank, makes the shuttle go to and fro, and pulls together the threads.  He spends his life in cellars or attics and, becoming a machine himself, he exerts his fingers, but never his mind.  It can thus be said that there is nothing less industrious than the industrial worker.

Everything improves the intelligence of the farmer and lifts his thoughts towards Him who gives fruitfulness to the earth, dispenses the seasons, and makes the fruit ripen.  Everything debases the intelligence of the worker.  He sees nothing above the master who employs him, or at best the inventor of the machine to which he is attached.

We can thus say that the former waits for everything from God, and that the latter receives everything from man.

The farmer tells his neighbors of his discoveries and new processes that he invents to improve his cultivation.  The industrialist and the merchant keep their speculations secret.  We can thus say that the agriculture that disperses men about the countryside unites them without bringing them together, while the commerce that crowds them into cities brings them together without uniting them.

On the journal

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