Tuesday, October 26, 2010

De Crevecouer, Letters from an American Farmer, (1782)

Michel Guillaume Jean de Crevecoeur's Letter II tells of Farmer James and his extensive reports of experiences as a farmer in Pennsylvania. Crevecoeur's own farm was in New York State. Many of his own experiences farming there, must have been translated into his Letters of an American Farmer.
Through the Letters,we learn how much his character cared for and interacted with his environment, and the use of the natural resources he found in is new country. His observations of the animals, birds and insects he came into contact with, are keenly noticed and marvelled at. He explains the behaviour of bees, hornets, kingbirds and swallows
When writing his bees flying off to the woods, he continues...."When that is the case with mine, I seldom thwart their inclinations. It is in freedom that they work. Were I to confine them, they would dwindle away and quit their labour." Here, Farmer James seems to be likening the bees' behaviour to that of men. At another point, he talks of ...."The peaceable swallow, like the passive Quaker, meekly sat at a small distance, and never offered the least resistance".
The clear concern shown by Farmer James about the sights, sounds and behaviour of the species around him, is echoed today in the comprehensive efforts of organisations such as the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which for forty years has taken on the mantle of caring about the land and the creatures that share the State with their human neighbours.
This site http://www.dec.ny.gov/index.html has many links through which the viewer can learn all about the wildlife and plant life of New York State, including details of all the endangered species.
Conditions and attitudes may be very different may be very different today from those of the late eighteenth century, but the wonders the colonists felt about their new surroundings is again felt today whe conservationists observe and study. They are looking at the environment as it is at the beginning of the twenty-first century, and dealing with it in accordance with the practicalities of the modern world, just as an agrarian eighteenth century immigrant to America looked at it in the context of his time. Both care. Both deal with a new situation. Both address the balance and the relationship between man and nature.
Jill Glazier

1 comment:

Al said...

Can you maybe add something a little more specific from the site you've selected, eg a concrete example?