While on this line of reflection, I will mention a case of monumental tree-planting in New England, not very widely known there. A small town, in the heart of Massachusetts, was stirred to the liveliest emotion, with all the rest in her borders, by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Different communities expressed their sense of the importance of this event in different ways, most of which were noisy and excited. But the good people of this rural parish came together, and, at a happy suggestion from some one of their number, agreed to spend the day in planting trees to commemorate the momentous transaction. They forthwith set to work, young and old, and planted first a double row on each side of the walk from the main road up “The Green” to their church door; then a row on each side of the public highway passing through the village, for nearly a mile in each direction. There was a blessed day’s work for them, their children and children’s children. Every hand that wielded a spade, or held up a treelet until its roots were covered with earth, has long since lost its cunning; but the tall, green monuments they erected to the memory of the most momentous day in American history, stand in unbroken ranks, the glory of the village.
Although America will never equal England, probably, in compact and picturesque “plantations,” or “woods,” covering hundreds of acres, all planted by hand, our shade-trees will outnumber hers, and surpass them in picturesque distribution and arrangement, when our popular programme is fully carried out. In two or three important particulars, we have a considerable advantage over this country in respect to this tasteful embellishment. In the first place, all the farmers in America own the lands they cultivate, and, on an average, two sides of every farm front upon a public road. Two or three days’ work suffices for planting a row of trees the whole length of this frontage, or the roadside of the farmer’s fence or wall. This is being done more and more extensively from year to year, generally under the influence of public taste and custom, and sometimes under the stimulus of governmental compensation, as in Connecticut. Thus, in the life of the present generation, all our main roads and cross-roads may become arched and shaded avenues, giving the whole landscape of the country an aspect which no other land will present.
Then we have another great advantage which England can never attain until she learns how to consume her coal smoke. Our wood and anthracite fires make no smoke to retard the growth or blacken the foliage of our trees. Thus we may have them in standing armies, tall and green, lining the streets, and overtopping the houses of our largest cities; filtering with their wholesome leafage the air breathed by the people. New Haven and Cleveland are good specimens of beautifully-shaded towns.