This leads to the further reflection, that no other human occupation opens so wide a field for the profitable and agreeable combination of labor with cultivated thought, as agriculture. I know of nothing so pleasant to the mind, as the discovery of anything which is at once new and valuable -- nothing which so lightens and sweetens toil, as the hopeful pursuit of such discovery. And how vast, and how varied a field is agriculture, for such discovery. The mind, already trained to thought, in the country school, or higher school, cannot fail to find there an exhaustless source of profitable enjoyment.
-Abraham Lincoln, Address before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, September 30, 1859
The great men among the ancients understood very well how to reconcile manual labour with affairs of state, and thought it no lessening to their dignity to make the one the recreation to the other. That indeed which seems most generally to have employed and diverted their spare hours, was agriculture. Gideon among the Jews was taken from threshing, as well as Cincinnatus amongst the Romans from the plough, to command the armies of their countries...and, as I remember, Cyrus thought gardening so little beneath the dignity and grandeur of a throne, that he showed Xenophon a large field of fruit trees all of his own planting . . . Delving, planting, inoculating, or any the like profitable employments would be no less a diversion than any of the idle sports in fashion, if men could be brought to delight in them.
I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman's cares.