Dateline: 6 February 2014
It is repeatedly insisted that we should give more attention to the business side of agriculture. This is undisputed; but there are three other sides to a square occupation. Farming is not a business, in the usual sense; but business methods may be applied in it. Persons who are business men at heart are not in place on the farm, although many of them may be living there. Our present style of teaching, by stressing all the business activities, is likely to make farming as hard and unfeeling as much of our general industry; such a result would be deplorable. Farming is not an institution of high-pressure production. It is said that we must learn to run the farms like factories; if this is possible and we accrue the results of typical factories then I shall consider agriculture a failure, whatever may be the outcome in cheapened food production.
By some means we must try to save the amateur spirit in farming, that is, the love of it (as the word signifies) and to find therein a substantial reward. It is unfortunate that we have so long used this word “amateur” erroneously as to miss its real meaning; the most seasoned practical farmer may still be an amateur, for the word does not mean a tyro, beginner, novice, smatterer or mere sentimentalist.
In the farmer-at-heart is a quality different from the commercial instinct; perhaps this is one reason why his troubles multiply in a commercial epoch…
—Liberty Hyde Bailey
The Harvest of The Year To The Tiller of The Soil (1927)
Webster's 1828 dictionary indicates that the word "amateur" comes from "Latin anator, a lover, from amo, to love." The 1828 definition of the word is: A person attached to a particular pursuit, study or science, as to music or painting; one who has a taste for the arts.
As L.H. Bailey explains, the original meaning of the word had changed by 1927 when he wrote The Harvest. Webster's 1913 edition defines the word as follows (bold emphasis is mine): A person attached to a particular pursuit, study, or science as to music or painting; esp. one who cultivates any study or art, from taste or attachment, without pursuing it professionally.
Bailey's use of the word, "smatterer" took me to the dictionary again. The 1828 definition is: One who has only a slight, superficial knowledge. Smatterer is a synonym for "sciolist." A sciolist is: One who knows little, or one who knows many things superficially; a smatterer.
Aren't words fun!