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part of the century to facilitate enclosures, the principal one being the scarcity of food and the dislike entertained to obtain supplies from abroad. Circumstances had, however, greatly changed, and the amount of food produced by all the commons now unenclosed would be but as a drop in the ocean as compared with the supplies that now come from abroad. The increase of population was so large that Parliament had to consider not merely how to increase the food supply, but what was really best calculated to promote the health and material prosperity of the people of this country. Subsequently, in answer to a deputation of agricultural labourers on the subject of the bill, he is reported to have said that he believed the practical effect of the bill would be to put an end to enclosures; in fact, it was drawn with that object.'
The return made by the Commissioners in 1874 showed that in England there were 32,456,742 acres, out of which the area of commons apparently capable of cultivation was 732,518 acres; the area of commons, mountain or otherwise, unsuitable for cultivation 967,531 acres; and the area of open field lands 250,868 acres. In Wales the total area was 4,700,431 acres, of which the area of commons apparently suitable for cultivation was 151,471 acres ; the area of commons, mountain or otherwise, unsuitable for cultivation 516,945 acres; and the area of common fields 13,439 acres. Therefore, out of 37,157,173 acres there existed 883,989 acres of common land apparently capable of cultivation, 1,484,476 acres, mountain or otherwise, unsuitable for cultivation, and 264,307 acres open field. land.
Subsequently to the above return, which the Commissioners issued after a careful examination of the Tithe Commutation Awards, another return was made the following year by the Local Government Board from the parish rate-books, in which the whole area of common lands thus ascertained was shown to consist of no more than 1,524,648 acres, of which 326,972 were said to be situate in Wales.
Which is right of these two estimates is a matter of conjecture, but we incline to the belief that the estimate of the Local Government Board, being compiled direct from the parish rate-books, is more likely to be correct than an estimate compiled from maps made many years ago, some of which are of at least doubtful accuracy.
The question now is whether the intention of the authors of the bill as explained by Lord Cross has been fulfilled. It is perfectly true that under the stricter practice of the Act of 1876 the number of schemes for the enclosure of commons has greatly diminished, only twenty-two further schemes having been both approved by the Commissioners and also passed by Parliament, and that the proportion of land set out in recreation grounds and allotments has been greatly increased, as will appear from an examination of the following table, which may be compared with the table given at page 851.
Commons the subject of Provisional Orders for Enclosure under the
Satisfactory, however, as the above figures are, it is nevertheless certain that just in proportion as greater impediments are opposed to the enclosure of commons through the channel of the Enclosure Commissioners and Parliament, the inducement to lords of the manor, as was repeatedly pointed out by Mr. Fawcett, to effect enclosure by other means is increased: whether by having recourse to the older methods of enclosure, which had been falling into desuetude, or simply by taking the law into their own hands and trusting to time to give a title through undisputed possession.
See page 26 of the Report of the Commons Preservation Society, 1885.
The amendments moved in the House of Commons in 1876 in order to obviate this danger were defeated. It was urged by Mr. Fawcett that it was an essential condition of the successful working of the bill if it became law, and especially of that part of it which was designed to encourage regulation, that dealing with the wastes of manors by any other process than that contemplated by Parliament should be prohibited, and that, above all, the arbitrary action of individuals should be summarily checked; and it was urged that the reports of Sir John Sinclair's Committees of 1795, 1797, and 1800 pointed clearly to the fact that no enclosure without an Act of Parliament was then believed to be practically possible.
These views, however, did not prevail, though certain concessions were made to them.
The first, which was in the bill as introduced, provides that any encroachment on a village green shall be deemed a public nuisance. This is a direct recognition of the interest of the public in such open spaces. But there is no distinction between village greens or commons with respect to enclosure, and the members of the Commons Preservation Society therefore tried to extend the provision in question to all enclosures of commons otherwise than by parliamentary authority. A variety of clauses having this end in view were proposed by Mr. Lefevre, Mr. Fawcett, and others, but the Government persistently opposed them, and was able to command a majority of the House of Commons. The ventilation of the question and the successive divisions produced, however, some impression. The Government introduced the 30th clause, enabling County Courts to grant an injunction against illegal enclosures, subject to an appeal to the High Court of Justice, and they accepted from Lord Henry Scott the 31st clause, providing that persons intending to enclose or approve a common otherwise than under the provisions of the Act, shall publish a statement of their intention in two or more local newspapers at least three months previously.
The new Act had not been in operation more than two years before the justice of the views of Mr. Fawcett was abundantly proved. In the case of Maltby Common it was threatened by the promoters of the scheme that if parliamentary sanction were refused to the arrangements which had been inserted in the provisional order and were being considered by a Committee of the House of Commons, they might be able amongst themselves to effect the desired object of enclosure without the consent either of the Commissioners or of Parliament, and that in such case the parties might lose the benefit of the twenty-nine acres proposed to be allotted for a recreation ground and allotments. Possibly under the influence of this threat the Committee passed the scheme, adding however-on the motion of one of the authors of the present observations the following recommendation in a special report to the House:
It was pointed out to the Committee by Mr. Leach, one of the Assistant-Commissioners, that if the provisional order for enclosing Maltby Common were not accepted by Parliament there was a possibility of the parties interested coming to terms and enclosing the whole common, and that if that were done the intentions of Parliament for the protection of the rights of the poorer inhabitants and the health, comfort, and convenience of the neighbourhood would be thereby frustrated, and that persons might arbitrarily enclose common land on the chance of nobody interfering. It is evident that this condition of the law might materially impair the free action of the Commissioners and interfere with the intentions of Parliament, if the Commissioners were informed that, should they not accept the exact terms proposed by the majority of the parties interested, the enclosure would be carried out in another way, without any reference to the Acts of Parliament bearing on the subject.
It can hardly be doubted that Parliament will ere long endorse the views which were unsuccessfully urged on its acceptance in 1876. The best method for accomplishing the end in view would probably be to make a general statutory prohibition of enclosure except through the regular machinery which has been expressly provided to insure even justice to all parties; and to provide a cheap procedure and a tribunal easy of access for the settlement of disputed cases in the first instance, subject to whatever appeal might be necessary, in order to deal with such questions as from time to time might arise where the point would require settlement whether a particular piece of land did or did not constitute part of a common. The object of these observations, however, is not so much to discuss the details of future legislation as to indicate that a grievance exists for which Parliament will have to find a remedy.
A THOUGHT-READER'S EXPERIENCES.
WHILST a mere child my perceptive faculties were remarkably keen; and the power to arrive at other people's thoughts was, I presume, with me at an early age. But it was only about six years ago that I began to practically test the matter. My first important experiment was performed about this time with the Very Rev. Dr. Bickersteth, the Dean of Lichfield. I was on a visit to the Dean, and one morning after breakfast, the subject of conversation having turned upon 'willing' and 'mesmerism,' he asked me if I thought it possible for one person to read the thoughts of another. I replied that I believed such a thing, under certain conditions, would be possible; in fact that I was almost certain I could do so myself.
This reply naturally called for a test; and the Dean undertook to think of some object in the Deanery of which I could know absolutely nothing. My attempts to arrive at his thoughts were, as compared with my after-efforts, somewhat crude, but I was perfectly successful in what I undertook. I remember that I took my host by the hand -I was from the first impressed with the necessity of establishing a physical communication between the subject and the operator-and led him from the breakfast-room; not quickly as I do now, but slowly and lingeringly. We entered the study, and I immediately felt that I was in the correct locality. A moment more and I placed my hand upon an object, which, according to the impressions I then received, I believed to be my subject's selection. I was quite right. The object was a bust of Lady Augusta Stanley.
This experiment, I need hardly say, emboldened me to make further attempts; and I speedily arrived at a much higher pitch of perfection.
But let it be clearly understood that I cannot to-day find an object thought of with any greater certainty than I did on my, as it were, opening occasion. The execution is, of course, speedier, but my improvement lies in going beyond simple tests of this character. It is astonishing how, when the faculty is once with one, the power to thought-read develops by practice, until the most intricate experiments can be encompassed.
At first I don't think I quite understood the nature of my