Page:A Book of Dartmoor.djvu/55

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27
INCLOSING OF COMMONS

which had ruined them. Others followed. Prince's Hall was rebuilt with fine farm buildings by a Mr. Fowler from the north of England, who expended his fortune there and left a disappointed man. Before him Sir Francis Buller, who had bought Prince's Hall, planted there forty thousand trees—such as are not dead are distorted starvelings. Mr. Bennett built Archerton, near Post Bridge, and inclosed thousands of acres. He cannot have recovered a sum approaching his outlay in the sixty years of his tenancy. The fact is that Dartmoor is cut out by Nature to be a pasturage for horses, cattle, and sheep in the summer months, and for that only. In the burning and dry summers of 1893, 1897, and 1899 tens of thousands of cattle were sent there, even from so far off as Kent, where water and pasturage were scarce, and on the moor they both are ever abundant.

Tenements there must be, but they should be in the sheltered valleys, and the wide hillsides and sweeps of moor should be left severely alone. As it is, encroachments have gone on unchecked, rather have been encouraged. Every parish in Devon has a right to send cattle to the moor, excepting only Barnstaple and Totnes. But the Duchy, by allowing and favouring inclosures, is able to turn common land into private property, and that it is only too willing to do.

Happily there now exists a Dartmoor Preservation Society, which is ready to contest every attempt made in this direction. But it can do very little to protect the commons around the forest—in fact it