Page:Our Common Land (and other short essays).djvu/23
OUR COMMON LAND.
I have referred to the opinion expressed by lawyers and members of Parliament that the opportunity of applying for schemes for regulation provided by the Bill now before the House will not be used at all largely, owing to the necessity of the consent of those owning two-thirds value of the Common, and of the veto possessed by the lord of the manor.
Hitherto the right to keep Commons open has been maintained, even in the neighbourhood of towns, by legal questions affecting rights of pasturage, of cutting turf, or carting gravel. This is all very well if it secures the object, but it is on the large ground of public policy, for the sake of the health and enjoyment of the people, that the conscience of the nation supports the attempt to keep them open; it cares little for the defence of obsolete and often nearly valueless customs, and it would be very well if the right acquired by use could be recognised by law, and the defence put at once on its real grounds.