Page:Our Common Land (and other short essays).djvu/26
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OUR COMMON LAND.
by the rich, or the recipients of which are arbitrarily selected by them, may in many cases be blindly accepted by cottagers in lieu of Common rights. Is the influence of such doles so healthy that we should wish to see them taking the place of a Common right over a little bit of English soil? The issue at a nominal charge of orders to cut turf or furze by a lord of the manor has been known gradually to extinguish the right to do so without his leave. Is the influence of the rich and powerful so slight that we should let it be thus silently strengthened? Is the knowledge just brought so prominently before us that one quarter of the land in England is owned by only seven hundred and ten persons so satisfactory that we will stand by and see quietly absorbed those few spots which are our common birthright in the soil? It is not likely that farms or estates will diminish in size; and the yeoman class is, I suppose, passing away rapidly. With the small hold-