Page:Studies of a Biographer 1.djvu/235
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Sinclair once made a joke—not, it is true, of the first water; but still, as it was his only joke, he naturally repeated it as often as possible. This was to give as a toast, 'May commons become uncommon!' He fully shared Young's mania. What is the use, he would inquire, of conquering colonies? Let us first conquer Finchley Common, and compel Epping Forest to 'submit to the yoke of improvement.' His son claims for him the merit of actually making the suggestion which led to the enclosure of Hounslow Heath. With all their energy, Sinclair and Young could never persuade Parliament to pass a General Enclosure Bill; but they claimed to have facilitated the process which went on so rapidly in their time. The common field system, the source of all slovenly agriculture according to him, was very rapidly broken up. Meanwhile, it is to be feared, the Board became rather a nuisance. It was a rather anomalous body, with no very definite functions; and it went about like an intrusive busybody, trying to stir up people in general by every means in its power. It offered premiums for inventions, and encouraged scientific writers to give lectures and produce books, and held meetings where good agriculturists might make