Page:Our Common Land (and other short essays).djvu/189

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177
THE FUTURE OF OUR COMMONS.

nised by law when they have been long enjoyed. Had the right to wander freely, and to enjoy the beauty of earth and sky, been felt to be a more distinct possession, it may be that these rights also would have been legally recognised; but it has not hitherto been so. It is, therefore, lords of manors and commoners who have mainly the control of such waste places. When, however, they come to Parliament to ask to have their respective rights settled, and to get leave to inclose, Parliament has, under the Inclosure Acts, distinctly a voice in deciding the appropriation of the land. What ought its decision to be, having in view the future life of the nation as well as the present one?

That aesthetic considerations govern individuals in the disposition of their own estates is clear. When a gentleman possesses an estate he apportions it to various uses. He asks himself how much of it he will devote to arable land and kitchen garden; some small