Page:Our Common Land (and other short essays).djvu/193

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use to which land could be devoted. It was far different now. Corn reached our shores untaxed; our population had so vastly increased that it necessarily depended largely on imported wheat; we had learned much more about the importance to health of fresh air and exercise, and we felt increasingly the value of space as well as food for our people. The needs of the nation in 1845 demanded inclosure for purposes of cultivation, and the Act of that year was accordingly specially drawn to facilitate it. But now the case was different, and Mr. Cross stated that his Bill was specially intended to promote regulation to meet the growing need of open space.

Further proof of the change in public opinion is afforded by the course taken by Parliament with regard to the New Forest. In 1851 no public objection was raised to an Act which was passed, empowering the Crown to plant formal and monotonous plantations of fir-trees, valuable as timber, in such a