Page:Our Common Land (and other short essays).djvu/217

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THE FUTURE OF OUR COMMONS.

Ireland. Yet the love of being connected with the land is innate; it deepens a man's attachment to his native country, and adds dignity and simplicity to his character. Each family cannot hope to own a small piece of cultivated land as in France—no inaccessible mountain-ranges exist for our people to learn to love as in Switzerland—but it may be that in our common-land we are meant to learn an even deeper lesson:—something of the value of those possessions in which each of a large community has a distinct share, yet which each enjoys only by virtue of the share the many have in it; in which separate right is subordinated to the good of all; each tiny bit of which would have no value if the surface were divided amongst the hundreds that use it, yet which when owned together and stretching away into loveliest space of heather or forest becomes the common possession of the neighbourhood, or even of the County and Nation. It will give a sense of a common possession to