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and that he was only deterred by fied magistrates and undisciplined the certain impossibility of pro- Irish troops, no doubt, became ducing evidence sufficient to obtain savage in their alarm, and the convictions. 1
burden of their outrages fell not This is not a time to enter upon upon responsible and guilty leaders, the more detailed charges which but on ignorant peasantry. But are made against the British and wherever the sin and the shame Irish Governments. Men whom of the Rebellion and the Union Wolfe Tone had long before de- may fall, it is not on Mr Pitt or scribed the most profligate the British Government. Whoassemblage of scoundrels he ever ever have occasion to cast dust on set eyes on, pathetically attribute their heads, it is not the British this seduction to the gold of Pitt. nation. Their conduct through Men who assert the sacred right the severest possible ordeal disof rebellion are never tired of played humanity and moderation, whining if attempts to rouse the which no other Government or horrors of civil war not nation would have equalled. This treated with rose-water. The is not a time, neither is Mr very loudness of their complaint Daunt's book occasion is sufficient proof of this confi- should choose to justify this view dence in the magnanimity and at length; but we could not pass good intentions of the Govern- unrefuted an accusation so damnment. Subordinate officials may ing to the whole character of our have been fierce and rough; terri- nation and its public men.
1 Froude, English in Ireland (new ed.), vol. iii. pp. 204, 332, 401.
It is only of comparatively late Lands of Great Britain, so far years that this question has risen from being “waste,' were really to the surface, but now it is a most valuable inheritance; that every day growing in interest and the rights of grazing and cutting importance. And inevitably so. on them, useful as those rights For as long as a country is not unquestionably were to the few thickly inhabited, as long as in the labourer-peasants or cottage-farlargest town the poorest dwellers mers living near, were even of less are within an easy walk of green account than the right of walking fields and shady lanes, breezy hills over them, and the power of or pleasant woods, there can be breathing the pure air which swept no pressing necessity for securing across them, which could be encertain open spaces for breathing joyed by numbers of persons living and recreation places; the question at a distance; that, in fact, the of Open Spaces—as we understand commons of England were a nathe word-does not arise. And tional domain," and, as such, to be up to within quite a measurable rigidly preserved in their open number of years this has been the condition for the benefit of the case in England. But the more people for now and for all time. thickly we come to live upon the In former days, when the counground, the more thickly we plant try depended entirely on itself for smoky furnaces and manufactories its food-supply, the cultivator of up and down the land, the more common or waste lands had been rewidely our cities extend their garded almost as a national beneboundaries—the more valuable does factor. But free trade had long all space become which is left open since completely altered the condiand unspoiled. And the unparallel- tions, and had rendered the couned increase in our national wealth, try independent of its home supindustries, and inhabitants which plies. In our blind and blundering the last half-century has seen—and fashion, however, we had continued particularly the latter portion of acting on a doctrine which, whatit—has undoubtedly been attended ever the core of truth it may with the inevitable drawback that have once possessed, had long for all of us dwellers in towns, ceased to be more than a mere whether rich or poor, the country dry fossil. And it was not until has been made more aná more dis- the late Henry Fawcett, in 1869, tant, vitality to that extent dimin- resolutely attacked the doctrine ished, and health made more diffi- from his place in Parliament, cult to sustain.
exploding the fallacy which lay For a long time nothing was at the root of the Inclosure Comdone about this question. It was missioners' yearly proceedings, and not until some twenty years ago showing the evil which was being after thousands of acres of Com- done to the country at large by mon Land had been irretrievably the indiscriminate taking away lost—had gone from the hands of of the waste and common lands, the many into the hands of the that any attempt was made by few-that the nation awoke to the the Legislature to put the profact that the Common and Waste ceedings of the Inclosure Com
missioners in harmony with the shall want to secure in the future. real wants of the nation. Success Many large towns are too far off attended Fawcett's efforts. A from any common to derive any Conservative Government legis- special benefit from such as there lated in the direction he had may happen to be. And in Lonindicated ; and the future of our don, where this question of open commons was changed from des- spaces presses with the most tined absorption into the hands of urgent necessity, there are wide private owners to a perpetuity of areas unredeemed by any common openness.
land of sufficient size to be taken The battle was a hard one, and into account. posterity will be grateful to those Hitherto the providing of open who fought it, But so rapidly do spaces, such as parks, public garevents march in these days that, dens, and playgrounds, has been though less than twenty years ago, very much left to chance. And it seems already a matter of an- no doubt when any of us read in cient history. The commons thus the newspapers that Mr or Mrs Sowere saved—from regular and par- and-so, or Alderman This or That, liamentary inclosure, though an has presented to the town of insidious enemy in the shape of Blacksmoke a park of 100 acres, irregular and unauthorised inclos- estimated at a value of £10,000, ures still formidably lurks in am- we hug ourselves with the idea bush. Keen eyes are, however, that our fashion of leaving these kept upon it; and the country be. things to chance, or, as we prefer ing fully alive to the importance of to put it, to “individual initiative,” not allowing anything which can has these happy results, and is far fairly be claimed as public ground preferable to a more systematic to slip into the hands of private mode of procedure, which might ownership, we may hope, as time indeed place other towns, as worthy goes on, that the necessity for a as Blacksmoke to possess a park, strict watch will not be so great, in the same enviable position, but and that there will be fewer and would not have the delightfully fewer attempts made, either on the English quality of exhibiting the part of landowners or on the part generosity of individual donors. of associated individuals, in the But agreeable as our happy-goform of railway companies and the lucky system may be as regards like, to “grab" the public land un- towns which, like Blacksmoke, der any pretext, however specious. happen to possess individuals
The question of commons we gifted both with wealth and genmay therefore regard as in a meas- erosity, it tends unfortunately to ure satisfactorily settled. Public keep the towns not possessed of opinion is on the alert about them, these desirable mortals without and we may safely leave them to parks. And in this great overits action. But how as to other grown London of ours, which, like open spaces ? How are they to a huge octopus, stretches out its be provided? For wealthy as the devouring arms in all directions, country is in commons, their num- adding to itself each year a whole ber is necessarily restricted, and new town of 50,000 souls ; this their distribution is exceedingly London so immense that the best capricious; so that we can by no known man might lie perdu in it means depend upon this source of for weeks; so gigantic that, like a supply for all the open land we whale, you may stab it in one part and the sensation will not reach fact over in silence—that within its outer extremities,—it is hardly the last year or two one or two possible to expect that any one honourable exceptions to the genshall dower it with parks.
eral rule have occurred in LonThe man who gives a park to a don, Mr Evelyn having given a town is a man whose associations public garden to Deptford, in are all connected with that town which neighbourhood he possesses and those that dwell in it. He a great deal of property inhabited feels himself identified with its by the very poorest classes ; and wellbeing. He will care, perhaps, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners that those who come after him having been induced to give two shall be able to ramble in some of small parks of some fifty acres the spots where he delighted to each, one to Highgate and one to ramble when he was a boy. He Kilburn. But what are these will have the consciousness that among so many? And though we his gift makes a sensible addition may hope that other great landto the welfare of the town, and owners in London may be induced that his generosity will be appre- by these examples to spend some ciated and applauded by his neigh- of the money which their greatly bours and fellows, rich and poor, increased rentals are bringing in great and small; and in that con- to them, in buying open spaces sciousness will lie a deep and calm even at some distance from their satisfaction. But how can we ex- estates, in the cases where there pect such motives to operate in is no open space left anywhere London, where the wealthy, as a very near, it would not be safe to rule, gather together in the small count on any such acts. fashionable area in the very centre The importance of open spaces of the town, whilst the bits of to the health of the community rural scenery which we would fain can hardly be overrated. The late save from the builder are situated Dr Farr conclusively showed that in outlying parts?
the rate of mortality varies with Moreover, another and very im- the density of the population portant consideration must be —the greater the density, the borne in mind as affecting this higher being the death-rate. It question in London, and that is, is not, therefore, a mere sentithe very much greater monetary mental desire for peace and quiet, value which attaches to all land or for natural beauty, which those that can be designated building- can plead who object to the erecland. A park of 100 acres, which tion of houses around them in the in a provincial town might be spot where country lanes and pleavalued at £10,000, could not pos- sant fields have heretofore existed. sibly be bought in any of the out- They lose with the peace and quiet skirts of London for less than some of the freshness and purity £50,000 or £100,000. And if the of the air, and that loss entails a man who will dower his native diminished vitality. town with a park worth £10,000 What is to be done? Open is a rare phenomenon, how much spaces must be secured, or the more so must one be who will general health will suffer. Lookdower it with park worth ing at the matter broadly, it is £50,000 or £100,000? True it is evident that we must make up our --and it would be ungrateful on minds to pay for such spaces. It is our part if we were to pass the no doubt a new and not altogether
pleasant idea that we should have from (in round numbers) 2,800,000 to pay for fresh air, as we do for souls in 1861 to 3,800,000 souls in gas or water ; but the conditions 1881, must by 1918 have risen to of our town life are making it im- 7,000,000 souls, or nearly double perative. After all, do we not, in the present number. And this a fashion, pay already for fresh calculation leaves quite untouched air? Is not the occasional flight the growth of the population of to the seaside or the Continent in Greater London, as it has been some sort a tribute-money which called—the London outside the we offer at the shrine of the god- area of the metropolitan district ! dess Hygeia? But this tribute- With these facts before us, who money is paid voluntarily and will deny that some clear and disirregularly, whilst what is now de- tinct provision is absolutely necesmanded is a regular and fixed pay- sary, in order that some portions ment. On the other hand, we of the space which is at present must remember that in buying unoccupied, but which must in the open spaces are benefiting near future be covered with buildthose who are too poor to get an ings, shall be rescued and kept annual trip to seaside or foreign open for all time? parts; whereas, in our annual.ex- No one likes to contemplate cursions to those places, we are additional burdens on the rates, benefiting our own selves alone. which, especially since the estab
In old days, when we were not lishment of the School Board, have all so densely packed together on been felt to press quite heavily the ground, rich and poor alike enough; but the health of the were able in a short stroll to get community is as important an eleout of hot dusty streets into cool ment for consideration as educagreen lanes and fields. Then the tion itself. And it were far better annual flight was, at any rate for to pay an extra rate of twopence or the middle classes, a luxury, and threepence in the pound to secure not, as now it has become, one of all the open spaces which will rethe necessaries of life. We talk of quire to be bought as London exthe wear and tear of town life, and tends farther and farther into the we notice how greatly it tends to country, than to find in a few increase as the years go by and the years' time that the rate of ninetowns grow larger and larger. Is pence in the pound which we are not this very much due to the fact now paying for education might that the air we breathe gets more almost as well have been thrown and more vitiated, more nearly ap- into the sea, owing to the exhaustproximating to an exhausted re- ed physical condition of those whom ceiver ? And where is this to end? the School Board has educated. No one can tell. As regards Lon- Important a factor as education is don, a very careful calculation was in equipping a man for the struggle recently made by Mr R. Price- of lise, it is too often forgotten Williams; and in a paper read be- that a healthy physique is of even fore the Statistical Society on the more consequence. To provide men16th June 1885, he showed that un- tal training for the children of our less any altogether new and unfore- poorer population, and to leave seen contingency occurred, the popu- them without the means of ever lation of London within the twenty- breathing fresh air, would undoubtnine registration districts of the edly be a penny-wise and poundmetropolitan area, which had risen foolish policy.