The Garden Guide

Book: Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, 1816
Chapter: Fragment Xxxi. Of Water Fences.

Enclosure of common land

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In passing through a distant county, I had observed a part of the road where the scenery was particularly interesting. It consisted of large spreading trees, intermixed with thorns: on one side, a view into Lord ****'s park was admitted, by the pale being sunk; and a ladder-stile, placed near an aged beech, tempted me to explore its beauties. On the opposite side, a bench, and an umbrageous part of an adjoining forest, invited me to pause, and make a sketch of the spot. After a lapse of ten years, I was surprised to see the change which had been made. I no longer knew, or recollected, the same place, till an old labourer explained, that, on the death of the late lord, the estate had been sold to a very rich man, who had improved it; for, by cutting down the timber, and getting an act to enclose the common, he had doubled all the rents. The old mossy and ivy-covered pale was replaced by a new and lofty close paling; not to confine the deer, but to exclude mankind, and to protect a miserable narrow belt of firs and Lombardy poplars: the bench was gone, the ladder-stile was changed to a caution against man-traps and spring-guns, and a notice that the foot-path was stopped by order of the commissioners. As I read the board, the old man said,- "It is very true, and I am forced to walk a mile further round, every night, after a hard day's work." This is the common consequence of all enclosures: and, we may ask, to whom are they a benefit? "Adding to riches an increased store, And making poorer those already poor."