Punch,  43 (1862), 51.

An Act for the Inclusion of Commons, Commonly to be Called Peter Bell's Act



Announcement, Spoof


Environmentalism, Botany, Politics, Government, Pharmaceuticals, Utilitarianism, Agriculture

    Written in the legal language of an official act of Parliament, this document presents the reasons why the Commissioners of Woods and Forests should be 'authorised and empowered' to sell waste lands to the 'Best Bidder' and thus enclose such lands. It opens by noting that, following the petition from 'Peter Bell, of the County of Cumberland, Potter' (a reference to William Wordsworth's poem, 'Peter Bell'), the primrose and other flowers found on common ground are 'not any other things, except in as far as they may be used and applied in the Arts and Sciences', and are 'either noxious weeds, or at least unserviceable for the food of Man or Beast'. Its claims regarding the uselessness of the very waste grounds that 'nourish the vain fancies and conceits of unprofitable Writers and Poets' support its argument for turning such lands 'to some Profitable Account', such as 'Arable or Building Land', or 'Game Preserves'.

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