Mushrooms and Property
Botany, Collecting, Nutrition, Environmentalism, Zoology, Natural History, Crime, Class
Discusses the move by 'Prudent practical farmers of the fen counties [...] warning people against trespassing' in search of mushrooms. Proceeds to criticise the law regarding the ownership of wild mushrooms and ironically adopts an outrageously rigid position on wild and common natural property. Declares that 'all wild things', including mushrooms and strawberries, and common land and air, should be rejected. Adds that 'wild plants' should be abolished too, since medical treatments and therefore money can be made out of them, and that since 'All herbs and flowers' have a 'botanical value', they should 'belong to the owner of the soil on which they grow', and that children found guilty of picking them should be whipped in a house of correction. Goes on to insist that chasing butterflies should be made an 'indictable offence' and only legal for the 'proprietors of the fields and meadows over which they flutter'. Concludes by dismissing the notion that 'wildness inherent in any natural production' is 'common property' as a fallacy inherited from 'our illiberal ancestors'. Notes that 'landed property' is passing from the 'hereditary aristocracy' to 'our merchant princes', who 'know what property is' and have 'too much respect for the mushroom' to allow anybody to pick them.
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020
Printed from Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: An Electronic Index, v. 4.0, The Digital Humanities Institute <http://www.sciper.org> [accessed ]