PRIMROSE HILL AND THE PARKS.
'SPRING, with her balmiest breath mildly effacing our bitter recol- lections of old Winter's severest mood—dispelling with her bland and genial influence the chilling thaw of Influenza—seems to have touched the heart of the Woods and Forests with the opening spirit of the season ; for they have this week disclosed to the delighted eyes of Cockneydom a "primrose path of dalliance" in the midst of a region intersected by railroad and highways, where the grass was giving up the ghost and frees were nodding to their fall. In plain speech, Primrose Hill ha a become public property, and been secured from any further invasion of the building forces that invest it on three sides. The Woods and Forests, having made a suc- cesaful stand against the encroachments of bricks and mortar, cannot do better than plant a picquet of trees on the ground in celebration of their victory. A few detached beeches or ches- nuts—not a clump, nor thick plantations— would add greatly to the attractions of this spot, now so bare that it has little to boast but open space and prospect. Prineose Hill, seen from a distance when the mount is studded with holyday-folks come out to "gulp their weekly air," looks like a green cushion thickly stuck with black pins : some trees, judiciously scattered, would in a few years convert the naked mound into a picturesque feature of the land- scape. No games, such as cricket, being allowed in the Parks, it is very desirable that the newly-acquired space should be left open .for athletic sports : such an arrangement need not prevent the planting of a few timber-trees, which might be well preserved from injury while growing by strong fences : a public play-ground would thus be combined with a promenade.
While rejoicing in the acquisition of a new breadth of sward, let Its not forget to inquire into the state of the old pleasure-fields. The Regent's Park still remains a debt to the community, of which we have only had a small instalment; and if the rest is not clamoured for by the public creditor, this fractional dividend will perhaps be re- garded as a composition in full. When the Mar,ylebone fields were first taken possession of as building-ground to carry out Mr. NASH'S notion of a grand street with a park for its outlet, the magnificent taste of the Regent, and his generous consideration for the health and gratification of the public, were lauded wth a profusion propor- tioned to the expense of the project. But these fair promises have never been fulfilled : on the contrary, while excuses have been made for not throwing open the whole park, it has been gradually dimi- nished by successive encroachment, until the smallness of the space remaining unappropriated has been actually assigned as a reason for keeping it closed. The fear of injury or loss of privacy to the plea- sure-grounds of the villas, operates to exclude the public from the small share remaining to them after these repeated filchings. To the appropriation of the whole of the inner circle for a Botanic Garden, and of a considerable portion of the outer one to the Zoo- logical Society, no objection can be made—though free admission for the people on certain days ought to have been stipulated for in lieu of rent, in leasing out Crown land set apart for public be- nefit: but to fob off John Bull with a small slice of the cake when the whole was promised him, is imposing on his quiescent good- -nature. If the Marylebone folks would leave their Vestry squab- bles and political palavering, and unite in effecting the good service of throwing open the Regent's Park, they would be usefully em- ployed, and deserve well of their neighbours. It was reported lately that the Zoological Society's lease of their garden had expired, and that the increased rent demanded by the Crown had determined them on removing their collection of ani- mals. We incline to the opinion that such a step would bene- fit the Society in the end ; for the clay soil, the exposed situa- tion, and the damps from the canal, together, have occasioned such a loss of animals already as to demonstrate the disadvantages of the locality for the purpose of confining wild creatures, mostly brought from tropical latitudes. If the Zoological Society do re- move, care should be taken to let the public have the full benefit of the space thus released from exclusive occupation.
The Green Park is actually in process of enclosure, notwithstand- ing the assurance given last session by Mr. Secretary STANLEY that 1 there was no intention of the kind. Ground-workmen are busily employed in turning up the turf; which is to be supplanted by shrub- beries and gravel-walks ; and there are to be lodges at each entrance, where porters will be stationed to keep out persons in working- dresses or carrying parcels. In short, what has been time out of mind an open thoroughfare, where all classes could enjoy a walk across the field at any seasonable hour, is now to become a lounging- place for idlers and nursery-maids : to the labourer and me- chanic, and to the mass of people in trade, the garden— a park no longer—will be only accessible one day in the week ; for the gates will be shut before the business of the day is over, in this land of hard work and late hours. In effect, it is a virtual exclusion of the public. And for whose gratification is a fine open space of turf to be turned into scrubby parterres with- out flowers ? For that of one person, who in all probability will never set foot within the enclosure ; and who can only derive the small satisfaction of contemplating this metamorphosis, prompted by a perverted taste, at the expense of the enjoyment of thousands, who have been in the habit of snatching in the course of their daily occupations the Londoner's luxury of a stroll on the green grass. The cases of the two Parks, which are thus to be assimilated, were originally very different as regards the public right of way : the Green Park was an open field with footpaths across, and is now to be enclosed ; St. James's had an enclosed paddock, which is now partially thrown open.
The impolicy of this proceeding at the present juncture is no less remarkable than its bad taste. Suppose a body of Chartist opera- tives, in their working-dresses, were to force a peaceable entrance into the enclosure by way of claiming the public right of free pas- sage, as they have taken quiet possession of the seats of cathedral churches : it would not be prudent to resist them, and the Govern- ment regulations would thus be set at defiance under the very win- dows of the Queen's Palace. And all for what ? for a whim of royalty. BONAPARTE in the plenitude of his power coveted a pub- lic walk in Paris for an enclosure, but the feeling of the people was so strong that he durst not persist in his intention. An infringe- ment of popular privilege that NAPOLEON feared to venture upon, is scarcely safe for an English Queen of the nineteenth century to attempt. The shutting-up of the Green Park is a heavy set-off against the boon of Primrose Hill.