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effect of a landscape, which, indeed, without water, often seems lifeless; or, as was once said by a valued friend of mine, 'like a face without eyes.' Boston, from its peninsular situation, cannot be deprived entirely of this picturesque scenery." Alas! that in less than ten years, a way has been devised to destroy that which Mr. Sumner thought in 1860 could not be destroyed. And truly, if you degrade this noble basin of the Charles River to a narrow, dirty sewer of five hundred feet wide, then will Boston look like a face without eyes. I trust this committee will not be the vandals to thus mar her fair proportions.
I wish also to read the letter from Governor Andrew in regard to this very thing. Mr. Apthorp gave you some idea of what Mr. Andrew's opinions were upon this subject in his testimony. And it is certainly of some use for the committee to know the opinion of a man who had such an opportunity for information, and who so fully enjoyed your confidence while living. It was written to a member of the city government in regard to filling up beyond Beacon and Charles streets, and laying the land out as a public promenade. He says as follows: 66 I hope sincerely that the city will save this little glimpse of country, this wealth of pure air, this fan-full of the westerly breeze, and secure a lasting good for all who value either health or beauty; while the present fathers of the city win also for themselves blessings on their heads from a countless posterity, until summer heats shall be no more."
Now, sir, as I have stated, the testimony before you to-day is that this is a measure which will be injurious. You talk about compensation for changing this harbor line. You may perhaps compensate the owners upon Beacon street for marring their beautiful residences; you may perhaps give them more gold, and swell still more their coffers, which are already overflowing; but who will estimate the damages which will come to the crowded denizens of this hill, and the crowded laborers of the North end, who by this means will lose their best reliance for
air and ventilation? Who is to estimate the damage to them of to-day and the thousands yet to come? It is a very serious matter. Because if you proceed with this work, if you provide for this filling, it is a deed which can never be undone; it must remain there for all time. The evil, if it is there, will remain, like the festering sore, growing worse each day, and with no hope of removal by the surgeon's knife.
And in going into a matter of this kind, with the opinions of the best physicians and surgeons, and the opinions of eminent men, and the opinions of experts, all against it, I trust that the committee will carefully consider it before they propose such a measure. And I trust that you will propose such a measure as shall settle this controversy forever, and such a one as shall provide that this space shall remain open for all time, for air, and for ventilation, and for beauty; and thus win for yourselves the blessings which Governor Andrew predicted for the city fathers, --the thanks of "all who value either health or beauty," and the lasting good-will of a countless posterity, "until summer heats shall be no more." If you make such a report as shall end this question and settle it, and preserve this area to Boston, then you will have done a good deed which will remain after you are gone. If hereafter there should be a question of sewerage, as has been alluded to, then when the time comes, there will be, I doubt not, a way found to dispose of it. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." We are only looking to the present, and when the future evil comes, then we can provide for it.
Mr. HILL. The municipal authorities of Boston, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, cannot view without anxiety any proposals to reduce still farther the great tidal basins of Boston harbor. The temptation in a place where land is so dear to procure it by shutting out the sea is very great, and in times past has been yielded to in no sparing manner. Whether in so doing we or our ancestors have been wise is now only interesting so far as it teaches us what to do in the future.
What has been done
cannot be undone.
That we have thus acted hitherto with comparative impunity is very slight proof that we can hereafter continue the same action with safety. Certain it is that the subject of tidal harbors has only within a few years attracted the attention of scientific men, but within these years much has been learnt upon it, and enough is well known to make us pause before we make any further experiments in the shape of improvements on nature. The condition of our harbor is not so good as to relieve us entirely from anxieties in regard to the future, or to make us feel certain that the highest wisdom has governed in the encroachments which have been made upon it in the past; and the municipal corporation justly feels that its preservation is a duty which eminently belongs to those who are intrusted with the administration of city affairs.
This is one reason, therefore, of my presence at this hearing, and of my asking your permission to submit a few remarks to you to-day. The other reason is hardly less pressing. The extensive water area which surrounds this city has, in our opinion, had a most beneficial influence on its general sanitary condition, and now, with a population of a quarter of a million within the corporate limits, and of a hundred and fifty thousand more in the immediate suburbs, we are approaching that size which necessitates special foresight to enable us to preserve the same degree of health among this great multitude which has generally prevailed, without the need of any particular precaution, while the population of our city was much smaller. And the corporation of Boston is not yet convinced that the cooling influence of the sea water, washing around the margin of the city, can be dispensed with without danger to the health of the inhabitants, or that any benefit which we may derive from it can be easily supplied from other sources. We therefore are not yet ready to consent to have that water area reduced in any substantial degree, because we fear the effect upon the health of the city.
These are the reasons why the city of Boston is interested in
any report which your honorable committee may make, and as an injury done in either respect by filling in more of the tidal basins of the harbor will be remediless, we must oppose any such proposition so long as the consequences are in the least doubtful.
It does not fall within my province to say anything in respect of the particular rights of property which those living along the border of Charles River may have to the present open basin. They are represented here by able counsel, who have presented their claims in a manner which requires no additional argument. But there are interests outside of and beyond these, and that throw their importance entirely into the shade, which may perhaps in some respects be better advocated by the city government than by those gentlemen who have a deep personal interest in your action.
To one subject which has been constantly referred to in the course of this hearing, I ought, perhaps, to allude, and that is to the present sewerage of the city. I think, Mr. Chairman, that this may be left entirely out of your inquiries. As I have already ventured to say, I now repeat, that I have no doubt that if the present sewerage system, by emptying into Charles River, is injurious to the harbor, or to the public health, or if it should ever become so in future times, something will be done to remedy it. This can be effected in a great many ways besides filling in the Charles River basin, and until it has been proved that by that means only can any existing or prospective evil be corrected, we should be loath to admit the necessity of so violent a remedy. No notice has been given us of your intention to investigate the subject, and it is one which cannot be properly investigated without elaborate preparation; and it would be far better to leave it until we know more than we now can of the results of experiments which have been made in other cities, particularly in London. The sewerage necessities of the city do not, therefore, in my opinion, justly fall within the subject of this hearing.
The first question then is, whether an extensive filling along Charles River will injure the harbor? I know that this is a subject upon which there is a great difference of opinion, and I cannot be unmindful of the fact that the chairman of this committee, who has paid great attention to these subjects, and whose judgment is entitled to high consideration, differs from many of our witnesses, and from the conclusions which we draw from their evidence. Still I contend that the weight of scientific authority and of past experience sustains us in asserting that further encroachments upon the harbor are in the highest degree dangerous, and should therefore not be attempted.
Your attention has been called to the fact that the harbor of Boston is in many respects peculiar. One of these is, that no large river empties into it, as the Hudson empties into New York Bay, and gives the aid of its rapid current to the scouring force of the tidal water. For this we are almost entirely dependent upon the water which fills the basins behind the harbor, still remaining, and of which shortsighted cupidity has not yet deprived us. The existence and necessity of this force to prevent the channel gradually filling up is generally admitted, but it has been suggested that reducing the width of the river and deepening the channel, instead of lessening, will increase this force, and thus will improve the harbor rather than injure it.
The answer to this suggestion will be found in the testimony of Mr. Boschke and Mr. Pratt, who were examined at length before you. One or two reasons I shall allude to. In a deep, narrow channel, never empty, the water would flow in at each tide in a very different manner from what it would in a wide and shallow, and, at low tides, empty basin. Its current would be steady and uniform, and it would meet with little resistance; but it would lack that force which is derived from shallow, turbulent water. Our experience does not teach us that cæteris paribus deep water is so turbulent as shallow water. With our present basin, the tidal water flows in over large uneven marshes;