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them? Are they to be treated as of no value? Is there to be some new and sudden conclusion? Are you prepared to say that because the channel can be kept open by dredging, it is best to enclose these basins and destroy them? Recollect, gentlemen, that as the city grows, the amount that comes in by drainage is annually increasing. And will you diminish the scouring power of the ocean?
Let me call your attention to the harbor of Marseilles, which became so offensive that they were obliged to dredge it, and keep dredging machines almost constantly in motion. They were obliged, gentlemen, after having nearly lost the inner harbor, to make two outer harbors or basins by carrying out piers into the sea. They have been obliged to correct the mistakes of the past; and because they had no river they were obliged to make one, creating a very large water power.
Look at Chicago, to which the chairman has once or twice adverted. With a population of two hundred thousand, the river became so offensive that they have been obliged to make improvements. And what are they doing? They are running a canal to the Illinois River by cutting down through fifteen or sixteen feet of solid rock. They are going to make a current from the Lake into the Illinois River, and improve the navigation both of the harbor and of the river. They are now doing it. But for the purposes of drainage, you know that the city of Chicago has been obliged to raise itself up ten or fifteen feet into the air; and is now making a river to run down to the Illinois. They are making parks, three or four of them, around the city. They are resorting to artificial ventilation as well as to natural ventilation from the lake. They are improving the drainage. And let me say that the river of Chicago accommodates a navigation greater than the navigation of New York in the summer season. Statistics show the arrival there of more tonnage than is recorded in the custom house in New York. They receive twelve hundred million feet of lum
ber during the season, four times the quantity shipped from the Penobscot. The amount of grain is immense. The quantity of coal is very large. The population is becoming very large, and the river is becoming foul and offensive; and it is to be turned down to the Illinois River for the purpose of improving the navigation as well as the drainage.
Now, gentlemen, we have a river. We do not have to make it, as in Chicago, and in London. We have it. All we have to do is to retain and to deepen. And shall we sacrifice it? And fifty years hence, when you and I, Mr. Chairman, have passed from the stage, shall our grandchildren have to come up here, and perhaps in this very room make the appeal that their ancestors committed a great mistake in cutting down the Charles River to a thousand or five hundred or three hundred feet, and beg the legislature of that day to undo what has been done, and widen out the river to its ancient size?
In ancient times, it was said that every river had its deity, and that the ocean had its god, and that sometimes the river god appeared and confronted the disturbers of its peace; and that sometimes old Neptune rose, trident in hand, to allay a commotion. And if in our haste we undertake to violate these streams, we may expect to see, if not those divinities, the river and the ocean, in propria persona, rise up to overwhelm the structures that encroach upon their domain.
There is a couplet of Latin poetry that comes to my mind which may bear repetition here:
And I trust, gentlemen, that, within the limits that have been prescribed to it, this river will flow, and flow forever, a source of happiness and prosperity to the people of Boston and also to the people of the whole Commonwealth.
I have but one further suggestion to make, although I have passed by much of the evidence that I deemed important in this
case. In other hearings in which I have taken part before committees of the legislature for the last thirty years, when changes were to be made in the railways or public improvements, it has been customary to show an exigency. The rule has been, that there should be no great changes made unless there was a great public exigency. I hold that in this case there has been no exigency shown; and that there is no exigency for filling up this area of any kind; and that until that is shown, no such filling should be permitted; and you will be reversing the past policy of the State if you allow it to be done. And if it is to be done for the purpose of speculation and the sale of land, there must be shown a great commercial exigency which surely does not exist.
Mr. PUTNAM. Gentlemen, it appears to me that as you consider the question which is before you here, there are one or two things that will strike you as perfectly clear.
In the first place, this is a tremendous undertaking. Put it as mildly as you please, gentlemen, whether you take the plan, as drawn by the engineer, which was shown us at the first meeting, and which I am glad to understand that the committee do not adopt as their plan, or take any large or considerable amount of filling to be done in that direction out from Beacon street and Charles street into the river, changing the channel of the river in connection with it, it is a tremendous undertaking. It is one before the mere magnitude of which any corporation, and even this great Commonwealth, might well stand and hesitate for a long time.
There is another consideration which is perfectly clear, I think. That is the one which brings me here; and it is this: that any such change as is proposed here now will be a very great and serious injury to a large amount of invested capital, to say nothing of the considerations which affect private individuals in their senses and in their minds and in their bodies, and re
ferring only to what affects their purses. Here is a great
and expensive undertaking to be proposed to the State, which will be accompanied with great and serious injury to an enormous amount of property.
Now, then, the question naturally arises, why should this be done? I presume that in dealing with the Commonwealth we are dealing not with a powerful and rapacious landholder next door, who means to insist upon the whole of his legal rights. If I did, I should not feel that we were in great danger; because I regard our legal position as sound and impregnable. But I do not think it courteous to a committee of the Legislature of this Commonwealth to argue this case merely upon narrow, legal and constitutional grounds. I understand that we are dealing with a great, and strong, and just government, and not with a grasping neighboring landholder. And therefore I assume that the committee, in treating all this enormous private interest which I in part represent, will regard it as an interest to be dealt with tenderly, as by a government which has in charge the rights of all its citizens as well as its own corporate rights as a State.
And here, gentlemen, is a good opportunity to point out a distinction which, it seems to me, the committee cannot fail to see—and which has not been much pressed upon them— between the duties and the rights of the Commonwealth, as a mere landholder, and its duties and rights and powers as a government. As a mere landholder, the Commonwealth may say it owns the fee of Charles River. "Why shouldn't we build on our own land as well as other folks; if you have no legal right to prevent us, why should we not go on and build?” But when we say we have built our houses on these lines established by you, by the Commonwealth, we have laid out our land according to the plan furnished by the Commonwealth, which we were required to follow, and having Charles River" in great letters on it, and following the lead of the commissioners of the Commonwealth who laid out their lands, as well as ours, upon the theory that the Charles River was to be a great and per
manent feature there; we say that even as a landholder you have no right to destroy the value of the improvements which we have made at great expense in the just expectation raised and encouraged by you, that the river which gave them their value was to remain. But the Commonwealth may retort, "We take the rights belonging to your lots, and we have a right as a government, in the exercise of eminent domain, to take away property, and all you can claim is full compensation." Now there is a mixing up of the notions of the Commonwealth as a landholder and as a sovereign having the right of eminent domain. And I undertake to say, the Commonwealth has no right to step in with its powers as a sovereign in aid of its rights as a landholder. It has no right to take away our property for the purpose of improving its own. If it comes to us as a landholder, and claims to use its land adjacent to ours, it is subject to the rightful and just claims of its neighbors, just like any other landholder. But if it comes as a government, with its eminent domain, to take away these rights and privileges of ours, it can exercise that supreme right only subject to the limitations which any just government must always submit to; and the first of these is, that it must be for some great public purpose; there must be some public exigency other than the advancement of the interests of the State as a landowner, to entitle the Commonwealth, to entitle any good and just government, to come in and take away these valuable private rights. And, therefore, I have approached this inquiry, and I believe most of those associated with me have approached it, in this way: Is there, we ask, any public exigency which calls for the Commonwealth's stepping in here and taking away these valuable rights of ours, and destroying this valuable property that we have created here, with or without compensation? And it seems to us, gentlemen, in the view that the committee took of the case to start with, a view of which I never have made the slightest complaint, and do not now it seemed to us,