Page images

the population of London in 1777, during the Revolutionary war, and showed you that then, about ninety years since, the population of London and its environs, now incorporated into the city of London, was less than six hundred thousand. There are various estimates of this people, but I take the largest. At the present time, within the same limits, there is within and around the city of Boston a population of from four to five hundred thousand people. By 1877, that population will exceed six hundred thousand, at its present ratio of growth. We are doubling once in twenty years. In fifty or sixty years, we shall have the population of London. All the indications show that the growth of Boston will be on each side of the Charles River; on one side within Roxbury and Dorchester, most of which, if we except a portion of Dorchester, will drain into the Charles; on the other side, from Charlestown and Cambridge up to Brigh. ton and Watertown, the whole will drain into the Charles. And now, gentlemen, I put it to you that we require the whole of that river up to its full width of two thousand feet between the commissioners' lines. We require the whole of it merely for drainage. And if you narrow it, you render it insufficient; and I predict its failure. I venture to predict that if you narrow the channel of the river down to five hundred feet, it would be a failure to begin with; and that if you narrowed it down to a thousand feet, it would be a failure within ten years. When our debt is paid, and our streets are widened, streets originally made too small, too narrow, too crooked by errors in legislation (either municipal or State, I know not which), — when we have corrected these errors, and our population is doubled and trebled, we can better bear the expense of such undertakings as drains parallel to the river. But when we are expending, as I presume Boston is to-day, two or three millions in so many improvements, we can ill afford to enter upon any such project.

There is another matter connected with this proposed change, which I will not call an improvement, but a calamity, for Ipropose

to deal with it as a calamity which may befall the city, unless your committee has the intelligence and good sense to avert it. I desire, then, to draw your attention to the effects not only upon the drainage, but the effects upon the piles. It has been the policy of the State to encourage the filling and to fill the great area which lies south of the Western avenue. It has there sold its lands, and the buyers have placed their piles. These piles have been driven with reference to the commissioners' line. The commissioners' line has been established, and been considered sacred, for the last thirty years, since 1840. The only changes made in this line have been for the purpose of widening Beacon street, and for rounding off a corner, to which my associates here bave drawn the attention of the committee. And this I construe as my friends have construed it. I construe it as an intimation on the part of the State that under no circumstances was this area to be enclosed for building purposes. The little space to be filled outside of the Mill-dam was for trees and grass, and for the purpose of correcting a nuisance between the shore lines. The provision that no building should be placed upon it seems to be a pledge on the part of the State, in addition to the establishment of the commissioners' line, that this line is never to be exceeded, but is ever to continue. And I ask you whether it would be laudable on the part of the Commonwealth, after encouraging parties who relied on the faith of the State, to come and expend their money and build houses for their old age, and provide homes for their children, comfortable and pleasant homes, on the borders of this broad river, to then change the line which had been established, and ruin their property by any such measure as is here proposed. I ask you whether such action is consistent with the dignity and good faith of the State? Certainly it cannot be, without it gives an indemnity to the extent of the injury. But I was adverting to the injury to the piles. Any gentleman who referred

to the commissioners' line when building his house, had reason to expect, if the water flowed in up to his line, that the water would never be prevented from coming to that line. He had the right to assume that such line was the right one. There was no fool-hardiness on his part in not going down to the extreme hard bottom. He could see no reason to go down to hard bottom. He referred to the statutes of the Commonwealth. Governor Andrew was consulted in regard to it. Various parties were consulted; and we acted upon the assurance of the State that this line was to be enduring. And I respectfully submit that there is a damage to be incurred here, for which parties would have a legal and equitable claim to indemnity.

I pass from this consideration to another. What is your policy and the policy of the State as to the expansion of Boston? Is it the policy of the State to reclaim land from the sea for the purpose of erecting dwellings? Is it the policy of the State to expend two dollars per foot for making land from the sea, when we have high and elevated land which we can occupy? Is it policy to extend the limits of the city in that direction, when there is an area right before us admirably adapted for building? Let me ask you where there could be a more beautiful site for the elegant residences of a city than out on the Highlands? Where, gentlemen, could there be a more desirable and healthy position in any locality around Boston? Let me ask you, is it your province as legislators, or is it the province of the State, to induce people to go down on the docks and build upon the dock mud, and spend two dollars a foot in filling and fifty cents more for piling? Is it your policy to oblige them to build there, or to let them go out into the country where they may obtain land cheap, and also get exercise and air? Gentlemen, I respectfully submit, that you should induce the people to avail themselves of the privileges which nature gives them, and not urge them to settle down upon the docks and unhealthy lowlands.

This brings me, gentlemen, to the sanitary conditions of this case. And I will dwell but a moment upon them, because the evidence has been so clear and uncontradicted that I deem it unnecessary to enlarge, at any length, upon these considerations. I would say, as my friend Dr. Holmes has, that the estuary of the Charles is one of the lungs of the city, a great sea park, a park superior to any other. And it is a poor consolation to the people of the ward in which I live that, because the Common and the Public Garden are one side, perhaps half a mile from their homes, therefore they shall be deprived of this sea park on the other. They have chosen their locality, and made their investments with reference to both. They claim the advantage of both; they are ready to part with neither. Neither is to be surrendered. They will never consent to be deprived of them.

Let us pass from this topic, which has been so well and so ably discussed by the other gentlemen in this case, to that of the navigation of the river. We want width for navigation. It has been said here, sir, that boats and vessels that pass up the river rarely beat up. Why do they not? They want this whole area between the commissioners' lines. They want two thousand feet, and not one thousand. Give us the two thousand feet, or nearly half a mile, and these vessels can sail up the river without availing themselves of steam-tugs, can make use of this great area. We want this space for the purposes of navigation. And the number of vessels (some fourteen hundred a year) is increasing. They will double in number in the course of a few years. The shipping will increase as soon as our legislation on the tariff is perfected,

With respect to widening the river, it is a minor question compared with the mischiefs and injuries to the city of Boston which must result from filling. It is altogether a minor question; and if we compare one with the other, the difference must be seen at once. How is it with these gentlemen from Watertown? It seems to be proposed by them to make

They wish to

Boston a mere dumping-ground for Watertown. have the earth, embedded on the Charles River at Watertown, bought by the State for the purpose of filling up this estuary, and so get their river deepened without expense. It is to be done at the cost of Boston, not at the expense of Watertown. Let the people of Watertown and the people of Brookline make their own improvements; but do not fill up this estuary merely to make a receptacle for gravel. Let the case stand on its own merits. This territory is sacred, and is not to be filled up merely for the benefit of Brookline and Watertown.

I pass, gentlemen, for a moment, to another subject, which has been almost exhausted by Mr. Hill, and that is to the harbor. As to the harbor of Boston, let me say, that I have practised at the bar of Suffolk County for thirty years; and from the time that I first addressed a jury or appeared before any committees of the General Court, I remember very well that the commissioners' lines were considered as sacred, and have been very generally respected. If we crossed them even with a bridge, there was great reluctance, great difficulties tɔ be encountered. Now, gentlemen, for thirty years past the State and the City of Boston have employed the ablest scientific men in the country. They have all come to one conclusion, namely, that these interior basins should be preserved, that they are of importance; that there have been displacements and changes in these basins and in the channel and the lower harbor; but that the former now balance the latter. They all agree in that opinion. Is the State prepared, after having incurred the expense of these scientific men, and after having invoked the aid of Congress, to unsay all that has been said, abandon all the conclusions at which science has arrived? Is it treating these gentlemen with a proper respect to go directly counter to their recommendations? Are we to incur so great an expense for these surveys and these results which we have obtained, and then abandon

« PreviousContinue »