图书图片
PDF
ePub

in favor of a blazing and cheerful fire-side, and which the female part of us would not consent to surrender on any terms of advantage whatever. While steam and gas, the nearest relations that smoke has in the world, are performing such wonders, is there no hope that this branch of the family may be made serviceable to the commonwealth in some way or other? I do not despair.

Labor.--All the principal works which I have noticed, and those which for the sake of brevity I have not, be they considered as improvements or not, every one will admit that they have produced this benefit; namely, employment for the people. They have been, for the most part, begun since the peace; an epoch at which great numbers were discharged from the services that the war had created: bread has been provided for them by such labor as was best suited to their habits; and a very material part of the functions of the police of the metropolis has been performed by those very works themselves. If they had not been devised, what must have become of the thousands that flocked to the capital, on their being turned adrift from the navy and army?

The physical advantages of bodily labor over the manufacturing and sedentary are obvious. Not only are they infinitely more conducive to health, but less productive of disturbance and riot. When a man has been employed all day in digging, carrying a hod, or breaking stones, he is naturally disposed to be quiet in the evening. Among the manufacturing classes, on the contrary, who sit all day; exclusive of the mischievous projects that may be, - and often are, suggested and insinuated to them with great facility by reading and discourse; the very want of exercise disposes them often to, and makes them more capable of violence and outrage, when they quit their looms and their spinning-jennies. Whether it be a church, a palace, a park, a bridge, a canal, or a new street, the result must prove an exoneration of charge on the parishes of London, and every where in proportion.

I feel, myself, persuaded that it is to the employment that has been thus created, and to the direction given it, that we owe the comparative state of tranquillity with which we surmounted the difficulties always attendant on the termination of a war; and most especially such a one as the last. It will, I think, be also admitted that, building no pyramids, whatever we raise above ground, or excavate below it, has, at least, the apparent purpose of utility to recommend it.

Extension. In order to judge of the size of the capital of Great Britain, we must choose some point of comparison; and none offers itself so obviously as that of France, especially as of

late we are become very familiar with it. The subject has often been discussed, and a great French poet said a century ago,

Londres de tout tems fut de Paris l'émule. In the parallel, many circumstances appear to me to have been overlooked, which should have been attended to. It is not enough to say that London is long, and Paris broad : when we speak of the magnitude of a city, it is not merely the extent of ground on which it stands that we have to measure, but the nature and form of its buildings.

Those in Paris are many stories higher than ours in London : they have five or six in general, and often more : ours have seldom more than three, and no mezzanines or entresols : but then we have not to boast, but lament, that we have one under ground. Forming one of the numerous contrasts that runs most singularly through the habits and customs of the two countries, here they shoot up to the clouds, while we are burrowing, subterraneously, like moles or rabbits. Allowing for this cellar-story, still the French will have the superiority of a couple at least over us; and therefore, whilst we are spreading they are aspiring; and after that mode, in fact, increasing the size of their capital. Then, again, their streets are much narrower; which circumstance making the city more compact, brings together, of course, a denser population on a smaller space than that which we occupy. Here, per contrà, an allowance must be made for the palaces and hôtels, which have courts before them and gardens behind." · Notwithstanding all the distinctions which we must concede to Paris, in point of magnitude, the verse of the poet quoted can be no longer applicable at the present day; for exclusive of our docks, our manufactories and our magazines, our longitudinal progression is infinitely greater than their quadrilateral.

Some years before the revolution, the circumference of Paris, according to Mercier's Tableau de Paris, was 10,000 toises, or from eighteen to twenty miles. He suggests a communication from the Porte St. Jacques to that of St. Martin, which would traverse the whole of Paris, and which he reckons a distance of 2500 toises, say between four and five miles. Another too he proposes from the gate of St. Antoine to that of St. Honoré, which would have the same extent, and cut the former at right angles.

'In this parallel between London and Paris, I have omitted to mention an essential article; one by which a decided advantage is given to the British capital. Paris before the revolution had only six drains, or sewers, in the best part of the town. The Cité, the filthiest, closest, and most unwholesome part of it, had none at all. I have not heard that Bonaparte added to them. How many we have I am unable to state; but to judge from the rates we pay, they must be very numerous. The two last constructed at the west end of London of importance were, one from Paddington, through Hyde Park to the Vauxhall Bridge ; and another under the new communication from Portland Place to Charing Cross. Which of these is the cloaca maxima, or whether there be any where one of more magnitude, I know not; but considering the weight of the taxes we pay for them, the commissioners ought to publish, from time to time, an accurate map of London underground: it would gratify our curiosity, and prove a sort of compte rendu of Their dark and unintelligible proceedings.

M. de Calonne undertook to build a wall round Paris, in the view of preventing the illicit introduction of all sorts of goods liable to duties on their entrance into the city. I believe it never was finished, but the Parisians said at the time,

Le mur murant Paris, rend Paris murmurant. This shows sufficiently that their boundary, thirty or forty years ago, must have been very limited in comparison with ours. After the revolution, and under Bonaparte, the French improved and embellished, but did not extend their capital in the same ratio, by many degrees, as we have done ours. Taking only the measurement of one line, (and there are many that could be drawn of equal length,) and we shall find that from the extremity of the Brompton suburb to Blackwall, (now London all the way,) there cannot be less than twelve miles.

But the most prominent feature, and that which insures us the greatest superiority is, that we have not only a port, (which the other has not, but the largest in the known world. Paris may be said, if you please, to be the capital of the continent : the affluence of strangers there is very great, (no sea, against which many feel insuperable objections, to be passed, the preference of climate, and the allurements of pleasure, besides the language so generally spoken, give it many advantages. But London has other and more powerful attractions—those of universal business : it is the metropolis as well as the emporium of the commercial world; and it would be difficult to account for its unlimited aggrandisement from any other cause. Many Americans come hither as Englishmen, and without being subject to the exhibition of themselves as aliens when they arrive. The merchants and planters, and, in general, all the opulent classes of all our islands and dependencies come hither, take houses, and establish themselves for a space of time, to open new sources of trade, settle their accounts, and form new connexions and correspondences. All these being English subjects, pass and repass at pleasure, often, perhaps, in their lives, and in constant succession. If, from

There has lately been some talk in France about the revival of the project for making a port at Paris. It has already been rejected as iinpraciicable two or three times.

the love of dissipation or privacy, (for a man may live more obscurely in London than any where else,) or any other cause, people were drawn from the country, the depopulation of it would be proportionably manifest; but that is not the case, for our country towns increase in extent as well as the capital : those of a manufacturing description, and those all along our coasts, most evidently.

Since the incorporation of so many villages, and even towns, in the neighborhood, our bills of mortality may be looked on as abolished; and we shall have shortly, to all appearance, to post through London, and change horses in it. We are become great manufacturers, but no manufacture that we boast of yields to that of houses. Unsubstantial as many of them are, they will not fall down in proportion to those we raise up, and which are now striding over the country at a rate almost incalculable. Quousque tandem ?

It is remarkable that no conflagration to any extent has happened of late years. In the degree that we build we insure; and, that offices of insurance are beneficial, is proved by the rivalry which augments every year amongst them ; indicating at the same time the immensity of the basis on which they speculate : say the extent of a province, surely as great as Rutlandshire.

If the peace we now enjoy should endure (and there is every prospect that it will), and if we should be wise enough to desist from the game so long played, and which, in familiar language, is called beggar my neighbor, our commerce and manufactures will increase, and with them of course that manufacture of houses of which I have been saying so much.

Whether it be an evil, or not, that a population as great as of sonie kingdoms should be crowded together in this manner is a question that is not easily decided, but it appears certain that it cannot be prevented: it will grow with our growth, and strengthen with our strength.”

As it would not be advisable to lay any heavier taxes on the materials of building than they now bear, some check, if thought necessary, might be effected by a law, that a church or chapel should be provided, proportionable in size to a given number of houses erected of a certain description. The act of parliament for the building and repairing places of Worship, laid a tax on the whole country, and of course on districts where they were not required. This seems unjust; for those parishes which have upheld their churches, and often rebuilt them at their own expense, should have been exempted from the operation of a tax, levied on account of other districts where there were either none at all, or

where they were insufficient. There are many instances of
country gentlemen who have rebuilt their parish churches from
the foundation, and many more who have sustained and embel-
lished them at their own cost.
Whether the secular prayer of the Roman poet,

Alme sol, curru pitido diem qui
Promis et celas, alusque et idem
Nasceris, possis nibil urbe Rome

Visere majus. was a wise one I will not say, but it certainly was not a modest one. At all events, the mouth of the Tyber, to which the eternal city is said to have extended, could never have had a port equal to that of London. It certainly had neither East India, West India, nor Roman docks, like ours, nor a commodious tide up and down its yellow stream: and, although these great conquerors have left behind them, standing to this day, stupendous monuments of ostentation and expense, it ought to be remembered that they were all the product of galling slavery. It is our boast that whatever we have raised, or may raise, is and must be owing to unrestrained freedom; that is to say, as much as is compatible with a state of society. In this point of view, the pyramids, the columns, the obelisks, the sphynxes of Thebes, and the majesty of Tentyris sink into nothingness.

Whether we may spread from the space we now occupy to the 10th or 20th milestone, in all directions, our success in the pursuit of useful and peaceable arts, beconies a constant invitation and example to other states to follow the same track, and contend with us for superiority in every species of industry that may be beneficial to mankind. In the mean time, while we do build, it is on the foundation of good laws, a firm soil, not to be invaded by hostile feet; unshaken by earthquakes, plentifully supplied, in little danger from conflagrations, on the banks of a river always peaceful, and at the foot of no mountains pouring down torrents to overthrow and devastate; such are the advantages we enjoy, and such is the promise held out for the security and duration of our metropolis, let it increase in whatever degree it may.

In contemplating this prodigious town there is however nothing so worthy of admiration ; first, as to the manner in which its population is supplied with such unerring calculation by its purveyors; and which yet is explained by the single word competition: next, the order in which it is kept by a police, apparently, so insufficient. But here it is that property, more powerful than gens d'armes, or municipal soldiers, performs the greater part of its functions, by protecting itself. Vigilance is always most on

« 上一页继续 »