Monuments and Dust
London Times: 28 Mar 1850
Encroachment on the Parks.
To the Editor of The Times.
Sir, -- Is it not singular with what constancy all Governments side with the noble and official trespassers on these sacred grounds?
When Mr. Huskisson proposed to build a street from Grosvenor-gate to Hyde-park-corner, he had the sanction of the Minister of that day, and was only beaten from his project by the opposition in the House of Commons of Lord Sudeley and Mr. Ord.
When a plot near Stanhope-street-gate was wrenched from the public, and bestowed upon a dozen noble and gentle houses in Park-lane, whose owners were scarcely ever in town for more than three months in the year, the appropriation was approved, and the under-governors and their pupils rejoiced in their exclusive domination; nay, even yesterday, the Minister made an invective against the cows of that generation -- not against the cowkeepers -- deeming the public exclusion from these precincts a very great benefit, yet why not keep the pretty nook as it is, throw down the railing, and re-admit the Londoner to his ancient realm. No more injury needs to be apprehended there than in the ornamental parts of St. James's-park, as the police and the park-keepers are on the alert. Every rood of land is here of untold value, and every exclusion a great wrong, while every person would be as a policeman in defence of the shrubs and walks. The people are now no longer a populace of depredators, for their admission to Hampton-court Garden and Palace has converted them into the guardians of their own enjoyments.
Why not allow the orderly multitude a share with the noblesse and their children in the pleasure of this parterre? Why reserve it for those who are seldom there, and who dwell in palaces and gardens where they may possess their seclusion of nine months of the year without a murmur? Why exclude those whose gardens are the flower pots on a lead, and who pass their days "in populous city spent, where houses thick and sewers annoy the air?" Leaving, however, these considerations, I turn to a still more formidable measure going on at Albert-gate. A plot there has been girdled with iron, and the public deprived for three years of the power of walking on it; but this, though bad (for at lest we still se it -- our eyes, though, not out limbs, are on it), is little to the ulterior scheme of building a line of large houses on it, which is noiselessly advancing! I fear that this is no air-drawn dagger of mine, for a Mr. Cubitt has, either by exchange or purchase, obtained the power of building there; and so true is it, that an acquaintance of mine was offered a plot for a house not long ago.
But these aggressions do not stop even here, for rumours most sinister are in circulation of the enclosing of Constitution-hill in part, with the Buckingham-house gardens, and of making a tunnel for carriages from Pimlico to St. James's, advancing the fore-court of the palace nearly to the head of the water. This, however, must be airdrawn, and till more proof is given I shall be credulous -- saying with the "Elder Brother," in Comus --
"Peace, brother, be not over exquisite
To cast the fashion of uncertain evils;
For, grant they be so, while they rest unknown,
What need a man forestall his date of grief
And run to meet what he would most avoid?"
Your obedient servant,
Travellers', March 27.