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and romantic view of the castle.- the house ; but I do think they are Now, though I have not the highest sufficiently strong to satisfy any set idea of corporations in general, as of Magistrates, that, were they to they are, for the most part, composed attempt such a thing now, it of men whose line of education is on. would stamp their conduct for ever ly meant to fit them for the back of as infamous. Their success, in point a counter, yet I had been brought up of law, from what Lord Mansfield with a sort of reverence for the Pro has laid down, is pretty obvious ; vost and Magistrates of Edinburgh, they certainly have not a shadow of and to suppose for one moment that right to build there, and, were I the they were capable of destroying the proprietor of even a garret in Princes finest street in Europe for the paultry Street, I would rather sell it to pay consideration of a few hundreds a the expence of the law.suit, than alyear of ground rents, gave me the low them to build a single house on most serious concern.
the South side. As in all probabiThe subject interested me much, lity the speech of that learned judge and by mere accident recalled to my must be now forgotten, or at least recollection a circumstance, which, little known to the greater part of when my friend first mentioned the the inhabitants of Edinburgh, I think thing, had entirely escaped me. By
By I cannot do better than, thro' the one of those singular chances, which channel of your very useful miscelbut seldom occur in the course of a lany, communicate an extract of it man's life, I happened to be in tbe to my fellow-citizens. It will tend House of Lords a few days before I to satisfy them, that there is no dan. sailed for India, when the law-suit be- ger of the Magistrates having any tween the inhabitants of Princes right to build there ; and I hope and Street and the Magistrates of Edin. trust, it will induce these respectable burgh, was to be decided. Being gentleman, who are certainly chosen deeply interested in whatever regard. to watch over the interest of the ed my native city, the result of the community, to lay aside all thoughts decision was of course a matter of of the kind, and in place of that, to great moment to me, and I recol. finish the street without delay, by lect, as well as if the circumstances putting up a handsome parapet wall had happened yesterday, the leading and rail, as they have done at the points of the case. Nor shall I ever east end of the Street; for I think I forget the satisfaction which the may venture to assure these honour. speech of the great Lord Mansfield able gentlemen, that if ever they atgave to all present, who were at all in- tempt to build there, they may insure terested in the prosperity of Edin- the curses, but will never be entitled burgh. He was particularly severe to the thanks of the community. Nor upon the Magistrates, and in that im- are the inhabitants of Princes Street pressive and forcible manner so pecu- alone concerned in this business, but liar to himself, gave them, according every citizen of Edinburgh; nay eve. to the vulgar phrase, such a dressing, ry stranger is interested, that this as few corporations, I believe, ever poble street should enjoy the view received in that House.
of the castle and old town, both of After some inquiry among my law which would be for ever hidden from friends here, I have been so fortu- the public eye, were aay buildings alnate as to recover notes of part of lowed to be erected on the south side his Lordship's speech, which I can a. of Princes Street. ver are not nearly so marked, or 80 But, Sir, I trust that I have said severe, as what he actually delivered in enough on the subject, and the fol
lowing extract from the speech of the these objections has this moment ocnoble judge I hope will for ever set curred to me : The inhabitants of the matter at rest.
the extended royalty were to be exI am, Sir, &c.
Observator. cluded in the representation of the
city, and yet lye open to be taxed by Speecb of Lord MANSFIELD.
the old incorporation ; this was, and "I well remember, my Lords, some perhaps justly, deemed unequal and years ago, when the situation and unconstitutional ; yet under such coimprovement of this part of the king- lours, under such specious appearandom came to be generally wished forces, was the matter dressed up to me, and considered; I well remember, I and so much was my opinion heightsay, being greatly affected by the ened of the persons into whose hands description of the inconveniency at. this trust was to be committed ; so tending the capital of North Britain; much, I say, were all these things this description your Lordships have impressed upon me, that I prevailed now partly heard in the case of the ap- with these noble Lords to withdraw pellants; and I am well informed it their opposition ; the bill, which ois not exaggerated : I saw with plea- therwise would not have happened, sure, many ooble Lords and Gentle. passed into a law, and a great boon men of the first rank, interest them. it was to the corporation of Edinselves in the matter ; and this plea. burgh. sure was not diminished by the incor: “ These gentlemen, thus aided by poration of Edinburgh taking the the nation, and impowered by the lelead, and giving a proper example of gislature itself, continued to proceed zeal and activity. This procedure in the character expected of them.-was what it ought to have been. It In their case, now presented to your gave hopes of success, and marked Lordships, you are told, that after conthe character under which these gen. sulting with several persons of distinc. tlemen were appearing. Persons of tion and taste, they had fixed upon the first rank were iovited to join them, the general form of a plan offered artists of the first ability to furnish them by an ingenious artist, Athem with the model, and a national mongst the people of distinction and contribution proposed for defraying taste, there were my Lord Alemore, the expence. Committees were held, my Lord Kaimes, my Lord Advomoney was subscribed, and at last cate for Scotland, Mr. Commissioner the attention of all parties turned to Clerk, and among other artists the the capital improvement, the exten. Mess. Adams no doubt. By these sion of the royalty upon the grourds gentlemen several alterations and imtowards the north, and the erection provements were made to this plan, of a new city upon these grounds; and an Advertisement was published for this purpose an act of parliament by the corporation, informing the became requisite, and was obtained public, that they had that day finally upon application of all concerned. adjusted the plan of the New Town, I remember, my Lords, being active which was to lye open at the Coun. in bringing this bill about, although cil-chamber for the inspection of such several objections possibly lay against as inclined to become feuars. it ; a noble Lord, now no more, had “In consequence of this, the appel. determined to oppose it; nay, a noble lants and others came, they viewed Lord , who now hears me, meant the plan,and chose situations for their to support this opposition. One of intended houses.
“ The line of buildings termed Prin. * Lord Abercorn. ces Street, seemed soon to fill up,
for a very obvious reason; the whole the plantiffs, where is it then? Here grounds to the south of this linc replied the corporation, in an act of were left as an open area in the plan, our council, of such a date : did you and delineated as pleasure grounds; never see that before, gentlemen ? the lake, or north-loch, formerly a No, indeed, rejoined the feuars, we nuisance, is there thrown into the never did. Impossible, continue the agreeable form of a canal, with walks magistrates, you are men of business, .and terrasses on each side. The your receipts for the money bear the
plan, now in my hand, ascertains date of this act ; and it is in vain to every circumstance or form better say you could so far neglect or im. than any writing in the world; it pose upon yourselves. Why, you speaks to the eye ; it presents a pic. are to have no canal, no walk or teriure which no verbal description can rasses, no pleasure ground : here is afford; so far, therefore, as appeared Canal Street, there is a coach house, from the plan, it was unnecessary, there a butcher's shop, there a talupon the part of the plaintiffs, to pro- low.chandler. pose a question ; it only remained “Can your Lordships approve the to know, what was to be paid by conduct of this corporation, or the cach person for the scite he had cho- contemptible idea upon which this
This was done by a scheme conduct has been endeavoured to be entered in a book, and this scheme justified ? The plaintiffs, I am told, made relative to the plan. By both are men of character, and they are of these completely satisfied, they men of business ; able and eminent paid their money, and have, bona fide, in their profession. I say it, my upon the faith of what happened, Lords, and I am proud to do so in erected houses, in a manner, and at this house, that no class of men in an expence even superior to the idea the nation act with more openness, of the public. After some time, the more generosity, more implicit confi
. plaintiffs were surprised by the ap- dence, than men of business do, pearance of buildings upon the when satisfied of the honour and proground, which they always supposed bity of their parties. I have known destined to the health and beauty of many a noble Lord in this house, and the place; and in place of terrasses sure I have done so myself, subscribe and walks upon the north-loch, they an hundred deeds without throwing find a new street making its way, as our eyes upon a single line of them, a peculiar favourite of the corpora- and why? because we were well ap. tion, under the name of Canal Street. prised, and fully convinced of the The gentlemen immediately bring honour, the integrity of those who their complaint before the corpora. put the pen in our hands. The tion ; they appeal to the plan, and plaintiffs, my Lords, did not consider pray to be informed how such an in- ihemselves as dealing with a com. fringement could even be imagined, mittee of city lands, whose business far less carried into execution ; or it might be to turn every inch of who the town couldallow themselves ground to immediate profit. They to act against the good faith of were dealing with the first corporathe public, and the express terms of tion of North-Britain ; a corporation their sale.
acting in concert, I may say, with “ Now, my Lords, what answer did the pation itself. I should not, my the corporation make to all this ? - Lords, have been surprised although Plan, say they, why, gentlemen, you the plaintiffs upon this occasion really have egregiously deceived yourselves, had trusted a great deal.
When a that is not the plan at all.' No ! say plan lay upon the table, and the
faith of the corporation pledged to tion against such an attempt, but
that, by the Roman law, a reference far less the consent of their party. binds the party who makes it ; and In this matter, my Lords, I consi. the terms of the oath are decisive. der the corporation of Edinburgh But I also know from experience, merely as a Committee of city lands, the great utility of requiring an an- but I would have that corporation swer upon oath : without such re- remember, that their character is ference the party may
refuse it ; if he different. If a mere committee does so, the Judge will presume a
for enriching this incorporation, gainst him. Suppose no such answer what title had they to a national is demanded of the plaintiffs, I be- contribution ? what title to the in. lieve they will not refuse it ; and if terposition of the legislature? what Their answer is negative, I should al- the purpose of calling to their asistso incline to believe it, though the ance noblemen of the first rank in respondents, after this, might be at the nation ? of advising with peoliberty to establish the contrary a- ple of distinction snd taste ? No, my gainst every proof they have to offer. Lords, these things speak the gentle
To me, my Lords, it appears, men's meaning at the time. Of a from every circumstance at the time, sudden, however, forgetful of their that the plaintiffs neither knew nor ap. character, they sink into a borough prehended any intention upon the committee : Profit is the word, the part of the respondents, of deviating elegance and beauty of their first from the plan finally adjusted : nay, plan is thrown away ; Canal Street I believe the corporation itself meant appears. I should be glad to know nothing of that kind at the time, whether the gentlemen of taste I have even the words of the reservation it- mentioned, my Lords Alemore and self, are sufficient to convince me; Kaims, Mr Commissioner Clerk, and as it is not intended at present (say Mr Adams, were consulted about they) to feu out the ground be- these new erections, which I am told tween the south street and the north- vie in deformity with those of the loch. I should be glad to know old town. Nay, I would ask the what the gentlemen meant, by the standing counsel at the bar, if they words, at present. Such words were
were advised ; I have not heard them unnecessary, because the plan itself say so. I could say a great deal speaks this intention. Had it been
more upon this subject, but I do not marked on that plan, that houses and chuse to do it ; and I hope we shall not pleasure grounds, were intended hear no more of the matter. Let upon this area, then indeed the ob- me earnestly recommend to this corligation proposed to the feuars would poration, to call to their aid the have been in their favour : but the same assistance they set out with ; feuars, I suppose, will accept of no let them consult with their standsuch obligation : it would indeed re- ing counsel what may be for their quire strict legal words to qualify a honour, what for their interest, plan so finally and formerly adjusted; neither of which they seem for for the corporation expressing them some time to have understood. I selves, that if houses were afterwards give my opinion, therefore, my Lords, built there, was supposing in themesloes for continuing this injunction, not a right without reserving it, a right only on the plain and open principles which they had disposed of by their of justice, ibut from regard to the plan, a right to which they are now public, and from regard to this mis- . unable to prove with the knowledge, guided corporation itself.”