« PreviousContinue »
from Charing Cross to the Royal Exchange to a breadth of at least fifty feet, appears to be the object for most immediate attention. For this purpose all the buildings to be pulled down should be taken from the north side. After those already decided on as far as Exeter Change, the houses forming Holywell-street, and from Picket-place to St. Dunstan's, including at least the south aisle of that church, must be taken away; and lastly, those from the Old Bailey. to Cheapside; the church of St. Martin Ludgate being removed, and all Paternoster-row thrown into the area of St. Paul's. The expenditure necessary to accomplish all this would doubtless be very large, but it would be gradual;—and it is, we think, indispensable. Other facilities of intercourse from west to east will still be required ; Oxford-street should be carried in a straight line to Holborn, instead of deviating, as at present, to St. Giles's church. The breadth of this great street continues ample till it reaches Newgate-street, the north side of which ought to be pulled down before the new Post-office is opened. A middle line of communication is further wanted; for a population of 1,200,000 souls is entitled to several thoroughfares. Coventry-street, prolonged through Leicester-square, and thence into Covent-garden, should proceed through Wych-street to Temple-bar, which is indeed a public nuisance, and in more senses than one a barrier to the city. It must be taken down; and should the municipality still demand some such security to their civic privileges, let an ornamental structure be erected in its place, at least a hundred feet wide, with a noble arch of very ample space for carriages, and others of smaller width on each side for foot-passengers. Farther east, we should propose a broad handsome street from Cornhill leading east to the Commercialroad; and another from Holborn, through Smithfield and Finsbury-square, to Bethnal-green. In making this important opening, the cattle-market should be placed (as this very spot once was) quite out of town; and, by converting Smithfield into a handsome square, we would, if possible, blot out the memory of the sacrifices formerly offered on that dreadfulquemadero.'
In regard to the formation of adequate communications between the north and south sides of London, we have but a few suggestions to make. A splendid beginning has been made in Regent-street, which, with all its architectural freaks, is unquestionably the finest street in Europe. We sincerely hope the indefatigable efforts of Mr.Nash will not fail in carrying into execution his other beautiful plan for a new street from St. Martin's church to the Museum. If ever Waterloo-bridge is to be profitable to its owners, or serviceable to the public, these objects must be attained by opening a street northward to Lincoln's Inn Fields, crossing Holborn into Russell-square, and thence into the great North-road. venture to consider another equally important improvement as already secured ;-which is, the extension of the great street from Blackfriars-bridge to Clerkenwell, sweeping away Fleet-market and all that hive of infamy which has swarmed for centuries on Saffron-hill. It is hoped that a similar effort will be made by the shareholders of Southwark-bridge to conduct a street thence across Cheapside into Finsbury-square. : Many of the most valuable improvements in the metropolis have been achieved by the ruin of the projectors. But it is no consolation to the Joint Stock Companies who built the bridges of Southwark and Waterdoo, to know that the great road of the Simplon was completed at half the expense of the latter; that Sir Hugh Middleton sunk his whole fortune in the New River; and that the unfortunate who first drew 'upon himself the mockery of his fellow-citizens, by lighting their streets with gas, has been driven from the blaze of his own illumination to hide his head in obscurity.
In the lower part of Westminster, the opening of suitable approaches to the venerable Abbey, the houses of parliament, and the courts of law, is quite indispensable. We have already adverted to the proposal for removing one side of Bridge-street and of Parliament-street; and if a great street were carried from Lower Grosvenor-place to the western front of the Abbey, it would not only open a direct communication between Brompton and Westminster, but would cleanse away in its course some of the very worst nuisances of that neglected quarter.
Here we close our suggestions as to the avenues of this great capital, which, considering its population, its wealth, its enterprize, and intellectual distinction, is as yet most inadequately provided with accommodation. When we contemplate its multitudinous population, in all their restless activity, requiring greater facilities of locomotion than any citizens in the world, we are amazed that they should have so long submitted to all the inconveniences with which they are surrounded.
The first aspect of our vast city produces a most unfavourable effect on the eye of a foreigner. The interminable rows of: wall, merely pierced with apertures for doors and windows, with scarcely an attempt at ornament, has drawn upon it the designation of a province of bricks. The want of elevation in most of our public buildings presents another striking defect. After visiting France, or Italy, or Spain, we have always felt this contrast with peculiar force on our return. London has no quarries .which supply to other capitals the great means for architectural magnificence. Roman cement indeed, of late years, has come to our aid, to conceal the humble materials with which we have
been hitherto constrained to build. Of this expedient the projector of Regent-street fully availed himself, and has been rea; warded with the following epigram:
Augastus at Rome was for building renown'd,
He fişds us all brick and he leaves us all plaster.' But.in national structures it is to be hoped we shall not again employ this perishable material. For our part we never pass the House of Lords without a sense of shame on beholding the metamorphosed appearance of that time-honoured' edifice, now covered with a tawdry veil, the design, it is said, of a female hand.
Though London has no quarries of her own, she has a command of shipping, capable, at moderate cost, of transporting inexhaustible supplies of the finest granite from Cornwall or from Scotland, and freestone from Portland and Bath. These are the only legitimate materials for an ornamental edifice, and we cannot but view with some feelings of jealousy even the noble bridge of iron crossing the Thames at Southwark in three gigantic strides, as a construction far inferior in beauty to a work of masonry. .
But it must be confessed that the metropolis is exposed to an evil highly prejudicial to the splendour of its public buildings. The fatal union of fog and smoke has encrusted our finest structures (St. Paul's for example) with a lacquer which deprives the exterior of all those delicate effects of light and shadow, that give so much lustre to the architecture of purer skies. Many years ago Count Rumford endeavoured to play upon the ignorance of our citizens by calculating the myriads of chaldrons of coal which are permitted to float above our heads. Few availed themselves of his precepts and contrivances.-Evelyn's Fumifugium had been published above a century before, under the approbation of King Charles II. and produced nothing except a conference with the attorney-general; nor has the subsequent appeal of Mr. Michael Angelo Taylor been attended with better
To speak the truth, we do not think that until very lately the genius of our fellow countrymen has been much directed towards architectural science. London is singularly deficient in all those ornaments which in foreign cities produce the most striking effects at first sight. Our only arch is at Temple Bar, our only fountain in the Middle Temple. And until the contractors sent an order to the Carron Foundry for 200 iron columins to adorn the Opera House and the Quadrant, and Lord George Cavendish invited the toymen to sojourn in the Burlington Arcade, we had few such ortaments to show, except the porticos of our churches and the
VOL. XXXIV. NO. LXVII.
Arcades of the Exchange and. Covent Garden. We have always #dmired the profound skill with which the architect of St. Paui's, applied the knowledge of a consummate mathematician in the con struction of the great works wbich sprung from his hand, · But in addition tq 'this eminent merit, he had an eye finely directed to picturesque effect, and he showed this in all the contours of his buildings, in comparison with which the works of some of our ablest modern architects are remarkably tame and jejune. Tunportant works are now carrying on at Whitehall under the authovity of the Treasury, which will greatly distinguish that quarter of the town, already rich in public buildings. A difficulty has occurred in the line of Downing-street, which we doubt not the architect will find means to overcome. This gentleman's skill and ingenuity are equalled by bis uncontrollable love of singularity, of which he has here given a new proof, by a whimsical double balustrade, contrived, we suppose, to carry the chimnies, à concetto which discredits much other merit in his façade; and which might yet, we think, be got rid of. We wish he had condescended to take a hint from Inigo Jones, and placed the whole edifice, like the opposite Banqueting House, on a bigher basement. * The ample grants of Parliament, preceded by the liberal contributions of the Society for erecting churches by private suba scription, have not elicited as yet much architectural talent. Few of the churches which have been built will bear criticisin, and even these betray some striking incongruities which impair the credit of the design. After every allowance for the sordid economy of parish vestries and the troublesome taste of amateur patrons, much is still chargeable on the architect; who being, like most artists, extremely sensitive to criticism, impatiently opposes all cavils by quoting authority for every apocryphal ornament he employs, and endeavours to silence the man of research by references to Athens, or at least to Rome. To such a defence there will be still this reply: Authority, possibly, may be produced for every separate member, but that is no authority for the combination. It is by disproportionate and unclassical associations that an eye familiarized with the works of antiquity is -offended in the examination of our modern edifices. The Choragic Monnment of Lysicrates which crowns. the chapel in Regent. Street, and the Caryatides stationed to guard the Church of St. Pancras, may be adducer as proofs of such 'misapplication and we should have made the same objection, had a parody of the - Parthenon been seriously adopted for the desiga of the Royal Academy. · In suiveying the important improvements already effected in
the western quarter of the metropolis our gratitude must be influenced by the consideration not merely of what ive have gained, but of what we have lost. Who does not desire to see the purlieus of the Seven Dials and St. Gilés’s intersected by a rival io Regentstreet? In recommending the purification of such quarters of the town, we have no intention of sacrificing the humbler classes, but to improve their comforts along with their morals. They will migrate to better abodes which this hourly-increasing city is providing for the accommodation of all classes. There is no fear of ample accommodation being provided for the poor as well as the rich. Builders know well that small tenements britig in larger rents than first-rate houses, and much of the ground in the rear of ottr new streets will be covered with dwellings suited to the circumstances, and contiguous to the occupations, of the humblest of our fellow citizens.
We are not of the number of those who lament the spread of London. We regard it as the most satisfactory assurance of the increasing eleanliness, comfort and health of the inhabitants. He that was once immured in a cellar or'a garret now occupies a floor, whose tenant in like manner has been promoted to an entire house. The density of population in the heart of the city is already diminished by being scattered over a larger surface. The shopkeeper has discovered it to be most profitable in every sense to remove his family out of town; he places his stock in trade in the apartments they occupied, and employs the warehouse rent thus saved in hiring a pretty tenemerit' at Islington, Knightsbridge, or Newington, where his children thrive in a purer air, and welcome his return from the city after the traffic of the day. With all our reverence for Sir Andrew Freeport, we think our mercliants and bankers do wisely in visiting, not living at, the Exchange. Ominous warnings, indeed, are still sometimes mut-, tered against this supposed abandonment of the sober and prudent liabits of the old London merchant;' but notwithstanding all the desperate speculations and civic dandyism of our times, we believe. the present race of our citizens to be quite as honourable in their dealings, and at least as enlightened as their square-toed, velvetcapped, penny-wise forefathers. Time was when all the first nobility in England had their town-houses in Aldersgate-street, and other (then) fashionable quarters of the old city.* In those days the actual citizens were huddled together in contact with their goods and their customers, and, intent only. on amassing wealthi, iteglected all the tasteful conveniences which their successors now enjoy. The daughters who inherited their vast fortunes were * Some of the very highest quality, indeed, had grand mansions out of town, ontibe