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THOUGHTS ABOUT WATER. 



Boston wants more water, and must have it, " The time 
has arrived," says our worthy mayor. Such precisely has 
been the language of all our worthy mayors, from mayor 
Quincy to the present. It is not my desire to hasten the 
measures of our city government, but to induce them to make 
haste slowly. Frequent disappointments are apt to drive men 
to some rash conclusion at last. 

Not a few, who are called to act, on the present occasion, 
have forgotten how thoroughly this question was vexed, in 
1837-8, Facts and reasonings were then presented, which 
are not, like news on the stock exchange, good only while they 
are new; but which are quite as worthy of attention now as 
then. 

It was ordered, in Common Council, on the 22d of this 
month, that commissioners should be appointed, and their 
compensation fixed. In my poor judgment, a careful perusal 
of all, that has been written and reported so elaborately already, 
would have been more profitable than the measure proposed. 
The expenditure of the city, on account of the introduction of 
pure water, amounted, April 16, 1838, to the sum of eighteen 
thousand, four hundred and ninety-nine dollars, and now ex- 
ceeds twenty-two thousand. 

The question, in 1838, was, whether the water should be 
introduced by the city, or by private companies. It was ad- 
mitted then, and is admitted now, on all hands, that we want 
more water. But the zeal of the water party led them to cer- 
tain absurd averments, respecting the well and cistern water of 
Boston, It was poisonous, the whole way from Winnisimmet 
Ferry to the fortification gates; and some of our citizens were 
encouraged to believe that brandy was the safer beverage, 
after all. 

The following observations were published in 1838, as ap- 
plicable to the project of that time; and their perusal may not 
be entirely unprofitable at the present day. 



With one aqueduct in successful operation already, which, 
though it supplies water of the purest quality, scarcely finds 
one customer in every four dwellings which it passes, and with 
several millions of dollars invested by our citizens in wells and 
cisterns, — is it not manifestly the wiser course for Boston to 
adopt the London plan, rather than that of Philadelphia, where 
the hydrant was almost coeval with the foundation of the city? 
Is it not also the juster course, in relation to those, who, having 
supplied themselves at their own cost, cannot equitably be 
charged with the burthen of supplying their neighbors? Lon- 
don is supplied by eight private companies. Boston has one. 
Let us have another and another, as our occasions require. 
Then every citizen, who wants the water, can have it, on fair 
terms, — that is, if he will pay for it; and not by throwing a tax 
upon his fellow-man, who wants it not. We want enough for 
our present need, not a deluge, at a preposterous expense, 
that every lady may have a fountain, and every gentleman a 
hose and squirter. The waters of Spot Pond, Long Pond, and 
the Middlesex Canal, are before the public, for consideration. 
The quality of the water is of not less importance than the 
quantity. If the source be filthy, the less of it the better. The 
last of these three sources seems not to find much favor with 
the public. Mr. Baldwin, one of the commissioners, speaks 
thus of it, in his report: " I object to the color and character 
of the water which composes this source. Much of the water 
is derived from the Middlesex Canal, from the leaks and wastes 
on a large portion of its length. This canal is fed from Con- 
cord River, in Billerica, a large portion of whose waters lie, 
every year, nearly motionless, through the dog-days, steeping 
the grass on the Sudbury meadows, for many miles in extent." 

Of the two remaining sources, Spot Pond is decidedly prefer- 
able, for our present occasion. It is higher — it is nearer — it 
is purer — probably, with the exception of Jamaica Pond, the 
purest that can be had. It is vastly less expensive, and suffi- 
cient for the city of Boston, with the co-operation of the Boston 
aqueduct, and our domestic resources in wells and cisterns, 
for a quarter of a century, at least. It is well, doubtless, to 
plant for posterity, but not too extensively. 

Mg. 31, 1844. 



WATER. 



Much has been written upon the subject of introducing 
" a copious supply of pure and soft water " into the city of 
Boston. Some of the friends and stockholders of the Boston 
Aqueduct Company have stated that there are individuals, 
among those, who favor the ^1,500,000 project, that want 
a job ; that the water question is one, upon which Municipal 
elections are already made to depend ; that there is a good 
deal of electioneering ; and that the excitement of popular 
meetings in Faneuil Hall is not favorable to a correct decis- 
ion of this very important question, which is to be settled by 
grave calculation, and not by loud voices, vehement gestures, 
or flourishes of rhetoric. Now all this may be very true, 
and most probably it is. 

Others aver, that the Aqueduct Corporation has an obvi- 
ous interest in opposing the introduction of water by the 
city, because, if it should be made free, their franchise would 
be about as valuable as that of Charlestown Bridge. In re- 
sisting the introduction of water by the city, it is therefore 
said that the stockholders of this company are selfish. There 
can be very little doubt, I think, upon this point. They are 
selfish, most probably, to a man : but I am afraid this term 
of reproach is of almost universal application. If a public 
officer stands pledged to any particular measure, his feelings 
soon become interested in its accomplishment, and he may 
be as selfish, for the gratification of his pride, as another for 
the maintenance of his possessions. If members of either 
board of the city government are pledged directly or indi- 
rectly to support a chief officer in a particular course, in a 
very little time they also become equally selfish. If I have 
a fine house upon some high ground, and my water is not 
quite so good or abundant as I could wish, I should be very 
likely to vote for the introduction of water ; yet I should be 
selfish in this, no doubt, and perhaps rather unwarrantably 
selfish, if I were, at the same moment, an uncommonly busy 
and zealous advocate of this measure in the Board of Alder- 
men, or Common Council. 

I have no belief, that the true question, now before the 



people, can, upon any principle of common sense, ever be 
settled in town meetings or ward meetings, unless a vote 
from every citizen, that he ivishes the water to he brought in 
at the expense of the city, may be rationally construed to 
mean, that he ivill take and pay for thai loater. If it be 
the real object to ascertain this very important fact, why 
may it not be the better course to apply to the citizens — not 
to sign a petition for a town meeting — but to subscribe for 
the water 1 Perhaps a more judicious course would be to 
deposit a book for this purpose, in some convenient place, 
and notify all persons, so disposed, to record therein their 
promises to take and pay for the water. 

I assume it to be true, that a more copious supply of 
water would be a great comfort to some of our citizens. It 
is equally true, that a very large number do not want it, and 
have protested against the project, as appears by the remon- 
strances upon the table of the Common Council. They say 
they are satisfied entirely with their own wells, cisterns, and 
the existing aqueduct. This, however, is not likely to satisfy 
such persons as are actually suffering for the want of pure 
and soft water. It is most natural — for as I said before, we 
are all selfish — that the suffering party should press their 
individual troubles before the public, and even endeavor to 
persuade the community to afford them relief. But it was 
not quite fair, the real origin of the medical petition being 
duly considered, to bring down the whole faculty upon us to 
frighten us to death. Nor was the famous inspection of 
wells, considering the manner in which it was conducted, the 
most praiseworthy part of the machinery. The person em- 
ployed to make this examination, went forth with a bias. 
He perfectly comprehended the design of his appointment, 
and the result was such as might have been expected. If 
he had supposed that his report would have been as accept- 
able, in the form of a careful record of all the good wells in 
the city of Boston, he would certainly have found many 
more of them. I am not writing in the dark. I have abun- 
dant proof of the manner, in which that investigation was con- 
ducted, and of the leading questions, put by the person employed. 

Nevertheless, it is agreed, that pure and soft water is 
wanted. I speak not of the imaginary wants of those gen- 
tlemen, who desire the water works in every one of their 
apartments, high and low, which works, by the way, in our 
climate, can be used only for a few months in the year — nor 
of the imaginary wants of those who covet the luxury of 



fountains in their yards and gardens — but of the actual wants 
of such as require the water for the common purposes of life, 
for culinary uses, for washing, bathing, drinking, he. I by 
no means assume it to be true, that the great noise made 
about water, is to be taken as any thing like a sure standard 
of the existing necessity. For example, in a certain street 
in this city, a goodly number of occupants happen to be 
the tenants of sundry houses belonging to one man. These 
tenants are migratory and irresponsible persons. They often 
apply, as the superintendent tells me, for the water of the 
Boston Aqueduct, which passes through the street referred 
to. The superintendent replies — " you are here to-day and 
gone to-morrow ; I cannot trust you ; but you shall have the 
water if your landlord, Mr. A. B. will become responsible, 
which he refuses ! " Now there is no person more clamorous 
than Mr. A. B. for what ? — Not for pure water, but for pure 
water at the expense of the city ; a phrase, which is mis- 
leading thousands into the belief, that they are to have the 
water from the very moment of its introduction, for nothing, 
and who are therefore easily induced to vote for the project. 

How shall all reasonable demands for water be satisfied ? 
Not surely in the superlatively foolish and intemperate spirit, 
which has dictated the paragraphs of certain writers, " we 
will have it ! " The idea of coercing entire boards of coun- 
cil to act contrarily to their consciences, by the force of an in- 
structing Epower, presumed to reside in an excited and multi- 
tudinous body, is the very maximum of Jacobinical absurdity. 

How shall the reasonable demand for water in this city be 
supplied ? Is it just and right that water should be supplied 
at the expense of the city ? If we were now assemljling 
upon this peninsula for the first time, and proposing to build 
a city, the suggestion would come with a better grace. 
Could we calculate even now, with any reasonable degree of 
certainty, that a sufficient number of customers would take 
and pay for the water, to meet the amount of interest on 
cost, and the expense of superintendent, treasurer, clerk and 
subaltern operatives, there would be nothing so very enor- 
mous in the proposal. But how can we arrive at this rea- 
sonable degree of certainty ? By calling on the citizens to 
vote in wards, in favor of bringing in soft water at the 
expense of the city 1 

Let us translate these words — at the expense of the city — 
into English. Do they mean, that the city shall pay the 
cost of the works, and the citizens shall pay the interest 



thereon in the form of a water tax ? Did the voters in the 
affirmative, on Monday last, so understand these words ? Did 
the owner of some " twenty houses without wells,'' who 
pledged himself to bring his tenants to the polls to vote 
for the measure, so understand these words? Did his 
tenants themselves so understand these words ? Let us sup- 
pose that they did — that they are willing to pay — that they 
are able to pay. Let us be exceedingly liberal in our sup- 
positions — let us suppose that every voter, on Monday last, 
in favor of the measure, was the head of a family, and would 
be a customer to the proposed aqueduct, which must, how- 
ever, be very far from the truth. What then ? Twenty-Jive 
hundred customers would scarcely pay the interest on the out- 
lay, even if that outlay should not exceed ^1,500,000, 
unless each paid an uncomfortable price for the water, as 
any one's arithmetic will show. 

These words, at the expense of the city, are not thus to be 
translated. Deduct from the 2500 voters, in favor of the 
measure, those, who are not heads of families, servants, who 
have voted to please their masters, journeymen mechanics, 
who have voted to please their employers, and a portion of 
the mass who look for employment in some one or other 
department, should i\\Q project go forward, — and how many 
will remain to pay for this soft water, which will prove the 
hardest water, that was ever brought into this or any other 
city, in a pecuniary sense ? 

But we are not at all in the condition supposed, in the first 
paragraph of this communication. We are not commencing 
a city de novo. We have, as individuals, expended an im- 
mense amount of money already, for our wells and cisterns. 
We have also an aqueduct, whose capabilities it is for the 
interest of the water party to depreciate, and which supplies 
nearly 1500 families, and, as Mr. Baldwin states in his re- 
port, can supply very many more, with the purest water. 
Under this condition of things, is it a righteous application of 
the golden rule, to compel a very large number of our citizens, 
who solemnly aver that they do not want this water, and that 
they have provided themselves already, at their own cost and 
charge, with good and sufficient wells and cisterns, — to com- 
pel them to pay for this project, that other men may have 
water at their expense ? The analogy attempted to be sus- 
tained between the condition of Philadelphia and Boston, 
cannot be supported upon any principle. The aqueduct 
there was not offered to a city, provided, in a good degree, 



already, with wells and cisterns, and having an aqueduct in 
operation at the time, supplying fifteen hundred families, 
and prevented from essentially increasing its supply, only by a 
perpetual fear of being ruined by the city itself. The expect- 
ation of gathering 12,000 customers here, with ow population, 
because,after so very many years,the Philadelphians have gath- 
ered 13,000 customers with their population, is hardly worthy 
the reputation of three well grown and well paid commissioners. 

How shall the reasonable demand for pure water in the 
city be satisfied ? What is the actual extent of that reason- 
able demand ? The South Cove, Mill Pond, and Railroad 
Corporations demand this water, to enable them to augment 
the profit of their several speculations. Those inhabitants 
whose well water is bad in quality or insufficient in quantity, 
demand this water. Those, who, not content with the 
amount commonly consumed, insist on a copious supply, 
twenty-seven and one-half gallons, at least, per diem, for every 
inhabitant, not excepting even those who solemnly declare that 
they have an abundance already, demand this water. Which 
of these demands are reflsonG6/e, and which are unreasonable! 

We steadily deny that any demand for this water is a 
reasonable demand, unless the demandant will pledge himself 
to pay the water rent, whatever that may be. Of the 2500 
who voted /or water, we do not believe that 1250 are ready 
to pledge themselves. Let us, however, assume it to be true, 
that every one of these 2500 voters will pledge himself ac- 
cordingly. Let us also assume it to be true, and assuredly 
we may, that those 1600 individuals who voted against this 
water, have enough, and good enough, already. Let us 
suppose that the actual condition of public sentiment is truly 
represented by this vote. Here, then, is a surplus of 44,000 
gallons, per diem, being the proportion of 27 1-2 each, to 
1600 citizens, which these 1600 citizens do not want, and 
will not receive. Add this amount of 44,000 gallons to 
68,750 gallons, the proportion, at 27 1-2 gallons each, per 
die^n, to 2500 customers, and we have an aggregate of 
112,750 gallons of water. Which, if used at all, must be 
used by these 2500 customers, since the other 1600 will 
have nothing to do with it. Now, in this ratio, every old lady 
and every nursing baby in the city will have the luxury of 45 
1-10 gallons per diem, — a copious supply, beyond all doubt. 

But we affirm, that, as 16 is to 25, so is not the proportion 
of those, who do not want the water, to those, who will take 
it and pay for it. As a stimulus to the water party, the 



8 

editor of the Daily Advertiser, on the morning of the ward 
meeting, pubHshed an editorial proclamation of considerable 
length, in which he observes, "if they do not vote for it, on 
such an appeal as this, the inference will he a fair one thai 
the loater is not wanted." Is then the casting of 2500 votes 
in favor of this measure, " after such an appeal as this,'' and 
of which 2500 votes, as we have already stated our firm 
belief, not 1250 were cast by men, who would agree to pay 
for the water, — is the casting of these 2500 votes, after 
such electioneering and caucussing, to settle this question for 
80,000 inhabitants? Where were those 12,500 customers, 
who were so eager for this water? The gentleman who 
decided for the Common Council, that they would assume 
the responsibility of this costly undertaking, with a majority 
of one only, will, perhaps, consider it perfectly justifiable that 
2500 voters should bind this burthen upon the shoulders of 
1600 others, and upon the whole population, and compel 
them to bear it, when the whole advantage is to be reaped 
by this small compelling party. If this be a sample of equity in 
the city of Boston, we have no accurate conception of gross 
injustice under a despotic government. 

We have endeavored to exhibit several reasons why the 
existing; demand for water should not be satisfied at the ex- 
pense of the city. We have a few words more to say upon 
this point. The editor of the Daily Advertiser observes, in 
his paper of April 2, — " There is a peculiar propriety in re- 
ferring a question oj this sort to the suffrages of the citizens." 
We are utterly at a loss to discover wherein this peculiar 
propriety consists. To our apprehension the very reverse of 
Mr. Hale's opinion appears to be the truth. It seems to be 
a question, in its original state, which might with singular 
propriety have been referred to the calm, unbiased decision 
of Boards of Councils : in its present state, and when highly 
improper means have been employed to inflame the public 
mind, it is not easy to perceive the singular propriety of 
referring this question to the suffrages of the citizens. 

A very considerable number of those opposed to this water 
project, are non-residents ; yet by them a very large propor- 
tion of the city taxes is paid. They have a deep interest at 
stake, yet they have no voice in this matter at the polls. In 
1836, 'nearly ^18,000 of the year's tax were levied upon 
the real estate owned and represented by females. A much 
larger amount was levied upon the real estate of non-residents, 



and various corporations. A large amount of the public tax 
must always fall upon executors, trustees and guardians, who, 
though some of them may vote, in regard to their own res- 
pective interests, can exercise no right of suffrage on behalf 
of those minors and other persons, the taxes upon whose 
property they are bound to pay. 

Let us now examine the petitions and remonstrances, pub- 
lished by the City Council, in Document No. 9, of the 
papers relating to the introduction of pure water. They are 
eight in number, four in favor of the project, and four against it. 

The reckless facility, with which men lend their names 
upon occasions of this nature, where there is no obligation to 
pay money, is proverbial. It will not be an easy matter to 
furnish an illustration of this truth, more remarkable than that, 
which we are about to exhibit. 

In the year 1837, a pamphlet was published, by order of 
the Common Council, entitled, ^^ List of Persons, Co-part- 
nerships, and Corporations, who were taxed twenty-Jive 
dollars and upwards, in the City of Boston, in the year 
1836." To this pamphlet we shall refer, as the tax-book. 
It is just to remark, that the remonstrances were gotten up 
in some haste, and after it was discovered that petitions in 
favor of the project were already in circulation. The first 
petition commences with the name of Joseph Tilden. This 
is not the present Actuary of the M. H. L. Insurance Com- 
pany, as some persons have supposed. That gentleman is 
opposed to the water project, and voted against it at the 
polls. Joseph Tilden, whose name is at the head of this 
first petition, was taxed, in 1836, on real estate, ^13 30. 
Upon this petition, the whole number of names is 222. 
Upon the tax-book, published by the Council, no more 
than 28 can be found of these 222 who are taxed for any 
real estate. In addition to the 28, a small personal tax is 
set against the names of seven others. The names of 187 
of these 222 do not appear in the tax-book. The spirit, in 
which this project has been urged forward, may be gathered, 
in some degree, from the style, in which several of these 222 
petitioners have presented their wishes : take one or two ex- 
amples — " L. Stimson, jun. goes the death for Long Pond.'' 
— " TV. C. Cary goes the death for Long Pond." The 
whole amount set against the names of those 28, who, ac- 
cording to the tax-book, are taxed on real estate, is ^ 1830 45. 
One single inhabitant appears by the tax-book, to have been 
taxed, in the same year, for real and personal estate, ^2132 95,, 
2 



10 

more than these 222 petitioners, and on his real estate alone 
^565 45 more than their whole body. 

The second petition commences with the name of Ichabod 
Macomber. This petition has 243 signatures. Of this 
number 179 do not appear on the' tax-book, as having been 
taxed, for any real estate, in 1836. Seventeen of these 179 
appear to have paid a small personal tax. The remaining 
162 cannot be found upon the tax-book. Of the whole 243, 
64 pay ^5034 75 on real estate, being $782 40 less than 
the amount of taxes on real estate, set against the names of 
four citizens of Boston in 1836. On this petition are the names 
of some, who have subscribed other petitions. We notice 
on this petition, the name of Jeremiah Fitch. The name of 
the same individual may be found on one of the remonstrances. 

The third petition commences with the name of William 
Appleton. Upon this petition, after the very third name, 
there is a sad falling into nought. The conclusion of this 
petition is truly amusing — "Let the thing be done," in 
capital letters, certainly bears the appearance of a fiat. This 
petition has one hundred and forty-one signatures. One 
hundred and nine appear not on the tax-book as taxed in 
1836, for any real estate. Two of these one hundred and 
nine were taxed a low personal tax. The remaining one 
hundred and seven are not named on the tax-book. Of the one 
hundred and forty-one,32 were taxed $4,316 50 on real estate. 

The fourth petition commences with the name of I. F. Cur- 
tis. It numbers one hundred and eighteen signatures. Of this 
number, one hundred and four do not appear in the tax-book, 
as taxed for either real or personal estate, in 1836. Of the 
whole number, one hundred and eighteen, fourteen appear 
on the tax-book, as taxed for real estate, $933 85. 

The whole amount taxed on real estate to all the petition- 
ers, upon these four petitions, in 1836, was $10,468 55, 
from which we deduct the tax on real estate set down to 
Mr. Otis, now a remonstrant, though one of the petitioners, 
and the amount remaining will be $9,045 40. 

The first remonstrance is from David Ellis and 163 others. 
Of the whole number, sixty-two do not appear upon the tax- 
book for 1836. The amount of taxes on real estate in 1836, 
set against the names of one hundred and one, is f 17,360 18. 

The second remonstrance is from Daniel Dickenson and 
one hundred and thirty-four others. Of these, one hundred 
and thirteen do not appear upon the tax-book. Twenty-one 
were taxed on real estate in 1836, $1,482 55, 



11 

The third remonstrance is from James B. Richardson and 
fifty -five others. Of these, thirty-six do not appear upon the tax 
hook. Nineteen were taxed on real estate, in 1836, ^1413 45. 

The fourth remonstrance is from Noah Lincoln and one 
hundred and sixty-two others. Of these, one hundred and 
twenty-three do not appear upon the tax-book. Forty were 
taxed on real estate, in 1836, ^4,447 95. 

The taxes on real estate set against the names of these 
five hundred and eighteen remonstrants in the tax-book, for 
1836, amount to the sum of ^24,704 13. Add the tax on 
real estate, for that year, set against the name of the Hon. 
H. G. Otis, ^1,422 15, and the total amount is ^26,126 28. 
The taxes on real estate set against the names of seven 
hundred and twenty-three petitioners, in the tax-book, for 
1836, amount to the sum of ^9,045 40. 

It has been boldly and frequently asserted, that the whole 
opposition to this water project was made by a few " rich 
capitalists ; " yet of these five hundred and eighteen remon- 
strants, three hundred and thirty-four, so far from being rich 
capitalists, do not even appear upon the tax-book for 1836, 
containing the names of all persons taxed ^25 and upwards. 
The truth is this : — These remonstrants have supplied them- 
selves with water at their own charge, and are unwilling to bear 
the cost of supplying it to others. They are entirely opposed 
to the application of Agrarian principles in this city, and they 
believe there is less to be apprehended from a direct, brazen- 
faced demand for a community of all property ,than from a subtle 
and insidious application of the very same principles, where- 
by, under the guise of suffrage at the polls, one citizen may 
vote himself soft bread or soft water, at the expense of another. 

Can it be true that the water project will cost no more 
than ^1,500,000? Have not the commissioners greatly 
underrated the damages? It seems the Standing Committee 
think they have. Are there not some who silently hope that 
the project will be undertaken, intending to sell their rights 
and privileges as dearly as possible? Such is believed to be 
the fact. Suppose the cost to be accurately stated ; can 
12,500 customers be found at ^6 per head, or 6,250 at ^12 
per head, to meet the interest at 5 per cent on the cost? 
The Boston Aqueduct is said to have been forty years in 
operation, and has not obtained 1500 customers. Its main 
is said to pass the dwellings of 5,800 families, of which 4,350 
do not apply for the water. This important fact, while it 
goes to prove any thing rather than such an almost universal 



12 

necessity for water, as has been declared to exist, certainly 
does not strengthen the prophecy of the water commissioners, 
that 12,500 customers can be gathered to pay for it. If this 
project should be accomplished, will the wells and cisterns in 
this city be abandoned, as it were, by common consent? 
Certainly not, unless the water shall be made free, nor even 
then ; for there are many, who will not drink the aqueduct 
water when offered them for nothing. Will the Boston 
Aqueduct suspend its operations, should this new project be 
accomplished? Certainly not. So long as any price ^hall 
be demanded by the city, so long that corporation will con- 
tinue to offer a purer water than the city can produce from 
either of its contemplated sources, at the very same price. 
The customers of the Boston Aqueduct, and those citizens, 
who are already sufficiently provided with wells and cisterns, 
form an aggregate that must manifestly diminish the number 
of those, upon whom the commissioners appear to have relied 
for the payment of the water tax. To us it seems extraordi- 
nary that three intelligent individuals should have entirely 
overlooked such considerations as these. 

The interest on cost is not the only thing to be provided 
for. This magnificent project, beheld only as yet in the 
distance, has already cost the city of Boston the sum of 
^18,499,83. This grand aqueduct will not be able to man- 
age itself. It must have its superintendent, its treasurer, its 
collectors, its clerks, and sundry subaltern operatives, and 
they must be paid. We do not assume it to be true, although 
it is not deemed an extravagant assumption by several intel- 
ligent calculators, that the execution of this project will cost 
^5,000,000. We truly believe |^ 3,000,000 by no means 
an extravagant estimate. The interest on this amount, at 5 
per cent., will be ^150,000 per annum. Fifteen thousand 
dollars per annum is a very modest allowance for compensa- 
tion and contingencies. Here, then, is an annual debt, to 
be met by the city, of ^165,000. Can any reflecting indi- 
vidual, who duly weighs the facts which we have stated, — 
that a large number will, undoubtedly, adhere to the existing 
aqueduct ; and that a large number will use no other water 
than that of their own wells and cisterns ; and that the 
existing aqueduct has been forty years employed in gathering 
less than 1,500 customers, — can any reflecting individual 
believe that the proposed aqueduct will be able to obtain 
5,000 customers in the space of ten years ? Such a condition 
of things would be rather onerous, as the water tax would be 



13 

^33 per annum to each one, beside the original cost and 
occasional reparation of fixtures. Let us presume that each 
of these 5,000 customers will pay the highest price charged 
by the existing aqueduct to private families, or ^12. We 
shall then have an income of ^60,000, leaving an excess, 
to be provided for by the city, of ^105,000 per annum. If, 
however, we calculated only upon the water rent, proposed 
by the commissioners, "an average rent of ^6 to each ten- 
ant,'' then we shall have an income of ^30,000 per annum, 
leaving an excess of annual debt, to be provided for by the 
city, of ^135,000. 

It must be apparent, to every thinking man, that this very 
condition of things will tend to abolish the water tax entirely, 
and make the water as much the property of every citizen as 
the highway. The argument will, probably, not vary mate- 
rially from this: — Our commissioners have led us into a 
prodigious mistake. It is now too late to correct it. We 
have laid out our millions, and w"e have gotten " the whistle." 
It is not the profitable thing we had anticipated. A few 
gentlemen upon the highlands are very much delighted, 
beyond all doubt. To their fine houses they have now the 
long-coveted addition of pure and soft water in abundance. 
They are able and willing to bear such portion of the burthen 
as may be assessed to them, not only in the shape of a water 
rent, but their proportion of the increased city tax. Here is 
a vast superfluity of water. The profit we derive from the 
water rent is too insignificant to operate upon " our high- 
minded citizens," as an argument against making this aque- 
duct free. Away, then, with this odious water tax. If the 
city authorities demur, we will SQXve " a requisition" u^on 
them, for the use of Faneuil Hall, and there, with the assist- 
ance of one or two idle bankrupts, having no lawful employ- 
ment of their own, and whom, according to the Spanish 
proverb, twenty devils are said to employ, we will "instruct" 
them, until they perfectly comprehend the duty of submission 
to the will of a highly excited and multitudinous assembly. 

Certain individuals were illy provided with water, in re- 
spect to its quality or quantity, particularly upon, and in the 
vicinity of. Beacon Hill. This comparatively small body, 
gave, as we believe, the first impulse. Adscititious strength 
has been gathered from various sources. The rich have 
called to their assistance the clamors of the poor ; and that 
they might participate in this hue and cry, with some little 
appearance of reason, the city authorities have suffered a 



14 

goodly number of excellent public wells and pumps to be 
filled up and abolished. This certainly was not so very 
fatherly ; but the water project was gathering strength from 
year to year ; and the abandonment of these public wells 
contributed to increase the apparent necessity for this " co'pi- 
ous supply of pure and soft water.'' It is quite natural, that 
the Mayor of a city, having one eye upon the public weal, 
should turn the other occasionally upon his own glory. One 
gentleman associates his name with a splendid market-house, 
and another would be the founder of an aqueduct. So the 
water project gathers its support from the necessities of some 
and the ambition of others. In this stage of the affair, an 
eminent physician, within the high district, is besought to 
petition for water. The memorial is so contrived as to ope- 
rate upon the sensibilities and awaken the fears of every 
nervous woman in the city, who operates in turn, upon a 
father, or a brother, or a husband. Water, which has been 
drunken with perfect satisfaction, for many generations, and 
to a good old age, becomes suddenly offensive to the smell and 
taste, and old ladies put on their spectacles and look for eels. 
In the mean time the petition from the faculty, having been 
signed by one or two eminent physicians, the others follow, 
as inevitably, as wave follows wave upon the ocean. We 
are all just as familiar with this process, as with that, where- 
by, when we pull at the main end of a rope the residue of 
the coil must follow. The project becomes the town talk. 
As a corroborative for the doctors, a trusty agent is employed, 
by the city government, who are by this time, sufficiently 
imbued with the water mania. He goes forth to investigate 
the character of the wells in the city ; not surely to contra- 
dict the opinions of the faculty! This agent understood his 
business, and he accomplished it to the satisfaction of his 
employers. The practicability of the project soon becomes 
so apparent, that a very numerous body of artizans, who 
hope, in one way and another, to be employed in its execu- 
tion, join the popular cry of "water" — "pure water'' — "a 
copious supply of pure and soft ivater," of whom many are 
utterly ignorant of the real merits of the question, and care 
nothing for the consequences. Then follows the practice, 
which is equally graceless in both parties, of exacting from 
candidates for public office specific pledges by the people, 
for the execution of particular measures, whereby the public 
functionary surrenders the exercise of his reasoning powers, 
and becomes a popular machine. Aldermen and common 



15 

councilmen are elected, not to act according to reason and 
conscience, but to carry a point — to forget alike the dignity and 
the impartiality, which belong to their station, and openly to 
electioneer, in furtherance of a measure, which it is their 
solemn duty to decide in the most calm and unbiased manner. 
We have already adverted to the influence exerted by the 
public journals of this city, in promoting the execution of 
this project. Those which have not afforded their zealous 
and even feverish co-operation, appear to have been, like the 
imaginary town pump, described by the orator in Faneuil 
Hall — chained up. Not satisfied with all ordinary help, the 
movers in this matter have thought proper to hitch on the 
Temperance cause, at the head of their team. Now we 
profess to be friends of temperance. We are not, however, 
so very ardent in the cause as those who have the consum- 
mate impudence to call themselves the " ardent friends of 
temperance,^' and prate of pure and soft water, while every 
syllable they utter is accompanied with the compound stench 
of brandy and tobacco. We are, in theory and practice, 
friends of total abstinence from all intopcicating drinks, and 
desire, by all suitable means, to promote this holy cause of 
temperance. Yet, in the most direct and ample manner, we 
enter our protest against this preposterous attempt to associate 
the temperance cause with the pure and soft water project. 
Let the temperance cause stand alone, upon its individual mer- 
its. Suffer it, at no time, to be mingled with questions of sla- 
very or anti-slavery, or municipal projects, or other extraneous 
matter. How little influence has the quality of water, upon 
the brandy drinker's habits ! He may assign it as an excuse, 
and when the city shall have removed this excuse, at the 
cost of millions, he will readily find another. The brandy 
drinker's arguments are drawn, not from the brain, but from 
the stomach and pylorus. By recognizing such a pretence, 
as a legitimate apology, we authorize the tippler to tipple on, 
till we find him a copious supply of pure and soft water, 
which, after all, will be found not so entirely to his taste, as 
to satisfy his peculiar appetite without the alcoholic corrective. 
The immorality of the use and traffic is an all-sufficient ar- 
gument. We shall do no possible good and much harm to 
the cause of temperance, by permitting moderate drinkers to 
imagine, for one moment, that they are justifiable in their 
attempts to improve bad water by the addition of rank poison. 
This exceedingly foolish association of the water project and 
the temperance cause, is probably attributable to some well 



16 

intending friends, who occasionally overburthen us with help, 
who have not studied this all-important subject in its various 
relations, and whose zeal surpasseth their knowledge. 

The fallacy of all vast estimates for great public works, 
has been proverbial for ages. Two individuals, upon whose 
skill and accuracy great reliance was placed, were employed 
to estimate the Croton works. They differed only to the 
extent of ^ 100,000, a slight variation in a matter of so much 
importance ; the estimate of one being ^4,000,000, and of 
the other ^4,100,000. Yet these shrewd calculators fell 
below the cost ^9,000,000; $13,000,000 having been 
expended on the project. 

The public are not generally aware of the causes, which 
have operated to delay the completion of the Spot Pond 
project. The Stockholders are personally liable for the debts 
of the company ; and the productiveness of the stock is, with 
some, a matter of doubt. An effort was made, at the last 
session of the Legislature, to remove this restriction, but in 
vain. It is confidently believed by some persons, that, were 
it removed, the stock would be taken up, without delay. 
This incumbrance seems not, however, to have influenced 
some of our shrewdest capitalists, who have already subscribed 
for the stock. A little reflection has shown them, I presume, 
that the capital will not be very liable to accident, after it 
shall have been buried, as it speedily will be, under ground. 
This is not a manufacturing nor trading corporation. Its 
capital is not liable to frequent re-investment. A vigilant 
committee will see that the capital is inhumated, and it is not 
easy to perceive in what manner, even a corrupt board of 
directors, can conjure it back again for evil purposes. The 
income will pass into the hands of the treasurer, and be 
secured to the stockholders, by virtue of his bonds. The 
liability appears to me of very little importance. 

It has been suggested, that the proprietors of the Boston 
aqueduct have as fair means for judging of the profitable 
character of this species of property as any persons whatever. 
The names of several of those proprietors appear upon the 
subscription paper. This fact also shows, that the existing 
corporation is very far from presenting any opposition to the 
creation of another ; unless to one, by whose unwieldy bulk 
it might be annihilated ; and whose enormous cost and un- 
productiveness would ultimately lead to making it absolutely 
free, entailing upon the city an indebtedness, which might 
remain for ages. a selfish tax payer. 



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