PP/GC/LE/89 Letter from Sir G.C.Lewis to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, regarding expenditure on metropolitan improvements and works of art, and membership of a proposed commission on sewage, 16 December [1856]
Letter from Sir George Cornewall Lewis, second Baronet, [Chancellor of the Exchequer], Harpton [Court, Radnorshire, Wales], to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: the Metropolitan Board of Works was constructed to provide metropolitan improvements out of metropolitan rates. Lewis therefore sees difficulty in promising grants of several hundred thousand pounds for such extensive purchases as that of Hampstead Heath. "It is the magnitude of the expenditure for metropolitan purposes which makes it so formidable. An expenditure for parks was included in Mr Thwaites' projected loan of four millions - one of the plans was to apply the surplus of the coal duty money, to the purchase of Hampstead Heath - but this surplus is claimed by Hall as appropriated to a street improvement." Lewis considers "that the most crying want of London now is the enlargement of the great thoroughfares running east to west. The hinderance to business and convenience now caused by the daily obstructions in those important but narrow streets are now becoming a serious evil." It cannot be denied, however, that new parks would be a great addition to the salubrity and pleasure of the metropolis. Mr Thwaite's proposition will raise the question of metropolitan improvements in the next session of Parliament; some understanding may be reached with the House. The best course will be to amend the borrowing clauses of the metropolitan act, to enable the Board to borrow for itself. "With regard to the Soulages collection, I cannot say that individually I take much pleasure in such curiosities. But an attempt has now been made to lay the foundation of a museum of the useful arts, so as to show a historical series of chairs, candlesticks, keys, combs,etc - with varieties of form and decoration. In a country which excels so much in the useful arts, I am not sure that this is not a legitimate subject of interest, and that it may not be attended with beneficial results. The price is moderate, and is very unlike the cost of a park, a street, or a bridge. It seems to me that we are not called upon for an immediate decision. The collection will be exhibited as a whole during the season, and we shall see what the enlightened public think of it." Southwood Smith does not wish to be secretary of the Sewage Commission; he will serve as a commissioner. Portman accepts a commissioner post, but cannot attend at present on account of Lady Portman's health. 16 Dec 1856
Two papers
All images are copyright. Please contact Archives@soton.ac.uk if you wish to reproduce this material
Mr Thwaites, chairman of the Metropolitan Board of Works
Sir Benjamin Hall, first Baron Hall, President of the Board of Works
Thomas Southwood Smith, sanitary reformer
Edward Berkely Portman, first Baron Portman, later Viscount Portman
Emma, Baroness Portman, later Viscountess Portman; health
Art collection of M. Soulages of Toulouse, France: purchased for the British nation and on display at Malborough House, London
Facebook Twitter Stumbleupon Delicious Digg RSS