BUCKINGHAM PALACE—MR. NASH
TOPICS OF THE DAY.
WHEN a merchant becomes embarrassed, it is not unfrequently diffi- cult to trace the causes that led to his embarrassment ; and in general nothing is so insignificant as the causes when traced. The expenditure of his income seems to have been gone about in the same way as that of his neighbours : there is no extraordinary outlay, no unheard-of purchase, no extravagance of waste ; in short, his debts have accumu- lated, and his property has melted in so imperceptible a manner, that the increments and decrements are only visible when a comparison is made of far distant intervals. The same process is observable when a nation gets into difficulties. It is not the expenses of the army, of the navy, of the executive, of the great departments of the state—though these first attract the eye ; but the ten thousand small disbursements which occasion no discussion, attract no notice, until after a time each item is found swelling to millions, and seriously aggravating the general burdens. There is a striking similarity in the object for which these expenses, separately unimportant, but in the aggregate ruinous, are incurred. Were it a worthy or a useful one, there might be regret, but there would be no shame. But individuals and nations risk and encounter bankruptcy for ends in which wisdom is as little consulted as economy. We do not know where we could find a more glaring exemplification of this truth than in the new palace at Pimlico. 'Were the question put to us, " to what sum would you limit the convenience or gratifica- tion of the Sovereign ?" we should say, to none. There is nothing which wealth can purchase and which he can desire that we should object to see placed at his free disposal. The splendour that surrounds the Monarch is part and parcel of the splendour of the kingdom of which he is the head. There is hardly one individual in his dominions whose desire is not to see GEORGE the Fourth surrounded by all the honours and dignities of a King of England, and who would not feel disappointed did he imagine that any king on earth were 'better lodged or more diligently served. If, therefore, it were fairly made out to the appre- hension of the people of England, that a palace such as their King might reside in were wanted, they would answer, as-we do—" Let no niggardly consideration of expense impede the construction of an edifice suitable to the station of such an illustrious occupant." But they would require, and justly, that the edifice should, in site, in design, and in execution, do credit to the nation, and above all, that it should meet the wishes of the King. If a palace were reared in a situation so ill chosen that no ar- chitectural beauty could atone for its inconveniences—if, instead of being an ornament to the metropolis, it were the laughingstock of all men of judgment or no judgment—and still more, if it were not accommodated to the wants or agreeable to the taste of the King—the public might most properly call down punishment on those who advised and those who planned it. The site of the palace at Pimlico is given up by every one—it is needless to say one word on that head. The skill of the designer is a subject on which Owne is more latitude Tor discussion. And yet we believe the utmost that can be said in his favour is that he planned Regent Street. The beauty of that street we do not undervalue ; but our habits have rendered us admirers of sound reasoning even more than of pretty streets : Mr. NASH may be a good planner of streets, but we deny the inference that he must be of necessity a good planner of palaces ; and we should have paused before we had intrusted a palace to his care, with all the evidence of taste and judgment, in a small way, that Regent Street exhibits. We can easily conceive buildings more offensive to the eye than Pimlico palace is now It is bad enough, still it might be worse. But a more complete departure from all principles of sound taste than the Pimlico palace of Mr. NASH before the wings were raised, never was offered to the ridicule of Englishmen.
There are other particulars connected with the palace, of a nature more easily to be estimated than Mr. NASH S architectural skill. His allowance as superintendent of public buildings was 5001. a year, and three per cent on the amount expended ; it has been changed to five per cent,—that is, 500/. a year has been converted, in respect of the palace, into something like 30001. We decidedly object to any percentage on buildings of such magnitude. Had Mr. Islasx's genius been as great as lie is disposed to rate it, he would have been well remu- nerated with 2000/. a year for planning one house, the fame of which, had it been well planned, was to him or any other architect the best foundation of a splendid fortune. A Committee, which can do nothing, because its labours must be broken off by the prorogation of Parliament before they are fairly com- menced, has been granted for the purpose of investigating-,certain transactions of Mr. NASH in another quarter. Even were the Com- mittee allowed to proceed without interruption, we should not expect any good result. It is not against the laws of the land or the privi- leges of Parliament that Mr. NASH has sinned. The marble arch in front of his own work—the pond in the rear of Mr. BURTON'S— the punch-bowl dome—the wings—the windows—are atrocities which neither judge nor jury can reach. It is not the most sufferable feature in this grievance, that in its nature it admits of no redress,—that the purses of the public have been drained and their eyes offended, and the national taste been exposed to derision, without even the doubtful solace which the " glorious uncertainty" holds out in the most insig- nificant cases of definite injustice.