"Why, all the boys in Venice follow him
Crying, his stones, his daughter, and his ducats."
—Merchant of Venice.
Concisely, the history of Hancock street is this. John F. Perry purchased property on the Allegheny river, which, very naturally perhaps, he desired to appreciate at other people's expense rather than his own. He devised, either with or without Mr. B.'s assistance, the extension of Hancock street to Liberty. Though he now modestly calls himself Counsellor, Mr. Bingham [sic] has figured as a borer of a most intense dye through the whole affair. Shifting his character from borer in the Legislature, through council in court, to public advertiser, as the exigencies of his patron required.
While the scheme was still pending, Mr. Smith purchased property as a speculation, and if it has now turned out an unprofitable one, he can find consolation in his religion, the source to which he would direct us for comfort in our difficulties, rather than in the Legislature. Is it for purposes such as this that Legislatures sit?
The signers of the petition, with but few exceptions, own property no where. Certainly but few of them own property to be taxed by this improvement. They, are all, no doubt, "honorable men. Yet I will engage to obtain just as many, and quite as respectable names to a petition that is at once absurd and unjust. So lightly are petitions signed; and the names appended to Mr. B.'s published statement, or most of them, were obtained through misrepresentation, or are the names of a part of the large class of borers who figured at Harrisburg when the iniquitous bill passed the Legislature for opening Hancock street. Our harliquin [sic], in his transformations, becomes quite pathetic on the subject of the gross injustice done Mr. Schweppe's heirs, for the most of the injuries he recites, he and his patron are alone responsible. To now coolly turn round and charge the opponents of his scheme with these injuries augur a good deal of ignorance, or a good deal of impudence. I well know the license lawyers allow themselves; and I know, too, how readily an impulsive, sanguine man pursuades [sic] himself to believe anything. In a grave lecture to the Legislature on their duties and responsibilities, this is rather exceeding a jester's license.
I have no disposition to deny that Mr. Schweppe's heirs or creditors as the case may be, will sustain a loss. To have obtained more than the full value of their property, and yet retain one-third of it, and that third too appreciated in value, was certainly desirable, and their regrets on the occasion are perfectly natural. Why, Mr. Bigham himself must sustain a loss if the affair fails, and I wonder he does not, like a beggar showing his sores to excite the sympathy of the charitable, state his contingent losses. Should he fail, he can console himself like Dogberry, who in enumerating his titles to respect lays great stress on, "and one who has suffered losses too."
I wish while the inspiration was on him he had extended his sympathies to Dr. Mowry's heirs, who had certainly had great injustice done them. A lot belonging to them has been taxed nine dollars per foot, while the adjoining lot has not been taxed a single farthing. Can this by any possibility be justice? Mr. Bigham's statement amounts to this: The matter is so decided, that injury must be done to some one; and this being the case, in no event must he or his clients come by injury.
In truth, Mr. Bingham [sic] is very unnecessarily afflicting the public, for the Legislature have already done what in his peroration he asked them to do, "to leave Hancock street as they originally found it."