A Tale of One City: the New Birmingham eBook

Thomas Anderton
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 111 pages of information about A Tale of One City.
Mr. Chamberlain has a pointed, slightly upturned nose, and some cynical people may be disposed to say that it has become more pointed and sharp the more he has poked it into political business.  Anyway, it is a characteristic, perhaps the characteristic, of Mr. Chamberlain’s face, and the skilful Vanity Fair artist caught it after a time, and just sufficiently exaggerated it to make a genuine caricature.  Seeing, however, that Mr. Chamberlain was born to be a much-pictured man, one thing has stood him in fine stead—­his eye-glass.  When “Mr. Punch” first took him in hand he could make little or nothing of him, but the eye-glass saved the Fleet Street artists from failure.  They found nothing they could lay hold of at first, not even his nose.  They saw a man with a pleasant, good-looking, closely-shaven face, some dark hair brushed back from his forehead, but there was nothing they could hit off with success, and the only way they could secure identity was by the eye-glass.  “Mr. Punch” used at one time to represent Mr. Bright as wearing an eye-glass, but I don’t think he ever used one.  Certainly I never saw Mr. Bright with an eye-glass, and never saw Mr. Chamberlain without one.  Great and prominent men should have some characteristic peculiarity that should be their own special personal brand, and if they have it not, it must be made for them—­as in the case of Lord Palmerston and the wisp of straw that “Mr. Punch” always put in his mouth.  Mr. Chamberlain, however, has kindly obliged, and given caricaturists and others something by which he can be unmistakably “featured.”

V.

Exit Mr. Chamberlain.

In 1876 Mr. Chamberlain was elected a member of Parliament for Birmingham, and his municipal career shortly came to an end.  It may be remembered that he made an unsuccessful attempt to represent Sheffield some little time before he aspired to become a candidate for Birmingham.  He made a very plucky fight in the cutler constituency, and the Sheffield blades were hardly so sharp as they might have been in rejecting such an able and rising politician.  Probably, if they could have peered a little into the future, Mr. Chamberlain’s first seat in Parliament would not have been as a representative of Birmingham.

Mr. Chamberlain, however, was elected as one of the members of his adopted town in the year mentioned, and, as I have said, he retired more or less from municipal life.  It may further be said that he relinquished his local position at the right moment.  He was lucky as to the time in which he took up public life in Birmingham, and he was equally fortunate in regard to the period at which he quitted it.  He had set afloat great local schemes, he had laboured assiduously for the good of the town, he had attained the acme of his local popularity, he was admired even by his opponents, and an imposing memorial was erected in his honour.  After this, anything that might have happened would have been in the nature of an anti-climax so far as his local career was concerned.

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A Tale of One City: the New Birmingham from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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