Live and let live is, of course, a very good and proper maxim, but it finds no place in the copy-book of sharp, smart, successful men of business. It is their aim and purpose to get money—without harm to others, if they can, if not, others must look out for themselves—that is all. In one sense at all events Mr. Chamberlain’s tactics were justified. They were successful.
And his brethren.
Mr. Chamberlain having obtained such distinction in public life, it was perhaps only natural that some of his brothers should be tempted or induced to follow his shining star. Possibly they had no strong inclination to distinguish themselves in public, and were rather pressed to come forward on account of the influential name they bore. Anyway, some of them did appear in various offices and capacities, but without meaning any disrespect to them or any reflection upon their abilities, it may perhaps be said that they found their fires so pale and ineffectual compared with the brilliant light of their eldest brother—or it may be that they found public work comparatively uncongenial to them—that, most of them soon preferred to efface themselves and leave one of their family and his son to take all the honours and have all the court cards.
Mr. Richard Chamberlain took the most prominent position, and made the highest mark of all Mr. Chamberlain’s brothers. He was Mayor of Birmingham in the years 1879 and 1880. During his years of office he was public-spirited and popular, and in the way of civic hospitality he made things lively and gay. He kept the Council House warm with his entertainments, and lavished so much money in hospitalities of one kind or another that he made it difficult for his immediate successors to follow in his wake, and none of them tried to do so. So far as I could judge of his character, Mr. Richard Chamberlain did not spend his money so freely for the sake of purchasing popularity, and certainly not for the sake of making ostentatious displays of his wealth. He was naturally generous and genial, and as Mayor of a large and important town he found many ways of humouring his bent, and he did not mind paying the piper pretty handsomely for his pleasure. As is well known, he was afterwards M.P. for one of the Islington divisions for some years. Ill-health however overtook him, and he died much regretted on the 2nd of April, 1899.
Another brother, Mr. Arthur Chamberlain, was a town councillor of Birmingham for a limited period, and owing to his business capacity he became a useful member of the Corporation. He did not apparently go into the Council to make a long stay, or if he did he changed his mind, and soon retired from municipal work. He has since spent his time in minding his own business; in strengthening, mending, and making certain public companies; in giving fatherly advice to company shareholders; and in dispensing justice, sometimes with pertinent observations, on the local magisterial bench.