I remember that the erection of this Gothic house created quite a little stir. To some eyes it was a very startling innovation. Pointed arch windows for an ordinary dwelling house, who ever heard of such a thing? What next? asked some square-toed, un-compromising, old-fashioned folks. The idea was indeed so novel that it did not take people by storm, and there was no immediate rush for Gothic houses. Gradually, however, people began to like the style, or their architects told them they must like it, and after some time residences of the new order began to be seen in many directions.
There are now a number of large, costly, handsome Gothic houses in Edgbaston, which will be, indeed, a goodly heritage for the ground landlord when the present leases expire—a fact that often gives rise to some serious thoughts and reflections. Many people feel very sore upon this matter, and wax strong and vehement upon what is known as the “unearned increment” question. I do not propose to lash this horse, which is every now and then trotted out and properly thrashed by reforming economists and others. “Unearned increment” is one of those accidental incidents of life which can hardly be controlled or reckoned with. Why should some men be sound and healthy and six feet high, and others weak and feeble and only four feet ten? Most unequal and unjust! If I have a field, and a town grows up to it of its own accord, and somebody offers me four times as much as I gave for it, I hardly see why I should be reckoned a thief and a robber if I pocket the proffered cash. To take another illustration. I may have on my house-walls a picture for which I gave twenty pounds. The artist has “gone up” since I made my purchase, and I am now offered a hundred and twenty pounds for my painting. “Unearned increment!”