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.
prospering for some time, or are the children of men who have been prosperous, and they “live up” accordingly.  They like their residences to be convenient and comfortable inside; but they also feel a little pride if they look attractive from without.  Nor are tastefully-designed dwellings confined to Edgbaston.  The example of our “Birmingham Belgravia” has spread to other suburbs, and if we go to Moseley, Handsworth, Harborne, and other places in the vicinity of our city we find houses of a very much improved pattern from an ornamental point of view compared with those of a bygone generation.  Edgbaston, however, set the example in the way of Gothic house architecture, and the first specimen, I believe, was a house in Carpenter Road, designed by the late Mr. J.H.  Chamberlain, and which was built for Mr. Eld, a partner in the firm of Eld and Chamberlain, now Chamberlain, King, and Jones.

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!”

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