One reason why the Town Crier came into existence was because it was felt that there were certain things, and perhaps certain people, who could be best assailed and suppressed by ridicule. They could be laughed and chaffed rather than reasoned out of existence. Certainly the paper was not established with any idea of profit, nor for the gratification of indulging in scurrilous personal attacks. It only dealt with public affairs and with men in their public capacity. Indeed, I may say that all the men connected with the Town Crier at its starting were interested in the good government and progress of the town, and they used the influence of the paper for the purpose of removing stumbling blocks, and putting incompetent and pretentious persons out of the way.
As so much interest has lately been created by the descriptions given of the Punch dinners and the doings of the Punch staff, I may state that the promoters of our local Charivari also combined pleasant social intercourse with their journalistic functions. The monthly dinners of the Town Crier staff remain in my memory as being among the most delightful and genial evenings I have ever spent in my life. We met at each other’s houses, and after a nice satisfying dinner we proceeded to pipes and paths of pleasantness, and to planning the contents for the next number of our paper.
Large and hearty was the hilarity at these monthly meetings, and I think I may say that the talk was interesting and smart. Mr. J.H. Chamberlain was often positively brilliant in his little sallies of speech, whilst Mr. J.T. Bunce would put in dry, sententious words of wit and wisdom. Mr. G.J. Johnson laid down the law with pungent perspicuity, and Mr. William Harris was amusingly epigrammatic. Mr. Sam Timmins on these occasions was ever ready with an apt remark, very often containing an apt quotation, and Mr. Sebastian Evans smoked and laughed much, made incisive little observations, and drew sketches on blotting paper.
As we were all more or less interested in or concerned with the most important matters that were then going on in the town, there was much to be said that was worth saying and hearing. Even in the wheels that were within wheels some of the Town Crier men had spokes. A bank could not break without some of us being concerned in the smash, and I remember to my sorrow that when the Birmingham Banking Company came to grief I was an unfortunate shareholder.
I do not think it necessary to say much more concerning the early days of the publication in question. Its first promoters became busy, and, in some cases, important men as time went on, and gradually they had to give up their connection with a periodical whose pages for some years they had done so much to enliven and adorn. The Town Crier, I think it will be admitted, did good work in its own peculiar way, and those who remain of its early promoters (and the small number has been thinned by the death of Mr. J.H. Chamberlain and Mr. J.T. Bunce) need not be ashamed to speak with the enemy at the gate—I mean, to own their former connection with a publication which was not regarded as being discreditable to its contributors, or to the town.