« PreviousContinue »
In submitting to the public the Forty-third volume of THE MIRROR, little need be said of a periodical, which, small though it be, is read and approved in every civilised country. It was lately shown by a quotation from a journa.published in that quarter of the globe, that even in Africa, it is hela in high estimation. Testimonials equally flattering could be adduced from quartets still more remote, to prove that it is known to all the ends of the earth."
While its original character is essentially unimpaired, it cannot have escaped observation that in some respects important changes have lately been made, which it is confidently hoped will be recognised as improvements. More original matter is supplied than it ever contained before, and translations made specially for these pages, will be found very different from the word for word readings which appear elsewhere, which never can convey the true spirit and meaning of an author of merit. To catch the sense, not merely to transcribe the expression, is the true art of translating ; and the admiration expressed for the tales which have been furnished from the French and German, within the last half year, sufficiently proves that in this, the opinion of the Conductors of the MIRROR is shared by its readers.
New exertions will continue to be made, to deserve a continuance of that favour which has attended this publication through so many years. Its illustrations more than ever varied, reflect whatever is most interesting at the passing moment, and aim at perpetuating striking scenes, remarkable inventions, and local improvements, which must prove hereafter valuable.
Looking for additional support as they proceed, the Proprietors will not relax in their exertions to deserve it, always most happy when they can promote the welfare of the votaries of Science and Literature. The able writers who enriched the former volumes continue their
support, and many correspondents of distinguished talent have lately assisted with their contributions. Gratefully acknowledging their aid, they have to apologise for the apparent neglect growing out of the confusion inseparable from changing the place of publication. It will be their anxious care to guard against a recurrence of the evil.
Late Member of Parliament for Birmingham,
To the long list of rt markable characters that have appeared, from time to time, in this publication, we a'e enabled to add as a frontispiece to the present volume, a striking likeness of Tho nas Attwood, Esq., drawn by Mr. Wyvill. Those who regard with interest the features of public men, will value the almost speaking picture of a gentleman ho has acted so important a part, through a series of years, in connection with public affairs.
This gentleman is the thi d son of Matthias Attwood, Esq., of Hawn House, near Halesowen, in the county 01 Salop, and was born on the 6th of October, 1783. At an early age he was sent to th Free Grammar School of Halesowen, and subsequently completed his education at hat of Wolverhampton. A few years afterwards he became a partner in the respec able banking establishment, carried on in Birmingham, under the well-known firm o Spooner, Attwoods, and Co.; and scarcely had he completed the twenty-eighth 'ear of his age, when, in October, 1811, he was elected to the office of High B. liff of Birmingham.
It was at this time that Mr. Attwood thought it right to oppose the commercial monopoly of the East India Company, which he prosecuted with unremitting ardour until he saw its termination. About the same time, he distinguished himself by his exertions to obtain an abandonment of the celebrated Orders in Council; and in April, 1812, he headed a deputation of his fellow-townsmen to London, where he was examined at considerable length before the House of Commons, touching their effect upon
the commercial interests of the country; when he so forcibly pointed out the disastrous consequences resulting from them, as to be mainly instrumental in causing them to be thrown aside; but not, however, until it was too late to prevent the collision with America which unfortunately ensued, the declaration of war and the repeal crossing each other upon the Atlantic.
Desirous of testifying their gratitude to Mr. Attwood for his exertions on these memorable occasions, the artisans of Birmingham held a meeting in the month of June of the same year, at which they passed the following resolutions :-“ 1st. That they who endeavour to promote the commercial prosperity of the country, upon which its welfare and happiness so materially depend, deserve the lasting gratitude of the people." 2nd. “That, in particular, we would offer our unfeigned thanks to Thomas Attwood, Esq., High Bailiff of Birmingham, for his invaluable services in
this cause-services which it were needless to recapitulate, as they are, without doubt, engraven on the memory of every mechanic of this town." 3rd. " That as a farther expression of our gratitude to Thomas Attwood, Esq., a subscription be immediately entered into to defray the expense of a piece of plate, with a suitable inscription, to be presented to him; and as we consider it desirable to have numerous rather than large subscriptions, that no person be allowed to give more than sixpence." The sum of three hundred pounds was thus raised, and at a public meeting convened for the purpose, a superb and massive silver cup, of classic shape, and exquisite workmanship, was presented to Mr. Attwood, amidst the cheers of thousands of his fellow-townsmen, and was acknowledged by him in a speech replete with sentiments of genuine patriotism and philanthropy.
In 1815 and 1816, Mr. Attwood commenced writing on the Currency, and shortly afterwards addressed two letters to the Earl of Liverpool, then First Lord of the Treasury, on this most intricate and important subject ; and it is a remarkable fact that he continued to publish upon it during every succeeding year for five and twenty years afterwards. On the introduction of the measure, commonly designated “ Peel's Bill,” in 1819, he predicted that ruinous consequences would inevitably result from it; and both in and out of Parliament, he has been its most strenuous and determined opponent.
As a means to this end, Mr. Attwood had long been fpersuaded that a thorough and searching reform in the Commons House of Parliament, was of paramount importance; and with a view to the attainment of that grand object, he formed the bold design of establishing a “Political Union between the Lower and Middle Classes of the People ;" and having fully matured his plans, and consulted with his friends respecting the contemplated measure, he convened a meeting of his fellowtownsmen at Beardsworth Repository, in Birmingham, on the 25th of January, 1830 ; where, after having given to the assembled thousands a detailed statement of his views, the union was instituted under the name of the “ Birmingham Political Union," and a council was at the same time nominated, with Mr. Attwood as its chairman. During the first and second year of its existence, many thousand persons joined the Birmingham Union, subscribing from four shillings to two guineas each, per annum, and comprising many individuals who afterwards became eminent in public affairs ; and such was the importance attached to the principles upon which it was founded, that similar societies were soon formed in London, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, and innumerable other places.
Without entering into a history of the Birmingham Political Union, which our limits necessarily preclude, it will be sufficient to state that it greatly tended to the success of the Reform Bill ; and it is due to Mr. Attwood to remark, that immediately on the passing of that bill, this formidable body of men "sunk to rest," as he had often pledged himself that it should, “as gently as the infant on its mother's breast." In the year 1838, it was reformed, and for a time it appeared likely to be successful in carrying a further extension of reform; but in the spring of 1839, it was again discontinued, on account of the state of the public mind at that time rendering its movements dangerous to the public peace.
The prominent part which Mr. Attwood had taken in the achievement of this great though peaceful victory, which had been secured without the shedding of a single drop of blood, or the infringement of a single law, was recognised by his grateful countrymen in a variety of ways, but, perhaps, in none more signally than by the citizens of London, who, in Common Council assembled, with the Lord Mayor at their head, presented Mr. Attwood with the freedom of the city, an honour which had previously been conferred only upon royal personages, and upon the most eminent statesmen and public servants. How highly he appreciated this enviable mark of distinction, may be collected from the following short extract from the eloquent speech which he delivered on the occasion, a speech which has literally been printed in letters of gold :-"My Lord Mayor, and Gentlemen of this high and honourable Court,—It is not possible that I, on this great occasion, should not feel as a man of sensibility and honour ought to feel—it is not possible that the true spirit of an Englishman should not be kindled within me. I am here this day covered with a great and lasting glory. You have conferred upon me an honour which kings and emperors have coveted, and been desirous to obtain ; an honour,