Page:Notes and Queries - Series 11 - Volume 9.djvu/250

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NOTES AND QUERIES. [ii s. ix. MAR. 28,


of the fallen. Nelson himself visited Birmingham, for a few days in August- September, 1802 ; he was accompanied by Sir William and Lady Hamilton, and the party, who had come on the invitation of the High and Low Bailiffs, stayed at Styles's Hotel, afterwards the Royal Hotel of Dicken- eian celebrity. They visited the theatre on two occasions, being drawn through the streets by the populace ; there were torch- light processions, and at a public banquet Lady Hamilton condescendingly gratified those present with several appropriate and charming songs. The manufactories visited included Edgington's stained-glass -workshop at Handsworth and the Mint, where " applicable medals " were struck off in the presence of the visitors. Mr. Matthew Boulton, by reason of illness, received his distinguished callers in his bedchamber, and their final departure for Warwick Castle was made after a most en joy able stay in the town* On 7 Nov., 1805, the coming of the news of Nelson's death cast a profound gloom over the district, and on the 23rd a public meeting was held to consider a proposal for the erection of "a monument, statue, or pillar," to " the saviour of the silver- coasted isle." The artist William Hollins sug- gested a Grecian fluted pillar 100 ft. high, with an internal staircase, and bearing on the plinth sculptures in high and low relief, to stand in some prominent position sur- rounded by public edifices architecturally in keeping with it. Among the sites con- sidered in connexion with this idea (unfortu- nately abandoned) was that formerly occu- pied by the " Welch Cross " at the lower end of Bull Street, and another, the Old Square -(then the New Square), the town's stateliest central open space, unhappily destroyed at the time of the Chamberlain improvements of the mid-eighties of the last century. After controversy and much vain talk a model by Sir Richard Westmacott, R.A., was approved on 13 June, 1806, and the statue was inaugurated on 24 Oct., 1809, the Jubilee year of George III. On the face of the pedestal is the inscription :

THIS STATUE IN HONOUR OF

ADMIRAL LORD NELSON WAS ERECTED

BY THE

INHABITANTS OF BIRMINGHAM A.D. M.DCCC.IX.

Possibly the smallest public statue of Nelson in England, it stands in the Bull Ring associated in the public mind with .the old-time "sport" of bull-baiting


and it is interesting to note that the last known baiting on the outskirts of Birm- ingham is believed to have been in 1811, subsequently to the erection of the statue. It faces the restored ancient parish church of St. Martin, and is near the sites of the long ago demolished " Old Cross " and " Shambles " shown in Bradford's map of MDCCL. The Admiral's left arm rests on an anchor, and a portion of a ship's prow is introduced into the design, with a facsimile of the flagstaff truck of L' Orient, fished up by Sir Samuel Hood after the Battle of the Nile. Dejected Birmingham is also repre- sented, murally crowned and accompanied by genii (or children) mourning their loss. The whole is enclosed by iron " palisadoes " of boarding-pikes connected by a cable, with a cannon erect at each of the four corners, surmounted by clusters of pikes supporting ships' lanterns. The original lanterns have made way for less picturesque illuminators, but from a drawing of the Bull Ring in 1819, by William Hollins, we may get an idea of what they looked like. The drawing is a valuable record of the appearance of the Bull Ring in coaching days, and shows a coach (one of eleven) starting from the " Nelson Hotel," previously the "Dog Inn," near the entrance to the present Market Hall. The townspeople were naturally proud of their Nelson statue, and a Mr. Joseph Farror, auctioneer, of High Street, left a weekly bequest of Qd. to meet the cost of cleaning the statue and its appurtenances, making with it suitable provision for the carrying out of his wishes from rent accruing from some house property in Bradford Street.

Thus did dejected Birmingham honour the memory of Nelson. As for Emma Hamilton, the fair songstress of the local episodes of 1802, who, having been arrested for debt and consigned to the King's Bench Prison in the summer of 1813, died in poverty two years later at Calais Birmingham, the dejected and fickle, like all the rest of the world, left the lady to her fate.

Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850) visited Birm- ingham, on the invitation of Mr. William Chance, the High Bailiff, on 23 Sept., 1830, along with Lady Peel, the Duke of Welling- ton, and other members of a house-party at Drayton Manor. The political leaders met with somewhat chill receptions when appearing in public, and on several occasions groans were freely mingled with the people's cheers. At a banquet Sir Robert won ap- plause by remarking that, "as a private gentleman residing within the district "