Page 4 of the Mayor's Address accepting the Shakespeare Memorial Library in 1864 on behalf of the City. This document was handwritten by the Town Clerk.
The full address reads as follows:
On behalf of the corporation and in the name of the town of Birmingham I accept with cordial thanks this magnificent proof of your good will to your fellow citizens.
Your gift will, I am sure, be welcomed by all, not only on accounts of intrinsic value, or because it is prompted by such a considerate and intelligent sympathy with the intellectual wants of this town, but also because it is an evidence that we among us a confederation of scholars and thinkers in whom the pursuit of literature is at once the cause and effect of manly and liberal sentiment, and of generous zeal for extending to others that which has proved a delight and an ornament to themselves.
That the property of the occasion might be a still further commendation of your gift, you have presented it on that day, on which every Englishman has a right to feel more than usually proud of his country; a day on which throughout the length and breadth of this land every man who has the slightest tincture of education feels his heart beat higher within him when he remembers that he is the countryman of William Shakespeare.
Of the many ways in which men have prepared to celebrate this day it seems to me that this one which you have originated is the most rational, and the most expressive of those feelings which this great anniversary inspires.
For you do not seek to immortalise one whose immortality was achieved long before we were born, nor have you sought to describe or to extol in words that universal genius whose excellence eclipses all praise, and “beggars all description”, but you have put into our hands the means of entering still more deeply into that in exhaustive treasury of thought and observation, of wit and fancy, of tenderness and grandeur; and not only so, but you have enabled wake up a yet larger number to participate in this intellectual heritage.
Gentlemen, the municipal body, who are the guardians of the peace and well-being of this town, have had their duty set before them this day in its noblest and most genial aspect; for they are reminded that is it their duty to encourage everything which can tend to refine the taste, to encourage the conceptions, and to exalt the aims of the working classes.
As for myself, gentlemen, I beg you to believe that I shall ever hold it a great honour and privilege to have presided over such an occasion as the present, and I shall continue to remember with pleasure that my year of office was associated with the name of Shakespeare, and with the good work which you have performed in his honour.