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thousands of pounds for the first run; and this just distribution of profits is infinitely the best, in the long run, for
There is still an impression prevalent in the world, that there is no connection between good work and good wages in this kind of industry. There was never a greater mistake. A few great men, exceptional in character as in circumstances, blind like Milton, exiled like Dante, prisoners like Bunyan and Cervantes, may have written for solace, or for fame, or from benevolence; but, as a rule, nothing gets the immortal work from first-rate men but money. We need only mention Shakespeare, for every one knows that he wrote plays simply and solely as a matter of business, to draw money into the treasury of his theatre. He was author and publisher, actor as well, and thus derived a threefold benefit from his labors. Molière, too, the greatest name in the literature of France, and the second in the dramatic literature of the world, was author, actor, and manager. Play-writing was the career of these great men. It was their business and vocation; and it is only in the way of his business and vocation that we can, as a rule, get from an artist the best and the utmost there is in him. Common honesty demands that a man shall do his best when he works for his own price. His honor and his safety are alike involved. All our courage and all our cowardice, all our pride and all our humility, all our generosity and all our selfishness, all that can incite and all that can scare us to exertion, may enter into the complex motive that is urging us on when we are doing the work by which we earn our right to exist. Nothing is of great and lasting account, not religion, nor benevolence, nor law, nor science, until it is so organized that honest and able men can live by it. Then it lures talent, character, ambition, wealth, and force to its support and illustration. The whole history of literature, so far as it is known, shows that literature flourishes when it is
fairly rewarded, and declines when it is robbed of its just compensation. Mr. Reade has admirably demonstrated this in his "Eighth Commandment," a little book as full of wit, fact, argument, eloquence, and delicious audacity as any that has lately appeared.
There has been but one country in which literature has ever succeeded in raising itself to the power and dignity of a profession, and it is the only country which has ever enjoyed a considerable part of the market of the world for its literary wares. This is France, which has a kind of International Copyright in its language. Educated Russia reads few books that are not French, and in every country of Christendom it is taken for granted that an educated person reads this language. Wherever in Europe or America or India or Australia many books are sold, some French books are sold. Here in New York, for example, we have had for many years an elegant and well-appointed French bookstore, in which the standard works of French literature are temptingly displayed, and the new works are for sale within three weeks after their publication in Paris. Many of our readers, too, must have noticed the huge masses of French books exhibited in some of the second-hand bookstores of Nassau Street. French books, in fact, form a very considerable part of the daily business of the bookstores in every capital of the world. Nearly one hundred subscribers were obtained in the United States for the Nouvelle Biographie, in forty-six volumes, the total cost of which, bound, was more than two hundred of our preposterous dollars. Besides this large and steady sale of their works in every city on earth, French authors enjoy a protection to their rights at home which is most complete, and they address a public accustomed to pay for new books a price, in determining which the author was considered. Mr. Reade informs us that a first-rate dramatic success in Paris is worth to the author six thousand pounds sterling, and that this six thousand pounds is very frequently drawn from the the
France, as we have said, is one of the liberal professions. Literary men are an important and honorable order in the state. The press teems with works of real value and great cost. The three hundred French dramatists supply the theatres of Christendom with plays so excellent, that not even the cheat of "adaptation" can wholly conceal their merit. Great novels, great histories, great essays and treatises, important contributions to science, illustrated works of the highest excellence, compilations of the first utility, marvellous dictionaries and statistical works, appear with a frequency which nothing but a universal market could sustain. In whatever direction public curiosity is aroused, prompt and intelligent efforts are made to gratify it. Nothing more surprises an American inquirer than the excellent manner in which this mere task-work, these "booksellers' jobs," as we term them, are executed in Paris. That Nouvelle Biographie of which we have spoken is so faithfully done, and is so free from any perverseness or narrowness of nationality, that it would be a good enterprise in any of the reading countries to publish a translation of it just as it stands. French literature follows the general law, that, as the volume of business increases, the quality of the work done improves. The last French work which the pursuit of our vocation led us to read was one upon the Mistresses of Louis XV., by Edmond and Jules de Goncourt. We need not say how such a subject as this would be treated by the cheated hirelings of the Yellow Cover. This work, on the contrary, is an intelligent historical study of a period when mistresses governed France; and the passages in the work which touch upon the adulterous tie which gave fair France over to these vampires are managed with a delicacy the most perfect. The present hope of France is in her literature. Her literary men
are fast educating that interesting and virtuous people to the point when they will be able to regain their freedom and keep it safe from nocturnal conspirators. They would have done it ere now, but for the woful fact that only half of their countrymen can read, and are thus the helpless victims of a perjured Dutchman and his priests.
What the general knowledge of the French language has done for French literature, all of that, and more than that, an International Copyright law would do for the literature of Great Britain and the United States. Here are four great and growing empires, Great Britain, the United States, the Dominion of Canada, and the states of Australia, in which the same language is spoken and similar tastes prevail. In all these nations there is a spirit abroad which will never rest content until the whole population are readers, and those readers will be counted by hundreds of millions. Already they are so numerous, that one first-rate literary success, one book excellent enough to be of universal interest, would give the author leisure for life, if his rights were completely protected by international law. What a field for honorable exertion is this! And how can these empires fail to grow into unity when the cultivated intelligence of them all shall be nourished from the same sources, and bow in homage to the same commanding minds? Wanting this protection, the literature of both countries languishes. The blight of over-production falls upon immature genius, masterpieces are followed by labored and spiritless repetitions, and men that have it in them to inform and move mankind grind out task-work for daily bread. One man, one masterpiece, that is the general law. Not one eminent literary artist of either country can be named who has not injured his powers and jeoparded his fame by over-production. We do not address a polite note to Elias Howe, and ask him how much he would charge for a "series" of inventions equal in importance to the sewing-machine. We
merely enable him to demand a dollar every time that one conception is used. Imagine Job applied to for a "series " of Books of Job. Not less absurd is it to compel an author to try and write two Sketch-Books, two David Copperfields, two Uncle Toms, two Jane Eyres, or two books like "The New comes." When once a great writer has given such complete expression of his experience as was given in each of those works, a long time must elapse before his mind fills again to a natural overflow. But, alas! only a very short time elapses before his purse empties.
It was the intention of the founders of this Republic to give complete protection to intellectual property, and this intention is clearly expressed in the Constitution. Justified by the authority given in that instrument, Congress has passed patent laws which have called into exercise an amount of triumphant ingenuity that is one of the great wonders of the modern world; but under the copyright laws, enacted with the same good intentions, our infant literature pines and dwindles. The reason is plain. For a labor-saving invention, the United States, which abounds in everything but labor, is field enough, and the inventor is rewarded; while a great book cannot be remunerative unless it enjoys the market of the whole civilized world. The readers of excellent books are few in every country on earth. The readers of any one excellent book are usually very few indeed; and the purchasers are still fewer. In a world that is supposed to contain a thousand millions of people, it is spoken of as
a marvel that two millions of them bought the most popular book ever published, - one purchaser to every five hundred inhabitants.
We say, then, to those members of Congress who go to Washington to do something besides make Presidents, that time has developed a new necessity, not indeed contemplated by the framers of the Constitution, yet covered by the Constitution; and it now devolves upon them to carry out the evident intention of their just and wise predecessors, which was, to secure to genius, learning, and talent the certain ownership of their productions. We want an international system which shall protect a kind of property which cannot be brought to market without exposing it to plunder, — property in a book being simply the right to multiply copies of it. We want this property secured, for a sufficient period, to the creator of the value, so that no property in a book can be acquired anywhere on earth unless by the gift or consent of the author thereof. There are men in Congress who feel all the magnitude and sacredness of the debt which they owe, and which their country owes, to the authors and artists of the time. We believe such members are more numerous now than they ever were before,―much more numerous. It is they who must take the leading part in bringing about this great measure of justice and good policy; and, as usual in such cases, some one man must adopt it as his special vocation, and never rest till he has conferred on mankind this immeasurable boon.
THE THRONE OF THE GOLDEN FOOT.
ARLY on the morning of the 13th of September, 1855, a most fantastic and picturesque procession -in which the formal and arrogant simplicities of a nice Western civilization, and the grotesque and insolent ostentations of a crude Oriental barbarism, with all the splendid riddles of its far-fetched type-and-symbolry, were blended in a rich bizarreness formed in the main street of the western suburb of "the Immortal City" of Amarapoora, and moved toward the palace of "him who reigns over the kingdoms of Thunaparanta, Tampadépa, and all the great umbrella-bearing chiefs of the Eastern countries," the Lord of Earth and Water, King of the Rising Sun, Lord of the Sacred White Elephant and of all white elephants, Master of the Celestial Weapon, and Great Chief of Life and Righteousness, called, "for short," Mendoon-men, King of Ava. An imposing deputation of Woons and other grandees, with their respective "tails," were escorting the newly arrived Envoy of the Governor-General of India, and his suite, from their Residency on the south shore of the lake Toung-ah-mah-Eing below the
city, to the Hall of the Throne of the Golden Foot, there to have audience of that great, glorious, and most excellent Majesty, whose dominions are bounded only by the imagination and here and there a British customhouse; and whose excursions of dreadful power are stayed only by the forbearing fiat of Boodh - and now and then some British bayonets.
The escort was illustrious: there were the old Nan-ma-dau-Phra Woon, or Lord-Governor of the Queen's Palace; the Woondouk Mhoung Mhon, a minister of the second order in the High Court and Council; and the Tara-Thoogyi, or Chief Judge of Amarapoora; besides other magnificos of less note, but all very fine in their heavy, wide-sleeved court robes of crimson velvet, laced with a broad edging of Benares brocade. On their heads they wore high mitres, also of crimson velvet, curving backward in a volute, and encircled at the base with a coronet of tinsel spear-heads. It is the ton at court to wear these mitres excessively tight, and to carry a little ivory blade, modelled like a shoe-horn, with which the cap of honor is drawn on, and all "vagrom" locks of hair “com