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their types, partake an apprehension like the alarm of some nervous remainderman, who should take fright at the creation of a term of 999 years by a tenant for life, overlooking in his fears the necessary condition “if he should so long live :" for so surely as natural death will await the decay of the human frame, shall oblivion cover the “trashy and meretricious.” book, and leave room for successor after successor to employ compositors, to sparkle and expire. But, the petitioners proceed—“Even suppose their success would be permanent, the present high profits derived by their authors are an ample return for the time employed in their composition.” So these gentlemen, forgetting that the chief ground of the bill is, that the works on behalf of which its extension is sought often begin to repay their authors only when the copyright is about to expire, think themselves competent to estimate the anxieties, the heart-aches, the feverish hopes, the bitter disappointments, the frequent failures, the cheerless toils, with which an author's time is filled, and which disturb them little when they are arranging his words. They proceed—“while it is proved, that books of deep research and intrinsic value would not be rendered more valuable by an extension of the law of copyright, however extended that law might be.” How not more valuable? Not much more valuable to sell, perhaps, but more valuable to preserve; else, if there is no gain to the author, where is the loss to the public After a round assertion, “that the bill must be viewed as one injuriously affecting the booksellers, book-binders, paper-makers, type-founders, and all branches connected with the printing business,” they then proceed to extol their own profession —“That the profits derived from a book depend not on the art of writing, but on the art of printing; for that, without the facilities which improved mechanical improvements afford, the number of copies would be few and high-priced, and the profits of the author lower; and, therefore, it is unjust that authors should endeavour to injure by exclusive laws a profession to which they are indebted for the rank they hold and the wealth they possess.” Surely the old critic Dennis, who, when he heard the thunder roll over the mimic scenes, and used to claim it as his own, was reasonable, compared to these gentlemen of the Mechanics’ Institute. Whatever may be the benefit which the art of printing has conferred on genius—genius which had achieved imperishable triumphs long before its discovery, it is astounding to hear this claim made by those who are now engaged in a simple mechanical pursuit. The manufacturer of bayonets or of gunpowder might as well insist that he, and not the conqueror of Waterloo, should be the recipient of national gratitude. Where would their profession be if no author had written ? There are some things more precious even than knowledge; and, strange as it may seem to the utilitarian philosophers, I venture to think gratitude one; and if it is, I would ask these petitioners to consider how many presses have been employed and honoured, how many families in their own class have been enriched by the un
ceasing labours of a single mind—that of Sir Walter Scott—exhausted, fading, glimmering, perishing from this world in their service? As the concluding paragraph of this peti tion merely repeats an analogy of literary works to mechanical inventions, which I have grappled with before, and which, if necessary, I am ready to expose again, I will pass from it and from the petitions against this bill—which, I assert, do not present a single fact for the information of the House—to the petitions which disclose the grievances and the claims of authors, And first, to show, by way of example, how insufficient the present term is to remunerate authors who contemplate works of great labour and research, I will refer to the petition of Mr. Archibald Alison, sheriff of the county of Lanark. This gentleman, son of the venerable author of the celebrated “Essay on Taste,” was brought up to the Scottish bar, and being gifted with excellent talents, and above all with that most valuable of talents, unwearied industry, enjoyed the fairest prospects of success. Having, however, conceived the design of writing the history of Europe during the French Revolution, he resigned those hopes for the office of Sheriff of Lanarkshire, which, limiting his income to a moderate sum, left him at leisure to pursue his scheme. On that work he has now been engaged for twenty-five years. To collect materials for its composition he has repeatedly visited the principal cities of Europe, and his actual expenditure in books and journeys to lay the foundations of his work has already exceeded 2,000l., and will be doubled if he should live to complete it. Seven volumes have successively appeared; the copyright is unassigned; and as the work is making a regular progress, fourteen years must elapse before the pecuniary outlay will be repaid. At the expiration of twenty-eight years, supposing the work to succeed on an average calculated on its present sale, its author will only obtain half what he might have acquired by the devotion of the same time to ephemeral productions; so that, unless his life should be prolonged beyond the ordinary lot of man, its labours to his family will be almost in vain, unless you considerably extend the term of his property; and then, in return for his sacrifices, he will leave them a substantial inheritance. Of a similar nature is the case of another petitioner, Dr. Cook, Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of St. Andrew's, author of the “History of the Reformation in Scotland,” a “History of the Church of Scotland,” and of other historical works which are now standard authorities, and on the composition of which he has been engaged for the last thirty years. In their composition he has incurred great expense. The copyrights are vested in himself; but it depends on your decision whether his family shall derive any advantages from them. He concludes—“considering this law as at variance with the essential principles of justice, and calculated to impede the course of literature and science,” by earnestly imploring the House to “pass this bill for so extending the term of copyright as will secure the interest of the authors of extensive and laborious works without in the slightest degree interfering with the public good.” Dr. James Thomson, the Professor of Mathematics in the University of Glasgow, states the nature and history of several elementary works, the products of his labour, which are slowly beginning to recompense him, and especially invites attention to the manner in which the law bears on works used as text-books in schools and universities, having to contend against the partialities of teachers for books with which use has made them familiar, and of booksellers for works in which they are interested, and which may only begin to obtain attention when the copyright is about to cease. Sir David Brewster has spent a most laborious and most useful life, and still spends it, in the composition of works which at once instruct and charm, and which can only remunerate him by the extension of the term. Now, I ask, is there no property in these petitioners worthy of protection ? “No,” said, and will say, some of the opponents of this bill; “none. We think that from the moment an author puts his thoughts on paper and delivers them to the world, his property therein wholly ceases.” What! has he invested no capital? embarked no fortune? If human life is nothing in your commercial tables—if the sacrifice of profession, of health, of gain, is nothing—surely the mere outlay of him who has perilled his fortune to instruct mankind may claim some regard! Or is the interest itself so refined—so ethereal —that you cannot regard it as property, because it is not palpable to sense as to feeling? Is there any justice in this? If so, why do you protect moral character as a man's most precious possession, and compensate the party who suffers unjustly in that character by damages? Has this possession any existence half so palpable as the author's right in the printed creation of his brain? I have always thought it one of the proudest triumphs of human law that it is able to recognise and to guard this breath and finer spirit of moral action—that it can lend its aid in sheltering that invisible property which exists solely in the admiration and affection of others; and if it may do this, why may it not protect his interest in those living words which, as well observed by that great thinker, Mr. Hazlitt, are, “after, all, the only things which last for ever ?” From these examples of works of labour and pecuniary outlay, I turn to that of a poet, whose name has often been mentioned in the discussion of this measure, who has supported it by his published opinion, but who has now, for the first time, enforced it by petition. Mr. Wordsworth states that he is on the point of attaining his seventieth year; that forty-six years ago he published his first work, and that he has continued to publish original works at various intervals down to 1835. The copyright in a considerable part of these works is now contingent on his life; in a few years the far larger portion of them will be holden by the same tenure; and his most extensive and elaborate work, “The Excursion,” will be in this condition, if he should be spared for four years longer. He represents that “having
engaged and persevered in literary labours less with the expectation of producing speedy effect than with a view to interest and benefit mankind remotely, though permanently, his works, though never out of demand, have made their way slowly into general circulation:" and he states as a fact, directly bearing on this question, that his works have, within the last four years, brought a larger emolument than in all preceding years; which would now be bounded by his death; and the greater part of which, if he had died four years ago, would have been wholly lost to his family. How will this case be answered? I suppose, as I have heard it, when less fully stated, answered before, that it proves that there is no necessity for the extension of copyright, because without its encouragement a poet thus gifted has been ready to devote his powers amidst neglect and scorn to the highest and the purest aims. I will not answer by merely reminding those who urge this ungenerous argument, that there may not always be attendant on such rare endowments the means of offering such a sacrifice, either from independent resources or from simple tastes. I reply at once, that the argument is at utter variance with the plainest rules of morality and justice. I should like to hear how it would be received on a motion for a national grant to one who had fought his country's battles! I should like to hear the indignation and the scorn which would be expressed towards any one who should venture to suggest that the impulses which had led to heroic deeds had no respect to worldly benefits; that the love of country and glory would always lead to similar actions; and that, therefore, out of regard to the public, we ought to withhold all reward from the conqueror. And yet the case of the poet is the stronger; for we do not propose to reward him out of any fund but that which he himself creates—from any pockets but from those of every one whom he individually blesses—and our reward cannot be misapplied when we take Time for our Arbitrator and Posterity for our Witnesses! It cannot have escaped the attention of the house that many of the petitioners are professors in the universities of Scotland; and from the laborious nature of their pursuits—their love of literature, fostered at a distance from the applause of the capital, and from the independence and the purity of their character, I venture to think that their experience and their judgments are entitled to peculiar weight. Now, the University of St. Andrew's, after powerfully urging the claims of authors generally, thus submits the peculiar claims of their countrymen —“Your petitioners venture to submit, that in Scotland, where the few rewards which used to be conferred on clergymen of literary and scientific merit have been withdrawn, and where the incomes of the professors in her universities have been allowed to suffer great diminution, these individuals have strong motives to solicit, and additional grounds to expect, that their literary rights may be extended, and rendered as beneficial as possible to themselves and their families.” Among these professors, and among the peti. tioners for this bill, is a clergyman unsurpassed in Christian eloquence, in reach of thought, in unwearied zeal; who has disregarded ease and intellectual delights prodigally to expend his energies on that which he regards as the sacred cause of the church and religion of his country; and who depends on his copyrights, in such of the labours of his mind as he has committed to the press, to make amends for a professional income far below his great intellectual claims. In addressing me on the subject of this bill, Dr. Chalmers says, “My professional income has always been so scanty, that I should have been in great difficulties, had it not been for my authorship; and I am not aware of a more desirable compensation for the meagre emoluments of the offices I have held, than that those profits should be secured and perpetuated in favour of my descendants.” And who among us, not only of those who sympathize with his splendid exertions on behalf of the church of Scotland, but of all who feel grateful for the efforts by which he has illustrated and defended our common saith, will not desire that wish to be fulfilled ! How one of the publishers of his country feels towards such authors may be seen in the petition of Mr. Smith, of Glasgow, who even desires to limit the power of assigning copyright to twenty-one years, and then contrasts his case with that of those by whose creations he has been enriched. He states, “that he has obtained estate and competence by the sale of books published or sold by him, which property he has a right to entail or give in legacy for the benefit of his heirs; while the authors who have produced the works that have enriched him have no interest for their heirs by the present law of copyright in the property which they have solely constituted.” When I find these petitions signed by the most distinguished ornament of the Scotch church, Dr. Chalmers—and by one of the most eminent among the Dissenting divines, Dr. Wardlaw, I cannot help associating with them a case which came under my notice a few days ago, on an application to me to assist a greatgrandson of Dr. Doddridge, in presenting a memorial to the bounty of the crown. Here was the descendant of one of the idols of the religious world, whose works have circulated in hundreds of thousands of copies, enduring a state of unmerited privation and suffering, from which a trifle on each volume of his ancestor's works now adorning the libraries of the wealthy Dissenters would amply relieve him On these contrasted cases the House has now to decide. But before I leave the question in its hands, it is fit I should advert for a moment to those opponents of the bill who, disclaiming the publishers and printers, appear on behalf of what they call the public, and who insist that it is our duty to obtain for that public the works of genius and labour at the lowest possible price. Now, passing over a doubt, which I dare scarcely hint in their presence, whether the diffusion of cheap copies of any work necessarily implies in an equal degree the diffusion of its beauties or the veneration of its injunctions, permit me to ask whether even for the public it is not desirable that works should
be correct as well as cheap, and that it should have the benefit of the matured judgment of its instructors? Now, this can only be effected by permitting the family of the author to watch over his fame. An author who, in a life devoted to literature, has combined gifts of the historian and the poet—Mr. Southey—who has thought the statement of his case might have more effect than a petition, has permitted me to elucidate this view of the case by his example. He has lately published a complete edition of his poems, correcting the blemishes which during many years have presented themselves to his severer judgment; his copyrights in many of the original poems will expire with his life; in the corrected edition his family will enjoy an interest, but in the original poems they will retain none; and it will be in the power of Mr. Tegg, or any other of those worthy benefactors of the public who keep duteous watch over the deathbed of copyrights, to republish any of those poems with all their repented errors, and the addition of those gross blunders which are always introduced when a reprint undergoes no revision but that of a printer. But is it even certain that the books thus carelessly printed will be actually cheaper in price than if the descendants of the author published them for their own advantage? It is not fair to judge of this by recent instances, produced in the first eagerness of the freebooters of the trade to seize on and parade their spoils. It should be recollected that a proprietor who uses only one machine for publication may, with profit to himself, supply the market more cheaply than numbers who have separate expenses, and look for separate gains. But if the argument be doubtful, the fact at least is clear, and I may call the honourable member for Finsbury as my witness to prove it; for he has shown in this House, to the offence of none, but the amusement of all, and to the proof of my case, how cheaply books charged with an expensive copyright may be obtained of his friend Mr. Tegg, who, he states, nevertheless, has a stock worth more than 170,000l., which, if the principles of my opponents be fairly applied, is justly distributable among their favourite and much injured public. But grant the whole assumption—grant that if copyright be extended, the few books it will affect will be dearer to the public by the little the author will gain by each copy—grant that they will not be more correct or authentic than when issued wholesale from the press; still is there nothing good for the people but cheap knowledge? Is it necessary to associate with their introduction to the works of the mighty dead the selfish thought that they are sharing in the riot of the grave, instead of cherishing a sense of pride that, while they read, they are assisting to deprive the grave of part of its withering power over the interests of survivors? But if it were desirable, is it possible to separate a personal sympathy with an author from the first admiration of his works? We do not enter into his labours as into some strange and dreamy world, raised by the touch of a forgotten enchanter; the affections are breathing around us, and the author being dead, yet speaks in
accents triumphant over death and time. As for its main object to relieve men of letters from from the dead level of an utilitarian philosophy the thraldom of being forced to court the living no mighty work of genius ever issued, so generation to aid them in rising above slavish never can such a work be enjoyed except in taste and degraded prejudice, and to encourage that happy forgetfulness of its doctrines, which them to rely on their own impulses.” Surely always softens the harshest creed. But I be this is an object worthy of the legislature of a lieve that those who thus plead for the people great people, especially in an age where restare wholly unauthorized by the feelings of the less activity and increasing knowledge present people; that the poor of these realms are richer temptations to the slight and the superficial in spirit than their advocates understand which do not exist in a ruder age. Let those them; and that they would feel a pride in who "to beguile the time look like the time," bestowing their contributions in the expression have their fair scope-let cheap and innocent of respect to that great intellectual ancestry publications be multiplied as much as you whose fame is as much theirs as it is the boast please,-still the character of the age demands of the loftiest amongst us. I do not believe something impressed wlth a nobler labour, and that the people of Scotland share in the exulta- directed to a higher aim. “The immortal tion of the publishers who have successively mind craves objects that endure." The printers sent among them cheap editions of the “ Lay need not fear. There will not be too many canof the Last Minstrel," "Marmion," and the didates for "a bright reversion," which only “ Lady of the Lake;" that they can buy them falls in when the ear shall be deaf to human at a lower price than if the great minstrel who praise. I have been accused of asking you to produced them were still among the living. I legislate "on some sort of sentimental feeling." cannot believe that they can so soon forget I deny the charge : the living truth is with us; their obligations to one who has given their the spectral phantoms of depopulated printing. beautiful country a place in the imagination houses and shops are the baseless fancies of of mankind which may well compensate for our opponents. "If I were here beseeching inthe loss of that political individuality they so dulgence for the frailties and excesses which long and so proudly enjoyed, as to count with sometimes attend fine talents-if I were here satisfaction the pence they may save by that appealing to your sympathy on behalf of crashpremature death which gave his copyrights to ed hopes and irregular aspirations, the accusacontesting publishers, and left his halls silent tion would be just. I plead not for the wild, and cold. It is too late to do justice to Burns; but for the sage; not for the perishing, but for but I cannot believe the peasant who should the eternal : for him who, poet, philosopher, or be inspired by him to walk “ in glory and in historian, girds himself for some toil lasting as joy, following his plough by the mountain side,” life-lays aside all frivolous pursuits for one or who, casting his prideful look, on Saturday virtuous purpose-that when encouraged by evening, around his circle of children, feels the distant hope of that “ All-hail hereafter," his pleasure heightened and reduplicated in which shall welcome him among the heirs of the poet's mirror, would regret to think that fame, he may not shudder to think of it as the well-thumbed volume which had made sounding with hollow mockery in the ears of him conscious of such riches had paid the those whom he loves, and waking sullen echoes charge of some sixpence towards the support by the side of a cheerless hearth. For such I of that poet's children.
ask this boon, and through them for mankind There is only one other consideration I would --and I ask it in the confidence with the exsuggest before I sit down, which relates not to pression of which your veteran petitioner any class, but to the community and our du- Wordsworth closed his appeal to you—" That ties towards them. It is thus expressed in Mr. in this, as in all other cases, justice is capable Wordsworth's petition :—“That this bill has of working out its own expediency !"
THE WESTMINSTER PLAY.
Is gladness shed; it breathes around from all
Whose names, imprinted on each honour'd wall,
New by its crisp expression, seems to fall
Worn eyes with childlike iears; for Memory lifts
And makes even strangers share the precious gifts