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highest state of society, a literary production, they brought us back to a state of nature; and seem to have concluded that literary property was purely ideal ; phantoms which as their author could neither grasp nor confine to himself, he must entirely depend on the public benevolence for his reward.
" There were indeed some more generous spirits and better philosophers fortunately found on the same bench; and the identity of a literary composition was resolved into its sentiments and language, besides what was more obviously valuable to some persons, the print and paper. On this slight principle was issued the profound award which accorded a certain term of years to any work, however immortal. They could not diminish the immortality of a book, but only its reward. In all the litigations respecting literary property, authors were little consideredexcept some honourable testimonies due to geniuș, from the sense of Willes, and the eloquence of Mansfield. Literary property was still disputed like the rights of a parish common. An honest printer, who could not always write grammar, had the shrewdness to make a bold effort in this scramble, and perceiving that even by this last favourable award all literary property would necessarily centre with the booksellers, now stood forward for his own body, the printers. This rough advocate observed that
persons who call themselves booksellers, about the number of twenty-five, have kept the monopoly of books and copies in their hands, to the entire exclusion of all others; but more especially the printers, whom they have always held it a rule never to let become purchasers in copy.” Not a word for the authors! As for them, they were doomed by both parties as the fat oblation: they indeed sent forth some meek bleatings; but what were authors, between judges, booksellers, and printers ? the sacrificed among the sacrificers !' pp. 30 -34.
• Authors may exclaim, “ we ask for justice, not charity." They would not need to require any favour, nor claim any other than that protection which an enlightened government, in its wisdom and its justice, must bestow, They would leave to the public disposition the sole appreciation of their works; their book must make its own fortune; a bad work may be cried up, and a good work may be cried down; but faction will soon lose its voice, and truth acquire one. The cause we are pleading is not the calamities of indifferent writers; but of those whose utility, or whose genius, long survives that limited term which has been so hardly wrenched from the penurious hand of verbal lawyers. Every lover of literature, and every votary of humanity has long felt indignant at that sordid state and all those secret sorrows to which men of the finest genius, or of sublime industry, are reduced and degraded in society. Johnson himself, who rejected that perpetuity of literary property, which some enthusiasts seemed to claim at the time the subject was undergoing the discussion of the judges, is however for extending the copy-right to a century. Could authors secure this their natural right, literature would acquire a permanent and a nobler reward ; for great authors would then be distinguished by the very profits they would receive, from that obscure multitude, whose common
disgraces they frequently participate, notwithstanding the superiority of their own genius. Johnson himself will serve as a proof of the incompetent remuneration of literary property. He undertook and he performed an Herculean labour, which employed him so many years that the price he obtained was exhausted before the work was concluded
did not even last as long as the labour! Where then is the author to look forward, when such works are undertaken, for a provision for his family, or for his future existence? It would naturally arise from the work itself, were authors not the most ill-treated and oppressed class of the community. The daughter of Milton need not have excited the alms of the admirers of her father, if the right of authors had been better protected; his own Paradise Lost had then been her better portion, and her most honourable inheritance. The children of Burns would have required no subscriptions ; that annual tribute which the public pay to the genius of their parent, was their due, and would have been their fortune. pp. 40–43.
As the law at present stands, an author may retain or dispose of the property of his works for a term of eight and twenty years, after which it becomes common property. Upon what principle of common equity or common sense has such a law been founded ? And why is it that those persons who, of all others, confer upon their country the most lasting honour and the most permanent benefit, should be the only ones to whom the state denies a fee simple in the produce of their own industry? It has been argued, that literary works, being for the benefit of all, ought to become common, because, otherwise, it is possible that the individual in whom the exclusive property of an important work should be vested, might, from folly or caprice, think proper to withhold it, and thus deprive the public of it during his life. * But what could be easier
* The argument is not altogether so groundless as it may appear. In the Eclectic Review for January, 1807, the following passage:
:- We are not insensible of the inimitable excellencies of the production of Shakespere's genius. He has been called, and justly tvo, the poet of nature. A slight acquaintance with the religion of the Bible will shew, however, that it is of human nature in its worst shape, deformed by the basest passions, and agitated by the most vicious propensities that the poet became the priest; and the incense offered at the altar of his goddess will continue to spread its poisonous fumes over the hearts of his countrymen till the memory of his works is extinct. Thousands of unhappy spirits, and thousands yet to increase their nuruber, will everlastingly look back with unutterable anguish on the nights and days in which the plays of Shakespere ministered to their guilty delight. And yet these are the writings which men, consecruted to the service of him who styles himself the Holy One, have prostituted their peus 10 illustrate! Such the writer, to immortalize whose name the resources of the most precious arts have been profusely lavished ! Epithets amounting to blasphemy, and honours approaching to idolatry, have been, and are, shamelessly heaped upon his memory in a country professing itself Christian, and for which it would have been happy, on inoral considerations, if he had never been born. And, strange to say, even our religious edifices are not free from the pollution of his praise. What Christian can pass through the most venerable pile of sacred architecture which our metropolis can boast, without having his test feelings insulted by observing, within a few yards of the spot from which
than to provide against such a possibility, by giving to others, in such a case, the right of supplying the demand, reserving to the proprietor a certain portion of the profits ? No other argument can be used which is not equally or more applicable against every kind of hereditary reward.
The injustice of the existing law will appear more striking if we call to mind the instances in which books have acquired no marketable value till the author's right in them had expired. Without going back to the Paradise Lost, it will be sufficient to mention Collins, now not undeservedly one of our most popular poets, whose poems find their way into every selection, and are printed in every possible form. So long was it before the public discovered the beauty of his odes, that after the greater part of the first impression had lain for years in the publisher's warehouse, Collins indemnified him for the loss which he had sustained in publishing them, and burnt the remaining copies. In France, whenever a play of Corneille or Molière is performed, the representatives of those authors have a claim on the theatre. A fair portion of the profits of every edition should be secured, in like manner, to the author and his representatives in perpetuity. If this were done, men who devote themselves to great literary undertakings, and are contented with the anticipation of posthumous fame, would not have to reproach themselves that they are sacrificing the welfare of their children to a profitless and thankless pursuit.
The French government has imposed a tax of a centime per sheet upon all books in which the copy-right belonging to the author or his heirs has expired. How properly, if the laws upon this subject were rendered equitable, might a fund for the encouragement of literature be raised in this manner from the works of those great and standard writers who have left no representatives? We have, it is true, a literary fund for the relief of distressed authors, the members of which dole out their alms in sums of five, ten, and twenty pounds, (never, we believe, exceeding the latter sum,) dine together in public once a year, write verses in praise of their own benevolence, and recite them themselves. Nothing can be more evident, than that such liberality is as useless to literature as it is pitiful in itself. The wretched author who applies to these literary overseers, receives about as much from the bounty of the General Committee as the law would have entitled him to, in the course of twelve months, if he had applied to the parish to support him and his family as paupers. The Literary Fund provides no present employment for the hungry and willing labourer, and holds out no hope for the future; a first donation operates against a second claim; a second or third becomes a bar to any farther bounty, and the learned mendicant who leans upon the broken reed is abandoned by it in prison, or turned over to the parish or the hospital at last.
prayers and praises are daily offered to the Most High, the absurd and impious epitaph upon the tablet raised to one of the miserable retailers of his impurities?'-We have too much charity to proceed with the quotation. Returning then to the point, in illustration of which this memorable passage has been adduced, it is evident that, if this writer, nt any person infected with the same deplorable superstition, were sole proprie. tor of Shakespeare's works, he would deern himself guilty of soul-murder if he spared any means of suppressing thein.
There is neither the grace nor the virtue of charity in distributions of this kind, and were the money, which is annually thus expended, disbursed in well-directed alms, a far greater sum of good would be obtained. He who, from his own means, relieves a case of individual distress, does good at the same time to his own heart; and that which is wisely and bountifully given blesses him that takes as well as him that gives. But in this joint-stock-patronagecompany, a donation is paid and received like a poor-rate, -save only that there is rather more humiliation on the part of the receiver, who, in this case, solicits, as a charity, what, in the other, he would have claimed as a right.
The way to relieve the distresses of literary men is not by this bounty upon mendicity-not by a miserable pittance which rescues a poor wretch once, perhaps, from the spunging-house, but cannot ultimately save him from the jail. The way to relieve them honourably and effectually, is by furnishing them with employment, and thus rendering them useful ; and the government, which should establish an academy for this purpose, among others, would confer greater benefit upon literature than it has ever received from the most boasted benefactors. There will always be men who will pursue the severest researches with all the ardour of passion; and these men, from the very ardour with which they devote themselves to such pursuits, neglect the things of this world. There will always be enough of national work in which such men may be employed. We are yet without a dictionary of our language worthy to be mentioned with those which the Italian, French, and Spanish academies have produced. All the intellectual remains of our Celtic and Gothic ancestors should be carefully edited in collected bodies-Irish, Welsh, Gaelic, and Saxon. The writings of great men which remain inedited, because, from their nature, the publication can never answer a bookseller's purpose, should be given to the world of letters by a national academy, under whose sanction a sufficient sale would be insured to prevent loss. Labours of national utility like these will employ as many as inclination shall lead to this calling for generations; and an annual aid from government, which would scarcely be perceived in the year's expenditure, would prevent the recurrence of those real calamities which fill many of Mr. D’Israeli's pages, and which, when their work of ruin upon the individual has been consummated, remain a lasting opprobrium to the country.
VOL. VII. NO. XV.
Art. VII. The History of the European Commerce with India.
To which is subjoined, a Review of the Arguments for and against the Trade with India, and the Management of it by a Chartered Company. With an Appendix of authentic Accounts. By David Macpherson, Author of the Annals of Commerce,
&c. London ; Longman and Co. 1812. OUR dominion in the East is at present so extensive, and our
commerce with the independent countries of Asia so valuable, that it is become more than ever essential to decide
policy which shall appear best adapted to the preservation of our distant territories, and to the farther improvement of our commercial advantages. That the actual extent of both is owing to the exertions of a great company, invested by the legislature with an exclusive privilege is notorious; and it cannot be denied that the uniform success of their measures bears evidence to the general wisdom and energy of their councils : but it is contended that their monopoly has been at all times injurious to the interests of the community at large; that it was originally granted to them only as a temporary concession, and at a period when the true principles of trade were very ill understood ; that though renewed and contirmed to them in every subsequent charter, it has, at each renewal, excited very general dissatisfaction in the mercantile world; and that if the notorious absurdity of discouraging competition and confining the profits of any trade to one privileged body was at all defensible, whilst the best mode of conducting such a trade was matter of experiment, there can be no excuse for the same restrictions when that mode has been fully ascertained, and when the diffusion of wealth is no less extensive than the diffusiou of knowledge. On the other hand, the advocates for an adherence to the established system are not less sanguine in its defence; alleging the experience of other European nations as well as our own, and confidently appealing to the many decisions of Parliament in its favour; decisions which, being formed on a fair and public investigation of the arguments on both sides, cannot have been invariably adverse to equity and common sense. The question now, once more, awaits the determination of the legislature.
For the purpose of forming an opinion of the merits of such a controversy, it is necessary to acquire a competent knowledge of