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1. That the copy of a book is the property of Jis under the protection of the law; but my rethe author, and that he may, by sale or other putation as an author is at the mercy of the wise, transfer that property to another, who has reader, who lies under no other obligations to a right to be protected in the possession of that do me justice than those of religion and moraproperty, so transferred, is not to be denied. lity. If a man calls me rebel or bankrupt, I may

2. That the complainants may be lawfully in- prosecute and punish him; but if a man calls vested with the property of this copy, is likewise me idiot or plagiary, I have no remedy, since, granted.

by selling him the book, I admit his privilege of 3. But the complainants have mistaken the judging, and declaring his judgment, and can nature of this property; and, in consequence of appeal only to other readers, if I think myself their mistake, have supposed it to be invaded by injured. an act, in itself legal, and justifiable by an un 8. In different characters we are more or less interrupted series of precedents, from the first protected; to hiss a pleader at the bar, would establishment of printing among us, down to the perhaps be deemed illegal and punishable, but present time.

to biss a dramatic writer is justifiable by custom. 4. He that purchases the copy of a book, pur 9. What is here said of the writer, extends chases the sole right of printing it, and of vend- itself naturally to the purchaser of a copy, since ing the books printed according to it; but has the one seldom suffers without the other. no right to add to it, or take from it, without 10. By these liberties it is obvious that authe author's consent, who still preserves such a thors and proprietors may often suffer, and right in it, as follows from the right every man sometimes unjustly: but as these liberties are has to preserve his own reputation.

encouraged and allowed for the same reason 5. Every single book, so sold by the proprie- with writing itself, for the discovery and propator, becomes the property of the buyer, who pur- gation of truth, though, like other human goods, chases with the book the right of making use of they have their alloys and ill-consequences, it as he shall think most convenient, either for yet, as their advantages abundantly prepon his own improvement or amusement, or the be- derate, they have never yet been abolished or nefit or entertainment of mankind.

restrained. 6. This right the reader of a book may use 11. Thus every book, when it falls into the many ways to the disadvantage both of the au- hands of the reader, is liable to be examined, thor and the proprietor, which yet they have not confuted, censured, translated, and abridged : any right to complain of, because the author any of which may destroy the credit of the when he wrote, and the proprietor when he author, or hinder the sale of the book. purchased, the copy, knew, or ought to have 12. That all these liberties are allowed, and known, that the one wrote and the other pur- cannot be prohibited without manifest disadvana chased under the hazard of such treatment from tage to the public, may be easily proved; but we the buyer and reader, and without any security shall confine ourselves to the liberty of making from the bad consequences of that treatment epitomes, which gives occasion to pur prese... except the excellence of the book.

inquiry. 7. Reputation and property are of different 13. That an uninterrupted prescription confers kinds; one kind of each is more necessary to be a right, will be easily granted, especially if it secured by the law than another, and the law appears that the prescription, pleaded in defenso has provided more effectually for its defence. of that right, might at any time have been interMy character as a man, a subject, or a trader, rupted, had it not been always thought agree

able to reason and to justice. • Dr. Trapp, it will be recollected, was a popular be found of all kinds of writings, afford sufficient

14. The numberless abridgments that are to might be said to be in its infancy, preached Four Ser. evidence that they were always thought legal, mons “On the Nature, Folly, Sin and Danger, of being for they are printed with the names of the abrighteous over much;" which were published by Austen breviators and publishers, and without the least ready to oblige his readers with temporary subjects, took appearance of a clandestine transaction. Many an extract from them, and promised a continuation, of the books so abridged were the properties of which never appeared ; so that it was either stopped by a men who wanted neither wealth, nor interest, cuilt occasions Johnson was Cave's oracle. And the paper nor spirit to sue for justice, if they had thought now before us was certainly written on that occasion. themselves injured. Many of these abridgments Gent. Mag. July, 1787.

must have been made by men whom we can least


suspect of illegal practices, for there are few books 22. To abridge a book, therefore, is no viola of late that are not abridged.

tion of the right of the proprietor, because to be 15. When Bishop Burnet heard that his “His- subject to the hazard of an abridgment was tory of the Reformation” was about to be an original condition of the property. abridged, he did not think of appealing to the 23. Thus we see the right of abridging auCourt of Chancery ; but, to avoid any misrepre- thors established both by reason and the customs sentation of his History, epitomised it himself, as of trade. But, perhaps, the necessity of this he tells us in his preface.

practice may appear more evident, froin a con16. But, lest it should be imagined that an sideration of the consequences that must probaauthor might do this rather by choice than neces-bly follow from the prohibition of it. sity, we shall produce two more instances of 24. If abridgments be condemned as injuthe like practice, where it would certainly not rious to the proprietor of the copy, where will have been borne if it had been suspected of ille- this argument end? Must not confutations be gality. The one, in Clarendon's History, which likewise prohibited for the same reason ? or, in was abridged in 2 vols. 8vo.; and the other in writings of entertainment, will not criticisms at Bishop Burnet's “History of his own Time," least be entirely suppressed, as equally hurtful abridged in the same manner. The first of these to the proprietor, and certainly not more neces. books was the property of the University of sary to the public? Oxford, a body tenacious enough of their rights ; 25. Will not authors who write for pay, and the other, of Bishop Burnet's heirs, whose who are rewarded commonly according to the circumstances were such as made them very bulk of their work, be tempted to fill their works sensible of any diminution of their inheritance. with superfluities and digressions, when the dread

17. It is observable, that both these abridg- of an abridgment is taken away, as doubtless ments last mentioned, with many others that more negligences would be committed, and more might be produced, were made when the act of falsehoods published, if men were not restrained parliament for securing the property of copies by the fear of censure and confutation? was in force, and which, if that property was 26. How many useful works will the busy, injured, afforded an easy redress: what then can the indolent, and the less wealthy part of manbe inferred from the silence and forbearance of kind be deprived of? How few will read or

proprietors, but that they thought an epitome purchase forty-four large volumes of the Transof a book no violation of the right of the proprietor. actions of the Royal Society, which, in abridg.

18. That their opinion, so contrary to their ment, are generally read, to the great improveown interest, was founded in reason, will appear ment of philosophy ? from the nature and end of an abridgment. 27. How must general systems of sciences be

19. The design of an abridgment is, to be written, which are nothing more than epitomes nefit mankind by facilitating the attainment of of those authors who have written on particular knowledge, and by contracting arguments, rela- branches, and whose works are made less neces. tions, or descriptions, into a narrow compass; sary by such collections ? Can he that destroys to convey instruction in the easiest method, with the profit of many copies, be less criminal than out fatiguing the attention, burdening the me- he that lessens the sale of one ? mory, or impairing the health of the student. 28. Even to confute an erroneous book will

20. By this method the original author be- become more difficult, since it has always been comes, perhaps, of less value, and the proprietor's a custom to abridge the author whose assertions profits are diminished; but these inconve are examined, and sometimes to transcribe all niences give way to the advantage received by the essential parts of his book. Must an inmankind from the easier propagation of know- quirer after truth be debarred from the benefit ledge; for as an incorrect book is lawfully criti- of such confutations, unless he purchases the cised, and false assertions justly confuted, book, however useless, that gave occasion to the because it is more the interest of mankind that answer? error should be detected and truth discovered, 29. Having thus endeavoured to prove the than that the proprietors of a particular book | legality of abridgments from custom, and the should enjoy their profits undiminished; so a necessity of continuing that custom from reason, tedious volume may no less lawfully be abridged, it remains only, that we show that we have not because it is better that the proprietors should printed the complainant's copy, but abridged it. suffer some damage, than that the acquisition of 30. This will need no proof, since it will apknowledge should be obstructed with unneces- pear, upon comparing the two books, that we sary difficulties, and the valuable hours of thou have reduced thirty-seven pages to thirteen of sands thrown away.

the same print. 21. Therefore, as he that buys the copy of a book, 31. Our design is, to give our readers a short buys it under this condition, that it is liable to be view of the present controversy; and we require confuted if it is false, however his property may that one of ihese two positions be proved, either be affected by such a confutation; so he buys it that we have no right to exhibit such a view, or likewise liable to be abridged if it be tedious, how that we can exhibit it without epitomising the ever his property may suffer by the abridgment. I writers of each party.




have set Europe in a flame, and, after having Among the principal topics of conversation gazed a while at their fireworks, have laid which now furnish the places of assembly with themselves down where they rose, io inquire for amusement, may be justly numbered the Fire what they had been contending. works, which are advancing, by such slow de It is remarked likewise, that this blaze, so grees, and with such costly preparation. transitory and so useless, will be to be paid for,

The first reflection that naturally arises is upon when it shines no longer: and many cannot forthe inequality of the effect to the cause. Here bear observing, how many lasting advantages are vast sums expended, many hands, and some might be purchased, how many acres might be heads employed, from day to day, and from drained, how many ways repaired, how many month to month, and the whole nation is filled debtors might be released, how many widows with expectations, by delineations and narratives. and orphans, whom the war has ruined, might And in what is all this to end? in a building be relieved, by the expense which is about lo that is to attract the admiration of ages ? in a evaporate in smoke, and to be scattered in bridge, which may facilitate the commerce of rockets: and there are some who think not only future generations in a work of any kind which reason, but humanity, offended, by such a trifling may stand as the model of beauty, or the pattern profusion, when so many sailors are starving, of virtue? To show the blessings of the late and so many churches sinking into ruins. change of our state* by any monument of these It is no improper inquiry by whom this exkinds were a project worthy not only of wealth, pense is at last to be borne: for certainly nothing and power, and greatness, but of learning, wis- can be more unreasonable than to tax the nation dom, and virtue. But nothing of this kind is for a blaze, which will be extinguished before designed ; nothing more is projected, than a many of them know it has been lighted; nor crowd, a shout, and a blaze: the mighty work will it be consistent with the common practice, of artifice and contrivance is to be set on fire for which directs that local advantages shall be prono other purpose that I can see, than to show cured at the expense of the district that enjoys how idle pyrotechnical virtuosos have been busy. them. I never found in any records, that any Four hours the sun will shine, and then fall from town petitioned the parliament for a maypole, a bis orb, and lose his memory and his lustre bull-ring, or a skittle-ground; and, therefore, I together; the spectators will disperse as their should think, fireworks, as they are less durable, inclinations lead them, and wonder by what and less useful, have at least as little claim to the strange infatuation they had been drawn to public purse. gether. In this will consist the only propriety The fireworks are, I suppose, prepared, and of this transient show, that it will resemble the therefore it is too late to obviate the project: but war of which it celebrates the period. The I hope the generosity of the great is not so far powers of this part of the world, after long pre- extinguished, as that they can for their diversion parations, deep intrigues, and subtile schemes, drain a nation already exhausted, and make us

pay for pictures in the fire, which none will have The peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, 1748. the poor pleasure of beholding but themselves.






When a writer of niy sex solicits the regard | study, for furnishing the world with literary enof the public, some apology seems always to be tertainments, I have such motives for venturing expected; and it is unhappily too much in my my little performances into the light, as are suf power to satisfy this demand; since, how little ficient to countrrbalance the censure of arro. soever I may be qualified, either by nature or gance and to turn off my attention from the

threats of criticism. The world will perhaps be press. The candour of those that have already
something sostened when it shall be known, that encouraged me, will, I hope, pardon the delays
my intenton was to have lived by means more incident to a work which must be performed by
suited to my ability, from which being now cut other eyes and other hands: and censure may
off by a total privation of sight, I have been per- surely be content to spare the compositions of a
suaded to suffer such Essays as I had formerly wonian, written for amusement, and published
written, to be collected, and fitted, if they can be for necessity.
fitted, by the kindness of my friends, for the






pleasure, it might well be doubted in what deSir,

gree of estimation they should be held; but when Know not what apology to make for the they are referred to necessity, the controversy is little dissertation which I have sent, and which I at an end: it soon appears, that though they will not deny that I have sent with design that may sometimes incommode us, yet human life you should print it. I know that admonition is would scarcely rise, without them, above the very seldom grateful, and that authors are emi- common existence of animal nature: we might

indeed breathe and eat in universal ignorance, nently choleric; yet, I hope, that you, and every but must want all that gives pleasure or security, impartial reader, will be convinced, that I intend all the embellishments and delights, and most of the benefit of the public, and the advancement of the conveniences and comforts of our present knowledge; and that every rcader, into whose

condition. hands this shall happen to fall, will rank himself among those who are to be excepted from gene- like the light of the sun, may sometimes enable

Literature is a kind of intellectual light, which, ral censure.

us to see what we do not like; but who would I am, Sir, your humble servant.

wish to escape unpleasing objects, by condemnScire velim quare toties mihi, Nevole, tristis

ing himself to perpetual darkness ? Occurris fronte obductå, ceu Marsya vicius.-Jud.

Since, therefore, letters are thus indispensably There is no gift of nature, or effect of art, necessary, since we cannot persuade ourselves to however beneficial to mankind, which either by lose their benefits for the sake of escaping their casual deviations, or foolish perversions, is not mischiefs, it is worth our serious inquiry, how sometimes mischievous. Whatever may be the their benefits may be increased and their miscause of happiness, may be made likewise the chiefs lessened; by what means the harvest of cause of misery. The medicine, which, rightly our studies may afford us more corn and less applied, has power to cure, has, when rashness chaff; and how the roses of the gardens of or ignorance prescribes it, the same power to science may gratify us more with their fragrance, destroy.

and prick us less with their thorns. I have computed, at some hours of leisure, the I shall not at present mention the more forloss and gain of literature, and set the pain which midable evils which the misapplication of literait produces against the pleasure. Such calcula- ture produces, nor speak of churches infected tions are indeed at a great distance from mathe- with heresy, states inflamed with sedition, or matical exactness, as they arise from the induc- schools infatuated with hypothetical fictions. tion of a few particulars, and from observations These are evils which mankind have always made rather according to the temper of the com- lamented, and which, till mankind grow wise and putist, than the nature of things. But such a modest, they must, I am afraid, continue to lanarrow survey as can be taken, will easily show ment, without hope of remedy. I shall now that letters cause many blessings, and inflict touch only on some lighter and less extensive many calamities; that there is scarcely an indi evils, yet such as are sufficiently heavy to those vidual who may not consider them as imme- that feel them, and are of late so widely diffused, diately or mediately influencing his life, as they as to deserve, though perhaps not the notice of are chief instruments of conveying knowledge, the legislature, yet the consideration of those and transmitting sentiments; and almost every whose benevolence inclines inem to a voluntary man learns, by their means, all that is right or care of public happiness. wrong in his sentiments and conduct.

It was long ago observed by Virgil, and I supIf letters were considered only as means of pose by many before him, that “Bees do not

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make honey for their own use;" the sweets their minds to form inconsiderate hopes, they which they collect in their laborious excursions, are harassed and dejected with frequent disapand store up in their hives with so much skill, pointments. are seized by those who have contributed neither If I were to form an adage of misery, or fix toil nor art io the collection; and the poor animal the lowest point to which humanity could fall, is either destroyed by the invader, or left to shift I should be tempted to name the life of an author. without a supply. The condition is nearly the Many universal comparisons there are by which same of the gatherer of honey, and the gatherer misery is expressed. We talk of a man teased of knowledge. The bee and the author work like a bear at the stake, tormented like a toad alike for others, and often lose the profit of their under a harrow, or hunted like a dog with a stick Jabour. The case, therefore, of authors, how at his tail; all these are indeed states of uneasja ever hitherto neglected, may claim regard. Every ness, but what are they to the life of an author ! body of men is important according to the joint of an author worried by critics, tormented by his proportion of their usefulness and their number. bookseller, and hunted by his creditors. 'Yet Individuals, however they may excel, cannot such must be the case of many among the rehope to be considered singly as of great weight tailers of knowledge, while they continue thus to in the political balance ; and multitudes, though swarm over the land; and, whether it be by prothey may, merely by their bulk, demand some pagation or contagion, produce new writers to notice, are yet not of much value, unless they heighten the general distress, to increase confucontribute to ease the burden of society, by co- sion, and hasten famine. operating to its prosperity.

Having long studied the varieties of life, I can of the men, whose condition we are now ex- guess by every man's walk, or air, to what state amining, the usefulness never was disputed; of the community he belongs. Every man has they are known to be the great disseminators of noted the legs of a tailor, and the gait of a scaknowledge, and guardians of the commonwealth; man, and a little extension of his physiognomical and of late their number has been so much in- acquisitions will teach him to distinguish the creased, that they are become a very conspi- countenance of an author. It is my practice, cuous part of the nation. It is not now, as in when I am in want of amusement, to place myformer times, when men studied long, and passed self for an hour at Temple Bar, or any other through the severities of discipline, and the pro- narrow pass much frequented, and examine one bation of public trials, before they presumed to by one the looks of the passengers ; and I have think themselves qualified for instructors of their com

ommonly found, that, between the hours of countrymen; there is found a nearer way to eleven and four, every sixth man is an author. fame and erudition, and the inclosures of litera- They are seldom to be seen very early in the ture are thrown open to every man whom idle- morning, or late in the evening, but about dinner ness disposes to loiter, or whom pride inclines to time they are all in motion, and have one uniform set himself to view. The sailor publishes his eagerness in their faces, which gives little opporjournal, the farmer writes the process of his an- tunity of discerning their hopes or fears, their nual labour; he that succeeds in his trade, pleasures or their pains. thinks his wealth a proof of his understanding, But in the afternoon, when they have all dined, and boldly tutors the public; he that fails, con or composed themselves to pass the day without siders his miscarriage as the consequence of a a dinner, their passions have full play, and I can capacity too great for the business of a shop, perceive one man wondering at the stupidity of and amuses himself in the Fleet with writing or the public, by which his new book has been totranslating. The last century imagined, that a tally neglected; another cursing the French, man, composing in his chariot, was a new ob- who fright away literary curiosity by their threats ject of curiosity; but how much would the won- of an invasion; another swearing at his bookder have been increased by a footman studying seller, who will advance no money without copy; behind it? There is now no class of men with another perusing as he walks, his publisher's bill; out its authors, from the peer to the thresher ; another murmuring at an unanswerable critinor can the sons of literature be confined any cism; another determining to write no more to a longer to Grub-street or Moorfields; they are generation of barbarians; and another resolving spread over all the town and all the country, and to try once again, whether he cannot awaken fill every stage of habitation from the cellar to the drowsy world to a sense of his merit. the garret.

It sometimes happens, that there may be reIt is well known, that the price of commodities marked among them a smile of complacence, or must always fall as the quantity is increased, a strut of elevation; but if these favourites of and that no trade can allow its professors to be fortune are carefully watched for a few days, they multiplied beyond a certain number. The great seldom fail to show the transitoriness of human misery of writers proceeds from their multitude. felicity; the crest falls, the gayety is ended, and We easily perceive that in a nation of clothiers, there appear evident tokens of a successful rival, no man could have any cloth to make but for his or a fickle patron. own back; that in a community of bakers every But of all authors, those are the most wretched, man must use his own bread; and what can be who exhibit their productions on the theatre, and the case of a nation of authors, but that every who are to propitiate first the manager, and then man must be content to read his book to himself? the public. Many an humble visitant have I for surely it is vain to hope, that of men labour. followed to the doors of these lords of the drama, ing at the same occupation, any will prefer the seen him touch the knocker with a shaking hand, work of his neighbour to his own; yet this ex- and, after long deliberation, adventure to solicit pectation, wild as it is, seems to be indul by entrance, by a single knock; but I never stayed to many of the writing race, and therefore it can be see them come out from their audience, because no wonder, that like all other men who suffer my heart is tender, and being subject to frights

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