Lapas attēli

Such were the laws upon this subject and such the practice till the year 1805. The public libraries and the Universities acquiesced in the settled practice; they received such publications as were entered at Stationers' Hall, and instead of demanding others as their right, and thereby levying a tax upon literature, were left to act as its' patrons by purchasing, if they pleased, such as were deenied worthy of their choice. But behold,

here is Domine Picklock,
My man o'law, solicits all my causes;
Follows my business; makes and compounds my quarrels
Between my tenants and me; sows all my strifes

them too'; troubles the country for me, And vexes any neighbour that I please. In the year 1805, Mr. Basil Montagu who, at that time, resided at Cambridge, either wished to enforce to the utmost the supposed claims of his University, or found it less agreeable to supply himself with law-books at his own expense than at that of the authors and booksellers, and construing the law with a view to one or other of these purposes, he addressed a set of queries to the Universities for the purpose of inciting them to assert a claim to copies of every work that should be published whether it were registered or not. Shortly afterwards Mr. Professor Christian experienced the great inconvenience of not being able to obtain from the University library Mr. East's Reports, Mr. Vesey's Decisions, and other books of like importance to himself in his professional and individual studies. And he likewise published a treatise with the same object as Mr. Basil Montagu, and from the same motive, as he candidly


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Mr. Professor Christian admits that some persons are inclined to think it'a paltry and mendicant attempt to take from a poor author nine or eleven copies of a valuable work;' but he maintains that it is a great national object perfectly consistent not only with the present law, but with sound policy and good government, and also with the best principles of moral justice. He says, that it is

an equitable tax upon the republic of learning for the benefit of learning itself,' and that it would be paid with alacrity by every honourable author as a debt of justice and gratitude for the benefit which he must or might have received from the Universities as the common fountains of science.' He says, that even the most mercenary authors expect to be repaid not by the purchasers of their works, but by the credit they hope to derive from their exertions and industry, and by the general advancement of their fortune in life;' that they are anxious and ambitious that their works should be honoured with a conspicuous place in the public libraries of the kingdom,' and that they are indifferent with respect to purchasers if they have but readers.' To the authors therefore he represents the tax as altogether useful, honourable, and agreeable; and to the booksellers he maintains that it is a matter of no concern, because,

whether nine or ninety copies are given away, it is all one to them; they can calculate their loss and gain, advantage and disadvantage, to the greatest nicely; they can either give the author less, or make the public pay more.' As the best means of putting this important subject in a train of further investigation, he proposed that the University of Cambridge should institute an action upon the statute of Anne. But if the judgment of the court should confirm his opinion, still he thought an application to Parliament would be indispensable, because the presumed right was lost if the action was not brought within three months after the publication of a book, and because it was quite clear that the two Irish libraries could not recover their copies unless the book were entered in the Register. There were also, he said, many persons who, though they thought it a great national object that all the Universities should be furnished with a copy of every new publication, yet could not find it in their hearts to deprive an author of what they conceived to be his property. Every object, it appeared to him, would be attained if the legislature could be prevailed upon to extend the copyright of authors, and secure beyond dispute the claims of the public libraries. For with regard to authors, he thought that Lord Mansfield, Blackstone, and the other authorities who had declared in favour of their perpetual copyright, had great reason on their side; and he stated, with considerable force, the hardship and absurdity of the law as it then existed, which made the second term of fourteen years contingent upon the writer's life; 'so if an author, when he is advanced in age, offers a valuable work for sale, as the production of the labour of a long life, he will have the mortification to be told, that the price of his work must necessarily be much lower than if he had completed it twenty or thirty years sooner, at an earlier period of life. Thus when the work is more valuable to the rest of the world, it becomes less profitable to the author and his family.'

Nec prosunt domino quæ prosunt oninibus artes. The university of Cambridge acted upon the Professor's advice, and brought an action for the non-delivery of a Vindication of Mr. Fox's Historical work. The booksellers, believing the demand to be unfounded, defended the action. A special case was made out upon it and argued before the court of King's Bench. It was contended that the act of Anne, according to its true spirit and object, as well as according to the literal meaning of the words, enjoined the delivery only of such books as should be registered; and it was argued that the subsequent acts of 15 and 41 George III.


were, in fact, legislative expositions of the meaning of the statute of Anne, to the same effect : the court, however, determined that the statute was to be construed by itself, and that this compels the delivery of copies of all books whether registered or not.

The matter was then brought before parliament a Committee was appointed; evidence was heard, and parliament, in the year 1814, upon the report of the Committee, decided that eleven copies for the public libraries, which claimed a right upon the existing statutes, should be delivered of such works as should be respectively demanded on behalf of such libraries respectively,' within one month after the demand should be made, which demand was to be made within twelve months from the time of publication. Mr. Professor Christian's suggestion concerning an extension of copyright was also adopted; and authors and their assigns were declared to have that right for twenty-eight years certain, and for the residue of the author's life, this provision having a retrospective effect in favour of living authors.

Under such a tax as that of the eleven copies it was not likely that the authors or booksellers should rest without making some attempt to deliver themselves from the burthen. They requested a further consideration of the case, appealing to the wisdom, to the justice, to the liberality, to the humanity of the legislature.' Facts of the most conclusive force appeared upon the evidence which they adduced. It has been shown in evidence that the demand for works in certain branches of knowledge is so small that the tax of eleven copies upon the publication must operate as a prohibition against them. Messrs. Longman and Co. have declared that, because of this impost, they have declined to publish a work upon the non-descript plants of South America, by Baron Humboldt: nor is this the only instance in which science is suffering, and men of science are in danger of being deprived both of the remuneration and honour which they ought to derive from their labours. If the law continues to be enforced, the completion of Dr. Sibthorp's magnificent Flora Græca must probably be relinquished by the editor, although the profits of an estate of 2001. a-year were bequeathed by that eminent botanist towards defraying the expense. The law has prevented the continuation of Mr. Daniel's Oriental Scenery, of his works on Africa and Ceylon, and of his series of Scenes and Figures illustrative of the customs of India. For the same reason Mr. Cooke has laid aside two great works, though some of the plates were actually engraved, thinking it a less evil to incur this, though a heavy loss, than to bear the heavier penalty of delivering eleven copies. An edition of Barclay's Ship of Fools would have been printed had it not been for this prohibitory tax. A work upon the Architectural Antiquities of Normandy is aban


doned for the same cause. The law has deterred Mr. Ruding from making any additions to his elaborate history of the Coinage of this Kingdom, preparatory to a second edition, for, by, so doing, he would subject himself to this tax, by which he has already sustained the loss of 1541. Mr. Lysons must abandon a valuable work on Roman Antiquities, or publish it without letter-press, and therefore in an incomplete state. An offer was made by the French Institute, on behalf of the French goverument, to publish Mr. Dodwell's Views and Monuments in Greece, in four folio volumes, each containing an hundred plates, with accompanying letter-press. The proposition was, with honourable feeling, declined by the author, because he wished to publish the work in his own country. The selling price of eleven copies of this work would be 330 guineas, the trade-price 275l. and rather than be subject to such a tax the booksellers say they will publish it without letter-press. Such facts speak for themselves. The grander works of art will never be printed in this country while the delivery lasts.

The imposition operates with almost equal weight upon reprints of our early historians, books of science and rarity, and all works for which there is but a very limited demand. The reprint of Hakluyt's Collection, a work of the highest importance, consisted cnly of 250 copies; and seven years elapsed before even so small a number was sold. Had this tax been foreseen when the work was in contemplation the edition would probably not have been undertaken. Two thousand one hundred and five works were claimed by the public libraries between June 1815, and March 1817: and the loss sustained by authors and booksellers upon only eighty-one articles out of that number amounts to 3815l. 11s. The tax upon Mr. Faber's Pagan Idolatry has been 741. 55. Upon Dr. Nott's edition of Surrey and Wyatt, 771. Upon Hutton's Philosophical Dictionary, 691. 6s. Upon Mr. Haslewood's reprint of the Mirror for Magistrates, 1981. 12$. · Upon the Censura Literaria, 1381. 12s. Upon Whitaker's History of Leeds 1611. 14s. The tax upon Lodge's Portraits of Illustrious Personages is 6501. Upon the reprint of Dugdale's Monasticon and his History of St. Paul, 10081. Upon the Regent's Classics it will be nearly 15001. · Authors and publishers are charged by this act,' says Sir Egerton Bridges,' with a payment of about 58651. a year as a gift to the public bodies, over and above all national taxes which they pay in common with the rest of the public. Mr. Murray's loss, under the operation of this act, is stated at about 12751. deducting the difference between the trade and selling price; and Messrs. Longman state theirs at nearly 30001., the actual cost of the books in paper and print, independently of works in which they have considerable shares, managed by other publishers. And here we


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cannot but notice the facetious remark of Mr. Professor Christian, that such calculations exceed the amplification and fiction of an Arabian tale; and that if the delivery of the eleven copies in four years have cost Messrs. Longman's house 30001., the profits of the house during that time must, on any principle of calculation, have been 450,0001. We shall not dispute Mr. Professor Christian's law, but his notions of arithmetic stand in need of some correction. • If we condescend to vulgar arithmetic,' he says,

we shall find that when the press is set up with Arabic, Persian, Grecian or Roman characters, the impression upon eleven copies more will not cost one penny a sheet, we might perhaps reduce it to three farthings, but we will not quarrel for a farthing, but one penny a sheet will fully pay the paper and the labour of printing. Mr. Christian has the hardihood to assert this; and we will give him the credit which he has not thought proper to give Messrs. Longman and Co., the credit of presuming that he believes his own assertion. But is there any other person who can ?-The loss of the eleven copies is precisely the sum for which those copies would have sold: where the whole edition sells, it is the loss of the full price; where the book does not sell to the public and is disposed of at the trade-sales, the loss is then the price for which the books are purchased at such sales, and this on an average is usually the medium between the full price and the waste paper price: in every case, a direct, tangible, calculable loss.

But it is argued that the bookseller may and will increase the price of a book in consideration of the tax. The reply to this is that books are already too dear; so dear, that their sale in the foreign market is diminished by this cause to a very great degree, almost indeed destroyed. And this is one reason why our literature is so little known upon the continent. Such works as happen to have a reputation there are printed there, and sold for less than half the selling price of the same works in England. The Basle edition of Gibbon's Miscellaneous Works sells for twenty-five francs ; in England the price of the same book is 31. 5s. Warton's Pope is sold for twenty-five francs in Switzerland; for five guineas in England. The Americans continually complain of the dearness of our books, and it operates in their country to lessen the sale of those which they do not print for themselves. With the tax upon advertisements, with the duty upon paper, from twenty to twentyfive per cent., books are necessarily dear, and they can bear no additional tax. It must be also remembered, that every English book printed abroad is as loss to the revenue of so much duty on paper. Hence, whatever tends to induce publishers to print English works on the continent, is an injury to the country at large.


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