« PreviousContinue »
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 1914, 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 bad 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 1547. 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 $30 guineas, the trade-price 2757. 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 only 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 3813/. 11s. The 1 tax upon Mr. Faber's Pagan Idolatry has been 747. 5s. Upon Dr. Nott's edition of Surrey and Wyatt, 777. Upon Hutton's Philosophical Dictionary, 697. 6s. Upon Mr. Haslewood's reprint of the Mirror for Magistrates, 1387. 12s. Upon the Censura Literaria, 1387. 12s. Upon Whitaker's History of Leeds 1617. 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, 10087. Upon the Regent's Classics it will be nearly 15007. 'Authors and publishers are charged by this act,' says Sir Egerton Bridges,' with a payment of about 58657. 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 1275/. deducting the difference between the trade and selling price; and Messrs. Longman state theirs at nearly 30007., 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
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. 55. 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.
Mr. Professor Christian talks like a rhetorician upon the rights and privileges of the public libraries and the Universities.
• This inestimable grant to the Universities and public libraries,' he says, we owe to the wisdom of our ancestors, who thought it the best calculated to promote the interests of religion, morality, law, agriculture, manufactures, commerce, and of elegant literature ; in short, of all that can improve, profit, or adorn mankind. If ever a day should come, which heaven avért! when we shall be robbed of this important privilege, the prosperity of the bookseller will be greatly impaired, the whole civilized world will sustain an irreparable loss, and science will for ever droop and mourn.'
All this might be very fine-if it were only true, and to the purpose : but the introduction of religion, morality, law, agriculture, manufactures, commerce, elegant literature, the wisdom of our ancestors, and the whole civilized world, reminds us of Sir Philip Sidney's
's story of the man who told him that the wind was at northwest and by south, because he would be sure to naine winds enough. Mr. Christian should contine himself to law in this argument. Religion' has as little to do with it as agriculture; and as for ' morality' and ' robbery', the less that is said of them the better.
Mr. Professor Christian's restatement of the exploded story that Henry VI. introduced printing into England at his own charge and expense, and his inference that therefore the crown had a more than ordinary pretension to the sole privilege of printing, and his arguments that Henry VIII. granted to Cambridge, and Charles I. to Oxford, the privilege of printing all books, and that the right to these copies was a commutation given them for the extinction of this privilege by the statute of Queen Anne, are contradictory to fact, and have been shewn to be so by Mr. Duppa and Sir Egerton Brydges, we forbear therefore from noticing them again. But when the Law Professor affirms that the Report of the Committee of 1813, which gave the Universities all they demanded, was the result of a body of evidence delivered by many of the booksellers
their oaths, and when there was no one present on behalf of the Universities, either to cross-examine, to give evidence, or suggest a single observation on their part, it is incumbent upon us to repeat the words of Sir Egerton Brydges, that this is as ungenerous as it is untrue'-ungenerous, inasmuch as it attempts to impeach the honour of a respectable body of men; and untrue, because more than three-fourths of that Committee were the zealous friends, advocates and representatives of the public libraries, and exerted all their skill and talents in the most minute and painful cross-examination of the witnesses, and in the niost anxious watchfulness for their interests.'
But the most amusing part of the Law Professor's conduct is that he takes credit to himself for promoting the interests of literature, and especially for having originally suggested an extension of copyright in favour of authors and their assigns. He is indeed a notable friend to authors, and has treated them as lovingly as Izaac Walton's Piscator instructs his pupil to handle
Put your hook into his mouth, which you may easily do from the middle of April till August, and then the frog's mouth grows up, and he continues so for at least six months without eating, but is sustained, none but He whose name is Wonderful knows how.-I say put your hook through his mouth, and out at his gills, and then with a fine needle and silk sew the upper part of his leg with only one stitch to the arming-wire of your hook; and in so doing use him as though you loved him. But, unlike the frog, the author camot subsist for six months without eating; and there is also another point of dissimilitude, that as his mouth does not grow up, he is sometimes able to express his sense of the loving usage which he receives. The Cambridge Syndics also have declared, that after what has been done to enlarge the property of authors and booksellers, they cannot but consider the pending application to Parliament as an act of ingratitude. Ingratitude! * Let it be observed,' says Sir Egerton, that this extension was what they had no concern, interest, nor pretence of title to withhold; it being a matter, not between the copyright-holders and them, but between the copyright-owners and the public. The extension of copyright was an incidental benefit to a few authors (and but a very few) connected in point of time, and so far occasioned by an unjust and oppressive impost which affects them all. If the Syndics desire to know what is the feeling of the great body of the men of letters in this kingdom towards the Universities in relation to this subject, it has been stated in Mr. Richard Taylor's evidence : “ Having been in the habits of very frequent intercourse," he says, “ with literary men and men of science, I have always heard them express great dissatisfaction at the obligation to give this number of copies; and I believe that the disgust occasioned by what they consider an act of rapacity on the part of the Universities discourages them from carrying into effect many literary projects which would be highly beneficial, as far as I can judge, to literature: but by which, even if they had the assistance which would be derived from these libraries all purchasing copies, they would be likely to gain little or nothing.'
The Cambridge Syndics also speak of the attempt at amending the Bill of 1814, as an act of bad faith on the part of the authors and booksellers, implying that the bill was passed with their cordial assent and concurrence. How stands the fact ? The booksellers