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vent the inconvenience and loss which they suggested as consequential on such a boon to authors. They, therefore, determined to confine the operation of the bill on subsisting copyrights to cases in which the author had retained some interest on which it might operate; and with this, to their honour, the publishers were satisfied. Other alterations in matters of detail were suggested, which induced the mover to listen to the wishes of both friends and opponents of the bill, that it should be reprinted and committed again. When, therefore, on Wednesday, 6th of June, the bill again was before the house, and Mr. Warburton urged that it should be reprinted, the mover at once acceded to his desire; briefly stated the principal alterations which he had accorded to the wishes of the publishers, and did justice to the spirit of fairness and moderation with which they had foreborne to ask for themselves any share of the benefits proposed for authors; and had only desired that these benefits should not be attended by undeserved injury to themselves. Lord John Russell, who had hitherto refrained from expressing any opinion on the measure, took this opportunity of throwing out a hesitating disapproval, or rather, doubt, but did not object to the course proposed. The bill was accordingly committed pro formá, ordered to be reprinted, and its further consideration adjourned to Wednesday, 20th of June. In pursuance of this arrangement, the bill was reprinted in nearly its present form; and came on for discussion at a late hour on the 28th of June. It was then obvious that,considering the opposition with which its details were menaced by Mr. Warburton and others, and the state of the order-book,-no reasonable hope remained of carrying it through committee, and the subsequent stages, during the session. When, therefore, the period of its discussion arrived, it was, on the friendly recommendation of Mr. Gladstone, withdrawn, with a pledge for its early introduction in the ensuing year.
On Tuesday, 12th of February, in the session of 1839, leave was obtained to bring in the bill, which, nearly in the state in which it had been settled the preceding year, was introduced the same evening. On Wednesday, 28th of February, its second reading was moved;-after the presentation of the petitions which are alluded to in the following sheets.
SPEECH ON MOVING THE SECOND READING OF A BILL TO AMEND THE LAW OF COPYRIGHT,
DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 1839.
MR. SPEAKER-After the attention which, in | be expressed by many others, whose feelings I past sessions, has been rendered by this House to the interests of literature, as affected by the laws of copyright-an attention gratefully acknowledged in the petitions which I have just presented I shall best discharge my duty by reminding you, without preface, of the question which we once more are called on to decide, and by stating the position in which it stands, and the materials which we have to assist us in answering it. That question is, Whether the present limitation of copyright is just? I will sum up my reasons for contending for the negative in language adopted by some of the distinguished persons whose petitions are before you. They allege-"That the term during which the law secures to the authors the profits arising from the productions of their own industry and genius is insufficient to provide for the fair reward of works written to endure that the extension of the term proposed by this bill would encourage such compositions; that it would enable individuals to devote their powers to the lasting benefit and delight of mankind, without the apprehension that in so doing they shall impoverish their own descendants; and, that, while it would tend to the profit only of the greatest and the best of those engaged in literature, it would confer dignity and honour on the pursuits of all."
know, if you permit this bill to proceed. When I first solicited for these arguments the notice of this House, I thought they rested on principles so general; that the interests of those who labour to instruct and illustrate the age in which they live are so inseparably blended with all that affects its morality and its happiness; that the due reward of the greatest of its authors is so identified with the impulses they quicken-with the traits of character they mirror-with the deeds of generosity, of courage and of virtue, which they celebrate, and with the multitudes whom they delight and refine, that I felt it was not for them alone that I asked the shelter of the law, and I did not wish to see them soliciting it as a personal boon. The appeal, though thus unsupported, was not unfelt; and the bill proceeded, without a hint of opposition, until the demise of the crown closed the session and stopped its progress. In the interval which thus occurred, a number of eminent publishers saw reason to apprehend that certain clauses in the bill, by which it was proposed to give to authors who had assigned their copyrights under the subsisting law a reverting interest after the expiration of its term, would injuriously affect their vested rights, and they naturally prepared to oppose it. They were accompanied or followed in These propositions, to which I seek your as- this opposition by various persons connected sent, are now for the first time imbodied by with the mechanical appliances of literature— some of the most distinguished authors as the by master-printers, compositors, pressmen, grounds of their own prayer, and will probably | type-founders, paper-makers, and book-bind
ers, smitten with the strange fear that to ex- stances peculiarly within the range of their tend the term of copyright (though they all experience; they are mere speculators, like agree that the extension would operate only in ourselves, on the probabilities of the distant one case out of five hundred) would destroy future. All their apprehensions centre in one their trade, and their petitions were plenteously that if the term of copyright be extended, showered on the table of the House. Regard fewer books will be printed; fewer hands will to the state of public business, and a belief be required; fewer presses set up; fewer that, although supported by increasing majori- types cast; fewer reams of paper needed; and ties, the nature of the opposition with which (though I know not whether the panic has pethe bill was threatened would multiply and netrated to the iron-mine or ascended to the prolong the discussions beyond the bounds of rag-loft) that a paralysis will affect all these the time which could be applied to such an ob- departments of trade. Now, if there were ject, induced me, at the suggestion of my ho- any real ground for these busy fears, they nourable friend the member for Newark, again would not want facts to support them. In the to withdraw it. Having been taunted with the year, 1814, when the term of copyright was absence of petitions in favour of the measure, I extended from fourteen to twenty-eight years, have now the support I did not before seek; the same classes expressed similar alarms. and I doubt not, the example once set will be The projected change was far more likely to followed by many who feel deeply the justice be prejudicial to them than the present, as the of the cause, and are indignant at the grounds number of books on which it operated was on which it has been opposed. Few as these much larger; and yet there is no suggestion petitions are, compared with the number of in their petitions that a single press remained those who desire the success of this bill, I unemployed, or a paper-mill stood still; and, shall not fear to oppose the facts they state, indeed, it is a matter of notoriety, that since the reasonings they suggest, or the authority then publications have greatly multiplied, and with which they are stamped, with those accu- that books have been reduced in price with mulated by its opponents during the last ses- the increase of readers. The general argusion. ments of these petitions are those which the Having carefully perused the petitions opponents of the measure urge, all resolving against us, I am surprised to find how utterly themselves into the assumptions, that if copydestitute they are of information really bear-rights be extended, books will be dearer; that ing on the case, with an exception which does not now apply to the bill; for I may dismiss the complaints of the eminent members of the publishing trade, and of all who sympathized in their fears. Impressed with the force of some of their objections, I proposed various means by which I hoped to remove them, without denying to authors who had assigned their subsisting interest the benefits of that extended term which it was proposed to create. But I was compelled to abandon the attempt as hopeless, and to content myself with applying the extension to the cases of authors who had retained an interest in their works, and to books hereafter to be written. In this alteration I have offered nothing to the publishers, except in the rare and peculiar case of a joint interest co-extensive with the entire copyright, in which case, unable to sever the benefit without extreme inconvenience to the publisher, I have chosen rather to grant it to both than to neither; and it is to the honour of the publishers, that, instead of seeking an unworthy compromise, they have been satisfied with the mere withdrawal of clauses which would have subjected them to certain inconvenience, and probable loss. Their opposition has ceased with the provisions which raised it; and with it all the allegations in the petitions which relate to it may be dismissed. There remain those of the printers and their allies, persons whose interests deserve the careful regard of the legislature, but whose opinions have no authority beyond the reasonings they adduce to support them. They are not like persons engaged in some occupation on which there is an immediate pressure, which they who feel most keenly can most vividly explain; nor like persons apprehending some change directly affecting their profits, under circum
cheap books are necessarily a benefit to the public; and that the public interest should prevail over the claims of those who create the materials of its instruction. But there is one petition which illustrates so curiously the knowledge which these petitioners possess on the subject of their fears, and the modesty with which they urge them, that I must-trespass on the patience of the House while I offer a specimen of its allegations. It is a petition presented by the honourable member for Kilkenny, agreed on at a public meeting at the Mechanics' Institute, Southampton-buildings, by "compositors, pressmen, and others engaged in the printing profession." After a sweeping assumption of the whole question between authors and readers, these petitioners thus designate the application made to this House on behalf of literature:-"The books to which it is assumed the present law does not afford sufficient protection are those of a trashy and meretricious character, whose present popularity deludes their writers with a vain hope of an immortal reputation." Now, the works which were named by way of example, when this bill was introduced, were those of Coleridge, of Wordsworth, and of Sir Walter Scott; and if these are intended by the petitioners, I fear they have made no good use of cheap books, or that the books they have read are dear at any price. If the object of the bill is the protection of "trashy and meretricious" works, it may be absurd, but it must be harmless; for, as to such works, it must be a dead letter. The printers who fear that one set of "trashy and meretricious" works should endure after the lapse of twenty-eight years, and should thus deprive them of the opportunity of printing a brilliant succession of such works, to which they do not refuse the aid of
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 in
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 em-sufficient the present term is to remunerate auployed in their composition." So these gen- thors who contemplate works of great labour tlemen, forgetting that the chief ground of the and research. I will refer to the petition of Mr. bill is, that the works on behalf of which its Archibald Alison, sheriff of the county of Lanextension is sought often begin to repay their ark. This gentleman, son of the venerable authors only when the copyright is about to author of the celebrated "Essay on Taste," expire, think themselves competent to estimate was brought up to the Scottish bar, and being the anxieties, the heart-aches, the feverish gifted with excellent talents, and above all hopes, the bitter disappointments, the frequent with that most valuable of talents, unwearied failures, the cheerless toils, with which an au- industry, enjoyed the fairest prospects of sucthor's time is filled, and which disturb them cess. Having, however, conceived the design little when they are arranging his words. of writing the history of Europe during the They proceed" while it is proved, that books French Revolution, he resigned those hopes of deep research and intrinsic value would for the office of Sheriff of Lanarkshire, which, not be rendered more valuable by an extension limiting his income to a moderate sum, left of the law of copyright, however extended him at leisure to pursue his scheme. On that that law might be." How not more valuable? work he has now been engaged for twenty-five Not much more valuable to sell, perhaps, but years. To collect materials for its composition more valuable to preserve; else, if there is no he has repeatedly visited the principal cities gain to the author, where is the loss to the of Europe, and his actual expenditure in books public? After a round assertion, "that the and journeys to lay the foundations of his bill must be viewed as one injuriously affect work has already exceeded 2,000l., and will ing the booksellers, book-binders, paper-ma- be doubled if he should live to complete it. kers, type-founders, and all branches con- Seven volumes have successively appeared; nected with the printing business," they then the copyright is unassigned; and as the work proceed to extol their own profession:-"That is making a regular progress, fourteen years the profits derived from a book depend not on must elapse before the pecuniary outlay will the art of writing, but on the art of printing; be repaid. At the expiration of twenty-eight for that, without the facilities which improved years, supposing the work to succeed on an mechanical improvements afford, the number average calculated on its present sale, its of copies would be few and high-priced, and author will only obtain half what he might the profits of the author lower; and, therefore, have acquired by the devotion of the same it is unjust that authors should endeavour to time to ephemeral productions; so that, unless injure by exclusive laws a profession to which his life should be prolonged beyond the ordithey are indebted for the rank they hold and nary lot of man, its labours to his family will the wealth they possess." Surely the old critic be almost in vain, unless you considerably Dennis, who, when he heard the thunder roll extend the term of his property; and then, in over the mimic scenes, and used to claim it as return for his sacrifices, he will leave them a his own, was reasonable, compared to these substantial inheritance. Of a similar nature gentlemen of the Mechanics' Institute. What is the case of another petitioner, Dr. Cook, ever may be the benefit which the art of print- Professor of Moral Philosophy in the Univering has conferred on genius-genius which sity of St. Andrew's, author of the "History of had achieved imperishable triumphs long be- the Reformation in Scotland," a "History of fore its discovery, it is astounding to hear this the Church of Scotland," and of other historical claim made by those who are now engaged in works which are now standard authorities, and a simple mechanical pursuit. The manufac- on the composition of which he has been enturer of bayonets or of gunpowder might as gaged for the last thirty years. In their comwell insist that he, and not the conqueror of position he has incurred great expense. The Waterloo, should be the recipient of national copyrights are vested in himself; but it degratitude. Where would their profession be pends on your decision whether his family if no author had written? There are some shall derive any advantages from them. He things more precious even than knowledge; concludes" considering this law as at variand, strange as it may seem to the utilitarian ance with the essential principles of justice, philosophers, I venture to think gratitude one; and calculated to impede the course of literaand if it is, I would ask these petitioners to ture and science," by earnestly imploring the consider how many presses have been em- House to "pass this bill for so extending the ployed and honoured, how many families in term of copyright as will secure the interest their own class have been enriched by the un-of the authors of extensive and laborious
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!
works without in the slightest degree interfer- | engaged and persevered in literary labours ing 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
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 petitioners 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 faith, 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 eager ness 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