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brains ? Let us take an imaginary case. We will “If they were, how would you explain, for exsuppose that an eminent firm publishes a book, ample, the existence of the Incorporated Society of say, of reminiscences in two handsome volumes at Authors, and what construction would you put $7.50, and that, notwithstanding the high price, upon some of its recent proceedings? Some of the public buys four editions of it. That, surely, the most respected and popular authors of the is a successful book, and one that ought to pay day are members of that Society. They have everybody concerned a living profit, and perhaps executive committee, and that committee something more. Does A. B. think he could find go so far as to declare that there are firms out what share of the proceeds the author received of so-called publishers which exist solely by and how much the publisher kept for himself, and, robbery and cheating.
robbery and cheating. Surely you, and all other if he could, will he let us know?
publishers of high character and repute, must “A private transaction? Oh, no, A. B., that is desire to dissociate yourselves as widely as possible one of several mistakes into which you publishers from the scoundrels who profess to carry on the occasionally fall. It is a matter of very considerable same business that you do. You would agree with public interest. It concerns the community deeply the committee, would you not, in their urgent rethat literature should be encouraged, and should commendation that authors should send their be profitable to the producer of it. The patron on agreements with publishers for examination by the whom the author once in some measure depended Society before signing ? If there were clauses in has disappeared. The publisher has taken his those agreements injurious to the author, he would place. He is, or ought to be, the Maecenas of the be warned not to sign. If there were none, no nineteenth century. But if Johnson were living harm would be done. You would heartily disnow, do you think he would soften the terrible approve, I am sure, every attempt to induce an lines which he wrote under the sting of Lord unwary writer to bind himself not to publish in Chesterfield's neglect ?
future with any other house than that which was
then to issue a particular book-an attempt which "There mark what ills the scholar's life assail,
Mr. Besant calls monstrous and indecent. You Toil, envy, want, the patron and the jail.'
would, if the Society called upon you for advice, “To substitute publisher for patron would spoil strike out that agreed statement of the cost of the metre. Would it much affect the sense ? production which the less delicate publisher someThe publisher is a man of business, the author is times inserts; and is sometimes careless enough not, or seldom is. Do you think publishers have to exaggerate. You would not justify for a always borne that in mind? They have drawn moment the refusal of a publisher to submit his their own contracts. Have the interests of the books to examination, in order that his statement author or of the publisher been most carefully of the expenses of publication, of the number of considered in those printed forms, filled up ac- copies printed and sold, and other such interesting cording to circumstances which are presented to and vital particulars, might undergo an indepenthe author, all unacquainted as he is with affairs, dent audit. You will rejoice in the appearance of for him to sign ?
that little treatise on ‘The Cost of Production, "Do not imagine, my dear A. B., that I address and that other now preparing on 'The Different these questions to you because I mean to imply Methods of Publishing '; including, I think, the that you personally do not conduct your business Half-Profit System, and probably pointing out the on the most honourable principles. I am per- method by which the indelicate publisher charges suaded that you do. But I apprehend you would the author full price for advertisements which cost admit, or perhaps even assert, that among your the publishers nothing, and omits to deduct the many rivals in the business of publishing books discount he obtains on the nominal prices of paper, are to be found some whose treatment of authors is printing and other important items. Mr. Besant, less considerate than your own. I will not say, and less scrupulous in his choice of words than our perhaps you would not, that any of them are dis- lamented friend Arnold, talks of frauds. You honest. I prefer to use a word which was a would join him in exposing and repressing and favourite with Matthew Arnold, and to suggest preventing them. In short, you and the Incorthat in their dealings with the authors on whose porated Society of Authors have so many aims productions their own prosperity depends, some and interests in common that you will perhaps of them are sometimes indelicate. You would not, permit me to wonder that you are not already a I think, refuse to go as far as that. You would member of it. For the one person to whom it is say, no doubt, there are publishers and publishers, of the utmost consequence that the business of and that not every firm is so scrupulous in its trans- publishing should be freed from all stains and all actions or so high-minded as your own.
suspicion is the publisher." VOL, I,
The death of Mr. Fletcher Harper, the senior of the faintly. In ordinary cases it is the thief, but in second generation of the brothers, removes another this case the thing stolen, that is invisible. To of the American firm which first began to recognize steal is no doubt more immediately profitable than the right of English authors. Perhaps the child acquisition by the more tedious methods of honesty, is already born in the United States who will, but it is nevertheless apt to prove costlier in the before he finally droops his snow-white head, see long run. How costly our own experiments in a tardy justice sullenly granted. But we must not larceny have been, only those know who have hold out illusive hopes. The great American studied the rise and progress of our literature, public from whom are taken the members of which has been forced to grow as virtue is said to Congress are not exactly composed of gentlemen, do, in spite of weight laid upon it. But, even if nor are they in their public, any more than their this particular form of dishonesty against which we private acts, guided by the delicate sense of honour are contending, were always and everywhere comfor which we ourselves still try to retain a traditional mercially profitable, I think the American people reverence. In fact we are too apt to suppose that are so honest that they may be made to see that the cultivated, well-bred American cousin we meet profit which is allowed to be legitimate by us alone here is a specimen--perhaps a little favourable- among all civilised nations, profit, too, which goes of the ordinary citizen of that big Republic which wholly into the pockets of a few unscrupulous men, will perhaps some day be great as well as big. must have something queer about it, something
which even a country so rich as ours cannot afford. The attitude taken by the American editors and I have lived to see more than one successful appeal authors alike on the Copyright Question is every- from the unreason of the people's representatives to thing that can be desired, or, indeed, expected of a the reason of the people themselves. I am therebody of gentlemen. It must not be thought, there- fore not to be tired with waiting. It is wearisome fore, that in publishing Wilkie Collins's views we to ourselves and to others to go on repeating are in the least reflecting upon our American con- arguments which we have been using these forty frères. One of them writes, “The Copyright Bill years, and which to us seem so self-evident, but was defeated by ignorance misled by greed, but we Í think it is true that no reformer has ever gained hope to retrieve our reputation soon. Everybody his end who has not first made himself an intoleris hard at work to this end.” Wilkie Collins says able bore to the vast majority of his kind.” nothing so severe.
Out of the fine chorus of indignation which has Here is a practical suggestion. Some time ago ascended from the better class of American papers we poor English had to pay, justly or unjustly, unto the heavens like incense, and, like that fragrant £3,000,000 for the Alabama claims. The claims smoke, probably of small practical use, I extract did not amount to half that money. Suppose the the following from "America," a Chicago paper of Government of the U.S.A. were to hand over the great promise. difference to British authors. The moral effect in "The International Copyright Bill has been the States of such an act of reparation would be slaughtered in the House by protectionists after enormous, while its material effect in this country almost all the authors' interests in it had been would be, to say the least, extremely beneficial to a sacrificed to the manufacturers and mechanics in hard-working and deserving set of men and women. order to get protectionist votes for the bill. There
was very little protection for authors in the bill, This is what Mr. Lowell says :—“I have had too and a great deal of protection for publishers and long experience of the providential thickness of paper-makers and type-setters, and then the bill the human skull, as well as of the eventual success was knifed by the statesmen who have great respect of all reasonable reforms, to be discouraged by the for manual labourers, who are numerous on election temporary defeat of any measure which I believe day, and none for authors, whose vote is not a to be sound. I am too old to be persuaded by any political factor. We Americans look well, do we appearances, however specious, that truth has lost or not, rejecting an International Copyright Law for can lose that divine quality which gives her immortal fear that it would make books dear ; that is, after advantage over error. Foreign right to property in paying for the paper and the type-setting, we flatly books stands precisely on the same footing as Ameri- refuse to pay anything additional for the author. can home right, and the moral wrong of stealing Our statesmen oppose the bill because they want either is equally great. But literary property is at cheap books for the people. By all means then, a disadvantage, because, as the appropriation is not let us steal the books as well as the learning, or the open, gross, and palpable, it is not regarded as imagination contained therein. Let us repeal the wrongful. It touches the public conscience more law against horse stealing, and we may all ride.
This objection to the International Copyright Bill, The centenary dinner of the Royal Literary Fund that under it book purchasers would have to pay the took place on May 14th, the Prince of Wales being foreign author of the book something, is the most in the chair. This venerable Society was founded, shameful proposition I have happened to hear in and still exists, for the purpose of granting doles Congress. The interest of the American author to distressed authors. It administers a good deal is perfectly plain; if the American publisher can of money in this way every year.
It is sad that get English copy for nothing, he will be propor- there should be distressed literary men and it is tionately unwilling to buy a copy of an American very good indeed that there should be a fund for author. The Congress that proposes to pass the their relief. The Prince of Wales, in an excellent McKinley bill for the additional protection of speech, dwelt largely on the precarious nature of American manual labour, refuses to pass the In- the literary calling. The occupation of the literary ternational Copyright Bill for the protection of man, he said, is uncertain; his remuneration is American intellectual labour. It is easy to see
not high. There is no flow of promotion for literary what kind of labour we value most highly.”
All this is true indeed; it is said every year at the dinner; never once has it been asked by the
Council of this Society why this remuneration of How it strikes the American author, again, is set the literary man is so small-why his calling is so forth by Mr. J. D. Gilden, in “The Critic."
uncertain. Well : it is small and uncertain because
there is no rule arrived at as to the share which he Says Pirate A. to Victim B. :“ You've got no reason to complain ;
should justly take in the proceeds of his own labours.
When that rule is arrived at and put into practice Just see how popular you be ; Your books is read from Tex. to Maine.
the labours of the Royal Literary Fund will be con
fined to the relief of the distressed incompetent. “Were not the foreign stuff 'free grat.'
may be asked why our Society does not at once I'd buy some native fellow's wares;
lay down this Golden Rule; well, there are two Just paste that 'memo.' in your hat,
reasons, of which the first should be enough, viz., And don't go puttin' on such airs."
(1) that the Society has not yet arrived at the Golden
Rule, though it is getting nearer, and (2) that there “Aye, true enough my books are read,
is no use in laying it down until public opinion is No doubt your imprint makes them sell;
riper. It is a rule well known in legislation that But if on air I must be fed,
to make laws before the people are ready for them, Why won't that fare serve you as well ?
unless you can carry them out in spite of popular “Henceforth we both will write for fanie,
resistance and apathy, is not good government. I write, you publish, free of charge;
Let us go on a little longer teaching people the Whatever type proclaims my name,
reality of literary property and its sacredness. Let Yours shall be printed just as large.
us go on a little longer hammering into the heads of
authors their folly and madness in signing agree“Should profits by some chance accrue, ments by which they ignorantly give themselves Deed them forth with to charity :
away and go into slavery. We shall then have a I'm rich, of course ; and as for you,
better chance with our Golden Rule. What's wealth to popularity ?"
Mr. John Morley, who always speaks well on How the present question struck Wilkie Collins literature, made a very curious slip the other day. is pretty well known. The paper printed in this He stated that there are not fifty or even twenty number by him was recovered by accident, and is men and women who live by authorship. Why, by here published by permission of his literary executor. the writing of novels alone there are at least fifty
who make over a thousand a year, let alone a vast
number, especially ladies, who live on incomes of Mr. Edwin Waugh, the poet, is dead. With him a hundred or two made by authorship. As for this dies a pension on the Civil List. It has been pro- great mass we may find at an early opportunity someposed to the First Lord of the Treasury that he thing profitable as well as interesting to say about should transfer this pension to Mr. Ben. Brierly, them and their incomes and their methods of work. the well-known Lancashire writer. Mr. W. H. Smith cannot transfer a pension which dies with its recipient. He will, however, consider Mr. Brierly's I have written a small pamphlet for the Publiclaims.
cation Committee of the Society for the Promotion
of Christian Knowledge. My intention has been debate-thereby declaring the labour of foreign to point out to this body, first, certain elementary writers to be the spoil of any who wish to profit by laws which govern literary property and its ad- it-it would be Quixotic of you to refuse to sail ministration, &c., and next, to set forth certain beneath that flag. But I feel convinced that cases which illustrate their own administration of native courtesy and kindness would prevent you the literary property in their hand. Lastly, I have knowingly from treating an author as I have been invited them to draw their own conclusions for treated in this instance. You would remember themselves as to their own methods. There is no that in America almost the only good left to an desire to make any money by this pamphlet - English writer is his chance of a literary reputation, which is published by Mr. Henry Glaisher in the and this, at least, you would strive to protect in Strand-and if any member of this Society would every way as some small return for the amusement like a copy I will send him one on the simple con- he affords your readers and the money which he dition that he undertakes to read it and to pass it earns for you. Certainly, therefore, you would not on to some person interested in the Society for the send his work willingly from your press in such a Promotion of Christian Knowledge.
questionable shape, and thus expose him to the
contempt of critics and the wonder of your reading The following explains itself.
The ingenious public. Rand, M'Nally and Company, of Chicago and
“This being so, I have to ask, I am sure not in New York, have added a new terror to literary men.
vain, that for the sake of your own fair name, as Not only do they steal their works but they alter
much as for the sake of mine, you will withdraw and mutilate and ruin them. The idea will doubt
from circulation the pages of printed matter which less be copied and widely adopted in Pirate-land.
are being passed off
, no doubt unwittingly, by you In a few years, probably, there will be two Rider
among the American public as a reprint of my Haggards in the field, one of Great Britain and the
novel ‘Beatrice,' and that you will give this letter other of that other country, totally unlike each
of repudiation every publicity in your power. other and of literary reputation entirely different.
Awaiting the favour of a reply, Let us have patience.
"I am, gentlemen, your obedient servant,
“H. RIDER HAGGARD. “ GENTLEMEN,
June 3rd, 1890. “A pirated edition of my novel ‘Beatrice' has “ To Messrs. Rand, M'Nally, & Co., Publishers, been forwarded to me, bearing your names as its “Chicago and New York." publishers. I find, on lookng through it, that the book has been hacked and hewed till it bears about as much resemblance to the work which left Coincidences (see p. 37) are interesting. Here my hand as an oaked felled and barked does to the is one sent me by a correspondent from the North. same tree in leaf.
The editor of a certain paper lately received the “Thus, to take one or two examples among scenario of a story submitted for his approbation. many which offer :- Chapter 18 has been reduced He liked it, and commissioned the author to write to little more than three pages, and from chapters it for him. The day after he received the same 25 and 26 some 16 pages have been omitted bodily. story, that is, the same plot and the same set of Nor is this all; another chapter has been mis- characters distributed in the same way, from another named, and in one place, at least, your editor, or, correspondent writing from a different part of judging from the style, perhaps I should hazard, your England. Therefore one of two things. Either compositor, has tried his hand at improving my text two minds were at the same moment pursuing the -has printed under my name words which I never same imaginary series of events, or two minds were wrote. In short, the story is turned into a string at the same time cribbing from the same source. of disjointed situations, its life, spirit, and meaning One would like to read the scenario. Perhaps it are gone, all of which is done withou: warning to was only a commonplace plot such as one may read the reader, and, I need hardly add, without reference in any penny novelette. There is another exto the author.
planation possible. One lady at least there is “At first I believed that these evils must have among us who adds to her income by the sale of been wrought maliciously, perhaps to save expense plots for stories. There may be more than one in the printer's bill, but reflection shows me that it plot inventor among us, and he-or she—may have cannot be. Of course, when the Legislature of your sold the same plot twice over, a thing which has country, alone among those of civilized nations, happened once or twice in the buying and selling has hoisted the black flag, not merely by tolerating of sermons. an established custom but publicly and after full
“THOU SHALT NOT STEAL :"
The Indian answered with dignity, “Because I
want it.” CONSIDERATIONS ON THE COPYRIGHT QUESTION. “May I ask why you want it?" Addressed to an American friend by
The Indian checked off his reasons on his fin
gers. “First, because I am not able to make such WILKIE COLLINS.
a watch as yours. Secondly, because your watch is an article likely to be sufficiently popular among
the Indians to be worth • Thirdly, because the OU were taking leave of me the other day, popularity of the watch will enable me to sell it
Colonel, when I received from the United with considerable advantage to myself.
States a copy of a pirated edition of one white brother satisfied ?" of my books. I threw it into the waste-paper Your ancestor said that he was not satisfied. basket with an expression of opinion which a little
"The thing you have taken from me,” he said, “is startled you. As we shook hands at parting, you
the product of my own invention and my own said, “When you are cool, my friend, I should like
handiwork. It is my watch." to be made acquainted with your sentiments on The Indian touched his substitute for a pocket. the copyright question.” I am cool now, and here Pardon me,” he replied, “it is mine." are my sentiments.
Your ancestor began to lose his temper; he I shall ask permission to begin by looking back reiterated his assertion. “I say my watch is my to the early history of your own family. The fact lawful property." is, that I wish to interest you personally in the
The noble savage reasoned with him. “Possibly otherwise unattractive subject on which I am about
your watch is protected in your country,” he said. to write.
“It is not protected in mine." I.
“And therefore you steal it?”
“And therefore I steal it.” At the beginning of the seventeenth century, On what moral grounds, sir, can you defend one of your ancestors, voyaging with the illustrious an act of theft ?" Hendrick Hudson, got leave of absence from the The chief smiled. “I defend it on practical ship and took a walk on Manhattan Island, in the grounds. There is no watch-right treaty, sir, bedays before the Dutch settlement.
He was pos
tween my country and yours.” sessed, as I have heard you say, of great ability in “And on that account you are not ashamed to the mechanical arts. Among the articles of per- steal my watch ?” sonal property which he had about him was “On that account I am not ashamed to steal handsome watch, made by himself, and containing your watch. Good morning !" special improvements of his own invention.
The prototypes of modern persons have existed The good man sat down to rest and look about
in past ages.
The Indian chief was the first him at a pleasant and pastoral spot-now occu- American publisher. Your ancestor was the parent pied, it may be interesting to you to know, by a of the whole European family of modern authors. publishing house in the city of New York. Having thoroughly enjoyed the cool breeze and the bright
II. view, he took out his watch to see how the time was passing. At the same moment, an Iroquois You and I, Colonel, are resolved to look this chief-whose name has, I regret to say, escaped copyright question fairly in the face. Suppose we my memory- passed that way, accompanied by a look at it from the historical point of view to begin suitable train of followers. He observed the hand- with. The Dutch emigrants settled on Manhattan some watch ; snatched it out of the stranger's Island about two hundred and fifty years ago. hand; and, then and there, put it into the Indian They might have pirated the Island on the ground substitute for a pocket—the name of which, after that it was not protected by treaty. But they were repeated efforts, I find myself unable to spell. loth to commit an act of theft; they asked the
Your ancestor, a man of exemplary presence Indians to mention their price. The Indians menof mind, counted the number of the chief's fol- tioned twenty-four dollars. The noble Dutchmen lowers; perceived that resistance on his single paid, and a very good price, too, for a bit of unpart would be a wilful casting away of his own cultivated ground, with permission to move your valuable life; and wisely decided on trying the “Wigwam” to the neighbouring Continent. effect of calm remonstrance.
In due course of time arose the Dutch City of “Why do you take my watch away from me, New Amsterdam. Civilization made its appearsir?” he asked.
ance on Manhattan Island; and with civilization