Brande's Encyclopaedia $15 00 $4 00
Ure's Dictionary of Manufactures 15 00 5 00
Alison's Europe, cheapest edition 25 00 5 00
D'Aubignd's Reformation 11 50 2 25
Bulwer's "My Novel" 10 50 75
Lord Mahon's England 13 00 4 00
Macaulay's England, per vol. 4 50 40
Campbell's Chief Justices. 7 50 3 50
" Lord Chancellors 25 50 12 00
Queens of England, 8 vols. 24 00 10 00
Queens of Scotland 15 00 6 00
Hallam's Middle Ages 7 50 1 75
Arnold's Rome 12 00 3 00
Life of John Foster 6 00 1 25
Layard's Nineveh, complete edition. 9 00 1 75
Mrs. Somerville's Physical Sciences 2 50 50
Whewell's Elements of Morality. 7 50 1 00
Napier's Peninsular War 12 00 3 25
Thirlwall's Greece, cheapest edition 7 00 3 00
Dick's Practical Astronomer 2 50 50
Jane Eyre 7 50 25
[Footnote 1: Copied from an article in the New York Daily Times.]
The difference, as we see, between the selling price in London and in New York, of the first book in this list, is no less than eleven dollars, or almost three times as much as the whole price of the American edition. To what is this extraordinary difference to be attributed? To any excess in the cost of paper or printing in London? Certainly not; for paper and printers' labor are both cheaper there than here. Is it, then, to the necessity for compensating the author? Certainly not; for there are in this country fifty persons as fully competent as Mr. Brande for the preparation of such a work, who would willingly do it for a dollar a copy, calculating upon being paid out of a large sale. As the sale of books in England is not large, it might be necessary to allow him two dollars each; but even this would still leave nine dollars to be accounted for. Where does all this go? Part of it to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, part to the "Times," and other newspapers and journals that charge monopoly prices for the privilege of advertising, and the balance to the booksellers who "possess copyrights," and "sell their books at such exorbitant prices" that they have driven the government to turn bookseller, with a view to bring down prices; and these are the very men to whom it is now proposed to grant unlimited control over the sale of all books produced abroad.
It will, perhaps, be said that the treaty contains a proviso that the author shall sell his copyright to an American publisher, or shall himself cause his book to be republished here. Such a proviso may be there, but whether it is so, or not, no one knows, for every thing connected with this effort to extend the Executive power is kept as profoundly secret as were the arrangements for the Napoleonic coup d'etat of the 2d of December. Secrecy and prompt and decisive action are the characteristics of centralized governments—publicity and slow action those of decentralized ones. Admit, however, that such limitations be found in the treaty, by what right are they there? The basis of such a treaty is the absolute right of the author to his book; and if that be admitted, with what show of consistency or of justice can we undertake to dictate to him whether he shall sell or retain it—print it here or abroad? With none, as I think.
Admit, however, that he does print it, does the treaty require that the market shall always be supplied? Perhaps it does, but most probably it does not. If it does, does it also provide for the appointment of commissioners to see that the provision is always complied with? If it does not, nothing would seem to be easier than to send out the plates of a large book, print off a small edition, and by thus complying with the letter of the law, establishing the copyright for the long term of forty-two years, the moment after which the plates could be returned to the place whence they came, and from that place the consumers could be supplied on condition of paying largely to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to the "Times," to the profits of Mr. Dickens' advertising sheet, to the author, to the London bookseller, to his agent in America, and the retail dealer here. In cases like this, and they would be numerous, the "few cents" would probably rise to be many dollars; and no way can, I think, be devised to prevent their occurrence, except to take one more step forward in centralization by the appointment of commissioners in various parts of the Union, to see that the market is properly supplied, and that the books offered for sale have been actually printed on this side of the Atlantic.
If the treaty does provide for publication here, it probably allows some time therefor, say one, two, or three months. It is, however, well-known that of very many books the first few weeks' sales constitute so important a part of the whole that were the publisher here deprived of them, the book would never be republished. No one could venture to print until the time had elapsed, and by that time the English publisher would so well have occupied the ground with the foreign edition that publication here would be effectually stopped. Even under the present ad valorem system of duties this is being done to a great extent. One, two, or three hundred copies of large works are cheaply furnished, and the market is thus just so far occupied as to forbid the printing of an edition of one or more thousands—to the material injury of paper-makers, printers, and book-binders, and without any corresponding benefit to the foreign author. Under the proposed system this would be done to a great extent.
Admit, however, that the spirit of the law be fully complied with, and let us see its effects. Mr. Dickens sells his book in England for 21s. ($5.00); and he will, of course, desire to have for it here as large a price as it will bear. Looking at our prices for those books which are copyright and of which the sale is large, he finds that "Bleak House" contains four times as much as the "Reveries of a Bachelor," which sells for $1.25, and he will be most naturally led to suppose that $3 is a reasonable price. The number of copies of his book that has been supplied to American readers, through newspapers and magazines, is certainly not less than 250,000, and the average cost has not been' more than fifty cents, giving for the whole the sum of
To supply the same number at his price would cost. 750,000
Of Mr. Bulwer's last work, the number that has been supplied to American consumers is probably but about two thirds as great, and the difference might not amount to more than
Mr. Macaulay would not be willing to sell his book more cheaply than that of Mr. Bancroft's is sold, or $2 per volume, and he might ask $2.50. Taking it at the former price, the 125,000 copies that have been sold would cost the consumer $500,000
They have been supplied for 100,000
The difference would be $400,000
Mr. Alison's work would make twelve such volumes as those of Mr. Bancroft, and his price would not be less than $25. The sale has amounted, as I understand, to 25,000 copies, which would give as the cost of the whole
The price at which they have been sold is $5, giving 125,000
Of "Jane Eyre" there have been sold 80,000, and if the price had been similar to that of "Fanny Fern," they would have cost the consumers.
They have cost about 25,000
Total result of a "few cents" on five books, $1,950,000
Under the system of international copyright, one of two things must be done—either the people must be taxed in the whole of this amount for the benefit of the various persons, abroad and at home, who are now to be invested with the monopoly power, or they must largely diminish their purchases of literary food.
The quantity of books above given cannot be regarded as more than one twentieth of the total quantity of new ones annually printed. Admit, however, that the total were but ten times greater, and that the differences were but one fourth as great, it would be required that this sum of $1,950,000 should be multiplied two and a half times, and that would give about five millions of dollars; which, added to the sum already obtained, would make seven millions per annum; and yet we have arrived only at the commencement of the operation. All these books would require to be reprinted in the next year, and the next, and so on, and for the long period of forty-two years the payment on old books would require to be added to those on new ones, until the sum would become a very startling one. To enable us to ascertain what it must become, let us see what it would now be had this system existed in the past. Every one of Scott's novels would still be copyright, and such would be the case with Byron's poems, and with all other books that have been printed in the last forty-two years, of which the annual sale now amounts to many millions of volumes. To the present price of these let us add the charge of the author, and the monopoly charges of the English and American publishers, and it will be found quite easy to obtain a further sum of five millions, which, added to that already obtained, would make twelve millions per annum, or enough to give to one in every four thousand males in the United Kingdom, between the ages of twenty and sixty, a salary far exceeding that of our Secretaries of State. Let this treaty be confirmed, and let the consumption of foreign works continue at its present rate, and payment of this sum must be made. We can escape its payment only on condition of foregoing consumption of the books.
The real cause of difficulty is not to be found in "the few cents" required for the author, but in the means required to be adopted for their collection. Everybody that reads "Bleak House," or "Oliver Twist," would gladly pay their author some cents, however unwilling he might be to pay dollars, or pounds. So, too, everybody who uses chloroform would willingly pay something to its discoverer; and every one who believes in and profits by homeopathic medicines would be pleased to contribute "a few cents" for the benefit of Hahnemann, his widow, or his children. A single cent paid by all who travel on steam vessels would make the family of Fulton one of the richest in the world; but how collect these "few cents"? Grant me a monopoly, says the author, and I will appoint an agent, who shall supply other agents with my books, and I will settle with him. Grant us a monopoly, say the representatives of Hahnemann, and we will grant licenses, throughout the Union, to numerous men who shall be authorized to practice homeopathically and collect our taxes. Were this experiment tried, it would be found that millions would be collected, out of which they would receive tens of thousands. Grant us a monopoly, might say the representatives of Fulton, and we will permit no vessels to be built without license from us, and our agents will collect "a few cents" from each passenger, by which we shall be enriched. So they might be; but for every cent that reached them the community would be taxed dollars in loss of time and comfort, and in extra charges. It is the monopoly privilege, and not the "few cents," that makes the difficulty.
We are, however, advised by the advocates of this treaty that English authors must be "required" to present their books in American "mode and dress," and that regard to their own interests will cause them to be presented "at MODERATE PRICES for general consumption." If, however, they have acted differently at home, why should they pursue this course here? That they have so acted, we have proof in the fact that the British government has just been forced to turn bookseller, with a view to restrain the owners of copyrights in the exercise of power. Who, again, is to determine what prices are really "moderate" ones? The authors? Will Mr. Macaulay consent that his books shall be sold for less than those of Mr. Bancroft or Mr. Prescott? Assuredly not. The bookseller, then? Will he not use his power in reference to foreign books precisely as he does now in regard to domestic ones? If he deems it now expedient to sell a 12mo volume for a dollar or a dollar and a quarter, is it probable that the ratification of this treaty will open his eyes to the fact that it would be better for him to sell Mr. Dickens's works at fifty cents than at three dollars? Scarcely so, as I think. It is now about thirty years since the "Sketch Book" was printed, and the cheapest edition that has yet been published sells for one dollar and twenty-five cents. "Jane Eyre" contains probably about the same quantity of matter, and sells for twenty-five cents. Of the latter, about 80,000 have been printed, costing the consumers $20,000; but if they were to purchase the same quantity of the former, they would pay for them $100,000; difference, $80,000. What, now, would become of this large sum? But little of it would reach the author; not more, probably, than $10,000. Of the remaining $70,000, some would go to printers, paper-makers, and bookbinders, and the balance would be distributed among the publisher, the trade-sale auctioneers, and the wholesale and retail dealers; the result being that the public would pay five dollars where the author received one, or perhaps the half of one. We have here the real cause of difficulty. The monopoly of copyright can be preserved only by connecting it with the monopoly of publication. Were it possible to say that whoever chose to publish the "Sketch Book" might do so, on paying to its author "a few cents," the difficulty of this double monopoly would be removed; but no author would consent to this, for he could have no certainty that his book might not be printed by unprincipled men, who would issue ten thousand while accounting to him for only a single thousand. To enable him to collect his dues, he must have a monopoly of publication.
It may be said that if he appropriate to his use any of the common property of which books are made up, and so misuse his privilege as to impose upon his readers the payment of too heavy a tax, other persons may use the same facts and ideas, and enter into competition with him. In no other case, however, than in those of the owners of patents and copyrights, where the public recognizes the existence of exclusive claim to any portion of the common property, does it permit the party to fix the price at which it may be sold. The right of eminent domain is common property. In virtue of it, the community takes possession of private property for public purposes, and frequently for the making of roads. Not unfrequently it delegates to private companies this power, but it always fixes the rate of charge to be made to persons who use the road. This is done even when general laws are passed authorizing all who please, on compliance with certain forms, to make roads to suit themselves. In such cases, limitation would seem to be unnecessary, as new roads could be made if the tolls on old ones were too high; and yet it is so well understood that the making of roads does carry with it monopoly power, that the rates of charge are always limited, and so limited as not to permit the road-makers to obtain a profit disproportioned to the amount of their investments. In the case of authors there can be no such limitation. They must have monopoly powers, and the law therefore very wisely limits the time within which they may be exercised, as in the other case it limits the price that may be charged. In France, the prices to be paid to dramatic authors are fixed by law, and all who pay may play; and if this could be done in regard to all literary productions, permitting all who paid to print, much of the difficulty relative to copyright would be removed; but this course of operation would be in direct opposition to the views of publishers who advocate this treaty on the ground that it would add to "the security and respectability of the trade." They would prefer to pay for the copyright of every foreign book, because it would bring with it monopoly prices and monopoly profits, both of which would need to be paid by the consumers of books. To the paper-maker, printer, and bookbinder, called upon to supply one thousand of a book for the few, where before they had supplied ten thousand for the many, it would be small consolation to know that they were thereby building up the fortunes of two or three large publishing houses that had obtained a monopoly of the business of republication, and were thus adding to the "security and respectability of the trade." As little would probably be derived from this source by the father of a family who found that he had now to pay five dollars for what before had cost but one, and must therefore endeavor to borrow, where before he had been accustomed to buy, the books required for the amusement and instruction of his children.
Our State of New Jersey levies a transit duty of eight cents per ton on all the merchandise that crosses it. Had the imposition of this tax been accompanied by a law permitting all who chose to make roads, no one would have complained of it, as it would have been little more than a fair tax on the property of the railroad and other companies. Unfortunately, however, the course was different. To the company that collected it was granted a monopoly of the power of transportation, and that power has been so used that while the State received but eight cents the transporters charged three, five, six, and eight dollars for work that should have been done for one. The position in which the authors are necessarily placed is precisely the one in which our State has voluntarily placed itself. To enable them to collect their dues, some person or persons must have a monopoly of publication, and they must and will collect five, ten, and often twenty dollars for every one that reaches the author. The Union would gain largely by paying into our treasury thrice the sum we receive for transit duty, on the simple condition that we abolished the monopoly of transportation; and it would gain far more largely by doing the same with foreign authors. If justice does really call upon us to pay them, our true course would be to do it directly from the Treasury, placing, if necessary, a million of dollars annually at the disposal of the British government, upon the simple condition that it releases us from all claim to the monopoly of publication. Such a release would be cheap, even at two millions; enough to give $4,000 a year to five hundred persons, and that number would certainly include all who can even fancy us under any obligation to them. My own impression is, that no such payment is required by justice, either as regards our own authors or foreign ones. Of the former, all can be and are well paid, who can produce books that the public are willing to read, and no law that could be made would secure payment to those who cannot. Their monopoly extends over a smaller number of persons than does the English one; and if the more than thirty millions of people who are subject to the latter cannot support their few writers, the cause of difficulty is to be found at home, and there must the remedy be applied. Nevertheless, by adopting the course suggested, we should certainly free ourselves from any necessity for choosing between the payment of many millions annually to authors and the men who stand between them and the public, on the one hand, and of dispensing largely with the purchase of books, on the other. If the nation must pay, the fewer persons through whose hands the money passes the smaller will be the cost to it, and the greater the gain to authors.
The ratification of the treaty would impose upon us a very large amount of taxation that must inevitably be paid either in money or in abstinence from intellectual nourishment; and our authors should be able to satisfy themselves that the advantage to them would bear some proportion to the loss inflicted upon others. Would it do so? I think not. On the contrary, they would find their condition greatly impaired. All publishers prefer copyright books, because, having a monopoly, they can charge monopoly profits. To obtain a copyright, they constantly pay considerable sums at home for editorship of foreign books; but from the moment that this treaty shall take effect, the necessity for doing this will cease, and thus will our literary men be deprived of one considerable source of profit. Again, literary labor in England is cheap, because of want of demand; but international copyright, by opening to it our vast market, will quicken the demand, and many more books will be produced, the authors of all of which will be competitors with our own, who will then possess no advantages over them. The rates of American authors will then fall precisely as those of the British ones will rise; and this result will be produced as certainly as the water in the upper chamber of a canal lock will fall as that in the lower one is made to rise. On one side of the Atlantic literary labor is well paid, and on the other it is badly paid. International copyright will establish a level; and how much reason our authors have to desire that it shall be established, I leave it for them to determine.
The direct tendency of the system now proposed will be found to be that of diminishing the domestic competition for the production of books, and increasing our dependence on foreigners for the means of amusement and instruction; and yet the confirmation of the treaty is urged on the ground that it will increase the first and diminish the last. If it would have this latter effect, it is singular that the authors of England should be so anxious for the measure as they are. It is not usual for men to seek to diminish the dependence of others on themselves.
These, however, are, as I think, but a small part of the inconveniences to which our authors are now proposing to subject themselves. They have at present a long period allowed them, during which they have an absolute monopoly of the particular forms of words they offer to the reading public; and this monopoly has, in a very few years, become so productive, that authorship offers perhaps larger profits than any other pursuit requiring the same amount of skill and capital. Twenty years hence, when the market shall be greatly increased, it may, and as I think will, become a question whether the monopoly has not been granted for too long a period, and many persons may then be found disposed to unite with Mr. Macaulay in the belief that the disadvantages of long periods preponderate so greatly over their advantages, as to make it proper to retrace in part our steps, limiting the monopoly to twenty-one years, or one half the present period. The inquiry may then come to be made, what is the present value of a monopoly of forty-two years, as compared with what would be paid for one of twenty-one years; and when it is found that, in nine hundred and ninety-nine cases out of a thousand, one will sell for exactly as much as the other, it will perhaps be decided that no reason exists for maintaining the present law, even if no change be now made. Suppose, however, the treaty to be confirmed, establishing the monopoly of foreigners in our market, and that the people who have been accustomed to consume largely of cheap literature now find themselves deprived of it, would not this tend to hasten the period at which the existing law would come under consideration? I cannot but think it would. The common school makes a great demand for school-books, and both make a great demand for newspapers. All of these combine to make a demand for cheap books among an immense and influential portion of our community, that cannot yet afford to pay $1.25 for "Fern Leaves" or for the "Reveries of a Bachelor," although they can well afford 25 cents for a number of "Harper's Magazine," or for "Jane Eyre." Let us now suppose that the novels of Dickens and Bulwer, the books of Miss Aguilar, and those of other authors with which they have been accustomed to supply themselves, should at once be raised to monopoly prices and thus placed beyond their reach, would it not produce inquiry into the cause, and would not the answer be that we had given English authors a monopoly in our market to enable our own to secure a monopoly in that of England? Would not the sufferers next inquire by what process this had been accomplished, seeing that the direct representatives of the people had always been so firmly opposed to it; and would not the answer be that the literary men of the two countries had formed a combination for the purpose of taxing the people of both; and that when they had failed to accomplish their object by means of legislation, they had induced the Executive to interpose and make a law in their favor, in defiance of the well-known will of the House of Representatives? Under such circumstances, would it be extraordinary if we should, within three years from the ratification of the treaty, see the commencement of an agitation for a change in the copyright system? It seems to me that it would not.
The time for the arrival of this agitation would probably be hastened by an extension of the system of centralization that would next be claimed; for the present measure can be regarded as little more than the entering wedge for others. France and England profit enormously by setting the fashions for the world. New patterns and new articles are invented that sell in the first season for treble or quadruple the price at which they are gladly supplied in the second; and it is by aid of the perpetual changes bf fashion that foreigners so much control our markets. Recently, our manufacturers have been enabled to reproduce many new articles in very short time, and this has tended greatly to reduce the profits of foreigners, who are of course dissatisfied. Copyrights are now granted in both those countries for new patterns, new forms of clothing, &c. &c., and our next step will be towards the arrangement of a treaty for, securing to the inventor of a print, or a new fashion of paletot, the monopoly of its production in our markets; and when the claim for this shall be made, it will be found to stand on precisely the same ground with that now made in behalf of the producers of books, and must be granted. The Frenchman will then have the exclusive right of supplying us with new mousselines de laine, and the Englishman with new carpets and new forms of earthenware; and we shall be told that that is the true mode of developing manufacturing and artistic skill among ourselves. How much farther the system may be carried it is difficult to tell, for, when we shall once have established the system of regulating foreign and domestic trade by treaty, the House of Representatives will scarcely be troubled with much discussion of such affairs. Extremes generally meet, and it will be extraordinary, if progress in that direction shall not be followed by progress in the other, until our authors shall, at length, become perfectly satisfied of the accuracy of Mr. Macaulay, when he told the British authors, then claiming an extension of their monopoly to sixty years, that "the wholesome copyright" already existing would "share in the disgrace and danger of the new copyright" they desired to create. They could scarcely do better than study his speech at length. At present, they are ill-advised, and their best friends will be those senators who, like Mr. Macaulay, shall oppose their literary countrymen.
[Footnote 1: Macaulay's Speeches, vol. i. p. 403.]
Admitting, however, that the measure proposed should not in any manner endanger existing privileges, what would be the gain to our authors in obtaining the control of the British market, compared with what they would lose from surrendering the control of our own? In the former, the sale of books is certainly not large. Few have been more popular than Tupper's "Proverbial Philosophy," and the price has been, as I learn, only 7s., or $1,68. Nevertheless, a gentleman fully informed in regard to it assures me that in fifteen years the average sale has been but a thousand a year, or 15,000 in all. Compare this with the sale of a larger number of the "Reveries of a Bachelor," or of thrice the quantity of "Fern Leaves," at but little lower prices, in the short period of six months, and it will be seen how inferior is the foreign market to the domestic one. Were it otherwise—were the market of Britain equal to our own—could it be that we should so rarely hear of her literary men, dependent on their own exertions, but as being poor and anxious for public employment? Were it otherwise, should we need now to be told of the "utter destitution" of the widow and children of Hogg, so widely known as author of "The Queen's Wake," and as "The Shepherd" of "Blackwood's Magazine?" Assuredly not. Had literary ability been there in the demand in which it now is here, he would have written thrice as much, would have been thrice as well paid, and would have provided abundantly for his widow and his children. Nevertheless, our authors desire to trade off this great market for the small one in which he shone and left his family to starve, and thus to make an exchange similar to that of Glaucus when he gave a suit of golden armor for one of brass.
[Footnote 2: The sale here has been 200,000, at an average price of 50 cents. Had it been copyright, the price would have been double, and the "few cents" would have made a difference on this single book of $100,000. The same gentleman to whom I am indebted for the above facts informs me that he has paid to the author of a 12mo volume of 200 pages more than $23,000, and could not now purchase the copyright for $10,000; that for another small 12mo volume he has paid $7,000, and Expects to pay as much more; that to a third author his payments for the year have been $2500, and are likely to continue at that rate for years to come; and that it would be easy to furnish other and numerous cases of similar kind.]
What, however, are the prospects for the future? Will the British market grow? It would seem not, for death and emigration are diminishing the population, and the people who remain are in a state of constant warfare with their employers, who promised "cheap food" that they might obtain "cheap labor," and now offer low wages in connection with high-priced corn and beef. The people who receive such wages cannot buy books. Hundreds of thousands of persons are now out "on strike," or are "locked out" by the gentlemen who advocate this "cheap labor" system; and the result of all this extraordinary cessation from labor can be none other than the continued growth of poverty, intemperance, and crime. The picture that is presented by that country is one of unceasing discord between the few and the many, in which the former always triumph; and a careful examination of it cannot result in leading us to expect an increase in the desire to purchase books, or in the ability to pay for them.
Having looked upon that picture, let our authors next look to the one now presented by this country, as compared with that which could have been offered forty, thirty, or even twenty years since, and to obtain aid in understanding the facts presented to their view, let them read the following extract from a speech recently delivered by Mr. Cobden:—
"You cannot point to an instance in America, where the people are more educated than they are here, of total cessation from labor by a whole community or town, given over, as it were, to desolation. When I came through Manchester the other day, I found many of the most influential of the manufacturing capitalists talking very carefully upon a report which had reached them from a gentleman who was selected by the government to go out to America, to report upon the great exhibition in New York. That gentleman was one of the most eminent mechanicians and machine-makers in Manchester, a man known in the scientific world, and appreciated by men of science, from the astronomer royal downwards. He has been over to America, to report upon the progress of manufactures and the state of the mechanical arts in the United States, and he has returned. No report from him to the government has yet been published. But it has oozed out in Manchester that he found in America a degree of intelligence amongst the manufacturing operatives, a state of things in the mechanical arts, which has convinced him that if we are to hold our own, if we are not to fall back in the rear of the race of nations we must educate our people to put them upon a level with the more educated artisans of the United States. We shall all have the opportunity of judging when that report is delivered; but sufficient has already oozed out to excite a great interest, and I might almost say some alarm."
Having done this, let them next ask themselves what have been the causes of the vast change in the relative positions of the two countries. Doing this, will not the answer be, common schools, cheap school-books, cheap newspapers, and cheap literature? Has not each and every one of these aided in making authors, and in creating a market for their products? Having thus laid the foundation of a great edifice, are we likely to stop in the erection of the walls? Having in so brief a period created a great market for literature, is it not certain that it must continue to grow with increased rapidity? Assuredly it is; and yet it is that vast market that our authors desire to barter for one in which Hood was permitted almost to starve, in which Leigh Hunt, Lady Morgan, Miss Mitford, Tennyson, and Sir Francis Head even now submit to the degradation of receiving the public charity to the extent of a hundred pounds a year! The law as it now exists, invites foreign authors to come and live among us, and participate in our advantages. The treaty offers to tax ourselves for the purpose of offering them a bounty upon staying at home and increasing their numbers and their competition with the well-paid literary labor of this country. Were Belgrave Square to make a treaty with Grub Street, providing that each should have a plate at the tables of the other, the population of the latter would probably grow as rapidly as the dinners of the former would decline in quality, and it might be well for our authors to reflect if such might not be the result of the treaty now proposed.
Its confirmation is, as I understand, urged on some senators on the ground that consistency requires it. Being in favor of protection elsewhere, they are told that it would be inconsistent to refuse it here. In reply to this, it might fairly be retorted that nearly all the supporters of international copyright are advocates of the system called, in England, Free Trade; and that it is quite inconsistent in them to advocate protection here. To do this would however be as unnecessary as it would be unphilosophical. Both are perfectly consistent. Protection to the farmer and planter in their efforts to draw the artisan to their side, looks to carrying out the doctrine of decentralization by the annihilation of the monopoly of manufactures established in Britain; and our present copyright system looks to the decentralization of literature by offering to all who shall come and live among us the same perfect protection that we give to our own authors. What is called free trade looks to the maintenance of the foreign monopoly for supplying us with cloth and iron; and international copyright looks to continuing the monopoly which Britain has so long enjoyed of furnishing us with books; and both tend towards centralization.
The rapid advance that has been made in literature and science is the result of the perfect protection afforded by decentralization. Every neighborhood collects taxes to be expended for purposes of education, and it is from among those who would not otherwise be educated, and who are thus protected in their efforts to obtain instruction, that we derive many of our most thoughtful and intelligent men, and our best authors. The advocates of free trade and international copyright are, to a great extent, disciples in that school in which it is taught that it is an unjust interference with the rights of property to compel the wealthy to contribute to education of the poor. Common schools, and a belief in the duty of protection, are generally found together. Decentralization, by the production of local interests, protects the poor printer in his efforts to establish a country newspaper, and thus affords to young writers of the neighborhood the means of coming before the world. Decentralization next raises money for the establishment of colleges in every part of the Union, and thus protects the poor but ambitious student in his efforts to obtain higher instruction than can be afforded by the common school. Decentralization next protects him in the manufacture of school-books, by creating a large market for the productions of his pen, very much of which is paid for out of the product of taxes the justice of which is denied by those who advocate the British policy. Rising to the dignity of author of books for the perusal of already instructed men and women he finds himself protected by an absolute monopoly, having for its object to enable him to provide for himself, his wife, and his children. Of all the people of the Union, none enjoy such perfect protection as those connected with literature; yet many of them oppose protection to all others, while actively engaged in enlarging and extending the monopoly they themselves enjoy. It will scarcely answer for them to charge inconsistency on others.
How far the protection already granted has favored the development of literary tendencies, may be judged after looking to the single case of dramatic writers, who are not protected against representation without their consent; and, as that is their mode of publication, it follows that they do not enjoy the advantages granted to other authors. The consequence is, that we make so little progress in that department of literature, while advancing rapidly in every other. Permit me, my dear sir, to suggest that this is a matter worthy of your attention. There would seem to be no good reason for refusing to one class of authors what we grant so freely to all others.
Whether or not I shall have convinced you that international copyright should not be established, I cannot say, but I feel quite safe in believing that you must be convinced it is a question which requires to be publicly and fully discussed before we adopt any action looking in that direction. It is not a case of urgency. If the treaty be not confirmed, the only inconvenience to the authors will be delay, and this should be afforded, were it only to enable them to reflect at leisure upon the probable consequences of the measure in aid of which they have invoked the Executive power. Should they continue to believe their interests likely to be promoted by the adoption of such a measure as that which has been so pertinaciously urged the doors of Congress will always be open to them, and justice, though it may be delayed, will assuredly be done. Let them proceed in a constitutional way, and then, should their desires be gratified, they will have the satisfaction of knowing that their rights have been admitted after full and fair discussion before the people. Should they now succeed in obtaining, in secret session, the confirmation of a treaty negotiated in private, and in haste, they will, I think, "repent at leisure;" but repentance may, and probably will, come too late. The mischief will then have been done.
Having now, my dear sir, to the best of my ability, complied with your request, I remain,
Yours, very respectfully,
HENRY C. CAREY. Burlington, Nov. 28, 1853.
Hon. James Cooper.
December 31, 1867.
Mr. Dickens's tale of "No Thoroughfare" is now being reprinted here in daily and weekly journals, and to such extent as to warrant the belief that the number in the hands of readers of the Union, will speedily exceed a million; obtained, too, at a cost so small as scarcely to admit of calculation. Under a system of International Copyright a similar number would, at the least, have cost $500,000. At 50 cents, however, the sale would not have exceeded 50,000, yielding to author and publisher probably $10,000. Would it be now expedient that, to enable these latter to divide among themselves this small amount, the former should tax themselves in one so greatly larger? Would it be right or proper that they should so do in the hope that American novelists and poets-should in like manner be enabled to tax the British people? Outside of the class of gentlemen who live by the use of their pens, there are few who, having examined the question, would, it is believed, be disposed to give to these questions an affirmative reply.
Of all living authors there is none that, in his various capacities of author, editor, and lecturer, is, in both money and fame, so largely paid as Mr. Dickens. That he and others are not doubly so is due to the fact that British policy, from before the days of Adam Smith, has tended uniformly to the division of society, at home and abroad, into two great classes, the very poor becoming daily more widely separated from the very rich, and daily more and more unfitted for giving support to British authors. That the reader may understand this fully, let him turn to recent British journals and study the accounts there given of "an agricultural gang system," whose horrors, as they tell their readers, "make the British West Indies almost an Arcadia" when compared with many of the home districts. Next, let him study in the "Spectator," now but a fortnight old, the condition of the 630,000 wretched people inhabiting Eastern London; and especially that of the 70,000 mainly dependent on ship and engine building, "too poor to go afield for employment, too poor to emigrate, too poor to do any thing but die," and wholly dependent on a weekly allowance per house, of front twenty to forty cents and a loaf of bread; that allowance, wretched as it is, to be obtained only at the cost of "standing hours among crowds made brutal by misery and privation." Further, let him read in the same journal its description of the almost universal dishonesty which has resulted from a total repudiation of the idea that international morality could exist; and then determine for himself if, under a different system, Britain might not have made at home a market for her authors that would far more than have compensated for deprivation of that one they now so anxiously covet abroad.
Seeking further evidence in reference to this important question, let him then turn to the "North British Review" for the current month and study the social sores of Britain.
For more than a century she has been sowing the wind, carrying, and in the direct ratio of their connection with her, poverty and slavery into important countries of the earth. She is now only reaping the whirlwind. When her literary men shall have begun to teach her people this—when they shall have said to them that public immorality and private morality cannot co-exist—when they shall have commenced to repudiate the idea that the end sanctifies the means—then, but not till then, the time may, perhaps, have come for lecturing the world on the moral side of the question of International Copyright. To this moment, so far as the writer's memory serves him, no one of them has yet entered on the performance of this important work.