صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

and immortality, nor suspected the bad effect of our regard for him, till we saw in the Postscript to one of his papers a wild prediction of the honours to be paid him by future ages. Should any mention of him be made, or his writings, by posterity, it will probably be in words like these: "In the Gentleman's Magazine are still preserved some essays under the specious and in

friars, March 11, 1731.

* Common Sense Journal, printed by Purser of White"I make no doubt but after some grave historian, three or four hundred years hence, has described the corruption, the baseness, and the flattery, which men run into in these times, he will make the following observation:-In the year 1737, a certain unknown author published a writing under the title of Common Sense :this writing came out weekly in little detached essays, some of which are political, some moral, and others humorous. By the best judgment that can be formed of a work, the style and language of which is become so obsolete that it is scarcely intelligible, it answers the title

well" &c.

viting title of Common Sense. How papers of so little value came to be rescued from the com mon lot of dulness, we are at this distance of time unable to conceive, but imagine that personal friendship prevailed with Urban to admit them in opposition to his judgment. If this was the reason, he met afterwards with the treatment which all deserve who patronize stupidity; for the writer, instead of acknowledging his favours, complains of injustice, robbery, and mutilation; but complains in a style so barbarous and indecent, as sufficiently confutes his own calum nies." In this manner must this author expect to be mentioned.-But of him, and our other adversaries, we beg the reader's pardon for having said so much. We hope it will be remem bered in our favour, that it is sometimes necessary to chastise insolence, and that there is a sort of men who cannot distinguish between forbear ance and cowardice.



Men' moveat cimex Pantilius? aut crucier, quod
Vellicet absenter Demetrius?-Hor.

Laudat, amat, cantat nostros mea Roma libellos,
Meque sinus omnes, me manus omnis habet.

Ecce rubet quidam, pallet, stupet, oscitat, odit.
Hoc volo, nunc nobis carmina nostra placent.-Martial.

It is plain, from the conduct of writers of the first class, that they have esteemed it no derogation from their characters to defend themselves against the censures of ignorance, or the calumnies of envy.

It is not reasonable to suppose that they always judged their adversaries worthy of a formal confutation, but they concluded it not prudent to neglect the feeblest attacks; they knew that such men have often done hurt who had not abilities to do good; that the weakest hand, if not timely disarmed, may stab a hero in his sleep; that a worm, however small, may destroy a fleet in the acorn; and that citadels, which have defied armies, have been blown up by rats.

In imitation of these great examples, we think it not absolutely needless to vindicate ourselves from the virulent aspersions of the Craftsman and Common Sense, because their accusations, though entirely groundless, and without the least proof, are urged with an air of confidence, which the unwary may mistake for consciousness of truth.

In order to set the proceedings of these calumniators in a proper light, it is necessary to inform such of our readers as are unacquainted with the artifices of trade, that we originally incurred the displeasure of the greatest part of the booksellers by keeping this Magazine wholly in our own hands, without admitting any of that fraternity into a share of the property. For nothing is more criminal in the opinion of many of them, than for an author to enjoy more advantage from his own works than they are dis.

posed to allow him. This is a principle so well established among them, that we can produce some who threatened printers with their highest displeasure for their having dared to print books for those that wrote them.

Hinc iræ, hinc odía.

This was the first ground of their animosity, which for some time proceeded no farther than private murmurs and petty discouragements. At length, determining to be no longer debarred from a share in so beneficial a project, a knot of them combined to seize our whole plan; and without the least attempt to vary or improve it, began with the utmost vigour to print and circulate the London Magazine, with such success, that in a few years, while we were printing the fifth edi tion of some of our earliest numbers, they had seventy thousand of their books returned un sold upon their hands.

It was then time to exert their utmost efforts to stop our progress, and nothing was to be left unattempted that interest could suggest. It will be easily imagined that their influence among those of their own trade was greater than ours, and that their Collections were therefore more industriously propagated by their brethren; but this being the natural consequence of such a relation, and therefore excusable, is only mentioned to show the disadvantages against which we are obliged to struggle, and to convince the reader, that we who depend so entirely upon his approbation, shall omit nothing to deserve it.

They then had recourse to advertisements, in

which they sometimes made faint attempts to be | witty, and sometimes were content with being merely scurrilous; but finding that their attacks, while we had an opportunity of returning hostilities, generally procured them such treatment as very little contributed to their reputation, they came at last to a resolution of excluding us from the Newspapers in which they have any influence; by this means they can at present insult us with impunity, and without the least danger of confutation.

Their last, and indeed their most artful expedient, has been to hire and incite the weekly journalists against us. The first weak attempt was made by the Universal Spectator, but this we took not the least notice of, as we did not imagine it would ever come to the knowledge of the public.

Whether there was then a confederacy between this journal and Common Sense, as at present between Common Sense and the Craftsman, or whether understandings of the same form receive at certain times the same impressions from the planets, I know not, but about that time war was likewise declared against us by the redoubted author of Common Sense: an adversary not so much to be dreaded for his abilities as for the title of his paper, behind which he has the art of sheltering himself in perfect security. He defeats all his enemies by calling them "enemies to Common Sense," and silences the strongest objections and the clearest reasonings by assuring his readers that "they are contrary to Common Sense."

I must confess to the immortal honour of this great writer, that I can remember but two instances of a genius able to use a few syllables to such great and so various purposes. One is, the old man in Shadwell, who seems, by long time and experience, to have attained to equal perfection with our author; for "when a young fellow began to prate and be pert," says he, "I silenced him with my old word, Tace is Latin for candle."

The other, who seems yet more to resemble this writer, was one Goodman, a horse-stealer, who being asked, after having been found guilty by the jury, what he had to offer to prevent sentence of death from being passed upon him,

did not attempt to extenuate his crime, but en treated the judge to beware of hanging a Good Man.

This writer we thought, however injudiciously, worthy, not indeed of a reply, but of some correction, and in our Magazine for December, 1738, and the preface to the Supplement, treated him in such a manner as he does not seem inclined to forget.

From that time, losing all patience, he has exhausted his stores of scurrility upon us; but our readers will find upon consulting the pas sages above mentioned, that he has received too much provocation to be admitted as an impartial critic.

In our magazine for January, p. 24, we made a remark upon the Craftsman; and in p. 3, dropped some general observations upon the weekly writers, by which we did not expect to make them more our friends. Nor, indeed, did we imagine that this would have inflamed Caleb to so high a degree. His resentment has arisen so much above the provocation, that we cannot but impute it more to what he fears than wha. be has felt. He has seen the solecisms of his brother Common Sense exposed, and remembers | that

-Tua res agitur, paries cum proximus ardet.

He imagines that he shall soon fall under the same censure, and is willing that our criticising shall appear rather the effects of our resentment than our judgment.

For this reason, I suppose, (for I can find no other,) he has joined with Common Sense to charge us with partiality, and to recommend the London Magazine as drawn up with less regard to interest or party. A favour which the authors of that collection have endeavoured to deserve from them by the most servile adulation.

But as we have a higher opinion of the candour of our readers, than to believe that they will condemn us without examination, or give up their right of judging for themselves, we are not unconcerned at this charge, though the most atrocious and malignant that can be brought against us. We entreat only to be compared with our rivals, in full confidence, that not only our innocence, but our superiority, will appear






1. THAT the copy of a book is the property of is under the protection of the aw; but my rethe author, and that he may, by sale or other-putation as an author is at the mercy of the wise, transfer that property to another, who has reader, who lies under no other obligations to a right to be protected in the possession of that property, so transferred, is not to be denied. 2. That the complainants may be lawfully invested with the property of this copy, is likewise granted.

3. But the complainants have mistaken the nature of this property; and, in consequence of their mistake, have supposed it to be invaded by an act, in itself legal, and justifiable by an uninterrupted series of precedents, from the first establishment of printing among us, down to the present time.

4. He that purchases the copy of a book, purchases the sole right of printing it, and of vending the books printed according to it; but has no right to add to it, or take from it, without the author's consent, who still preserves such a right in it, as follows from the right every man has to preserve his own reputation.

do me justice than those of religion and morality. If a man calls me rebel or bankrupt, I may prosecute and punish him; but if a man calls me idiot or plagiary, I have no remedy, since, by selling him the book, I admit his privilege of judging, and declaring his judgment, and can appeal only to other readers, if I think myself injured.

8. In different characters we are more or less protected; to hiss a pleader at the bar, would perhaps be deemed illegal and punishable, but to hiss a dramatic writer is justifiable by custom.

9. What is here said of the writer, extends itself naturally to the purchaser of a copy, since the one seldom suffers without the other.

10. By these liberties it is obvious that authors and proprietors may often suffer, and sometimes unjustly: but as these liberties are encouraged and allowed for the same reason 5. Every single book, so sold by the proprie- with writing itself, for the discovery and propator, becomes the property of the buyer, who pur-gation of truth, though, like other human goods, chases with the book the right of making use of it as he shall think most convenient, either for his own improvement or amusement, or the be

nefit or entertainment of mankind.

6. This right the reader of a book may use many ways to the disadvantage both of the author and the proprietor, which yet they have not any right to complain of, because the author when he wrote, and the proprietor when he purchased, the copy, knew, or ought to have known, that the one wrote and the other purchased under the hazard of such treatment from the buyer and reader, and without any security fro.n the bad consequences of that treatment except the excellence of the book.

7. Reputation and property are of different kinds; one kind of each is more necessary to be secured by the law than another, and the law has provided more effectually for its defence. My character as a man, a subject, or a trader,

they have their alloys and ill-consequences, yet, as their advantages abundantly prepon derate, they have never yet been abolished or


11. Thus every book, when it falls into the hands of the reader, is liable to be examined, confuted, censured, translated, and abridged: any of which may destroy the credit of the author, or hinder the sale of the book.

12. That all these liberties are allowed, and cannot be prohibited without manifest disadvantage to the public, may be easily proved; but we shall confine ourselves to the liberty of making epitomes, which gives occasion to our prese. inquiry.

13. That an uninterrupted prescription confers a right, will be easily granted, especially if it appears that the prescription, pleaded in defen of that right, might at any time have been interrupted, had it not been always thought agreeable to reason and to justice.

* Dr. Trapp, it will be recollected, was a popular be found of all kinds of writings, afford sufficient 14. The numberless abridgments that are to preacher; and about the year 1739, when Methodism might be said to be in its infancy, preached Four Ser- evidence that they were always thought legal, mons "On the Nature, Folly, Sin and Danger, of being for they are printed with the names of the abrighteous over much" which were published by Austen breviators and publishers, and without the least and Gilliver, and had an extensive sale. Mr. Cave, ever ready to oblige his readers with temporary subjects, took appearance of a clandestine transaction. Many an extract from them, and promised a continuation, of the books so abridged were the properties of which never appeared; so that it was either stopped by a men who wanted neither wealth, nor interest, prosecution, or made up by other means. On all dithnor spirit to sue for justice, if they had thought calt occasions Johnson was Cave's oracle. And the paper now before us was certainly written on that occasion. themselves injured. Many of these abridgments Gent. Mag. July, 1787.

must have been made by men whom we can least

suspect of illegal practices, for there are few books | 22. To abridge a book, therefore, is no viola of late that are not abridged.

15. When Bishop Burnet heard that his "History of the Reformation" was about to be abridged, he did not think of appealing to the Court of Chancery; but, to avoid any misrepresentation of his History, epitomised it himself, as he tells us in his preface.

tion of the right of the proprietor, because to b subject to the hazard of an abridgment was an original condition of the property.

24. If abridgments be condemned as iniurious to the proprietor of the copy, where will this argument end? Must not confutations be likewise prohibited for the same reason? or, in writings of entertainment, will not criticisms at least be entirely suppressed, as equally hurtful to the proprietor, and certainly not more necessary to the public?

23. Thus we see the right of abridging au thors established both by reason and the customs of trade, But, perhaps, the necessity of this practice may appear more evident, from a con16. But, lest it should be imagined that an sideration of the consequences that must probaauthor might do this rather by choice than neces-bly follow from the prohibition of it. sity, we shall produce two more instances of the like practice, where it would certainly not have been borne if it had been suspected of illegality, The one, in Clarendon's History, which was abridged in 2 vols. 8vo. ; and the other in Bishop Burnet's "History of his own Time," abridged in the same manner. The first of these books was the property of the University of Oxford, a body tenacious enough of their rights; the other, of Bishop Burnet's heirs, whose circumstances were such as made them very sensible of any diminution of their inheritance. 17. It is observable, that both these abridgments last mentioned, with many others that might be produced, were made when the act of parliament for securing the property of copies was in force, and which, if that property was injured, afforded an easy redress: what then can be inferred from the silence and forbearance of the proprietors, but that they thought an epitome of a book no violation of the right of the proprietor. 18. That their opinion, so contrary to their own interest, was founded in reason, will appear from the nature and end of an abridgment.

25. Will not authors who write for pay, and who are rewarded commonly according to the bulk of their work, be tempted to fill their works with superfluities and digressions, when the dread of an abridgment is taken away, as doubtless more negligences would be committed, and more falsehoods published, if men were not restrained by the fear of censure and confutation?

26. How many useful works will the busy, the indolent, and the less wealthy part of mankind be deprived of? How few will read or purchase forty-four large volumes of the Trans actions of the Royal Society, which, in abridg, ment, are generally read, to the great improvement of philosophy ?

27. How must general systems of sciences be 19. The design of an abridgment is, to be- written, which are nothing more than epitomes nefit mankind by facilitating the attainment of of those authors who have written on particular knowledge, and by contracting arguments, rela-branches, and whose works are made less neces tions, or descriptions, into a narrow compass; to convey instruction in the easiest method, without fatiguing the attention, burdening the memory, or impairing the health of the student.

sary by such collections? Can he that destroys the profit of many copies, be less criminal than he that lessens the sale of one?

28. Even to confute an erroneous book will 20. By this method the original author be- become more difficult, since it has always been comes, perhaps, of less value, and the proprietor's a custom to abridge the author whose assertions profits are diminished; but these inconve- are examined, and sometimes to transcribe all niences give way to the advantage received by the essential parts of his book. Must an inmankind from the easier propagation of know-quirer after truth be debarred from the benefit ledge; for as an incorrect book is lawfully criti-of such confutations, unless he purchases the cised, and false assertions justly confuted, book, however useless, that gave occasion to the because it is more the interest of mankind that answer? error should be detected and truth discovered, than that the proprietors of a particular book should enjoy their profits undiminished; so a tedious volume may no less lawfully be abridged, because it is better that the proprietors should suffer some damage, than that the acquisition of 30. This will need no proof, since it will apknowledge should be obstructed with unneces- pear, upon comparing the two books, that we sary difficulties, and the valuable hours of thou-have reduced thirty-seven pages to thirteen of sands thrown away. the same print.

21. Therefore, as he that buys the copy of a book, buys it under this condition, that it is liable to be confuted if it is false, however his property may be affected by such a confutation; so he buys it likewise liable to be abridged if it be tedious, however his property may suffer by the abridgment. I

29. Having thus endeavoured to prove the legality of abridgments from custom, and the necessity of continuing that custom from reason, it remains only, that we show that we have not printed the complainant's copy, but abridged it.

31. Our design is, to give our readers a short view of the present controversy; and we require that one of these two positions be proved, either that we have no right to exhibit such a view, or that we can exhibit it without epitomising the writers of each party.




AMONG the principal topics of conversation which now furnish the places of assembly with amusement, may be justly numbered the Fireworks, which are advancing, by such slow degrees, and with such costly preparation.

have set Europe in a flame, and, after having gazed a while at their fireworks, have laid themselves down where they rose, to inquire for what they had been contending.

It is remarked likewise, that this blaze, so transitory and so useless, will be to be paid for, when it shines no longer: and many cannot forbear observing, how many lasting advantages might be purchased, how many acres might be drained, how many ways repaired, how many debtors might be released, how many widows and orphans, whom the war has ruined, might be relieved, by the expense which is about to evaporate in smoke, and to be scattered in rockets: and there are some who think not only reason, but humanity, offended, by such a trifling profusion, when so many sailors are starving, and so many churches sinking into ruins.

The first reflection that naturally arises is upon the inequality of the effect to the cause. Here are vast sums expended, many hands, and some heads employed, from day to day, and from month to month, and the whole nation is filled with expectations, by delineations and narratives. And in what is all this to end? in a building that is to attract the admiration of ages? in a bridge, which may facilitate the commerce of future generations? in a work of any kind which may stand as the model of beauty, or the pattern of virtue? To show the blessings of the late change of our state* by any monument of these kinds, were a project worthy not only of wealth, and power, and greatness, but of learning, wisdom, and virtue. But nothing of this kind is designed; nothing more is projected, than a crowd, a shout, and a blaze: the mighty work of artifice and contrivance is to be set on fire for no other purpose that I can see, than to show how idle pyrotechnical virtuosos have been busy. Four hours the sun will shine, and then fall from his orb, and lose his memory and his lustre together; the spectators will disperse as their inclinations lead them, and wonder by what strange infatuation they had been drawn together. In this will consist the only propriety The fireworks are, I suppose, prepared, and of this transient show, that it will resemble the therefore it is too late to obviate the project: but war of which it celebrates the period. The I hope the generosity of the great is not so far powers of this part of the world, after long pre-extinguished, as that they can for their diversion parations, deep intrigues, and subtile schemes, drain a nation already exhausted, and make us

*The peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, 1748.

It is no improper inquiry by whom this expense is at last to be borne: for certainly nothing can be more unreasonable than to tax the nation for a blaze, which will be extinguished before many of them know it has been lighted; nor will it be consistent with the common practice, which directs that local advantages shall be procured at the expense of the district that enjoys them. I never found in any records, that any town petitioned the parliament for a maypole, a bull-ring, or a skittle-ground; and, therefore, I should think, fireworks, as they are less durable, and less useful, have at least as little claim to the public purse.

pay for pictures in the fire, which none will have the poor pleasure of beholding but themselves.

[blocks in formation]
« السابقةمتابعة »