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holding the credit of the country, and they were in the habit of granting very considerable discounts upon accepted bills payable in London. Only those who have previously, on application, been allowed to open a discount at the bank, can receive the accommodation, and now they must be merchants or wholesale dealers : at the time I speak of, retail tradesmen were permitted to have discounts, when the large sums of money which were weekly drawn out by comparatively a few individuals, were again used for discounting bills, and spread among the many. The cashing bills was no longer a trade confined to bankers, or within a circle of merchants round the Ex. change; it spread over the entire metropolis, everybody carried a bundle of bills about their person, which, even without money, they would exhibit as valuable property. Those who were without bona fide bills would make fictitious ones to put in their pocket-book, without any intention of using them, but merely to exbibit as so many instruments by which their hands were tied for want of money, &c. &c. The largest issues made by the bank upon bills was, perhaps, during the first seven or eight years of the present century: at this period, the bankers emulated each other, and contended for the fame of liberality in discounting. Many bankers opened their houses entirely on the principle of advancing money upon bills, hanging out, as it used to be said, the flag of discount at their door. The governor and company of the Bank of England obtained their five per cent. interest for discount, and, at the same time, issued their own promises to pay; the government deriving an immense revenue for the stamps on which the bills were drawn. While this state of things lasted in the commercial world, more than one half of the tradesmen in the metropolis might, and probably were, not worth half a crown in the pound upon the amount of their debts, and yet carried on an extensive business, giving credit, and supporting all the appearances of being possessed of wealth; and this, in fact, was the real financial condition in which at least one-third of the London tradesmen stood. Persons of adventure, and desperate men, being without capital, dashed recklessly into the bill system, and raised fictitious funds for speculating in trade, regardless of consequences; a practice which very soon pervaded the whole country, and gave a wrong bias to all the affairs of life. To trace all the ills which have befallen society from the once indiscriminate manner in which the Bank of England issued their notes in exchange for bills, and the turn of thinking which society took, arising from the new circumstances of the times, occasioned by the false impetus given to trade, would be to write a history of all the insolvencies, bankruptcies, forgeries, and hangings which have occurred within the last thirty-five years - also a history of most of the vices extant in the year 1834.
No man possessed of any moral sense, or knowledge, or who comprehends what are the true interests of society, will defend crime, or in any way advocate the cause of criminality, but it should nevertheless be borne in mind, that all criminals and their cases are good subjects for study, and so are the causes which lead to crime, or error of any kind.
At the present time, no greater boon could be thrown to society than a good history of crime, emanating from an able pen, philosophically and metaphysically treated. Such a history should embrace the several species of crime which prevailed at different periods of time, the class of society in which the offenders moved, before they lapsed into crime, the various modes of committing offences, likewise the punishments awarded by the law, and those actually carried into effect; that is to say, what punishments were fashionable in each particular age. This is the more necessary, as it does not appear that the penal laws in this country were ever regularly or steadily executed. In every age the legislative body have encouraged the executive to modify their own laws. It seems as if they were always aware, that the penal laws have been constructed upon the principle on which the fisherman makes his net, saying to himself, “I will have it large enough to take in all, and the meshes small enough to contain all, so that when the draught is made, I will use my own discretion as to which I shall spare, and which I shall keep." We want a history of crime which should also contain an account of the various modes of trial, especially the law of evidence, and the interest the people took in the fate of the culprits. In the present day, the world understand the effect of hanging a man by the neck to be the dissolution of the corporeal existence, and the cause which led to the hanging, the commission of crime, and there the inquiry ends, after having once been inserted in the newspapers. The causes which lead to the commission of offences is rarely sought for, or any useful inference drawn therefrom.
« Oh! perilous mouths,
( To be continued.)
ON BEING ASKED TO REMEMBER.
YES, I'll remember thee, my love,
As through the world I joyless stray; .
And long for thee when far away.
And stars illume the azure sky,
For thee to breathe the tender sigh.
In fervent prayer the suppliant knee,
Oh! dearest, I'll remember thee.
ON THE JUSTICE AND EXPEDIENCY OF ESTABLISH
ING AN INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT LAW.
The scale that marks most accurately the progress of civilisation, is that degree of protection that in any particular country or empire is afforded to property. Even in those communities where refinement has advanced but tardily, the husbandman is permitted to reap what he sows, the artificer to sell what he has produced, protected by his neighbours, as well as by the laws, and, excepting in the case of a national war, of all things fearing the least plunder at the hands of aliens and of foreigners.
This is true in all communities, of all descriptions of property, save one, and that one the most imperishable, and the most valuable, to every one but the producer. The fabrics of cotton, or of leather, or of iron, have but a limited duration, a very circumscribed utility; the same articles must be continually manufactured by the same workman, and, for every separate manufacture that he produces, whether the purchaser be his own countryman or a foreigner, he gets his remunerating price, or ceases to produce at all. But the man who writes a book, a work that perhaps shall teach a thousand of manufacturers how to improve, and multiply, and perfect those necessaries and luxuries that refine and elevate the human race, this general benefactor sees the invaluable, the almost eternal property that he has created, at the mercy of the unprincipled and rapacious of every petty foreign state, who can produce sufficient capital to set up a printing press, and thus rob with impunity a man of genius, defraud his children, and nullify the vested rights of his consignee, the bookseller.
Now, had the writer of this work, by which millions are to profit, but sent out a paltry bale of cotton to this hypothetical state, he would have found for the consignment all the respect due to property, and all the protection of national and international law. But there is still a greater aggravation of the injury upon the poor author, for he had no intention of sending his property to this state at all; but the purloiners-our indignation will not permit us a gentler termthe purloiners of it actually come, or send over and filch it away from him, and he has not only hitherto had no redress, but we are sorry to add, no compassion shown him, and, as yet, but little attention.
We have thus far treated the subject only on the broad basis of common justice, upon that universal and unchangeable principle, that the absolute security of the property of the individual is the most stable foundation, not for the prosperity only, but, positively, for the existence of communities. Even in the most barbarous age, international laws have existed, and had they not, the spirit of chivalry and the sense of honour would have supplied the want.
Let us now go a little more into detail, and see, firstly, who are August 1836.-VOL. XVI.—NO. LXIV.
most injured, and who are most benefited by the existing international practice of literary piracy.
In this consideration there are three parties involved, the rightful owners of the property, the nefarious seizer of it, and the public at large—and a large public it is, for it includes under that denomination every one on the face of the earth, who can profit by or read a book. Of these three parties, the first is wronged and robbed; the second, a sordid few, and of consequence only in the extent of the mischief that they produce, are but little benefited; whilst the greatest sufferers by this state of things is the public, and we might say without exaggeration, the whole human race.
Firstly, as to the body of authors—from time immemorial a needy and ill-paid, and consequently a querulous generation; to whose tombs the great of grateful nations come to pay homage, and to laud to the skies those dead, whom living they would have jostled off the pavement if they had presumed to come in contact with their “nobilities," or stared out of countenance if they had presumed to have tendered them the hand of fellowship. We know that there have been some exceptions, but those geniuses who have not been thrust aside with neglect, have had, for the most part, their independence crushed, whilst their reputations have been raised by the degrading pomp of individual patronage to some minds, a state of existence more disgustful than that of penury and rags. Genius lubricating his tongue with sycophancy, and acting the parasite to one, in order that he may gain the means of being the instructor of many, is a picture more revolting than the sordidness of the garret, or the futter of honest though dirt-encumbered rags could produce. That this is anything but declamation, let the fulsome dedications of this and of the two last centuries testify, to say nothing of the wriggling obsequiousness of men of talent of the present day, to crawl into the saloons of the rich man, to feed on the crumbs that fall from his table, to be smiled on by a lord, or to be seen arm-in-arm with one who may, by his position, be thought to be the dispenser of public patronage.
But who, with one drop of unsoured milk of human kindness in his bosom, shall blame either the flatterers or the flattered? The former are too often not respectable, and it would be too much to ask the latter for respect for them. The author, whatever may be his capabilities of creating, has no means of protecting his property; consequently, when produced, it is of little worth; for his agent, the publisher, cannot afford to give for it a remunerating price. The bookseller says, and says truly, “My dear sir, I know the value of this work, but, for want of an international law of copyright, I cannot afford to give you, by any means, a price adequate to its merits. I am placed, and that very awkwardly too, on the horns of a dilemma; if the work succeed in London, it will be immediately reprinted in Paris, and sold at one-third of the English price these copies will inundate the English markets, and drive ours completely out of it; and if it do not succeed here, where then, my good friend, am I? No, two or three hundred pounds are the most that I, as a prudent tradesman, can afford to risk on this speculation."
“ Two hundred pounds !" replies the astonished author. “My dear Mr. - , it has occupied my mind and my time for nearly a year. I will say nothing of the books that I have been forced to borrow, and even to buy; and you allow that the work has great merit."
“I will allow everything but the possibility of my buying an unprotected property.”
“I think," soliloquizes the mortified author, as he leaves that temple in which Fortune ought to preside equally with Fame_“I think, that if my honoured father, instead of spending such vast sums of money on my education, had first brought me up in the hosiery line, and then bought a good business for me with the cash, I should have been much nearer than I am now of acquiring the golden fleece.”
That the publisher is perfectly correct in the view of the case that he took in this-we wish that we could say imaginary dialogue-we will exemplify in a fact, to the accuracy of which we pledge ourselves. The "Rienzi" of that most successful and accomplished author, Mr. Edward Lytton Bulwer, and for the copyright of which a very large sum was very justly paid by the English publishers, whom to indemnify, every copy of which should cost the purchaser a guinea and a half, is now actually selling in New York, in a single volume, for the paltry sum of two shillings. We trust that very effective means will be employed to prevent this spurious, and dreadfully incorrect edition from spreading in this country.
As the case now stands, it seems quite apparent, that publishers should buy only such works that are just sufficiently good to circulate in the home market, without exciting the attention of foreigners, and thus feed the public to satiety with the dulness of mediocrity, than which no greater impediment to the progress of the human mind can well be imagined.
It is this that deteriorates the general character of authors, crushes young genius ere it has the power to display the first buds of its incipient greatness, and perpetuates on the nation, and on the world, the decent reign of a well-sustained juste milieu, in all that concerns the highest order of literature.
Let us look round upon those who lately did, and at present do occupy most prominently the first rank of authors. Is there one among them who depends solely on his pen for subsistence-one whom his pen would respectably subsist ? Saving the mere journalists, the hacks, clever men indeed they are, but who avowedly write to meet the demand of the day, we think not one. We do not like to mention names. But we think we are perfectly safe in saying that all who have become popular, did not write their first works when their subsistence depended upon literary success, and that all who did so write lived wretchedly, and died miserably. The expediency of possessing an independence before authorship can be begun,—of how many brilliant works has it deprived the world, how many fine spirits has it broken prematurely, how many unforgotten graves has it caused to be too early tenanted!
It is this insecurity of literary property that has made authors too generally what they are. On the one hand, if patronized, sycophants, pensioners, and apostates; on the other, if neglected, mental gla