Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “ Pay of Authors in America [Part II]” (B), Evening Mirror (New York), January 25, 1845, p. 2, col. 3


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[page 2, column 3:]

PAY OF AUTHORS IN AMERICA. — We said a few words yesterday on the general effect of our copy-right laws, or rather of our want of an international law, in depressing our literature by rendering compensations for it an impossible thing. We repeat that we said only a few words — a very few; but the true difficulty in treating a subject such as this is to say little enough. It should never be overloaded, and so mystified with words. No author — no litterateur who has a due sense of his own dignity, or of the dignity of the cause, will condescend to discuss it on any other ground than that of the broad and obvious Right. What, so far as concerns him (and common sense,) has Expediency to do with the question whether he shall or shall not be insulted and plundered? All that remains for him is resent the insult and take amends, at his first opportunity, for the plunder. Why, indeed, should he suppose that argument is at all pertinent in reply to sophistry so unadulterated — to Euphuism so pure? Expediency! — that it is expedient to do wrong is not merely a contradiction in terms but in fact. What nation has ever yet found it politic to inflict, for the sake of a seeming advantage, however general, avowed and continuous injury to even the humblest of her individuals? The moral evil of the natural law violated, will and must infinitely outweigh, in the end, any direct advantages that may, suppositiously or really, be obtained. But what if the individual thus openly injured by not humble? Should our legislators say to any body of our artizans — “It is expedient that you perish, one and all; for we fancy that in your death there will be a richer life to the nation as a whole” — let this be said plainly in our national halls, and the cheeks of the nation would forthwith tingle with shame — shame not because of the wrong, but of the power of that body of artizans to whom was intended the wrong. And of how much less influence are our literary men? One thing is certain — the institutions are not safe which persist in insulting them.

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - NYEM, 1845] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Essays - Pay of American Authors [Part II] (A)