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PAY OF AUTHORS
IN AMERICA. — We said a few words
on the general effect of our copy-right laws, or rather of our want of
an international law, in depressing our literature by rendering
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
this is to say little enough. It should never be overloaded, and so
with words. No author — no litterateur who has a due sense of
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
the question whether he shall or shall not be insulted and plundered?
that remains for him is resent the insult and take amends, at
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
however general, avowed and continuous injury to even the humblest of
individuals? The moral evil of the natural law violated, will and must
infinitely outweigh, in the end, any direct advantages that may,
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
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
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.
of how much less influence are our literary men? One thing is certain —
the institutions are
not safe which persist in insulting them.