Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “ Pay of American Authors [Part I]” (A), Evening Mirror (New York), January 24, 1845, p. 2, col. 1


[page 2, column 1, continued:]


“We confess that we have never been able to see distinctly how the want of the International Law operation against our own writers.” — Ex. Paper.

How we rob foreign authors, and how we argue in our legislative halls that it is an economical thing for us to pick the foreign pocket, are points too well understood to need discussion — but there are still found individuals who ask, innocently enough, in what manner the want of the International Law affects the pecuniary interest of the native American. The man who asks the question should first write a book or a magazine article, and then offer it to a publisher for sale.

The publisher’s answer to the offer will be at the same time the practical reply to the general query.

He will say — “My dear sir, you are a man of genius; and I am willing to admit, even, if you think proper, that you are a man of higher genius than — than — any one you have fancy to name. But, if I pay one dollar for your book, I am impliedly acknowledging that you are not only a man of greater genius than — shall we say Dickens? — but that you, who have never published a line, are more popular than he. For, observe! I can get Dickens’s works without the dollar. It is little better than piracy, I know; but custom sanctions it, and, therefore, I do not feel called upon to blush very particularly when I commit it. At all events, I prefer to blush a little, and save my dollar. I must, therefore, decline having anything to do with your book, for the present; but let me recommend you to Mr. A., or the house of H. — they may, possibly, be able to serve you.”

The most momentous evil, however — an evil not the less momentous, because hitherto inconsidered — arising from the want of an International Copy-right Law, is the bitter sense of wrong aroused in the hearts of all literary men — is the keen contempt, and profound disgust which the whole Moral Force — which the whole Active Mind of the world cannot help entertaining, even if it would, against the sole region which refuses to protect it, or respect it — against the sole form of government, which not only robs it upon the highway, but justifies the robbery as a convenient and commendable thing, and glories in t [[it]] when cleverly done.






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