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have been prevented from taking the first step, by the utter coldness and indifference of the publishers. Who ever heard of an American publisher's reading a manuscript ?
One of the most unpleasant effects of the absence of a copy-right law is, inundating the country with wretched editions of very poor books. The most popular works, of course, are novels. When therefore an English writer, Bulwer or Marryatt for instance, publishes a novel, the person who intends to reprint the work in this country, must do it in a prodigious hurry, lest some other publisher anticipate him. Of course, the edition must be very bad, and sold very cheap. Where they are republished more at leisure, and in a handsomer form, they are sold higher. The cheap literature, therefore, which is the boasted result of the absence of a copyright law, is generally of the most ephemeral and worthless form, consisting chiefly of novels. This class of works, after the lapse of five or six years from the time of publication, becomes utterly valueless; the reprinted volumes are so hideous, as to be excluded from every decent library ; and the whole money spent by the public in purchasing the edition is entirely wasted. And yet this class of books is incomparably more numerous with us than any other.
Another bad consequence of the existing state of things is, that the choice of books, which shall be offered us, is in the wrong hands. Our publishers have, to no small extent, the direction of our reading, inasmuch as they make the selection of books for reprinting. They, of course, will choose those works which will command the readiest and most extensive sale ; but it must be remembered, that in so doing, while they answer the demand of the most numerous class of readers, they neglect the wants of the more cultivated and intelligent class. Besides this, there are many admirable works, which might come into general use if they were presented to our reading public, but which are left unnoticed by the publishers, because their success is doubtful. Supposing Abbott's " Young Christian,” for instance, a book which has had a more extensive circulation than any work of the present times, had been first published in England, at the same moment that one of Marryatt's novels appeared, the American publishers would have given us immediately a horrid reprint of the novel; but we should have heard nothing of Abbott's book, till its success had been abundantly tried abroad ; nor
even then, if some ephemeral novel had started up, which promised to sell better.
Nor is it certain that the price of books would be seriously augmented by the passage of the copy-right law. It must be remembered, that a great number of writers would thus be called into the field at once ; English, as well as American writers ; for, if English authors could enjoy this benefit, they would soon begin to write expressly for America ; and the competition would become so great, as to regulate the prices of books to a proper standard. But, even supposing the price to be considerably raised, it would certainly be better to pay two dollars for a handsome volume, which is worth keeping, and worth reading again, than to pay only one dollar for a book, which in five years will be worth no more than the same amount of brown paper. And, finally, there is the consideration of a native literature, which will, we presume, be placed by all reasonable and intelligent persons, above that of cheap books.
Barry Cornwall, in his preface to Willis's poems, makes the following amiable remark. “ The great land of America must, of course, produce great poets and eminent men. With the deeds of their bold fathers before them; with their
1 boundless forests and savannahs, swarming with anecdotes of solitary adventure ; with Niagara thundering in their ears, and the spirit of freedom hovering above them, it is clear that they do not lack material for song.” If he had only visited us, he would have found out, that the boldness of our fathers was nothing to the impudence of our publishers ; our forests are less extensive than their brown paper editions ; the
song of some brothers of the trade, whom we could name, is Jouder than the roar of Niagara, nor would all the waters of Superior wash white their books.
We have barely touched upon some of the more important considerations connected with the copy-right law, rather with the hope of exciting the attention of others, than of discussing the subject in a satisfactory manner ourselves. We trust that the question will not be dropped ; and we call upon all, who feel interested in the fate of American literature, to come forward and exert themselves in the cause.
We have treated of many topics in the course of our article, but our thoughts still return to the book which we mentioned first, the “Prisons ” of Pellico. We have
spoken of it only in relation to the merits of the English version; and we cannot conclude, without expressing our sense of the high moral power displayed in the work. view the author as one, who has come out victorious over himself, in the tremendous contest to which he was subjected ; and we trust we shall be pardoned, if we take this occasion to give utterance to our respect and admiration, and twine our humble ivy-wreath of praise with the unfading laurels that encircle his brow. We can never forget the emotions, with which we first read his touching narrative. As we closed the book, and endeavoured to recall our scattered thoughts from the wide field they had traversed, indignation and resentment were the predominant feelings. We thought of the weary days and nights, which the unhappy victim had endured in the vaults of Spielberg. We noticed the account of the first night in the prison at Milan, occupying a larger space in the narrative, than whole years of captivity after weariness and torture had become as daily habits ; and then we turned
; to trace our own history through the same years, that we might realize the actual length of his imprisonment, comparing the happy days, the varied scenes, the change from youth to manhood, which we had passed through, with the dreary monotony of the captive's wasted life during the same period. We almost shuddered at the frightful mockery of setting the prisoners at liberty, as if fearless of the vengeance of the crushed victims. We felt that the Austrian government had done a deep wrong, not merely to the sufferers, or to their country, but to human nature itself ; and we almost exulted in the belief, that although the authors of their miseries are perhaps beyond the reach of human vengeance, there is still awaiting them the fearful reckoning, when monarchs' diadems shall crumble into dust, and the purple robe shall no longer cover their crinies.
But he who reads the book with no other feelings than these, does deep injustice to the pure spirit of the author. Every page is radiant with the light of Christianity. We trace through the whole that ripening of character, that purifying of the heart, and that expansion of faith, which show that the teachings of God were received aright. We see human weakness sustained, consoled, rendered triumphant over suffering, by Almighty power. A light from heaven penetrates the gloom of the dungeon, and illumines the soul VOL. XLIV. - NO. 94.
of the captive ; and we feel, when we close the volume, that our hearts are elevated, and our faith strengthened, by the sublime picture we have contemplated.
ART. VIII. - Orations and Speeches on various Occasions,
by EDWARD EVERETT. Boston. American Stationers' Company. 1836. 8vo. pp. 637.
(It is a dangerous thing to print a single oration ; much more so, a volume of them. The declamatory fervor, which is essential to the success of a spoken discourse, offends the taste of the fastidious reader in his closet, coldly unravelling the flowery web, whose vivid hues will not bear too close an examination. Words, too, may be printed ; but who can print the electric language of the human eye, the expressive tones of the human voice? Who can convey to the reader not only the sentences and paragraphs of a discourse, but the glance and the gesture, which enforced them? Who can put upon paper, the skilful inflections and appropriate movements, which gave dignity to a commonplace observation, and effect to a tawdry Aourish? which broke the fall of a flat sentence, and made old truths sound almost as good as new ? Of the many discourses and orations, which, in our speechmaking country, every season sends fluttering forth from the press, on their blue, yellow, and olive wings, how few are read, and of those few, which are read, how few are remembered. A presentation copy is, in most cases, a serious thing to a conscientious man; for this involves the necessity of reading, and, if possible, of praising, which sometimes awakens a painful struggle between a sense of duty and a sense of polite
We have known individuals, who avoided a difficulty of this kind, by writing their letter of acknowledgment beforehand, in which they expressed an intention of reading and an expectation of being gratified.
The foregoing observations are suggested by that fruitful mother of associations, the principle of contrast; for the orations of Mr. Everett are splendid exceptions to a general rule. The book before us is one of those, which are the admiration
of readers and the despair of critics. We believe it was Voltaire who said of some favorite work, that he could praise it in no other way, than by writing at the bottom of every page, “ Pulchrè, benė, optimè”; and such is the brief and comprehensive criticism, which this volume deserves. Our wonder, no less than our delight, is awakened by the prodigious fertility of mind which it displays, and the copious stores from which its contents have been drawn. Most of our scholars and men of letters publish, in the course of their lives, half a dozen discourses and orations, more or less, but within the covers of this volume, there are no less than twenty-seven lectures, speeches, and orations, all the work of eleven years; and the
ork too, not of one, who, in the golden light of leisure can devote the heart and strength of continuous and uninterrupted days to his task, but the superadded efforts of a crowded life, and performed in those chance hours which can be gleaned from duties and engagements, which would seem to be enough to demand and justify exclusive devotion to themselves. But there are nowhere any indications of weariness and exhaustion ; much less, of self-repetition. The writer addresses himself to the latest, no less than the earliest efforts, with unbroken vigor and undiminished vivacity. Sated, as he must have become, with his employment, nothing seems to have been extorted from a worn-out brain, by the iron scourge of a despotic will; but every thing has, apparently, been thrown off with the easy alacrity of one, who has just awaked to the consciousness of intellectual wealth. The fountain is never turbid, but its last flowings are as fresh and clear, as its “first sprightly runnings.” We can hardly help regretting that so much intellectual power bas been, - we will not say wasted, - but bestowed upon these occasional efforts, when Mr. Everett might have done so much more for his own fame, by devoting his energies to a single and continuous work. But when we recollect the crowded audiences that have listened with delight to these discourses, when flowing from the orator's lips, and embellished by his beautiful elocution, and who will renew the same glow of pleasure in reading them, we are half inclined to take back our remark.
The great charm of Mr. Everett's orations consists, not so much in any single and strongly developed intellectual trait, as in that symmetry and finish, which, on every page, give token of the richly-endowed and thorough scholar. The natural