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to be called "The Star of Seville." If such an undertaking has been projected, it is doubtless founded on Lope de Vega's Estrella de Sevilla-a beautiful work, replete with all the best and most attractive characteristics of the Spanish stage, wherein the extremes of loyalty, love and honour, are depicted with a variety of incident and passion, and yet with a degree of truth and eloquence, which Shakspeare alone could surpass. The characters of Bustos Tabera, Ortiz, and Estrella, and the relations which they bear to each other, as developed in the course of the play, furnish materials for a drama of great force and beauty. Such a production, (if it followed the original,) matured under the active mind and ardent imagination of a highly gifted woman, with all the advantages of protracted stage experience, would form a fine specimen of a school in direct contrast to that in which Mr. Talfourd has practised. The preparatory studies, the course of life, and the maxims of composition of the respective authors, as well as the diverse models they may be supposed to consult, would result in qualities of excellence very widely distinguished. We doubt not that the romantic play (we use the term for want of a better, in reference to Mad. de Stael's somewhat fanciful division) would find a more permanent place on the stage than its classic (classical in spirit at least) rival, precisely as the unpractised eye prefers Gothic to Grecian architecture, because it appreciates detail better than proportion. There is, moreover, an affinity between the early Spanish and English theatres, of which the writers of comedy have largely availed themselves, but which has been neglected by tragic authors. If the play we speak of works that vein to advantage, it will do much for its popularity. It will address sympathies and feelings which a subject from the antique, treated almost with the simplicity of the antique, can never touch. The principles of the latter, and the mode of their development, are too refined and abstract.
We had prepared an analysis of Lope's play, with a view to the illustration, to some extent, of the contrast to which we have alluded, but we suppress it, feeling that, if we are right in our conjecture that the Estrella is the basis of the projected tragedy, it would hardly be courteous to the fair authoress to anticipate her in any use which she may make of its plot. At all events we anticipate the appearance of the play with much pleasure; for we entertain a fervent conviction that she has but to exert her fine talents with vigour and earnestness, in order to sustain as a writer the art she has so much adorned in another capacity.
ART. X.-Report of the Select Committee of the Senate of the United States; to whom were referred the address of certain British, and the petition of certain American Authors: Mr. Clay, chairman.-Read in the senate, February 16, 1837.
A revision of the law of copyright is demanded alike by public opinion, the sound interests of learning, and a due regard to the rights of property. The United States and Great Britain present the singular spectacle of two enlightened nations, speaking the same language and cherishing the same great names in a common literature. The works of British writers form a part-how large and how valuable !—of the rich treasures to which the American student and man of letters resort, as to their own domestic store; and which they regard as the never fading ornaments of their mother tongue. To us, the strains of the English poet sound as sweetly and as familiarly as to the inhabitants of his native isle; and the voice of the English orator reaches the ears of auditors on the shores of a new world, who recognize no foreign idiom in the spiritstirring accents.
This community or rather identity of literary treasures has been overlooked in the formation of regulations for the government of literary property in our country, and British authors have been, we think, most improperly placed upon the same footing with those who speak a language unintelligible to the great mass of our population. The effects of the present law of copyright have been eminently injurious to the interests of those very authors whose works we are so exceedingly eager, and justly, too, to claim as honourable to our own tongue; and this result, we are persuaded, was not at all contemplated by congress, when the laws were passed professing to secure to authors the fruits of the labours of their heads.
This subject has for some time past engaged public attention, but has lately assumed a more imposing appearance, by the presentation to congress of an address, couched in respectful but decided language, and signed by most of the distinguished living writers of Great Britain. The appeal of such a body, who have contributed so largely to our instruction and amusement, should certainly not pass unheeded; and as the document is somewhat of a literary curiosity, and worthy of permanent preservation, we give it entire.
Address of certain Authors of Great Britain to the Senate of the United States, in congress assembled, respectfully showing:
"That authors of Great Britain have long been exposed to injury, in their reputation and property, from the want of a law
by which the exclusive right to their respective writings may be secured to them in the United States of America.
"That, for want of such law, deep and extensive injuries. have of late been inflicted on their reputation and property, and on the interests of literature and science, which ought to constitute a bond of union and friendship between the United States and Great Britain.
"That from the circumstance of the English language being common to both nations, the works of British authors are extensively read throughout the United States of America, while the profits arising from the sale of their works may be wholly appropriated by American booksellers, not only without the consent of the authors, but even contrary to their express desire a grievance under which they have, at present, no redress.
"That the works thus appropriated by American booksellers are liable to be mutilated and altered at the pleasure of the said booksellers, or any other persons who may have an interest in reducing the price of the works, or in conciliating the supposed principles or prejudices of purchasers, in the respective sections of your Union; and that the names of the authors being retained, they may be made responsible for works which they no longer recognize as their own.
"That such mutilation and alteration, with the retention of the authors' names, have been of late actually perpetrated by citizens of the United States, under which grievance such authors have, at present, no redress.
"That certain authors of Great Britain have recently made an effort in defence of their literary reputation and property, by declaring a respectable firm of publishers in New York to be the sole authorized possessors and issuers of the said works, and by publishing in certain American newspapers their authority to this effect.
"That the object of the said authors has been defeated by the act of certain persons, citizens of the United States, who have unjustly published, for their own advantage, the works sought to be thus protected; under which grievance the said authors have, at present, no redress.
"That American authors are injured by the non-existence of the desired law: while American publishers can provide themselves with works for publication, by unjust appropriation instead of by equitable purchase, they are under no inducement to afford to American authors a fair remuneration for their labours; under which grievance, American authors have no redress, but in sending over their works to England to be published an expedient which has become an established practice with some of whom their country has reason to be proud.
"That the American public is injured by the non-existence of the desired law. The American public suffers not only from the discouragement afforded to native authors, as above stated, but from the uncertainty now existing as to whether the books presented to them as the works of British authors, are the actual and complete productions of the writers whose names they bear.
"That, in proof of the evil complained of, the case of Walter Scott might be referred to, as stated by an esteemed citizen of the United States; that while the works of this author, dear alike to your country and to ours, were read from Maine to Georgia, from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, he received no remuneration from the American public for his labours; that equitable remuneration might have saved his life, and would, at least, have relieved its closing years from the burden of debts and destructive toils.
"That deeply impressed with the conviction that the only firm ground of friendship between nations is a strict regard to simple justice, the undersigned earnestly request the Senate of the United States, in Congress assembled, speedily to use, in behalf of the authors of Great Britain, their power of securing to the authors the exclusive right to their respective writings.
Henry F. Chorley,
Emeline C. E. Stuart Wortley,
The Rev. G. Skinner, Cam-
No right of property is now more universally admitted as reasonable and just, than that of literary property. There is no other species which is so peculiarly a man's own, by creation, as this. The visible and tangible things of earth, already in existence, he merely appropriates to his use; though when so appropriated rightfully, they are very properly secured to him against the encroachments of others. But the ideas, most aptly termed children, of his brain are additions to the stock of thought-new existences; which their master and originator has a right, by the laws of nature, to consider and claim as his own, in every way in which dominion can be exercised over them. They are not, necessarily, merely because promulgated, therefore given to the public and made common property, unless the originator so chooses to dedicate them. He may do as he pleases with his own; but, against his consent, they should not be appropriated by another to his use. Such conduct is a robbery of thought-a pilfering of the wealth of mind, idea-stealing-a piracy of property which has as clear and definite a value in money, as any other kind of property; infinitely more valuable than much which is protected under the extremest penalties.
There was a time when positions of the above character were laughed at, or could not be understood. Happily, now, the seemingly poor author, who vindicates the rights of nature in his own person, addresses those who recognize his claim; he may be a man of great possessions, though paternal wealth never descended to him, and nature have denied him the physical strength to lay up treasures by active exertions. His dominion and his energies are exerted over the spiritual part of creation, and the justice of modern times allows both the reality and the legality of the sovereignty.
We do not propose, however, to discuss, at present, the general question of the extent of the title of an author to his works, without regard to the language in which they are written. Our space forbids this; and we touch, therefore, merely upon the question as connected with British authors. All who speak, and use in composition, the same language, should be considered, with reference to the law of copyright, as one nation. In this matter, we are one with the British people. The distance of three thousand miles is nothing but the delay of a few weeks in the time of publication.
The leading argument, then, in favour of securing to British VOL. XXI. NO. 41.