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In the short notice of Lagrange les préjugés ne sont que la défroque there are two witticisms reported hy des gens d'esprits qui habille la caM. Biot as having been uttered in naille.” The second is so uncomplihis presence, which, for flavour of mentary to the fair sex, that there is expression, and finesse of observa- some temerity in citing it; but wit tion, deserve a place in every collec- is no respecter of sex or person : tion of mots. M. Biot one day re- “La tête d'une femme est une éponge marked on the fact that an opinion, à préjugés.” after being alternately adopted and With this we close our notice of rejected, admitted and modified by three eminently agreeable and inphilosophers, often becomes at last structive volumes, convinced that we a popular prejudice. “Eh quoi!” re- must have sharpened the reader's plied Lagrange, “ cela vous étonne ? appetite for a more deliberate invesCependant il en arrive toujours ainsi; tigation of them.
THE INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT CONGRESS.
A LETTER FROM A MEMBER TO A LITERARY FRIEND.
We shall neither of us, my dear retical objects. The fact is, that the E., very easily forget a certain Sep- English literary circles, including tember evening, somewhere about both authors and publishers, are the 21st, when I'in vain endeavoured weary of the struggle they have to persuade you to accompany me long been engaged in for the recogs to the Polyglot Congress of authors nition of the very principles which and artists then about to assemble the Congress has asserted. To supat Brussels. Circumstances occurred pose that they are indifferent to upon that occasion to which I will the establishment of international not now further allude than to say, rights, would betray gross ignorance that they left a deep impression on of the real state of the case. Engmy memory; but that, notwithstand- lish authors and publishers are ining your reference to them as a suf- finitely more interested in the quesficient ground for resisting my im- tion than the authors and publishers portunities, I suspect there was an- of any other country. The piracies other reason which still more strong committed upon them cover a much ly influenced your decision. Shall I more extensive surface than the piratell you what it was? Well, then, cies committed upon the French; my conviction is, that you had for not only do the railroads of no faith in the results. You did Europe swarm with the Leipsic not think-and I suppose you do reprints of English works, out of not even now think--that anything which the “enterprising” éditeur is practical can come of the debates amassing a rapid and enormous forand resolutions of this voluntary tune, but almost every English book Congress, and you resolved, like that appears - certainly every one nearly the whole literary body of that is worth the risk of bad paper England, to withhold your support and worse print- is caught up by till a definite scheme, sanctioned by the race of American Harpers (an competent authority, should be sub- obvious corruption of harpies), and mitted to your consideration. circulated for a few cents through
I differ wholly from you as to the out the length and breadth of the wisdom or expediency of this deter- United States. It is clearly, theremination ; but I am not surprised it fore, not indifference that has preshould have been adopted by a man vented you and others from taking of your temperament, habitually re- an active part in the proceedings at served, never sanguine, and gene- Brussels. The true solution of your rally inclined to look with distrust absence is to be found in the failure upon all movements directed to theo- of the efforts which have been
hitherto made in England for the right train can be approached only attainment of similar ends. You by a circuitous expedition over an are of opinion that enough has been unknown district of rails and platdone to testify your zeal, and to forms. discourage your hopes, and that you We will now suppose the perils of may be fairly excused for waiting the journey over, and the members to see what can now be done by of the Congress collected in Brussels others. This is natural, under all from all points of the compass. The the circumstances ; but I venture to Belgian frontiers have been crossed anticipate that, seeing, what has on every side by land and water. been actually achieved by the Con- Literary and artistic pilgrims pour in gress, you will not remain a mere from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, spectator of the machinery it has and Portugal. Every civilised region put in motion.
is more or less represented. Russia, I hardly know where to begin the Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzeraccount I promised to give you of land, and Holland, send delegates to the proceedings of our many-sided express their sympathy and contrigathering; but to spare you the bute their exertions; and England, roadside incidents and other travel- slow to act, and chary of professions, ling details, with which you are al- inscribes upon the list of adhesions ready familiar, I will pass over the the names of a few of her most disjourney, and take you into Brussels tinguished men, including those of at once. There is only one remark Bulwer Lytton, Gladstone, and Mill. I am anxious to make by the way. The place of meeting where all these Should you ever, en route for Brus- people are to be brought together sels, enter Belgium by the frontier for a common object, and all these at Mouscron, keep a sharp look-out strange tongues are to be unloosed for your train. At Mouscron they in a common language—for the deexamine your passport and explore bates are to be held in French-is the your luggage. You pass through a great chamber in the Museum, where building where these formalities are the seances and reunions of the vaperformed, and pass out at the oppo- rious literary and scientific bodies of site side, where several trains are in the Belgian capital are beld. At waiting: You inquire for the Brus- eleven o'clock on the morning of the sels train, and are civilly shown into 27th September, the Congress is to a carriage. But put no trust in this be formally opened. As the hour civility, which, if you haven't your approaches, an unusual stir may be eyes about you, may cost you some observed in the spacious cul-de-sac inconvenience. There are two trains that conducts you from the Place for Brussels, starting at the same Royale to the Museum. Men come moment, or thereabouts, taking dif- dropping down in ones, and twos, ferent routes, and arriving at differ- and threes; gradually the numbers ent termini, at different times. Why and the bustle increase ; small knots these two trains are started together, form in earnest conversation ; others it is idle to conjecture ; but the in- hurry forward, full of eagerness and scrutable circumstance exposes you curiosity. Many solitary individuals, to this risk, that if you are not care who are evidently strangers, mix inful to re-enter the train by which quiringly with the crowd, to collect you arrived, you will be transmitted a little preliminary information, or, to Brussels by one conveyance, and engrossed by their own thoughts, your luggage by another, with the press onward towards the rendezfurther satisfaction of being obliged vous. Striking diversities of phyto wait till the next morning before siognomy may be noted-harsh lineayou can recover your property. I ments, and finely-chiselled outlines ; ought to apprise you also that the the olive complexion, and the clear chances are considerably in favour red and white; the dagger-beard, and of your taking, or being conducted the beard of billowy flow; the naked to, the wrong train, as, in strict chin, and the dainty tuft ; the pale accordance with the rule of contra- hair, and the raven-black, which ries, it is close at hand, while the often more emphatically mark the
races to which they belong than even expectation runs through the assemthe form or expression of the features. bly. Presently a door opens, and There are some varieties of costume several gentlemen, freighted with also to be taken into the picture—an bundles of papers, which indicate the odd tunic here and there ; a cloak, labours in which they have been ennot of the last Parisian fashion; and gaged, appear, and quickly ascend a rather fanciful collection of worked the dais. * One amongst them, distinand coloured waistcoats and neck- guished from the rest by his height, ties. But the varieties were by no advances to the President's chair. means so remarkable as might have Tall, dignified, and courteous, with a been expected. Railroads have helped character of physiognomy in which materially to produce a dead level in great kindness, patience, and firmdress, as in some more important ness are blended, M. Charles Faider, things. The unsightly round hat was formerly Minister of Justice, is aduniversal ; and looking at the assem- mirably adapted by his legal'habits, bly as a whole, there was nothing to and his experience of public assemdistinguish it in externals from a blies, no less than by his calm tempublic meeting of the best class of perament, to rule the stormy multipeople in London. You soon per- tude, for stormy even already they ceived, as you had closer opportu- threaten to be, over which his eye nities of examination, that it was not ranges as he takes the chair. After an ordinary gathering. It was per- reading an elaborate address, he anvaded by an unmistakable tone of nounces, amidst deafening cheers and intelligence. The faces that met you bravos ! that the Congress is opened. on all sides were thoughtful, and for But before I proceed any farther in the most part intellectual. Here the narrative, I must tell you of what were, at least, the elements of power, materials this Congress is composed. whatever was to become of the pro- In addition to a large number of ject upon which this parliainent of literary men and artists who have authors and artists was about to de- attended the meeting voluntarily, liberate.
there are few 'scientific, literary, or We ascend the stairs—the same artistic bodies in Europe that have that conduct you to the picture-gal- not sent delegates. In some inleries. Crossing the vestibule, from stances, Continental governments which the bureaus of the Museum have considered the occasion branch off, we find ourselves in a important that they have appointed little ante-chamber at the opposite ministers to represent them. Thus side, where the members are to re- the Government of Saxony is repreceive their tickets and sign their sented by M. de Witzleben, Councilnames. Glancing round, we see large lor of State ; the Government of cards on different doors, announcing Denmark, by M. Schiern, Member “Section 1,” “Section IÍ,” &c. These of the Danish Diet ; the Governare the rooms where the five sections, ment of Holland, by M. Bakhuizeninto which the Committee of Orga- Vanden Brinck, Archivist General to nisation have divided the assembly, the Kingdom; the Government of assigning special duties to each, are Sardinia, by Baron de Jacquemond, to meet by-and-by, for the purpose of Senator and Councillor of State; considering the questions that exclu- the Government of Parma, by M. sively affect them, the result of which Martini ; and the Government of they are finally to report to the gen- Portugal by M. Silva-Farreo, Secreeral body. Having executed the ne- tary of State—the King being himcessary preliminaries, the members self also a member of the Congress. are shown into the salle. At the The public institutions, societies, and upper end is a dais, covered with associations represented by actual derows of chairs, and a table for the legation, independently of a long list President and Committee in the which have signified their adhesion, centre. The large room rapidly fills. are sufficiently numerous and reThere are between three and four sponsible to give weight and authohundred persons present. Eleven rity to the action of the assembly. o'clock strikes. A general buzz of For example : 1 oyal Academy
of London sends its excellent Secre- and decorations may be dismissed as tary, Mr J. P. Knight; M. Pacheco, of little account. They are the acciformerly Minister, is delegated by dents, and not the essentials. We the Royal Academy of Madrid ; M. do not judge of a picture by its Altmeyer by the Royal Academy of frame; and whether the arena of a Belles lettres of Seville ; M. Dela- great popular discussion be Exeter vigne by the Academy of Toulouse; Hall, sombre and naked, or a ContiM. Scribe, by the Commission of nental museum, hung with boughs, and French Dramatic Authors ; Count ribbons, and fantastical devices, the Reinhard, by the Historical Institute final effect on the general mind must of France ; M. Labrouste, by the be governed by the practical value of Central Society of Architects of the design, whatever it may be. It Paris ; M. Ménessier-Delange, by the is astonishing how quickly the public Society of Musical Composers and strip the put of its husk, and get at Publishers of Paris ; M. Paul Féval, the kernel. by the Society des Gens de Let- The objection--if it be entitled to tres of Paris ; M. Fournier, by the so formal a description-against BelSociety of the Fine Arts, the Athen- gium, as the locality for a movement æum of the Arts, and the Society for of this kind, is curious enough. There Elementary Instruction in France; is certainly not a spot on the face of M. Knytenbrouwer, by the Society Europe, with the single exception of Arti et Amicitiæ of Amsterdam; Leipsic, where the movement could M. Gaullieur, by the Institute of have originated with so much proGeneva ; and other delegates from priety as Brussels, the headquarters the Academies of Florence, Padua, of the piratical trade which it is the and Belgium. Here at least is tan- aim of the Congress to abolish. The gible evidence of the interest felt in agitation of a law of universal copythe subject, and practical proof of the right in Brussels is like an effort of strong desire that exists among the the country to shake off a discreditclasses most concerned, and best qua- able traffic, and to make compensalified to judge of the means for the tion for the past by setting an examestablishment of international copy. ple of justice in the future. Assurright upon a sound and permanent edly the moral effect is greater when basis
. We are too apt in this country a refornı is urged by those upon whom to treat such volunteer efforts to ac- it must entail a loss, than if the decomplish general benefits as mere mand came solely from those who moonshine; and to sneer at these Con- would be gainers by its adoption. tinental assemblies, with their floral Having now shown you, my dear embellishments, serenades and ban- E., what the constitution of this quets, as pure exhibitions of senti- Chamber of Literary and Artistic ment, very declamatory and theatrical Deputies really is that it contains and captivating while they last, but many celebrities, and represents leading
to nothing in the end. The fact, more ; and that it possesses all the too, that this Congress has been held in requisites necessary to enable it to Brussels, the miniature metropolis of arrive at business-like conclusions on a miniature kingdom, having little the rights of authors and artists, of power to influence the legislation of every kind and degree,- I will return other countries, suggests to our su- to our President, who has just read percilious critics a ridiculous com- an address unfolding the views by parison between the means and the which he and his colleagues have end, which seems to them conclusive been actuated in appealing from exof the whole matter. The first consi- isting laws and regulations, or the deration in every attempt to estimate want of them, to the working intelthe worth of these demonstrations, lect of Europe. This address is imought to be the nature, substance, portant in many particulars. It and utility of the object proposed. bears testimony to the great pains the Does it supply an admitted want? Committee of Organisation have Does it confer a substantial benefit ? bestowed upon the details of the If these questions are answered in complicated subject they have underthe affirmative, the scenery, dresses taken to reduce to order and system ; it shows also that they have collected differences of local circumstances, or the opinions of most of the leading of the notions which prevail in comminds of Europe, in art and litera- munities concerning the claims of ture, as to the principles which ought genius—if they sprang out of fiscal to regulate the rights of intellectual necessities, or social traditions, or property, and that there is, in the political arrangements, there might main, a common agreement amongst be a reasonable expectation of being them; and it presents briefly the able to construct a system that views at which they have finally ar- should rest on a basis common to all, rived. These views, which contain and be sufficiently elastic in its dethe essence of the questions submit- tails to accommodate the peculiarited to the Congress for solution, may ties of each. One country, for exbe succinctly resolved into three ample, which had not advanced with general propositions :- 1. The neces- the age on this question of copyright, sity of asserting, as a fundamental might consider a lease of twenty principle, the uniform, universal, and years sufficient to acquit the obligainternational recognition of intellec- tions which the world owes to art tual property ; 2. The enjoyment of and literature; and another country, that property to be secured by large more enlightened, might extend this and liberal guarantees, but the term lease over a longer period, embracing of its enjoyment to be limited, with not only the lifetime of the author, the ultimate view of diffusing abroad but a posthumous term which should the works of genius, for the benefit continue his rights to his immediate of mankind at large; 3. The sup- successors. Between these views pression of all obstacles, extraneous there is a wide difference, but it is to the necessary regulations of go- a difference only in degree ; and vernments, by which the free inter- there could be no difficulty in estabchange and circulation of works of lishing a perfect reciprocity between art and literature are at present im- the two countries, without interferpeded. These propositions embrace ing with the internal regulations of the whole matter for discussion ; but either. Unfortunately, however, the it will be obvious, upon a little con- result of a complete survey of the sideration, that before we can enter state of legislation in the various upon the discussion of them, we must countries of Europe, discloses the clear away certain preliminary ques- fact that the differences are not simtions which arise on the very thresh- ply differences of degree, but of prinold of the inquiry. In order to obtain ciple. M. Faider placed very clearly a uniform and universal assent to before the Congress a summary of any given principle, the hindrances their exact nature and extent. “The that stand in the way of it must be Committee of Organisation,” he obfirst ascertained and removed. It served, “found itself in the presence seems a very just and rational pro- of three systems : one which denied posal to ask all civilised governments fundamentally all right of property to recognise the ordinary rights of in intellectual productions; another ownership in their own labours of which assimilated intellectual and the agents and ministers of civilisa- real, or material, property, and protion. But when we come to investi- claimed both in perpetuity; and a gate the paths through which this third, which recognised the rights of recognition can alone be secured, we intellectual property, but, from confind difficulties before us of a grave, siderations of the special elements of and, in some cases, of an unexpected which that property is composed, nature. Every government that has limited their duration. The Comany laws of literary property, has mittee,” continued M. Faider," withlaws peculiar to itself; no two go out attempting to interfere with the vernments agree upon the actual freedom of your discussions, has unproprietary relation of an author to hesitatingly adopted this last system. his works, and some have never It will abbreviate much that I legislated upon the subject at all. have to tell you about these discusIf the differences which exist be- sions, my dear E., when we meet at tween different legislatures were mere Christmas, Deo volente, in the old