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polite letters, in other times and countries, dwelt / will prompt them to its pursuit without the applionly in high places; in courts, and castles, and col- cation of any extraneous impulse. Vast numbers leges. lo this enlightened age, and in this favored in this country have already, I doubt not, been land, they have descended from those lofty habita- awakened by the operation of this cause from mentions. They visit the lowly cottage. They cheer tal torpor, and redeemed from the darkness of ig. the humble fireside. They enliven the solitude of norance. What future triumphs it is destined 10 the wilderness. They sweeten the toils of the achieve, no human sagacity can foresee, or estiworkshop. They move on the great deep of the mate. A large proportion of our reading men are popular mind and stir up its slumbering waters from in slender, though independent circumstances, and their inmost recesses. This surprizing change has it is only by the strictest economy, that they can not been wrought exclusively by popular institutions reserve out of their narrow income a small pitand public establishments for education. Other tance for the purchase of books. The probable, agencies have coöperated. Our schools have laid nay, almost certain consequence of a material inthe foundation, but cheap literature has supplied crease in the cost of literature, will be to banish materials to complete the edifice. The facility of these humble disciples of learning from the field procuring books has implanted a taste for reading, of improvement, to damp the growing love of knowinspired a desire of improvement in a class of men, ledge, and to blast the prospects of popular educato whom in the last age the beauties of style, the tion. pleasures of imagination were but foolishness, and When such are the inevitable effects resulting science a senseless and mysterious jargon. This from the abolition of cheap literature, the question spirit is spreading A liberal curiosity now per- is, whether it comports with the duty of any gorades and animates the bulk of our citizens, and vernment, much less of ours, to assail, either by announces the dawn of a new era in the destines of direct, or indirect legislation, a system so beneour race. The schoolmaster is indeed abroad, not ficial to the great body of the people. All ultiarned with the birch and the ferule, but scattering mate power under our institutions resides in the from the stores of an enterprising press the bles- mass. They hold the sovereignty, the authority sings of a cheap literature.
to create, or destroy, to alter, or abolish, every The advantage of reducing the cost of the vehi- thing in the frame of our society. They elect all eles of knowledge, for the purposes of popular edu- public officers, either mediately, or immediately, cation, has been observed and appreciated in other and, by force of the responsibility thus produced, countries. In England, the association of gentle-control the whole practical administration of the men for the diffusion of useful and entertaining government. It is, therefore, of indispensable imknowledge, set on foot by Lord Brougham, was portance to ensure prudent and just legislation, as foanded on this very principle. Its leading design well as a wise management of affairs, that public was to present, in a condensed and cheap form, a opinion should be sound, and the popular mind engreat mass of valuable and amusing matter, and lightened. To verify the maxim of our politicians, thas to facilitate the spread of information among that the people are capable of self-government, it the unlettered and humbler classes of society, is necessary to infuse enlightened views into the shose poverty debarred them from other sources multitude, to teach the mass to think and reason, of mental improvement. What Lord Brougham and to supply them with materials for the exercise and his associates deemed of such vital consequence, of the understanding. Until this is done, the proto the diffusion of knowledge among the people position is ridiculous, I had almost said, mischie. under the monarchy of Britain, as to demand the vous. It would be to place those that can see charitable intervention of so brilliant a confederacy under the guidance of the blind, to exalt ignorance of wealth, rank and talent, has been accomplished and prejudice to the chair of wisdom, to entrust in this country by the spontaneous action of the the direction of the most delicate and complex mapress. Our cheap literature furnishes a constant chine to persons unskilled in the first principles of supply of volumes as little costly, and many of its construction. The most prominent duty of an them as instructive, as the library of useful and American statesman, therefore, is to use every Entertaining knowledge, or the Penny Magazine. means to enlighten the people, to employ every It is now in the power of almost any individual, engine calculated to promote the general circulaantious to learn, to provide himself with the best tion of knowledge. Cheap literature is a powerbooks on a variety of important subjects at an in- ful engine for that purpose, and so far from counignificant expense. The effect of such a state of teracting its operation, or weakening its force by bings in stimulating the popular faculties is incal- the agency of International Copyright, he would ulable. What we are taught at schools constitutes violate the most sacred obligations, did he not reput a small part of our education. Men must, in move every obstruction, and give full scope to its great measure, be their own instructors, and, such benificent influences : nor could he be justified in an 3 their natural proclivity to knowledge, that, if you opposite course, even by the design of securing to dace it within their reach, their own inclinations our own writers the chance of dubious, or at most
trivial advantages, much less of promoting the in- that measure, because cheap literature is, in his terest of foreign authors, already enjoying a rich estimation, an evil to be eschewed, and whatever reward from the patronage of their own govern- is calculated to suppress it, is a blessing to be dements,
sired. But why is it an evil? Because, says E. There is another inconvenience which, I am per- D., it disseminates dissolute books among the peosuaded, we shall experience from the introduction ple, and thereby corrupts the public morals. In of International Copyright, and which, though of his view it is an engine impotent for good, but insubordinate consequence, should not be overlooked. finitely fertile in mischief. Why are vicious works When that system is adopted, our literary connexion printed and circulated ? Simply because there is a with Britain must necessarily become more inti- demand for them. But there is an infinitely greater mate than it has ever been since our political sepa- demand for good and useful works, and, as profit is ration from that country. In that state of things, the moving principle of the cheap press, the preI fear that our publishers must sink beneath the sumption is, (unless we embrace the improbable becompetition of superior skill and capital ; that the lief that men will do mischief, not merely gratuiwhole business of publication will be transferred cous, but against their own interest,) that a much by a process not easily evaded, or countervailed, larger number of the latter kind will be printed and to trans-Atlantic labor and enterprize. Large circulated. And if the annals of cheap literature capitals, it is evident, require a smaller per-cen- be consulted, do we not find the fact to correspond tage of profit, and this advantage England pos- with this conclusion ? When printing was substisesses beyond any country in the world. In addi- tuted for the slow process of manual transcription, tion to this, her capitalists can always command and books were multiplied with an increased cele. the services of artisans of consummate skill and rity, and diminished cost before that time unpreceat the lowest wages. Having the ascendancy dented, a reduction of prices, much greater and over us in these important particulars, her pub- more sudden, took place in the literary market lishers can appropriate out of the proceeds of any than has occurred at any subsequent period ; but work, a more liberal allowance for the labor of an was that reduction succeeded by a deluge of imauthor, and still leave a residuum sufficient to de- pure orks, and the consequent debasement of fray the usual profits of their business. Moreover, moral sentiment ? On the contrary, has not the when authors have the privilege of Copyright in mental illumination, produced by that great erent, both countries, they will be sure to publish in that wrought a gradual and constant amelioration of where they will incur the smallest pecuniary risk, manners and morals in every successive generaand where literary property can be most readily tion to the present age? And yet, I doubt not, the disposed of for adequate prices. In all these as- enemies of change at that time, always prone to pects Britain has the preëminence over the United gloomy forebodings, augured, from the discovery of States, and must, in the absence of any restriction, printing, similar, perhaps more disastrous, conseabsorb the literary traffic of both countries. Our quences than are ascribed by E. D. to our cheap legislature will, I doubt not, endeavor to counteract system of publication, and with just the same dethis natural and inevitable course of things by the gree of plausibility. In whatever mode books are imposition of heavy discriminating duties on books communicated to the world, whether by manuscript, of British manufacture; but the trans-Atlantic or the press, loose productions will be written and publisher may easily elude such regulations, how- circulated, so long as wicked men are found wha ever cautiously contrived, by transporting a por- delight in such disgusting compositions. If the tion of his capital and business to the United press panders to such a depraved appetite, it midisStates. With a foot thus planted, as it were, on ters, on the other hand, to the noblest faculties and each side of the ocean, he may defy legislative propensities of our nature. If it presents the bane, restraint, and drive with impunity all American it also furnishes the antidote. competitors from the market. Without meaning Because a few vulgar, or immoral works have to question the motives, or the intelligence of those been issued by the manufacturers of cheap books, who differ with me on this subject, it seems to me, E. D. attributes such an occurrence to the inbeI confess, a strange hallucination, that American rent vices of the system, and is filled with alarn, citizens should, zealously, and I doubt not honestly, lest this prolific monster should overrun society recommend policy to the approval of their own with the same filthy brood. As well might it be government, which, without any equivalent of ho- affirmed, that the dearness of books in the reign of nor, or profit to themselves, sacrifices the interest Charles the second was the cause of the licentious of a numerous body of their countrymen to the writings of that period. The justa-position of twa promotion of foreign literature and enterprize. successive events by no means justifies the infa
The tendency of International Copyright to aug-rence, that the one was the effect of the other; ment the price of books and diminish their circu- else there would be no absurdity in the logic of the lation furnishes, in the opinion of your correspon- Englishman, who maintained that Tenterdon steedent, E. D., no argument against the adoption of ple was the cause of Goodwin sands. The trath is, as I have already remarked, a vicious age will I do not participate, I confess, in the apprehenalways beget immoral writings, because those who sions of those worthy people, who are filled with write and publish for profit, will inevitably cater to consternation at the sight of licentious books ; who the prevailing taste. Such works will never disap- shrink from them as from the touch of a poisonous pear from the literary market, until there is a reptile ; who believe that the whole mass of sothorough and total reformation of manners. ciety will be polluted by their perusal; and who,
If there be any strength in his objections to therefore, declaim with such vehemence against cheap literature, does not E. D. perceive that In- their propagation. That they are productive of ternational Copyright, which he proposes as a some evil I will not deny ; but, while I would wilremedy, is wholly incommensurate to the virulence lingly remove this reproach from literature, I canof the disease? While he would shield contempo- not concur in ascribing to it such a baneful and rary books from this abomination, he leaves the predominating influence on the characters of men. whole field of literature, from the revival of letters If such an incurable taint is imparted to the mind to the beginning of the eighteenth century, open by immodest images and expressions, by an ac10 the invader. What obstacle does International quaintance with the language and principles of Copyright interpose to the publication of the works vice, our condition would be wretched indeed ; for of Rousseau, Smollett, Fielding, Farquhar, Con- the best of us have seen and heard enough of such grere, Wycherly, and a host of others in the cheap- things to corrupt a saint, and our only resource est form imaginable ? And will he say, that mo- would be to renounce all intercourse with the world dern depravity has produced any thing comparable as the sole chance of escaping contamination. To to these in obscenity, in abandoned licentiousness, expect that in the crowded theatre of human afin audacious contempt for all the decencies of life? fairs, in the active bustle of life where we must be There is nothing in the whole range of modern jostled by men of every shade and variety of chali.erature parallel to these foul performances in racter, all improper ideas and objects can be bangrossness of language, in shameless profligacy; ished from our observation, is altogether utopian and yet, notwithstanding their disgusting ribaldry and visionary. Experience should teach us to dis
open derision of the most sacred obligations, miss these imaginary fears, which would drive men the brilliancy of wit and the magic of eloquence from the path of social duty and immure them in have combined to shed a fascination, a splendor the cell of the anchorite. The most blameless around them, which have almost extinguished our men and women in the circle of my acquaintance ingate abhorrence of their pestilential and demo- have occasionally read works of this description, ralizing principles. Such a perversion of genius nor has this casual indiscretion left upon their would never have occurred in a sound state of pub- minds the slightest visible trace of corruption. lie opinion, and is much more the effect than the Apart from the superhuman influences of religion, cause of moral contamination. Though the lite- there is in virtuous natures a principle of vitality ratore of the present age is not free from this re- which works itself clear of these impurities, and proach, and never will be until vicious passions repels the adhesion of all that is foul or loathsome. are eradicated from the human heart, yet the li- Evil into the mind of God or man centious writer is constrained by the refinement of May come and go, so unapprov'd, and leave modera taste to render an involuntary homage to
No spot or blame behind. virtue by disguising his impurities, and clothing The danger from such things consists, not so much his insidious lessons in a garb less offensive. The in a momentary acquaintance with them, as in fafamous remark of Burke, that “vice loses all its miliarizing to the mind by frequent repetition, the evil by losing half its grossness," though liable to vulgar language and seductive images which serve the charge of rhetorical exaggeration, is not as the conduits of their subtle poison. A disposiwholly destitute of truth. The change I have tion to do this, indicates a nature already depraved, adverted to in the character of modern books, is Far from handling these disgusting implements of to be attributed to a more healthy state of moral vice, a man of uosophisticated feelings would reseatiment; and this salutary revolution has been coil from them with tear and detestation. Upon wrought, notwithstanding the constant circulation the whole, if the prodigious influence on human profligate writings, composed by men of the character, imputed to these foul excretions of the irst order of talent, and notwithstanding the rapid press had a real existence, instead of the improvelecline in the cost of literature produced by new ment which has actually taken place, there would, mechanical inventions, the cheapness of labor, and evidently, have been a constant deterioration of he accumulation of capital. When, therefore, E. public morals in all the nations of Christendom. . stigmatizes our cheap literature as the vehicle In controverting some of the opinions advanced i immorality, and indulges in such gloomy vati- by your correspondents, I have not been wanting, inations as to its pernicious tendencies, I must I trust, in the courtesy due to gentlemen and schoe allowed, with all due respect, to express my in- lars. As compositions, the essays of E. D. and redulity,
Mr. Simms are worthy of all commendation, and
many of their sentiments meet with my hearty con- | tance of her dauntless enterprize, her ardent love
I regret, however, to observe, that Mr. of freedom, her indomitable spirit of independence. Simms has fallen into the illiberal practise of vili- We should remember, that when other countries fying England, of holding her up as “our heredi. bent the knee to despotism, England remained erect tary enemy," of representing her whole intercourse and fearless ; that when political darkness brooded with us as a tissue of mean jealousy and insidious over Europe, liberty found her last resting place in hostility. It has become a fashion of late years, that fast-anchored isle. The spark of freedom, I know, in this country to heap every abusive epi- nursed by our forefathers in the toils and dangers thet on the English nation and government, to dis- of the wilderness, and transmitted to us by those cover in their most indifferent actions the traces hardy adventurers, was kindled at her altars. The of some deep and dangerous design against our in- representative system, the habeas corpus, the liberty terests ; and public opinion is rapidly approaching of the press, institutions which lie at the foundathat point, when an American, who refuses to join tion of all free government, are part of that splenin such indiscriminate invective, will only incur did inheritance bequeathed us by our British ařcesodium, and expose his patriotism to suspicion. tors. Contrast our character and situation with These ebullitions of distrust and resentment can that of the colonies planted by other European serve no purpose but to embitter the feelings and States, and we shall at once perceive the value of indanger the peaceful relations of two countries our descent. England may be fierce in anger and bound together by the strongest ties, and, consider- unrelenting in hate ; she may have been guilty of ing our commercial rivalship, will be attributed by lawless violence and injustice, but nothing base, or many to the malignant impulses of spite and envy. insidious belongs to her character. It is a soi! Let the unthinking mob on both sides the Atlantic, where treachery cannot take root. No country inflamed by the tirades of hireling scribblers and can produce a more illustrious throng of pious, endesigning politicians, exhaust the vocabulary of lightened, brave and generous men; such a galaxy Billinsgate in mutual recrimination; but let not the of genius in science and letters. Such a nation men of sense and education in either country lend is not to be despised ; and, despite the railings of their aid to swell the savage outcry, or forget the prejudice and passion, it must always be our greatreciprocal obligations of candor and justice. A est boast, that we share her blood, and are not ungenerous mind frankly applauds even the virtues worthy of pur lineage. of an enemy, and disdains to wreak an ignoble re
J. B. D.
ban venge by disparaging his reputation. But is Eo
Campbell Co, Va., March 1st, 1844.
, gland, as Mr. Simms asserts, our hereditary enemy? True, we have waged two wars with that country; but we are now at peace, and a “brave man should forget in peace the injuries of war." By blood and by inheritance she is not our foe, but THE DEAD MAN'S RACE.* linked to us by the ties of kindred, of a common language, a common ancestry, and these ties are
BY W. GARDNER BLACKWOOD. strengthened and cemented by the still firmer liga
A moral this my tale combines, ments of mutual interest. Let us, then, speak of
A truth from bad example taen; her without rancour, and in a spirit of fair, of even
Which, to youth told at evening time, liberal appreciation. When she insults, or injures
For like pursuits the eager wisb as, let us demand reparation in bold and manly lan
May antedote, and serve to wain. guage; let us be prepared to encounter the last ex
The Pilgrim : A Tale. tremity, rather than submit to an infringement of our
Over a wild and trackless moor, rights; but let us scorn to engage in a war of words,
Homeward-bound, an honest boor to bandy vile epithets, to retort the scurrility of Urged on his jaded steed; her venal presses with congenial ribaldry. True The sun was sinking down to rest dignity, we should remember, is equally remote
On th' bosom of the blushing west, from truckling servility and gasconading defiance.
And o'er the earth, dark shadows prest
Along with quick’ning speed. England has great faults and great virtues ; but she has transmitted to her offspring in this country The bat went flapping round and round, whatever of good, or evil distinguishes her national Dense gnat-clouds, with a murmurous sound, character. She has impressed on us the indelible Waved in the fetid air; marks of her maternity; and when she sneers at
And in some stunted pine-tree bid, our deformities, she derides the faithful reflection
Shrill cried the gauze-wing’d Katy-did,
To answering cricket's chirp, that chid of her own image. We should pardon her over
The silence broken there. bearing pride, her all-grasping cupidity, since the rudiments of the same vices are to be found in our
* The subject of this poem was a short anecdote read by own bosoms; but we may justly exult in the inheri-'the author in some now forgotten journal a few years past