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Though, as the author of two or three humble publications, I did not imagine that I should be exposed to piratical depredations, yet I have found myself deceived. I did not recollect that a petty thief will steal a scraper.
Some time after the appearance of An Introduction to the Study of Polite Literature, a certain reverend gentleman in the North, republished the greatest part of that tract for the use of Sunday-schools, and others in general. To this compilation he has prefixed his name and his titles of honour, William Paley, M. A. Archdeacon of Carlisle. But he has not condescended to make the least acknowledgment, or to offer the least apology for his plagiarism, though it constitutes the first thirty pages of his publication; to which he has subjoined the catechism, a few passages of Scripture, two or three prayers, some divine songs, and other pious collectanea, which would not have answered his purpose, or been saleable, without the former part.
I think myself amply justified in thus mentioning the editor of this disingenuous publication, as it continues to be sold (notwithstanding a former remonstrance) by his booksellers in Carlisle and Bond-street! In his next edition the conscientious Archdeacon is desired to inform his readers, how such an invasion of private property can be justified on the "principles of moral and political philosophy."
As the ingenious young students of the floating academy are subject to penal statutes, it is but reasonable, that all
This fraudulent publication, entitled The Young Christian instructed in Reading, &c. bears some earance and symptoms of guilt in its front.-No London bookseller's name, though published in the metropolis!
pilferers in the republick of letters should be chastised, in proportion to their demerits. Your impartiality, Mr. Urban, and regard for ingenuous learning, will, I hope, induce you to give these strictures a place in your Magazine; not for the sake of the writer, but for the most important purposes, the discouragement of plagiarism, and protection of literary property.
Carlisle, March 18th, 1792.
In the Gentleman's Magazine for February, p. 131, I am accused by the Rev. Mr. Robertson, of invading his property in a certain work, published by him, under the title of An Introduction to the Study of Polite Literature. As you have thought proper to admit into your miscellany Mr. Robertson's complaint, I expect, from your regard to justice, that you will find a place for my answer. Your readers then must first of all be told, what, from the air of importance which is given to the charge, they would not readily imagine, that this same Introduction to the Study of Polite Literature is a spelling book; that one entire page of the original, for the crime of purloining which I am thus brought before the publick, is verbally and literally as follows:
A gun a hut and that, except some short directions for reading, all the pages taken by me are of the same kind with this speci
men, proceeding, as is the manner of primers and spellingbooks, from words of one syllable to words of more, and from polysyllables to sentences of different lengths. I mention this, not to detract from the merits of Mr. Robertson's performance, which is a very good one of the sort, but in order to show that reputation of authorship could hardly be my motive for the theft. The truth and the whole truth of the transaction is this. About seven years ago, when Sunday-schools were first set up in Carlisle, I was desired to prepare some small tract, which might be put into the hands of the children and the masters. The point aimed at was, to afford as much instruction for as little money as possible. With this view, it was necessary to make one part answer the purpose of a spelling-book, and the other to contain the elements of religious knowledge. I executed the office of a compiler in the first part, by marking out to the printer some pages of an anonymous spelling book, which had accidentally come into my hands as a present to one of my children. In the second part there is nothing of my own except a piece of four pages, entitled, A Short History of our Blessed Saviour Jesus Christ. The rest is made up of portions of Scripture, selected by me, chiefly from the Gospels, an old tract of Lord Chief Justice Hale's, two prayers, two hymns of Dr. Watts', a piece of Dr. Stonehouse's, taken from the Society's tracts, and another of Mr. Gilpin's. These two last named gentlemen have not complained, probably indeed continue ignorant of the injury that has been done to them. Should they come to know it, I am persuaded that, instead of resenting the liberty which I have taken with their pious writings, they will rejoice to find them made, in any shape, or by any hand, useful and accessible to the poor. My
name as the compiler (for that is the word employed) was placed in the title page, because the bookseller refused to print the book without it; and it is placed there in the manner, so far as I know, commonly adopted by clergymen, for I am conscious of no affectation upon that head.
Such was the birth of the little compilation which has produced this angry attack. A few months after it had been printed, Mr. Faulder of Bond-street asked my leave to put forth an edition of it in London. I told him that the first part was taken from a work, which, as I now understood, though I did not know it at the time, had been published by Mr. Robertson of Marlborough-street; and that he must apply to Mr. Robertson for permission. Mr. Faulder made his application, and was refused; and upon that refusal, by my positive injunction, desisted from his design. If it has been printed and sold in London, or any where else, except in this neighbourhood, since that time, it is entirely without my participation or knowledge.
Mr. Robertson says, that the collection "would not have answered my purpose, or been saleable, without the former part:" What purpose had I to be answered but that which is expressed in the title page, "the use of the Sundayschools in Carlisle ?" I never gained a penny by the publication; so much otherwise, that I paid the publisher his full price for every copy that I gave away. I am at this moment ready to convey to Mr. Robertson, or his assignee, my title, if he think I have any to the work, and all interest in it whatsoever.
Mr. Robertson has not said that the sale of one copy of his book has been hindered by the appearance of mine. From the different quality of the articles I am convinced that no such effect can follow. His is a fair volume, a
beautiful type, and a fine paper, adapted in all respects to the use of genteel boarding schools, and the nurseries of genteel families. Of all the low priced helps to education with which parish children and charity-schools were ever furnished, mine in these particulars is the meanest. The two books, therefore, are calculated for a totally different description of purchasers. They can never meet in the market; no person who would buy his book would be content with mine.
This is my defence; but a part of my story is yet untold. Not long after the little book was published, and as soon as I knew Mr. Robertson's sentiments about it, the substance of what I have here alleged was drawn up by me, in terms as respectful as I could frame them, and, being so drawn up, was communicated to him by a friend to us both. Although I did not believe that I had injured his property, I was truly sorry that I had offended, and that also unknowingly, a gentleman with whom I possessed a slight degree of acqaintance, whose hard fortune in his profession I have often lamented, and whose literary merits entitle him to regard from every scholar. Mr. Robertson ought not, therefore, to have said, "that I have not condescended to make the least acknowledgment, or offer the least apology, for my plagiarism." I did offer an apology, not indeed in print, which, I doubt not, is what he means, but by a mode of correspondence, which, in my judgment, much better became both the subject and the parties.
And this, Mr. Urban, leads me to express my regret, that there should be one column in the Gentleman's Magazine which hath no employment more worthy of it than to convey to the publick, what the publick have no concern in, a beggarly dispute about a few pages of a spelling book,