SO long as we have no international copyright, so long must literary talent remain a good way below par. This was the opinion of the distinguished gentlemen who met together recently to devise some means of securing the passage by Congress of an international copyright law.
The discussion of the matter was long and heated; because so many different ideas were expressed by the brilliant authors present. At last the meeting was partially restored to harmony by the serene "apostle of culture," Mr. S. Mark Arnold. "Let us not quarrel," he began; "let us look for sweetness and light; let us - But I will read you a little poem of my own that reminds me of Wordsworth somewhat. Then you will see why I should be protected." And he began, in a voice full of rare melody: -
AN IDEA.A HORSE-CAR took me to the place, -
The city o'er the Charles;
I could but think, with saddened face,
How much I owed at Carl's.
'T is gone, the bottled beer I drank;
And I can drink no more
Except you treat; for still I seem
In shekels very poor.
"Frigid! frigid! very frigid!" exclaimed our old friend Algernon Charles Swansdown. "There is no life - no warmth. But your idea is a good one, Mark. Let us all read our lucubrations; I will begin. I will take for a subject the recent license vote in Cambridge. Strew roses around me and listen!" -
A (SULPHUR) MATCH.IF votes were what my songs are,
I mean exceeding thin,
I'd be a gay repeater,
Prohibition to cheat - ah!
Since manifold its wrongs are -
And give to Carl my tin, -
If votes were what my songs are,
I mean exceeding thin.
If you were ale, my darling,
And I, your love, were beer,
Our hearts would foam together
All through this muddy weather
Which sets us all a-snarling,
Except the doctors, dear, -
If you were ale, my darling,
And I, your love, were beer.
There was a look of anguish and remorse upon the faces of the listeners when, at the conclusion of the second stanza, the poet fell exhausted into the arms of his friends. A moody silence ensued, broken at last by a slight, dark lady, with remarkably sharp eyes, Miss M. E. Baddone by name, who arose and read from a finely written manuscript: -
LADY ODDBOY'S SECRET.
"O Love, my Love, like wine thy kisses be!"
THE sun glared in at the castle windows redly, and threw stains like blood upon the floor. The apartment was furnished with the utmost elegance imaginable, - tapestries, oil-paintings from the great masters, ormulu and buhl in profusion.
Lady Oddboy was sitting by an exquisite little writing-desk, when Robert entered. She heard his footstep, and started up nervously to find his keen dark eyes fixed on her face. She shrieked, and hid her blue eyes in her trembling hands; but the wicked gleam in them did not escape his notice. He came rapidly forward and seized her by the arm -
"That will do," interrupted Mr. William Blue, with a savage frown. "That is too tragic for me; and, besides, there is nothing about the Scottish Highlands or the sea in it, and how, then, will you ever be able to utilize a yacht?"
"'Art is long (like Mr. Blue's stories) and Time is fleeting,' and we will not hear from you just now," d clared Mr. S. Mark Arnold, who eemed to act as chairman of the meeting. "Besides, Mr. Charles will Reade us his latest little brochure. As you well know, he is particularly interested in the question of an international copyright."
Mr. Reade, blushing from natural timidity, began: -
CHILD'S PIG, FATHER'S BACON;
Or, A Copy Right.
THE scene is a school-room. Teacher, keen gray-haired man of fifty. Scholars all ages and sizes. A country school, in fact!!
"That 's wrong!" said the teacher, whose name was P. D. Gogg.
Whew!!!! What a tumult!?! - A buzz and whisper. +!
Then something funny happened.() ???!
Gogg was in love with Sarah Blayre. She was tall, bony, petite, unassuming. Unfortunately she was already married to her second husband. Gogg was engaged to another estimable young woman. Such things are common in England. They make an interesting story! - !
"But they don't, Charles, they don't," said S. Mark sadly. "And they are not moral. Own up, Charles, that you don't care for morals."
"For the public's, not my own." And the reader sat down.
There was an awkward pause. Miss Baddone was blushing deeply. She never spoke out quite so openly as that in any of her books. She felt that she ought to be indignant; and so, after mature deliberation, she fixed her eyes meaningly upon Mr. Reade's manuscript and frowned. Then when she had drawn upon herself the attention of the entire assembly, she left the room with an air of offended dignity which became her exceedingly well. Mr. Algernon C. Swansdown moved restlessly in his seat. "If that's not nice enough for her, it certainly just suits me," he murmured; and turning to a lady beside him whispered, "Now is your chance."
"I have a distinctly moral purpose," this lady began, "in everything I say, although I always speak out plain and 'call a spade a spade.'"
"Nothing moral, Mrs. Tow, nothing moral," cried Swansdown. "Take example by me! Now I have something with me written by one of the rising geniuses of your land, who is too modest to come among us and deliver it, - that brave young spirit who for four long years has succeeded in veiling his identity under those cabalistic initials, which you know so well. Just listen! -
AUTUMN'S ANDANTE.O WILD wind, wailing wantonly about the rattling rafters! -
The cackle of the hens accompanied by love's low laughters,
The ditch that breathes malaria, the stagnant cistern's scum,
The bull-frog croaking dismally among the gentians glum,
Your sibilating sweet soft sounds, in seasons sick and sad,
Have sometimes soothed me into sleep, and sometimes made me mad!
A murmur of applause arose simultaneously to the ceiling. It was the incense of the old to the new genius. There was a soulful pause. Then a tottering form arose, and a cracked voice cried, "Oh, how that jibes in with my melodious mood! Singers and teachers of man, will you not listen?" -
COPYRIGHT.LET us write copy right, -
It will save the printer from swearing a
Good deal, which is bad.
Interpret me aright -
I am a writer and I want to write;
I want the right of copyright.
My poems bubble and boil,
Bold are their metaphors,
Like a mountain or a froward child.
Folks don't understand me, the barbarous
White man of the East.
I am like a young onion, too strong
Yawp! I am just so!
Another pause, solemn and intense. Then S. Mark arose.
"Let us go, my friends. Let us depart. We have heard enough. Let us withdraw while we are still wrapped in this nameless, holy balm, - this light and this sweetness."
And they went.
Congress, with the narrow bigotry which one might expect from such a body, has not yet passed an international copyright law. Perhaps it thinks that authors have no rights which other people are bound to protect. Perhaps Mr. Swansdown is the main difficulty. I don't know, because I never was sent to Congress and never expect to be.