Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/697

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LITERARY NOTICES.

cited by the author, the linguistic source of each word is stated, and it thus appears that in Ethelbert's time out of 100 words not over six were other than pure Anglo-Saxon. Compare with this the constitution of English. Dr. Weisse finds that out of 100 words in the Bible 78 are Anglo-Saxon; in Samuel Johnson, 51. But of this side of the work we have written enough.

Dr. Weisse was an utter stranger to English up to his thirtieth year, and his estimate of the value of our language at that time was in direct ratio to his ignorance of it. Convinced of its inferiority to certain other languages, he commenced the researches of which this volume is the result, for the purpose of demonstrating that inferiority. His studies satisfied him that English "contains the cream and essence of its predecessors and contemporaries; that its grammar is simpler, and that its records and literature are more consecutive and complete, than those of any other tongue." He is not content to class English with the best languages of the globe; it surpasses them all: it is the best, the most flexible, the one language of all that have ever existed which is most suitable to become a universal language. But there exist some slight hindrances which Dr. Weisse labors to remove, and the principal one is that we do not "write as we pronounce or pronounce as we write." If our "orthography" were reformed and a few syntactical anomalies corrected, nothing could prevent the English from becoming universal. Already it is spoken by some 90,000,000 people, and English-speaking nations are the masters of a far larger area of the inhabited globe than are the nations using any other tongue.

The author does not confine himself very scrupulously to the programme indicated in his title, but is ever digressing to the right hand and to the left. His business is with the English language as it has been and as it is, but for page after page the reader might suppose that he was perusing a dogmatic treatise de omnibus rebus. Dr. Weisse himself is not unconscious of the irrelevancy of much that he has written, but he excuses it on the ground that his digressions serve to amuse the reader and make the perusal of the work a pleasure instead of an irksome task. For our part, when we wish to learn the truth about the supposititious visit of St. Paul to Britain, the history of Pelagius, or other topics, we prefer to get our information from the histories which deal with those subjects. Though not uninteresting, these digressions are a blemish, and should be omitted if the work reaches a second edition. The volume is a valuable contribution to the history of the English language, and we bespeak for it the earnest attention of our readers.

A Treatise on the Law of Property in Intellectual Productions in Great Britain and the United States. Embracing Copyright in Works of Literature and Art, and Playright in Dramatic and Musical Compositions. By Eaton S. Drone. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. 1879. 8vo, pp. 774. Price, $6.

The popular interest which the subject of the rights and wrongs of authors has recently awakened in England, France, and the United States, and the uncertainty and confusion into which the law of copyright has been allowed to drift, make a satisfactory treatise on this subject as welcome to men of letters as to the legal profession. The book before us is beyond comparison the most thorough and critical work on literary property yet published in England or this country, and, though an American publication, it is as complete an exposition of the English as of our own law. Our readers will remember that in his evidence before the English Copyright Commission, which we reprinted in the December "Monthly," Professor Huxley maintained that there was no distinction in principle between literary property and any other kind of property. Herbert Spencer and Professor Tyndall, who also testified before the Commission, were evidently of the same opinion. In a preliminary essay on "The Origin and Nature of Literary Property," Mr. Drone has gone to the bottom of this subject, and by an elaborate examination of all the principles, authorities, and arguments which bear on it, shows that literary property has the same general attributes and is governed by the same general principles that obtain in the case of all property. Hence the right of an author to his intellectual productions is no more a monopoly subject to the whims of the