Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 28.djvu/717

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

EDITOR'S TABLE.

 

A CASE IN MORAL EDUCATION.

IT is encouraging to observe, by the recent discussions in Congress, that there is a deepening conviction of the need of an international copyright law to put a stop to the scandalous robbery of those foreign authors who are doing 80 much to sustain and elevate our intellectual life. There are evinced a growing sense of reprobation of this practice, and much greater agreement than ever before, both as to the necessity of putting an end to it, and the means to be adopted for the purpose. The committee was addressed by but one downright opponent of international copyright, and he admitted that he was opposed to all copyright, and would take away the legal protection of their literary property from American authors. Mr. James Russell Lowell, President of the Copyright League, made an excellent address, putting the whole question on the high moral ground of the rights of men to property in their brain-work, and the outrage of allowing other men to appropriate it from mercenary motives and because they find it valuable; and he did not hesitate to say that the reasoning by which international copyright was there opposed was but a virtual defense of pocket-picking. We call attention to this matter here simply to show that there is an undoubted quickening of the moral sense of the community over this question, so that what was long regarded with indifference as but a venial wrong is now reprobated as a practice so bad that it can be no longer tolerated.

And even while the question is being thus debated, there comes a fresh and flagrant instance of that spoliation of foreign authors which will continue to be perpetrated until the law lays its hand upon men destitute of any restraining moral sense. The case is peculiarly aggravated in this respect, A foreign author writes a valuable book, which is found especially useful in this country for cultivating the minds of teachers; and their sense of obligation to him for his great service is expressed by a virtual conspiracy among them to steal it. Mr. James Sully, of London, is the author of the "Outlines of Psychology," The work was created by his labor. It was made at the cost of time, faculty, and blood; he consumed his vital energy in preparing it just as much as is done in producing any other piece of work of any kind that was ever constructed. If there be such a thing as property, Mr, Sully's book was his property by every principle of justice and right. That was recognized by his American publishers, who made an arrangement with him to pay a royalty on the sales at an equal rate that it is customary to pay American authors. The arrangement was doubly valid in the eyes of all honorable men, for it was Intrinsically just and equitable and was voluntarily made without any compulsion of law.

Mr. Sully's work was a large text-book of general psychology, but it gave prominence to the bearings of that science upon theoretical and practical education, and this was the feature that was specially appreciated by our educators. It was an obvious suggestion that to separate the educational part of the book from its connections and issue it separately in a cheaper form would be a desirable thing. Different parties, in fact, applied to the publishers to get the job of cutting the book down; but they answered that this was a matter belonging entirely to the author. He was written to, and, approving the plan, engaged to make a compend of his work