**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


Considerations On The Case Of Dr. T[rapp]’s Sermons
by [?]

13. That an uninterrupted prescription confers a right, will be easily granted, especially if it appears that the prescription, pleaded in defence of that right, might at any time have been interrupted, had it not been always thought agreeable to reason and to justice.

14. The numberless abridgments that are to be found of all kinds of writings, afford sufficient evidence that they were always thought legal, for they are printed with the names of the abbreviators and publishers, and without the least appearance of a clandestine transaction. Many of the books, so abridged, were the properties of men who wanted neither wealth, nor interest, nor spirit, to sue for justice, if they had thought themselves injured. Many of these abridgments must have been made by men whom we can least suspect of illegal practices, for there are few books of late that are not abridged.

15. When bishop Burnet heard that his History of the Reformation was about to be abridged, he did not think of appealing to the court of chancery; but, to avoid any misrepresentation of his history, epitomised it himself, as he tells us in his preface.

16. But, lest it should be imagined that an author might do this rather by choice than necessity, we shall produce two more instances of the like practice, where it would certainly not have been borne, if it had been suspected of illegality. The one, in Clarendon’s History, which was abridged, in 2 vols. 8vo.; and the other in bishop Burnet’s History of his Own Time, abridged in the same manner. The first of these books was the property of the university of Oxford, a body tenacious enough of their rights; the other, of bishop Burnet’s heirs, whose circumstances were such as made them very sensible of any diminution of their inheritance.

17. It is observable, that both these abridgments last mentioned, with many others that might be produced, were made when the act of parliament for securing the property of copies was in force, and which, if that property was injured, afforded an easy redress: what then can be inferred from the silence and forbearance of the proprietors, but that they thought an epitome of a book no violation of the right of the proprietor?

18. That their opinion, so contrary to their own interest, was founded in reason, will appear from the nature and end of an abridgment.

19. The design of an abridgment is, to benefit mankind by facilitating the attainment of knowledge; and by contracting arguments, relations, or descriptions, into a narrow compass, to convey instruction in the easiest method, without fatiguing the attention, burdening the memory, or impairing the health of the student.

20. By this method the original author becomes, perhaps, of less value, and the proprietor’s profits are diminished; but these inconveniencies give way to the advantage received by mankind, from the easier propagation of knowledge; for as an incorrect book is lawfully criticised, and false assertions justly confuted, because it is more the interest of mankind, that errour should be detected, and truth discovered, than that the proprietors of a particular book should enjoy their profits undiminished; so a tedious volume may, no less lawfully, be abridged, because it is better that the proprietors should suffer some damage, than that the acquisition of knowledge should be obstructed with unnecessary difficulties, and the valuable hours of thousands thrown away.

21. Therefore, as he that buys the copy of a book, buys it under this condition, that it is liable to be confuted, if it is false, however his property may be affected by such a confutation; so he buys it, likewise, liable to be abridged, if it be tedious, however his property may suffer by the abridgment.

22. To abridge a book, therefore, is no violation of the right of the proprietor, because to be subject to the hazard of an abridgment was an original condition of the property.

23. Thus we see the right of abridging authors established both by reason and the customs of trade. But, perhaps, the necessity of this practice may appear more evident, from a consideration of the consequences that must probably follow from the prohibition of it.