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urged ominister, and chand prospered, juncti
accounted for, and the remainder delivered up to be cancelled. The court, doubting the validity of the king's charter, directed a question upon its legality to be argued before the Court of Common Pleas; the judges, after two arguments, certified that the patent was void in law; the Court of Exchequer thereupon dismissed the Bill, and dissolved the injunction. From that hour Carnan practised and prospered, till Lord North, then prime minister, and chancellor of the University of Oxford, urged on by the late pseudo monopolists, introduced into the House of Commons a bill • to revest by act of parliament the
monopoly in almanacks, which had fallen to the ground by the ' above-mentioned judgments in the king's courts.'* In addition to the whole force of the government, the bill was supported by all the influence of the two universities in the House of Commons; but Mr. Erskine, as counsel for Carnan, was heard at the bar of the Commons, and at the close of his argument the House divided, when the premier's bill was lost by a great majority,
If the doctrine of this decision were honestly carried out, the question of the Bible monopoly would soon be settled. It will assuredly require the combined wisdom of Westminster Hall to demonstrate that the almanack and Bible monopolies rest on different foundations; and that, had the latter been in the position of the former, it would not have fallen. Every consideration that goes to support the Bible monopoly, yielded equal support to that of almanacks. But for the resolute spirit of Carnan, almanacks had been an affair of prerogative, and printed cum privilegio to the present hour; and had he happened to fix upon the Bible instead of the almanack, it is exceedingly probable that the cruel and impolitic restriction had been annihilated by the force of Erskine's argument, and by calling forth the operation of British justice. All the triumphs of that great advocate, in fighting for the liberty of the subject and the freedom of the press, had been as nothing compared with the destruction of the Bible monopoly. Our regrets are the deeper because this is the only instance in which the validity of this class of patents has been tried.
It is our deliberate opinion that the Bible patent, as it now exists, cannot be sustained. It is not founded upon any definite or acknowledged principle of justice, but derives its origin from despotic assumptions of authority, which have long since been driven by the spirit and intelligence of the people from the pale of English law. This point is well put by Erskine, in his speech for Carnan. According to that great pleader, “On the first
* See Erskine's speech for Carnan, introductory notice,
introduction of printing, it was considered, as well in England 'as other countries, to be a matter of state. The quick and
extensive circulation of sentiments and opinions which that ' invaluable art introduced, could not but fall under the gripe of • governments whose principal strength was built upon the 'ignorance of the people who were to submit to it. The press ' was, therefore, wholly under the coercion of the crown, and 'all printing, not only of public books containing ordinances ' religious or civil, but every species of publication whatever, was
regulated by the king's proclamations, prohibitions, charters of privilege, and finally by the decrees of the star-chamber.*
The law Reports set forth a variety of grants of the exclusive right to print in the different departments of the art. In process of time, however, the cruel and oppressive assumptions of prerogative were forced to yield to the resistless pressure of intelligence, and at length, in the year 1769, after the decision of the case of Millar v. Taylor,t the only copyrights supposed to be left to the crown, were those of Bibles, Testaments, Prayerbooks, acts of parliament, proclamations, acts of state, almanacks, and the Latin grammar. We have already seen that the claim of the crown to grant a monopoly of the printing of almanacks was refused, in the Court of Common Pleas, and the patent pronounced invalid.The greater importance attaches to this case, because on that occasion there was no collusion; both sides were in good earnest, while there is every ground to suspect it was otherwise in the case of Richardson and the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, I which came on in the year 1802. In that case the litigants were equally interested in sustaining the monopoly. It was a struggle not for the public, but for themselves ; they fought not for the triumph of a principle but for the grasp of the gross plunder. The power of the crown to grant a monopoly in Bible printing was no part of the contest on either side. They, therefore, took the preliminary steps required to give the seeming sanction of the law to their common foundation ; the one applied for an injunction to restrain the sale of Scotch Bibles in England, and the other submitted till the hearing of the cause should come on. Their object was gained; out of court they shook hands, and no more was heard of the matter. In the case of Carnan, the right of the Stationers' Company to the almanack monopoly was defended on every ground that can apply to Bibles and Testaments. It was
vehemently urged by counsel that the validity of the patent was supported by several decisions in the courts of law, as will forthwith more fully appear. In the Company of the Stationers and Lee, the claim of the Company as grantees of the sole printing of almanacks, is put on the king's right as supreme head of the Church to restrain, regulate, and license prognostications of future events. In the Company of Stationers v. Seymour,* the matter is very profoundly managed; it is put partly on the ground of original enclosure, and that so much of the right of printing as had been kept enclosed, had never been 'made common;' and partly on the ground that there is no particular author of an almanack, and then by rule of our law * the king has property in the copy! In other cases, too, the judgment was in favor of the Company's sole right to print almanacks in the terms of their patent. To all these decisions in favor of the Stationers' Company, must be added the opinion of Mr. Justice Yates, who, in his most able and liberal judgment in Millar v. Taylor, admits the exclusive right of the crown in Bibles, Prayer-books, Primers, Psalters, statutes, acts of state, and almanacks. I
In the case of the Stationers' Company v. Carnan, all these decisions and opinions were presented and pressed, in support of the Company's exclusive right to print almanacks. To crown the whole it was further urged, that almanacks related to the religion of the country, as determining festivals and fasts, and that ever since the Acts of Uniformity which establish the Liturgy, the almanack had constituted part of the Prayer-book. Backed by all this mighty array of precedents and circumstances, Serjeants Glynn and Hill appeared in the Court of Common Pleas in support of it. In the course of the argument, which they conducted with consummate ability, they laid down a principle of great importance in the Bible case, viz., ' That the * judges had no standard by which to determine whether the
almanack was a prerogative book, and which, therefore, could be made a subject of monopoly, than by settling upon princi
ples of good sense, whether it ought to be one. All their arguments went to prove the affirmative. They felt and confessed that monopoly had, and could have, no foundation but in the public good-a pretence which is always doubtful, always perilous. On this point Erskine put forth his strength before the Commons. “There is no telling,' said the advocate, “to what • such precedents may lead;—the public welfare was the burden
'to the licensing acts;—the most tyrannical laws, in the most
absolute governments, speak a kind parental language to the ' abject wretches who groan under their crushing and humilia'ting weight ;-resisting, therefore, a regulation and supervision of the press beyond the rules of the common law, I lose sight of my client, and feel that I am speaking for myself,—for every man ' in England! With such a legislature as I have now the 'honor to address, I confess the evil is imaginary,—but who 'can look into the future? This precedent (trifling as it may
seem) may hereafter afford a plausible inlet to much mischief, '—the protection of the law may be a pretence for a monopoly 'in all books on legal subjects;—the safety of the state may ' require the suppression of histories and political writings ;'even philosophy herself may become once more the slave of 'the schoolmen, and religion fall again under the iron fetters of the church !'*
In spite of all this array it was that the judges declared, that the king had no power to grant such a monopoly, and that the Commons of England, after listening to the arguments of Erskine, refused by a large majority, not to re'new,' as they pretended, but to create a monopoly in almanacks to the Company of Stationers and the two Universities. · The fallacy,' said the advocate, lies in supposing that the • Universities and Stationers' Company ever had a right to the monopoly which they have exercised so long. The preamble
of the bill supposes it; but, as it is a supposition in the very ' teeth of a judgment of law-it is only an aggravation of the impudence of the application. If the Universities have lost an
advantage, enjoyed contrary to law, and at the expense of 'sound policy and liberty, you (the Commons) will rejoice that 'the courts below have pronounced that wise and liberal judgment against them, and will not set the evil example of reversing it.
Such is the history of the glorious struggle of Carnan against the patent which gave the monopoly of almanacks. Let our readers distinctly understand, we again repeat, that almanacks stood, to all intents, upon the same foundation with Bibles and Testaments. In all the arguments of counsel, and in all the judgments of the bench, they have been always classed together as part and parcel of the same system, as constituent elements of a compound privilege, and as objects resting on the same basis.
The right of the crown to exclusive printing, and the con
* Speeches, vol. i. p. 18.
slates, and such "purchase to divine servis sprinciplesce, expense of composition copies of all 3rd. He is
sequent creation of monopolies, is thus stated by Blackstone.* “The king, as the executive magistrate, has the right
of promulgating to the people all acts of state and govern'ment, and the right of printing at his own press all acts of
parliament, proclamations, and orders of council. 2nd. As supreme head of the Church, he hath a right to the publica<tion of all liturgies and books of divine service. 3rd. He is 'said to have a right by purchase to the copies of all law books,
grammars, and such other compositions as were compiled or 'translated at the expense of the crown—and upon these two ' last principles combined, the exclusive right of printing the 'translation of the Bible is founded.'
Here by this great constitutional lawyer the matter is brought explicitly before us. On this principle we undertake to make out a case demonstrative of the perfect right and uncontrolable freedom of all printers to print the sacred Scriptures. The royal restraint, it will be found, lies not in the printing, but in the use. Erskine, in his speech for Carnan, admits that the sovereign has a right to publish “religious and civil constitu'tions '—that is, as executive magistrate, he has a right to publish acts of parliament, orders of council, &c., for the regulation of civil government; and, as head of the Church, he has an equal right to publish Bibles, Testaments, liturgies, and forms of prayer to be read in the churches of which he is the head. To „all this he has a right, but to nothing more. This is the limit of political and religious necessity, and consequently the limit of royal prerogative, which is strictly bounded by that necessity. The sovereign may print for his own Church, and order that in the said Church no other books shall be used than those of his preparation. But this is the uttermost extent of his prerogative. This is all that is required even by the largest interpretation of the principles of Blackstone. It is high time that the reign of absurdity, combined with oppression, should terminate! It is utterly preposterous to hold that the king, as head of the Church by law established, has, therefore, and necessarily, any exclusive right over the Bible. It may as reasonably be argued that because he has his own dock-yard for his own navy, that he, by consequence, has the right of building hulls, making blocks and masts, and forging chains and anchors for the whole mercantile service of England! His own docks exist for his own fleets; but all his subjects may build vessels for themselves according to their own pleasure. It is exactly so, both in law and in reason, as respects his Church and his printing-press.
* Vol. ii. p. 410.