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his quarto edition of Mr. Gray's poems, a large extract which he took from another work. It was true also, that the fifty lines had been printed indiscriminately by others, who pretended to no exclufive property in them, that they were not written by Mr. Mason, nor bequeathed to him particularly by the author,
From every circumstance attending this matter, the ridicule of the claim became stronger, But suspecting that a gentleman of Mr. Mason's found sense and good character must have juster grounds to proceed upon than what appeared upon the face of his message, the publisher requested to be favoured with his address, in order to have a perfonal conference with him upon the fubject; and at the same time assured his agent, that he meant not designedly to invade or to injure Mr. Mason's property: Whether his messenger began to view the object of his mislion in too ludicrous a view, is unknown, but it is certain he refused to comply with this civil requifition.
The publisher, however, desirous to come to an explanation concerning this matter, procured Mr. Mason's address through another channel, and waited
: At this conference he proved, first, That it was he immemorial pra&ice of booksellers to take extracts from new publications, and that none amongst them turned this practice to more account than Mr. Mason's bookseller *; and, secondly, that even supposing the act complained of to be an offence, it was hard to single out the present publisher to render legal compensation, who was not the first aggreffor, as the book had been printed by others who pretended to no exclusive right in it, long before his edition became 'extant; had be ever previously heard of Mr. Mason's pre
* Mr. Becket in the year 1769 published, at the price of One. or Two Shillings, a well-written and popular poem, consisting of about 300 verses, intitled “ An Ode, upon dedicating a Building " and erecting a Statue, to Shakespeare: by Mr. Garrick,” Mr. Dodney without fcruple applied this performance to his own use, by inserting it intire in the Annual Register. Has Mr, Dodsley made any compensation for this deliberate act of piracy to the proprietor ? Or bas Mr. Becket sought redress for the injury by a Chancery suit ? Again, has Mr Dodfley offered any compensation to Mr. Murray for the different piracies he has committed upon his bogks? Or do Mr, Mason and his bookseller assume an exclusive right to appropriate to their respective uses what portion they please of every new literary performance that comes abroad, while they prosecute another person with the utmost severity of the law for taking the same liberty ? Mr, DodNey takes deliberately overy year. 1000 verses for the use of his Annual Regiler with impunity; but the printing of so verses inadvertently by the present publisher is, converted into an heinous trespass, and becomes the ground of a ria gorous legal ioveligation.
tenfions. But in order to fhew how little reason the author of Elfrida had particularly to censure him, without entering at all into the practice of the trade on one hand, or the claim of property on the other, he defired Mr. Mason to specify what sum he chose. to receive as compensation for the offence complained of.
The publisher never admitted Mr. Mason's legal right of property in these verses :--but a great deal could not be exacted for fifty lines; and he wished no gentleman of respectable character to impute a deliberate injury to him, which he was certainly very far from intending.
Mr. Mason remained silent to his overture ; and after repeating it to him as distinctly as he could, the publisher took his leave, imagining he wanted time to consider of it.
Such is the faithful account of this litle transaction; nor will Mr. Mason deny its authenticity or exactness. The publisher was a stranger to Mr. Gray's executor, except by reputation. He is un. conscious of having failed in the respect due to him ; and the value of Mr. Mason's character would not have suffered diminution, had he been equally dif
posed to treat the publither with civility and attention.
It was hardly possible after this equitable procedure, to expect to be troubled with an oppressive prosecution ; from any man such conduct would have been esteemed ungenerous; from a clergyman, whose duty it is to sow peace and good will amongst men, it wears not a more favourable aspect.
Mr. Mason, nevertheless, without further notice, filed a bill in Chancery, against the publisher ; and retained Mr. Thurlow, Mr. Wedderburn, and Mr. Dunning for his Counsel.
Fifty lines surely cannot be an object for a man to throw a hundred pounds, or more money, after; it leads an impartial person to fufpect, that Mr. Ma. son has a further object in view; and that, although
* Mr. Mason sends an agent professedly to require satisfaction or compensation for an infringement of property. Without entering into the merits of this claim, he is desired to prescribe his own terms of redress. In return for this offer, he files a billin Chancery against the supposed offender, and continues to urge his suit, merely to load the defendant with costs; for he cannot entertain the most distant idea of being awarded damages for an infringement of 50 lines of literary property, admitting (which is by no mcans granted) that his claim is founded.
Let this behaviour be reconciled to honour, to morality, or as Mr. Mason is in holy orders) to the practice of piety!
- he has realized already nearly one thousand pounds from the profits of his quarto edition of Mr. Gray's poems, he is not satisfied, but de fires to suppress the publisher's little volume altogether, although it has not hitherto paid the expences incurred in printing it, in order to retain the monopoly of Mr. Gray's poems intirely in his own hands.
If his behaviour can be reconciled to a better principle, the publisher will readily confess it, and wishes to discover a motive less felfth, in order to speak of it; for although he disapproves of his condud, he disclaims all animofity towards Mr. Mafon, and is forry that the present recital does not tend more to the credit of his character.
But Mr. Mason means to erect a monument in Westminster Abbey to the memory of Mr. Gray *, with the profits acquired by his book ;-will this intention, disinterested as it is, if true, justify or excuse his present proceeding against a man, who, so far from offending, has offered him his own terms of compenfation for an action, merely because he complained, though it was morally just ?
* This report is new. Perhaps it has commenced fince the date of Mr. Murray's public letter to Mr. Mafon. In any view, how gver, we confess the sacrifice of his emolument to be great.