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CHAP, himself, that the matter should be discussed. The Duke of C X L V
Richmond, having congratulated the House on the prospect before them, begged that the day might be fixed. — Lord Mansfield. "I have only said I will hereafter give my opinion; and as to fixing a day, I will not fix a day." The matter here dropped, and never was resumed, Lord Mansfield's want of moral courage holding him back from a renewal of the contest, and Lord Camden thinking that he had gained a sufficient triumph.*
The morning after this encounter, he received the following kind and flattering inquiry from Lord Chatham: —
"Pall Mall, Wednesday.
"My dear Lord, "I am anxious to know how you do after the noble exertion of yesterday. What your Lordship did was transcendent, and as you were not quite well I am solicitous to hear of you; — though, after recollection, I think I ought to enquire how my Lord Mansfield does." f
The Ex-chancellor continued most zealously to discharge his public duty, and was indefatigable in his attendance in the House of Lords, and in hearing causes in the Privy Council, when summoned to attend there; but till the rupture with the American colonies was approaching, he seems from this time seldom to have taken a prominent part in the debates.
Lord Cam- When the Royal Marriage Act was brought forward in opinion of 1772, he strongly opposed it. He admitted that some rcgulathe Royal ^ions were necessary to prevent the misalliance of those near to Act. the throne; but he disapproved of the proposed enactments, and he strongly pointed out the inconvenience and injustice which might arise from the proposal to extend them to all the descendants of George II., who, according to the common process of descent, might be expected in a few generations to extend to many thousands. He mentioned that he knew an undoubted legitimate descendant of a King of England who was then keeping an alehouse.—His manliness deserves great
* 16 St. Tr. 1317. 1321.
f MSS. of the present Marquis Camden.
credit, considering that the reigning Sovereign was resolved CHAP, to carry the bill as originally framed, against the advice of CXLVseveral of his Ministers,—and had expressed himself personally offended with all who questioned its wisdom.
In 1774, came on judicially in the House of Lords the His speech great question of literary property, —" whether, at common TMry p*e" law, authors have a perpetual copyright in their works?" perty." Lord Camden denied the claim; and, on his opinion, the judgment was pronounced, by which only a limited monopoly is enjoyed, as conferred by the legislature. I give a specimen of his speech, which has been loudly praised, but which I must own appears to me, though founded on right principle, to be rather declamatory: "If there be any thing in the world common to all mankind, science and literature are in their nature publici juris, and they ought to be free and general as air or water. They forget their Creator as well as their fellow-creatures, who wish to monopolise his noblest gifts and greatest benefits. Why did we enter into society at all, but to enlighten one another's minds, and improve our faculties for the common welfare of the species? Those great men, those favoured mortals, those sublime spirits, who share that ray of divinity which we call genius, are intrusted by Providence with the delegated power of imparting to their fellow-creatures that instruction which Heaven meant for universal benefit: they must not be niggards to the world, or hoard up for themselves the common stock. We know what was the punishment of him who hid his talent; and Providence has taken care that there shall not be wanting the noblest motives and incentives for men of genius to communicate to the world the truths and discoveries, which arc nothing if uncommunicated. Knowledge has no value or use for the solitary owner; to be enjoyed, it must be communicated: scire tuum nihil est, nisi te scire hoc sciat alter. Glory is the reward of science; and those who deserve it scorn all meaner views. I speak not of the scribblers for bread, who tease the world with their wretched productions; fourteen years is too long a period for their perishable trash. It was not for gain that Bacon, Newton, Milton, Locke, instructed and delighted the world. When the bookseller
offered Milton five pounds for his Pabadise Lost, he did not reject the offer and commit his piece to the flames, nor did he accept the miserable pittance as the reward of his labours; he knew that the real price of his work was immortality, and that posterity would pay it. Some authors are as careless of profit as others are rapacious of it, and in what a situation would the public be with regard to literature if there were no means of compelling a second impression of a useful work? All our learning would be locked up in the hands of the Tonsons and Lintots of the age, who could set what price upon it their avarice chooses to demand, till the whole public became as much their slaves as their own wretched hackney compilers." * — He afterwards opposed the bill introduced to extend the period of copyright f, and it was thrown out. But I think he was romantically unjust to literary men, and the controversy is at last well settled by the exertions of my friend Serjeant Talfourd % — so that literature may now be pursued as a liberal profession, offering to those who succeed in it the means of honourable support, and of making an adequate provision for their families.
After the time when Lord Camden was removed from the office of Chancellor till the Duke of Grafton quitted office and joined the opposition in 1776, they were political enemies, but they continued private friends. I will here introduce a few extracts from the letters of the former, showing the familiar intimacy which subsisted between them.
The Ex-premier having accepted the office of Lord Privy Seal under Lord North, the Ex-chancellor sent him a letter of congratulation, in which he says: "If I was not more afraid of public calumny than of any private or particular displeasure, I should certainly, as I intended, pay my respects to your Grace next week, which your Grace must now excuse me from doing, because that would look more like courting your fortune than seeking your friendship. Notwithstanding which I shall still hold myself engaged, if you please, to spend a day with your Grace at Wakefield Lodge some
time in the summer. And when every body sees, as they CHAP, will in a month or two, that I am neither partaking your CXLVgood fortune, nor paying homage to it in the moment of your preferment, I shall set at nought every other suspicion that jealousy and malversation may raise against my conduct."
To an invitation from the Duke to visit him, Lord Cam- Deal, June
den returned the following answer: "Your Grace is too great a man to feel the comfort of so private a retreat as I am enjoying, and of not being under the daily temptation of a plentiful table, when the digestion always suffers in proportion as the appetite is provoked. I am advancing apace towards the state of a steady and invincible abstinence, and begin to think I may be able to withstand all the allurements both of meat and drink. But I am sure to be in danger the moment I set my foot in Wakefield Lodge. If I should find myself sufficiently fortified to meet and resist this temptation by the month of August, I shall endeavour to take advantage of your Grace's invitation, for I should be extremely happy to keep alive that friendship which had commenced in politics, and has never been violated, though unluckily interrupted, by the same cause."
The next letter in the series is without date, but must A.». m5. have been written soon after: —" Mine and your Grace's old friend, the Earl of Chatham, still continues extremely ill. I am satisfied from the account I hear from time to time (for he sees nobody), he can never recover his health so far as to be fit for any active business, — so miserably is he reduced by age and sickness. I am, thank God, remarkably well, but your Grace must not seduce me into my former intemperance. A plain dish, and a draught of porter (which last is indispensable) are the very extent of my luxury. I have suffered a good deal, and have studied stomach disorders to such purpose, that I think I am able to teach your Grace (who are yet young) how to arrive at a strong and healthy old age,—which, I hope, will be your lot for the sake of the public as well as of your friends."
When the Duke of Grafton, seeing the injustice of the Lord CamAmerican war, and alarmed by the unskilful manner in p"kae"ofthe which it was carried on, joined Lord Chatham, Lord Rock- Grafton co
s CHAP, ingham, and Lord Shelburne, in trying to put an end to it,
Lord Camden again wrote to him, with the most unbounded operating confidence on all subjects. The following is the desponding in opposi- view taken by the Ex-chancellor of public affairs in the Jan 4 beginning of the year 1776: — "I am so satisfied of the 1776. efficacy of Bath for my constitution, that I am determined to make it another visit next spring; nor shall any consideration of politics restrain me; for, indeed, my dear Lord, the chances of doing good is at an end. So many circumstances have combined, like so many fatalities, to overturn this mighty empire, that all attempts to support it are weak and Lord Cam- ineffectual. Who could have imagined that the ministry respecting' ^ ^ave become popular by forcing this country into a the contest destructive war, and advancing the power of the crown to A"1L" a state of despotism? And yet that is the fact, and we, the
minority, suffer under the odium due only to the ministers, without the consolation either of pay or power. America is lost, and the war afoot. There is an end of advising preventive measures, and peace will be more difficult to make than war was. For your Grace justly observes that the claims of the Americans, if they are successful, will grow too big for concession, and no man here will venture to be responsible for such a treaty. For I am persuaded it will be the fate of England to stoop, though I do not know the minister to apply so humiliating a remedy. Shall we ever condescend to make that country a satisfaction for damages? and yet she will never treat without it. What, then, must be our conduct in Parliament? I am at a loss to advise, I thought from the beginning of the year secession was the only measure left. I still think the same: but I will enter the lists of a more active opposition if that shall be thought best. I wish it were possible for the whole body to unite; but union is only understood and practised on the other side of the Atlantic. That would be respectable, and perhaps formidable; but I do not expect to see it. Absence woidd look more like union to the public, and might, perhaps, join us at last into a confederacy.* If motions are to be made,
* It is surprising to find this great constitutional lawyer recommending secession from parliament — a measure wrong in principle, and which has invariably been injurious to the party resorting to it.