By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: A Battle of the Books, recorded by an unknown writer for the use of authors and publishers - To the first for doctrine, to the second for reproof, to - both for correction and for instruction in righteousness
Author: Hamilton, Gail
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Battle of the Books, recorded by an unknown writer for the use of authors and publishers - To the first for doctrine, to the second for reproof, to - both for correction and for instruction in righteousness" ***

Transcriber's Note.

Gail Hamilton, cited as author, is the alias of Mary Abigail Dodge.

A list of the changes made can be found at the end of the book.

Mark-up: _italic_


                         BATTLE OF THE BOOKS,

                   _RECORDED BY AN UNKNOWN WRITER_,

                            FOR THE USE OF

                        AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS:

                           IN RIGHTEOUSNESS.

                        EDITED AND PUBLISHED BY
                            GAIL HAMILTON.

                    "Why talk so dreffle big, John,
                        Of honor, when it meant
                     You didn't care a fig, John,
                     But jest for _ten per cent_?"

                            BIGLOW PAPERS.

                    Printed at the Riverside Press,
                            AND FOR SALE BY
                     HURD AND HOUGHTON, NEW YORK.

      Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by
                      H. O. HOUGHTON AND COMPANY,
    in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the District of

                         RIVERSIDE, CAMBRIDGE:
                      STEREOTYPED AND PRINTED BY
                      H. O. HOUGHTON AND COMPANY.



  I. EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION                         1

  II. AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION                        7


  IV. DECLARATION OF WAR                           33

  V. SKIRMISHING                                   51

  VI. A TRUCE                                      62

  VII. RENEWAL OF HOSTILITIES                      75


  IX. BATTLE OF GOG AND MAGOG                      155






THE papers comprising the following narrative, called "A Battle of the
Books," were found in my state-room after a violent storm, during a
long and dangerous sea-voyage which I was once forced to undertake.
They were much stained with salt-water, but were for the most part
legible. The name of the author or compiler is not given; but I judge,
somewhat from the chirography, chiefly from incontestable internal
evidence, that the writer is a woman. As this evidence will unfold
itself to the reader in the course of the narrative, I shall not dwell
upon it; nor is it, indeed, a matter of importance, except as it bears
upon the question of the participation in the government by both sexes.
Viewed from that point, it shows with great force the inability of
women to understand affairs, and the groundlessness of the present
clamor for a change of status. It proves beyond question that all that
women need do is to trust, and all that men care to do is to protect.

The date given is of the last century, but of its accuracy I am not
assured. The manuscript is soiled, and stained, and shabby enough; but
the storm which brought it to my feet would account for that. There
are references, allusions, and even names which point to a time far
within the memory of men still living; but this is not conclusive,
since I believe, according to the best scriptural exegesis, the name
of a historical person in a book, as, for instance, that of Cyrus in
Isaiah, does not determine the date, so much as the nature of the
writing, simply changing it from history to prophecy. No one, in
reading this story, will suspect it of scriptural inspiration; but
may not the writer have been in that state which is sometimes called
clairvoyant, and which is perhaps but a preternaturally acute condition
of the intellectual perceptions, wherein the logic of events is so
plainly seen that the future is as clear and certain as the past, and
that which is to happen seems as much a matter of fact as that which
has happened? If the human mind can calculate an eclipse of the sun,
with entire accuracy, three thousand years beforehand, why should it
be thought a thing incredible that the human heart should be able to
calculate some of the incidents of an eclipse of faith a hundred years
in advance?

But as upon the question of authorship, so upon that of chronology, I
conceive the strongest evidence to be internal. The state of society
described in this narrative is surely no nearer than a hundred years.
It chronicles an age of barbarism, when author and publisher were
natural enemies, and relieved the monotony of their lives by petty
skirmishing or pitched battles with each other. This age, happily for
us, has passed away, and exists only in tradition. Whether from the
universal softening of manners which accompanies the introduction
of Christianity, and in which both publishers and authors may be
supposed to have shared, or from that equally universal brightening and
quickening of the intellect which attended the Renaissance, and which
may have enabled even publishers to see how he that watereth shall be
watered also himself,--certain it is that these times of turbulence
are gone, and we have peace. No longer does the wily publisher lie in
wait, seeking what chance he may have to devour his author. Rather he
woos him to receive his dues, wins open with gentle urgency the hand
no longer grasping, but modest and reluctant, and presses into it the
crisp, abundant bills. No longer do authors shamelessly drink toasts to
the despotic emperor to whose thousand crimes is linked the one virtue
of having hanged a bookseller. On the contrary, they raise their harps
and join voices to sing their benefactor's praise. Who has not seen in
all the newspapers the affecting tale of the great house of Fields,
Osgood, & Co.,--_nomen clarum et venerabile_,--on whom has fallen the
mantle of Ticknor & Fields?

    "Fame spread her wings, and with her trumpet blew"

the story of their having offered payment to an author, which he
declined to receive because he had once had money for the writing.
"But," replied the firm, "we intend to use the article for a book.
We make a profit on both. Why should you hesitate to take pay?" "I
am sure I ought not to take it," said the author; "I should not if I
acted according to my ideal. I don't believe it is honest to take money
twice for the same piece of work." "But do," replied the publisher; "we
insist upon it as our right;" and insist he did, till the author coyly
yielded. History is silent from this point, but the imagination fondly
stoops to trace the scene. Undoubtedly this prince of publishers, like
Mr. Pecksniff when blessing Martin Chuzzlewit for hating him, "waved
his right hand with much solemnity.... There was emotion in his manner,
but his step was firm. Subject to human weaknesses, he was upheld by

Hear also what the "Atlantic Monthly" says: "There are no business men
more honorable or more generous than the publishers of the United
States, and especially honorable and considerate towards authors. The
relation usually existing between author and publisher in the United
States is that of a warm and lasting friendship,--such as ... now
animates and dignifies the intercourse between the literary men of New
England and Messrs. Ticknor & Fields.... The relation, too, is one of
a singular mutual trustfulness. The author receives his semi-annual
account from the publisher with as absolute a faith in its correctness
as though he had himself counted the volumes sold.... We have heard of
instances in which a publisher had serious cause of complaint against
an author, but never have we known an author to be intentionally
wronged by a publisher.... How common, too, it is in the trade for a
publisher to go beyond the letter of his bond, and after publishing
five books without profit, to give the author of the successful sixth
more than the stipulated price."

Time and scissors would fail me to cull from the journals all the
ingenious and touching paragraphs which show how the eminent publishers
referred to do good by stealth and blush to find it fame.

Doubtless similar illustrations might also be drawn in great numbers
from other sources, were ordinary publishers in the courtly habit of
keeping a historian to record their royal deeds. But enough has been
said to show that the publishers of to-day have become evangelized, and
no longer seek every man his own, but every man the things of another.
I infer, therefore, without hesitation, that the dates of the following
papers are correct, and that, notwithstanding a certain confusion
in the nomenclature, the state of things they describe, belongs
exclusively to the good old times of a hundred years ago.

Joined to the main body of the narrative were injunctions the most
imperative regarding its publication. But even had I chosen to
disregard these, there are other reasons which might have impelled me
to the same course. As one sitting by his own fireside glows with a
deeper content for the sound of the storm without, so we, who live in
this golden age of love, may all the more rejoice, seeing how they let
their angry passions rise in the brave days of old.

I would say, then, borrowing the language of an old Sunday-school

    "Authors, attend, while I relate
      A new and simple story;
    'Twill teach your hearts with thankfulness
      To praise the Lord of glory"

that the lines have fallen to you in pleasant places, and that you
receive your goodly heritage without having to fight for it.




WHEN, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for an author
to dissolve the bands which have connected him with his publishers,
a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that he should
declare the causes which impel him to the separation.

The war between authors and publishers has been a conflict of ages.
On the one side, the publisher has been looked upon as a species of
Wantley dragon, whose daily food was the brain and blood of hapless

    "Devouréd he poor authors all,
      That could not with him grapple;
    But at one sup he ate them up,
      As one would eat an apple."

On the other side, the author has been considered, like Shelley, "an
eternal child" in all that relates to practical business matters,
and a terrible child at that,--incapable of comprehending details,
and unreasonably dissatisfied with results. A definite illustration
will sometimes throw more light on a general principle than reams
of abstract discussion. But in matters of this sort, definite
illustrations are very hard to come at. In any case of trouble between
author and publisher, it is for the interest of the latter that it
be kept as quiet as possible. Even if he be unquestionably right,
and the difficulty be owing solely to the author's inexperience and
impracticability, the ill odor of having had a quarrel will hardly be
neutralized by any knowledge of its causelessness. The sympathy of the
public is more likely to be with the author than with the publisher.

The author also is held to silence by various considerations. The
difficulty of getting at the real state of the case, and the misgiving
which results from it; the always unpleasant nature of the controversy;
the obtrusion of one's private affairs, as if it were a theme of
general interest; the uncertainty of any good to be obtained; the
fatigue and disgust of the quarrel itself,--a thousand circumstances
combine to make it appear altogether easier and better to let the
matter go than to take the trouble of any adequate presentation or
explanation of it. But as he is never quite satisfied, he can never
quite let it go; and though there come not a real thunder-storm
crashing among the hills, but clearing the skies, there are low
mutterings and occasional flashes, which betoken a signal discontent of
the elements.

Thus exists the chronic feud between authors and publishers; partly
traditional, partly experimental; a matter often for outward jest,
but quite as often of deep and serious import. It is a sort of
bush-whacking, in which every man whacks on his own account, and
frequently does not know that there is any other bushwhacker than
himself. So the warfare goes on, but to no end. Nobody learns wisdom
from another man's experience, because the other man keeps his
experience to himself.

I propose to supply what the theologians call a "felt want," and to
become the historian of a contest all of which I saw, and part of
which I was. From the confusions of long misunderstanding I would fain
evolve an intelligent and lasting peace. "When," in the language of Dr.
Johnson, "I am animated by this wish, I look with pleasure on my book,
however defective, and deliver it to the world with the spirit of a
man that has endeavored well." If it be instigated by any other motive
than pure benevolence, the fact will doubtless appear in its progress.
Should my little cask of oil be poured out in vain upon the stormy
waters,--should I, instead of soothing their rage, be whelmed beneath
it,--there remains the consoling assurance that no one else is involved
in my fate.

It would be hypocritical to apologize for the intrusion of private
affairs upon public notice, when it is notorious that there is
nothing the public so dearly loves, nothing upon which it so eagerly
fastens, nothing which it so greedily devours, as private affairs.
Indeed, the privacy of affairs seems to be sometimes the only element
of interest they possess, and the delight which the public finds in
them is proportioned to the amount of good manners it was necessary to
sacrifice in order to get at them.[1]

I give fair warning that this narration is not intended to be of
interest or value to any but authors and publishers. A log-book is
not generally considered very entertaining reading, yet it may be
scanned with great eagerness by those who are following the track
it chronicles. This is simply the log-book of a desperate voyage, a
careful knowledge of which may prevent many a young mariner from being
drawn into it himself.




MY relations with the house of Brummell and Hunt began somewhere about
the year 1760. Until 1768 these relations had always been agreeable.
I seemed to be living in an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant
fruits. I thought, as Mr. Tennyson remarked to the lily, "there is but
one" publishing house, and that is the house of Messrs. Brummell &
Hunt. All others were to me outside barbarians, mercenary hirelings,
mere hewers of wood and drawers of water. Messrs. Brummell & Hunt
published on high moral grounds, from love of literature and general
benevolence. Gingerbread followed their virtue, indeed, but had no
part nor lot in it. My dealings were with Mr. Hunt, and the business
aspect of our connection came to be nearly lost sight of behind the
veil of friendship. Money arrangements I left entirely to him. I
never stipulated for anything, either on books or magazine articles.
I considered that he best knew the money value of these things, and
that, as we are constantly told, the interest of author and that of
publisher are one. He accordingly paid me whatever he chose, and I was
entirely satisfied.

One day in December, 1767, happening to want more money than was due
me,[2] I recollected having seen, a few weeks before, an article in the
"Segregationalissuemost,"[3] on the "Pay of Authors," which said:--

"In regard to books, the common percentage paid by publishers to
average writers is _ten per cent. upon the retail price of the book_;
the copies given to the press for notice not being included in the
estimate. Thus, for an edition of a volume whose retail price is $1.00,
the account would be made up thus: Suppose 1,000 copies to be printed,
of which 90 are distributed to the press, and otherwise given away
for notice, and the balance sold, the publishers would owe the author
(1,000-90 = 910 copies, at 10c. each) $91.00. And so proportionately
for larger works at costlier prices."

Without the least presentiment of anything uncanny, I made the
following reference to it in a letter to Mr. Hunt. This extract unfolds
the beginning of sorrows.

"Now see, in the 'Segregationalissuemost,' this very morning, I saw an
article about the pay of authors, in which it said that the ordinary
price for average authors was ten per cent. on the retail price of the
book; but according to my account I don't have ten per cent. I only
have somewhere about seven or eight per cent. Looking in my papers, I
find that all the contracts I have are only for fifteen cents on the
two-dollar volumes, which certainly is not ten per cent., except the
first contract for 'City Lights,' which says ten per cent., but the
bills or accounts, or whatever it is, are made out for that,--not at
ten per cent., but, just as the other, fifteen cents on the volume. At
least, this is the way I make it out; but I am not good at figures,
and may have made some mistake. However, here are the papers, and you
can see for yourself, or I will show them to Judge Dane when I go to
Athens. I don't like to talk about it here at home any way. But perhaps
you will know all about it from what I have said, and perhaps it is all
right. But certainly I am an 'average writer,' and you are an 'ordinary
publisher,' not to say extraordinary! And I want all the money I can
possibly get and more too! Especially ---- dollars by and by.

"It just occurs to me that you may possibly think that I think
that _you_ have been falling into temptation! My dear friend and
fellow-sinner, if you should stand up with both hands on your heart,
and swear that you had cheated me, I should not believe you. I should
say, 'Poor fellow, work and worry have done their work. His brilliant
intellect----I saw a lovely private asylum in Corinth. I would go there
and spend the summer!'

  "Yours, sane or insane,

  "M. N."

I waited nearly two weeks, and then, receiving no reply to this letter,
I wrote to my friend, Mr. Jackson, a book-publisher of Corinth, asking
him several questions, but avoiding as far as possible any personality,
or giving rise to any suspicion. I hoped he would think I was merely
collecting information. On the 16th of January, nearly three weeks
after my letter was sent, came a reply from Mr. Hunt, in which the only
reference to my inquiry was:--

"I have not answered your last letter, touching the terms expressed in
the contracts; for you and I went over that matter once, and it was
with your entire concurrence with our views, based upon the present
state of trade and manufacture, that the amount was decided on. When
you come to town, we will go all over it again, and it will be again
settled to your entire satisfaction."

This reply did not meet my question. I was aware that I had concurred
in their views, as my name on the contract showed it. But I was not
aware of ever having gone over the matter; and I did not care for a
second settlement while I was as yet unassured of a first. I wrote
again, replying also to an invitation by telegram received the same day
from a member of Mr. Hunt's family.


"That is great of you to come down here with a gay letter, and utterly
blink out of sight the fact of your having made me wretched for three
weeks by not writing. _Of course_ I concurred in your views. If you
had said to me, 'Owing to the state of trade and manufactures, all the
trees are now going to be bread and cheese, and all the rivers ink,' I
should have said, 'Yes, that is a very wise measure.' I don't remember
ever talking the thing over with you, but I dare say I did,--or,
rather, you talked, and I nodded, as usual! And of course I agreed;
for here are the contracts that say so, and if I don't know what is in
those contracts and accounts, it is not for want of patient industry.
If I had as many dollars as I have pored over those miserable papers
the last two weeks, I would build a meeting-house. Don't you see the
trouble lies back of the contract? Why did you _wish_ me to be having
seven or eight per cent. when other people are getting ten? If it was
because I was not worth more, you need not be afraid to say so. I can
bear a great deal of rugged truth. But why am I not worth more, when
there is not a paper of any standing in the country, to put it rather
strongly, that has not applied to me to become a contributor, offering
me my own terms? Does not that show that I have at least a commercial
value? Writing books seems a more dignified thing than writing
newspapers, but in point of money there is no comparison to be made.[4]
I could have got five times as much by putting 'Cotton-picking' in the
form of letters as I have from the book.

"When day after day went by, and you did not write, I came to the
conclusion that your High Mightiness was standing on your dignity,
and then _I_ was indignant too. I can always be a great deal more
angry with any one than any one is with me, and I always _will_ be.
And I said last week, 'If he does not write me by Saturday, I will do
something.' And what I did was--write to Mr. Jackson. Now you will
perhaps be vexed at this, but you have no right to be. Do you think I
am going to die, and give no sign? Mr. Jackson is an older friend than
you,--I said an older soldier, not a better!--and then you did not
write. I did not mention your name, nor say anything about myself or
my affairs, only asked some general questions. I tell you this because
your letter was good-natured. If it had been cross, I would not tell
you anything; and if you will be as perplexed and uneasy for three
weeks as I was, and not do anything worse than that, I will award you
a gold medal. Mr. Hunt, you ought never under any circumstances to be
angry with me. In your large circle of friends you may have scores who
will bring you more personal revenue; but for the quality of loyalty
'pure and simple,' you will not find many who will go beyond me. I may
be infelicitous and inexplicable in demonstration, but I was never
anything but thoroughly true in mood.

"The telegram came this morning in due season. A thousand thanks for
her kind remembrance, but of course I was not going to Athens with
your letter staring me in the face. Talking it over is the very thing
I don't want to do. There is nothing to be talked over. There are the
papers. I admit them all. But when ---- takes you to task for some
misdemeanor,--and if ever you go to the good place, it will be because
that woman has pulled you through,--you don't say, 'What are you
talking about? When I offered myself to you, did you not say you would
have me for better, for worse; and are you not perfectly satisfied?'
She was satisfied then according to her lights, but doubtless she has
thought twenty times since she might have done better. Any way, you
don't 'dast' ask her and see. Now my case is not parallel. 'England,
with all thy faults, I love thee still.' I cannot conceive of anybody
being a better publisher than you, because you don't seem like a
business man, but a friend. But here is the fact that I want [so much]
and I have only [so much] to get it with, and sales falling off, and I
getting on what is sold less than an unknown author gets on his first
book. Can you tell in a month whether the new book is going to sell or
not? I have another children's book nearly ready, but I suppose decency
demands an appreciable interval between two issues. Do you suppose the
unpopularity of my doctrines has anything to do with it? If it has, I
will thunder them out harder still. If I must go down, I will go down,
like the _Cumberland_, with a broadside volley.

"Of the books I want I don't know how many,--a dozen or two. If people
won't buy them, I will give them away, for read them they shall....

"I will now close this short note with the reflection which I have
often made,--Be good, and you will be happy. And never bring up against
me a concurrence of views at any past time as a fortification against
_dis_currence in the present. And if that is, like Saint Paul, hard to
be understood,--good enough for you for not writing me sooner, and
throwing me into such a perturbation. Remember always the difference
between the assent of indifference and the assent of conviction.
Whatever I agreed to in times past was because I had no interest
whatever in the subject, and supposed it was all according to the laws
of the Medes and Persians. Now that ruin gapes before me, and I am,
after all, only the law unto myself, it makes no atom of difference to
me that I have not been fighting you the last century--steady.

"While I am in a spasm of comparative serenity, I will declare
and affirm that you are and always have been one of the kindest,
brightest, and most agreeable of men; that you never said to me a word
of compliment, or silliness, or impatience, or anything that wounded
me,--and Heaven knows you have said bad things enough,--and this you
may cut out, and show to men and angels when we come to blows. The
worst thing I ever knew you to do was not answering my last letter, and
then _aggravating_ me by coming down as breezy and cheery as if nothing
had happened. Give my love to----. She deserves a better fate, but I
don't know that I can do aught to forward it."

Mr. Hunt's reply to this letter was through another person; in which
reply the only response to my letter was:--

"I sent off my telegram with perfect unconsciousness of your state
of mind, or of the fact that there was any business unsettled which
might be talked about. Your note last night was a surprise, and your
non-appearance a disappointment....

"Do you forget that a certain friend of ours cannot write a word with
his own hand? Do you wonder, matters having been many times explained,
that he thought they must sooner or later explain themselves through
your memory?

"_We_ forget how in a retired life things work in the mind, and you
must therefore forgive the apparent neglect of one who is overwhelmed
by letters and people from day's beginning to day's end."

This reply was not soothing. The suggestion that one is morbidly
suffering mole-hills to rise into mountains is not flattering to his
intellectual calibre. Nor is it agreeable to be assigned the part of
one who had been so given to dissatisfaction that it was not worth
while to try to quiet him again. One thing I did learn from it,--that
Mr. Hunt did not design to answer my question.

I none the less desired an answer. I thought if I could not secure it,
perhaps some one else could. Mr. Dane was an old friend of Mr. Hunt's,
and a friend of mine. His office was but a short distance from Mr.
Hunt's. He had chanced to write me some excellent advice about saving
money just before,--without, however, any knowledge of this affair.
I wanted somebody's opinion, and I could not talk about the matter. I
therefore wrote to Mr. Dane a letter of self-justification, not to say

"You think, perhaps, because I have once or twice lost a few things,
therefore I take no heed of anything. On the contrary, there is
probably no one in the land who, on the whole, is more careful,
systematic, and provident than I! Truth!... There is no such thing as
independence, or dignity, scarcely honesty, without money. Perhaps that
is putting it a little too strong, but at any rate _impecuniosity_ is a
constant temptation.

"I should have ... more if I had had ten per cent. on the books, as
the 'Segregationalissuemost' said the other day was the custom for
new authors. I don't. I have only fifteen cents on a two-dollar book,
and ten cents on a dollar-and-a-half book, which is not nearly ten
per cent.; and if you can tell me any reason why I should not have as
much as an unfledged author, I wish you would put up your patents and
do it.... I want money just now extremely. If I had a few thousand
dollars, I could benefit some very excellent persons certainly, and
in all probability should lose nothing myself, but in the course of a
few years, by the time I should want my money at least, have it all
back. I _can_ take up bonds to be sure, and I rather think I shall;
but as a general thing, one never wants to meddle with money that is
settled. Don't you think I talk sensibly? Don't you take back your
insinuations about my loose habits of expenditure? Unthrift, reckless
expenditure, improvidence, indicate an organic defect of character.
But I will not sacrifice the present to the future. 'The present, the
present, is all thou hast for thy sure possessing.' Whenever I see an
imminent need, I will not pass it by on the score of laying up for a
rainy day. For, don't you see, when the rainy day comes, I may not
be here to be rained on, while to my friend the rainy day is already
come. I will enjoy money as I go along,--not in so reckless a way as to
involve the necessity of one day imposing a burden upon others. And of
all enjoyment, I know of none so delightful and inexhaustible, and I
may say so marvelous, as to see the amount of relief, the quantity of
sunshine and help, put into another's life by the judicious bestowal of
even a very little money.[5]

"Did you ever see such a letter as this? It is full of me, me, me,
_and_ me's money; but you began it. Your letter came down upon me just
when I have been full of perplexity for more than a month, and you
see I have not strength enough to keep myself to myself. You will of
course consider this all confidential. You better make sure of it by
destroying the letter as soon as you have read it. Yes, by all means.
Seems as if this letter was sort of virtuous. But you know I am not
virtuous at all. And don't misconstrue me about the books. Mr. Hunt has
always been everything that was generous and friendly, and I do not
permit myself to admit for a moment, even to myself, that everything
is not just as it should be. But that paragraph in the 'S.' induced
me to examine my own papers,--joined with my great longing for money
just now,--and I did not and do not understand it. Happily, it is not
necessary I should. Perhaps that refers chiefly to the great Corinthian
publishing houses."


"Ten per cent. was a fair amount--I mean ten per cent. on the retail
price--for B. & H. to pay you. When they put their dollar books up to
two dollars, whether they should pay you the same percentage, should
depend on their profits, and should be a matter of honor with them.
Probably at first they did not double their profits with their price,
but now I have no doubt they do, and more too. Still you are very much
in their hands, and it is very disagreeable for you to help yourself.
If the sale fell off with increase of price, although the profit per
volume was at the same percentage, they would make less money by doing
less business.

"Did you make any contract with them ever, and what was it?

"I don't believe anybody ever gets less than ten per cent. on _the
price_; but it may be on the wholesale price, which is forty per cent.
off the retail--_i.e._ a book that retails at $1.40 is wholesaled at
$1.00. Pardon me, but I never imagine that a woman comprehends what
per cent. means! Yes, your principles are good, but your practice is
probably very deficient."


"I am going to finish up about _my_ business now, and then I shall not
ever mention the subject again. But I did want to talk with somebody
about it, having so little reliance on my own judgment. And your letter
came just then, and so I wrote. I have never mentioned it to another
soul. Confucius is a great deal better friend to me than you ever
were or ever will be, but somehow I could not speak to him about it. I
don't want to _speak_ to any one. Besides I was afraid he would take up
against Mr. Hunt.

"I have looked into my papers, but I cannot make much out of them....
I never thought the first thing about it till I saw in the 'S.' what
I told you before--and I hardly thought of it then; but several weeks
after, when I wanted money, and my account for this year was less than
I expected, I hunted up the old 'S.' to see if I had read it right, and
then I wrote to Mr. Hunt without thought of there being anything wrong,
but asking him how it was. I supposed there was some _modus operandi_,
... and wanted to know what. It was nearly three weeks before he wrote
again, and then came a pleasant letter; but all he said about mine
was--[then follows an account of the correspondence.]

"Now I must confess I feel next door to being insulted. I hate to use
the word, but there it is. ---- is as innocent and as good as an angel,
and does not in the least know what she is writing about. But all that
Mr. Hunt ever said to me on the subject, or I to him, did not occupy
five minutes, and he never spoke but once. That was years ago. It must
have been before the second contract was made. He said that owing to
the fluctuations of the market, the uncertainties arising from the
war, or something of that sort, they were going to give their authors
a fixed sum--fifteen cents per volume--instead of a percentage. It was
at a time when prices (of books) were changing from one dollar and a
quarter to two dollars, but I don't know exactly when. I assented of
course; I neither knew nor cared anything about it. I had no interest
in it. And that is all that has ever passed between us. Even now I have
not the least fault to find if I am on the same footing as others.
But why does he not say so? Do you think I am entirely unreasonable
in being dissatisfied? I wish you would tell me if you think so, for
it is like death almost to think it possible that Mr. Hunt should be
in the wrong. I have had the most implicit confidence in him. I like
him so much that I hate to hear a word said against the 'Adriatic,' or
anything that he is concerned in. I would have been delighted to write
for him for nothing if he had needed the money, and asked me.... Mr.
Hunt's last letter to me by ---- was January 18. I did not reply to it,
and so the matter stands. I shall never say or do anything more about
it. You cannot conceive how distasteful it is to me. Nothing in all my
life--literary--ever touched me so nearly. If I had lost every speck
of money that I had--twice over--it would not have so disheartened me.
Confidence must be entire, or it is nothing. Do not you ever speak to
any one of this.... I shall never mention it. A dead friendship is as
sacred as a dead friend.

[But if your dead friend will not rest quietly in his grave, but
persists in stalking up and down the earth, scaring the timid,
oppressing the weak, and boasting all the time his own beneficence, you
may presently learn with Browning, that even

        "Serene deadness
    Tries a man's temper."]

"Now I hope I have not overwearied you with my tiresome letter. You
need not be afraid of a repetition of it. In fact, there is nothing
more to say,--which you will perhaps think the strongest security of
all. I hope that you are good,--at least that you are content with
nothing less than good,--which is the highest that any of us can go, I
fancy. I think you had better burn this letter too. It will be safest."


"Let us try your case by admitted principles. Inasmuch as you put
yourself into Mr. Hunt's hands to do what was right, he was bound to
pay you as much as others receive upon whose winnings the same profits
are made. This is Law, Gospel, & Co. If he did more, it would be
generosity; if less, meanness or worse.

"He agreed for ten per cent. on the 'City Lights,' and pays you fifteen
cents per copy, which is exactly right if it retailed at one dollar
fifty cents; and he pays you the same on the rest, I understand you.

"Whether he was reasonable in asking you to assent to the fifteen cents
per copy depends on his sales. If they were very small, he would make
less than if large. I suppose you own the copyright, but he owns the
stereotype plates, which cost the same whether many or few copies are
printed. If when paper, and so forth, increased in value, he increased
the price _pro rata_, and the sales continued the same, he made a
larger profit, and should pay you more; that is, your percentage
should continue as large. Now, if he sends you any proper accounts of
sales, they will tell the story as to the number of copies sold, but
not whether they cost fifty or a hundred per cent. more than formerly.
Jackson or any book-publisher would know as to that.

"It would seem that you have received the minimum price, according
to Jackson and the Segregationalissuemost, and my own notions. Your
books are well printed on tinted paper, and your _notions_ may have
abridged the profits. I mean you may have required expensive editions,
more so than was profitable; but I think not. Will you just show me
your contracts and accounts of sales.... I am bound professionally to
secresy, and my habits are fixed, so that I tell nobody other people's

"It is due to Mr. Hunt that you investigate the matter to some
conclusion.... Mr. Hunt mistook your position. Your ready assent to
his proposition and your confidence in him, which rendered any sharp
bargaining unnecessary on your part, was interpreted as inability to
comprehend matters of business; and so they said you understood it
once, and will again when you are where you can be talked to. You gave
no heed to what was said, and it is a waste of ink to write it all out!

"But you and I know better. Your mind is logical, and your simplicity
as to business a sham."


"Thank you for your letter....

"Second, I don't know whether the sales were large or small. Enormous I
should say, considering the quality of what was sold; but I don't know
what would be considered large as compared with other books. I remember
that the 'New Zealander,' a good while ago, said that for any book not
a novel five thousand was a success; and I think all mine, or nearly
all, have come up to that, and some must have gone beyond it.

"Third, I do not know who owns the copyright or the stereotype plates.
I never heard anything about either.

"Fourth, I am perfectly willing to push the matter to any agreeable
conclusion; but suppose I inquire around among the publishers, and find
that I have been underpaid, what do I gain? No money, for that is all
past and gone. Will it give me back Mr. Hunt? Does that strike you as
sentimental? It does me. Nevertheless, that is what it means.

"Next, it is very cool in you, if the mercury _is_ below zero,--when
you have always been telling that a woman has no logic, and that _I_
have no logic, and other similar endearments,--to turn around now and
quietly speak of my logical mind as if you had been preaching it up
all your life. _I_ knew it, but it is a good deal to have you even
indirectly confess it. As for business, if I chose to turn my attention
to it, I have no doubt I could master all its details, just as I could
in cooking. But if you have a cook or a publisher for the express
purpose of doing the business for you, what is the use of perplexing
yourself about it?

"I am purposing to go to Athens next Saturday. I will gather up my
papers and take them to you, if you will burden yourself with them, but
it is a thankless task.... But I really do not want to talk about it.

"I had yesterday a hearty sort of letter from Mr. Hunt. He says that an
unusual interest ever since the day of publication of 'The Rights of
Men' was evident on all hands; that elaborate newspaper notices have
followed the book in profuse showers; and though business is singularly
slow this season, he thinks it will have a good sale. He also says,
'When you come again, remember if there are any business matters to be
set right, we are to do it then,' and 'When the juvenile book is ready,
pray send it, for it takes some time to have illustrations made, and we
are even now preparing for autumn.'

"Now that does not read like a man who is conscious of anything
blameworthy. It would be impossible he should go on talking as
pleasantly, and cheerily, and carelessly as if nothing had happened, if
anything _had_ happened. Doesn't it look so to you? And why should it
be? Brummell and Hunt are famous for their generosity and liberality,
and what motive could they have in changing their course for me? It
seems to me like an ugly dream. I wish I never had thought of it at
all. They could not have been any worse off, and I might have been


"You throw yourself unreservedly into the arms of your publishers.
Few of us can safely be trusted so far. Mr. Hunt has apparently given
you the minimum share, but I do not know even that, and you don't
without inquiry.... What I should do is this,--satisfy myself that
he is probably keeping too large a share, then say to him frankly,
in what form you please, that it seems so, and ask him to explain.
As a business matter, it is proper. As between friends, it is due to
friendship. What right have you to listen to the suggestions of the
adversary, and give your friend no hearing? That you don't know much of
your affairs is evident, because you don't know who owns the copyright
or the stereotype plates. I do happen to know, for I asked Hunt once if
you retained the copyrights, and he said you did. The accounts which he
should render you will show exactly the sales. Of course Mr. H. will
answer verbally your letter when you meet. Why not tell him frankly
just as you tell me? Don't hesitate to let me do whatever you wish
done, only I don't want to be officious."





MR. Dane, at my desire, and without mentioning any names, went to
several publishers in Athens, and was told by all whom he saw that ten
per cent. on the retail price was the author's customary share of the
profits. He was referred to Mr. Campton, of the firm of Murray & Elder,
as being the person who knew more about these things than any man in
Athens. Mr. C. said the same thing. I immediately wrote to Mr. Hunt,
February 11:--

"In reply to the suggestion in your last letter, that I should send my
juvenile book, I am forced to say what I never thought to say, that I
cannot see how it will be for my interest that you should publish any
more of my books. Unhappily, it is not necessary that I should give any
explanation, since the reason, if it do not exist to your own knowledge
and by your own arrangement, does not exist at all."


"This, you see, is a little different from what I spoke of, but what
is the use of keeping up appearances? If he has done what he seems to
have done, there is no possible way of getting over it, and I may as
well meet it face to face at once. If he takes no notice of this note,
or if he asks an explanation, I shall refer him to you, and you may
do whatever you think best. If he thinks this an unfriendly course, I
think it is for him to show that any other was possible. Certainly, I
tried hard enough to keep the matter between ourselves alone. Sometimes
I feel indignant, but somehow the uppermost feeling is a sense of loss.
There weighs upon me a burden, as if some great calamity had befallen.
Unless he may yet show something that has hitherto not appeared, giving
a new light."


"Mr. Hunt shows an indifference quite in harmony with the theory
that his friendship for me is founded on his business relations. In
fact, it seems that business relations and friendly relations are
alike unimportant to him, for he has taken no notice whatever of my
letter. Of course, I shall not be careful to preserve what he values
so lightly; yet I would rather err on the side of caution than of
recklessness. It is possible my letter may have been missent, or that
he is out of town. Of course, when our breach becomes public, it can
never be healed; and I therefore do not wish it to pass beyond us till
there is no possibility of doubt. I therefore will write another note,
and inclose it in this letter. If you see no objection, I should like
to have you mail it to him in Athens. Then I will wait one week more.
The week after, that is, the week commencing February 23, I shall wish
you to call upon Mr. Hunt and get all the money, etc., of mine which he


"I am grieved and sorry with you at this thing. I thought Mr. Hunt
would hasten, at the suggestion of any real dissatisfaction, to satisfy
you.... Yours, inclosing a note to him, just came. I know that suspense
to you is very trying, and I want you to do all that is possible to
keep the trouble where it is; and I would therefore have you send him
the note which you inclose, before you suggest me or any one else as a
disjunctive conjunction...."

The note to Mr. Hunt simply said that I had received no answer to my
last note; that, indeed, no answer was necessary, but I should be glad
to know he had received it; and that, as it was hardly probable two
successive letters should go wrong, if I did not hear from him, I
should assume that he had received both notes.


"No letter has come.... There is no use in waiting. I do not understand
Mr. Hunt's course, nor do I care to understand it.

"The more I think of it, the more I am inclined _not_ to have you do
anything about the past. Let the dead bury their dead. It will be only
a disagreeable personal affair, whose sole satisfaction will be the
money. It will in effect be arguing and claiming a greater value than
he has set upon me. For my part, I would a great deal rather let it
all go. You just call and get the money that the account says is due.
Make as much of a settlement as can be settled; and if he chooses to
let everything remain as it is, I choose it also. If he can afford to
dispense with an explanation, so can I."

I had given to Mr. Dane an order upon Mr. Hunt for what money of mine
he had in his possession.

Mr. Dane called for the money on the 24th of February, and on the
same day,--but whether before or after Mr. Dane's call, I can only
infer,--Mr. Hunt wrote to me:--

"DEAR M. N.:--

"On my return home on Saturday, I found your note without date,
informing me that you had received no reply to your 'note of last
Tuesday.' I have not replied to your note of February 11th, because I
could not understand the purport of it, and hoped you might be in town
soon to explain it.

"In the last letter I received from you, some days before the note
referred to above, written in the old friendly spirit and faith,
you tell me you have a juvenile book nearly ready, and ask if it
shall be sent for publication. I reply, please send it at once; and
then comes your note of the 11th inst., with this passage in it: 'I
cannot see how it will be for my interest that you should publish any
more of my books. Unhappily, it is not necessary that I should give
any explanation, since the reason, if it do not exist to your own
knowledge, and by your own arrangement, does not exist at all.' Now
there must have been something in my note to you (to which this note of
February 11th is a reply) which has offended you; else why this sudden
change from the sentiments in your long and friendly letter to those
of the unhappy note of February 11th? Now, pray let us understand each
other; and in all kindness, I ask you to tell me the ground of your
sudden dissatisfaction.

  "Very sincerely yours,
    "R. S. HUNT."

Mr. Hunt's ignorance in face of my letters, his absolute inability to
conjecture in what direction the trouble lay, his misgiving that some
unremembered sentence in his letter had offended me, seemed to me not a
little remarkable. I wrote again.



"It is an unpleasant story to tell, but since you desire it I will
repeat it.

"You recollect the letter I wrote you some time last December, and
the question I asked you in it. The 'long and friendly letter,'
of which you speak, told you of my waiting, and of my writing to
Mr. Jackson. Mr. Jackson's letter confirmed the statement of the
Segregationalissuemost. He said, 'There is a custom of the trade
which obtains for the first venture of an author unknown to fame, to
receive ten per cent. on the retail price of the books after the first
thousand copies are sold.... As to the price per volume of M. N.'s
works, I should think twenty to twenty-five cents per volume would be
the fair copyright. Sometimes a moderate copyright makes larger sales
by enabling the publishers to give larger discounts to the trade,'
etc., etc. I still supposed there was some good reason for my receiving
a lower rate than any he mentioned, and in my long letter I tried to
make clear to you the point which I wished settled. In your reply,
you said, by E----, 'Do you wonder, matters having been many times
explained, that he thought they must sooner or later explain themselves
through your memory? _We_ forget how, in a retired life, things work
in the mind,' etc., etc. My memory is not wont to play me false; and
so far from matters having been many times explained, they have not
been explained at all. I have never so much as sought any explanation
till now. Never but once has the subject been referred to between us.
That was years ago, soon after the publication of 'City Lights,' and
while prices were as yet unfixed. You then said, of your own accord,
that owing to fluctuation of prices and general uncertainties, you
were making arrangements with your authors to pay them fifteen cents
a volume instead of a percentage. To this I readily assented. All
that you said did not take five minutes, and all that I said did not
amount to five words. I had a great deal more faith in your honorable
intentions toward me than I had in my literary power to serve you. I
had far more anxiety lest I should make you lose money, than I had lest
you should make me lose it.

"I decided that if I were indeed brooding in a retired life over a
trifle, it was time to refer the matter to some one whose life was
not retired, and who was better able than I to judge. I gave the
whole matter to Hon. Mr. Dane. He made inquiries among the publishers,
without using your name, or in any way bringing you in question; and
as the result of his investigations, he reports ten per cent. on the
retail price as the very lowest paid to the author. One publisher told
him that they considered a book that was not worth to its author ten
per cent., was not worth publishing.

"How, then, could I avoid the conclusion that you have been paying
me all these years from one fourth to one third less than the lowest
market price? For, notwithstanding the fixed sum was to avoid a change,
change has not been avoided. When a book was published whose retail
price was one dollar and fifty cents, the author's part went down to
ten cents. That is, the author's price was fixed against a rise, but
flexible toward a fall.

"Is not this enough to explain my 'change of sentiment' and my 'sudden

"Mr. Hunt, I cannot talk of this. I have suffered a loss that money
cannot measure, nor words express. The writing of this letter is the
most painful work my pen has ever done. My faith in you was perfect,
and my friendship boundless, and it has all come to this.

"I was thoroughly identified with you. I counted your prosperity mine.
Not a word of praise or censure was passed upon you that I did not
feel. Had your needs demanded it, I would gladly have offered twice,
and thrice, and four times any reduction, and have reckoned it only

"If I have failed to make anything clear, you can refer to Mr. Dane. No
one but himself knows anything about it; but how can it be kept longer?
And yet how can it be told?"

When Mr. Hunt rendered my account, and paid my money to Mr. Dane, I
found that they had allowed ten per cent. on the new book, "Rights of

Mr. Hunt did not reply to my letter, but sought an interview with Mr.
Dane, of which the latter gives the following account:--

                                             "ATHENS, _March_ 2d, 1768.

"I have had a long talk with Mr. Hunt; longer than I can write. He
asked me at first what you wished; said he had a long letter from you,
referring him to me, etc. I told him that it seemed to you, as it did
to me, strange that, while almost any author was receiving ten per
cent. on sales, you were allowed much less, and that was what had not
been explained. He expressed all through the greatest regard for you,
and surprise that you should have so little confidence in him. I told
him I should be very glad to be able to assure you that he had done
everything toward you that his confidential relations required, and
that I felt sure it was best, in every business point of view, that he
should continue your publisher.

"He said your books are published more expensively than most books;
that a great deal has been always expended for advertising; that it
costs, for instance, $1,000 for one page of the 'Adriatic,' ---- copies
being printed; that they employ one man at a yearly salary of ----
dollars to attend to having their books properly noticed in the papers;
that all the machinery for a large sale is expensive; that they make
forty per cent. discount to the trade--more on large orders; that Mr.
Somebody makes estimates of the actual cost of books published, and
submits them to him, and did so with yours, and so a fair price was
fixed; that you have made more out of the books than the publishers,
and that they could not and cannot afford to pay more than what has
been allowed; and upon my suggestion that more had been allowed on
'The Rights of Men,' he said that was a thin book, and took but little
paper, and so cost less. He says others will pay you much more for a
single work in order to get you, but thinks the style, etc., would not
be satisfactory, etc. In short, Mr. H. claims that in all respects,
they have done their best as publishers and friends for your reputation
and pecuniary interests in the long run.

"Mr. H. said he was sorry you did not call as he suggested, and talk
about the matter; that he should never cease to be your friend--'I wish
you would tell her so;' that in your letter you had almost charged
him with dishonesty, which certainly you could not mean, etc. Upon
my inquiry, he said they made less on the books at the present high
prices, but he gave me no special estimates. He said he had arranged
with other authors at a specified price per copy, but did not tell me
what price. As the interview was at his request, I had no demands to
make, and could do little but hear him. I told him I should write you
to-day, placing the matter before you as he presented it; that I could
not, without inquiry, say to you that I was or was not satisfied that
all was right, but should be very glad to see your pleasant relations
continue; and so it ended."

This explanation was not satisfactory. If my books were published more
expensively than most books, Mr. Hunt should have told me before.
When the first one was to be published, he asked what style I should
like, and suggested that of the "City Curate." I preferred "Sir
Thomas Browne." He made no objection, nor even hinted that it was
more expensive than the other. He wrote to me, "It will be a beauty,
and look like 'Sir Thomas Browne,' in its red waistcoat." And again:
"I am glad you like the costume into which we put your first-born."
The following books were simply published in uniform style with the
first, and nothing was ever said about it between us. As to the cost of
advertising, why should it cost him more to advertise than it did other
publishers, or more to advertise me than other writers? What, again,
had I to do with the cost of the machinery for large sales, or with the
rate of discount, unless they were gotten up and arranged solely or
chiefly on my account? In that case I must indeed have been disastrous
to my publishers, for I cannot think my sales have been exceptionably
large. The reason alleged for the increased price allowed on "Rights of
Men," seemed trivial. True, it was but a thin book, and took but little
paper, and so cost less. But it was not so thin a book as "Holidays,"
on which they allowed me but ten cents, while on "Rights of Men,"
accounted for after I had begun to look into the matter, they allowed
fifteen cents. Yet both books were sold at the same retail price,--one
dollar and fifty cents. "Rights of Men" was one hundred and forty-four
pages thinner than "Winter Work," one hundred and twenty-three pages
thinner than "Cotton-picking," ninety-eight pages thinner than "Old
Miasmas." Those books were sold at a retail price of two dollars, while
this was one dollar and a half. On those books they allowed me seven
and a half per cent., while on this they allowed me ten per cent.

But "Old Miasmas" is one hundred and fifty-one pages thinner than "City
Lights;" "Cotton-picking" is one hundred and twenty-six pages thinner
than "City Lights." All three of the books are sold at the same retail
price,--two dollars. And on all three I was allowed but seven and a
half per cent. That is, while all goes smoothly, a thinness of one
hundred and fifty-one pages is of no account. It neither makes the
price of a book less to the buyer, nor the pay of a book greater to
the author. But when ripples begin to rise, a thinness of ninety-eight
pages makes the buyer's price less by fifty cents, and the author's pay
greater by one-fourth. Thinness, thou art a jewel!

One thing more: as these books are published in uniform style, if
they are published more expensively than most books, they must have
been so published in the beginning. Therefore the relative pay of the
author should then have been less. But the first contract is made out
according to the usual custom, at ten per cent. on the retail price.
When the author was unknown and the sale uncertain, he received ten per
cent. After he became known, and the risk, one would suppose, must have
been diminished, he went down to six and two-thirds per cent. Great is
the mystery of publishing!

Thinking it possible that smallness of sales might have something to do
with it, I wrote to Mr. Dane:--

"I can't tell a lie, pa. I wish I was satisfied, but I am not. If Mr.
Hunt had said this to me in the first place, I dare say I should have
been. The best light is this: that I asked him a question to which, for
three months, he made no reply. You asked it, and he answered at once.
This, however, is a slight matter. I can talk about it, and scold him
for it, and, without ever forgiving him, live on in perfect good-humor.
It is a surface matter, and if this is all it is nothing.

"But I cannot thoroughly feel that this is all, and I cannot be the
same without feeling so. Mr. Jackson knew the style of the book, so did
Mr. Campton, and they knew the expenses of printing; and if Mr. Hunt
had so much regard for me as he thinks he had, why did he let me go on
making myself wretched for weeks, when an hour's time would have set
everything at rest? He who really regards me, will regard my whims as
well as my wants. And this was not a whim, either; it was a sensible
and natural question. Mr. Hunt is mistaken in supposing I did not mean
what I seemed to mean. I did mean just that. If I had meant less, I
should have felt less. I am not a simpleton to break my heart over a
difference of opinion....

"I do not think it necessary to apply to any others than Marsh &
Merriman, and Mr. Campton. If they think everything is as it should be,
then be it resolved that it is. Enough testimony is as good as a feast.
Why should others pay me more for a single work in order to get me? Can
they afford to pay more than he? But there is no good in talking upon
uncertainties. When we have found out any actual data, we can cipher on
interminably. I trust you are pleased with the prospect. I do not think
it is of any use to stop here, because inwardly I am no more content
than I was when I began--not so much, in fact. I am at one of those
places where it is easier to go forward than backward. Indeed, from
this point it is impossible to go back to where I was when I started.

"Having slept over it, it occurs to me to say that I think you better
see Mr. Campton and perhaps no one else.... I am afraid it will somehow
get out."

Mr. Dane took my accounts to Mr. Campton and laid the facts before him,
making thus the matter personal for the first time. He reported:--

"I have had a long talk with Mr. Campton, and stated to him all
that Mr. Hunt said as reasons for his course, as well as what the
sales had been, etc. He says your books are not within his--Murray
& Elder's--usual line of publication, but he knows all about them.
He says nobody would ask you to receive less than ten per cent, on
the retail price, and any publisher in Athens will give you more for
anything you may offer, and that now you ought to receive for all past
sales at that rate on all the books, and that you would be entitled to
that even on a book where only two thousand copies sold.

"Mr. Campton measured and counted the pages, etc., in your books, and
figured the cost and all the items. At outside present prices it costs
to compose and stereotype such a book, $1.25 a page, or $500 for 400
pages. That is the whole outlay for the plates ready to print. After
that, the books cost, all told, say 52 cents per copy.

"The publisher receives, including what he retails and gives away, an
average of $1.20 per copy on the whole editions.

"Such books of 400 pages cost each copy:--

  Paper and press-work,      .24
  Binding,                   .23
  Stereotype plates, $500,
  10,000 copies, each,       .05

  Retail price,            $2.00
  40 per cent. off,          .80

  Of which the publisher has .53
  The author                 .15

'Old Miasmas' has only 310 pages, and so costs less by 25 per cent.
Mr. C. says the books can be made at 15 per cent. less than these
estimates, but he wanted to keep within bounds.... The advertising,
etc., are part of the usual machinery of all publishers. He says B. &
H., so far from making unusual discounts to the trade, have recently
published a list prescribing so little discounts that 'the trade' are

I also directed Mr. Dane to write to some of the Corinthian publishers
to ascertain their custom. He wrote to Pearville & Co., and received
the following reply on March 20:--

"DEAR SIR,--In reply to your favor of 18th, beg to say that, in the
absence of any agreement, we should pay to the author 10 per cent. on
the retail price for all copies sold. This on $2.00 would give the
author 20 cts.; and 1.50, 15 cts. per copy.

  "Very respectfully, B. PEARVILLE & CO."

My confidence in Mr. Hunt was lost, and I was too much disheartened to
do anything more except to close my connection with the firm, so far as
I could. I wrote to Mr. Dane:--

"Do not _you_ be disturbed by this unhappy complication. If you do, I
shall be _désesperé_ indeed. There is nothing to be done between Mr.
Hunt and me. There is nothing between us worth preserving.... The case
has been presented to him. He is not inclined to do anything, and I
certainly cannot press him. Either he feels that he is right or that he
is wrong. If the former, any proceedings on my part will only bring on
active antagonism. If the latter, the consciousness of it is penalty
severe enough to atone for all. Moreover, so far as I am concerned, no
money could make amends for what it would cost me; and in fact, having
lost so much, I think I rather enjoy losing the money too.... I would
not see Mr. Hunt any more. Let it all go."





MR. BRUMMELL had written me, some time before, a letter on some
business matter connected with his magazine, the "Buddhist," asking, I
think, for a contribution. Near the last of March I wrote to him saying
that I wished to have my editorial name removed from the covers of the
"Buddhist," not from any dissatisfaction with its management, but from
other causes; that if for any reason it might be awkward for him to do
it now, I would not press the matter, but wait his convenience.

I had no quarrel with Mr. Brummell. My acquaintance with him was very
slight. I did not suppose he knew anything of my dealings with Mr.
Hunt, and I made no reference to them.

A few days after, I chanced to see that my name, with those of the
other editors, had already, for the last two numbers, been removed from
the covers of the "Buddhist," and I wrote to Mr. Brummell again, saying
that, if I had discovered that fact sooner, I should not of course have
written as I did.

He replied on the 31st of March:--

"I have been much away from my desk this month. During an absence
your letter--with an inclosure or two--came. Before I could reply I
was again called away, and, just returning, I receive your note of

"I wrote to you in the first place because I thought you really took
an interest in the 'B.' as well as accepted its annual pecuniary
recognition of your association with it, and because, since the
completion of the first volume, you had contributed but very sparingly
to its pages,--had almost ceased even to send me good advice and better

"I did not consider that you had broken off relations with our house
_in toto_, just because you fancied another strong box more secure
than ours, or wished to try whether the _parvenu_ hawkers and peddlers
of books could make the future of your literary life more pleasant
and profitable than your past had proved by following the established
routine of regular publishing. I should have thought that I was doing
you an injustice had I allowed myself to fancy that, because you wanted
to try a promising experiment, you and ourselves were not to [be]
considered as 'on terms' any more. Was I wrong?

"But, beyond this, I thought that if any difference of opinion were
to arise as to the proper earnings to be expected from, your books,
there could be no question as to the return made by the 'B.' for the
dozen or fifteen articles which you had contributed to it, and that as
you had sent but two papers to the volume of 1767 and none for that of
1768, there could be no _faux pas_ in asking you to supply something.
Again--was I wrong?

"A word as to the matter of names. It was my intention to have no
editorial names on the new cover, as so much correspondence has been
inflicted on 'the trio,' and as so many subscriptions have been sent to
one or the other of them personally; but by some blunder at the office,
the names crept on twice before I could lay them quite.

"Am I to understand that with the withdrawal of your name from the
cover of the 'B.' you desire that your relations with Maga shall cease,
and the allowance heretofore made in return for your name--and for your
contributions, which were originally expected to be monthly or when
desired--shall no longer be passed to your credit?"


"Your letter of March 31 is before me. If you will be so good as to
refer to my letter to which yours is a reply, I think you will find a
declaration to the effect that my wish to leave the magazine was not
founded on any dissatisfaction connected with it. I certainly meant
to guard against the possibility of any such supposition on your part.
That I failed to do so, I must beg you to attribute to inability and
not to disinclination or indifference.

"Nor did your previous letter give me the faintest shadow of offense.
I was never otherwise than gratified whenever you asked me to write.
When you say 'your contributions, which were originally expected to
be monthly or when desired,' do you mean to intimate that there was
an agreement between us to that effect? If so, permit me to say that
such an agreement never existed. Mr. Hunt came to me in Zoar with a
request for service and an offer of salary, which I felt obliged to
refuse. He then offered me $500 per year for the use of my name as one
of the editors and for such service as I chose to give the magazine. He
said they should be glad to have me write every month, but I should be
left absolutely free not to write at all. I thought the sum altogether
too great for what I should be able to do; and it was with the utmost
reluctance, and only after much urgency,--and because it was Mr. Hunt
who urged it,--that I consented to the arrangement. I made no promises,
but I determined in my own mind that I would send something every
month; and I satisfied my editorial conscience by carefully reading
every number as it came out, and noting its points, as you perhaps
have sometimes found to your sorrow, or at least fatigue. I did this
for a long time. Every gap in the earlier numbers is owing to a story
rejected or delayed by you, not to any failure on my part to send you
a story. When I found that a paper would lie two or three months in
your hands, I thought it was because you had so much better things to
print, and I considered that I was doing you a kindness by not sending
so frequently; and therefore, whenever you did ask me to write, I took
it as a compliment, and was always pleased. You cannot speak more
disparagingly than I think of my actual services on the 'Buddhist,'
but I could wish that your opinion had found an earlier expression.
Permit me distinctly to say that, until the reception of your last
letter, my relations towards you in connection with the magazine were
always agreeable; while my original scruples regarding the money value
of such an editorial arrangement were long ago set at rest in the most
conclusive manner by other publishers.

"I do wish you to understand that I desire my relations with the
magazine shall cease at the earliest possible moment.

"That part of your letter which refers to my reasons for breaking my
connection with your house, it is impossible for me to characterize,
and equally impossible for me to reply to."


"I have your letter of the 1st instant, and I thank you for it.

"May I correct the slight misunderstanding of my position which I fancy
I detect in your reply, and for which I am doubtless responsible by
reason of some ineffectiveness in my way of 'putting things.'

"My notion was, that if your relation with the 'B.' had been agreeable,
and your work satisfactorily paid, I should be sorry to lose you as
helper and adviser, because you felt that you could publish elsewhere
and otherwise to better advantage. Pray consider that you and I have
only been in communication in regard to this magazine; of the precise
manner and nature of your dealing with our senior partner in other
matters, I, of course, can know nothing. I can only receive the results.

"I had understood, on taking up the plan prepared for the 'B.,' that
its ostensible editors were to be _regular_ contributors,--supplying
for its pages articles whenever wanted, even as often as monthly.

"If I misapprehended the agreement with yourself, you must excuse
me, and acquit me of intentionally overstraining it. I did use your
articles slowly, for the reason, on the one hand, that I seldom had
by me more than one at a time, and could not exactly count upon the
receipt of another; and, on the other hand, because I knew you to be
busy on other things, and hesitated to take from you time which you
might prefer to use differently, thinking that when you were moved to
write, you would do so.

"Believe me, your letters of suggestion were always welcome, and
would still be so. If anything in my last note--which was somewhat
hurried--seemed to be cast in the form of a reflection upon you, I hope
that you will consider that I did not so intend it.

"I have neither the right nor the desire to impugn your reasons for
seeking another channel of communicating with the public than such
as B. and H. have been able to afford, and I do not think I implied
anything to the contrary. It is for you to make the best market of
your writings that you can; and although I may, as well as any other
publisher, have my own view of what you should do, and what should
be done for you, I am most far from wishing you to accept my view
unconvinced, and I do not even offer it therefore.

"I honestly and earnestly wish you as thorough success as you can
desire; and I hope that after you have put other publishers to the
_real test_,--not of telling you what their brethren ought to do, but
of themselves doing what they say should be done,--you will find as
complete satisfaction from the general average of your next _five
or six_ years, as I am inclined to think you might derive from a
consideration of a similar period just ending.

  "Sincerely yours,
    "H. M. BRUMMELL."

Solomon, in the enthusiasm of his love for his little sister, conjures
up quaint fancies to embody his ardent longings to lavish gifts upon
her. "If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver;
and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar." So,
if this correspondence with Mr. Brummell were the Sacred Scriptures,
one would express his admiration by writing a commentary upon it. His
especial appreciation would be given to the childlike innocence with
which Mr. Brummell darts out of his path in pursuit of chimerical
beetles, while admonishing _me_ to remember that we are concerned with
but a single bug. Nor would he refuse the meed of one melodious tear
to the _naïveté_ with which this complete letter-writer, in his first
epistle, lays bare the mercenary motives of his correspondent, and, in
the second, calmly affirms, as a corollary to his propositions, that
he knows nothing about the matter. We are all aware that men do speak
unadvisedly with their lips, but the unconscious sweetness of Mr.
Brummell's admission is the peculiar gift of Heaven to Mr. Brummell.
The learned commentator might not be able to throw any light upon
the points which are obscure to Mr. Brummell; nor can the impartial
historian furnish any clew to the mystery of the "strong box," the
"promising experiment," and the "parvenu hawkers and peddlers," so
significantly mentioned. The present writer has no information on these
points, and is inclined to believe that Mr. Brummell evolved them, as
the German philosopher did the camel, from his moral consciousness.

But the question is not of sacred but profane literature, and we will
not darken counsel by words without knowledge.

Until about the middle of March, this matter had not been mentioned to
any one except Mr. Dane. Seeing the sea-change into something rich and
strange, to which it was liable at the hands of the house of Brummell
& Hunt, I thought it might be well to give my own version of it; and
I spoke of it to some of those who were nearest me, and learned, as
reported in a letter of April 18, to Mr. Dane: "A. was not much taken
aback by the aspect of my affairs,--thinks they have only done by me
as by others; if one is 'up' to such things, he makes his bargains; if
he leaves it to them, he gets theirs, such as they are. A. has done
just as I did, never said anything about it, and they pay what they
choose. What they choose is twelve and a half cents on a dollar and a
half book, and ten cents on a dollar and a quarter book. He says he has
made some inquiries, and supposes he could get more elsewhere, but 'O,
he is rich!' B. has ten per cent. written contract. ---- says D. has
the same. E., of his own accord, told a friend of mine that he did not
think B. & H. were good publishers for authors, as they advertised so
little, and had no agencies for pushing sales. I don't agree with that,
for I would much rather a book would travel on its own merits. In fact,
I have always especially rejoiced in that attribute of B. & H. A. says
K. is shrewd and he has no doubt _he_ is well paid. But what is the use
of talking about it any more?"


"To us mere mortals it seems as if you authors were--as the countryman
told Arthur Gilman his lecture was--'plaguey kinder shaller.' That
... you should surrender yourself at discretion to some publisher is
natural enough, but that A. should be systematically humbugged out
of his dollars, and have the credit which I--and I presume mankind
generally--gave him for exacting so much for his copyright as to make
the price of his epistles and things extortionate, is, as the man
said of his wife's death, ridic'lous. There is nothing in the last
'Adriatic' but ----'s poem. Tell him that the world thinks he imposes
on us by making us pay a dollar and a half for his very thin books. We
suppose he gets their weight in gold per copyright."





THEN for a time, other events absorbed me, and the whole matter faded
out of sight and thought.

Afterward, to save the trouble of repeated explanations, I determined
to arrange the tragedy in compact shape, and let such of my friends as
cared to know, learn it from the "original documents." Accordingly on
the 27th or 28th of May, I wrote to Mr. Hunt:--

"Will you be so good as to permit me to take copies of those letters
that I have sent you which resulted in breaking the connection between
us? I have not my papers by me, and cannot give you the exact dates
of the letters I want, but the first was sent on or about the last of
December, the next, etc., etc., etc. If you desire it, I will return
the letters to you, or if you prefer that they should not go out of
your hands, and will say when and where I can see them, I shall be
happy to suit your convenience."

Mr. Hunt did not reply to this letter directly, but sought an interview
with Mr. Dane.


"Mr. Hunt has been at my office an hour, talking of you, etc. He at
first said you had written him for copies of your letters; that he
is taking account of stock and could not possibly have them copied
at present, and wished, if I were writing you, that I would say so.
I said, why not inclose the letters to M. N., and ask her to return
them if you want them. He said he would. He seems worried about the
matter, and said, 'If I only could know what M. N. wants, I would do
anything to satisfy her.' I said, 'I have done all I could to prevent a
final breach between you. From all I could learn, I thought M. N. had
not received what she was entitled to. Everybody to whom we referred
expressed this opinion. Nobody suggested that less than ten per cent.
was right, and you allow her six and two thirds, and seven and one
half. Her conclusion was inevitable, that you had not done right, etc.'
He replied with various abstractions as to how authors forgot the
various expenses, etc.

"I told him you felt hurt that he did not notice your letters asking
explanation. He said he wrote you to come and see him, and he would
have gone to you had you suggested it. I said what I should have done,
was to see you and explain the matter, and not allow it to rest so for
weeks, as if it were a matter of indifference, etc. Finally I told him
what I advised you, to wait for their next account, and see whether
they would not, now that high prices have to some extent passed by,
allow a further percentage; and that I suggested to you to write them,
or allow me to, saying that it was hoped they might make their future
accounts more satisfactory. He made no reply. I mentioned that you
really felt that the 'Adriatic' was your proper avenue to the public,
and had a paper now that you hardly knew what to do with. He said,
'All she has to do is to send it along.' Well, all this talk came to
nothing. The only fact that at all modifies my views is, that A., B.,
and the rest, seem to be treated the same, and that is a surprise to
me, and takes off in a measure the c---- of taking advantage of female
weakness. Ahem!"


"Your letter came Saturday; but _my_ letters have not yet appeared from
Mr. Hunt. His talk to you looks like subterfuge. I never suggested his
getting the letters copied, but send them to me and I would return
them, or tell me where and when I should see them, and I would wait his
convenience. Again, what have I to do with the expenses of publishers?
I am not complaining that he pays small per cent., but that he, in the
first place, pays less than other publishers, and secondly, pays me
less than he pays other authors, and is thereby guilty of a breach of

On the same day, May 29, the firm of Brummell & Hunt addressed a letter
to Mr. Dane, saying,--

"We have occasion to print several volumes of M. N.'s writings, which
under ordinary circumstances we should proceed to do at once. Before
doing so, however, in the present posture of affairs, we have an offer
to make to M. N. The dissatisfaction which she feels, and is constantly
expressing toward us as her publishers, would probably lead her to
prefer that her books should be in other hands. We are willing to
sell the stereotyped plates and manufactured stock of her books, at a
reasonable price, to any publisher with whom she may choose to arrange
for their future publication.

"An early answer would be acceptable, as in the event of our retaining
the books, we wish to proceed with the manufacture."

MR. DANE TO M. N., JUNE 1, 1768.

"The breezes from B. & H. are very fluctuating. The same day in which
Mr. H. came and had the long talk which I reported to you, the firm
seem to have written the inclosed, which I did not get till this

"If you don't do anything for a month nothing in particular will
happen. Still, you want the books in the market, and perhaps somebody
will take them off B. & H.'s hands and do as well....

"I am somewhat inclined to say to them that we will take all the
stereotype plates, and all the books on hand of them, at the appraisal
of fair men. And the same men shall adjust all claims for the past

"I am surprised at this blunt note, after Mr. H.'s amiable
conversation. If we are going to have a settlement, let us open the
past and make them refer the whole thing; let them give up everything
and adjust the balance as fair men shall say is right." ....

But the note of the firm did not suggest any settlement of past claims;
and therefore presented but a lame and impotent conclusion to the
matter. What I wanted was indemnity for the past, not security for
the future. If a man cheats me once, says the proverb, it is a shame
to him. If he cheats me twice it is a shame to me. The information
that I was feeling and constantly expressing dissatisfaction might
perhaps be classified among the "locals" as "startling if true." What
I felt must have been entirely a matter of inference, as it was long
since I had expressed either satisfaction or dissatisfaction; I had
been concerned in other matters. My note to Mr. Hunt contained no
emotional expressions whatever. But as I had had my full share of
sentimentalizing, it was no more than fair that Messrs. B. & H. should
have their turn at it.

Their course seemed to me mere child's play, and not the play of good
children either; which must serve as excuse for the following reply
sent to Mr. Dane:--

"Your letter came this morning. Messrs. Brummell & Hunt have improved
even on Mr. Brummell. His felicitous, original idea was only that I
was impelled by a desire to have recourse to the 'parvenu hawkers
and peddlers of books.' The combined wisdom of the firm seems to
point to my becoming a parvenu hawker and peddler myself. Their fine
instinct has doubtless divined my long-cherished dream of setting up
a book-stall beside the orange-woman in the neighboring corner of the
Common.[6] Pray present my compliments to Messrs. Brummell & Hunt, and
say to them with many thanks, that as this new career could hardly be
said to open brilliantly with an array of obsolete and obsolescent
volumes, I do not propose to enter upon it until some new work
appears, when I shall crave their blessing not their books.

"Do not be at the trouble of transmitting this message. Send the letter
down bodily, and let it whistle itself."

On Monday, the 1st of June, one of my friends, Rev. Mr. Hayes, having
gone to Mr. Hunt with the olive-branch in his hand, but without my
knowledge, and been completely won over by his amiable bearing, came
to me, and begged me, if only out of regard to himself, to have an
interview with Mr. Hunt. I had been familiar for several years with Mr.
Hunt's gifts and graces, and knew that, though they were charming for
social intercourse, they were not easily reducible to two and a half,
still less to three and one-third per cent. But, as Mr. Hayes begged me
by his friendship; as, regarding Mr. Hunt, everything which I had cared
to save was lost, and as, I wanted my letters, which, though promised,
did not come, I consented, so far as to give Mr. Hayes permission
to say to Mr. Hunt that if he chose to come to my house to bring my
letters, I would be at home on Thursday, the 4th of June.


"Mr. Hunt is coming down on Thursday to bring me my letters. I think it
a foolish and useless, as it is a most disagreeable thing; foolish,
simply because useless; but I have agreed to it so far as to say that
I should be at home. The talk will amount to nothing because I cannot
talk. He will have it all his own way, because it is a subject on which
he is informed and I am not. And then, talk is never tangible. I want
something that you can keep hold of. But at any rate, I shall get my
letters. It is impossible to refer it to arbitrators, because the worst
part of my trouble was not of such sort as could come before them. I
will never permit the matter to go before arbitrators unless it comes
to be a case of honor. That is, I will not do it for the sake of what
money I might get."


"Mr. Hunt came down on Thursday, as I expected. He was in some sort
my guest, and we met amicably, and parted _friendlily_. The most
important development of his visit was, that [he says] he did, in the
early stages of the affair, send me just such a letter as I told him
he should have sent,--a letter written, as he says, by his own hand,
because he would not have his clerk mixed up in it; written with great
pain, and the only letter he has written since his hand has been so
lame, except one to Dickens.[7] In this, he assured me that it was
all right, that he had the figures to show me so, notwithstanding
appearances; and begged me to let him come to Zoar and do so. This,
without any other explanation, would have quite satisfied me in the
beginning; but this letter I never received. Of course, however, I
receive his assertion that such a letter was written, and I make the
best use I can of it. He assured me, in the most solemn manner, that
he has done by me as he has done by A., B., and the others; and that
he has always done what he thought the best thing and most to my
advantage. Now, when a man tells me that, I can have nothing more to
say to him. H. has a greater percentage because his books have never
been printed but once, and that when work was cheaper, and so they
pay him at the old prices. But I will go into particulars more fully
when I see you. I suppose it is pretty much the same as you have heard
yourself.... He admitted that he did not wonder at my course, seeing I
had not received his letter, yet seemed to think I should have had more
confidence in him; had always supposed _I_ should stand by him, though
the heavens fell. The heavens did not fall, though I sometimes think a
part of the sky is not there. I told him that I had no intention to
meddle with the past; agreed that they should go on with their books as
if nothing had happened, and desired him, whatever course I might take
in the future, to believe me not unfriendly toward himself, but that
the developments of this trouble had made it impossible for me at once
to resume my old place. But I don't think he minded that.

"Now you see ... we are at peace. I do not deceive myself. It is not a
very rapturous sort of peace. The relations between us are but a thin,
meagre, unsubstantial substitute for those that formerly existed; but
they are better than war--and they are truer than the old ones,--and
truth is better than falsehood, however agreeable the falsehood be. I
do not mean that on either side there was any intentional falsehood,
but that there was a sort of glamour which is now removed.

"Now, if any one ever speaks to you of this, say, as I shall, that
there was a misunderstanding, but that it is removed.

"I hope that you will not disapprove of what I have done; or perhaps,
rather, of what I have not done, for my action has been chiefly a
negative. I have simply let things be, in form, which I have always
meant to do in substance. He assures me that it is all right, and I
cannot stand up and dispute his word."

Mr. Hunt, during this interview, insisted that at the time he made the
change from ten per cent. to fifteen cents, he had a long talk with
me and fully explained the reason. I insisted that he never had done
so. I admitted that he had announced that he was going to make the
change on account of the fluctuations in the prices of things, and the
consequent uncertainties. It was all I wanted, and more. If he had said
nothing I should have been just as well satisfied, I had so much faith
in him. A positive assurance generally carries it over a negative.
Still, if a man asserted that he had offered himself to a girl, her
negative assertion that he never had, would, of itself, be entitled
to as much credence as his positive one, supposing the character of
both to be equal. If the man were in the habit of offering himself to
girls, while the girl had never had another lover, her negative would
surely outweigh his positive. Mr. Hunt had dealings with many authors.
He was my only publisher, and he was more likely to be mistaken in this
than I. He might have intended to make the explanation, or might have
made it to some one else; but an explanation made to me, it is next to
impossible I should have forgotten.

Really, the matter was not of importance, because if he had made it
then it would have answered every purpose. If I could have been made to
see at one time, that seven and a half equals ten, I could have been
made to see it at another.

Here the controversy seemed to have come to a natural and pacific
conclusion, and I began to take up the burden of life again, saying
only, it might have been different perhaps, but then it might not. I
cannot affirm that I was entirely satisfied about the missing letter.
Letters never are lost in our climate. We often wish they would be.
There are dozens in this correspondence, nothing in whose life would
have become them like the leaving it. But they all went straight as an
arrow to the mark, and now, like Burns' sonsie, smirking, dear-bought

    "They stare their daddy in the face;
    Enough of aught ye like, but grace."

On the 24th of February, Mr. Hunt seemed first to have awakened to the
fact that there was any cloud in the sky, and begged me in all kindness
to tell him the ground of my sudden dissatisfaction. Of course, the
missing letter could not have been written before that time. After I
replied to him, alleging the grounds of my sudden dissatisfaction, he
replied by calling on Mr. Dane, as Mr. Dane's letter to me shows. I was
not only unable to find any place where Mr. Hunt's explanatory letter
might have been missing, but I could not find a place where it could
have come in.

But I let that pass. There seemed to be nothing more to do, and if
there had been, I was too tired to do it. I thought the affair, like
David's destructions, had come to a perpetual end, which, if not
absolutely satisfactory, was at least relatively so. There are very few
kinds of peace which are not better than war. I was not sure I had done
the wisest thing, and as I wrote to Mr. Dane in review of it, "to speak
the truth in love, I don't much care. That is, the whole affair had
become so utterly tiresome to me that I long ago grew indifferent to
it. How the business part of it should be settled, I little cared. What
I really had at stake, is lost."





BUT the traces of battle had hardly begun to be obliterated, when an
unexpected circumstance suddenly rekindled the flames of civil war.

My sorrow's crown of sorrow had been that so bewailed in the
lamentations of the prophet, that there was no sorrow like unto my
sorrow; but by the chance of a word, without any revelation on my part,
I discovered that a friend of mine was, and had been for some months,
going through the same pleasant process which I had been enjoying.
The similarity of operation was, in certain respects, remarkable. No
accounts had been rendered for years, the author trusting entirely
in the friendship of his publishers; so that of course there were no
papers to be produced. But there was the same change from a still
higher percentage to a lower fixed sum; the same assertion on the one
side, of a full explanation made and accepted, which explanation was
totally denied on the other; and the same declaration of regard for
the author himself. The case was more aggravated than mine, not only
because the author in question had been of an immeasurably higher
standing than I, but also because he was dead, and the apparent
exactions were made upon those who were dearest to him in life, and
who were dependent upon the fruits of his genius. So then, mine was
no longer an isolated case, but part of a regular system. How many of
the writers who had received reduced pay had really and intelligently
agreed to it, and how many had found it, like greatness, thrust upon
them, and had accepted it on the representation of its being universal,
rather than make an ado and appear churlish? My friend certainly
denied that any explanation had been made, or even that any notice of
the change had been given her beforehand, and she rebelled against
the change as soon as she did know it. Now, it is hard fighting just
your own battles, since no matter how right you may deem your cause
for quarrel, still it _is_ a quarrel, and a mere personal altercation
has always something in it petty and demeaning; but if you can fight
for somebody else, you mount at once to higher ground and gain the
vantage. It came to me at once, as clear as light, that I was doing
exactly what Messrs. Brummell & Hunt had wisely counted on our all
doing, in case we did anything; that is, fretting a little, perhaps,
but eventually letting it all drop, silenced if not convinced. Was
it not the height of presumption for any one son of Jesse to come out
with a sling and a stone against this Goliath of the publishers? Would
it not be ridiculous to charge with injustice this house, whose praise
for liberality is in all the churches? Of course in discussing the
details of the business, the author would have to go entirely out of
his sphere, while the house would be perfectly at home. Still I thought
if I could not be a stone in the forehead of my giant, I could be a
thorn in his side.[8] If he were honorable and just in his dealings,
no charge could harm him. If he were unjust, no reputation could save
him. If his gains were well-gotten, investigation would only establish
him more firmly in his right way. If they were ill-gotten, it might be
possible to prevent his repose in enjoying them, if he could not be
induced to give them up, and he might thus be deterred from further
ravage upon the unwary. The best way to serve the general weal was to
take up my own relinquished cause. I accordingly once more put my hand
to the plough, resolved not to look back till I had drawn a straight
furrow through my pleasant fields.

While I was reflecting upon total depravity, preparatory to a renewal
of hostilities--there may be a sudden transition from metaphor to
metaphor, but let us all be thankful if nothing more than rhetoric
becomes demoralized,--the following note came from Mr. Dane, to whom I
had communicated the tale of Mrs.----'s fancied or real woes, August 10.

"Whether those five postage-stamps pasted firmly on the first page
of your note were intended as a birth-day present, instead of the
Family Bible which I had some reason to think I might receive about
this time, or as payment of arrears for services _in re_ M. N. _vs._
B. & H., I do not know. I might add,--but will not for fear of being
sarcastical,--that it is far more than I expected either way, and that
such munificence is more illustrative of the generosity of the giver
than of the deserts of the humble recipient.

"And now I have a profound secret to impart to you and your nine
particular friends. I have kept it two days, and had some thoughts of
never telling you, but since you claim the relation of client, I am
not at liberty to humbug you,--pardon the inelegance,--as I cheerfully
would do were you only a dear female friend. Well, Mr. Edwards called
Saturday, and saying to him that I spoke, as St. Paul always speaks
to you when you don't agree with him, by permission and not by my own
inspiration, I renewed our griefs '_Jubes renovare dolorem?_' and
told him all. He, though like the rest of us, true to his client, is
evidently intimate with Mr. Hunt. He said B. & H. are willing, and
propose to Mrs.---- that the contract which Mr. Edwards has made with
them, that she should receive twelve cents a volume on the sales, shall
be given up, and that they will refer to two gentlemen of satisfactory
character the matter of her future percentage....

"Then with that admirable frankness which is so natural to me, I said
to Mr. Edwards that Mr. Hunt had made a great mistake with you; that
you had accepted his commercial civilities as personal regard, and that
he ought at least to keep up the standard of his conduct to common
civility in his correspondence, etc., and that it was only because you
would not follow my advice that matters were allowed to rest; that _my_
opinion was, you had not received a just, much less a liberal share of
the profits, and that I had urged you to propose to refer the matter of
percentage to some disinterested person, which I thought they could not

"Mr. Edwards at once said, 'Mr. Hunt shall do that. That shall be done
at once.'

"Evidently Edwards thinks he can induce Hunt to propose that to you,
and will endeavor to do so.

"Now, I thought at first I would not let you see my hand in the
matter, but that is, on reflection, not quite fair as between man and
man,--using the word in its largest sense, embracing woman. Wherefore,
pray do not call on B. & H. for any account just now, but wait and
see if they do write you, as Edwards is sure they will, proposing
to satisfy you in this way. If they do then you must accept the
proposition, provided the past be also included, for it is the past
which made you dissatisfied. You have not yet concluded yourself as to
past or future, so far as I know; and if the best man in the world says
you ought to have no more than has been allowed you _I_ say we ought
to be satisfied. The money I gave you ought to last longer than this.
If you want a hundred dollars send me an order on B. & H., and I will
present it and send you the money, and that will not commit us to their

"Now I expect partly that you will be vexed at my meddling with your
affairs in this way; but fiat justitia, etc., whoever _rue it_."

M. N. TO MR. DANE, AUGUST 11, 1768.

"Unquestionably you _need_ the Family Bible more than the
postage-stamps, which I did _not_ paste on. It must have been the
dog-days that did it.

"Of course I am not vexed at your meddling, and you only say that,
as you express it, shamming. I hate to have the thing come up again,
but it may be more effectually laid by it. One thing, though, if
all the men in the world say I have had enough, it will not alter my
relations toward Mr. Hunt. That is, if he proves conclusively that his
terms have been just and liberal, I shall still think that his course
toward me since I began to make inquiries has been ungentleman-like,
unfriendly, and calculated to arouse instead of allay suspicion, and
that Mr. Brummell was grossly impolite. So, after all, what will be
settled by a reference? Nothing but the money affair, which indeed, as
it involves justice, is much, but as it does not involve regard, is
little. However, integrity is all the world wide from and more than
good manners. I will not send for any account or money either. I let
a friend have my money for a few months to accommodate him, so that I
am penniless again; but I can borrow plenty, and Fred and Fritz are as
good as new milch cows in a house. Why I am in such a hurry to write
is, that I have a letter from Hyperion this morning, in which he seemed
to think you would be the proper person to act for Mrs.----, rather
than Sir Matthew Hale, who is occupied with the weightier matters of
the law. Now I do not want you to act for her. It would look as if you
made it a personal matter; as if we were persecuting Mr. Hunt, which
is not true. Mrs.----'s affair is as entirely different from mine as
if I did not know her at all.... I will let you know as soon as I
hear from Mr. Hunt. What day did you see Mr. Edwards? I had a letter
yesterday from Smilex conjuring me to write for the 'Heretic,' and
offering me good pay, but not stating what. I have not answered it yet.
I am in a strait betwixt two, not to say half a dozen.... If B. & H.
send to me, how will it do for you to come down? I will pay your fare,
and you can board round!"


"How foolish in you to expect Mr. Hunt to make you any such
proposition. He never will, though Mr. Edwards seems sure he will. What
do you care when he called? Call it the day before I wrote last....

"One little matter of business. You request me not to act for Mrs.----.
If you expect me not only to transact your business, but also not to
transact any for anybody else, you will see the necessity of your
charging yourself with the support of my family, largely dependent on
my business income for their thrice daily bread....

"As to writing for 'The Heretic,' you doubtless desire my opinion,
though diffidence or something prevents your saying so. If it was not
a dream of yours that they offered you a million, tell them you will
accept that proposition. If you don't publish something soon, I have
no doubt you will have a congestion of the intellect.

"The 'Respectability' is nothing compared with 'The Heretic.' As you
write under your own signature you will not be responsible for the rest
of the paper. You want the pay,--to lend to your friends, who will
increase, as your capacity to lend is known to increase.

"And now farewell; and don't expect any such letter from Hunt, though
he may probably write something."


"What did you send Mrs.----'s letter to me for, if you don't want me to
have anything to do with her affairs? Still, _homo sum_, I am somewhat
of a man, and although forbidden to advise Mrs.----, am interested in
general history.

"You did not promise to tell me how you disburse your money; and what
good can it do for me to know that you have thrown it into the sea, or
laid it up where moths and rust do not corrupt? You are not fit to make
loans as matter of business, as perhaps I intimated to you soon after
our chase after that hundred dollars which was in your basket. I hope
you will help all you can. There is no better use for money, when one
has plenty of it, and I trust your efforts in behalf of young doctors
and things will be sanctified to their and your everlasting good.

"As to sending for B. & H.'s account, I have no expectation that
they will take any notice of Mr. Edwards' advice, or make you any

"The question is, do you mean to take just what they say, or do you
propose to insist on more than the fifteen cents per copy?

"As you don't and won't take my advice and make them do right, you must
decide what you _will_ do."


"Why I sent you the letters, was because I was interested in the case,
and what I am interested in it is proper you should be likewise. All
is, I don't want you to loom up as her advocate; but if you know the
circumstances you may perhaps, in a quiet way, keep her from falling
into a ditch. And so you being wise as a serpent, and I harmless
as a dove, we may perhaps circumvent those wicked and unprofitable

"Moreover, as you have already observed, the case does bear directly on
mine. Not only do they profess themselves willing to compromise with
Mrs.---- on ten per cent., but in this letter 'they say' that 'even B.
now has only ten per cent.' (from which I infer that he has had more).
But Mr. Hunt, in this house, told me that they did by me just as they
did by B.

"Now I do not feel disposed to let the past go. They have not done by
me as they have done by others. Why would it not do for you to make the
proposal to them since they do not make it? I would just as soon make
it, if you say so. Perhaps it would come best from me in a letter to be
delivered by you. I have no sensitiveness whatever about it. I am as
hard as steel towards them. They are so bungling that I could find it
in my heart to be indignant....

"I do not propose to insist on ten per cent. to the extent of taking my
books away from them, but I _am_ ready to propose a reference. If they
agree to it, I think it would be a good plan to find out what is the
custom of other publishers, Troubadours, for instance, and a few more
of the leading ones.

"I will also get one or two more of B. & H.'s authors. You see I am
prepared to do now what you wished me to do long ago; but do not plume
yourself on that fact, for the timing of a thing may be as strong a
test of wisdom as the doing of it. I must keep you in proper subjection
at any cost.

"Mr. Heath, of the Ancient and Honorable, came down to see me, Tuesday,
but I was away.

"Three hundred dollars for what I can do is more than five thousand for
what I cannot....

"_Monday morning._ It has all come to me as clear as day what to do.
You find out when the prices of the books went above $1.50. Until then,
ten per cent. and fifteen cents were the same thing. In 1763, they had
not gone up. Then cipher out from my accounts precisely how much is due
me on all the books at ten per cent. Then send the papers to me and I
will have Fritz _prove_ your figures, Fritzes being good at 'figgers.'
Then _I_ will write to Mr. H., saying I have been made acquainted
with Mrs.----'s affairs, and that he offers her ten per cent. or a
reference, and that I wish he would make me the same offer. You shall
see the letter, and you will see that it will be very wise, and I
_don't_ see how he can reject, and I think he will pay the arrearage. I
will tell him exactly what is due according to my thinking, and if he
sees the sum all reckoned up for him, he would rather pay it than have
any more fuss. Probably the reason he has not paid before is, that it
was such a hard "sum" to "do." He must see that I shall be a thorn in
his side as long as I live, and we, all of us, live to be eighty."


"On the 3d of August, I went on a visit to Mrs.----, and there learned
for the first time that her relations with you were not satisfactory
to herself. Since then, she has reported to me somewhat of her
proceedings,--and among other things, that Mr. Edwards says that you
say that even B. now has but ten per cent. But I understood you to
say the last time you were here that you did by B. just as you did by
me. Also, Mr. Edwards says that you are quite willing to pay Mrs.----
ten per cent., or to refer the matter to disinterested persons for
decision. I understood from you when the second contract was made,
that you were going to do by all just as you proposed to do by me. I
understood when you were here that you had done by all just as you have
done by me. But Mr. Edwards reports you to have said that you pay B.
ten per cent., and are willing to pay Mrs.---- ten per cent. C. says
you pay F. ten per cent., and G. says you pay her ten per cent. Why,
then, should you not pay me ten per cent.? You have paid only six and
two thirds and seven and one half per cent. on a large part of the
books. So long as the price of the book was $1.50, ten per cent. and
fifteen cents were the same. After the price went up, they were not the
same. The difference it would not be hard for you to ascertain from
your books, and this difference, I believe, you ought to pay me. If you
think you ought not, have you any objection to refer the matter to
disinterested persons of good character and capacity? Of course, I know
that legally I have no right to go behind a contract, and, therefore,
no legal claim upon you for additional money on those books that are
named in the contract."


"And so you have sent your letter. Much good may it do you. My private
opinion is, that you wont get much of a reply. All the money you will
make out of the frolic is, that possibly they will allow you ten per
cent. or more on future sales. As to the past, the woodchuck left that
hole, when you so verdantly assured Mr. H. that you had no idea of
making any claims for arrears; and any amount of barking (pardon me,
but the unity of the figure must be maintained at any cost) will not
scare out another animal.

"Man is not a rhinoceri-hos that his skin should not be pervious, and
your arrows will rankle in the 'firm' skin of B. & H.; but business is
business, and, though a prophet spake unto them from above, a larger,
louder profit speaks to them from below. By the way, don't consider
my fees contingent on the arrearages. Arrearages don't maintain
families.... I want to see you. Perhaps you will come over and get that
money of B. & H. for arrearages. But don't wait for that."


"It is easy to see from the altered tone of your letters that you
consider my case hopeless. Formerly you were deferent and sympathetic.
Now, wounded dignity forbids me to say what you are, but, I repeat with
Mrs. Porcupine Temper, in the reading-book, 'Never man laughed at the
woman he loved. As long as you had the slightest remains of regard for
me you could not thus make me an object of ridicule. Happy, happy Mrs.

"I wonder, however, that you should not have taken warning from the
great failure of Louis Napoleon anent Maximilian,[9] and waited till I
was actually overcome before you waxed fat and kicked. The figure may
seem rude, but, besides being apposite, it is Scriptural. I wish you
were susceptible to ideas. You pounce down with melancholy persistency
on the fact that I assured Mr. Hunt I had no idea of making any claims
for arrearages, which, by the way, is no fact at all. What I assured
him was, that I had no intention of taking my books out of his hands.
(That is what I meant by not meddling with the past.) Nor had I; nor
have I now even--but never mind that. The point is--now do squinny up
your eyes and try to see it, there's a dear, you cannot think how nice
it feels not to be stupid--the point is, when I told Mr. Hunt that,
or when I talked with him about it, he assured me that he had done by
others just as he had done by me. I had never investigated his dealings
with other writers, except----. What you and I looked into was the way
of other publishers with their writers. Did not you yourself, violating
all the commandments at one fell swoop, say that other writers of B. &
H. sharing my misery, took off the--the--the--kurrssee--of imposing on
unsuspecting innocence? Well, then, so I concluded my strength was to
sit still, and still accordingly I sat, till I found they had not done
by their other writers as they had by me, and then up I sprang again.
Now it seems to me that I have a right to open the case all new.

"See here--let us put it scientifically.

    "PART I.

    "_Unexpressed basis of operations_, B. & H. will do as well as
    other publishers.

    "_Ascertained fact_, They don't.

    "_Result_, I fly into a rage.

    "PART II.

    "_Their assurance_, They have the same rule for all, and believe it
    to be the best for all, me included.

    "_Result second_, I am calmed if not convinced.

    "PART III.

    "_Unexpected development_, They do not have the same rule for all,
    but make invidious distinctions, contrary to their own direct
    assertions, and _I_ am invidiously distinguished.

    "_Result_, Seven spirits more wroth than the first, and the fat in
    the fire.

"They have not answered my letter which I sent a week ago last
Saturday. It is their way of doing business, namely, _not_ doing it. I
shall not write again. What I think should be done next is for you to
call upon them and make a proposal of reference in form--if there is
any such thing. What I wish decided is, not future percentage merely,
but past percentage; whether my claim for ten per cent. on all past
sales is or is not founded in or on equity. If you are present, they
must make some reply. If they assent, the Troja may be comprehended in
a _nuce_. If they refuse, we will consider as to the next thing to be
done--but find that out first. If you don't understand this, just say
over the multiplication-table two or three times, and it will clear you
up like an egg-shell. The figure supposes that you are a pot of coffee.

"Your candid opinion of my letter, as compared with Mrs.----'s, is
undoubtedly just, as well as candid. She is a very fine woman, far my
superior, and looks upon this affair quite as wisely as I; but if I
think the same as she does, of course it helps her. I wish I did know
how to advise her, but I don't, and you would not twit me if you did
not think I was going by the board. She is a lovely woman, and it is
wicked in them to make her so much trouble. I suppose I was born for
storms, and so it is not so sacrilegious to rain and hail and thunder
on me. But if you don't roar me gently, I will change lawyers, and then
what is to keep you from the work-house?

"I had a letter to-day from Hawkers, asking me to let them publish a
book for me. They say they ... think they can make the results every
way satisfactory. I talked with Confucius about my letter to Mr. Hunt.
In fact, I talk with anybody now,--entertain my visitors with the
correspondence. If you don't wish to wait on Mr. Hunt with my proposal,
say so. I would invite you down here to talk it over, but there is
nothing in the house to eat but a lamb's tongue and a half, and a pot
of lard. My housekeeper has disappeared, and the season is over. Even
the hens have stopped laying. A friend who came Friday and stopped
till to-day, took the precaution to bring a pair of chickens with him.
I do not mean this as a hint, but as my woman is gone, I will remark
that unless you are fond of fowl _à la raw_, you had better roast your
chickens before you come.

"As you said nothing about the particular point in the ---- letter, I
suppose your brain is as blank on the subject as mine. But I have not
that inordinate love of brilliancy that I cannot open my mouth unless I
expect diamonds to drop out. I am meekly content if only pebbles fall
for paving-stones to feet that I love! Great applause."


"As a general rule or fact or thing, when a lawyer takes a view of the
case less hopeful than the client's, and presents the difficulties,
the client suspects that the lawyer is indifferent to his interests,
or bribed by the other side. Anything rather than that his case is
hopeless. Still the lawyer must be true; he can do no otherwise, _ruat

"Now [here follow questions.]

"You say now _I_ should propose a reference. Are you willing I should
write to B. & H., and say that you have placed with me (or with R. and
me, for we are partners in all law business, and have no separate names
as lawyers) your claim for arrearages, with instructions to enforce
them by law? If you are, I want the premier's opinion of the matter,
and if we think you have a case, we will proceed. Now that you, after
referring Mr. H. to me as your friend, and what has transpired under
that arrangement, have had a personal interview with him, which you
announce to your friends as a pacification, and have opened a new
correspondence with him, proposing a reference, there is embarrassment
all around. My office of friend or mediator, they will say, is
finished. They cannot be expected to deal with you and me both. I think
if they do not notice your proposition, we should make no further
move, unless it is to be followed by legal proceedings, if necessary.
There is no force or fitness in a proposition from me, unless we have
something besides wooden guns behind it.

"Now, I wish you would come and see me. I don't eat raw chickens, so I
can't go there. Here, there are good victuals.... As Mrs.----'s case
bears on yours, it concerns me no further, except to save you from
conspicuous folly in your attempts to help. Mrs.---- has Mr. Edwards
for her friend, adviser, and legal counsellor, and although she is
worrying his life out by constantly twitting him of his folly, in the
contract he made as administrator, she wants no other. He is only skin
and bone, poor man, and would die gladly, except for fear of meeting
---- in some place where suicide is impossible, and "twelve cents a
volume" will sound forever in his ears.

"If B. & H. do not reply to your last letter, you may depend upon it
that nothing but legal suasion will move them. This is not cross,
though it seems so. I am your very amiable."


"Your letter of 29th ult., addressed to our Mr. Hunt, was duly
received, and we now beg to reply on his behalf and that of the firm.

"In your letter you assume that we have but one set of terms with the
various authors whose works we publish. In this you are in error.
What we pay to any individual author is a matter quite between
him--or her--and ourselves, and it is not our custom to make one
author the criterion for another. Many elements enter into the case
that would make a uniform rate impracticable. Independently of other
considerations, the varying cost of manufacture caused by different
styles of publication, would alone preclude such an arrangement. We
must, therefore, decline to admit such an argument into the case.

"We have given our reasons in justification of our course towards you
in full, and we see no occasion for repeating them here. As they were
unsatisfactory to you, we offered, on May 29 last, in a letter to your
attorney, Mr. Nathan Dane, to relinquish, at a fair price, the plates
and stock to any publisher whom you might prefer. This offer we now
respectfully renew.

"Touching arbitration, we may say that at an earlier stage of the
proceedings we should have been willing to submit the matter to that
test. At present, however, we do not wish to do so."


"I am very glad you did not go to B. & H.'s, as the day after my letter
to you went I received one from them, saying, 'In your letter,' etc.

"As the proceedings have been of an entirely private nature, without
any cost of money, and with the outlay of but a few pages of note paper
on their part, I do not see why the question of time is so important.

"What I propose now to do, is to have you, if you see no objection,
send them by mail the note which I inclose to you for them.

"Legal proceedings I cannot, for a moment, think of instituting. Even
if I should gain the case, it would be at a cost altogether too great.
I think it would be far wiser for me to go on winning new laurels than
to spend my energies in trying to pick up the withered twigs of last
year's growth! The figure, I perceive, has serious defects, but you
don't, so we will let it pass. I think now the whole thing would far
better be suffered to remain quiet. I shall be gathering facts which
will one day take shape, but I do not know what. Knowledge, however, is
always useful, and certainly one cannot move an army unless one has an

"So I suppose there is no need of answering your other questions.

"I think it is as well to let the books be where they are.... Unless I
find there is more advantage to be gained by a removal than I can see,
the game would not be worth the candle.

"I feel more satisfied than I have done at any time since the trouble
began. (While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept. But now he is
dead, wherefore should I fast?) Their refusal to refer seems to put me
in open seas again.

"You say you are not cross, and I know you tried hard not to be. In
fact, you have been an angel of patience all through, and I mean to
reward you by conducting you honorably through some difficult Hell-gate
of your own. I use the term in a marine and figurative sense....
From the beginning of your letter, I infer that you thought my last
letter found some fault with you client-wise. I cannot recall the
letter enough to know what may have given rise to the feeling, but I
assure you nothing was further from the truth. And nothing can be more
friendly and helpful than your whole course towards me has been. I
shall never cease to hold it in grateful remembrance until you offend
me, and then it will crisp up like flax in the flames, and I shall bear
down on you just as heavily as if you had never done me a good turn in
your life. Such, alas! is human nature."

M. N. TO B. & H., SEPTEMBER 11.

"I have received your letter of the 8th inst., declining arbitration.

"I suppose, therefore, the only resource left me is the arbitration of
public opinion.

"The argument which you decline to admit into the case was introduced
there by Mr. Hunt. I recognize with you its disastrous effects, and
applaud your prudence in excluding it.

"Regarding your offer to sell the books to another publisher, I may
say that as the cream of their sale is already gone, I do not see the
brilliant advantage to be derived from taking the skim milk to another
publisher. I will, however, consult my board of attorneys,--pray do
not suppose I limit myself to one--and beg you meanwhile, to accept my
thanks for the benefit you design me.

"Will you have the goodness to send me my accounts for the last

I supposed this was the end of it, but was surprised by a letter of
September 14, saying:--

"We have your letter of the 11th inst.

"We think no occasion for arbitration in the matters at issue
between us need ever have arisen. And we think, now, that a formal
arbitration--as a means of settling the existing difficulties--would
not prove a suitable or satisfactory method either to you or to us. We
wish, however, to deal with you in a spirit of entire fairness, and
we therefore propose another method, which will answer the same end
in a much better way. Let us find a proper person, whose relations to
both parties are such as to fit him to act as a confidential friend
and adviser in the case. Let us confide the entire case, in all its
bearings, to his intercession, and abide by his judgment. We have in
mind a gentleman who, as we believe, would be in every way suitable and
satisfactory to both,--Samuel Rogers, Esq., of this city. We understand
Mr. Rogers to be a warm friend of yours, and we know him to be a just
man, of sound judgment, and capable of taking a comprehensive view of
the whole matter.

"If Mr. Rogers will accept the friendly office, we are quite ready to
meet him in all fairness and candor, and to open our books and accounts
to his inspection."

M. N. TO B. & H., SEPTEMBER 16.

"Permit me to acknowledge the reception of your letter of the 14th inst.

"I cannot, at present, give your proposal [I believe I said
_proposition_, but proposal must be the right word] sufficient
consideration to reply to it, but I will do so as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, may I ask you to send me my accounts for the last six
months? I suppose they can be made up independently of the question at
issue between us.

"I most emphatically agree with you in the opinion that no occasion for
arbitration need ever have arisen."


"I thought I had pronounced my valedictory, but coming home after a few
day's absence, I find the following note from B. & H. [then follows a
copy of their last letter.]

"Now, this is a move which I do not understand. Why should they have
declined so decidedly my proposal, and after they had received my note,
why should they up and make another which, for aught I see, amounts to
the same thing? I am inclined to accept the proposal, though I don't
see why they should not have accepted mine. Would not Mr. Rogers be a
good man?

"Isn't it vexing to have Monsieur Tonson come again?"


"'God moves in a mysterious way,' etc. B. & H.'s proposition does not
much surprise me, though it is an entire change of base, not to say
baseness. They now propose exactly what I wanted at first, a reference
to some fair man; and had I made a list of a half-dozen for them to
choose from, Mr. Rogers would probably have been one of them. He is
quite deaf, but transacts business, and it is for him to say whether
he is fit to _hear_ the matter. Of course you are at liberty to name
another or others. I have great confidence that any man of such a
character will do what he thinks is just....

"Now let me say this is getting to be a serious matter; and though you
may doubtless look on it as very plain, you may be much embarrassed
before you are through.

"I do not see how you can decline their offer, which is precisely your
own, if you took the formality out as I suggested. I doubt now whether
B. & H. will not find some way to avoid a hearing. I think you had
better accept their offer, but with limitations that shall hold them
somewhere. In any reference of this sort, it will be understood that
you may have counsel and witnesses, unless the idea is excluded by

"You see I bear your burdens almost instinctively. In fact, I fear to
trust you alone, you being, after all, but a poor little creeter, bless


"Your letter did me heaps of good, yesterday.

"Mr. Robertson promises to find out the ways of the Corinthian
publishers, and write or tell me.... What I want to do, if I do
anything, is to make out a written statement, as you suggest, but
appear only by that and you. I don't want myself to go on the stage.
I should injure the case more than I should help it. Everything that
is not in writing, you know as well as I, and I think it would be far
better for me to stay at home, the sweet, safe corner by the household
fire, behind the heads of children, la! In every other suggestion
I agree with you.... I could make my statement, send it to you for
decision and presentation, notify them of my acceptance and readiness,
and then let the Union slide.

"Did I tell you I had a nice note from _Longinus_?... He says he wants
to talk with me about this--that he thinks authors ought to have an
understanding,--that generally with B. & H. he has such and such
arrangements; but he marks that whatever arrangement you make, the
publisher generally gets the lion's share.

"Now do you think there is any hurry? If not--and as they have wandered
at their own sweet will hitherto, I think I might take my turn now;
do you think it will be worth while for me to give up my visit?
Considering the uncertainty of man, I should say not."


"There is no reason why you should hurry about your B. & H. matter.
They have not been in great haste even to answer your letters.
Wherefore, although I shall be glad to see you very soon, you may take
your own time, and by thinking, perhaps, add a cubit to your mental

"I am not quite sure you can be excused from being present. You can,
however, fortify or fiftify yourself with Fritz or Fred.

"Now write down your claims against B. & H. like a lawyer."

About this time, the Athenian press seemed to have been seized with an
unwonted interest in the book trade, and began to break out in sapient
and significant little paragraphs like the following, which I copy from
the "Athenian Tribune," of September 30, 1768:--

"BOOK PUBLISHING.--There is no class of business so liable to
misconstruction and misunderstanding, as that of a publisher of books.
It is difficult for an author to understand the business aspects of
publishing a book. In the first place, the expenses of composition,
correcting, stereotyping, paper, printing and binding, are very large,
compared sometimes to the size of the book. Then the advertising bills,
and two or three hundred gratuitous copies for notice and review, must
be added to the cost of publication. Then, of course, store rent, clerk
hire, and packing expenses, including paper, twine and boxes, should
be reckoned as part of the cost of getting up an edition of a book;
so that, in most instances, the sale of two or three thousand of a
new work hardly pays the publisher for the labor and capital included
in the outlay. Now all this the author, unless he or she happen to
understand the business thoroughly, rarely comprehends. The elder John
Murray, one of the most honorable and generous of publishers, used to
say, that an author who thoroughly understood all the intricacies and
expenses of issuing a book from the press, and properly launching it
into the hands of the public, was as rare a prize to find as a phœnix
or a unicorn."


When I came to reflect upon the matter, the proposal of B. & H. did
not seem so much like my own as it at first appeared. Partly, perhaps,
I feared the Greeks even bearing gifts. And if the two plans were in
substance the same, why did they suggest one so soon after rejecting
the other? If they were not the same, the difference would not be
likely to be in my favor. The superficial thinker might suggest that
the person to judge whether formal arbitration would be satisfactory
to me was myself. As I had proposed it, the information from Messrs.
B. & H. that it would not be satisfactory to _me_, seemed to be
premature, not to say supererogatory. But they not only set aside
formal arbitration and brought up a "confidential friendly" plan--not
with a suggestion that it might, but with the succinct assertion that
it would answer the same end in a much better way; they also chose the
confidential friend themselves; and this friend was a gentleman with
whom I had no acquaintance, whom I had never so much as seen, and of
whom my personal knowledge was confined to the interchange of some
half dozen letters. Now a man may have a very high reputation, and be
a very superior person, yet when you want a confidential friend, you
would hardly take him, unless you had, at least, a passing acquaintance
with him. Perhaps Messrs. B. & H.'s endorsement of any one as a
"just man," ought to be enough; though, under the circumstances, it
reminds one of the convicts in the Maine state prison, who drew up
resolutions against capital punishment,--but regarding the confidential
friendly way of doing business, I had become thoroughly disenchanted.
It was confidential friendliness that made the trouble, and I was
not homeopathically inclined. I languished for a little distrustful
business accuracy, and cried, "Save me from my friends," or rather from
Messrs. B. & H.'s friends.

What philosopher was it who maintained that life and death are the
same? "Why do you not then kill yourself?" asked a skeptic. "Because
they are the same."

If it was of no importance to Messrs. B. & H. whether we had one man or
two, I would have two, since it was of no importance.

If it was important to them that we should not have two, then I would
have two, because it was important.


"I accept your proposal, that the matter at issue between us should be
submitted to Mr. Samuel Rogers, for decision, with this modification,
that Mr. James Russell, of Stanton, be associated with him. If they
have any difficulty in coming to an agreement, let us empower them to
select a third person.

"I will present my statement at any time that suits your and their

"Permit me, however, to suggest that it is just as much work for me to
prepare my case for two or three persons as it is for two or three
thousand; and, after all, nobody can know it better than you. You know
precisely what I want,--simply ten per cent. And you know also on what
grounds I base my claims. Would it not be less troublesome to you,
as well as infinitely less disagreeable to me, for you to decide the
matter yourselves at once, rather than refer it to others, who, after
the most careful study, can only learn what we already know? We shall
also thereby avoid a publicity which is utterly distasteful to me,
which can hardly be attractive to you, and which, beginning with two,
will end, no one knows where."


"The preoccupation incident to the recent change in our firm (of which
we sent you a notice) has prevented our giving your proposal due
consideration earlier than now.

"We proposed Mr. Samuel Rogers' name, with the thought that he was a
man who would be in every way satisfactory to both parties, and who
could act rather in the capacity of a friendly mediator than that of a
formal arbitrator.

"Our objection to the addition of Mr. James Russell, is, that by
adding him we return to the idea of settling differences by a formal
arbitrator, which we always objected to. We should prefer to submit
the entire matter to Mr. Rogers alone, as we proposed. Still we are
desirous to have the matter settled justly and equitably, and if you
prefer to have more than one person, we are willing that Mr. Russell
(of whom we know nothing, except by reputation) should be added,
provided a third person shall be joined with the two, who shall be a
practical publisher and bookseller. We would name a gentleman who would
be perfectly capable of appreciating _all_ the points connected with
the case, and to whom, in conjunction with the two already named, we
are willing to submit it,--Mr. Henry Murray, formerly a partner in the
publishing firm of Constable & Sons, and now the head of the firm of
Murray & Blakeman. Mr. Murray is a highly honorable man, and from his
many years of experience, fully qualified to understand the case.

"If you are willing to submit the case to these three gentlemen for
decision, we shall await your and their pleasure as to time."

M. N. TO H., P., & CO., NOVEMBER 17.

"Your letter of November 9 has been forwarded to me from Athens. Your
notice of the change in the firm was probably sent to Zoar and has not
reached me. I did not know of the change when my letter was written.

"In proposing Mr. Russell I did not design to return to formal
arbitration. I was, and am, quite willing to settle it by confidential
friendliness, only I do not wish the friendliness to be all on one
side. Mr. Rogers is your friend, but I never saw him; cannot judge
of his fitness to act in such a matter, and therefore could not put
implicit faith in his conclusions. I wish to associate with him a man
whom I do know, and on whose conclusions I could rely.

"You say you know nothing of Mr. Russell except by reputation; neither
do I know anything of Mr. Rogers except by reputation.

"You desire to join with them Mr. Murray of the firm of Murray &
Blakeman, a gentleman whom you know so well that you vouch for his
character and capacity, but whom I never saw, whom I scarcely know even
by reputation, but of whom I do know this: Soon after the publication
of 'The Rights of Men,' the firm, of which he is the head, issued an
advertisement of one of their publications by Rev. Bishop Burnet, in
which, by detaching sentences from 'The Rights of Men,' they made me
speak in the highest praise of Bishop Burnet's book, whereas, in truth,
I had spoken with the greatest censure. You say that Mr. Murray is a
highly honorable man, but I say that this was a highly dishonorable

"Observe now the position you take. _You_ are not even willing to
trust to my friend, joined with your friend, but you want me to trust
to your friend alone.

"Secondly, you are not willing to refer to the arbitrator, a lawyer,
whom you have selected, and the arbitrator, a lawyer, whom I have
selected, and the third person whom they two shall select, but you wish
yourself to select the third person, and the person you select is a man
of your own trade, a man of your intimate acquaintance, a man whom I
never saw, and of whom personally I only know that he has been guilty
of trickery toward me.

"If it is to be settled by confidential friendship, you wish to choose
the confidential friend. If by formal arbitration, you wish to choose
two out of three of the arbitrators.

"You consider Mr. Rogers quite capable of settling the matter alone,
but incapable of settling it in connection with a friend of mine,
unless another friend of yours be joined with him.

"I am quite willing to meet you on the confidential friendly platform,
or on the formal arbitration platform; but if the former, which I also
prefer, I wish to have a share in the confidential friendship. If the
second, I wish the arbitrators to be selected in the regular way, each
party choosing one, and those two selected choosing a third.

"You can ascertain from Mr. Rogers whether he has any objection to
confidential consultation with Mr. Russell. So far as a practical
publisher or bookseller is concerned you can state the case yourselves
to these gentlemen,--or you can bring Mr. Murray or any other person
you choose before them. We must assume that they are sufficiently
fair-minded to judge according to facts, else there is no use in having
any judgment at all, and Mr. Murray can present the facts as witness
quite as well as if he were arbitrator."

H., P., & CO. TO M. N., NOVEMBER 20.

"The desire which you impute to us of having a one-sided settlement,
or of referring the matter at issue between us to any 'confidential
friend' of our own has never entered our thoughts. We named Mr. Rogers
in the first instance because we thought he was a warm personal friend
of your own, and one in whom you could put unhesitating confidence. We
never had a word with him on the subject in any way. As for Mr. Murray,
we certainly have no desire to press him, or any other person not
agreeable to you.

"We very decidedly prefer that _one_ person shall take cognizance
of the matter rather than _two_ or _three_; and to show that we do
not desire that the person chosen shall be a partisan of our own, we
suggest that the matter be submitted to the friendly offices of Mr.
Henry Brook, of Corinth. We do not know Mr. Brook personally, and have
never had any relations with him except a correspondence which he
initiated several days ago. If he is willing to act in the matter we
will accept any decision he makes."

M. N. TO H., P., & CO., NOVEMBER 23.

"Your letter of November 20 reached me Saturday night. So far as it
disclaims any undue partisanship in selecting Mr. Rogers, it is germane
to the case. I take the earliest opportunity to thank you for the
disinterested kindness to me which governed your choice. I was not
before aware of it, or I should have been earlier in my acknowledgment.

"The remainder of your letter, you will pardon me for saying, is
entirely irrelevant. The question of one or two is no longer open. We
have already agreed upon two, and the question now is concerning a
third. The point to be decided is simply this: Will you or will you not
refer the matter to the friendly mediation or the formal arbitration of
Messrs. Rogers and Russell and a third person to be selected by them in
case a third person shall be necessary?"

H., P., & CO. TO M. N., NOVEMBER 28.

"Your statement, that 'the question of one or two persons is no longer
open, and that two have already been agreed upon, and the question now
is concerning a third,' is not correct. _We_ have not agreed to refer
the matter to Messrs. Rogers and Russell except with our proposed
addition of Mr. Murray, which addition you did not approve. By your
non-approval of him the matter was thrown back to the original proposal
to refer it to one person, and in that posture of affairs we must
consider that our proposal of Mr. Brook as that person was strictly

"But in all this correspondence we seem to be playing at
cross-purposes, neither arriving at a result nor succeeding in
understanding each other. You are no doubt as tired of this as we
are. A reference--should we ever reach it on mutually satisfactory
terms--would take a long time and be a tedious mode of settlement.
Would it not be better to close the matter at issue finally by a
definite proposal which cannot be misunderstood. We estimate the time
that would be occupied by a reference, and the trouble and annoyance it
would occasion, at five hundred dollars, and we propose to send you our
check for that sum that this unprofitable controversy may be closed.
And we further propose to pay you hereafter ten per cent. of the
retail price, in cloth, for all copies sold of your various books now
published by us. Should you accept this offer, please advise us and we
will send you check and draw new contracts at once."

I think, notwithstanding the modest disclaimer of Messrs. Hunt, Parry,
& Co., we were getting to understand each other perfectly, except
that so far from becoming tired of the controversy, _I_ was only just
warming up to it.

M. N. TO H., P., & CO., DECEMBER 8.

"When I pointed out to you the impropriety of your imposing Mr. Murray
upon me as arbitrator, you replied that you did not wish to press Mr.
Murray. You now say that Mr. Murray was essential to the arbitration.
Either he was or he was not. If he was, then, as I said in a previous
letter, you refused arbitration unless you could choose two out of
three of the arbitrators, and those two friends of your own and
strangers to me, and one of them guilty of trickery towards me. If Mr.
Murray was not essential, then, as I said in my last letter, we had
already agreed upon two, and the only question is, concerning a third.
Do I understand you to decide that you refuse arbitration unless you
have power to make Mr. Murray third arbitrator?

"The reference which seems to you so tedious, seems to me a relief from
tedium. Your definite proposal proposes to buy me off from arbitration,
but does not touch my claim to ten per cent. on past sales. I do not
even consider it, much less accept it.

"The cost of arbitration would, I suppose, be defrayed as usual by the
losing party, and amounts to hardly if any more than one-sixth part of
the sum which I believe to be due me."

M. N. TO H., P., & CO., DECEMBER 21.

"A week ago, last Tuesday, I sent you a letter from Paris, to which I
have received no answer. To guard against any misunderstanding arising
from a lost letter, will you be so good as to inform me by the bearer
whether you have received such a letter from me, and if so, whether you
have replied to it."

They evidently thought the enemy was preparing to move immediately upon
their works, and they replied at once,--

"We duly received your communication alluded to in your note of this

"Owing to the absence of one of the members of our firm and the great
pressure of business incident to the season of the year, we have not
had an opportunity since its receipt to give the question at issue the
attention it deserves. In a very few days you shall hear from us."

On the sixteenth of December, appeared another of those paragraphs in
the "Athenian Gazette," to which I have previously referred. Hitherto
the dove had only gyrated around the whole heavens, spreading its white
wings of praise over publishers in general, but now, loving, like
Death, a shining mark, it circled down and settled squarely upon the
modest brows of Messrs. Brummell & Hunt, in the following style:--

"MESSRS. B. & H.'S ANNOUNCEMENTS.--The attractive advertisement of
Messrs. B. & H., which appears in our columns to-day, is interesting
to those who watch the progress of events, as an indication not only
of the success which this publishing house has achieved, but as an
evidence of the literary supremacy of the 'hub.' Years ago, when
Sophocles, after enjoying the entree into the leading social circles
of the city, styled Athens 'The Modern Eden,' our neighbors of the
other cities quoted the remark in derision. But time has proved that
the title was not merely complimentary. A glance at the list of authors
whose works are published by Messrs. B. & H., will at once surprise
those unacquainted with the large number of the _Adriatic_ coterie who
have residence within the shadow of the Acropolis. The Athenian authors
who have their established headquarters with this publishing house are
more widely known and more thoroughly read than any equal number who
have acquired literary distinction, while the number of Roman authors
who are represented in this country by Messrs. B. & H. include the Poet
Laureate of Italy and the great master of fiction, Josephus.

"While we may congratulate the firm upon the success they have
achieved in producing the most exquisite illustrated gift books of the
season, and compliment them upon the typographical execution of all
their publications, we think still higher praise is due to this house
for their encouragement of Athenian talent, and their rare tact in
introducing many who have become popular mainly by the discriminating
manner in which they have been ushered into the presence of the reading
public. Whatever share of prosperity this publishing house has reached,
there are none to attribute it to any narrow or selfish policy. They
have dealt with authors of all lands upon the broad ground of mutual
benefit, and have never sought to make bread out of other people's
brainwork and leave the worker without fair compensation. It is a
credit to Athens that such an establishment has grown up and flourished
in our city."

Which reminds me of a rural schoolmaster who taught the village school
for several winters in succession, and whose specialty was writing.
Years after, if the handwriting of any of his pupils was spoken of, the
honest man would reply innocently, "Yes, he is a very fine writer, very
superior. His writing is precisely like mine!"

Messrs. Brummel & Hunt's authors are the most widely known and the most
thoroughly read in the country.

And we who belong to that Happy Family feel that the lines have
fallen to us in pleasant places, and try to look unconscious of our
preëminence, while we cannot wholly repress a glow of gratification.

But what is this? We, or rather you,--for just here I find it agreeable
to follow the admonition of Mr. Guppy's mother, and "get out" of the
company--_you_ have become popular mainly by the discriminating manner
in which you have been ushered into the presence of the reading public!
O, what a fall is here, my countrymen! Imagine the emotions of the
belle on being told that the attention and admiration which she fondly
supposed had been excited by her wit and beauty, were mainly owing
to the discriminating manner in which she had been ushered into the

Some little margin is left for grace of form, loveliness of feature,
elegance of dress, but mainly it is the white-gloved usher to whom her
success is due!

There are never wanting persons who, not content with writing history
as it is, are always conjuring up what would have been if things had
happened differently. If Charles I. had not lost his head, if Napoleon
had beaten at Waterloo, if Booth's pistol had missed fire, events would
have gone thus and thus. A fruitful field opens before such speculators
in the history of our country's literature. Had Messrs. Brummell & Hunt
gone into the grocery business, for instance, Homer would have been
cobbling shoes in Haverhill, or at most, chronicling small beer in a
country newspaper. Dante would have been a lawyer in chambers, drawing
up wills and plodding through deeds, but leaving no foot-prints on the
sands of time. Boccaccio would have been milking cows at Brook Farm, or
growing round shouldered over his desk in the Jerusalem Court House.
Miriam would have been writing children's stories for the "Little
Cormorant," at fifty cents a column, and as Uncle Tom's Cabin would
never have been built, the South would never have been provoked into
rebellion; we should have had no war and no greenbacks, prices would
never have risen, ten per cent. and fifteen cents would have been the
same, and we should all have died comfortably in our beds.

But it is a theme for lasting gratitude not only that this house did
not go into the "cotton trade and sugar line," but also that whatever
share of prosperity it has reached, there are none to attribute it
to any narrow or selfish policy. It has never sought to make bread
out of other people's brain-work and leave the worker without fair
compensation. But upon what meat hath this our "Athens Gazette" fed,
that it is able to make so sweeping a negative, asks the unsanctified
heart. By what authority saith it these things, and who gave it this
authority? Has it had personal interviews with all the persons who
ever had or sought business connections with Messrs. Brummel & Hunt,
and learned from them that no narrow or selfish policy has ever been
attributed to them? Even this would not establish its assertion, but
surely nothing less than this would. It does not say that no narrow
or selfish policy was ever indulged in, but that nobody so much as
attributed it to them. Cæsar's wife is above suspicion. But has any one
asked Cæsar?

It is not, of course, to be for a moment supposed that so great a house
as the one in question would ever stoop to manufacture its own "puffs,"
if I may be pardoned the term. Such a course might befit the "parvenu
hawkers and peddlers" of books, but not an hereditary aristocracy
like this. Its "Poet-Publisher" has indeed distinguished himself by
other figures than those of the day-book and ledger, but I have never
heard that any member of the firm has been ambitious of a place among
the prose writers of Greece. Nor is it I suspect any the more to be
presumed because these paragraphs came to me conspicuously marked with
blue and red lines, and superscribed in the handwriting with which many
years of correspondence with the firm of B. & H. had made me familiar.
For do we not all, as soon as we see ourselves complimented in the
newspaper, send it around to all our friends by the early mail? But
I am reminded of a story which I learned and recited many times in
school. While the regicides Goffe, Whalley, and Maxwell were hiding in
Connecticut, a rough fellow came from afar and terrified the simple
villagers by challenging them to mortal combat. As they stood pale
with consternation, a venerable man, unknown to all, appeared, gravely
accepted the challenge, and immediately disappeared. At the appointed
time throngs were gathered to witness the conflict. As the clock struck
the hour, the mysterious combatant threaded the crowd and took his
place in the arena armed only with a broom, and armored with a huge
cheese fastened upon his person as a breastplate. The astonished bully
began the fight by plunging his sword into the breast, or rather the
cheese, of his opponent. The latter responded by dipping his broom into
the neighboring mud-puddle and giving the bully a gentle swash about
the neck. A second lunge into the cheese and the broom went higher,
sweeping the fighter's chin. A third, and with a fresh baptism of
mud the broom was drawn tenderly over the whole face of the baffled
ruffian, who, unused to such warfare, threw down his sword in terror,
crying, "Who are you? You must be either Goffe, Whalley, or the Devil!"

Moral: So I, viewing this paragraph and sundry others that follow it,
and seeing how finely they are timed to the issues of the contest,
cannot avoid the mental soliloquy, "Brummell & Hunt, or--Planchette!"

J. S. PARRY, OF THE FIRM OF H., P., & CO., TO M. N., JANUARY 1, 1769.

"The experience of the past few months suggests that it is likely to
take some time to settle the details of the proposed arbitration by
correspondence. A personal interview of half an hour would obviate
much writing and delay. Will you see me at Zoar at such time next week
(after Tuesday) as may be convenient to yourself?"


"If you really think it worth while, by all means come; only the
preliminaries seem to me so simple that they might almost be left to
whistle themselves. I will see you, if you please, at two o'clock, P.
M., Wednesday, the sixth,--day after to-morrow. A train leaves the
Athens Railroad Station, I think, at 12.15. You must leave the train at
Zoar. Probably there will be a carriage at the station if you prefer it
to walking, but whichever way you come you will wish you had taken the

M. N. TO MR. DANE, JANUARY 4, 1769.

"Saturday I had a letter from Mr. Parry, proposing to come down and
arrange with me the preliminaries for (or of) arbitration. I would much
rather he should go to you and do it. Still, I fear if I suggest that,
it will only occasion further delay, and if I can get any hold on them,
perhaps I had better get it. But I don't know what the preliminaries
ought to be. Maybe it is nothing in particular, only arrangements as
to time, and so forth. Still, if there is anything I should stipulate
for, or any boundary lines I ought to draw, or any precautions I ought
to take, can you not advise me by letter? If there is any doubt on my
part, I shall make no engagements, but say to him frankly, I wish to
consult you first, and then I shall come to Athens bright and early,
Thursday, and _consult_ you _nolens volens_."

MR. DANE TO M. N., JANUARY 5, 1769.

"A happy New Year to you. My opinion is that Mr. Parry will try to
_settle_ matters with you, and have no reference or intervention. If he
proposes to arrange a reference, you know what you want and can write
it, perhaps, though my honest opinion is you need help. You may call it
snubbing, or sneering, or flattery, but my opinion is you are not fit
to meet these people in such a matter.

"Hunt fooled you just as he pleased when he went over, and you wrote me
quite a penitent letter, which showed a good heart, but a feeble mind!
If you arrange for any reference, they should agree to pay you any
amount that may be adjudged to be equitably due to you for arrearages
of copyright.

"You are [&c.] But as I have told you, there is not a lawyer in Athens
who would undertake personally to manage a controversy of this kind,
being himself the party, and you are not exempt from the laws of
gravitation." ...





AT the appointed time, Mr. Parry presented himself. But instead of
proceeding, at once, to settling the preliminaries of the proposed
arbitration, he wished to discuss the question at issue to see if we
could not settle it between ourselves. I unhesitatingly declined, as I
had from the beginning declined to do so. He said he had brought with
him the papers and figures to show exactly how we stood. I declined
to look at them, telling him that I was entirely incompetent to make
a satisfactory examination of such a point, being unsound even on the
multiplication-table. He asked if I would not be satisfied, supposing
they could clearly prove that I had made more money out of the books
than they had. I said not at all, that I had arrived at that point
where I did not, in the least, care how much the publishers made; that
if other authors had ten per cent., I wanted ten per cent., even if
the publishers had to beg their bread from door to door. He seemed a
little nonplused at such heartlessness; said he had come prepared to
show that they had made only about seven tenths as much as I, and he
had supposed that would satisfy me. As I affirmed it would not, he was
somewhat at a loss how to proceed. I told him that in the beginning,
that--and a great deal less, indeed--would have satisfied me, but that
affairs had gone on so long, and feeling been so much aroused, that
no sort of explanation would satisfy me; that I wished the matter to
go entirely away from ourselves into the hands of unprejudiced and
uninterested persons.

[After several months of profound reflection, I will here interpolate
a remark which future commentators will please to remember does
not belong to the original text, namely: that I do not see why the
publisher's profits need be considered as the _ultima Thule_ of an
author's. Is it the phantom of a distorted imagination that the author
has a far larger property in the book than the publisher? Does it
not cost him infinitely more than it costs the publisher? And even
leaving the infinite, and coming down to finite matters, are not the
fields which the publisher reaps so much broader than the author's one
little close, that a far smaller share in the gleanings would give
the publisher a far more heaping granary. An author, we will say,
publishes one book in a year. His profits are a thousand dollars. But
the publisher publishes twenty books a year, on which, in the same
ratio, he gets twenty thousand dollars. Suppose five hundred dollars
were taken from the publisher's profits and added to the author's. The
publisher would still have an income of ten thousand dollars, while the
author would have one of only fifteen hundred.]

Mr. Parry then suggested leaving it to Mr. Stanhope, one of my friends,
a suggestion which I did not adopt. He asked me if I still continued to
prefer that it should be left to more than one person, and I left him
no doubt on that point. He then suggested that we should give up the
two we had chosen, and select entirely new ones. I assured him that I
was not in the least dissatisfied with their choice or my own, and I
would prefer to make no change. He suggested that Mr. Rogers was very
hard of hearing, and might not be able to act on that account. I asked
if he was materially harder of hearing now than when they selected
him to settle the case alone. Mr. Parry did not know that he was, and
finally consented to go on as we had begun. This, in the telling, does
not sound quite straightforward, yet Mr. Parry seemed so frank and fair
that I was more than half convinced, in spite of all other appearances,
that they meant no wrong. At least I did not see how any one could
be conscious of wrong, and yet seem so honest as he seemed. He was
certainly entirely courteous, though, perhaps, it is not parliamentary
to put that in. One tenth part of his fairness in the beginning would
have set my doubts completely at rest. He said--but tenderly enough, as
if he loved me à la Isaak Walton--that they lost money on "Holidays,"
and that the books have not been selling very well for two years past.
For all which I am very sorry. Still I remember that Mr. Hunt was
always urgent for me to make books. The last two books were published
in book form at his suggestion. My first notion was to publish them as
magazine articles. The same was the case with "Old Miasmas." They grew
into books, and I have just found an old letter in which Mr. Hunt says,
"Come out with a bang. The book's the thing in which you will catch the
conscience of the public." And again, "A volume by all means." Nothing
could be more encouraging, and stimulating, and agreeable than his tone
and bearing. I recollect his saying to me, when we were discussing the
last book, "You ought to write only books." In a letter of October 23,
1767, he says, "I think you are quite right not to print your Burnet
article at present, and I hope your thoughts will grow into a volume
to be issued by B. & H., in the spring." In a letter of December 11,
1765, he says, "Your sermon is good, but I hope you will not print it
till you put it into a volume. Ask Brother S., your neighbor, if I am
not right. If you were here, I could tell you a thousand reasons _why_
your interest would not be served in the printing of this paper in a
newspaper or magazine, nor the interest of the reading world, either. I
speak as a fool, no doubt, but in your service.

"I hope you will give all your energy and time to 'Winter Work.' A new
book from your pen in the spring will help the old ones, and is already
asked for by our booksellers in the West and elsewhere."

In short, as I look back, it seems to me that Mr. Hunt's
influence--always pleasantly and heartily exerted--was towards the
production and not the repression of books. I deeply regret that they
have not enriched him to the extent of his desires and deserts, and I
should regret it still more deeply had I urged the publications upon
him as warmly as he urged them upon me.

Although the firm lost money on "Holidays," this paper shows that they
were ready to accept another juvenile book as soon as I told them of
its existence. I suppose there is some occult reason for it, known only
to publishers; but the carnal mind would naturally infer that having
lost money on one, they would be shy of a second venture.

Mr. Parry repeated Mr. Hunt's assertion, that he replied with his own
hand to my first letter of inquiry. Mr. Hunt, in speaking of it to
me, could not recall the exact time of his writing it, but Mr. Parry
said that Mr. Hunt told him that morning, that it was written directly
after the reception of my letter. But in a letter written two or three
weeks after mine was sent, Mr. Hunt says by his amanuensis, "I have
_not_ answered your last letter touching the terms expressed in the
contracts." Mr. Hunt apparently labors under the curious psychological
infelicity of remembering the letters he does not write, and forgetting
the letters he does write.

After Mr. Parry had told me that my books had not been selling well
for a year or two, and that they had lost money on them, I hunted up
old letters of Mr. Hunt's to see if they would not show that he had
urged me to write in the form of books. In doing so I found a letter
dated September 23, 1764, from which I make the following extract: "The
contract has been delayed for a sufficient cause." (He then gives as
a reason Mr. Brummell's absence.) "The percentage will read fifteen
cents per copy, as the business times are fluctuating the prices of
manufacture so there is no telling to-morrow or for a new edition what
may be the expenses of publication, so we reckon your percentage in
every and any event as fixed at fifteen cents per volume on all your
works. If it should cost $1.50 to make the volumes you are sure of
your author profit of fifteen cents. The price at retail may be $1.50,
$2.00, or $3.00, as the high or low rates of paper, binding, etc., may
be, but _you_ are all right. This arrangement we make now with all our

If I had discovered this letter sooner it would have simplified matters
greatly; but I did not find it till this statement had been, as I
supposed, finished. I therefore thought best to put it in here, in a
sort of chronological order. What I had previously said touching its
substance, I said from memory solely. I could not even have declared
whether its assertions had been made by pen or lips. But I think it
not only fully bears out all that I have alleged, but shows more than
my memory had retained or my perception divined. The letter before its
close says, "As I write the contracts are reported ready, so I enclose
them. Sign both and send back the one marked with red X. You keep one
and we the other."

I see now that in case the books _had_ gone up to $3.00, I should have
been sure of my author profits of fifteen cents and "all right," even
if I had continued on the old terms of ten per cent; but I did not see
it then, nor anything else, for that matter. The reasoning of this
process is not a little remarkable. Prices of all kinds are changing,
therefore your price shall not change. And what kind of percentage is
that which is no percentage at all but an unchangeable quantity?

I made direct inquiries of all the authors accessible to me, whose
works were in the hands of Messrs. Brummell & Hunt, at or about that
time. I received information from some fifteen different persons. With
no one of them did Messrs. Brummell & Hunt make the arrangement they
made with me. Nine reported receiving ten per cent. Some received half
profits. One received twelve cents on a book that retailed at a dollar
and a quarter. One said that he received twelve cents on a dollar and
a half book and ten cents on a dollar and a quarter. Another that he
receives ten per cent. sometimes but not always.

Mr. Hunt often urged upon me the advantage and importance of
my writing only for them; so that, with the exception of the
"Segregationalissuemost," for which I was writing when I began with
Messrs. Brummell & Hunt, I have neither in periodical or book, written
for any other house than theirs. It might seem as if this injunction of
his, all friendly and judicious as it may have been, did put them under
something like an obligation to do as well by me as any other house
would do.

When "City Lights" was published, its retail price was a dollar and a
quarter, and the first account allows me twelve and a quarter cents a
volume. Mr. Parry said that the retail price of the books was changed
five or six times after my percentage was changed to a fixed sum. The
latter change was made in the autumn of 1764. In a copy of "Rocks of
Offense," date 1764, the advertised retail price of all the books
is one dollar and a half. "Old Miasmas" was published in the autumn
of 1764, and was, from the beginning, sold at two dollars. These
are the only prices that I have seen or heard of since the first.
Mr. Parry, however, says they have at two different times been held
at one dollar and seventy-five cents. I think those times must have
been of very short duration, as I never saw those prices advertised,
and never knew of their existence. I have inquired incognito of the
principal booksellers in Athens and not one of them was aware that the
price had ever been put down since it was put up. But, with all the
changes, the difficulties of computing percentage can hardly have been

Mr. Parry at this time told me what I did not know before,--that the
publishers reserved to themselves in the first contract for "City
Lights" fifteen hundred books. The contract specifies only the first
edition. I suppose an edition has no prescribed size; but I have never
in any other case known more than the first thousand being reserved to
the publishers.

"City Lights" was published September, 1762. On the first of December
of the same year Mr. Hunt reported that before January it would have
gone to a fourth edition. I should like to know if each of those four
editions numbered fifteen hundred volumes. What, for instance, was the
size of the second edition, or the third?

After careful inquiry I found no one in the "regular line" paying or
receiving less than ten per cent., with the possible exceptions I have
mentioned. Mr. Dickson was assured by a prominent member of the firm,
that the Troubadours never think in any case of offering less than
ten per cent. on the retail price, and that in some cases they pay
twelve and a half or fifteen. He is confident that there has been no
change within the last few years, and that ten per cent. is the current
copyright with all reputable publishers, not only in Corinth, but in
other cities. He says an instance occurred with one of their writers in
which they agreed to pay a certain amount per volume; but as there was
an implied understanding that it was so much per cent. on the retail
price, the matter was compromised between publishers and author when
prices went up.

M. N. TO MR. DANE, JANUARY 7, 1769.

"Your letter made me laugh, and so did me good, like a medicine. By
turning to the latter pages of my bulky book you will find the gist
of Mr. P.'s errand here. He desired first to explain the matters to
me, then to refer to Mr. S., then to take two new men, but I persuaded
him out of them all.... He was to communicate with Mr. Russell to-day,
and I expect to hear the result to-morrow. I am in hopes to have the
thing begun on Saturday, if we can make forty ends meet. Mr. Parry
thinks it will take several days, as he says they shall bring out their
books for examination;--shall not confine themselves to the prescribed
custom of publishers to pay ten per cent. but shall bring in other
things, I don't know what,--their figures, I suppose, to show what an
unprofitable thing publishing is. He was uncertain whether Mr. Rogers
would consent to act. I begged Mr. P. to say to him that I should not
consider it any hostility to me. Mr. P. suggested that I write it to
him and I did. Can you appear on Saturday, in case they agree to meet?
I don't want to come out myself. I send you here a little book for you
to look upon like John Rogers, and I think that will answer far better
than I could. I will send you also my accounts in case you might want
them. I believe you have the contracts. You can read the statement I
suppose, or simply present it and let them read it themselves....

"I would have preferred that you should see Mr. Parry, but I could
find no sufficient excuse for not seeing him myself, and I feared it
might be offensive to insist upon your presence.... But as it was, Mr.
Parry apparently had no mischievous intent. He said they should pay if
the arbitrators so decided, but seemed particularly desirous that I
also should agree to accept the decision and fully to exonerate B. & H.
in case the decision should be for them, and that I should say so to my
friends and those who had been made acquainted with my dissatisfaction.
Of course it would be infamous not to do that. I was very favorably
impressed. It seems as if they must be honest or he could not appear
as he did, but I assure you I did not 'gush' in the least. I told him
I should accept the decision as far as regarded the past before this
year, but all the world could not convince me that they had met me
fairly and satisfactorily since I began to investigate; that I thought
their course had been such as to aggravate and even to originate

HUNT, PARRY, & CO. TO M. N., JANUARY 7, 1769.

"We have had an interview with Mr. Russell this morning. He agrees
with us that it would not be wise to enter into the business of the
reference without ample time to consider all the points involved,
especially as Mr. Rogers declines positively to act, and we are now
compelled to choose another referee. Mr. Russell is obliged to leave
for London on Saturday night; and he on the whole prefers to come to
Athens some four weeks hence if need be, or on his return from the
Witenagemote the 1st of March. We trust this will be satisfactory to

"For the associate of Mr. Russell in the case, we select the Hon. G. W.
Hampden, late member of Witenagemote from this city. The two gentlemen
are well known to each other. Please inform us if he is satisfactory to
you; and also please inform us if it is your wish that a third person
should be chosen by these two before a hearing be had, or only in the
event of their disagreeing."


"So here it is you see, apparently as far off as ever. What do you say?
I think I have heard that Mr. Hampden is a large paper-manufacturer,
and also that the House have their paper of him. If so I think it
would not be best that he should be the one, but I don't wish to be
_cantankerous_. I will not answer them till I hear from you."


"When you have practiced law thirty years, man and boy, as I have, you
will know that any business that requires the presence of five or six
business men at a given time and place, is of indefinite duration, and
if those men are five hundred miles apart, the indefiniteness becomes
definitely long, at least. You know there is to be an organization of
the new Witenagemote after March 4, so that if we wait for Mr. Russell,
we can have no hearing this winter. I know of no objection to Mr.

M. N. TO H., P., & CO.

"I cannot say that it is 'satisfactory,' because nothing can be really
satisfactory to me but an immediate and pacific settlement of my claims.

"To Mr. Hampden I have no personal objection whatever, but I seem to
recollect, when we were all living in Paradise, before the fall, having
heard Mr. Hampden spoken of by Mr. Hunt as a paper-manufacturer, with
whom you had large dealings. If so would it not be almost too much to
expect of human nature that it should be strictly impartial under such
circumstances? I simply make the suggestion, not even being sure that
it is 'founded on fact.'

"The choosing of a third person I should leave entirely with the two
chosen. If they think a third unnecessary so much the better. I should
certainly think two fair-minded, unprejudiced persons might get at the
truth without recourse to a third."

H., P., & CO. TO M. N., JANUARY 26.

"Our business relations with the firm of which Hon. G. W. Hampden
is the head, have been for the last three or four years of the most
insignificant amount, certainly not of a nature to warp his judgment in
our favor. Besides Mr. Hampden is, like Mr. Russell, too honorable a
man [still harping on my honor] to accept the position of a judge where
his prejudices are enlisted.

"We do not understand from your letter that you object to Mr. Hampden.
On hearing from you we will write to Mr. Russell, and say that the
Reference only waits his convenience."

M. N. TO H., P., & CO., FEBRUARY 1.

"I am advised--and the advice is in accordance with my own
opinion--that I have no right to object to your choice, unless the
person chosen be so undesirable that I decline arbitration rather than
accept him as arbitrator. This certainly is not true in the case of Mr.
Hampden. I have given you my only reason for objecting to him. Since
you assure me this reason does not exist, I withdraw my objection."

H., P., & CO. TO M. N., FEBRUARY 11.

"We have written to Mr. Russell to say that Mr. Hampden will meet him
in London during the week of Inauguration, and that the two gentlemen
can then fix such time for hearing the case as may suit their own


"I believe that you have gone on a mission to the king of the Cannibal
Islands. Otherwise, as Cicero says, where in the world are you? Nothing
is more evident than that you have given the world a quitclaim deed of

"And that is why I am writing. About a fortnight ago, Mr. Woodlee, the
Grand Vizier, wrote to me saying that he should be off duty on the 4th
of March, and if I liked would be very happy, as a friend, to present
my grievances to the referees. Mr. Woodlee is an intimate friend of
mine, and when he was down to see me last summer I reno-varied my
dolores at his own request. I wrote to Mr. Woodlee at once that we
must not swap horses in crossing a stream, even though the horse was
a poor one. I did not use those words, but that was the substance of
doctrine--the poor horse, my love, meaning you! He did not know your
connection with it, or did not remember. Since then your intense and
aggravated silence has led me to think that perhaps you are so utterly
weary with the whole thing, and me into the bargain, that you would
hail with delight any opportunity to bid farewell, a long farewell, to
all my greatness. If you do, here is your chance. If you write to me
and say that you should be happy to wash your hands of me with Castile
soap and three waters, I shall weep salt tears from the briny deep, and
send on to London by next mail.

"You have had a rich time of it with me I know, if I only meant to
pay you. Well, truly, I do mean to pay you--a little, not much--say
seventy-five cents or a dollar,--not half as much as you deserve. But I
tell you now so you need not think I am leaving your family penniless.
And what I do not pay in money, I shall make up to you in appreciation,
for I think you have managed the case with clear insight and much
skill,--that is, under my supervision. I have held you back from what
was rash and inaccurate, and between us we have got matters pretty well
in hand. Now it seems to me that if you have held out so long it will
be better for you to hold out to the end. The making-up is about made
up. To be sure I am going to rewrite my statement and shall probably
continue the process so long as it remains in my possession, but the
main points will be the same, so you will apparently have little more
trouble with it. Now please to tell me just how you feel about it--or
rather, for that is too much to ask,--just how you propose to feel. I
think you have had my 'Statement' about long enough for your share,
so I will take my turn at holding the baby. You may send it down by
express if you please, together with the bills and contracts thereunto
appertaining, and let me see if it has improved with age."


"Ungrateful Female, After all my trials and tribulations, and
fault-findings at your course, you now purpose to swap me off. Well,
I will free my mind, if I die for it. My opinion is, that neither Mr.
Woodlee, nor principalities, nor powers, nor any other creature, can
do so much for you in your trial as I can. I believe Mr. Woodlee is a
few years younger than I and so has a greater chance to live to the end
of it _cœteris paribus_, but _cœteris_ are _not_ _paribus_, because he
lives away from the scene, and there never could be a conjunction of
Hampden, Woodlee, Russell, etc. If I were to fly up and say I would
have nothing more to do with your case, because you won't follow
my advice, there would be reason in it, but for you to take a new
adviser--Why you don't know how much Mr. Woodlee must go through to be
as familiar with the matter as I am, and don't you see that you must
not tax these far-off friends in this way? I, who am your real friend,
you may do anything with, but Mr. Woodlee and Mr. Russell never will
leave all and follow you to Athens and spend days on this trial....

"Do not be foolish unless it is really necessary. I want to make H.,
P., & Co. do right, and I want to do all for you that is possible. As
the matter must be heard at Athens, I am the person to do it with least
trouble. Your letter found me at Marathon yesterday. I shall be home
next week, and your papers shall be sent. In the mean time the Lord
restore you to reason. Swap me off indeed! Your _only_ friend!"


"I am bright but not quick. In short I am slow. When you
inf--ex--ci--well--asked me in Oxford what I was writing my Statement
for, I suppose you saw what I only just now see,--that a large part of
it was not necessary. I had in mind the justification of my mode as
well as of my claim, and for that the whole case needed to be unfolded.
But since that letter was found, my mind has somehow clarified--the
brown sugar has all turned white, and if you want to eat me while I am
sweet now is your time.

"Now then, as you are a man and inexperienced, let me briefly jot down
for you an outline of my proper mode of defense.

"The brief is a perfect Troy in a nutshell and all you need to plume
your wings with. Read that in the Valley of Decision and immediately
walk across the room to the corner where H. & P. will be cowering, and
shake your fists in their face. They will reply that they do not make
one author the criterion for another, whereat you will take a flying
leap over all the intervening pages to the letter which says, 'This
arrangement we now make with all our authors.'

"They will then bring forward their books to show that they cannot pay
me more without starving themselves. You will immediately rule that out
of court as not germane to the case, and the arbitrators will at once
award me three thousand dollars due, and three thousand more damages,
which you will bring me in gold to Zoar, and I will buy two pounds of
New York candy and give a party in honor of the event. I don't see why
the rest of the Statement need to be brought in at all unless, first,

"They deny that they have not made the same arrangements with all their
authors. If they do, you must turn to my declaration and proof; or,

"They say that my mode of making my claim was so offensive that they
could not notice it. This I have heard of in substance privately. If
they do this then I insist upon the whole Statement's being laid before


"'The sense of the dear!' as Peggotty said when Davy gave in his
adhesion to her marriage on the ground of her being able to come and
see him without cost of coach-hire.

"Apropos to what? Why, to your letter, of course, and a two months'
session, and Dark Care sitting behind the horseman, in general.

"Isn't the tenth of March the Prince of Wales' wedding-day?

"The advantage of Halliday being in the Cabinet is, that I shall
control you, you will control him, he will control Grant, and for once
we shall be sure of having the government well administered.

"For my private fortunes, if I have the Lord High Chancellor for my
judge, the co-Secretary of State for my fighting corps, and the Grand
Vizier Suzerain for my reserve force, I shall at least fall into as
well as in good company.

"Dr. Edwards used to say that if Mr. Springfield were not a sharp New
England lawyer, he would be the first statesman of the day. _Mutato
nomine de te fabula et pluribus unum et cetera._

"It seems impossible to get the kink of the law out of your brain.
I can stand it very well because I have you only in spots, but poor
F., who has the whole vast sandy plain destitute of vegetation on her
hands, must have a life of it.

"Behold a few of the holes which I am about to punch in your case to
let in light:--

"'We claim ten per cent.' Right.

"'H. says it is more than you were worth, and besides you agreed to
less.' Very well put and very probable.

"'We reply, Ten per cent. is the least anybody is worth.' No we don't.
We decline to enter into the question of worth, and demand the pound
of flesh. They say, 'Very well, here is the bond;' and _then_ we
say,--'You deceived us into our assent by,' etc., etc.

"As for their 'cruelty'--not a bit of it. It is legitimate warfare.
They made my fame by advertising, they say. Very well. I reply, first,
they didn't, and second, what if they did? If they made my sales by
advertising, why did they not make A.'s in the same way? He has never
yet received a penny for the B treatise. Why not C.'s books, of which
he says all that have been sold a cat could carry, and so on. On the
other hand, that they have done a great deal towards circulating them I
readily admit. What do I pay them ninety per cent. for, I should like
to know, if not that? Publishing is their business. That they have done
more than another publisher would, I deny. They have simply transacted
their business in the way they deemed most profitable to themselves. I
deny that they have done anything for me out of the usual course of

"About the advertising, I am indeed not fully persuaded.... Possibly
the books have had their day and would have fallen off any way. A
fortnight or so ago, perhaps more, Mr. Smith applied to me to write
for his paper. I named my price. He rather _recalcitrated_. I wrote a
letter that _tickled_ him, and he then proposed to come down and see
me and make an arrangement. He was to be in Athens, 'the guest of his
friend Mr.----!' But in Athens he heard from "two different sources
that I was less popular than I had been," and so he beat a retreat to
Corinth without seeing me at all. Isn't there a wheel within a wheel?

"Is this wearing away my soul? Then my soul must be like the liver of
Tityus, forever spent, renewed forever.

"If you think I don't value money, send me down a hundred dollar note
and see!

"The _manner_ of my making my claim is not material to the issue.
No. But there is no use in wasting the time and temper of the men by
unnecessary words.

"Now I beg you to disabuse your mind of the supposition that we are a
court! The especial advantage of this way of settlement is, that we are
not a court.... You will probably little relish this letter, but it is
for your good."


"I do not know whether your letter requires an answer, but as the old
philosopher said, 'I have often been sorry I kept still but never was
sorry I spoke.' So I will give you the benefit of the doubt.

"Ellingwood & Sampson are respectable. So far so good. I suppose
they stand first in New England, don't they, by all odds? But they
are in New England, and I have conceived a distaste for New England
publishing. Also they don't publish solid books such as mine, but
Whately, Bacon, Wheaton, and similar light literature. Would they
be as likely to do well by me as a big New York Mandarin, like the
Troubadours or Pearvilles? Do they know that my popularity is like that
retired clergyman whose sands of life are nearly run out? They will
take a new book, but shall I let the old go to waste, and ought not the
new to go with the old to communicate an impulse thereunto? And is it
not better to let the whole be till after arbitration, or the overthrow
of the existing order of things? I should like H., P., & Co. to be
as little exasperated as possible before Gog and Magog come to close
quarters.... _Homer_ had to pay an immense sum for one of his books
which was quite out of print and of no use to the publisher.... If Mr.
Campton testifies that the cost of making my books is so much and the
profit so much, they must admit or deny it. If they admit his figures
they admit the profits which they have heretofore denied. If they deny
his figures they deny profits; and how can they ask high prices for
unprofitable property? If Mertons have personal grievances to redress
they would be more likely to take me up _con amore_, and so I make
friends of the mammon of unrighteousness. But I shall be a troublesome
person hereafter to transact business with. Having once wasted my
sweetness on the desert air, I shall be henceforth only the mother of
vinegar. Whenever I see a publisher coming in at the front gate, I
shall drop the cake-basket into the wash-boiler, slip the spoons into
my pocket and keep my hand on my watch all the time I am talking with
him, which might not look conciliatory. Be sure and tell Mr. Campton
this, and also that there is no sale for the books, that is, if you
ever say more to him about it. I don't wish to sail into anybody's good
graces under false colors, and am willing to take for granted Butler's
(Samuel) declaration that the pleasure is as great in being cheated as
to cheat. I am not sure I shall not write a book and call it

                     A CURIOSITY OF LITERATURE,'

and put The Whole Deviltry of Man into it.... Is not he who compounds
with wickedness as bad as he who commits it? And oughtn't I to hold
up my beacon as a warning to all future generations? If I am not only
to be fought above ground, but am also to be undermined, shall not I

    "'And shall Trelawney die, and shall Trelawney die,
    Then thirty thousand Cornish boys will know the reason why!'

"I am that thirty thousand Cornish boys.

"You are not expected to answer my questions. You can ponder them as a
theme for meditation in the night-watches."


"Mr. Hunt proposes to pass _the season_ abroad--probably will go about
the time the Lord High Chancellor & Co. are ready to hear us."


"We are in hopes of getting a meeting of our referees early next week.
Mr. Russell has advised us of his intention of being in Athens some
time next week, and we have requested him to appoint as early a day
as possible in order to accommodate Mr. Hampden. We trust you will be
prepared to meet the referees on any day they may appoint."

M. N. TO H., P., & CO., APRIL 13.

"I have been ready to meet the referees for five months, and I trust
nothing will hinder me from meeting them on any day they may appoint."

A conjunction of the heavenly bodies was at length agreed upon for
April 22, 1769. I mention the year for the benefit of future ages.

MR. DANE TO H., P., & CO., APRIL 16.

"To any right understanding of the questions involved in the proposed
reference, it seems necessary that the referees should have information
such as is indicated in the interrogatories herewith inclosed, which
can come only from yourselves. If you can send me the answers before
the referees meet, it may prevent delay."

The interrogatories were as follows:--

"1. How many copies of each of the works of M. N. have been printed by
your authority; how many editions of each, at what dates, and how many
in each edition?

"2. How many copies of each of said works have you accounted to her
for, and at what rate of compensation for each respectively? Please
exhibit a full and exact account.

"3. How many copies of each of the works of the authors named below
have you accounted for to said authors respectively, and at what rate
per centum on the retail price of each, when reckoned by percentage,
and at what price in gross when paid in gross, and upon what contract,
if any, with each, for each of their works, that is to say,--A., B.,
C., D., E., F., G., H., I., J., K., L., M., N.?

"4. Had you with either of the authors named above, on the day of the
date of your last contract with M. N., or to wit, on September 4th,
1764, or afterwards, and when any, and if any what agreement with
either, and which of them, that such authors should receive any and
what sum in gross instead of a percentage, and was such agreement
written or verbal?

"5. What were the net profits of the 'Adriatic' each year, from 1762 to
1767, inclusive?

"6. What were the net profits of the firm of Brummell & Hunt each year,
from 1762 to 1767, inclusive?"

H., P., & CO. TO MR. DANE, APRIL 19.

"We are in receipt of your note addressed to Brummell & Hunt of the
16th inst., with its inclosure.

"It seems to us premature to now consider the evidence to be used
before the referees, as the ordinary preliminaries to the reference
itself have not been completed."


"Your package came an hour ago, and while I was reading it came this
note from H., P., & Co. It means delay, I suppose, or perchance it
means if M. N. has a lawyer we will have one and put all in legal

H., P., & CO. TO M. N., APRIL 21.

"On the 16th we received a communication from Mr. Nathan Dane, which
led us to suppose he was acting as your attorney, and had charge of the
matter of reference on your behalf. We replied to his communication,
and we have heard nothing from him since."

I did not see that there was any point to any of these letters and I
did not reply to them or give myself any trouble about them. If Messrs.
Hunt, Parry, & Co., wanted further delay why had they agreed upon a
day, and what should they want of further delay? As they had frequently
had communication with Mr. Dane concerning this matter, and had
themselves spoken of him as my attorney without contradiction from me,
I did not quite see how they could have waited for the interrogatories,
to be led to any new supposition in that respect. As to their having a
lawyer, while I did not see why they should want one, I certainly had
no objection. I thought Mr. Parry had come down to Zoar on purpose
to arrange the preliminaries of the reference, and that they were
sufficiently arranged at that time. But I apprehended no trouble on
that score, and took no thought about it.




WE have now reached a point in the tragedy where the English language
breaks down and Pius Æneas must the rescue and tell--

    "Trojanas ut opes, et lamentabile regnum
    Eruerint Danai; quæque ipse miserrima vidi,
    Et quorum pars magna fui. Quis talia fando,
    Myrmidonum, Dolopumve, aut duri miles Ulyssei,
    Temperet à lachrymis?
    Sed si tantus amor(?) casus cognoscere nostros,
    Et breviter Trojæ supremum audire laborem;
    Quamquam animus meminisse horret, luctuque refugit,

And, giving the "Æneid" with some variations, I might go on--

    "Est in conspectu M. N. notissima famâ
    Insula, dives opum, agrorum et osboni dum regna manebant."

I consented to be _in conspectu_ on Mr. Dane's earnest representations
that matters might come up on which I was better informed than he, and
on which my statements might be important. Of course, after all this
trouble, it was not worth while to run any risk through mere personal

At the appointed time, accordingly, the combatants appeared upon the
arena at Mars Hill House, in martial array. Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co.
were led by a lawyer, Mr. Sudlow, whose purpose, it soon appeared, was
not to open, but to postpone the battle. I must admit I listened in
amazement. Here, after sixteen months of backing and filling, three
months after an arbitration had been agreed on, and more than a week
after the day had been appointed by them and accepted by me, they
appeared for the purpose of saying that they could not go on with the
case. I remembered with astonishment that on the thirteenth of November
preceding, the affair had seemed so simple to Mr. Hunt that he had
written to one of those friends of mine to whom he had wished and I had
declined to refer the case, "If you and I, business men, could have
half an hour's talk together, and M. N. would abide by your decision,
I think that half hour would be sufficient to settle the whole thing."
Whereas, now, before the man whom I had chosen, three months did not
seem long enough. The reasons presented by Mr. Sudlow were, first, that
the preliminaries were not arranged. The referees themselves averred
in substance that this could be done in five minutes on the spot, and
there need be no delay on that account.

Mr. Sudlow said, secondly, that at an early stage of the affair I
had waived all legal claim, or had never made any, yet that I now
appeared with a lawyer as if to establish a legal claim; that this
was an entirely new phase, and one which they could not meet without
due preparation. It was alleged in reply, that our courts do not
distinguish between legal claims and claims in equity, and that however
I might present my claim, it was as a debt and not as a gift; that
it surely would not be held by Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co., that the
reference had been called to arbitrate upon a gratuity. After a good
deal of talk, Mr. Dane called for the authority by which they said I
had waived all legal claims; and they produced the letter sent them by
me on the 29th August, 1767, about eight months before this time, which
said, "Of course I know that legally I have no right to go behind a
contract, and therefore no legal claim upon you for additional money
on those books that are named in the contract." Mr. Dane pointed out,
that, even on this ground there was no waiving of legal claims, except
on those books named in the contract referred to. As only three books
were embraced in that contract, as one was published under a different
contract which we wished carried out, and five were published without
any contract at all, the postponing of the case on this pretext
was simply preposterous. It seemed to me, moreover, though I said
nothing, that even if I had supposed eight months ago that I had no
legal claims, I might have subsequently learned otherwise, and that
any person who really wanted the case looked into and satisfactorily
settled would never have been deterred by so slight an obstacle. But
the contest as it stood was two-thirds legal, and it would seem as
if an enterprising firm of four shrewd business men might have been
prepared to illustrate it in eight months if they had given their minds
to it.

Mr. Sudlow affirmed, thirdly, that Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co. had
supposed they should meet me alone for a friendly reference; that on
such a supposition they had arranged to be represented before the
referees by one member of their firm, Mr. Markman, who had accordingly
prepared to present the case; that until they received Mr. Dane's
letter of interrogatories of the 16th instant, they had not supposed
I should employ counsel, but if I employed counsel they also should
employ counsel; that they were not prepared to appear with counsel, and
must have a postponement for the purpose of making such preparation,
and as Mr. Hunt was to leave for Europe on the following Monday, the
postponement must hold till after his return from Europe.

Mr. Dane asked them if they meant to allege that they had stipulated
that I should not employ counsel. They said they had not so stipulated,
but that they supposed I would not employ it. Mr. Dane then said that
he had been my adviser from the beginning, both as my friend and as
a friend of Mr. Hunt, Mr. Hunt having done him the honor to speak of
him as an old friend; that he had had frequent communications with
them on this subject, as they well knew, and that they had made no
objection to his connection with it; that it made no difference except
in name, whether he was called my counsel or my friend; that, although
he was a lawyer he trusted he was not on that account to be excluded
from the circle of my friends, and that, under the circumstances,
it might be proper for him to state that my name had never been on
his account-books, and that he had all along counseled me only as a
friend. "This thing," he said, "is not to be misunderstood. We want to
be definite. Will you say that you will not proceed because M. N. has
counsel,--if you choose to call it so,--when she never said that she
would not have counsel, nothing ever having been said about it?"

They still reiterated their assertion that under the circumstances
they could not go on with the case. As the business had looked to Mr.
Hunt so simple that two business men could settle it in half an hour,
it would seem as if almost any kind of a lawyer might have mastered
it in the time between the 16th of April, when the idea of my having
counsel first dawned upon the unsuspecting minds of Messrs. H., P., &
Co., and the 22d, when the hearing was to be had. The firm must rank
law far below commerce, if a lawyer could not understand in six days
with three men to help him, what a merchant could comprehend in half an
hour alone.

Mr. Dane then consulted with me, and I told him upon the impulse of the
moment that I would go on. This, perhaps, was hardly prudent or proper.
But there had been so much difficulty and delay in bringing things even
to this stage, the trouble had weighed so heavily and disastrously
upon me, that anything seemed better than an indefinite postponement.
Moreover, the reasons which they alleged for delay appeared to me mere
quibbles. I thought I saw that they did not design to have any hearing,
and that if we should ever get together again, there would be just as
much reason for further delay as now, and if I did not secure a hearing
now, I never should. I felt that the referees must surely think they
had been summoned on a fool's errand. I was quite aware not only of
my inability to present the case adequately, but to present it at all
in person,--but I had the "brief," which Mr. Dane would have used,
and I had my formidable history in which the referees could quarry at
pleasure. Even if I should lose the case, I was not without resource;
for upon the instant when I saw that Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co. were
about to evade the only thing which I had wanted, namely, a fair and
full discussion, there came into my mind another tribunal which it
would be impossible for them to evade, and before which I could present
my case with or without counsel, in my own time and way. I had all
along had a vague feeling that something of service to my craft must
come out of all this harassment to me, though no definite idea had
ever evolved itself. But at that moment, tingling with indignation and
contempt, and a sense of outrage,--an outrage greater than appears
here, greater I think than the junior members of the firm knew or
intended, but not greater than Mr. Hunt knew, and I believe counted
on,--at that moment I resolved that so far as I could help it, no
person should ever be placed in the position in which I found myself.
If any writer thereafter should get into such a snare, he should not
blunder in as I had done, but walk in with his eyes open. I thought
that my brief and my "Universal History" would be enough to draw
the enemy's fire. I should know where they stood, and if I could not
understand the analysis and cultivation of the soil, I could at least
map out the ground for other investigators. I felt that I could better
afford to lose my case than my time. Mr. Hunt had calculated accurately
enough the quality and amount of resistance he was accumulating against
me. The thing he had not sufficiently calculated was the amount of
force that could be brought to overcome that resistance.

Mr. Dane then said, that, having consulted me, he had one more
proposition to make; he was not himself surprised at the turn affairs
had taken; he had at the beginning advised me to have recourse to the
courts as the only sure way of redress, but that I had always refused
to do so; that he had repeatedly predicted--even to the preceding
day--that some way would be found to avoid a hearing; that he thought
it hardly fair for them to force me to go on alone, whom they knew to
be entirely unfamiliar with the details of business, who had scarcely
in my whole life had any business transactions except with themselves,
and had left those entirely in their hands, who had not indeed expected
to appear at all in the case, and had only the night before reluctantly
consented, at his solicitations, to be present--"If you, gentlemen,
think it fair and honorable to insist now, at the last hour, that M.
N. shall, without any friend, and entirely unprepared, meet you alone,
and conduct the case herself, she will do so. We have come here in good
faith to have a hearing, and if such are the only conditions on which
it can be had, we will accept them, although I think them hard. We will
accept your understanding of the conditions instead of our own. Your
firm shall have its representative, I will withdraw, M. N. will do the
best she can, and you may see if you can make anything out of it."

Mr. Parry seemed to think, like David Copperfield, that this was a
disagreeable way of putting the business, and wished me to state that
I did not feel that they wished to take any advantage of me. Mr.
Dane said, "I do not know what M. N.'s feelings are. _My_ opinion is
understood, and I shall state it whenever and wherever I choose."

As my feelings were not under arbitration, I declined, through Mr.
Dane, to make any declaration concerning them, but said I wished to go
on with the case. Mr. Dane and Mr. Sudlow then withdrew, and the firm
were reduced to the painful necessity of proceeding, although their
anxiety in regard to my feelings was not relieved.

They did not, however, proceed according to their own statement of
what had been their understanding concerning the mode of procedure.
Before Messrs. Dane and Sudlow withdrew, Mr. Sudlow said that they were
to be represented by one member of their firm, and that Mr. Markman
had prepared himself for such representation. Mr. Dane had distinctly
stated that he withdrew on this understanding. After he was gone, I
expected that Messrs. Hunt & Parry would also withdraw, according to
their statement of their original intention, and its acceptance by Mr.
Dane. Instead of which, Mr. Parry came to me and asked me if I had
any preference as to whether the whole firm should remain or only one
member of it. I conceived that this matter had been previously settled
by express stipulation, that they had no right to open it again, and
place the decision on my preference. I disdained to receive as a favor
what seemed to me the least of my rights, and I refused to express any
preference about it.

Mr. Parry said, if I had no preference, of course they would rather
stay, and they all stayed.

The following paper was then drawn up by the referees and signed by
Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co. and myself:--

                                             "ATHENS, _April_ 22, 1769.

"There being a controversy between Hunt, Parry, & Co., as successors
to Brummell & Hunt of Athens, and M. N. of Zoar, in regard to the
amount due from the former to the latter for proceeds arising from the
publication and sale of the books of which M. N. is the author, it is
hereby agreed between the parties to the controversy to submit the
points in dispute to George W. Hampden and James Russell, as friendly
referees, with the right to the referees to choose a third as umpire,
either on the general merits or on any specific point that may be
submitted to said third person. And both parties to this agreement
hereby bind themselves to accept the award of said referees as binding
and conclusive, without reserving any right of appeal to any court of

"In witness whereof this agreement is signed by both parties in
presence of the referees, to whose custody it is committed."

As I did not intend ever again to sign a paper whose import I did not
fully comprehend, it may be supposed that I listened attentively to the
reading of this paper. As I had no design to appeal to any court of
law, and as it did not preclude me from appealing to the court to which
I had made up my mind to appeal, I had no hesitation in signing it.

The case being thus begun, nothing remained but to place in the hands
of the referees--

_The "entire case in all its bearings" between the firm of Brummell &
Hunt and M. N.--as presented by the latter._

_Compiled chiefly from the original documents._

In two parts:--

_Part First._ The case in brief.

_Part Second._ The case in full.

Each part complete in itself.

The part to be selected according to the taste, object, or judgment of
the reader.

                                                    _October_ 22, 1768.


When Messrs. Brummell & Hunt published "City Lights," they made a
contract to pay me ten per cent. on the retail price of the book after
the first thousand copies were sold. I did not know that a contract
was necessary, but they told me it was, and they also wrote my name in
pencil to indicate where I was to write it in ink.

Afterwards they published "Alba Dies" and "Rocks of Offense," without
any contract. When "Old Miasmas" was about to be published, it occurred
to me that if a contract were necessary in one case, it was in another,
and I suggested it to Mr. Hunt. He accordingly had a new contract made
out, embracing these three books, in which the firm agreed to pay me
fifteen cents a volume for each volume sold. I think it must have been
at the time this contract was made out--but I cannot be sure as to the
time--that Mr. Hunt told me that they were going to pay me a fixed
sum, fifteen cents on a volume, instead of a percentage; that that
was the way they were going to do with their authors, on account of
fluctuations, general uncertainties, and so forth. I made no objection.
I felt none. I assented as a matter of course. I thought that was his
business and no affair of mine. I should have thought it intermeddling,
and offensive to friendship, to take exception, and I did not dream
there was anything to take exception to. I had perfect faith in Mr.
Hunt, and reckoned my interests far safer in his hands than in my own.

In the winter of 1767-8, I suddenly awoke to the fact that ten per
cent. was the ordinary rate of payment to the author, and that I had
been receiving for several years only six and two-thirds and seven and
one-half per cent. At the time Mr. Hunt changed his mode of payment, my
books were selling at a dollar and fifty cents a volume, so that ten
per cent. and fifteen cents were the same. I was therefore the less
likely to take exception to the change. The contract embraced "Old
Miasmas," which was about to be published, but when it was published
the price of it and of the rest of the books was put at two dollars,
and has remained so ever since.

All the books that have been published for me by Messrs. H., P., & Co.,
since "Old Miasmas," have been published without contract. On each of
these books, five in number, they have paid me fifteen cents a volume,
except "Holidays," on which they paid ten cents a volume. "Holidays"
was sold at retail for one dollar and a half; "The Rights of Men" for
one dollar and a half; the others were at the price of two dollars.
"The Rights of Men" was not published until after I had made objection
to the low price I had been receiving.

Pearvilles and Troubadours of Corinth, and publishers of Athens, have
told me that ten per cent. on the retail price is the customary pay of

I claim that Messrs. Brummell & Hunt should pay me the difference
between what they have paid and what ten per cent. would have been, and
that on all books sold in the future, they should pay ten per cent. I
agreed to less, in full faith in their uprightness, and in the belief,
based on Mr. Hunt's statement, and on my own high opinion of their
justice and liberality, that I was faring just as others fared.

Messrs. Brummell & Hunt refuse to pay me more than six and two-thirds
and seven and a half per cent. either for the past or the future,
except on "The Rights of Men."

To which I had added, February 26, 1769:--

"I claim now, after fourteen months of what theologians call 'waiting
in the use of means,' that they should reimburse me for the time and
trouble it has cost me to enforce my claims."


The case in full was the history just given; compiled, as its perusal
shows, from various motives, at various times, for various persons.
A few letters between Mr. Dane and myself have been inserted to meet
sundry points which afterwards came up. A few slight verbal alterations
have been made, and some elegant extracts from the newspapers have been
introduced. Otherwise, the statement here made, covering the time from
October, 1767, to February, 1769, is the one which was presented to
and acted upon by the referees. It was indeed a formidable object, and
those unhappy gentlemen may be pardoned if, for a moment, as they held
it in their hands, they looked into each other's faces in dismay. But
it gives me pleasure to add for the credit of our common humanity, that
they met their fate like men, and by a well-organized system of "ride
and tie" arrived at their journey's end in a much fresher condition
than could have been expected of mere mortals.

When the reading of this document was completed, Messrs. Hunt, Parry, &
Co. took up the parable, Mr. Parry being the first spokesman. And here
I may say, that notwithstanding their assertion that they had expected
to be represented by one of their firm, Mr. Markman, and that on such
expectation Mr. Markman had prepared a presentation of the case, when
I gave up my arrangements and consented to adopt theirs, their own
seemed to have been changed. Instead of one member having it in charge,
they all had a share in it, perhaps on the Pauline theory, that if one
member suffer, all the members must suffer with him. Mr. Parry began,
speaking from notes. Mr. Hunt followed, and Mr. Markman brought up
the rear with day-book and ledger. Each one seemed to have his part
carefully marked out and assigned to him, and if it had not been for
the assertion that they had intended to be represented by one, I should
never have suspected that the subsequent management of this case by all
three, was a sudden and unaccountable afterthought.

Mr. Parry began by giving a general outline of the trouble as seen
from the "Firm" point of sight. He admitted the pleasant relations in
which we had previously stood. It seemed that in the latter part of
1767, I had something of a disappointment that the balance due me was
not larger, and cast about to see how it could be increased, that the
Segregationalissuemost alleged that a larger sum was generally paid
than I had received, and Mr. Jackson seemed to confirm this statement;
that Mr. Dane, to whom also I had had recourse, had not alleviated my
uneasiness, but had rather poisoned my mind against them, as could be
seen by the attitude he had assumed here this morning, saying that he
had never believed I should have a hearing, and so forth; that as a
result of it all, I considered that I had a claim for additional money,
a claim that lay back of the contracts, as I had said; that I believed
they had paid me less than they paid others, and in short brought
against them a charge of general disingenuousness.

In replying to Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co., I was obliged to omit
allusion to sundry points of minor importance, out of a tenderness
to the referees--a tenderness of which, probably, until this moment,
they had no suspicion. To the readers of this narrative I have no
tenderness whatever, since the matter lies in their own hands, and
they can dismiss it at pleasure. I shall therefore touch upon various
omitted points while sketching the outlines of the defense, and will
say here that Mr. Parry's declaration regarding the cause of "The Great
Awakening," is strictly true. My eyes were not opened by any profound
reflections on the "Origin of Evil," or the "Analogy of Religion,
Natural and Revealed, to the Constitution and Course of Nature," but
simply by the ignoble circumstance that I wanted money in my own
miserable purse. The only consolation to be found for this shameful
disclosure, is the recollection of that three pence a pound on tea
which produced George Washington and the great American Republic. I
have, however, in mitigation of this sordidness, brought forward one
or two letters, which show that I wanted the money for others--the
inference naturally being that I was not in so imminent danger of
starvation that the difference between _meum_ and _tuum_ was in my mind
entirely obliterated.

Several letters between Mr. Dane and myself have also been introduced
for the purpose of showing to what extent my mind was susceptible of
being poisoned, with what ingredients the attempt was made, and how far
it assimilated and how far rejected these ingredients. My opinion is,
that if such poisoning be a capital offense, my "attorney" and myself
must die together, for I fear we are equally guilty.

So far as Mr. Jackson was concerned, Mr. Parry said that he had been
unsuccessful in business, was not now a regular publisher, and he
did not think his testimony of what was a custom several years ago
was available in deciding what was the custom now. Regarding Messrs.
Troubadour, Pearvilles, and others, he preserved a discreet silence,
but objected to the introduction of the testimony of other publishers,
as Messrs. H., P., & Co. conducted their business with their authors
alone, without thinking it necessary to consult other publishers.
Unless, therefore, I insisted upon other publishers being brought in,
they should prefer to have them kept out. In reply to a question, Mr.
Parry said he did not know what was the custom of other publishers in
regard to paying authors. Now it was a very important part of my plan
to have other publishers appealed to, but I was not in a condition to
insist upon anything. I did not know what to do with them, even if I
had them there. I certainly could not put them through a catechism, and
I had no one to do it for me. So I said nothing, and the publishers
were of course ruled out--by default, is it?

Mr. Parry deprecated any attributing of hostility to them. They had
been desirous to have the matter amicably settled, so desirous that
they had even offered to refer it to various friends of my own, with
one of whom they had no acquaintance at all, with another of whom they
had but a slight acquaintance, but whom they thought competent to
settle it; and they had also offered to pay me ten per cent. on all
future sales, all of which I had declined.

With regard to the question of fraud, Mr. Parry would say in a general
way, that I went to them an unknown author, very urgent to publish
"City Lights," that I had a great deal of confidence in them, spoke
emphatically of the important advantage to me of being published by
Brummell & Hunt; that in short, I came to them in such a way as almost
to hold out to them a temptation to defraud me; so that if they had
been inclined to it, they would have been likely to do it then. He
produced the following extracts from letters written by me to Mr. Hunt,
to sustain his charge. And if the printing of these letters seems
somewhat appalling, let me assure the objector that it is a pleasing
entertainment compared with the sensation of hearing them read before
five men, two of whom are indifferent to you, three hostile, and four

    "Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
    How many were there going to St. Ives."[10]

I am moved here to say, that those persons who during the present
century have been annoyed by letters from this now repentant and
remorseful writer, may find ample revenge for all their discomfort
in a knowledge of the manner in which these letters have returned to
plague the inventor.

The first is dated April 14, 1762.

"I hope this letter sounds light and airy to you. I assure you it is
very ghastly joking for me. I am burdened with a terrible secret which
I wish to confide to you, at the risk of losing your complaisance
forever. I dread to come at it, but I don't see how I can beat about
the bush any longer. I am _not_ at work on anything for the 'Adriatic.'
You would not print my papers, and you would not answer my letters.
So Satan subsidized my idle hands, and I thought I would make a book.
So I _made_ a book. It is not about the war, nor the times, nor
anything sensible. It is not a novel, nor a history, nor a poem, nor
a criticism, nor a volume of sermons. Somehow it does not look like a
book, nor sound like a book, nor act like a book, but it _is_ a book. I
can make 'my davy' on that. There is a title and a place for a preface,
and an introduction, and I can put in an appendix if I wish, and
explanatory notes and a glossary, and errata, and if you will publish
it I will give you the copyright and the premium, and the patent, and
the monopoly, and all the dividends, and if there is anything else,
that--its title is 'City Lights.' It is blocked out in twelve chapters.

"'1. Moving'--That gets us out of the old house into the new one, and
gives us a local habitation and a starting-point. I wrote it for the A.
M. but you stunned me so with hurling back my paper pellets at my head
that I did not dare try it again.

"'2. The Bank'--That means a grass bank, not a money bank. That has
been printed.

"'3. My Garden'--That you have heard of. That was what I wanted the
proof-sheets for, and you may conceive how guilty I felt. It seemed
all the while like when Joab said to Amasa, 'Art thou in health, my
brother?' and took him by the beard with the right hand to kiss him,
and smote him under the fifth rib,--the wretch! But you see I was
forced to be wily. If you had known that I was conspiring against your
peace of mind, of course you would not have put the weapon into my
hand. So I had to take you by the beard tenderly, or I should not have
got the fifth rib at all, and that is the backbone of my book.

"'4. Men and Women'--Been printed.

"'5. Tommy'--Been printed.

"'6. Boston and home again'--Been printed--personal adventures of a
rustic in the city.

"'7. Friendship'--In your hands--will be when you get this.

"'8. Dog-days'--Been printed.

"'9. Fading as a leaf'--Or something of that sort--knocks the bottom
all out of the autumnal, sentimental kind of moral reflections--been

"'10. Winter'--Snow and coal-fires--been printed.

"'11. My Flower-bed'--A success, to offset the failure to 'My Garden.'

"'12. Happiest Days.'

"Now, the question is, will you let me send it to you? You see it is
almost all in print, so it will take but a minute to run it over--a
longish kind of a minute, of course. I have not the least idea whether
it is worth publishing or not. I don't want it published unless it will
reflect credit on the literature of the country. Now, may I be forgiven
for telling a lie; but I don't want it published if it will reflect
_dis_credit--I will stick to that. I don't I want it published unless
it will be read and liked by cultivated people. I don't want it to be
at the level of school-girls and shop-boys. I want it to be such a book
as ---- or ---- or ---- or ---- or ---- might take into the country,
not for the thought or the theory, but for amusement, and such as would
amuse them; such as Englishmen might read and value for its little
side-lights thrown on American country life. I don't aim to do anything
above amusement, and if it wont do that it is a failure, for there is
nothing else for it to do. You see it was not written with any view to
a book. I suppose I have enough things printed to make a dozen books,
and I have taken out enough for one about the size of 'Sir Thomas
Browne.' So far as the people I write for are concerned, I think now is
as good a time as any. There is a kind of hiatus in book-making, and
that gives me a chance for a hearing. My audience is more at leisure
now and not much poorer. It is specially adapted to the times in that
it has not anything to do with them, and so will be a recreation if
it is not a bore. I should not think it would sell, I must say, for
there is not anything of it. Still, all the parts of it that have been
printed have 'taken'--I don't understand why....

"I have a certain vivacity of style which would be well enough if I
had anything solid underneath; but I have no thought, no depth, no
severe and careful culture, no comprehensiveness, no substance, nothing
to raise me above the penny-a-liners, except perhaps the matter of
vivacity, or whatever it is--but that is nothing to depend upon--no
resource, no capital. My chief talent consists in raising great
expectations--which will turn out like Pip's, I expect. It is no fault
of mine. I do conscientiously the best I can; you are an illustration
of this thing. You expect 'A number one' things of me. But you have
no ground for it. I have sent you my 'A number one' things already,
and you see they are not 'up to the mark.' But they are the very best
I can do under the circumstances. What right have you then to expect
anything better? I consider it a great misfortune that somehow my
performances seem to give a promise that is entirely unwarrantable. O
well, I must stop some time, so I suppose I might as well stop here.
All is, may I send the thing to you? It is all ready, only I have to
take it to some book-binder somewhere to have the things pasted in. I
hope I do not annoy you by asking you--not _much_ I mean; of course it
must annoy you a little--I assure you you need not have the slightest
feeling about saying _no_. It would be no kindness to me to suffer me
to disgrace myself or my country. There is only one sin that I will
never forgive. If you ever tell anybody, my wrath will kindle against
you into a perpetual fire; and you know about furies, and scorned
women, and the wicked place! I hope this will get at you in some little
crack between two '_mad_'nesses, but if it does not, pray don't turn
'mad' at me. I can bear anything but to be snapped up. I wonder if you
would be more likely to be pleased if I had stopped before; if so, you
can just turn back to the place where your temper began to crack, and
make believe 'Yours, respectfully,' came there. But you have been so
generous hitherto that I am afraid I perhaps presume too far--now I am
sure that compliment is very well turned, seeing that kind of thing is
not in my line--but the fact is I want you to stay good-humored so much
that I would say anything!

  Yours very truly,      M. N."

The letters from Mr. Hunt in reply to mine, are inserted here for
a better understanding of my letters, and to preserve the unity of
the drama. As I did not anticipate the appearance of mine before the
referees, Mr. Hunt's were not arranged with reference to them, but have
been placed here since. Several sentences concerning magazine articles
are quoted, to show that though I had not printed a book I was not
wholly unknown as an author at the time of the publication of "City
Lights," and that therefore the risk was not quite so great as one
would perhaps judge from Mr. Parry's statement, which will presently


"Send along the book by all means, and I will give it early
attention.... A _book_ from your hand is worthy attention, and it shall
have it from yours truly."

APRIL 20, 1762.

"I have read 'Moving' and the 'Friendship' paper to-day, both of which
I shall be glad to print in the Magazine if you will let me.... As soon
as I can find more time I will make up my mind about the book."

APRIL 25, 1762.

"I wish to begin at once to set up the copy, and no time should be lost
in waiting. October will soon be here!

"I think we shall be able to get into a volume your articles, in form
like 'Old Sir Thomas.' At any rate I shall try to do so."


"Why do you hop about so when you attempt an epistle? I can't find the
place. Now you are on the right side of a sheet, and, _presto!_ I can't
tell next where you are. A reader of your letters ought to stand on his
head half the time. Page two is nowhere to be found, without twisting
the spinal apparatus fearfully. Why don't you have a plan and stick to
it? Or are you a law unto yourself? (See Hebrews).

"Let me tell you what I would like to do: Print in the Magazine several
of the articles in your proposed volume, postponing the publication in
book form for the present. 'Moving,' and 'Friends and Friendship,'
I certainly wish for the Magazine.... Your book will keep, won't it?
Meantime the papers, as printed in the 'Adriatic,' will not badly
advertise the coming volume. Do you agree with me?...

"Your 'My Garden,' is a hit number one. Crowds of inquiries for the
author's name beseech me, but I cry '_mum_' to the myriads."

M. N. TO MR. HUNT, MAY 1, 1762.

"Can't you read figures, dear? Don't you know a five when you see it?
Aren't you able to tell a two from a four unless they are labelled? I
fondly believed you were, but as indications point the other way, I
will have everything in a right line hereafter, so that I shall just
have to drop you into the groove at the beginning and you will spin
along of yourself to the end. I am your serf and slave--till I get
the upper hands of you, which I shall one day--I always do, sooner or
later. Don't be frightened, though. I shall roar you as gently as a
sucking-dove. And please remember that Hebrews is not Romans--or, as
one cannot remember what he never knew, please be informed. Aren't you
glad you have somebody who can always set you right?

"There is one thing about my letters though;--when you do find the
place you know where you are. Yours I don't. Now what do you mean? Do
you mean that my book is not good enough to publish? If you do, why
don't you say so?

"When I was in Congress anything that was indefinitely postponed was
as good as lost. I wish you would say, straight as an arrow, just what
you mean. You need not be afraid of wounding my feelings. I have boxed
them up in ice and sawdust and set them on the top shelf till such
time as my fortunes shall permit me to indulge in such luxuries. I am
rhinocerine and pachydermatous. Lay on Macbeth, or Duff, or whoever you

"You see it is absurd for you to talk about postponing the publication
of a general kind of book if it is worth publicating at all. If it were
what I want it to be, you would rectangle it up in ten minutes and have
it out. If it is not what I want it to be, I don't want it published at
all. If it is only so-so, pay-the-way-y, very good, I will have none of
it. I want it to be triumphantly good. I don't want any drawn battle.
I want an unconditional surrender, with fort, guns, and ammunition. If
I can't have that I don't want anything. Now can I have that? You tell
me. I know you know. I have been flattered to death all my life....
If the book is coarse, and violent, and insipid, and diffuse, and
superficial, and egotistical, and worthless, say so. That is just what
I am afraid it is, and it keeps me awake nights.

"It occurs to me that possibly you may have so much on your hands that
you cannot publish it. I don't believe that, though. People can always
find time to do what they will to do,--any way I can, and I am a female
Atlas. But if it were so, and you would tell me that you thought the
book was good, I would get somebody else to publish it. I should not
like to do it to be sure. I have set my heart on your publishing my
first book. You see, as Mrs. Browning says, 'I love high though I live
low.' You know if you aim at the sun you won't probably hit it, but
you will hit higher than you would if you made your target out of a
scrub oak. I don't want to go into the world through the back door. I
want to go in, sir, by the main entrance! with drums beating and colors
flying! with body-guard on each side, and carriages drawn up in line!
That means you--Brummell & Hunt is the triumphal arch and the Seventh
Regiment! But you see I am tired to death and disgust of waiting. It
is three years now since I took to writing in good earnest, and all
this while I have been burrowing under ground. It is almost two years
since I sent 'My Garden' to the 'A. M.' Two years apiece for the other
two things will be four years, and by that time I shall be a coral
reef, with all the pulp of my soul dried up, and nothing left but the
dead shell. You understand I am not impatient of preparation. I am not
only willing but eager to work. If I thought I could be more worthy by
waiting; if I thought crudeness would mellow, I would wait; but the
book is done. It is not a question of improving it, but to be or not to

"It would be a great disappointment, and I am sure a positive loss
to me, not to have you publish the book if it is fit to publish. You
would give me a prestige which I assure you I have sense enough to
value. And yet will not the book, if it is good, make its own way,
even if it should be born in a garret? You see I look at this from my
standing-point only, for you of course are too well established to be
disgraced by my failure or illustrated by my success. I am the only
one affected, don't you see? If I fail it will nerve me. If I succeed
it will give me a point of support. You understand, by success I don't
mean that I desire to make a sensation. The public, whose countenance
I court, would be comprised in a hundred men and women. If I should
secure their suffrage, the rest of the world might go whistle. If the
hundred put me on the pedestal, the ten millions cannot pull me down,
for it is quality and not quantity that leads in this world, no matter
what the world thinks.

"I want to be out too, because that thing is only the inch of an ell.
If that succeeds I have half a dozen others--'City Lights,'--in the
same style--and 'Rocks of Offense,' which is to put everybody right in
religious matters. You don't know what my prophetic style is? I tell
you it leaves Isaiah and Jeremiah nowhere! Then there is 'Night Caps'
for children, and 'Holiday Stories' for all the holidays, and 'Stories
of the Old School-House,' etc. I have sent those to the Tract Society
and all the Eleemosynary Institutions, but they were not considered
pious enough, and I am afraid you profane establishments would think
they were too pious, so betwixt the clergy and the laity I should come
to the ground with a thud, from which, like Antæus, I always gather

"I don't believe you half read my letters. I don't know that I blame
you, but it leads you into obvious mistakes. You say you want to print
several of the articles--two certainly. Goosey-goosey-gander, where
shall I wander; did not I tell you that all but those two had been
printed before, and the last one which you had rejected? Why do you
talk?... I am going to Athens to buy a new dress the first pleasant
day of next week after Monday. Would you be willing to send those
two papers around to----? I can look them over and manipulate them,
and return them the next day. If you obey the impulse of the natural
heart, unmodified by pressure of editorial duties, you will tell me, as
General Taylor told Santa Anna, 'Come and take them.' And I would be
glad to do it and talk about these matters instead of writing. But you
must know that I cannot talk--I say what I don't mean and I mean what
I don't say, and so an interview would be entirely inconclusive and

"You will understand from this brief epistle that it is not the book
that won't keep so much as it is my own self.

"If I have said anything here that I ought not to say, pray make
believe that--there, I just remember that my little book is not
'Night-Caps' but 'Make-Believes'--there is a book 'Night-Caps' already.
Well, what I was going to say is--make believe I have not said it. I
am writing in greatest stress of time, for our mail goes at unearthly
hours, and I cannot stop to be proper. I wish you would give me a
general absolution, retro-and pro-spective, till this business is over.
Yours very truly."


"I see we must speak by the card when we write to Miss Wont-understand.

"This then, is what I wished to say in my last clear and felicitous

"Of course your book cannot be published till the articles I propose
to print in the A. M. have appeared there. This is what I meant by
postponing the issue of the volume. I wished to say that, B. & H.
would print your book, certainly, but the time when must at present
be unsettled for the reason above given. I have read the articles now
and like them hugely. They are capital stuff for a book, full of all
readable qualities....

"I will not eat you if you call in here when you come to town, but you
must have your own way."

All the confidence, and all the respect for the house of Brummell &
Hunt, which these letters indicate, I not only admit, but I introduced
my case by avowing that I thought them the head and front of all
publishing houses.

With regard to the exemption of fifteen hundred as the first edition of
"City Lights," Mr. Parry said that the word edition meant nothing as
to number. It meant simply a single issue. In reply to a question, he
said he did not know what was the usage of publishers in this regard.
They had sometimes exempted as many as two thousand, and had known
cases in which five thousand had been exempted, and, I understood
him to say, had done it themselves. One thousand, he said, was the
usual number. Being asked what would be his own understanding of an
edition, if nothing were specified, he said he would frankly admit that
he should suppose it meant one thousand; that when any larger number
than a thousand was exempted, it was their custom always to specify
the number; that he did not know why it was not done now, and presumed
this was the only time they had exempted more than a thousand without
specifying the number. The reason of this large exemption was that
there was so much risk in publishing a new book, and that this book was
published in a style that was unusually expensive. It cost a great deal
more than any other on their list; that there was no prescribed usage
in such matters, and they could have exempted more, but had no desire
to do so. I had said that if it were to cost more, they should have
told me.[11] They had letters of mine showing that I did know it cost
more, but that I was so desirous to have it printed in this way, that,
in my own language, which Mr. Markman read and Mr. Hunt repeated with
an air which showed that whatever literature had gained, the stage lost
its chief ornament when Mr. Hunt went into the book trade, "I went
down on my knees to you to have it like Sir Thomas Browne."

In my original statement I had said, "When the first book was to be
published, Mr. Hunt asked me what style I should like, and suggested
that of the 'City Curate.' I preferred 'Sir Thomas Browne.' He made no
objection, nor even hinted that it was more expensive than the other.
[Then came the quotations.] "I do not recollect that anything was said
about it afterwards. The following books were simply published in
uniform style with the first." This is my recollection of the matter,
which is simple and commonplace enough.

From my letters at the time, however, the firm of Brummell & Hunt infer
a thrilling dramatic scene in which Mr. Hunt was the obdurate autocrat,
or the wise and thrifty guardian, as the case may be, who, like Mrs.
John Gilpin, though on publishing bent, had a frugal mind; but was at
length moved by me,

    "Languendo, gemendo
    Et genuflectendo,"

to lay aside prudence and launch out into a style of publication
which could be met only by some extraordinary sacrifice on my part, I
professing to be until this late disclosure ignorant both of style and

I give the correspondence, inserting Mr. Hunt's letters to throw light
on mine--the latter only appearing in Mr. Parry's defense.

Let it be remembered that the book was published September 18, 1762.

MR. HUNT TO M. N., SEPT. 2, 1762.

"It is our intention to publish 'C. L.,' on Saturday, the 13th of
this month: not before, certainly. If any great excitement befall the
country, we shall postpone till the following Saturday....

"Your new preface is pungent as a pepper. Your motto seems to be, 'Je
suis prêt.'

"Give it to 'em any way you like. A proof of the preface will go to you
in a few days. As to the binding of your book, I propose same style as
'Rs. of a City Curate,' gilt top leaves and beveled boards. Do you like
that way?"


"For you to set up and pretend to ask me if I like 'City Curate' style,
when you knew I went down on my knees to you to have it like 'Sir
Thomas Browne,' and you said you would.

"The next book you publish for me, I am going to stand over you with
a grip on your coat-collar from the time you give the first copy to
the printer till the first edition stands on the shelf, and see if
you cannot be kept to something. I don't know what your beveled
boards are--only if you put a _d_ in, the adjective would apply more
accurately--and I don't want my book to be boarded up any way, and if
there is anything I hate, it is gilt tops, and if you don't do it as I
want it, I don't care how it is done."


"We shall publish, unless a defeat crowns our victories, your book this
week. It will be a beauty, and look like 'Sir Thomas Browne,' in its
red waistcoat."

[This letter was delayed and not received till the following letter was
partly written.]

M. N. TO MR. HUNT, SEPTEMBER 20, 1762.

"You darling Traddles,--why do I call you Traddles? Because you are
'the dearest fellow.' It was not Traddles, though, was it? It was his
wife, and she was not a fellow but a girl--never mind. The fact I wish
to impress upon your mind is, that you have tricked out my book so
beautifully that nothing could be lovelier. You would not have done it
though if I had not threatened you within an inch of your life, would
you? You don't know how delighted I was when I opened the bundle,
expecting to see those cheap-looking paste-boardy things, and you
had gone and done them just as I wanted you to do them, and you said
you would, and then said you wouldn't, and they are _beautiful_. They
are better even than 'Sir Thomas.' The paper is finer. But now see--I
never thought till yesterday that they must cost more than the other
way, and I have been distressed all along, and this makes me more so.
But listen: I shall either live, or die, or marry. If I live I shall
get money, if not by writing, then by teaching, or something, so that
I shall pay you sometime. If I die I shall leave money enough of my
own to pay you, and you keep this letter to show to my heirs to let
them know I desire you to be paid. If I marry, Smith of course will be
delighted to pay all my debts, and I shall make that the condition of
my becoming Smithess; so that you shall not _lose_ money on my book,
even if you don't make any, which I hope you will--millions of dollars;
but I am sure you must see for yourself that it is better to have a
book look substantial and high-bred, and suit you, even if it does cost
a little more.

"Just here comes your letter and check, which was delayed in Boston
because you did not put a stamp on.

"One of my friends has been questioning me about the business part of
my book--copyrights and contract, and all that trash of which I know
and care nothing."

[Foolish as this all seems to me now, I can only say that it expressed
exactly my state of mind. It was not that I had any lofty disregard
of money, but simply that I was so intent on writing, that I had room
for nothing else. I had plenty of money, or if I had not, I did not
know it, which amounts to the same thing, and it made me impatient
to be bothered with these outside, and what seemed to me entirely
insignificant matters.]

"But I want to know if by publishing articles in the 'A. M.' they pass
out of my hands. I mean, if I wanted to collect them and have Tilton,
say, publish them, couldn't I? I will any way; because you see, though
_I_ am amiable, you know what _your_ temper is, and suppose we flare
up and have a quarrel, what then? I tell you I don't discard lines of
retreat. Now you know I would rather have you publish than anybody
else--supposing I had anything to be published; but I want to do it
because I want to do it, and not because I _have_ to do it--don't you

"Do you know that it scares me to see my book out in the open day?
Seems to me it is a romping kind of a book, and there is a regiment of
I's on every page, and 'lots' of 'tricksys' and 'exasperatings' and
'for my parts.' You cannot tell how a book will look till it is born,
can you? I shall make the next one better. Shall you read it now it is
out? I wish I knew whether it disappoints you. It does me. It is crude
and botchy--it is so awfully unlike 'Sir Thomas Browne;' and if it
_isn't_ good, it is frightfully pretentious. A book ought not to come
out in that style, unless it has some merit. To think of----reading it,
and----and----and----I should like to go into a hole and burrow--and----

"O dear! I don't suppose they will read it, but I wanted to have such
a book as they will read. Any way, you have done your part, and I want
you to know that I am aware of it and not ungrateful."

"Hurrah! Good news! I have heard of a man in S----, who _said_ he was
_going_ to buy my book! There is one copy as good as sold.

"The man who told me about the purchaser in S----, tells me also that
the dress of my book is very much admired, and says I ought to be very
grateful to B. & H. for doing me up in such style, just as if I was
not! But what can I do about it? There is a white cloud at the toe of
my boot. As soon as it resolves itself into a well-defined hole, I am
coming to Athens to get a new pair. I have nothing in the world to say
to you, and I shall not come to see you. Still, if you should say,
'Hadn't you better?' perhaps I might be induced to rasp my knuckles
against No. 7--."


"I am glad you like the costume into which we put your first-born. It
is a handsome baby and will go alone uncommonly early."

So it seems that notwithstanding all the importunities and posturings
of the kneeling scene, Mr. Hunt was unmoved--for it was after the
curtain had fallen on this act that he quietly writes, "I propose same
style as 'City Curate.' Do you like it?" All its pathos had not been
sufficient to keep the act itself in mind. When I first suggested "Sir
Thomas Browne," he agreed at once, but afterwards apparently forgot it
and mentioned "City Curate," as if nothing had before been said on the
subject. Finding then that I wanted the "Sir Thomas," he does not so
much as reply, but simply binds the book according to my wishes. There
is no sign of any objection to it on his part from the beginning to
the end, so that the candid inquirer is at a loss to know why I should
have knelt, except from native humility of spirit and taste for the
suppliant posture--which nobody can deny.

As the ministers remark, "we shall resume this subject in the
afternoon's discourse." I only say here what, _à la_ Ollendorf's
grammar, I had a mind but no time to say to the referees.

After we had all slept upon it and returned to our _moutons_ next
morning, Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co. brought in proof to show that I did
know that fifteen hundred books were exempted in the first edition.
This was an account in one of their books in which the exemption
appeared. But in their copy of the accounts sent to me, drawn up by
their clerk for the referees, the latter remarked that no such item
appeared. Messrs. Parry and Markman thought it might be the clerk's
mistake in copying. The referees asked me if I had my accounts with
me. As they had been my literature for sixteen months, I was inclined
to think I had. The original papers were produced and no mention was
found in them of any exempted copies. Mr. Parry said that as the item
was down in the books it must have been put there for the purpose of
sending to me. Mr. Markman thought this particular account might have
been lost in the mail. But the accounts which I held covered all the
time of my transactions with Messrs. B. & H. Mr. Parry thought the
entry in their books would at least show their good intentions.

The second edition of "City Lights" numbered five hundred copies. No
edition was so large as the first, except the eleventh, which numbered
two thousand copies. Another fact came out of which I had not before
been aware, that three hundred copies had been exempted on every book.
These I suppose had been distributed as advertisements.

Regarding the change in payments from percentage to a fixed sum, the
firm claimed that it was made with my full knowledge, understanding,
and consent, as would be proved by Mr. Hunt's testimony. Whereupon
Mr. Parry gave place to Mr. Hunt, who deposed and said--or rather, to
his grief, did not depose, but was obliged to content himself with
saying,--that on a certain time he held a long conversation with me
on the subject of the change, in which he fully explained to me its
nature and necessity. He remembered that at first I was disposed to be
trifling, but he begged that I would be serious, and assured me that
this was a serious matter. He remembered using the expression, that
their house was shaking in the wind. He explained to me over and over
again, to make sure that I understood the state of affairs and the
reasons which necessitated the change, and repeatedly asked me, "Do you
understand this clearly?" and I said that I did, and "Do you assent to
it?" and I answered "Yes." Then, fastening upon me a look--apparently
designed to be penetrating and powerful enough to reach the lowest
depths of duplicity and to wring late confession even from a perjured
soul,--he exclaimed, "I think, M. N., you _must_ remember this."

Of course I was overwhelmed with confusion, but having persisted in
the falsehood so long it was hardly worth while to go down on my knees
to the gentleman a second time, so I received his gaze in silence. In
fact, Mars Hill House witnessed then what the hymn calls "the young
dawn of heaven below," inasmuch as there was silence in the room for
the space of not quite half an hour. It was broken by the referees, who
said that it was perhaps proper to ask me here if I remembered any such
conversation. I said that I did not recollect it. They asked Mr. Hunt
if he had any correspondence which referred to it. He said no, only the
letter of mine which I had myself produced, in which I admitted it. But
he remembered it with exact clearness. He could recall just the sofa on
which he sat. He was so confident that he wished he could take his oath
on it. They asked him whether I happened to be in Athens or whether he
sent for me. He was not sure, but thought he sent for me. They asked
him if in this conversation it was understood that "City Lights" was to
be included in the second contract. He said "distinctly." I asked if
he could define the time when the conversation occurred. He could not,
but it was some time before the second contract was made, and was the
basis of that contract. I asked if he could tell whether it was in the
old shop or the new. He said it was in the new. He did _not_ add, what
would have been a most effective peroration to his speech,--

    "I reside at Table Mountain, and my name is Truthful James;
    I am not up to small deceit or any sinful games."

This little matter being thus comfortably disposed of, Mr. Parry again
took up the thread of his discourse.

With regard to the change in payment to authors from a percentage to a
fixed sum, he said that such a change was desirable because everything
was changing and uncertain. He reiterated his statement as to the
variations that had been made in the retail price of my books; said
that authors generally did accede to the change; admitted that Mrs.----
had had some difficulty, that her mind seemed to have been jaundiced
towards them, that her sister, Miss----, had examined their books, and
that Mrs.---- had now become satisfied that all was right; that I,
before the reference, neither admitted nor denied that I had acceded to
their proposal, but only affirmed that I did not recollect about it.
He denied that there was any prescriptive custom of paying the author
ten per cent., though as before, he objected to bringing in the modes
of other publishers, as Hunt, Parry, & Co. transacted business on
their own account without consulting others. Which is all very true,
doubtless, yet the prejudiced observer, seeing how much is said about
the great liberality of this firm, can but marvel that they should
have been willing to miss so brilliant an opportunity of contrasting
their own liberality with the niggardliness of those sordid book-men
who publish, not for glory and high emprise, but simply to make money.
Mr. Parry said this also was a reason why the questions propounded to
them by Mr. Dane antecedent to the reference seemed irrelevant. They
were asked to state their income and that from the "Adriatic." But they
might make a great deal of money in outside ways,--by speculating in
butter, for instance,--of which it was not pertinent that they should
give any account. He was asked why, if there was no prescribed custom
to pay ten per cent., they themselves fixed on ten per cent. as the
rate of payment for "City Lights." He said that they were disposed
to be liberal; that there were no fluctuations then; that such a
prescriptive custom may then have existed, he would not say that ten
per cent. was not common, though he did not himself know what was the
custom among other publishers. He was asked why "City Lights" was
not by name included in the second contract if its provisions were
intended to apply to "City Lights," and why the other works were not
also included in a contract. He replied, that it was because a verbal
understanding had been reached; that if they had supposed or intended
any wrong, they would certainly have so included it; that the absence
of contracts was owing to a basis of mutual understanding and verbal
agreements. He was asked if they had any letters bearing on such verbal
agreements, and he said they had not.

He affirmed that the publishers made but insignificant profits on
the books compared with mine; that up to September, 1764, when the
second contract was made, when "City Lights" had been two years out
and "Alba Dies" and "Rocks of Offense" had been published, and "Old
Miasmas" was about to be published, their net cash profit on the books
for these two years had been three hundred dollars. Here they went
into the details of the business with a minuteness altogether beyond
my power to comprehend or report. The referees and themselves carried
on a long discussion about the condition of business in general, and
their business in particular, in 1762, 1764, and subsequently. The firm
foresaw that they should have to advance the retail price of their
books. Everything connected with their business advanced. The price
and quality of paper, the size of books, taxes, interest, stereotype
plates, pro rata increase, press-work, expenses of business,
comparative costs of comparative thinness, if there is any such thing,
number of pounds of paper in thin books and thick books, discounts to
the trade, were discussed with apparent intelligence. I can give only
a few of the mysterious tongues of flames that shot above the level of
the luminous, and still more mysterious corona.

[It will be seen that this part of my paper is like Milton's "fatal and
perfidious bark," in "being built in the eclipse" as well as "rigged
with curses dark."]

The stereotype plates of the nine volumes were estimated at three
thousand nine hundred and fifty-three dollars, ninety-seven cents.

  Paper, printing, and binding of about 72,000 volumes  $38,422.08
  Advertising in outside mediums                          1,500.00
  Advertising in their own periodicals                      500.00

[The latter embraced only _cost_ of paper and printing.]

  Government manufacturing tax, five per cent. on sales, October 1764
    to July 1766                                               $1,814.04
  Seven per cent. interest on stereotype plates                   991.46
  Expenses of doing business, ten per cent. on sales            7,061.14

The latter included rent, insurance, clerk hire, packing, store
expenses, business risks and losses, taxes on business-property, except
income-tax, etc. Reckoning up the sums expended they proved beyond
doubt, if there be truth in figures, that their profits were not quite
seven-tenths as large as those of the opulent and insatiable author,
who, in spite of all this inequality was clamoring for more. But they
admitted that, though their expenses had been out of all proportion to
their profits since the rise in prices, their profits had lately "been
_some_ larger than before."

With all due respect to Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co., I must still avow
that these estimates are entirely valueless. What would have been of
value was their cost-book, which would have showed what they actually
did pay. This I asked for but it was not produced. They simply made an
estimate. They brought forward not a single voucher. They reckon the
item of advertising at two thousand dollars, but they produced not a
paper to show that they had paid anything. This advertising extended
over several years and embraced advertisements of nine books. Whether
they counted in the three hundred volumes reserved on each book;
whether they counted in the advertisements of every book advertised
and issued simultaneously with mine, on what basis they did calculate,
or what sums they did pay, I have no means of knowing, except their

In the same way they make their estimate of the cost of paper and
press-work; but that it is anything more than an estimate, that it
represents the actual sum which they paid to printers and binders,
there is no proof. From the fact that I asked for their cost-book, and
that it was not produced, I infer that it does not represent that sum,
notwithstanding the laudable accuracy involved in the eight cents.

Again, having set down a certain sum for the cost of the stereotype
plates, for the interest of that money, for the paper and press-work,
for the advertising and taxes, they bring in a grand finale for the
expenses of doing business. That is, having charged once for the items
specifically, they lump them together and charge for them all over
again abstractly. For what is the advertising and the taxes but a part
of the expenses of doing business? Why could not everything except the
raw material of the book be classed under the head of doing business?
What is there to a book but the book itself and the publication of it?
And why again should interest be charged on the sum paid for stereotype
plates any more than for that paid to the printer and binder?

[Since the reference I have showed their statement to several
publishers, and am assured that any person whose correct accounts
should stand thus is unfit for the business, and that the profit on
those books is from four to five times as much as Messrs. Hunt, Parry,
& Co. represent it.]

But, even supposing all these figures to be correct, it will at once
be seen that the publishers set off their own net profits against the
author's gross receipts. Having charged for every item of their own
expense in producing the book, and for some of them twice over, they
make no allowance whatever for the author's having been at any expense
in his part of the production. What the publisher gets after every
expense is paid is set over against what the author gets to pay every
expense with. But the publisher's profits, according to their showing,
are only about one tenth of his gross receipts. What then is the
author's share of what may truly be termed profits? Or is the author's
share in the production of the book to be considered as of no pecuniary

The remainder of the case, as presented by Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co.,
will appear, to the best of my ability, in the written reply presented
to the referees and here subjoined. It must not be forgotten that one
is always liable to misrepresent an opponent's case. I labor under
the additional disadvantage of possessing a natural aptitude for
"conspicuous inexactness" perfected by long practice. This innate
depravity is, however, held in check at the present crisis, by the
consciousness that I am reporting what took place in the presence of
five persons, of whom three were on the other side, and two on neither
side, so that any lapse from truth would be speedily detected. With
such vigor does Providence barricade our weaker virtues!


(This "Introduction" will doubtless induce in the reader a despair akin
to that felt by a sleepy worshipper on a warm Sunday afternoon, when,
nearing, as he supposes, the close of the discourse, the preacher turns
over a new leaf, and announces, "Secondly!")


"Before proceeding to the subject-matter of the controversy, will the
referees permit me to apologize for appearing before them to present
the case myself. Nothing was further from my intention. Until the
evening before the reference I did not mean to be present at all,
and I then consented to be in the room only at Mr. Dane's urgent
solicitation. I wished a full, clear, and exhaustive discussion. I
knew that I was not able to enter into it myself. I have steadfastly
refused to attempt it even in private with Messrs. Hunt and Parry,
because I knew I was so ignorant of the details of business, that such
a discussion would be fruitless. How much less then should I have
attempted it before two gentlemen of the character and ability of the
referees, appealed to for a formal and final decision?

"The paper already presented to the referees was prepared originally
for my own convenience, and was subsequently put into Mr. Dane's hands
for his exact understanding of the matter. It was not designed for the
referees. It contained much irrelevant matter, and my only excuse for
offering it, is the embarrassment and perplexity in which I suddenly
found myself involved, and from which this seemed the only way of

"The same circumstances must be my apology to Mr. Hunt for certain
letters which appeared in that statement. They were placed there
only for the sake of a few lines which were in them. These extracts
were all that were designed to be read. But in the confusion of the
moment I was entirely unable to make any separation or distinction. I
mention this, not because the letters contained anything discreditable
to Mr. Hunt, for they did not; but because I would wish to avoid
even the appearance of unnecessarily giving private letters to the
semi-publicity of arbitration.[12]

"For the paper which I now present, I must also beg the indulgence of
the referees. I have done the best I could do under the circumstances,
but I know that it must seem to them redundant, deficient,
unsystematic, and perhaps inadequate. I can only assure them that had
I thought it possible I should be forced to conduct the case myself, I
should never have appealed to arbitration.

"I beg to thank the referees most sincerely for their unvarying
kindness and forbearance.


"I claim what is justly due for copyright on eight works, namely:--

  "'City Lights,'
  "'Alba Dies,'
  "'Rocks of Offense,'
  "'Old Miasmas,'
  "'Winter Work,'

Published by Messrs. Brummell & Hunt, since Hunt, Parry, & Co.

"Were there no contracts, the author's share should, I suppose, be
determined by the usage of publishers and authors, as to similar works
with similar sales.

"For four of these books there is no contract.

"On the first book, 'City Lights,' there is a written contract at ten
per cent. on the retail price after the first edition is sold. This
price was fixed voluntarily by the publishers without suggestion from
or consultation with me, and must be considered as expressing their
idea of what was fair and usual under ordinary circumstances, even with
a new author. This contract has never been rescinded. Messrs. Hunt,
Parry, & Co. claim that it has been rescinded. No one can be called
upon to prove a negative. To prove that the contract exists, I produce
the contract. To prove that the rescission exists, I demand that they
produce the rescission. This they have utterly failed to do. Mr. Hunt
simply asserts a verbal agreement, which I deny. A verbal agreement
between two parties, which one party stoutly maintains, and the other
flatly denies, is, I submit, an agreement more suited to the latitude
and longitude of Dublin than of Athens. A verbal agreement, which on
examination proves to be an utter and absolute disagreement, cannot
cancel a written contract.

"They not only attempt to rescind the first contract, but to substitute
another for it by including 'City Lights' in the second contract.
But 'City Lights' is not named in the second contract. They do not
even pretend that they intended to name it there. They simply assert
a conversation in which both parties agreed that, the first contract
still existing, they would act as if it did not exist; and that 'City
Lights' not being inserted in the second contract, both parties should
act as if it were so inserted. I beg to inquire if there is anything
in the Union as it was, or the Constitution as it is, that could make
such a procedure reasonable? Is it credible that a shrewd business firm
should rely on a verbal agreement to cancel a written one and leave the
latter uncancelled in the possession of the other party?

"'Dies Alba,' 'Rocks of Offense,' and 'Old Miasmas,' were published
at different periods subsequent to the publication of 'City Lights.'
They are all embraced in one contract, which bears date September 24,
1764. This contract is not at ten per cent. on the retail price, but at
fifteen cents a volume on all volumes sold.

"This contract I claim to be invalid, because it was obtained from me
under false representations, and because it is not equitable.

"Mr. Hunt asserts that before entering into this contract, and as a
basis of this contract, he had a long conversation with me in which he
fully showed me the reason of the proposed change from ten per cent.
to fifteen cents on a volume. His recollection of this conversation is
so vivid that he even recalls the sofa on which he sat. He thinks he
sent for me, but is not quite sure. He remembers that I was disposed
at first to be trifling, but he begged me to be serious, and assured
me that this was a serious matter. He remembers using the expression,
'that their house was shaking in the wind.' He says, he explained to
me over and over again the state of affairs and the reasons which
necessitated the change; and repeatedly asked me, 'Do you understand
this clearly?' and I answered that I did, and 'Do you agree to it?' and
I said yes. He is so positive in his assurance that he expresses the
wish that he could take his oath on it; the referees ask him if, in
that conversation, 'City Lights' was included among the other books,
and he replies, 'distinctly.' Then, in face of my repeated written
and verbal assertions to him that I had no recollection of any such
conversation, he fixes his eyes upon me and says, with emphasis, 'I
think, M. N., you _must_ remember this.'

"I have already stated to the referees that I had no recollection
of any such conversation or of any verbal agreement. I was willing
to attribute the assertion to a mistaken impression on the part of
Mr. Hunt. Now, after his positive, persistent, and circumstantial
assertion, I go further. I deny his assertion in part and in whole,
in every point and particular. I deny it not simply as a mistaken
impression, but I deny it as a question of veracity between Mr. Hunt
and myself.

"As I have said before, I cannot be called upon to prove a negative.
The burden of proof lies on Mr. Hunt who asserts the positive. He
admits that he has no correspondence to show it, but affirms that I
admit it myself in one of my early letters by saying, 'I dare say'
I did have such a conversation. The letter to which he refers is my
second letter of inquiry, written before my faith in him had been
shaken, and before the question of such a conversation had assumed any
prominence or arrested my attention. I had asked him, as my letters
show, why he wanted me to take less than ten per cent. He had replied,
that we had talked it over and I agreed to less. I replied that I knew
I agreed to it, for here were the contracts, but why did he wish me
to make such contracts? My exact words were, 'I don't remember ever
talking the things over with you, but I dare say I did--or rather you
talked and I nodded,--as usual. And of course I agreed, for here are
the contracts that say so.... Don't you see the trouble lies back of
the contracts. Why did you _wish_ me to be having seven or eight per
cent. when other people are getting ten?' Here it is seen that in the
very beginning, almost before any suspicion was aroused, and before my
attention was at all fixed upon the importance of this conversation, I,
first, carelessly but distinctly assert that I remember no such talk;
second, I found my recognition of my assent not upon any remembered
talk but upon the written contract; and third, I reiterate my questions
concerning what lay back of the contract in entire unconsciousness that
the talk had anything to do with it.

"So then, the only testimony which Mr. Hunt can produce of a verbal
agreement which vitiates one contract and forms the basis of another,
is a letter of mine in which I distinctly affirm that I don't remember
anything about it! Mr. Hunt is welcome to all the sunshine he can find
in _that_ cucumber.

"Again, Mr. Hunt cannot fix the time when this explanatory conversation
occurred and this verbal agreement was made; but it was the basis of a
contract which was executed on the 24th September. It would naturally,
therefore, be somewhere within speaking distance of that time. Now, in
my statement of the case, made out on the 22nd October, 1768, and put
into the hands of my friend Mr. Dane a few days after, and read before
the referees, I said, 'I think it must have been at the time this
contract was made out--but I cannot be sure as to the time,--that Mr.
Hunt told me that they were going to pay me a fixed sum, fifteen cents
on a volume, instead of a percentage;' adopting this course with their
authors, 'on account of fluctuations, general uncertainties, and so
forth.' In the following January my vague recollections were confirmed
by finding unexpectedly, and without seeking it or knowing that I had
it, a letter from Mr. Hunt dated September 23, 1764, from which I make
the following extract: 'The contract has been delayed for a sufficient
cause.' [He then gives the cause of the delay, namely, Mr. Brummell's
absence]. 'The percentage will read fifteen cents per copy, as the
business times are fluctuating the prices of manufacture so there is
no telling to-morrow, or for a new edition, what may be the expenses
of publication. So we reckon your percentage in every and any event as
fixed at fifteen cents per volume on all your books. If it should cost
$1.50 to make the volumes you are sure of your author profit of fifteen
cents. The price at retail may be $1.50, $2.00, or $3.00, as the high
or low rates of paper, binding, etc., may be, but _you_ are all right.
This arrangement we make now with all our authors....

"'As I write, the contracts are reported ready, so I enclose them. Sign
both, and send back the one marked with red X. You keep one and we the

"I submit, that this extract, bearing date the day before the contract,
has every sign of being fresh information. All the circumstances
combine with my own distinct recollection, apart from them, to show
that a new contract was made at my suggestion, not with any view
whatever of changing the terms, but because I thought if a contract
was necessary with one book, it was with another. I did not know that
there had been or was to be any change from percentage to a fixed sum,
until this letter told me. The retail price of the books had gone up to
$1.50, so that ten per cent. and fifteen cents were the same. In this
letter no allusion whatever is made to any previous conversation on the
subject of the change from percentage to a fixed sum. Is it credible,
I ask, that Mr. Hunt should have sent for me; should have assured me
that this was a very serious matter; should have explained it all to me
over and over again; should have repeatedly asked me if I understood
it; should remember the conversation five years after, so vividly that
the intensity of his convictions cannot find adequate expression in
simple declaration but craves the relief of an oath; is it credible,
that in his letter of the period he should have made no allusion to
this conversation, but should have mentioned the arrangement as then
communicated to me for the first time,--as it actually was?

"But further than this, my diary for 1764, carefully kept, with not a
day missing, shows that during the whole summer and autumn preceding
the 23d September, 1764, I was not once in Athens!"

[And yet again,--I set on foot an inquiry at the time but did not
get an answer in season to use it before the reference,--Mr. Hunt
distinctly remembered that he sat on a certain sofa in the new shop
during the conversation which was the basis of the contract of
September, 1764. But the firm did not move into the new shop till May,

Now if Mr. Hunt should gratify himself with the wished-for oath, I am
sure that the accusing angel who flies up to Heaven's chancery with it,
will blush as he gives it in, and the recording angel as he writes it
down, will drop a tear upon the word and blot it out forever.]

"But it may be urged, giving up the conversation and relying only
on the letter, that in any event I accepted and assented to the new
contract with a full understanding of its meaning and effect, and am
hence bound by it. This I deny. The law always scrutinizes transactions
between parties in confidential relations, as father and son, guardian
and ward, attorney and client, husband and wife, and demands the
utmost frankness and fullest disclosure of circumstances, allows no
concealments, and sets aside all contracts where any advantage is
gained by reason of the confidence reposed. It recognizes the influence
of superior position, and the right to trust in the party occupying
it, and demands the strictest honor on his part. I think my position
with my publishers comes within the scope of this principle. In respect
of the matters involved in this contract, were we or could we be
equal? They were practiced business men living in the city, with full
knowledge of all the details of their affairs. It was their business
to manage the external material parts of books. I was living in the
country, with no knowledge of these affairs, and as I supposed, no
need and no means of acquiring it. It was my part to attend to the
interior and intangible souls of books. I could not look into their
business without neglecting my own; as indeed I have been forced to
do for sixteen months past, and as I should do with equal pertinacity
for sixteen years, were it necessary. I never sent for my accounts,
except when I wanted money and wished not to overdraw. When they came,
I scarcely did more than glance at the footing to ascertain what was
due me. Nor do I now see of what use it would have been to examine them
ever so minutely. I was proceeding entirely on a basis of confidence,
which I think I had a clear right to assume, and which was complete and
unimpaired until the date mentioned in my first paper, when I awoke to
the fact that I was not receiving what I seemed to be entitled to, and
what, on the closest scrutiny, I believe to be my legal and equitable

"Such being the relation of the parties, let us examine for a
moment--that is a pulpit fiction, I mean for a good many moments--the
inducements held out to me by my publishers, as they are found in this
letter. I maintain that the proposed change from percentage to a fixed
sum is so mentioned as directly--I do not say intentionally--to mislead
me. It is held up as an arrangement peculiarly to my advantage, as
guaranteeing me in any event against a loss to which I might otherwise
be exposed, and as securing me my profits by some stronger safeguard
than I had before possessed. But whereas I was blind I now see that it
guarantees me against no loss, and the only safeguard it presents, is
a safeguard against any benefit which might accrue to me from the rise
in prices. Mr. Hunt says, "if it should cost $1.50 to make the volumes,
you are sure of your author profits of fifteen cents,"--as if I should
not have been just as sure of them had I received percentage! "The
price at retail may be $1.50, $2.00, or $3.00, as the high or low rates
of paper, binding, etc., may be, but _you_ are all right,"--whereas I
was all wrong, for if I had kept to a percentage, and the retail price
had become $3.00, I should have had thirty cents instead of fifteen.

"It was almost immediately after this contract that the retail price of
all my books went up to $2.00, and has remained so ever since. This was
a fact which my publishers had the means to foresee, but which I could
not and did not anticipate or even conjecture. The absolute identity of
ten per cent. and a fixed sum at the time of the new contract, together
with their representations of its superior advantage to me, and my
confidence in them, all combined to deceive me. I should have adopted
the same reasoning and drawn the same inference if a year earlier I
had been asked to change the ten per cent. to twelve and a half cents,
which at that time amounted to precisely the same thing.

"Had I been distinctly told that my books were largely to advance
in price, but that all the profit of the advance was to accrue to
the publishers and none of it to me, should I have consented to such
an arrangement? The referees and my publishers, in discussing these
matters, plunged into an abyss of figures into which I cannot attempt
to follow them. I do not even understand the jargon--I trust they will
pardon the term--in which they appeared to be communicating ideas. I
had provided myself with a friend who was, I believed, fully competent
to dive as deep as the best of them. But I was not allowed to retain
him, and I could only sit in despair on the brink of the gulf and stare
at the spectacle. From the few intelligible sounds that did reach me
I infer that the sacrifices of publishers in behalf of authors have
never been fully appreciated. I felt that in claiming ten per cent. I
was guilty of an extortion second only to that of David Copperfield in
suggesting to Mr. Dolloby eighteen pence as the price of 'this here
little weskit.' 'I should rob my family,' says Mr. Dolloby, 'if I was
to offer ninepence for it.' It is gratifying to recollect that the
last winter was a mild one, so that the cases of extreme suffering
must have been rare. If it were not for an occasional glimpse at our
impertinent income-returns one would be inconsolable. As it is, would
the referees count it as bringing in new facts if I should send one or
two postage-stamps to the retired clergyman whose sands of life have
nearly run out, and beg a receipt for returning an income of fifty
thousand dollars on a bi-annual cash profit of three hundred dollars?

"But though I cannot bring up a fact from the bottom of the sea, I can
see a fact when it stares me in the face on land. If there was any
reason except uncovenanted mercies for advancing my copyright from
twelve and a half cents to fifteen, when the books went from $1.25 to
$1.50, it must have applied with equal force to advancing my copyright
from fifteen to twenty cents when the books advanced from $1.50 to
$2.00. I deny that the increased cost of doing business should be
reckoned solely on the side of the publisher as the justification of
_his_ receipts and profits, while the author should be held down to
the same fixed sum. The same causes that increased the cost of doing
business to Messrs. Brummell & Hunt as publishers, increased in quite
as large a ratio the cost of my doing business as an author. Every
conceivable form of expenditure to which I was subjected was all the
time increasing, and I was as much in need of a _pro rata_ increase of
receipts from my books as the publishers could be. But Messrs. Brummell
& Hunt take the opposite ground and maintain that no matter what the
added expenditure of the author may necessarily become, only a fixed
sum shall be allowed to meet it, while the vast increase of receipts
and of profits shall be absorbed by the publisher alone. If this be
justice, equity, or law, I think we would better stop hammering on the
jubilee house, and begin back again at the Ten Commandments.[13]

"But though I was not able to follow my publishers through the technics
and tactics of their business, there were two ways in which I might
have formed and presented some opinion of the justice of their course.
Had I been allowed, I would have called in other publishers and have
asked them what would be a fair price for books with the character,
dress, and sales of mine. I do not see that there could be any
unfairness in this. They surely would not be likely to decide unjustly
against their own craft, and they surely would be able to give an
intelligent answer.

"From the inquiries which Mr. Dane has made among other publishers, I
believe that the sum which Messrs. Brummell & Hunt allege that they
have made on all my books represents much more nearly the profits which
they made on a single one of them, 'City Lights,' and that the profits
which accrued to themselves from the rise in the prices of books are
much larger than they represent them.

"It was for the purpose of elucidating this matter, also, that the
questions were sent to Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co. some days before the
reference began. Had I known the profits of their firm, the number and
sales of their books, and the profits of their periodicals, I should
have been in a position to judge of the correctness of their statements
regarding the cost and profits of my books. Mr. Parry objects to
such testimony, as he says they may make a great deal of money in
outside ways, by speculating in butter, for instance. Precisely. But
they advertise themselves as a publishing house solely, not as a
publishing and butter house. It is Hunt, Parry, & Co., publishers, not
publishers and dairymen. When I am charged in my books with the cost
of store-rent, I wish to know whether the rent is for packing-cases
or butter-tubs. I am charged for insurance and clerk-hire. How can
I tell whether the insurance and clerk-hire cover my share alone or
whether they may not also embrace the safety and the management of
the "Adriatic?" There is a separate item for the cost of advertising;
but I am told that in a single year the receipts of the firm for
advertising in their periodicals are ten thousand dollars more than the
cost to them of all the advertisements which they publish elsewhere.
Undoubtedly the sagacity of the firm in managing their periodicals
has much to do with that circulation which makes them so valuable as
advertising mediums; but is it not just possible that the quality of
the writing has some slight influence on their circulation. Yet not
only are the authors of the books and of the magazine articles often
one and the same, but the articles themselves are frequently but
extracts from the books, and the books themselves are frequently made
up in part or in whole from the articles. I do not mention this as
an advantage to the publishers and a disadvantage to the author, but
simply to show that the book business and the magazine business are so
interwoven that an investigation of the one, to be exhaustive, must be,
to some extent, an investigation of the other. Messrs. Hunt, Parry, &
Co. must give us all the data if we are to make their 'sums prove,' as
the children say. As they decline to do this, and as I never learned
to 'cipher in turkey rule,' they have everything their own way in

"Another point in Mr. Hunt's letter of explanation was, as he says,
'This arrangement we make now with all our authors.'

"When I wrote to Mr. Hunt about the last of August, 1768, that,
contrary to what I had understood his assertion to be, several authors
had ten per cent., and therefore I thought I ought to have ten per
cent., the firm did not deny my premise, but simply said, 'In your
letter you assume that we have but one set of terms with the various
authors whose works we publish. In this you are in error. What we pay
to any individual author is a matter quite between him, or her, and
ourselves, and it is not our custom to make one author the criterion
for another. Many elements enter into the case that would make a
uniform rate impracticable. Independently of other considerations, the
varying cost of manufacture caused by different styles of publication
would alone preclude such an arrangement. We must therefore decline to
admit such an argument into the case.'

"The fact is, it was not necessary to admit it, since it was already
there--placed there by Mr. Hunt's own hands. It was offered as an
inducement for me to accept the new terms, "this arrangement we now
make with all our authors." Either, then, Messrs. Brummell & Hunt do
make a uniform arrangement with all their authors or they do not. If
they do, this last letter cannot be a correct statement of facts, and
the question arises, what is that uniform arrangement? If they do
not, then Mr. Hunt's letter of September 23, 1764, cannot be true,
and the representation which he held out to me of a uniform mode of
payment as an inducement for me to come into the arrangement, was not
a correct representation. To ascertain whether or not they did make
such an arrangement, I applied to such authors as were within reach to
know what were and had been their rates of payment. A. writes, 'I have
always received a percentage. I remember no change in 1764, unless
that B. & H. about that time (perhaps earlier), without my asking it,
raised the sum they paid me for a poem, by one third.' B. says, 'I have
been content with ten per cent.' Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co. write to
C., 'Even D. now has only ten per cent.' E. says, 'I never published
but one book (prose) with Brummell & Hunt.... I received on this the
usual beggarly percentage.' F. says, 'Generally we go on the system
of half profits.... In regard to 'Old King Cole,' they print and sell
and allow me a certain sum on each copy sold.' G. says, 'Brummell &
Hunt have, I believe, allowed me ten per cent. on the retail price
of my books.' H. says, 'I believe it (the book) was to have yielded
ten per cent. if anything.' I. says, 'Messrs. H., P., & Co. have
published four books for me. The three first sell for $1.25, and I
receive twelve cents each copy. The last is a joint affair, published
by subscription.' K. says, 'All my contracts have been for _one half
the net profits_. The two volumes published by the Troubadours, were
offered to Parry, but as he wanted to make other terms, I declined, and
they went to the Troubadours. This is the sum of my transactions with
Messrs. B. & H.'

"On Friday, April 16, Mr. Dane sent to Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co.
certain questions, in writing, which the referees now hold, asking
them to cite their contracts with other authors, and giving a list
of names. Did they meet this question fairly? On Friday, April 23,
they made their reply to my statement. On the question of contracts,
they cited A.'s collected poems, B.'s poems, F.'s 'Old King Cole,'
M.'s works (collected), a part of which had to be bought from another
publisher, and the works of Theodore Winthrop, which I believe were not
asked for. All these they cited as examples of works on which similar
contracts to mine had been made, and they cited no others. If these
persons had written no other works this would have been fair as far as
it goes. But these persons had written other works, and I maintain that
Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co. had selected out of these works those that
were most unlike mine in scope, style, cost, and probable circulation,
and said nothing whatever about books by the same authors which
would more nearly resemble mine in these respects. A., besides his
collected poems, his blue and gold and cabinet editions of his poems,
has written separate poems and prose works, which have been issued in
separate editions, and which, therefore, furnish a far more proper
basis of comparison with mine. But about these separate books they said
nothing. Of his separate books, a, b, c, d, e, they made no mention.
They brought up B. as one whose works were treated in the same way as
mine; but they mentioned only his Poems, blue and gold, and his Songs.
They never hinted that he had printed and they had published any prose
book for him. Yet it is these prose books, his novels and essays,
which form the true basis of comparison between him and me. They
cited F., but they cited only his 'Old King Cole,' which they did not
originally publish, and which they own by a peculiar bargain, and said
nothing about the original books which they have published for him,
novels, essays, and stories. They cited M., but while bringing in his
collected poems, which were entangled in a bargain with some previous
contumacious publisher, one Fussey, they said nothing of his separate
volumes. They cited Winthrop, but Winthrop, like Marley, was dead to
begin with; and if the living have hard work to hold their own against
this enterprising firm, what can be expected of the dead?

"Here they rested their case so far as the contracts go; but as a
desire was expressed to see the contracts, they promised to produce
them next morning. On Saturday, accordingly, we began with one set of
contracts which proved to be a most perplexing medley--a sort of contra
dance between written contracts and verbal agreements with the rattling
of stereotype plates for tambourines. As the government of Russia is
said to be despotism tempered by assassination, so the business of
Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co. may be said to be conducted on the basis of
written contracts annulled by verbal agreements. If we were met for the
purpose of preparing a Mars Hill House Shorter Catechism and should
ask, 'What is the chief end of a written contract?' Messrs. H., P.,
& Co. would promptly reply, 'A written contract's chief end is to be
canceled by a verbal agreement and annihilated forever!' According to
their practice, it seems that we all agree, in writing, as to what we
will do, for the sake of saying afterwards that we won't do it.

"However, plodding my way along as best I could through the contracts,
with Mr. Markman's kind assistance, I found, or thought I found,
that for one book its author received at first twenty per cent., he
owning the stereotype plates. Whether this was by written contract or
verbal agreement Mr. Markman does not recollect. From 1762 to 1764, he
received twenty cents a volume, the retail price, meanwhile, having
advanced from one to two dollars. Since then a written contract gives
him twenty cents a volume, the retail price being two dollars.

"A second book by the same author is on the same principle, except that
there is no written contract.

"A third, in 1762, either by contract or verbal agreement, was
receiving twenty per cent. on $1.00, retail price, the author owning
stereotype plates. In 1764 it was changed verbally from percentage to
twenty cents a volume, the price having gone up to two dollars.

"While I was painfully thridding these labyrinthine ways, I was
arrested by a proposition from some quarter that time should be saved
by intrusting the further examination of these contracts to the
referees. I had every confidence in the referees, but how could I make
my argument concerning these contracts without having seen them? It
was said that I should be present and examine them with the referees;
but the referees were about to disperse to the four quarters of the
earth--or, as there are only two of them, I suppose it might be more
strictly accurate to say, the two hemispheres--not to meet again till
Thursday, when I was to make my final statement. Mr. Markman then
said that he would have the principal points of the contracts copied
and sent to me either Saturday afternoon or Monday; but on Tuesday
I received a letter from him saying that his time has been so much
occupied with matters relating to Mr. Hunt's absence, that he has not
had time to complete the copyright memorandum which he promised to
send me, but will surely send it to-morrow--all of which I do not in
the least doubt, but it does not alter the fact that the information
concerning the contracts, for which I asked ten days ago, has not yet
been furnished; that I am to hand in my argument on Wednesday, and find
myself at home to write up the play of Hamlet with a pretty important
part of Hamlet left out.

"From what goes in, however, I am left, like Providence among the
heathen, not without witness. Accepting alleged verbal agreements, it
seems that the author cited, in changing from percentage to a fixed
sum, came down to a sum fixed as high as the highest of my percentage.
That is, he, at his lowest, is precisely where I was at my highest.
My sole ambition was to climb as high as the point where he stopped
falling! Does this fairly make out the assertion, 'this arrangement we
make now with all our authors'?

"But I cannot reason upon contracts which I have never seen. I fall
back upon the statements made to me by the authors I have quoted, and
on this ground I affirm that I have not fared as the other authors,
even of Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co., have fared. Neither can I accept
their allegations of verbal agreements which cancel written contracts.
The only verbal agreement I know anything about is one that never
existed. I did not intend to mention Mrs.---- any further than I
have done, but Mr. Parry has cited her case and I may therefore be
permitted to say that verbal agreements and explanations were brought
to bear on her in the same way. In a letter to me dated August 9, 1768,
she says, 'A letter arrived from Mr. Hunt [Thursday] telling me that
_he had explained as I knew_, just what he had never once explained as
he knew--and I read it and denied totally all his assertions.' August
20, 1768, she says, 'Do you see all the contracts Mr. Hunt tells Mr. E.
were verbal. I do not believe Mr.---- ever consented to change to ten
per cent., because he would have told me, and besides you see he had
fifteen per cent. for the very last book he gave them!... And now they
say he made a verbal agreement with Mr. Brummell who is dead and cannot
say anything. But they show no papers.'

"I have been a practitioner at law but four days, and it becomes me
to be modest; yet I will hazard the remark, that a verbal agreement
without witnesses, between two dead men, is as near nothing as anything
in the way of evidence can well be.

"Mr. Parry affirms that Mrs.----'s sister afterwards examined
their books and found nothing wrong therein, and that Mrs.---- was
subsequently satisfied. I saw Mrs.---- in Paris on her way to Asia,
and it seemed to me that she was very far from satisfied, but that
she _was_ worried out, and preferred peace to pence. One can imagine
Miss---- hunting up Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co.'s account books in
pursuit of knowledge!

"Neither do I accept accounts as proofs of a verbal agreement. My
accounts ran on for years, unchallenged, without any such agreement,
though that agreement is now alleged as the basis of the accounts. J.
wrote to me, May 11, 1768, 'In the accounts of sale I believe the price
paid me was ten per cent. of the _original_ retail price, that is, the
'Ambrosia' was published at a dollar fifty and I have always received
fifteen cents a copy on that. When paper became so high during the war,
the price of the book was raised to $1.75, but I am pretty sure I never
received seventeen and a half cents, but always only fifteen, yet, as
the papers are at home, I cannot be certain; only in a little account
of sale sent here this winter the reckoning was at fifteen cents a copy
for one, and twelve and a half cents for the other, but the account
covered a space of three years during which the books had been selling
at $1.75 and $1.50 respectively; so that, literally, he has not been
paying me ten per cent.; but I did not think much about it, taking it
for granted that the extra price was due to hard times. But I do not
know why our labor is the only labor to remain low-priced.' Here it
will be seen that for three years J.'s accounts might have been cited
at any time as proof of a verbal agreement, though no such agreement
had ever been made or even alleged. Messrs. H., P., & Co. may say that
they have a right to infer that silence gives consent, and that authors
have no right to be so loose in money matters. Leaving out any silence
which might arise from delicacy, I would say, it is true that they
ought to be more accurate and systematic, but surely we may say to our
publishers, as the crab remarked to his father, when rebuked for going
sidewise, 'Gladly, my father, would we walk straight, if we could first
see you setting the example!'

"But authors are not always to be blamed for their silence. We are not
very large buyers of our own books and do not always know when the
price is raised. Surely we cannot be expected to sit inflexibly upon
our property, like Miss Betsy Trotwood, watching the rates of sale. It
was a considerable time after L.'s story-book advanced in price before
its author discovered it; as soon as she did, she made a note of it,
and after a little trouble succeeded in having her contract fulfilled.
But any time between the change and her discovery of it, her account
might have been alleged as proof of a verbal agreement which did not
exist. I am, of course, not saying that it would have been so, but
that it might have been so. What we want, therefore, is _facts_, Mr.

"Since writing this, Mr. Markman's memoranda of contracts have put in
an appearance, and if correct, show beyond question, that their letter
of September, 1768, was true, and that the statement in Mr. Hunt's
September 1764 letter was not true. There is scarcely an approach to
uniformity in the arrangements made with authors. Taking those books
which most resemble mine, the contracts are of every species. There
are contracts for twenty per cent. where the author owns the plates,
and ten per cent. where the publisher owns them. Books that retail at
$1.25 pay the author ten cents per volume, or fifteen cents per volume,
he owning the stereotype plates, or twelve cents per volume, or twelve
and a half cents per volume; books that retail at $1.50 pay the author
fifteen cents, and ten cents; books that retail at seventy-five cents
pay five per copy; books that retail at $1.00 pay twenty cents per
copy; books that retail at $2.00 and $1.75 do the same; books that
retail at $1.12 pay ten cents. When a verbal agreement is alleged as
a substitute for a written contract, the substitute also varies. Some
of the contracts are for half profits. I do not find a single example
of a book that retails at $2.00 and pays the author fifteen cents. I
shall depend upon the referees to discover any fault in my figures, but
I believe they are correct. When a change is made from percentage to
a fixed sum, there is generally a decrease to the author, but not so
great as in my case. The aggregate of one set of books at a percentage
was $1.36¼; after the change to a fixed sum it amounted to $1.68. On
some of the books there has been no change. So that when Mr. Hunt says,
'this arrangement we make now with all our authors,' whether he means
that they change from percentage to a fixed sum, or whether he means
that they make with all the same ratio of decrease that they make with
me, he is equally incorrect. There is no sense in which his words can
be understood, in which they are true."

[There is one sense in which they may be counted correct. If we
construe them to mean, "We pay all our authors just as little as we
think they will stand. You, being rather the most pliable of any, will
bear the greatest reduction, and we have accordingly reduced you to the
lowest point," they appear to be marvellously accurate.]

"I claim, therefore, that I never assented to the second contract
because I never understood it, and because the representations made to
me as inducements were not correct. I claim that Mr. Hunt's letter was
calculated (I do not say intentionally) to mislead and deceive me; that
I was misled and deceived by it, and as the result of this deception,
I signed a contract which deprived me of my plainest rights in the
premises; and the accounts subsequently rendered were accepted by me in
the same good faith with which I sought the contract, with scarcely an
examination, certainly without the least suspicion.

"Of the books not named in the contracts I believe I need say little.
Even had the second contract been valid, no understanding can be
inferred from it as to the five books not included in it. Why should
the second contract be taken as a guide any more than the first? The
first was made under ordinary circumstances, the second under peculiar
ones which soon changed. They did not themselves understand that the
second contract governed all the rest, for they did not pay me fifteen
cents but only ten cents on 'Holidays.' They say that it was a small
book; but so was 'The Rights of Men.' Yet 'Holidays' contained 141
pages, was retailed at $1.50, and paid me ten cents, while 'The Rights
of Men' contained 212 pages, retailed at $1.50, and paid me fifteen
cents--no accounts being rendered till after the trouble began. Mr.
Parry says that 'Holidays' was a different kind of book, a children's
book with pictures, and therefore he supposed they did not class it
with the others, but simply fixed a price which they thought equitable.
But X.'s story-book was also a juvenile book, with pictures, of the
same class as mine; yet on that they paid by contract ten per cent.
C.'s story-book was also an illustrated juvenile, and on that they paid
half profits.

"But I hold that the contract pretending to cover 'Dies Alba,' 'Rocks
of Offense,' and 'Old Miasmas,' is inoperative and void, and cannot
regulate the compensation to which I am entitled by copyright on these
three books; still less can it regulate the compensation to which I
am entitled on subsequent ones. If a contract is void in the direct
operation claimed for it, its inferential operation must be shadowy
indeed. With all due respect, I hold that it is little less than absurd
for Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co. to claim that I am bound to accept that
contract as the basis of settlement for subsequent publications. I hold
that on these five books, published under no contract, I may claim what
is just according to the usages of the trade.

"I do not know what may be the result of the inquiries of the referees
among publishers. Mr. Dane, as his letter shows, made careful
investigations, and found no one who did not say that ten per cent.
was the minimum price. I believe that no respectable publisher can
be found in the country who, regarding the cost of the books and the
number sold, will not say that ten per cent. on the retail price is the
very lowest sum that an honorable publisher would have paid me had the
whole matter been referred to his own honor.

"Nor is it necessary to scour the country for evidence, since Messrs.
Hunt, Parry, & Co. recognize such a usage themselves, even if they do
not follow it. On what other principle did they allow me ten per cent.
in the beginning on 'City Lights,' when I was a new author, and they
had the whole matter of price in their own hands? During the reference
they have also offered to return to ten per cent. Why should they offer
ten per cent. in the beginning, and ten per cent. at the close, and
skip about meanwhile from six and two thirds to seven and a half per
cent. according to their fancy or caprice? This is a specimen of piping
on the part of publishers, and dancing on the part of authors, that I
do not propose to take part in.

"My claim to compensation on five hundred of the fifteen hundred books
exempted in the first edition of 'City Lights,' needs no labored
argument. Their attempt to prove from their books that I had due
notice of the fact, proves that I ought to have had notice, while the
accounts received and produced by me prove that no such notice was
given me. Mr. Markman thinks it may have been lost in the mail, but
the accounts which I hold cover the whole time of my transactions with
Messrs. Brummell & Hunt, and I submit that the mails shall be believed
innocent till they are proved guilty, and that Messrs. Brummell & Hunt
must be nipped in the bud, or they will soon, as Sidney Smith says, be
speaking disrespectfully of the equator. Mr. Parry admits that without
explanation the word edition means a thousand copies. He also admits
that in all cases when more than a thousand copies are exempted, the
specific number is given. He believes mine to be the only exception
to this rule. He alleges as the reason of this unusual exemption the
unusual cost of my books, saying that they cost a great deal more than
any other on their list. To this I reply that I should have been told
in the beginning that they did or would cost more than others. Mr.
Markman then brings forward a letter of mine to prove that I _was_
told, and did know that the books cost more. This letter bears date
September 20th, 1762, two days after the publication of 'City Lights,'
and the extract says: 'The fact that I wish to impress upon your mind
is that you have tricked out my book so beautifully that nothing could
be lovelier. You would not have done it though, if I had not threatened
you within an inch of your life, would you? [etc., etc., etc.] But now
see, I never thought till yesterday that they must cost more than the
other way, and I have been distressed all along and this makes me more
so,' etc.

"This does not prove what Mr. Markman introduced it to prove, but it
proves just the opposite, which is the next best thing. It shows that
until the day after the book was published I had never thought of the
book's cost, and that then the thought was spontaneous, not suggested
to me by others. It proves beyond question that nothing had ever been
said to me about it.

"On one or two other points, not strictly necessary to the case but
introduced by Mr. Parry, I must beg a moment's forbearance. Mr. Parry,
feeling that my claim involves fraud, reads extracts from my early
letters, to show that I was very urgent to publish 'City Lights,' that
I expressed the greatest confidence in them, and that, in short, I came
to them in such a way as, to use his own language, would have almost
held out a temptation to defraud me. So that if they had been disposed
to defraud me at all they would have done it then.

"Fraud is a hard word, and I believe I have not used it; but if Mr.
Parry insists, I will say that the exemption of the fifteen hundred
books under cover of _an edition_ occurred with the first edition of
my first book, and I really don't see how they could have begun _much_
earlier if they had tried.

"Mr. Parry mentions as a proof of their friendly intentions, that they
desired to refer the whole matter to Mr. Rogers because they thought he
was my friend; that they offered to refer it to my friend Mr. Brook,
of whom they knew nothing, and to my friend Mr. Greatheart, of whom
they knew very little. It will be observed that they did not once ask
me to select a friend, but generously took the whole burden of the
selection upon themselves.

"The first person to whom they offered to refer it was Mr. Rogers,
and I accepted him gladly. I was so much in earnest that I wrote him
myself begging him not to decline--and this although I had never seen
him. On account of his health he felt obliged to decline; but before
he had declined, Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co. proposed to relinquish
him, for what reason I do not know. They proposed that I should give
up Mr. Russell, and they should give up Mr. Rogers, and we should each
make a new selection. I was entirely satisfied both with my choice and
theirs, and I saw no reason for changing. So that I not only accepted
the nail they drove, but I clinched it myself. I not only kept to my
own choice, but I had to make them keep to theirs. It was while they
stood thus shivering on the brink, after Mr. Rogers had been proposed
and accepted, and before he had declined, that they proposed Mr. Brook
and Mr. Greatheart.

"But was it friendly in them to turn away from their own choice, and go
about among my friends choosing persons of whose qualifications they
were ignorant, forcing me to reject them, and thus to discriminate
against my own friends? Did not Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co. know that
this was a matter not to be settled by sentiment? I should have
considered it a far more unequivocal sign of friendliness if they had
permitted me to appear before the referees with the friend whom I had
intelligently chosen, who had stood by me through the whole trouble,
who was familiar with all the details of my case, and capable of
understanding all the details of theirs, and by whose aid, therefore,
arbitration might be satisfactory as well as conclusive. Instead of
which they compelled me to stand alone, unaided, without preparation,
without the possibility of being prepared, in a position for which
their long acquaintance with me must have told them I was eminently
unfit, and which one at least of their number must have known would be
to me peculiarly embarrassing and distressing. Their idea of a friendly
arbitration seems to be that of imposing upon me the friends I do not
want, and taking away from me the friend I do want.

"Mr. Parry thinks indeed that Mr. Dane had poisoned my mind regarding
them. But he also thought Mrs.----'s mind was jaundiced. Perhaps that
question belongs to the doctors rather than the referees. Whether it be
poison or jaundice it is to be hoped the disease may not spread.

"There are other parts of Mr. Parry's statements which I should like
to lay before the referees, but I remember that they are mortal, and
though the spirit is willing the flesh is weak, and I forbear.


I claim that my first contract for 'City Lights,' specially stipulating
ten per cent., shall be carried out in good faith; and that it shall
not be considered as changed or modified by any conversation remembered
by Mr. Hunt, but absolutely denied by myself. And I claim that the word
edition used therein shall be held to mean just what Mr. Parry admits
it would mean in common acceptation with the book-trade, namely, one
thousand copies.

"2. I claim that my second contract, covering 'Alba Dies,' 'Rocks
of Offense,' and 'Old Miasmas,' was obtained from me under a total
misapprehension of facts, that this misapprehension of mine was the
result of a misrepresentation (I do not say intentional) made to me by
Mr. Hunt in his letter of September 23, 1764, wherein he represents
the arrangement as one uniform among their authors and as assuring
me a rate of compensation, which he leaves me to infer, I might not
otherwise obtain, whereas he knew that the arrangement was not uniform
and that my percentage would amount to more as prices were then
tending,--and the arrangement was made by him so as to prevent my ten
per cent. from amounting to more than fifteen cents per copy. This I
did not understand, and should not have assented to if I had understood
it. I hold that neither in law, equity, morals, nor manners should I
be held to an agreement which I did not comprehend, which the opposite
party so presented as to prevent my comprehending it, and which
deprived me of my proportionate share of an increase of profit admitted
to have been made on the books published under it. The contract,
therefore, should be set aside, and I should be paid according to the
usage of publishers, or at the same rate as appears in the contract for
'City Lights,' namely, ten per cent.

"3. I claim that on my books published since the date of my second
contract, and not alluded to or included in either contract, namely,
'Winter Work,' 'Holidays,' 'Pencillings,' 'Cotton Picking,' and 'Rights
of Men,' my compensation shall be fixed by the usage existing among
publishers and authors.

"4. I claim and must certainly be entitled to receive interest at the
rate of seven per cent. on all sums found to be due me at the date of
the several semi-annual settlements, counting my compensation uniformly
at the rate of ten per cent. on the retail price of the books at the
date of the settlement. This point is so plain that it can need no

"5. I claim that I am equitably entitled to damages to compensate me
for the loss that has resulted to me pecuniarily and otherwise from
this unhappy occurrence. My pecuniary damage alone amounts to more than
three thousand dollars. There are hurts of other kinds to which money
bears no relation.

"My actual expenses in preparing for this reference have been very
considerable, and under the award of costs I claim that I should have
an ample allowance made me to cover my outlays in this regard."

After this statement had been read, Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co. were
permitted to make whatever of reply they chose. They denied no fact,
and challenged no inference in my statement.

The referees, after two days of deliberation, returned the following

"The undersigned, mutually agreed upon as referees in the matter in
controversy between M. N. and Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co., on their own
account, and as successors of Brummell & Hunt, hereby award to M. N.
the sum of twelve hundred and fifty dollars, to be paid her by Hunt,
Parry, & Co., within three days from the date of this paper in full
compensation for her claims upon the matter in this controversy--and
that hereafter M. N. shall receive ten per cent. copyright on the
retail price of all her books printed by Hunt, Parry, & Co., except
the three books embraced in the contract between the parties dated
September 24, 1764. The referees decline any compensation for services
or expenses and leave each party to pay their own costs.

"Signed and delivered, April 30, 1769.


  "G. W. HAMPDEN."





HAVING trespassed so far on the patience of the reader, I may as well
presume a little further, and indulge in a few reflections.

First, from the investigations and observations of the last two
years, I infer that authors are very much to blame in their business
dealings. By their inexactness, their indifference, their unreasonable
and indolent trust, and their excessive monetary stupidity, they not
only become an easy prey of, but they offer a direct temptation to the
cupidity of publishers. Not a single author to whom I appealed showed
the slightest reluctance to answer my questions, nor, I may almost
add, the slightest ability to answer them adequately. For instance,
the points I wished to ascertain were whether a writer was paid by
percentage or by a fixed sum: what was the percentage and what the
fixed sum: and whether during or subsequent to the year 1764 any change
was made in the mode or rate of payment.

See now how charmingly the authors met my points.

Says one, "Brummell and Hunt never published but ---- with me and I
received on this the usual beggarly percentage;" leaving me entirely in
the dark as to what was the beggarly percentage.

Says another: "What terms do I make with B. & H.? Yes, with all my
heart. In regard to ----, they print and sell and allow me a certain
sum on all copies sold;" but with the greatest inclination in the world
giving me no hint of the amount of that "certain sum."

Says another: "Brummell & Hunt have, I believe, allowed me ten per
cent. on the retail price of my books. That was the first arrangement
at least, but I must confess I never look at their statements of

Says a fourth: "I have always received a percentage.... I remember no
change in 1764, unless that B. & H. about that time (perhaps earlier)
without my asking it, raised the sum they paid me for ----, etc.... The
interests of authors and publishers are identical--a fact which they
understand better than we do."

Yet the firm testified of this very writer that they had written
agreements to pay him percentage, and that when prices advanced they
waived the percentage, and paid him a certain (lower) sum per volume.

A fifth says: "I have not the least objection in the world in replying
to your letter in the most straightforward way.... I have been
contented with ten per cent. on the retail price of my printed books."

Yet the written contracts of this writer showed every variety of
arrangement from twenty per cent. downward.

A sixth says: "Messrs. B. & H. have published four books for me.... The
three first named sell for $1.25, and I receive twelve cents each copy."

But Messrs. B. & H. affirmed that these books sold for $1.50 each.

A seventh says: "I did not send your letter to ----, for the reason
that she does not know as much as you do about the subject of its
inquiry. The most she could tell you would be, that now and then there
comes a bit of paper very neatly and tastefully diversified by red and
blue lines, and dreadfully complicated by sundry hieroglyphics, which
she has been told are figures, and that a check embellished with one of
the rows of figures accompanies it.... I have an impression that years
ago, when ---- was taking such sesquipedalian strides to public favor,
Mr. Brummell told me that after the number of copies sold had reached
a certain point, the author received a reduced percentage, and I think
I remember wondering by what perversion of commercial philosophy, an
article of which fifty thousand copies could be sold, was worth less,
proportionally, than one of which only five thousand could be bartered,
for of course the ratio of cost decreased with every successive
thousand manufactured."

Here, it will be perceived, is a faint glimmer of sense, which will be
completely extinguished by the next extract.

"---- said you made a mistake in thinking yourself differently used
from the rest of the writing craft, and explained that the profits of
the author did not keep up the same proportion in repeated editions,
but went to pay the increased circulation. For his part he would rather
be more poorly paid for the sake of being more widely read."

Must not that have been an explanation worth having? It is not
difficult to conjecture the source whence that form of explanation
originated, for another letter says, "Mr.---- went to see Mr. Hunt....
Mr. Hunt expressed great regret that it had all happened; said 'Rights
of Men,' had done more for your reputation than any other book; that
you made more than the publishers did, etc., and that they thought
better to have a low per cent. and large sales, than the contrary;
though I don't see what a low per cent. paid to the author has to do
with large sales, if the price of the book is kept high to purchasers."

The fact, is that as a bad woman is said to be a great deal worse than
a bad man, so a man innocent of business capacity, is far more innocent
than any woman can be. A woman may be never so silly, but there is
generally a substratum of hard sense somewhere. A man may be never so
wise, and yet completely destitute of this practical ability. It is
largely in behalf of these helpless, harmless, deluded, and betrayed
gentlemen, that I have felt called to take up arms. What sword would
not leap from its scabbard to maintain the cause of the weak and the

But though I admit and lament that authors are unpractical and
unbusiness-like to the last degree, I must affirm that they have less
inducement to be business-like and less opportunity to be practical
than any other class of persons. Suppose a writer sets out with the
determination to be prudent and sagacious, where shall he begin? If a
farmer has a bushel of potatoes to sell, he knows, or can learn in a
moment, precisely their market value. The Early Rose has its price,
and the Jackson White has its price; there is no room for doubt, or
misgiving, or mistake. But the author has not and cannot have the least
notion of the market value of his products. He does not even know their
intrinsic value. He does not know whether he has raised an Early Rose
or a dead-and-gone Chenango. He may have spent his strength on what
is absolutely unsalable. His work is production, but for its worth he
must depend solely on the word of those who buy and sell. After a while
he does indeed arrive at something like a scale of value, but he never
reaches such a degree of certainty as to feel assured of any special
piece of work. Every one must be judged by itself. Five successful
books are no absolute guaranty that the sixth will not be worthless.

It seems to me, also, that there is no business in which so few checks
exist as in that of publishing. An author, we will say, agrees to
receive ten per cent. on the retail price of all copies of his works
that are sold, but he has literally nothing but the publisher's word by
which to know how many copies are sold. The manufacturer knows how many
he has made, but it would be offensive to ask for the manufacturer's
accounts, and moreover he would probably not render them if asked. He
would consider it as betraying the secrets of the trade, or the trust
of his employers, or otherwise impertinent and unwarranted. Of course a
false return of sales would be fraud, and somewhat complicated fraud;
but human ingenuity combined with human depravity has been known to
surmount obstacles to crime as formidable as these, and the danger of
detection is infinitessimally small. If there be any such thing in
arithmetic as the Double Rule of Three,--and I seem to have a vague
impression that there is,--it may well be brought to the solution of
the problem: if a publisher may for years safely disregard, not to say
violate, the condition of a contract which an author has before his
eyes in plain black and white, how long may another publisher safely
falsify accounts which an author never sees, and which he could not
understand if he should see? I have no doubt that in nine cases out
of ten, and perhaps also in the tenth, the returns of sales are as
accurate as the moral law. What I maintain is, that the author, be
he wise as Solomon, has no means of knowing whether they are or not,
while the manufacturer of all other goods knows precisely how much raw
material goes into the mill and how much of the manufactured article
comes out.

If the author, instead of receiving a percentage, takes half profits,
he is even more at the mercy of the publisher. In the very outset the
wildest theories prevail as to what constitute profits, and though the
author may make heroic struggles to be exhaustively mathematical, the
probabilities are that the only draught made upon his science will be
the very simple effort of dividing by two whatever sum the publisher
has chosen to figure up. The plan adopted by actors and actresses, to
take half the gross receipts, is far more simple and sensible.

It is true that an author may take advantage of competition and seek
a second market if the first prove unsatisfactory, but it is also
certain that he cannot do this to any effective extent without serious
injury to himself. All the skill, the vitality, the invention, the
thought, which he brings to the disposition of his wares is so much
taken from his producing power. He ought to be wholly free to do his
best work. He ought to be able to concentrate himself on his writing.
If he must turn aside to study the state of the market and superintend
the details of sale and circulation, that necessity will surely tell in
the deterioration of his works; and even at that cost he will not be
so good a business manager as one who is to the manner born. It is a
very pretty thing to be a poet-publisher--in the newspapers, but if the
poet's imagination happens to get loose among the publisher's facts, it
makes sad work, and it is not merry work when the publisher crops out
in the poet's verses.

What then remains? It has been proposed that authors combine and form
a publishing-house by themselves, publishing their own books and
receiving their own profits. This plan looks simple enough, but I
must confess it seems to me chimerical in the last degree. Excepting
the temptations of their trade, doubtless a hundred publishers are as
honest as a hundred authors, and surely they have a great deal more
business sagacity. But as soon as authors turn publishers they fall
into all the publisher's temptations without acquiring his business
power; so that when you have chemically combined author and publisher
you have an amalgam wholly and disastrously different from either of
the original simples, namely, a publisher minus his common sense.

No, the publisher is not an artificial member of society. Like all
other middle-men he meets a real want. He exists because in the
long run it is cheaper and better for writers to employ him than to
do his work themselves. Of course, the wiser and more righteous he
is, the better he answers the end of his creation; but with all his
imperfections on his head, he is better than nobody. A man may as well
undertake to build his house with his own hands to save himself from
the short-comings and extortions of carpenters, as to manufacture
and distribute his own books to save himself from the extortions of
publishers. We may send missionaries among them, we may gather them in
to our Sunday-schools, but we need not think to exterminate them.

Authors may form publishing houses, and those houses may be successful,
but if so it will be simply by adopting substantially the methods of
successful publishing-houses already established. It seems to me easier
and more economical to let such institutions spring from the soil,
rather than attempt to construct them out of material which has already
been organized into another form of life.

Shall we then take the publishers _cum grano salis_, and try to guard
our interests by keeping a strict look-out? We must turn publishers
ourselves to make it of any account. A detective, to be worth anything,
ought to be at least as wily as the rogue he watches, and to be so he
must give his mind to it, and if he give his mind to that, where-withal
shall he set up any other business? An author need not rush in among
publishers as Cincinnati swine are said to invade the streets with
whetted knives, crying "come and eat me"; but if he on the contrary
objects, steadfastly and stoutly, to being devoured, he does not know
where his vulnerable point is, and cannot therefore arm himself against
attack. He is not and cannot become, consistently with the proper
pursuit of his own profession, sufficiently acquainted with the details
of publishing to know whether a measure proposed by a publisher be or
be not fair. For instance, the publisher contracts to pay ten per cent.
on the retail price of a sixty-two cent book. A war comes, bringing
high prices, and the book goes up to a dollar and a quarter. The
publisher continues to pay the author ten per cent. of sixty-two cents,
making no reference to the increased price. The author presently
chances to discover it, and remonstrates. The publishers say curtly,
"You will make the price of the book so large that it will have no
sale," oblivious of the fact that it is not the author but themselves
who have raised the price of the book. He replies that the price is not
his affair; he must insist upon the contract. The publishers yield,
and the author is apparently victorious. But when a second author
brings up this case as a reason why he should receive his percentage,
the publishers reply, "True, we did continue percentage because he
insisted, but, as a warning, the book had a very poor sale." But what
effect on the sale can the author's twelve and a half, instead of six
and a half cents have if the price to the buyer is the same? Until some
better answer is given I shall believe that the sale diminishes because
the publisher chooses it; because he prefers to sacrifice a small sum
on a single volume as a warning to contumacious authors, rather than
encourage rebellion by continuing to receive profits of which he must
divert a larger share to the author. If he can, by one or two examples,
show restive writers that the question is not between six and a half
cents and twelve and a half cents on a thousand books, but between six
and a half on a thousand, and twelve and a half on a hundred, the sum
he sacrifices in showing it is not a bad investment.

Since, then, the publisher has matters within his own grasp so entirely
that what he is forced to pay with one hand he can easily pluck with
the other, I do not clearly see the advantage to be gained by insisting
on any special bargain with him. Perhaps I do not quite know what I am
talking about. I suspect, on the whole, I do not. But my remarks are
all the more valuable for that. If, after two years of clapper-clawing
among a quartette of cats, a mouse is still unskilled in feline ways,
in what state of helplessness must be those unadventurous little things
who have never left their holes?

But there are the books of the firm which the suspected publisher opens
to you with a frankness of innocence that ought to disarm and convince
the most hardened unbeliever. Any demur is met by an invitation to
come and look at "the books." The trail of the Serpent is over all the
rest of the world, but "the books" have escaped the contamination of
original sin and shine with the purity of Paradise. Burglars blow open
safes, banks and directors and cashiers and tellers come to grief, but
"the books" always tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
truth. Nowithstanding which I, from the beginning, instinctively gave
those "books" a wide berth. They were to me like the "magick bookes"
of Spenser's hermite. "Let none them read." That "the books" are not
always "reliable gentlemen" will have been inferred from the account
which they professed to have sent me, and which was--lost in the mail.
That "the books" are not always intelligible witnesses would appear,
could we know how many unwary persons have gone to them in pursuit of
knowledge, and found the difficulty insurmountable. "We had the books
here," said one benighted author of no mean repute, "and I examined
them, and Kate examined them, and Frank examined them, and the Major
examined them, and we could make nothing of them." That the books
have been made to do yeoman's service in this battle has already been
seen, and by various tokens it would seem that they have not yet been
dismissed the service. Only to-day a letter says, "But the account of
the sales of your book and the sums paid you for them, as I derived
them from the books of Mr. Hunt, convinced me that whatever the bargain
might be you had a better one than _I_ had. I have half profits--you
have had more."

That is what "the books" say unquestionably; but what a stiff-necked
and perverse author refuses to believe without further proof. When
a publisher shows me receipted bills for the sums he has actually
paid in manufacturing and publishing my books, and for the sums he
has received from their sale, I will--take them to an expert for
examination; but when he proposes to set me down before a mighty maze
of figures, which for aught that appears, may all have been conjured
up by his imagination, and begs me to deduce from them any conclusion
whatever, I decline with thanks. That contention I leave off before it
be meddled with. It is not necessary to be a Solomon in order to know
enough to keep away from figures which it is necessary to be a Solomon
to understand, and which when understood are much like the "litle flyes
cal'd out of deepe darknes dredd" by the hermite before referred to,
and which,--

    "Fluttring about his ever-damned hedd,
    Awaite whereto their service he applyes,
    To aide his friendes, or fray his enemies."

There remains also to the wronged or suspicious author recourse to the
law or to the more informal arbitration, but this also is vanity. To me
a lawsuit seemed utterly intolerable, but my experience of arbitration
was so repulsive, and is so hideous in memory--and this solely from
the nature of things, since, alike from the referees and from Messrs.
Parry and Markman who, like St. Paul, were the chief speakers, on the
other side, I met only courtesy--that a lawsuit seems attractive in
comparison; but if I had instituted a lawsuit, without doubt adverse
fate hereafter would have been implored to take any shape but that! If
two parties are really bent on getting at the vital facts, presenting
absolute truth, securing exact and essential justice, nothing can be
more to the purpose apparently than a reference to disinterested,
non-professional, intelligent, and friendly persons; but two parties
honestly bent on such an object would probably have nothing to quarrel
over. Even if they have it is not certain that the informal is better
than the formal mode of settlement. If there are no facts to be hushed
up, a legal investigation will do no harm; if there are facts to be
hushed up, a legal investigation is necessary. We look at the law as at
best a clumsy roundabout way of arriving at just conclusions--a method
full of ingenious devices to entangle and confuse witnesses and make
the worse appear the better reason. We take the informal arbitration as
a short cut to the desired goal. On the whole I am inclined to think
that the law is the shortest cut in the known world. The rules which
obtain in courts of justice and which seem to the unprofessional mind
a mere medley of arbitrary vexations and restrictions, are the result
of the experience of ages, and with all their short-comings and their
long-comings do probably present the most expeditious and unerring mode
of reaching truth which human wit and wisdom have yet devised. If so we
cannot depart from them without loss. In ridding ourselves of their
clumsiness we rid ourselves also of their effectiveness. We rend away
the red tape, but the package immediately falls apart into a worthless
heap of memoranda. You avoid a lawsuit because of the publicity and
multiplicity and infelicity of lawyers, witnesses, judge, and jury. You
adopt a reference because it dispenses with all these and goes straight
at the heart of things. But you find by experience that unless your
opponent wishes it you may not get at the heart of things at all. In
a lawsuit you can enforce measures; in a reference you are dependent
upon courtesy. Your opponent presents only that which is good in his
own eyes. He produces what he chooses; he withholds what he chooses. To
be sure you do the same; but you, angel that you are, have nothing to
hide, while he, the fiend! has all manner of wiles and wickedness to
conceal. If now you were in court, politeness and impertinence would
be equally and wholly out of the question. It is the duty and delight
of lawyers to find out everything--and such is the depravity of the
legal heart, it is especially their duty and delight to ferret out what
the opposite party desires to conceal. It is not what a man wishes
and means to say, but everything which he can be made to say, that a
lawyer wants. His hand can put aside the proffered "books," and grab
the books which are withheld. He does not permit the opposite parties
to select and exclude witnesses, but goes out into the highways and
hedges and compels to come in whom he wants. The law winds a long way
round, but it sets you down as near your journey's end as the nature of
things permits. A private reference takes a short cut, but it has no
inherent power to carry you far from your starting-point. Arbitration
has the advantage in respect of privacy, and that is an advantage
not to be overestimated. Still, if there is anything to choose when
both are intolerable, it seems rather worse to speak yourself before
five men, than to have some one else to speak for you before five
hundred. It matters not how wise, how impartial, referees may be, their
jurisdiction is necessarily limited, and they cannot go beyond it to
compel, or extort, or present. They must judge on what is spontaneously
set before them. If to avoid trouble and unpleasantness be your object,
it is better to submit to everything and keep out of strife altogether.
If you set out to accomplish an end, it is better to shut eyes and ears
to disagreements, and take the road which common experience designates
as the surest and safest in the long run.

But I most heartily advise writers in general to do neither. So far
as the improvement of one's fortune goes, nothing is more futile.
One should be exact, prompt, methodical, and intelligent so far as
possible. He will thus exert a salutary influence over his publisher,
and will be far more likely to receive his dues than if he believes
"in uninquiring trust" and lives wholly by faith. But it is better for
his purse to take what a publisher chooses to give than to make an ado
about it afterwards. Even if successful in regard to the particular
sum he claims, it is at a cost of time and trouble altogether
disproportionate to it. He plays an unequal game at best, because the
publisher's business goes on serenely, during all the difficulty,
while the author's must be at a stand-still. The very instrument that
he uses in defending his works is the instrument which he ought to
be using in producing them. Even as a pecuniary transaction it is
far more profitable to sow seed for future harvests than to spend
strength in trying to secure the gleanings of last year's growths. The
money proceeds of the insurrection, whose history has been given in
these pages, was twelve hundred and fifty dollars. The whole amount
claimed to make up ten per cent. was about three thousand dollars, and
considering that my whole plan of proceedings was demolished in the
beginning, and that the case had to present itself, as one may say,
smothered in a mass of irrelevant details, and deprived of much that
was to the purpose, I reckoned myself extremely well off. But even
had the whole sum been awarded, it would have been no very munificent
compensation for eighteen months of literary labor, apart from the
fact that the labor was of a kind for which no money could compensate.
In its baldest shape, the results of a year and a half of work were
twelve hundred and fifty dollars, or little more than one third of what
was claimed on previous work. I think myself therefore justified in
asserting that though quarreling with your publishers may be very good
as a crusade, it is a very poor way of getting a living.

Let me here correct an impression that seems to prevail somewhat
extensively as to the rewards of literary life. It certainly has its
rewards, and of the most delightful kind. What joys it may bring in
the higher walks I do not know, but even on the lower levels, I should
like to live forever--a thousand years to begin with, at any rate. I
could speak as enthusiastically as a certain popular writer, "once
more famous than now," "Of all the blessings which my books have
brought me,--blessings of inward wealth that cannot be so much as
named,--blessings so rich, so divine, that I sometimes think nothing
ever was so beautiful as to have written a book."

But so far as literature pays cash down it is not to be compared
to--shoemaking, for instance. The daily papers have been circulating
a paragraph to the effect that a recent popular book had gone to a
second edition and that its author had already received from it twelve
thousand dollars. I am not prepared to deny the statement; but I know
an author of nine books, not it is to be hoped on the same footing of
intrinsic merit, but books which have travelled up to nine, ten, and
fourteen editions, whose author never has received and never expects to
receive twelve thousand dollars on the whole lot.

Let nothing in this remark be construed into anything like complaint.
On the contrary, authors ought to be grateful to their publishers for
allowing them so large a gratuity. As Mr. Parry remarked concerning
the appropriation of an edition of fifteen hundred books to the use
of the firm, they might have taken more if they had chosen. And when
we reflect that not only do they bestow upon us these large sums of
money, but, as sundry extracts in other parts of this volume show, they
first manufacture for us the fame which brings the money, we are, in
the language of the hymn, lost in wonder, love, and praise. It must be
heart-rending to fashion your graven image and then have that image
turn upon you and demand a share of the profits!

Unhappily a dense ignorance upon this subject broods over the
community, and there should be added to our literature an


    1. _Question._ Can you tell me, child, who made you?

    _Answer._ The great House of Hunt, Parry, & Co., which made heaven
    and earth.

In controversies with publishers, the author is at a signal
disadvantage by reason of the connection of publishers with the press.
Publishers have the entrée of the newspapers by their advertising, and
all in the way of business, it is the easiest thing in the world to
give public opinion a tilt in the desired direction without the least
suspicion on the part of the reader, or any more collusion on the part
of the editor than is implied in a good-natured relinquishment of a
few lines of editorial space. Here, we will say, is a house which
advertises to the extent of hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars in
a single paper. In connection with an extraordinary advertisement,
it hands to the editor an extraordinary paragraph, celebrating its
more extraordinary virtues. The advertisement goes in among the
advertisements, and the eulogy goes in among the editorials and becomes
the voice of the paper. Nobody is hurt, and the firm is greatly helped
in building up for itself name and fame. When the Athenian newspapers
glow with reflections upon the inability of authors to understand the
details of publishing and the unimpeached and unimpeachable honor of
the house of Hunt, Parry, & Co., not half a dozen readers suspect
that those reflections are anything but the spontaneous tribute of
a grateful people to the eminent firm in question. Nobody suspects
that behind all the glitter and glory some pestiferous little author
is poking an inquisitive finger in among those details, is indeed
questioning that unimpeached and unimpeachable honor, and that this
beating of gongs is but Chinese strategy on the part of the attacked,
to scare away the impertinent foe. I can make no avowal on this head,
having nothing but internal evidence to go upon: but applying the rules
of Scriptural exegesis, it seems to me that we attribute to the four
Gospels a divine origin on less evidence than we may attribute to these
eulogies a common origin.

For instance, during that portion of the sidereal year known throughout
the solar system as Jubilee week, the press of Athens burned with
enthusiasm for the house of Hunt, Parry, & Co.

"The broadside advertisement," says one, "with which the renowned
publishing house of Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co. salute the country in
this jubilee time on another page of this morning's Post, will excite
universal attention and remark. It details the literary achievements
of this enterprising firm during the last year and a half in a form
that is both novel and impressive. Where are the publishers on this
continent who within that term have presented to the reading public
works from [how many?] different authors, nearly all of whom are living
celebrities? It would be glory enough for any firm to have announced
original works from less than one fourth that number of well-known
authors. Read the glittering roll of names as they are presented. In
poetry, L., T., L., B., and W. Of novelists, D., T., S., H., H., R.,
and G. And of essayists, travellers, writers on natural history and
science, such a shining company of men and women of genius as will
make book-shelves brilliant for all time to come. But these publishers
have not compromised quality with quantity. They hold up to their high
standard in every essay in which they engage. Nor are they in any sense
such devotees of Mammon as to think it possible to build a lasting
reputation on anything less substantial than true honor in dealing as
well as indisputable worth in selection.

"Their shelves and counters are an embarrassment of literary riches.
Such a display of the ripest fruits of culture, taste, judgment,
enterprise, and business sagacity cannot be surpassed. Their wonderful
march to their eminent and leading position as publishers has given an
excellent example to the country in refining and solidifying the common
rules of business in their own field, and elevating and dignifying
a branch of trade than which not one is clothed with nobler and
purer associations. From this house, also, go forth a quarterly, two
monthlies, and a weekly magazine, any one of which would add lustre to
the repute of the publishers. None but sound and sweet literature comes
from hence. It is the aim of the firm to keep the fountain clear from
which such incessant streams of influence are to flow. American authors
contribute in large store to the rich treasury of its productions,
while foreign, and especially British writers supply in large degree
the stores of reading, which are the recreation and delight of
cultivated people everywhere."

And thus another paper takes up the parable:--

"Our first page to-day is entirely devoted to a remarkable
advertisement, which tells the story of rare business enterprise, and
is filled to overflowing with attractive announcements. But it is
for characteristics other than these that it will command attention
and really deserve study. Within a year and a half, Hunt, Parry, &
Co. have given to the public works from the pens of two score of
authors, American and English, almost all of them living and of widest
popularity. To represent in print a half-dozen of the most prominent on
the list might be the making of any firm; to take care of the whole of
them would seem to be an embarrassment of riches. But the establishment
has done and is doing this, with unremitting energy and in good style.
We need not take room to run over the long and brilliant catalogue;
a glance at the eight columns will reveal a galaxy of shining names.
Observe the poets,--T., B., L., and L., W., and the rest; count up the
novelists--S., T., D., R., G., H., and others of the tribe; consider
the array of essayists, travellers, and naturalists, men and women of
mark; and then ask whether Hunt, Parry, & Co. are surpassed by any
of their contemporaries in their numerous issues, taking quantity,
quality, and variety into the account. In offering this broadside
programme of their performances, as bookmakers and booksellers, to the
crowds of Jubilee week, they put forth a statement of indisputable
facts; give a transcript of the record of the volumes they have issued,
and their relations to eminent writers.

"Their achievements imply something more than an immediate and
exclusive eye to the main chance. It is evident that the honorable
pursuit of profit is not with them the sole consideration. [O that
it were!] They desire to connect their names with good literature,
advanced thought, and the intellectual progress of the age. They
would be known for their taste and liberal policy as well as for
their mercantile success; acting upon the principle that character as
well as money is worth earning in the pursuits of trade and commerce.
Without entering into comparisons, thus much is fairly to be inferred
from their extended advertisement. It tells of results which imply the
existence of the qualities we have attributed to them; for without
such qualities such results could not have been attained. The evidence
of culture, judgment, sagacity, energy, boldness, tact, skill, and
whatever else goes to the building up of a publishing house known at
home and abroad for its magnitude and the extent and variety of its
ventures, is literally such that he who runs may read and see that
it is beyond controversy. This is not extravagant praise or mere
compliment; but simply the statement of the truth as made manifest by
the facts.

"In this general reference to Messrs. Hunt, Parry, & Co., we must not,
in passing, omit an allusion to their periodicals. To them the public
are indebted for the maintenance of the oldest Greek Quarterly, the
agreeable and fresh weekly selections of 'Every Tuesday,' the wide
circulation and high character for ability, diversity, and independence
of the 'Adriatic Monthly,' and that leading magazine of its class, 'The

"In thus calling attention to a publishing house whose imprint is
known wherever the Greek language is spoken or read, we are pointing
to what is one of the leading concerns in a most important branch of
the business of the city, of which others besides its proprietors
may well be proud. Not only has it grown with the growing culture of
the country, but it has encouraged home authors, and spread far and
wide the best productions of the best writers on the other side of
the Atlantic; thus giving it a claim to honorable consideration as
holding a high place among the beneficent agencies of the advancing
civilization of the world."

And a third chimes in:--

"The firm of Hunt, Parry, & Co., now almost as familiar to the public
under the new name as under the old colors with which it sailed so
long, has been a bulwark and a rallying point for our literature, on
which book buyers as well as book writers depended for many years. It
has always been active, but never so active as now. In another part
of this paper, this house advertise their principal publications
for the past eighteen months. With little more amplification than a
catalogue, the list fills a very considerable space; but it is when we
come to appreciate quality as well as quantity that its full importance
is realized. No other Athenian house could bulletin such a list of
authors, beginning with L., and ranging along the varied types of our
literature, from W., S., H., H., and L., to P., H., and A. Nor can any
house exhibit such a list of English writers, with the added merit of
the authors' sanction, as T., B., H., E., D., and R.

"Periodicals have come to be recognized as necessary tenders to the
business of every book firm; but the monthlies and the quarterly, etc.,
etc., etc.

"Whatever may be the differing opinions after the experiences of this
week, upon the commercial position and prospects of Athens and the
success of her musical experiments, there can be no dispute as to our
preëminence among Greek cities as a literary centre. Even Corinthians,
bitterly as they may sneer at our Jubilee, are forced to read the
works of Athenian authors and to supply their libraries with Athenian
books. It would be impossible to estimate approximately the influence
in producing the literary character of the city, its clustering of
authors, its tone of society, of one great publishing house; but
unquestionably that influence is very great."

An ill-timed modesty on the part of the firm of Hunt, Parry, & Co. has
apparently prevented the publication of the fact, but it is well known
in Athenian social circles that the eclipse which made the last summer
famous, and which elicited so much interest throughout the scientific
world, was not owing to the interposition of the moon between our
planet and the sun, but was chiefly due to the temporary disappearance
from this continent of the senior partner of the house of Hunt, Parry,
& Co.

I do not say that the extracts which I have quoted, and others which
I might quote, emanated from the same pen, or that that pen was held
in the interest of Hunt, Parry, & Co., but I do say that on any other
theory the correspondence of thought, of illustration, and even of
language is not a little remarkable.

And if this theory be correct, if the house which has perhaps the
reputation of being the most liberal, the most generous, and the most
refined publishing house in this country, has attained that reputation
by assiduously blowing its own trumpet while assiduously strangling its
own authors, of what value is reputation?

A novel and striking illustration of my theme has just come to hand in
the publication of Miss Mitbridge's "Letters." In 1754 she writes of
Mr. Hunt: "He is a partner in the greatest publishing house of Greece,
and the especial patron of----, whom he found starving, and has made
affluent by his encouragement and liberality, for the great romancer is
so nervous that he wants as much kindness of management, as much mental
nursing as a sick child. I have never known a more charming person than
Mr. Hunt."

The author to whom Miss Mitbridge refers is the author of whose real
or supposed wrongs I have before spoken. If these publishers were
indeed so liberal towards him, the unanimity with which that author's
family and friends agree in attributing to them the contrary policy
is a singular proof of ingratitude to benefactors; and Mr. Hunt may
well exclaim with the Prophet of old, "I have nourished and brought up
children, and they have rebelled against me."

I do not know what force these adulatory remarks may have upon the
minds of others, but my experience and my information are such that
whenever I see in the newspapers a fresh ascription of praise to the
liberality of this house, I immediately infer that the screw has
been given another turn on some unlucky author. The firm appears
to me in the similitude of evil-minded hens cackling their noisy
cut-cut-cut-ca-dah-cut over each new-laid egg, designing to conceal
from an uninquiring public that, like those laymen denounced by Isaiah,
they "hatch cockatrices' eggs; he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and
that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper."

At a later period these general paragraphs began to converge around a
particular point, and snugly nestled in among the literary items of
religious newspapers may be found such announcements as this:--

"The public is threatened with a new book by the once redoubtable M.
N., in which she is to narrate her tribulations, real or imaginary,
with the eminent publishers, Hunt, Parry, & Co. Authors are very apt to
have extravagant ideas of the popularity and profits of their books,
unmindful of the fact that, generally, they are indebted to their
publishers for a large proportion of their fame, and it will take
several books to convince the public that H., P., & Co. deal unfairly
with their authors. Thus far, H., P., & Co. have kept quiet during M.
N.'s attacks, but we hope the time will come when they will vindicate

And almost simultaneously, in another quarter of the heavens, appears
a similar turtle-dove, its pin-feathers developed into well-defined
plumage, but unquestionably a bird of the same brood:--

"M. N., once more famous than now, had a little 'unpleasantness' with
her publishers, Hunt, Parry, & Co. In plain words, she accused them of
cheating her out of some thousands of dollars by making false returns
of sales of her books. Like many authors, she had become inordinately
vain, and had extravagant ideas of the popularity of her books, and
was, as is too often the case, unmindful of the fact that a large
portion of what fame she then had (but has now lost) was made for her
by these self-same publishers. She had a quarrel with them of eighteen
months standing, but they would not even appear in self-defense;
what man would want to have an open quarrel with a woman? To any one
acquainted with the details of book publishing, the charge she brings
against H., P., & Co. is simply absurd; and besides, no business man
would ever dare to suspect this publishing house to attempt such a
system of petty cheating, and which, if attempted, would involve an
amount of detail inconsistent with the end to be reached. H., P., &
Co. are above the taint of suspicion. The truth is, M. N.'s books did
not sell so well as she expected, and her pride (and her pocket) had a
fall. It is known to us that an enormous outlay in advertising failed
to make a remunerative sale on her last book. It fell dead on the
market. It is now very quietly rumored that she has written a little
volume which she proposes to call 'Little Men,' in which she describes
her tribulations with the house of H., P., & Co.... M. N., you had
better not! the public will not believe you."

The public will at least believe that, though a once redoubtable
author, like Giant Pope in the Pilgrim's Progress, by reason of age,
and also of the many shrewd brushes that he met with in his younger
days, be grown crazy and stiff in his joints, he can at least sit in
his cave's mouth, grinning at publishers as they go by, and biting his
nails, because he cannot come at them!

It is not probable that these later paragraphs were actually written
by the rose, but by some one who lives near the rose, and who takes
roseate views of the situation.

When one has been introduced behind the scenes, these little touches
go for what they are worth, but outside, they unquestionably, if
imperceptibly, affect public opinion, and like an army of moral polyps
build high the walls of lofty Rome. (A new species of polyps, the
naturalist will say, but it answers my purpose.)

But while recognizing, to its fullest extent, the great power and
prestige of a flourishing publishing house, and the great risk a
writer runs in opposing it, I cannot bring myself to accept its
invincibility, or its infallibility, or its indispensability. Of
course a good reputation is, or ought to be, the sign of a good
character; but a thing which is wrong is wrong, whatever be the
reputation of him who does it. A charge of wrong is to be met by
denial. It is not to dazzled out of sight in a general brilliancy.
When the course of our true love ceased to run smooth, I supposed
my pebble was the only obstacle which my publishers' rivulet had
ever known, and I was dismayed accordingly. But if all the rocks I
have since discovered could be cast into one heap, we should have a
bigger monument than Joshua made to mark the passage of Jordan. But
the monumenteers suffer in silence or speak with a bated breath that
cannot be heard outside their own circle, while the flourishing firm
keeps up such a continuous tooting with its rams' horns as would have
flung flat the walls of Jericho had they been twice as stout as they
were. Undoubtedly it is not wise always to make an outcry over your
follies or misfortunes. Neither is it wise always to go through the
world with a chip on your shoulder, challenging people to fillip it
off. Yet we all admit that there are times when short, sharp, and
decisive resistance to aggression is the wisest plan. So also is there
a time to speak as well as a time to refrain from speaking. There
may be dignity, there may be generosity, there may be prudence, or
pusillanimity, or selfishness in silence. There may be all in speech.
Of this I am certain, if any of those writers who have escaped harm by
their own skill, or any of those who have thought to escape further
harm by silence had but given warning of the existence of rocks, some
of us, with less skill, would have avoided that vicinage and might have
had smooth sailing through the whole voyage. By their silence they
have not only indirectly contributed to our disaster, but they have
actually strengthened against us the hands of our natural foes, the
publishers. They make it possible for a newspaper to say, in reference
to the present difficulty, "As the house (of H., P., & Co.) has been in
thriving existence for more than a quarter of a century, and has never
before quarreled with an author,--or more correctly speaking, never
had an author quarrel with it,--there will be a general disposition,"
and so forth. They thus directly increase the resistance which any
succeeding author must overcome. "Nothing," says "The Nation" newspaper
of January 13, 1770, in harsher language than I care to use, but we
must take language as we find it,--"Nothing so promotes swindle as the
readiness of the victims to pocket their losses, go their way with a
sickly smile, and let the rogues begin again." But of course this must
be left for each person to decide for himself. It is only that if one
feels moved in the spirit to bear witness against wrong in any of
the relations of life, there is nothing in the height, or depth, or
breadth, or brilliancy of any reputation to overawe him. Nothing is
real but the right. There is no life but in truth. When faith is lost,
when honor dies, the man is dead. Dead? He never was born. There never
was any such person. He was a mirage, an apparition. The stars dim
twinkle through his form.

As to the harm that may accrue to an author from adopting the course
which he counts wise, it seems to me entirely insignificant. Nobody
expects to go through the world intact, but we all expect to do that
which presents itself to be done. If a writer has life in himself he
will not easily die. If he has not life in himself the sooner he dies
the better. If there is no life outside one charmed circle,

    "Then am I dead to all the globe,
    And all the globe is dead to me."

Nothing is indispensable but a mind at peace with itself. It is
pleasant to celebrate the glory of those you love, but better trudge
comfortably across country on foot and alone, with all your worldly
goods knotted up in a yellow bandana than ride unwillingly behind
anybody's triumphal car.

So then, while it is undoubtedly best as a general thing for an author
to live at peace with publishers, and sinners, there is also no reason
why he should not make war if it is borne in upon him to do so.

But the only royal road to justice is for authors, in the beginning,
to be intelligent, prompt, exact and exacting on all business matters
which come within their scope. This seems a little thing, but it
would work a revolution in the literary world. Let writers deal
with publishers, not like women and idiots, but as business men
with business men. If an author chooses to relinquish all pecuniary
rewards from his books and to make an outright gift of the profits to
his publishers, he may leave the whole matter in their hands; but if
he condescends to take any part in the spoils, he thereby becomes a
business partner, and the only question is whether he shall be a good
business man or a poor one. By not being prompt and intelligent, by
neglecting to secure or to examine his accounts, or to correct them
when they are wrong, or to understand them when they are obscure,
he does not approve himself an unmercenary person; he simply shows
himself to be shambling and shiftless, and puts a direct temptation in
his publisher's path. Many a servant would be honest if her careless
mistress would not leave money lying about. Had I but used the ordinary
care and caution which a lawyer, or a merchant, or a marketman brings
to his business, this trouble doubtless would never have happened, and
we should all have been the happier for it. The simple consciousness
on the part of a publisher, that an author is observant of what is
visible, will have a tendency to make him exact and upright concerning
what is invisible. An author should so order his affairs that a
publisher must make an effort to be dishonest. On the contrary, he
so neglects them that a publisher must make an effort to be honest.
Confidence and trust are excellent things and never more excellent than
when they have a solid basis of paper and ink. Do the best he can there
will still be points enough for the author to exercise his trust on,
but to do business wholly on the trust system is utterly childish. No
confidence can be more complete than was mine, and none apparently can
be founded on a more honorable reputation. The confidential, friendly
way of conducting affairs is pretty and sentimental, grateful to one's
indolence and vanity and over fastidiousness, and confirmatory of one's
conviction that he is too dainty and delicate to touch a bargain with
the tips of his fingers. But in fact we all do take money for our work
when we can get it; we want just as much money and money just as much
as other people--rather more--and, in sober truth, the friction, the
sacrifice of delicacy in keeping your money affairs straight from day
to day, is not for a moment to be compared to the delicacy which may
be sacrificed by leaving them at the mercy of others. You run well for
a while, but a day of reckoning is almost sure to come. The thriftless,
hap-hazard way of bargaining or not bargaining, common among literary
people, is the fruitful parent of uneasiness, anxiety, disappointment,
and bitterness, before which delicacy must be rudely and ruthlessly

It is the same with women as with men, for in literature as in the
gospel, there is neither male nor female. When a woman does any work
for which she receives money she becomes so far a man, and passes
immediately and inevitably under the yoke of trade. She has no right
to demand a favorable judgment of her work because she is a woman,
nor has she the least right to require that chivalry shall come in
to help fix or secure her compensation. Trade laws know no more of
gallantry than trade winds--and it is well they do not. Individuals and
societies wheedle and flatter and threaten and torture according to the
fashion, or passion, or panic of the hour, but under it all, the great,
pitiless, unseen, inexorable law of the world holds from age to age,
never relaxing its grasp, never revoking its decree, deaf to the wail
of weakness, dumb to the cry of despair, forever and forever teaching
with unrelenting persistency, _by_ unrelenting persistency, the good
and wholesome lesson that will be taught no other way. Under this law
there is no sex, no chivalry, no deference, no mercy. There is nothing
but supply and demand; nothing but buy and sell. To him who understands
it, and guides himself by it, it is a chariot of state bearing him
on to fame and fortune. To him who does not comprehend it and flings
himself against it, it is a car of Juggernaut, crushing him beneath its
wheels, without passion, but without pity.



[1] The most casual observer will readily see that this strain of
remark can refer only to a far distant past. If our age is remarkable
for any one thing, it is for a delicate reticence regarding what is not
lawfully, and by divine right, its own.--_Note by Editor._

[2] A circumstance which at once relegates this story to the last
century.--_Note by Editor._

[3] Proof that this paper belongs to an age when people had time to
pronounce long words.--_Ed._

[4] This was in reference to Mr. Hunt's repeated injunctions that I
should write only books.

[5] The editor cannot allow this sentiment to go out into the world
unchallenged. To him few things are more marvelous than the amount of
provender which the ill-favored and lean-fleshed kine will consume
without giving any sign of feeding. Poverty, or incapacity, which
in this country is the almost inseparable companion of permanent
poverty--poverty is a sort of Chatmoss into which cart-loads of gravel
may be upset without giving any solid foundation to build on. Horace
Greeley was as true as the multiplication-table when he said that
people generally earn money as fast as they have the ability to expend
it judiciously.--_Ed._

[6] A "Common" is a tract of ground which belongs not to individuals
but to the public. Probably the bookstore referred to was on
the outskirts of the city, and the "Common" was the land as yet
unappropriated by builders, and on which, doubtless, sheep and cows
grazed undisturbed.--_Note by Editor._

[7] "The dickens!" is an exclamation of playful surprise. Probably
the word as here used, is a corruption of this phrase, and was merely
a strong way of expressing, on Mr. Hunt's part, that he had written
no other letter at all. But after so great a lapse of time it is
impossible to get at the exact truth.--_Note by Editor._

[8] The Editor trusts that it is not necessary for him to point out to
his youthful readers that this spirit is not presented to them for an

[9] Here the narrative seems to deviate into prophecy.--_Note by Ed._

[10] The editor considers this levity highly unbecoming so solemn an

[11] I think this matter in detail came up subsequently in connection
with the diminished price paid me for copyright, but as it belongs here
also, I put it in all at once.

[12] These letters do not appear in this publication.

[13] The "jubilee house" seems to be a reference to the institution
of the jubilee year among the Hebrews,--a year in which impoverished
families might redeem the property from which, at any time during
fifty years previous, they had been forced to part. Thus we are told
that if a man purchased of the Levites, the house that was sold should
go out in the year of jubilee. Such a house might long be known in
the neighborhood as the "jubilee house." The hammering spoken of was
probably connected with the repairing of some such lately redeemed
house, and seems to point to an Eastern origin and locality for this
narrative.--NOTE BY EDITOR.

Transcriber's Note.

Variable spelling and hyphenation have been retained. Minor punctuation
inconsistencies have been silently repaired.


The first line indicates the original, the second the correction.

p. 145:

  Appropos to what?
  Apropos to what?

p. 159:

  Emeruit Danai;
  Eruerint Danai;

  Quanquam animus meminisse horret
  Quamquam animus meminisse horret

p. 182:

  Your book will keep, wont it?
  Your book will keep, won't it?

p. 195:

  to buy my my book!
  to buy my book!

p. 278:

  similtude of evil-minded
  similitude of evil-minded

Footnote 8:

  not presented to them for an ensample
  not presented to them for an example

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Battle of the Books, recorded by an unknown writer for the use of authors and publishers - To the first for doctrine, to the second for reproof, to - both for correction and for instruction in righteousness" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.