8 March 1759
15. William Warburton, Grosvenor Square, London, to Mercy Doddridge, Northampton, 8 March 1759.1
I have the honour of your Letter of the 26th past, which was sent me from Prior Park to this place.
You have explained your case very well, and I will give you my thoughts upon it. – A royal patent or Licence may be obtained on very easy terms, and without wasting your interest to obtain it. You may have it for asking, and at the moderate expence of 10£. But I know of no service it is, to the protection of any Author’s property. If the work was written within fourteen years, the property is secured by Act of Parliament; when that time is elapsed, it is then claimed by common Law. In this latter case the right has been broke into, by rascally booksellers, from time to time; and so has the right in the former; but both one and the other is, upon the whole, tolerably well preserved. They fright you with stories of the invasion of literary property in order, I suppose, to get yours the cheaper. But whether the property be within, or without, the fourteen years, the Patent gives the proprietor no additional security. The use of a Patent is for new inventions in medicine or Mechanics, which gives the inventor an exclusive right to make and vend his inventions or improvements for fourteen years. But with regard to books, it is of no real or material use. You will ask then how it comes to pass that you ^see^ every newspaper full of advertisements of Books printed & printing, recommended by the King’s patent to all his good Subjects? This is another of the booksellers’ roguerys, whereby they impose upon the Common people, who seeing the King’s patent, think, in good earnest that he is solicitous to recommend the book which he thus honours, to their special notice; and they have no conception that he would thus recommend any thing that was not very good in it’s kind.
So far as to the present state of your property in Dr Doddridge’s Works. As to the stating and finishing your accounts with Mr Waugh, in this, I think you have done perfectly right. Your intention of disposing of the printed copies at once, is surely no less prudent, and will save you a world of trouble in bringing the Booksellers to account with you from time to time ^in order to be cheated at last.^ If for these and the right or reprinting 500 of the 4 last V.s of the family expositor the ^Bookseller^ would give you 500£ I think it would be a better bargain than 650£ for all the printed copies & the whole copy right together. As Dr Doddridge’s works are chiefly practical, the copy right must be worth something considerable. I am sensible indeed you could not so well preserve it from invasion as the booksellers can, where each abstains from plundering another, because that other has it in his power to plunder him again, by way of reprisal. On the whole therefore if you could get a reasonable price for the copies and the property together, I should be apt to advise you to close with a purchaser.
With regard to spreading the Dr’s works amongst the public, to be sure the very best way is to sell the property of them to a Bookseller, for they spare no pains in getting of their own ware.
As the Dr expressed a desire that his Lectures should be published, I make no doubt they are very worthy of the public. And I think by what he shewed me of his Scheme, he had taken pains about them. Yet I much suspect (considering the didactic and severe nature of such kind of compositions) that if you published them at your own expence you would hardly be a saver; if a Bookseller would undertake it at his, you would scarce be a gainer. I should therefore propose, if you think you lye under obligations to give them to the public, that they be printed by subscription. If on proposing a subscription you meet with reasonable encouragement, you gain your end, which is the discharging this act of piety to the deceased. If you have not encouragement, at least you have done your part.
I am Madm, with the truest regard & esteem,
your very faithfull and obedient humble
Servant W. Warburton
No address page.
1 Ferdinand J. Dreer Autograph Collection, English Clergyman, Vol. 4, Box 269, Folder 26, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. This letter and a second letter by Warburton to Mercy Doddridge dated 6 May 1756, from Prior Park (see the collections at the Pierpont Morgan Library, NY), appear in Nichol, Pope’s Literary Legacy, p. 125. Due to its date, the letter does not appear in Nuttall's Calendar (1979) or his Philip Doddridge: Additional Letters (2001).