The journal of design and manufactures
[Original papers:] Occasional chapters on copyright in design: Chapter III. The public benefits of protection to design., pp. 74-77
74 Original Papers: Occasional Chapters on Copyright in Designs. OCCASIONAL CHAPTERS ON COPYRIGHT IN DESIGNS. Chapter III.- The Public Benefits of Protection to Design. (See also vol. i.) COPYRIGHT in design is now fully admitted to be a subject of interest to some particular classes: to manufacturers, designers, artists, draftsmen, but the rest of the public it is not supposed to concern; their benevolent or patriotic energies are far too much absorbed in the multiplicity of projects and institutions for educa- tion, charity, and social amelioration, to have time or attention to bestow on this branch of legislation. Now, in making a claim upon the public for a hearing in this matter as one of national importance, we shall pass over the benefits received by trade, commerce, and manufactures, and through these the increased employment afforded to the operative when invention in the arts of life is fostered by legal protection. This branch of the subject has been amply dis- cussed, and we may especially refer to a report of the House of Commons, somewhat bulky, but full of interest, and to a more commodious little volume by Mr. E. Tennent. We would, however, press upon the reader's mind the great value of these arts of ornament in refining and elevating the taste of the great body of the people. The arts which polish and dress the labourer's little stock of furniture and utensils, and his humble wardrobe, have an efficacy peculiar to themselves. The National Gallery is a fine place for a workman's holyday, so is the British Museum, so is Kew or Hampton Court; but then an operative's bolydays are rare, work must be his rule, sight-seeing the exception; only at the close of the day is recreation permissible, and then, even were the public collections open, it is too far for a man who is tired. But how much might be effected by the employment of the arts of decoration within his own apartment, and by the traditional fireside of our national habits and climate. The cost is an obstacle, it is true, but is it insuperable ? Look at the results of machinery in calico-printing. Only let the buyers be many enough, and our faithful servant, John Steam, will cover the material with ornament, and scarcely add a fraction to the price. Recollect that all articles must have a shape, and a good shape costs very, very little more than a bad one. If you are at the cost of printing three or four colours, they will cost no more when harmoniously grouped than when discordant; an elegant teapot is as cheap as a monstrosity. Again, these household elegancies " do good by stealth ;" without distracting the mind they relieve more serious pursuits, they fill in the little odd corners of a man's time. They catch the eye at odd moments, not, indeed, producing very strong emotion, but producing a small effect a great many times, and "constant dropping wears away the stone." Sharpe advised a friend to cultivate an undergrowth of small pleasures, for few large ones were let on long leases. But more than this, they have a charm which others want- the most potent, perhaps, of all charms-ownership: "a poor ill-favoured thing, my lord, but mine own." No perfection of beauty can compensate the other for this, it gives couleur de rose to the darkest, dingiest brown. This is the agent that ranges a palace with Claudes and Titians, and this must spread patterns and ornamental manufactures about the cottage. Peer and peasant are subject to the same influence: Lady Montagu decided that there were only two classes of people in the world, men and women. The only real difficulty is to plant the mustard-seed, it will grow without the gardener. There have been men, perhaps, without one work of ornament, but no man having one ever yet was content with it. "I pity that man," said Evelyn, "who has completed everything in his garden." Evelyn might have spared his pity, no such man ever existed. The previous observations have reference to the subject as matter of con- sumption among the many; but it is equally worthy of attention as a means of increasing their productive power. Benevolent persons have advocated little garden-grounds for the cotter as an employment not unamusing for a leisure hour, or when a man is out of work, and add a trifle to the man's scanty means. But some men have no taste for gardening, and some have no gardens to culti- vate, and may yet have a little spare industry and spare ingenuity and time.
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