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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Alfred Tennyson brought out Locksley Hall and other poems

[Sidenote: Copyright reform]

[Sidenote: "Lays of Ancient Rome"]

[Sidenote: "Locksley Hall"]

In emulation of the new provisions for copyright in France, a bill was brought in to extend English copyright from twenty-eight to forty-two years. Among the considerations which prompted Parliament to perform this long delayed act of justice was the recent lamented death of Sir Walter Scott. The royalties on his works were the only resource left to his family, and the copyright on the most important of them, the Waverley Novels, was about to expire. Southey, the Poet Laureate, before his recent illness, it was stated, had been deterred from undertaking a projected great work by the unsatisfactory copyright provisions. Wordsworth was about to lose the fruits of some of his earliest and most patriotic poems. Among those who actively pressed the measure were Charles Dickens and Thomas Carlyle. The sixty years' copyright demanded in Carlyle's petition was not obtained; but authors were allowed to retain the property of their works during life, while their heirs could possess it for seven years after their death. Coincident with this literary victory came other triumphs in literature. Thomas B. Macaulay published his "Lays of Ancient Rome"; Alfred Tennyson brought out "Locksley Hall" and other poems; Bulwer Lytton finished "Zanoni"; the new Shakespeare Society issued some twenty volumes of researches. A new impetus to the making of books and printing was given by Woolwich's new system of electrotyping, and Charles Young's new device of a type-setting machine, first employed on the "Family Herald."

It was then, too, that Dr. Julius Robert Meyer, an obscure physician in Heilbronn, published a paper in Liebig's "Annalen," entitled "The Force of Inorganic Nature." Not merely the mechanical theory of heat, but the entire doctrine of the conservation of energy was clearly formulated. It is true that he was anticipated in a measure by Mohr, and that Helmholtz more exhaustively demonstrated the truth of the hypothesis of the conservation of energy; but Helmholtz himself hailed Meyer as the rightful claimant of the honor of having first clearly formulated the doctrine.

[Sidenote: Second Charter petition]

[Sidenote: The "Sacred Month"]

A great gain for humanity was made in Lord Ashley's successful bill for the restriction of work done by women and children in mines and collieries. Under the leadership of O'Connell's former Irish rival, Feargus O'Connor, the agitation for a People's Charter was revived. On May 2, another monster petition, containing nearly three and a half million signatures, was rolled into Parliament. Too voluminous to pass through the doors, it had to be cut up and carried into the hall by sixteen men. A motion to consider it was violently opposed by Macaulay. Once more the petition was rejected by 287 over 49 votes. Now followed one of the most singular labor strikes of England. This was the so-called sacred month, or thirty days' idleness to be enforced throughout the United Kingdom. Within a few days the Chartists could boast that for fifty miles round Manchester every loom was still. The attempt to extend the strike to London was followed by the arrest of O'Connor and nearly a hundred of his associates. They were tried and convicted, but owing to a flaw in the indictment sentence could not be carried out. The agitation was made to appear more serious by two attempts to assassinate the Queen in May and July, but the young Queen was not deterred thereby from making her first visit to Scotland.

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