Youmans was heartily seconded by Mr. Appleton, as was also the plan of the Popular Science Monthly.
A distinctive feature of the arrangements for the issue of all these foreign books, and one which redounds in no small degree to the credit of the firm, was the voluntary agreement, in the absence of an international copyright law, to pay their authors the usual royalties, making no distinction between them and authors at home. Mr. Appleton had been a lifelong advocate of international copyright, founding his contention on the simple justice of recognizing the property rights of the author, no matter where he lived. Although to adopt such a course was to expose themselves to the possibility of heavy loss through the issue of reprints by irresponsible parties, a thing which actually happened in the case of a good many of the volumes, the principle was faithfully adhered to, thus anticipating by many years the central provision of our present law.
The storm of denunciation raised abroad by the appearance of the earlier installments of these writings might well have deterred the boldest from repeating the experiment of giving them currency in America. But in spite of solemn warnings that dire consequences would be visited on the publisher who ventured to issue them here, the books continued to appear, while the predicted evils never came to pass.
It must not be inferred from the foregoing, however, that Mr. Appleton was either unmindful or wanting in respect for the opposition which his course aroused. Much of this had its origin in the religious convictions of the community, not a little of the criticism, be it said, emanating directly from the Church or its leading representatives. But, being a strong churchman himself, actively furthering the work of the Church with his private means and personal co-operation, in full sympathy with its purposes, and rejoicing in its beneficent influence, he was the last one who would wantonly outrage the sacred beliefs of his fellow-men. Yet, gifted with a large-mindedness that is at least unusual in the walks of business, he was enabled to see that the onward march of natural knowledge which had so often before excited alarm among men of narrow views could have nothing in it that was inconsistent with a truly religious life; while, on the other hand, to promote its advance and diffusion was to contribute by so much to the highest human welfare.
The wisdom of Mr. Appleton's course has been fully justified by the event. As we look over the last half of the century, which has been so fruitful in discovery and has witnessed the development of so many agencies for the amelioration of human ills and so manifold an increase in man's power for right living, we can see at the various stages of this evolution how large a part the broadening of thought fostered by these authors and the new aims and methods in inquiry suggested by them have contributed to the advance. It could not, in short, have been made so rapidly or effectively without the stimulus they gave. For what has been done in this line in this country we think—when we reflect that it was he who had the courage to bring the works of those thinkers here, and who made them accessible to students and the reading public, who constituted the agency through which the new thoughts and aims were spread—a very important part in the achievement may fairly be ascribed to Mr. William H. Appleton.