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A Public Appeal for Redress to the Corporation and Overseers of Harvard University
Professor Royce's Libel

written by "Abbot, Francis Ellingwood, 1836-1903"
...refore, his article is a libel in its whole groundwork and essential spirit. "If a person, under pretence of criticising a literary work, defames the private character of the author, and, instead of writing in the spirit and for the purpose of fair and candid discussion, travels into collateral matter, and introduces facts not stated in the work, accompanied with injurious comment upon them, such person is a libeller, and liable to an action." (Broom's Legal Maxims, p. 320.) Applying this to the case in hand: Dr. Royce "defames" my "private character," when he accuses me of "frequently" indulging in "extravagant pretensions"; he "travels into collateral matter," when he alludes at all to my unpublished manuscript; he "introduces facts not stated in the work, accompanied with injurious comment upon them," when he alludes to this unpublished manuscript for the sole purpose of saying (untruthfully) that I "frequently make, of late, extravagant pretensions as to its originality and profundity," and again when he says that I have worked all my life in a Hegelian "atmosphere," for the sole purpose of founding upon this false statement a false charge of plagiarism. In the "Griffith Gaunt" case, Judge Clerke said in his charge to the jury: "The interests of literature and science[Pg 24] require that the productions of authors shall be subject to fair criticism,—that even some animadversion may be permitted, unless it appears that the critic, under the pretext of reviewing his book, takes an opportunity of attacking the character of the author, and of holding him up as an object of ridicule, hatred, or contempt. In other words, the critic may say what he pleases of the literary merits or demerits of the published production of an author; but, with respect to his personal rights relating to his reputation, the critic has no more privilege than any other person not assuming the business of criticism." (Abbott's Practice Reports, New S...

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