THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CONCEPTION OF LITER ARY PROPERTY.
I HAVE endeavoured in the foregoing pages to describe the varying conditions under which was carried on, during the ten centuries succeeding the fall of the Roman Empire, the production and distribution of literature. The term "books" is, of course, not strictly applicable to a large portion of the material produced by the scribes during the manuscript period. As a matter of convenience, I have used the phrase "production of literature" to cover what should, speaking more precisely, properly be described as the reproduction or multiplication of literature. The labour of the scribes during the manuscript period was given, as has been noted, almost exclusively to the production of copies of the more or less fragmentary texts that had been preserved from the classic period, or from the writings of the Church Fathers. The case was the same with the earlier printers, whose undertakings were in like manner devoted to old-time literature and with whom the production of a work by a contemporary writer was a comparatively rare exception. During these ten centuries, not a few writers did noteworthy work, and some of the great books of the world's literature belong to this manuscript period. Even, however, with books recognised later as famous, the fame came but slowly, so that the requirement for the multiplication of those for which demand arose be