16 JUNE 1866, Page 2

Lessees of theatres are allowed by law . to steal the

plots, dia- logues, and characters, the property of novelists, make them into plays, and act them. If they publish the plays at Lacy's they are fined, but if they publish them on the stage they are innocent. Lord Lyttelton on Thursday moved the second reading of a Bill to prevent this form of plunder, but Lord Cranworth, in a very silly speech, stood up for the thieves. What, he said, was the definition of a "work of fiction ? " some people called Thiers' histories "works of fiction ;" very likely, and very proper, but do the " people " include Vice-Chancellors on the bench, or does Lord Cranworth expect everybody to sacrifice, as he has done, justice to a bon mot? Then the novelist might disapprove of dramas; and was he to prevent anybody from doing what he would not do himself? Yes, most decidedly, if he -pleases. Is every lessee to be at liberty to use Lord Cranworth's speeches as speeches, or "parts," simply because they are admirably suited for heavy fathers ?