21 March 1841
I delayed for a few days answering you letter in order that I might ascertain whether my view of the subject was in accordance with that of other members of the Council: since doing so I have been prevented writing by a domestic loss.
I consider it to be a principle invariably adhered to, that if a paper refers to processes a description of which is withheld, it cannot be printed in the Phil. Trans. <1> but this would not apply to the paper you propose sending to the Royal Society. In it, if I understand rightly, you propose describing all the processes employed; and I cannot see that these processes being subsequently described in the Specification of a patent can in any way preclude the publication of the paper in the Transactions. I know of no rule by which it would be thus precluded. If the paper has not before been published, whether its substance be afterwards given in the Specification of a patent or not, I consider it must come before the Committee of papers on its own Merits alone: with the subsequent Specification the Committee can have nothing to do: it is a matter of which they cannot be supposed cognizant [sic]. This is the view which all those to whom I have mentioned the subject have taken of it.
It is of course for you to consider how far the reading of the paper and its publication in the Transactions may affect your patent. For my own part I must say I hope these may be quite compatible with the rights you wish to secure, for it would give me much satisfaction to be the organ of communication of a paper describing processes by which such results as those to which you have referred are to be obtained, and still more, to see it adorning our Transactions. If you decide upon communicating the paper, and can let me have it by Tuesday 30th March, I will read it on the following Thursday.
Yours very Truly
S. Hunter Christie.
1. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London.