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tle of the essence

the effect of which is liable to be modified by a multitude of other and more fugitive elements the facts of possession, the provisions of acts of Parliament, the accidents of notice. On the one hand, all is brief, clear, self-authenticated. On the other hand, whatever is grossest and most material, and whatever is flimsiest and most impalpable—from the destruction of a wafer or a bit of sealing-wax, gnawed off perhaps by a dog, to the last decision of the courts as to what is constructive notice-renders every thing dim, vague, hesitant, incomplete. Title, then, they say, is quite a sufficient explanation of the anomaly. You will assimilate the two properties in value by assimilating the titles to both. All that is needed is to apply the stock-registry system to land. Then you will have certainty and notoriety, instead of secresy and confusion.

IV.–Now, I admit at once that the present state of our Notoriety of tilaw, relating to the title to landed property, is a disgrace to of our old law. a civilized country ; in other words, that it is capable of, and therefore calls for, enormous improvement. But when arguments like the above are used-arguments which I am sure any one will admit not to be overcharged-do we lawyers always remind the speaker, do we always ourselves recollect that, in the first place, those arguments, at the lips of many at least, involve, at all events historically, a fallacy—that secresy and confusion of title, however characteristic of the present decrepitude of our real-property law, are directly opposed to its principles, and are no more the law itself than a treble tier of goîtres on a Savoyard peasant's neck is the man himself? If we look into our old law, do we not see that notoriety of title was of its very essence ?* The feoffment must be perfected by livery of seisin. The heir, until actual entry, has no seisin; his very entry is tolled after a year and a day, by a descent in fee or in tail (Litt., secs. 387 and 422). The demise, in like manner, must be perfected by entry, while the grant must be completed by attornment of the tenant in possession; and the release is only effectual to the actual possessor. A broad simple principle runs evidently

• This fact is well brought out in the Report of the Commissioners on Registration of Title, p. 2 (1857).

through all these different rules, perfectly adapted to the state of society to which it was originally applied ; a principle of which the good sense nowhere comes out more than in that obsolete learning as to disseisin, which is indeed so repulsive when we meet with it in Sir E. Coke's pages, bristling with all the technicalities which in the Elizabethan era had already clustered upon it, and which often conceal from the student well nigh wholly the bold and clear outlines of our earlier law. Take, for instance, the one rule, that disseisin is always in fee. The fact of disseisin must be as notorious as any most notorious voluntary alienation; therefore, if acquiesced in, it may be as good a foundation of title. The disseisee has his entry within the year and day; his right of continual claim; his possessory or droiturel action ; his assise of novel disseisin. But he must be wakeful and not slumber, or he will be stripped of remedy after remedy; those remedies in themselves being every one of them public and notorious.

Again-The notoriety of title which our old law, as to freehold property, sought to rest upon the broad facts of livery of seisin, entry, continual claim, disseisin, descent, attornment, latterly of fine and common recovery, it sought to secure equally as to copyholds by the written machinery of the court rolls, more or less essentially connected with the actual holding of the courts which gave them their name; a registry which, considering on how many points it anticipates modern views, seems to me to have deserved, at the hands of the nineteenth century, any thing but the extinguishment to which it has been doomed; whilst any later attempt at total or partial registration, from the York or Middlesex or Bedford Level, or Irish registries of deeds, to the last-opened register of bills of sale at the Common Pleas, has equally for its object the notoriety of title by means of written records.

V.-Perhaps, if we consider these things, we shall feel that cured by new ma- some portion at least of the outcry of the new reformers

against our real-property law is a little unjust. They aim at certainty and notoriety of tiile, they say. By all means, friends; that is the very purpose of the law. It has undoubtedly lost, almost entirely, the means of attaining it

If notori ty of title can be se

chinery. so inuch the better.

And we

if you can show us any new methods whereby it may succeed in doing so once more, all thanks be to you. We know perfectly well that the original machinery will not do. We have no wish to restore liveries, attornments, entries, continual claims; processes totally foreign to the social state of the nineteenth century. The new wine needs its own new bottles; if you have any, let us try them. But, in the second

, place, are your bottles new?

VI.—The Bank of England was incorporated in 1694 (5 The stock-transWm. & M., c. 20). Of the local registers of deeds—that of novelty. the Bedford Level excepted, which dates from the 15 C. II.all are posterior, beginning in 1703 with the West Riding Act (2 and 3 Anne, c. 4). We have therefore to believe that a very imperfect scheme was carried out in four separate instances, spread over thirty-two years (the last being the North Riding Act, 8 Geo. II., c. 6, 1735), with a perfect one already in force, as I suppose the stock-transfer system at the Bank must have been, in a most public manner. have to believe that the possibility of applying the perfect system entirely escaped all who thought upon the subject, from that time till within the last few years, that the acute mind of Mr. Duval and those of his brother commissioners, of whom every one, no doubt, was perfectly familiar with the status of a fundholder by personal experience, never had a glimmer of substituting the perfect system they knew for the imperfect one which they were trying to work out. The thing is certainly not impossible; but is it not possible, also, that there may be some reason why the stock-registry system should not have been sought to be applied, beyond that vulgar one of routine so easily alleged ? Certainly Mr. Dural himself was not open to such a charge; for any thing more new and original than his plan of registry was never put forward in a practical shape for legal use. May there not, then, be some fundamental difference in the character of the registry required in the nature of the subject matter to which it has to be applied --which might account for the anomaly? VII.- What is the character of the Bank of England's try foundest on the

Thestockregistry as to stock? It is simply a register of the names of relation of debtor


tame relation.

creditors, and of the sums due to each, with a register of transfers, for the purpose of following the debt through every change of holders. The relation between the registering body and the registered person is therefore that of a debtor to a creditor-a never-varying debtor to a varying creditor. At no one time are there more parties concerned than these two; for even the process of a distringas only acts to stop for a time the acts of the debtor; and the whole relation between the two is confined to these two points-payment of the annuity as it accrues, and the determining who is entitled to it. The processes of the registry are thus easily contained within the four walls of the debtor's premises, to which the creditor resorts for payment of his debt, and for establishing his claim to it. And the registry is a self-acting one; for the property which it represents is actually nil without it; the creditor

who cannot claim under it remains unpaid. Except through

VIII.—Now, there is a land-registry system which, curious

. tem, the land re: to say, closely resembles the above, though as it were by founded on the inversion, and lingers yet amongst us ; it is that of copyhold

property. The lord is theoretically owner of the land within his manor; the tenant owes it to him according to a certain custom which the ancestors of both parties have accepted, on the condition of a certain return in money, kind, or services on the tenant's part. In a sense, therefore, the relation of debtor and creditor is here also the foundation of the system. But the creditor, not the debtor, as in the case of stock, is the centre of it. The processes of the registry are confined to the court and the court-rolls of the manor, The record is limited as the creditor thinks fit. The judge of its sufficiency, in ordinary cases, is himself or his steward. But, unless we could re-establish the feudal world and that relation between lord and tenant, of which copyholds are the last tangible remnant in our law, mapping out all England by a new Doomsday-book into manors once more, how is it possible that a land-register, especially if single and central, should bear, any similar character ? If, then, you fall back on the stock-registry system, will the registrar owe the land of England to the landholders, as the Bank, guaranteed by the state, owes its


Consolidated or Reduced annuities to the fundholders? Will there be any thing even analogous between the position of the two ? Make the helpless wight, if you like, universal grantee, responsible pecuniarily for the whole value of the land represented on the register; will the actual enjoyment of the land be his to give or to withhold? Will men come to him for their half-yearly rents, as they go to the Bank for their halfyearly dividends ? Will not the land and its fruits exist entirely apart from him? Will he not have, if he needs it, in some way or other, to get at them, however stringent the processes you may devise for the purpose? Will he have any thing like the hold upon them which a lord of the manor has over copyhold tenements? Is it not obvious that, if we put aside the feudal model, the application of the stockregistry system to land implies really what we are accustomed to consider one of the most objectionable and dangerous forms of socialism (however accordant with the fundamental theory of our law)—the idea of a universal ownership of land by the state? and that even then we should have only solved half the problem by transforming a certain number of persons into creditors of the state for the produce of its lands? the other half embracing the rights and duties of those persons who must be necessarily debtors of the state in such a system – the holders or occupiers of the land, the persons by whom, and not to whom, the produce would be due. Is it not clear, since such a system will probably be deemed not worth discussing, that a register of land titles, as suggested, cannot be self-acting any more than self-contained ? that it must have only an artificial and occasional, not a real and permanent, necessity ? that, not resting on the relation between debtor and creditor, it must seek a foundation elsewhere? IX.—Then, if the character of the stock-registry system and Specific charac

ter of the of the land-registry system be thus necessarily and essentially different, may it not be that the subject-matters to which they respectively apply are also essentially distinct? “Every devise of land,” says one of our best known rules of law, “is necessarily specific.” Is not this specific character of land, as distinguished from stock, precisely what our reformers of the


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