Puslapio vaizdai

The proper

itself, to see whether the germs of such exactions debtor was exposed; for on him really fell the be really tolerated by the genius of that institution? cost of the cumbrous and unwieldy transmissions And we confess that, in the free allodial forms of of the verbose heritable security, and of the longthe first partition of conquered lands, where the winded discharge by which alone he could exprivate soldier, though he shared far less a portion tinguish it. But why not go to the root of the than the benejice or royal demesne of his lord, was upas tree that thus spreads its poisonous shade a freeholder, independent of every obligation save over the free use of capital sunk in heritable prothat of rendering personal service in defence of the perty? Why not simplify down to a form, short community to which he belonged, we can see and simple as a commercial bill of exchange, the nothing of them. Even in the subinfeudation of mere money transaction of a loan with heritable the benefices of the great lords to feudal tenants- security ? or in the Roman Emphyteusis, on which it is sup- We do not, and cannot, see why, along with as posed to be based—there is scarcely room for many words as will distinctly describe a piece of them. But feudalism was a thing of gradual property, heritable transmissions should not be growth ; and the power of the over-lords to afford simply effected by a writing of hand, saying, “I, protection of a kind which the modern vassal A B, sell, or give, or hand over in security, to neither needs nor claims may have rendered the C D, my said property.” In the several chapancient holder willing and anxious to compensate ters of legislation which we have laid before the the superior with casualties at every renewed re- reader, there is an obscure approach to this, espeception into his protection. The vassal then had cially in the last. It is most ridiculous to say his quid pro quo.

And it is the strangest thing that a ceremony which has become too useless to that the nineteenth century should still be paying perform, like the reigning ceremony of infeftment, the same, or greater, exactions than the ninth, is still to be perpetuated in dumb show, and that without anything like a similar return. As we

when the virtue has so far gone out of the earth hare remarked, however, the shape these claims and stone, a pen may be substituted for the symbol, affecting property at length have taken is substan- while yet an instrument recording that bit of tially that of heritable burdens; and, therefore, mummery must be formally drawn up, and forthere is nothing more to be said.

mally recorded. All that common sense seems to holder found his "tenement” affected by these require is a single original document, along with burdens; he was aware of them, and he must pro- a simple record of that document; and an attempt vide for them.

at this is actually evident in the act for simThe wisdom of the Legislature has also been plifying the transmission of heritable securities. manifested in an act which passed 30th June, Formerly everything was done by a lengthened 1845, 8 and 9 Victoria, c. 31—“An Act to facili- deed upon ad valorem and other stamps ; and the tate the transmission and extinction of heritable different deeds were backed each by an instrument securities for debt in Scotland.” This was a glo. of sasine, tediously recorded at length. At last rious opportunity to have struck a blow at an came the prolix discharge, religiously reciting over intolerable grievance. But it was lost. The act again almost all the verbiage of the several deeds; is a regular telum imbelle sine ictu. The right to and behoving to be lengthily recorded in its turn. heritable securities, constituted by infeftment, may All this could not but entail heavy expense upon indeed be transmitted according to a form given property, yet not the smallest sum could be borin a schedule appended to the act, which, being rowed, even for the purpose of improvements, recorded, is equivalent to sasine and full entry; without much or most of these implicd charges and the absurd practice of recording the whole being incurred. The new law narrow's the double deed is dispensed with in cases where the assig- array of deed and instrument down to a single pation is only part of a deed, for other purposes, one, somewhat shortens the forms of transmission, it being sufficient to state the nature of the deed. and greatly reduces the process of recording ; but The person on whose property money is borrowed it neither provides, as it might have done, for may now invest the heritable creditor's heir by a simplifying the original constitution of the debt, writ of acknowledgment, that being declared suffi- nor does it prune the branches it actually touches cient. When the heritable creditor finds it neces- so unsparingly as it might. sary to adjudge the property, he may complete his It is, however, just as possible to effect the whole, title by simply recording the abbreviate of adjudi- as a part, of this reformation. The principle of a eation (a decree of court) in the register of sasines. change in the transmission of heritable rights inThe act also provides that an heir, served and volves that of a change in their constitution; and, retoured, or general disponee, may complete his sooner or later, the conveyance of property in Scottitle, without going to the superior, by a notarial land must come to what we say—to a simple instrument taken out and recorded in terms of the acknowledgment of a sale or a gift, in cases of act:-Documents compete for preference, accord- absolute alienation--and to the brief commercial ing to the date of their registration: a form is form of a bill upon the property, * in cases of appointed for discharging securities ; although heritable security. The records are the only elethere is also a clause saying there is nothing to ment in our cumbrous and complicated system prevent the use of the old forms; and another clause which we cannot dispense with.

Patent and open specially preserving to Town Clerks their accustomed fees! In all this there is a saving, so far,

* Why not a Bill of Property, as well as a Bill of Lading, of the once ruinous expense to which an heritable or, for that muntter, it Bill of Exchange?

to all the world, they advertise every purchaser, almost all the principles of taxation so admiralıly or lender, of his safety, in effecting any proposed laid down by Adam Smith, to the effect—1st, investment. And it has been often said that That the subjects of every state ought to conEngland, for the sake of possessing such records of tribute towards the support of Government as everything affecting heritage, would submit to all nearly as possible in proportion to their respective the feudal forins she long ago so nobly repudiated. abilities--that is, in proportion to the revenue That, however, were far too great a price to pay. which they respectively enjoy; 2dly, That the tax For why may we not have the same records—the which each individual is bound to pay ought to same facts recorded in them—and the same pur- be certain, and not arbitrary. The time of payposes subserved by them—at a far shorter expensement, the manner of payment, the quantity to be of words and money? There are, however, other paid, ought all to be clear and plain to the contritrammels upon heritable transmissions, which we butor and every other person ; 3dly, That every hasten to consider.

tax ought to be levied at the time, and in the Few great changes or alterations, even for good, manner, in which it is most likely to take out, are ever accomplished unalloyed with evil; and and keep out of the pockets of the people, as little insurrectionary efforts, in particular, to redress the as possible, over and above what it brings into the grievances of a people, in themselves imply dis- public Treasury. Now, the stamp duties violate tracting convulsions; while they are not unfre- the first of these three principles, by their inequaquently followed by fiscal inflictions, for which the lity of pressure; they violate the second, not by occasion perhaps gives excuse, opportunity, or any uncertainty on the taxation, but by the glorious advantage. Thus the English poor rates are uncertainty of the law, which precludes the possiowing to the Reformation, and the stamp duties bility of a plain man knowing what stamp duties to the Revolution. The Dutch first invented this he must expend to render titles perfect; and they mode of taxation, imposed in Holland in 1624; violate the third, by being of the nature of a manu although the vicesima heriditatem, the twentieth factured article vended by the Government, and penny of inheritances, imposed by Augustus on the therefore extracting from the pockets of the Romans, is an earlier example of taxation on the people much more than finds its way as free protransference of property, at least from the dead to ceeds into the Treasury. the living. Heritage, supposed, in Scotland, to be The inequality of the stamp duties is very exempt from such taxation, pays it only at another easily proved from the revenue returns.

The retime and in another form, as in the numerous turns to the revenue from stamps in Scotland are stamps required in the making up of titles to pro- next in amount to the customs and excise, or, perty; and, besides, many casualties of the feudal rather, excise and customs, (for the “ hateful tax law, as the compositions to the superior for the adjudged by wretches hired for the purpose, entry of heirs (extending also to strangers, or sin- Johnson has it, is, to our grief we say it, entitled gular successors) are exactly of this nature. Be to the precedence, being equal in amount to twice this as it may, Adam Smith has sarcastically ob- the customs in Scotland!) So, in like manner, served, that “there is no act one government the stamp returns are twice as heavy as the sooner learns of another, than that of draining assessed taxes ! The stamps, however, excepting money from the pockets of the people;" and, to say for the last two years, have been exhibiting the truth, William of Orange had not this secret of suspicious phenomenon of gradual declension ; the stamp tax to learn, coming to this country and that, too, along with an unparalleled rise in from Holland, inasmuch as he knew it well before the value of real property. Thus, the stamp Thus, though in 1671 taxes were first imposed in duties in Scotland yielded this country for a temporary purpose, and on a

For the year ending 5th Jan, 1841, £555,402 temporary footing, (as, indeed, what tax, from the

1842, 549,385 income tax backwards, has not crept in on this

1843, 584,906 pretence?) they were fairly rivetted and fixed

1844, 514.614 down in 1693, by revision under the Act 5, William

1845, 525,230 and Mary, c. 21. The stamp duties were thence There may be two causes for this: the first, the so greatly extended as ultimately to embrace every most natural consequence of a severe tax, evasion. instrument recording a transaction between two Smuggling preceded and forced on the different individuals, nay, law proceedings themselves, and revisions of our commercial tariff; and, need every document used in a court of justice! The we be amazed, that if men could risk their pervoluminous stamp acts of Britain were consolidated sons to evade one branch of the revenue, they in 1815, under the Act 55, George III., c. 184, to will be tempted to risk their property to evade which schedules of them are annexed ; but law another? The course is desperate; and, we may proceedings, the only really salutary branch of the depend upon it, the cause of desperate courses is impost, considering that it must have acted as a always severe. He is but a maladroit lawyer, damper on litigation, although it was certainly a moreover, who does not know how to save a stamp tax upon justice, were exempted by 5, George IV., for a poor client. The consequence is, no doubt, c. 51. Subsequent enactments have only been generally visited back on the evasion at an after for the purpose of assimilating the stamp duties period. Informal rights lead to endless law pleas, of Great Britain and Ireland.

and complicated, as well as expensive legal proceThe stamp duties on the transmission of heri- dure, for the investiture of subsequent heirs, trustable property appear to us to be at variance with tees, or general disponees; yet, more “missive


letters," "minutes of agreement,” and other un- glected. That moment the poffle or pendicle of stamped, invalid, and informal documents, are the cottier becomes part of the lawn or approach fabricated for the evasion of the stamp laws than to the cottage ornée or mansion of the great; so conld possibly be believed. One learned Judge soon as the rude stone and lime of the humble of Session was reputed to have said, that he looked feuar is swept away by the building speculatoris with an instinctive horror into any progress of grand and flaunting array of shops, the “rights, tities emanating from the city of Glasgow, and to titles, and securities” thereof are, to a certainty, have expressed it as his opinion, that the court one and all, made right, -the unstamped are ought to pass an act of sederunt remitting the stamped, the unentered are entered, the “profaculty of Glasgow back in a body to the convey- gress” is perfected to the very last tittle, and fully ancing class !

Now, there are abundance of good "clothed "bythe ceremony of possession, i.e. sasine, conveyancers in practice in Glasgow; but the and infeftment, earth and stone—we beg pardon business-like spirit of the place, the commercial -rather by the “make-believe” of an absurdity spirit of the people, literally compels the mutilation in its dottage, too ridiculous to be tolerated, and too of cumbrous and complicated feudal forms, and antiquated to be given up, and which, as we have the laxity which prevails in heritable transmis- seen, is henceforth to be done, amongst other deeds sions is actually dictated by public opinion. Many of darkness, in the back slums of a lawyer's chama severe lesson has been taught the property- ber. How, therefore, should the revenue suffer, if holders of Glasgow upon this score; and yet we the impost of stamps were anything like equal ? hardly think a single forty years' “progress” of How should a better compliance with legal forms title deeds, altogether destitute of a flaw, could be injure it, while the stamps are charged ad valoproduced at this moment within the extended rem? Why, there's the rub.” The stamps municipality of "the largest city in the kingdom.” | are really not charged ad valorem. They are

A second, and that not a secondary cause, for ranged upon a “sliding scale ”inverted; so that the diminution of revenue from stamps in Scot- the charge, when apparently mounting upwards, land, unfortunately exists, which is no less illus- is in reality sliding downwards. Everybody is, trative of the unequal pressure of the impost; for however, familiar with this; everybody knows it originates in the inherent evil of the tax. It that the law acts as if-to make the great nabob, is this: the extinction of small holdings, and their when he buys a villa or an estate, or, like the gradual absorption in those accumulating masses owl's daughter, only becomes endowed with two of capital which begin to create the glaring or three “ruined villages,” pay in proportion to disparity peculiar to the age betwixt different the stamp tax imposed, at a respectable distance, classes in the country, rendering the rich so very upon the bonnet-laird who invests the fruits of rich, and the poor so very poor. When we years of patient toil and industry in a one-story hint at such accumulations of capital, which, to a house, or, may be, a small mailing-would ingreat extent, are heritably invested, it is enough deed be the height of impertinence. To such an exto suggest how unequal must be the pressure of tent does the law carry this deference for the great, the stamp laws, when the enormous advance in that while a poor man cannot buy £10 worth of Falue of real property within the kingdom, when heritage without being taxed ten shillings in stamps the swelling wealth, power, and splendour of the for the conveyance alone (besides another nine millimaire, with his gorgeous dwellings and nume- shillings for the stamp of the instrument of sasine), rous tenements, add nothing to the revenue. The a wealthier man would not be taxed £10 (only £9) question, like all stamp law questions, is but one were he to purchase up to £1000 worth of proof rule of three. If the lesser aggregate of value perty, although the relative proportions are as ono in real property give so much, how much ought to one hundred; and the tax on the wealthier the greater aggregate to afford? Instead, however, purchaser, to correspond with that upon the poorer, of how much more, we are actually constrained, ought to be £50 to the one for ten shillings to the as the fact stands on the revenue tables, to ask how other! Nor is this by any means a vain contrast; much less revenue flows in transmission-stamps many and many a title is a poor holder forced to from the increased and enhanced value of real make up to a property of even less value to him property! How is this! Simply that a body of than £10; and yet the law takes cognisance of por men are taxed in this department to an ex- the most trilling amount, be it only heritage. tent greater than a body of rich men, though But the disparity in the schedule of stamps upon holding sereral times the value in property, are absolute conveyances is equally striking and irrataxed. It is certainly not the least likely that, as tional, throughout the whole range of so-called ad the value at stake in heritable investiture advances, valorem duties. Thus, a small property up to evasion of the legal formalities increases. Quite £50 can only be conveyed by a stamp at £1, the contrary,

Greater, much greater, care will while, for half as much more, i. e. 30s., property be exercised in the matter of form, and less demur up to £150—three times the value—may be alienbe made on the score of cost, the higher the value ated. But for three times the sum, or £3, ten of the property becomes. As soon as a field or a tiines the value, or up to £500, may be alienated ! dwelling becomes the property of the wealthy man, Taking a step higher up the scale, the inequalities and quits the hands of the man comparatively are as glaring, although with one egregious pecupoor, the legal forms, whether in abeyance or run liarity in them : Thus, under £1000 of heritable into irregularity, will be complied with and disen- value requires a £9 stamp ; under £2000, only a tangled as scrupulously as they were before ne- £12 stamp : But here a capricious stride is taken, and from £2000 up to £3000 a £25 stamp is re- stamp;, at £30, the stamp reaches 30s.-t three. quired; so that, contrary to any analogy in the per cent, on the whole loan ; at £200, it is only. whole of this crude jumble of legislation, a £1000 £3--one and a half per cent., ou, the loan; aty and a £2000 property could both be (separately) £500, only £5, or one per cent. ; and this. last transferred at a cost of £21 in stamps, while a covers any loan as high as £1000, But, on the single property of their joint value, nay a property other hand, the great borrower may raise up to only a single shilling in value above £2000, could but not exceeding, £20,000 on a £20 stamp, paxila not legally be transferred on a stamp under £25! |ing therefore only one-tenth per cent. of stamp taxes If there could be any conceivable reason for such Such is tho extreme injustice and inequality of the arbitrary distinctions, that would be another thing. scale of mortgage stamps. But reason there is none. And when it is con- Deeds of settlement, which only lay the foundasidered how easy it might have been (possibly with tion for, and do not in themselves complete, or so advantage to the revenue) to have imposed a uni- much as form part of a feudal progress, simply form per centage of ten shillings per cent., ad var serving to devise property to heirs, or to settle lorem, on conveyances (which we regard as ample), heritable investitures on other persons, are also the present scale of duties becomes perfectly ab- subject to the operations of a similar scale of stamp surd. Thus trifling conveyances of £10 and £20 duties—similar, though perhaps Iess flagrant in value, instead of their present oppressive stamp its inequalities. The making of a settlementemtaxation, would pay only one shilling and two bracing any value under £1000, for instance, shillings, on that score, respectively-quite enough infers the use of a £1. 15s. stamp, while, at for the general circumstances of the holders, and £15,000 value, the stamp being £20, something about equivalent to the tax upon other money like a uniform proportion to the value is waintransactions, whether vouched by receipts or pro- tained. But the deed being incapable of any but moted by bills. Fifty-pound properties would a general form, so far from saving expense, it pay five shillings; those of one hundred and fifty often occasions court procedure (as, for iustance, pounds, of course, only fifteen shillings; yet at where the heir-at-law refuses to make up titles), £200 the stamp would rise to £1, and would thence and always recourse to the Superior,' to perfect forward tread hard, for some distance, upon the the feudality of succ

ccession. The use of stamps, present scale ; being, at £600, so high as £3, and therefore, to which it leads, is far from being exat £1000, up to which, by the present scale, con pressed in the above šums, although the stannps veyances are subject to a £9, it would actually for charters and instruments completing 'investireach to £10. Instead, however, of £25, the 43000 tures are only nine shillings per sheet, and it is conveyance would only be subject to a £15 stamp, rather the relative law expenses entailed that are destroying, however, the anomaly already noticed. to be complained of.

..di But this rate of ours, upon the rest of the scale, Is it worthy of an enlightened Government thus would create a considerable reduction; for, instead to lay a direct embargo on the constitution, transof one-half per cent., the upper stamp duties are mission, and extinction of heritable rights and about three-quarters per cent. and definite per centage, be it three-quarters or capital and not upon revenue, the stamp laws are more overhead, would be a decided improvement still more objectionable on this ground, that, along on the inequalities of the existing scale, with its with the hindrances and obstructions existing in shocking oscillations and vibrations. Nor should the forms of writs, the stamp tax has contributed we apprehend much detriment to the revenue, much to embarass, destroy, and stifle the smaller even by the reduction to one-half per cent. Be- allocations of heritable property entirely. This is twixt the increase of small conveyances that would a result in itself deplorable, being attended with certainly ensue, and the natural infrequency of consequences most disastrous to the general comlarge ones even now, more might be added to than munity, working as it does directly into the hands abstracted from the returns.

of pauperism, and thus preying upon the vitàls of If, however, the hardships and inequalities con- society. If it be an object-and it is no mean one nected with absolute conveyances are great under under the present circumstances of Scotland—to the stamp laws, in proportion as the interests in- encourage the elevation of the utmost possible volved are small and unable to sustain invidious number of men from comparative indigence, and distinctions, much more is this the case with re- from a subsistence merely from hand to mouth, up gard to that particular point in the free use and to the petty independence of possessing homes and enjoyment of property, which ought above all to houses of their own, a policy perfectly the reverse meet with legislative consideration, and receive fa- of the present must be pursued—everything must cilities, rather than be visited with obstructions be done to facilitate the acquisition and transmisand discouragements. We allude to the creation, sion of sinall heritages-instead of every obstacle transmission, and relative extinction of real or being thrown in the way. That it is perfectly heritable burdens ; by facilitating the two first of possible, according to principles laid down by an which, a vast distribution of locked-up capital insurance or property company, now existing in might yet be called forth to aid the commerce and Edinburgh, to enable every working unan to acquire enterprise of the country. As the matter stands, for himself, out of the surplus of that annual outlay however, a bond and disposition in security, or which he now pays in the shape of rent, the free heritable bond for any sum, however trifling, bed right of property in the house for which stich rent low £50 cannot be extended on less than a £1 is paid, and that within the space of fourteen

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years, he enjoying the intermediate occupancy, | as the occupier of his own house, might literally We neither see reason to doubt nor dispute. Were “sit under his own vine and his own fig tree, with this important principle, which is quite familiar to none to make him afraid.” This dream may seem actuaries and known to be correct, once generally utopian, If so—then if those who make our recognised and carried out; did not the miserable laws and mend them would but reflect how much formalities, the severe and unequal taxations of they could do in this and in several other directhe law cast in such a variety of impediments; tions to unmake our poverty and mend the popular erery pradent man above the verge of hopelessness condition, there would soon be far less of utopianmight be enabled to become the proprietor as well | ism in dreams like these.


DING DONG! ding dong! the year is old,

The midnight bells repeat the sound; The dying year its tale hath told —

Another comes to claim the ground!
Infant of promise, and of hope !

Small atom of eternity!
What mind, how vast soe'er its scope,

Can predict of thy destiny ?
Wrapt in a mystic veil to all

Thy reign begins; millions await
The future! Past things tott'ring fall ;

Fortune holds out more tempting bait ;
And man would grasp with eager hand

The coveted awards ; to sigh,
When once attained, o'er dross and sand !

Fresh bubbles rise,-bis heart beats high. Such is our nature! on we press,

Grasping at shadows; pleased with each New vision ;-hear, they're valued less :

We covet all beyond our reach!
Kneel, kneel, ye nations ! rest one hour;

From earthly toils your spirits tear,
And raise a hymn of thrilling power,

To crave a blessing on this year. Britons! thy banner wide is spread

Thy fame is known to other lands! Oh, conqu'ror! bow thy laureled head,

And clasp, in prayer, thy victor hands ! Children of Science ! ye who tell

Deep truths to all! Ye master minds, That weave o'er men a mighty spell,

List to the warning on the winds !
This unit hour alone is thine!

Oh, dedicate it to thy God
In gratitude ! Thy thoughts divino

Are held from him,-not from this sod! Poet! oh, join thy silver voice,

So used to sadness; child of night,

And lone deep thought; for theo the choico

of Nature's melody most bright :
Strike now thy harp's soul-speaking strings,

With grateful heart and holy fear ;
Let Fancy heavenward stretch her wings,

And earth a joyous carol hear!
Let ev'ry soul of ev'ry creed

Unite in prayer; for rich, for poor ; That Heaven may still the needy feed,

And blessings guard the rich man's store. Child of misfortune and of toil,

Ye who have earned thy bread with tears ; Ye humble tillers of the soil,

To Heaven commit your trust, your fears : A day is dawning 'neath those clouds

Of brighter promise ; raise thine eyes, What though a mist the dark earth shrouds,

Thy Father watches from the skies ! Ye who have clung to joys now flown

For ever !-drooping now, and drear,
Sad mourners! Light above is shown,

A halo for the new born year!
The child whose soul doth still repose

In helplessness; nor yet awake
To the deep thought that manhood knows

Mother, to God thy darling take!
Maiden, thy lip doth speak a name

Of all things dearest, still most dear : 'Twas Nature's voice that, murmuring, came

To bid thee breathe it first this year. Affection's holy ties were given

In mercy : kiss the silken chords, Breathing a heartfelt prayer to Heaven

For blessings that defy all words.
Sing, sing in concert,-sing in love !

Let holy incense fill the air !
Join each bright cherub choir above,
To welcome in the infant year!

E. C, M,


FARE-THEE-WELL, my gentle pilgrim!

Thine each precious blessing be! Wild the way, and far the haven,

Strange the land that waiteth thee! Yet when far from home, and lonely,

Ne'er let doubt thy bosom fill; A Father's arms are ever round thee

God will keep thee still !

When no other friend is near thee,

Ile will with the lone one stay; lle will hear thee-He will cheer thee

Ile will wipe thy tears away. Droop not then, my gentle girl!

Fear not thou, by land or sea; God, who ever hears the orphan, Will be kind to thee!

R. H, P. B


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