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other mortgages, beneficial leases, &c. neither need he doubt very widely as to the value, when he could so readily see what it fetched whenever it had been sold.
The temptations to fraud through these mediums ceasing, we might hope for some reduction in the total quantity of villany in the country
And lastly, by the respective offices charging at the same rate for the business performed as the average of the lawyers' charges had been, a great revenue might be gained without any loss to the people, or any purchase on the part of the government, except that the present practitioners should have a life-interest in one-half of the net profits among them all, as fairly apportioned as it could be, compared with their previous nettings from that particular branch of their trade; but this on no consideration ever to be made transferable ; so that as each died his share would instantly cease and revert to the crown, inasmuch as the crown would no longer have to pay it.
Is it not obvious that an office in every district for the registry of all the landed property within it, with the owners, &c. attached, the date of their accession thereto, and from what source, would immediately do away with a good deal of misapprehension as to the validity of titles; that these titles at every settlement would be less liable to subsequent disturbance; that every year would further consolidate the bulk of them, and that at the end of sixty years there could exist no rational doubt as to the beneficial interest, or the legal claim in one estate out of a hundred ? Indeed, with the exception of occasional variety in the constructions of a will now and then, there hardly could occur a ground of doubt. Now the present course of managing legal documents, &c. offers no like security, but leases, releases, mortgages, and all their paraphernalia throw food to the courts. How often in these cases do the pockets of the lawyer fatten while his soul grows lean, so that even he is an injured party, and every other sufferer has nothing to console him for his losses ; so that such courts might render great advantage to the public at the cost the public now pay, and thereby, after giving the present race of lawyers a life annuity, pocket every year at first a great revenue in the balance, and as the annuitants died off it would increase to an enormous annual amount.
The privileged classes are so dovetailed into abuses, that prudence fears the tearing asunder national institutions in eradicating the undue portion of their influence, not sufficiently remembering that the consistency, influence, and stamina of the middle classes is fully equal to the task of supporting the government in throwing off and expelling all these evils; neither would either interest or inclination induce them to go too far even if they could, their interest is too clearly involved in preserving the fundamental principles of the constitution.*
* Men shrink from great changes though they see that they are bottomed on substantial justice; and though they see great and various ills from abuses which these changes propose to remedy, they have a confused fear of possible contingencies; but why should not all orders and classes, both individually and collectively, endeavour to do their best by applying remedies as need arises and never do wrong that good may come? How many institutions originally very valuable would have remained so to this day had slight and moderate reforms lopped off their occasional excrescences, and applied improvements as the character and station of the people declared them to be needful, but which for want of this have mouldered away in some instances and exploded in others, one after another, through every age of the world? Yet those who would moderately reform abuses in institutions which they heartily value and respect are treated as the worst enemies of those institutions.
But independently of the danger that clinging to abuses may eventually destroy what is fitting to be retained, and so that legislators should place in jeopardy some of their rights by continuing to claim their wrongs, it is well for them to remember that should they have numerous families there can be no certainty of the younger branches not being obliged in a generation or two to mix with the commonalty; may one not then honestly appeal to the feelings of such, as not knowing what reverses may befall some of their successors, or what company they may be thrown among? These might naturally be supposed to feel that the slightest chance of their mingling with bad characters