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whether as counsel, or attorney and solicitor,-every student for the bar, and every attorney's clerk-who can afford to expend upon the book the almost nominal sum at which it is, in our opinion, very wisely published. It ought to be at once made a text-book whereon English law is taught at the universities, Inns of Court, and elsewhere. We know, indeed, nothing of the kind to compare with it as a means of testing, by examination, the actual progress of a student in legal knowledge. It will suggest questions very different from those which are mere echoes of ordinary law-books. Here let us mention that Lord St Leonards has judiciously abstained from citing a single authority or law-case.* It would have been perfectly idle to do so, he himself states, for the general reader, whose eye would be only uselessly irritated by incessant references from the body of the text to the bottom of the page. All, therefore both lawyers and laymenmust be content to rely on the mere statements of so great an authority, -so celebrated for his rigorous accuracy of what the law is. Young lawyers, however, we strongly recommend to have their copies interleaved, and then hunt out, and note down, the leading authorities for themselves-than which there cannot be a more profitable expenditure of time and labour. The very scheme of the Handy Book suggested the necessity of elementary instruction; inasmuch as Lord St Leonards professedly aims at lay readers, who, without such instruction, could not comprehend or appreciate the scope of the work. That elementary instruction the law student also will find of the highest value, especially in respect of those great statutory changes in the law of property effected during the last few years-often by the noble author himself and which are here explained briefly, and with lucid accuracy.

It is, however, the lay reader whom we are most anxious to make aware

of the importance of a familiarity with this great little volume; and for that purpose shall proceed to indicate its scope and character, as distinctly and fully as is consistent with our space.

And first of all, every member of the Legislature of both Houses of Parliament-will find his account in a careful perusal of the Handy Book, and that beyond the guidance which it will afford each in the management of his own property. How frequently alterations in the law affecting that property are attempted, and from time to time effected the scope of which is but inadequately apprehended - must be obvious to every lay member of the Legislature; and yet these alterations are usually of as great, as permanent, importance. Here he may see, in half or a quarter of a page's space, the pith and marrow of bulky blue-books, the very sight of which is discouraging, as a fair acquaintance with their contents is expected, by the country, of its hereditary and representative legislators. Take as an instance the subject of a General Registration of Title, with reference to the Sale and Transfer of Land. During the last session (1857) a Blue Book appeared on this subject, extending to 457 closely-printed folio pages, consisting of the Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into that intricate question, together with the Evidence on which the report is founded. In the eighth Letter of the Handy Book will be seen, compressed into three pages, the opinion of Lord St Leonards, who says, "I have often directed my attention to the expediency of a general registry; and my settled conviction is, that it would not be advisable." What member of either House would not wish to become acquainted with the reasons assigned by so eminent an authority, with a terseness equalled only by the force and plainness with which those reasons are conveyed? Here, also, will be seen his account of

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It is, however, otherwise with the titles of the leading Acts of Parliament to which he refers, and on which he comments often very elaborately, though not at length.

+ Handy Book, p. 54.

+ Ibid., p. 55.

substitute for it. This he embodied in a bill, read a second time in the House of Lords during the last session; and one of the essential features of it-that for rendering vendors, their solicitors and agents, criminally responsible for concealing inheritances or falsifying pedigrees* has been discreetly appropriated by the Lord Chancellor, in an analogous bill just introduced by himself.

The other instance occurs to us in the case of the relief of honest trustees from such rules of equity as at present press too heavily on them, especially since the Fraudulent Trustee Act of the last session. We learn from the Handy Book + that Lord St Leonards endeavoured to deal with this matter during the last session, by a bill which passed the House of Lords, and was postponed in the House of Commons only at the end of the session. The general scope of the measure will be found explained in the twenty-second Letter. Though more might be said upon this subject, thus much must suffice for the value of this book to laymen, in their Parliamentary capacities. To them, in such capacity, nothing else extant will supply the place of this book. We have now, however, to deal with them also in their private capacities. Every one of them is, or ought to be, possessed of property, in one shape or other, to the extent of at least £300 a-year at least every honourable member of the Lower House, with one or two exceptions, is estopped from denying such to be his own fortunate case! Almost every member of the upper classes, almost every member of the middle classes, and very large sections of those who are somewhat cavalierly called the lower classes, are almost from necessity either possessed of, or interested in, property: for which of them that has a house over his head, is not a LESSEE, or a LESSOR, unless, as the Irishman said, he is his own tenant? It is often said of another sort of contract, marry in haste and repent at leisure :" and how often may it not also be said, take, or become a tenant in a hurry, and re

* Handy Book, p. 56, note.

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pent at leisure? and enjoy for that purpose a seven, if not a fourteen or twenty-one years' pleasing interval, and with quarterly mementoes of the relationship between them? How many of these reciprocally hating parties would not give more than a trifle never to have seen or heard of each other, or the mansion, house, warehouse, coach-house, stable, cottage, land of every description, which now form the bond of delectable union? Let every person contemplating this relation, take the trouble of first reading carefully "the few instructions and cautions as to leases," which will be found in Letter XV., extending to little more than six pages; while the next, of not four pages, explains, as clearly as daylight, the provisions of the recent important Act," to facilitate leases and sales of settled estates;" superseding the necessity of costly Parliamentary interposition on such occasions, and which ought, says Lord St Leonards,

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to be known by every owner of a settled estate in the kingdom." § In these Letters good advice is offered to each party, as usual with this unique common friend.

Perhaps our lessee, though of but a cottage, and that a very small one, would be pleased by hearing that he may also become, himself, an owner of property that


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there is a mode in which a man may acquire real property without paying for it, or receiving it as a gift, or receiving it by descent. This, at first sight," says the welcome informant, may appear singular to you." But is it not also equally interesting? No encouragement, however, is here held out to "poor, and ignorant, and sometimes crafty persons - the latter generally supporting the former, where they think they can work upon the credulity of mankind." What, then, it may be asked, would our Mentor be at?

He is pointing, in Letter XXIII., to rights acquired by ADVERSE POSSESSION, which signifies, as here excellently defined, "a possession, by a person not being the

19 & 20 Vict., c. 120. Note.-It extends to Ireland. § Handy Book, p. 105.

+ Letter XXI., p. 163.

II Ibid., p. 177.

owner, during a certain number of years, without acknowledgment of the right by the real owner, and yet not necessarily in open defiance of him." What shall be said of the disinterested sagacity which shows one party how he has acquired possession of another man's property by these means; and the other party, how he ought to have acted, and may act in future, in order to prevent such furtive acquisition? As the author writes for the million, he does not use Latin; but the initiated see a certain maxim of "vigilantibus, non dormientibus jura subvenient" running through much of this chapter; and we advise all whom it may concern to ponder a passage in it, which intimates that the provisions of certain specified recent statutes "place landed proprietors in danger of rapidly losing portions of their property, particularly where they have allowed friends or dependents to occupy parts of it without payment of any rent. In many cases it will be found that the statute has transferred the fee-simple to the occupier!" As Letter XXIII. is occupied with adverse possession of the estate itself, so is the brief ensuing one, Letter XXIV., with statutory limitation put upon proceedings to recover CHARGES on the estate, by mortgage, judgment, lien, or other wise; while the last Letter (XXV.) resumes the subject of rights acquired by possession. Here the author first shows how no man can, by adverse possession, be deprived of his Church patronage, if he exercise but ordinary vigilance; and then proceeds to unfold, with equal brevity and clearness, the mode in which rights of COMMON, and rights to LIGHT, WATER, WAYS, and other easements may be gained, or lost. Thus much for the acquisition, albeit stealthily, of rights by simple possession, to the property itself, of indolent or thoughtless owners, or of easements over that property.

Fifteen Letters are devoted to the extensive and complicated subjects of sales, mortgages, settlements, leases, and wills; five to the respective relations and characters, with

* 3 & 4 Will. IV., c. 27.

reference to property, of husband and wife, parent and child, and trustees. Before, however, entering on this great field of inquiry, the reader's attention should be directed to the Tenth Letter, which, with great deference to Lord St Leonards, we think might perhaps have formed the Second,-being of a preliminary nature,-consisting of "a slight popular sketch-just a notion-of the various ordinary interests which you have acquired, or may acquire, in real property."+ Starting furnished with slender but sterling information on this subject, let us come to the Eighth, which deals with the SALE AND PURCHASE of real property in all its modifications; and into the space of sixty pages, this great artist has contrived to condense, in language so luminous that he who runs may read, the essence of that great treatise on Vendors and Purchasers, which has been the household book of every lawyer, judicial and professional, for the last half-century. In our last February number we gave a popular account of this vast storehouse of property law; and we hesitate not to say that these sixty pages would be cheaply purchased by sixty times the trifling price at which the whole of the Handy Book has been offered to the public. Here are explained, in few and weighty words, the law regulating the conduct of private and public sales of every kind; the minutely ramified rights and duties of buyer and seller, and their respective agents and representatives, and that in point of honour and honesty, as well as at law and in equity; the contingencies which every prudent person should contemplate and provide against, and the information he should ask for on the one hand, and on the other has a right to withhold, or is, or is not, bound to volunteer. The suggestions offered under these heads are invaluable; but all we can do here is to offer one or two specimens of them, premising that the first of these eight Letters exhibits a masterly outline of the existing distinctions be tween law and equity, as administered in this country with reference to property; and the nature of that

+ Handy Book, p. 63.

fusion of the two which has of late found some favour in this country. The leading principles which govern courts of equity in dealing with such matters, are sketched, it may surely be said, authoritatively, being by one who has, in the marble chair, adjudicated according to them in questions involving millions sterling.

After telling a seller "what truths he must disclose," the buyer may start on hearing the aforesaid seller told "what falsehoods he may utter in regard to his estates." * This seems pretty well in its way, but we must not imagine our great lawyer to be not also a strict moralist.t For in the ensuing Letter he there addresses the buyer: "When you know how far an unprincipled seller may, with safety, go, you can guard against fraud by not trusting to misrepresentations which are made without fear of retribution," which alters the aspect of the whole case, and simply sets a buyer on his guard against those reckless exaggerations and misstatements which, if so disposed, an unprincipled seller may make with impunity, as far as relates to earthly tribunals.

How many vexatious law-suits and losses might have been avoided by attending to what follows, any reader may judge for himself, or ask the first lawyer of any experience that he meets with.

"You will find it necessary to make a contract with your auctioneer, in order to avoid heavy charges. And you should stipulate that no custom of the trade is to authorise any charge not provided for by your contract. You should provide for both cases-viz. the sale and the nonsale of the property. If you employ more agents than one, you should expressly stipulate with each of them, that the commission shall be paid to the agent only of whom the purchase is made, or you may have also to pay large commissions to the other agents for what is termed finding a purchaser. You should carefully read the card or paper with which they usually supply persons ap


Handy Book, p. 17.

plying to them; for in some instances the card or paper expressly states that the agent is to be paid his commission although the sale should not be conducted by him, if it is effected through any information afforded by him,' and dealwould, I fear, bind you to his terms. It ing with the agent after such a notice is not prudent to answer the inquiry, by an agent whom you have not employed, whether your property is to be let or sold; for an incautious answer might justify him in placing your property on his books, and making you, in the result, liable for some compensation to him, although you really employ and pay another man." §

Here is a valuable caution to persons about to insure against fire, accompanied by a taste of personal experience on the part of the astute ex-Chancellor :

"A word of advice about your Fire Insurance. Very few policies against fire are so framed as to render the com

pany legally liable. Generally the property is inaccurately described with re

ference to the conditions under which you insure. They are framed by the company, who probably are not unwilling to have a legal defence against any claim, as they intend to pay what they deem a just claim, without taking advanmake use of their defence only against tage of any technical objection, and to

what they may believe to be a fraud,

although they may not be able to prove

it. But do not rely upon the moral feelings of the directors. Ascertain that your house falls strictly within the conditions. Even having the surveyor of the company to look over your house before the insurance, will not save you, unless your policy is correct. To illustrate this, I will tell you what happened to myself. I have two houses in different parts of the country, both of which open from a drawing-room by a glass-door into a conservatory. The one I had insured, for a good many years, from the time I built it; the other I had insured, for a few years, from the time I bought it, in the same office, when a partial fire broke out in the latter house, and I was then told by the office-a highly respectable one that my policy was void, as the

At p. 32 we have a pretty clear indication of the stern morality of our legal teacher. "If after employing a man to bid, you should be so dishonest" [the italics are in the text] as to deny the authority (in seeking instruction you must not quarrel with your master's mode of conveying it !)" &c.

+ P. 24.

§ P. 24.

opening to the conservatory rendered it hazardous, and if so, of course both policies had been void from their commencement. I was prepared to try the question; and ultimately the objection was withdrawn, and my loss was paid for. Upon renewing my policy, with some alterations, I actually had some difficulty with the clerk of the company to induce, or rather to force him, to add to the description the fact, that the drawing-rooms opened through glass-doors into conservatories! In treating, at a later period, for a policy with another company, I required them to send their surveyor to look at the house; and the stoves and

everything to which objection could be taken, were shown to him. The company then prepared the policy, and made it subject to the report made to them by their surveyor, referring to it by date. This report I never saw, and the objectionable stoves, &c., were not noticed.

Of course I had the reference to the report struck out, and the policy made correct, but not without some personal

trouble. I state these circumstances, to show you how careful you should be. I advise you to look at once at your existing policy. If you have added an Arnot's stove, or made any other important change in your mode of heating your house, since your policy, or you had at the time of your policy any peculiar stove, &c. not noticed in the policy, you should call upon the company to admit the validity of your policy, by an endorsement on it."

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Many a buyer and many a seller may perhaps feel special interest in the following significant paragraph, and catch a crumb of comfort from the promise half held out by Lord St Leonards.

"One great complaint at the present day, is the necessity of carrying back abstracts of title for sixty years. This period I hope to persuade the Legislature to shorten. But still the want of confidence is frequently, nay, constantly, the cause of the expense upon every occasion of examining a long and complicated title for if I bought an estate ten years ago, which I am now offering for sale, and then had the title sifted by competent counsel, with the aid of an equally competent solicitor, and have the opinion of the counsel, and the result of the searches to show to the new purchaser, it might be supposed that, upon proof of the title since the purchase, and of my undisturbed

*Handy Book, p. 45.

possession from that period, the title would be deemed satisfactory. But no such thing. Upon every occasion the early title is again submitted to counsel, not more learned, with the aid of solicitors, not more competent, than those before employed; and this causes that repetition of expense of which both sellers and purchasers so much complain, but which really is not necessary in the great majority of cases, if men would but place reasonable confidence in those who advised the seller (always presuming them to be competent persons) upon his purchase."+

And here we take leave of our reader, in his or her capacity as buyer or seller, in order to regard them for a moment in a different relation--that between Borrower and Lender. This, the Fourteenth, is the longest of the Letters, and relates to a subject of commensurate importance and difficulty-that of MORTGAGES. The rights and duties of each party to their contract are sketched with our author's characteristic pregnant brevity. Here follows a practical hint, backed by an anecdote worth remembering

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"Pay the money yourself to the mortgagee, and see the deed executed. Do not pay the money to the person bringing the deed, although executed and the receipt signed, unless by the written authority of the borrower; for the mere possession of the deed by the solicitor or agent will give him no authority to receive the money. It is not safe in all cases to rely on mortgages apparently duly executed, and brought to you by the regular man of business of the borrower, to whom it has been delivered by your solicitor to get it executed by his client the borrower. Unhappily, I have known more instances than one of forged mortgages having been delivered to an unsuspecting lender. In one case, the lender and his solicitors were assembled, waiting for the mortgage deed, which was to be brought duly executed by the solicitor of the supposed borrower, who was confined to his bed by illness; and at length tired with waiting, a messenger was just being despatched to the supposed borrower's house, when the solici tor, who had evidently been delayed in concocting the forged deed and its attes tations, arrived with the deed executed and attested, and received the money. He escaped detection at the moment, but

+ Ibid., p. 57.

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