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educated and simple people that this great experiment in legislation is being tried, but among a people who are our rivals in commerce, equal to us at least in intelligence, wealth and luxury, with all the wants of a high state of civilization, and whose laws to be successful must embrace nearly as wide a field as our own. The boldness of the attempt, and the righteousness of the motives which led to it, should at least command our respect and sympathy. It is possible that the framers of the New York Code may have gone too far, and that difficulties may be experienced in the practical working of their Code which its authors may not have foreseen; when men's minds are strongly excited upon any subject, this is always to be apprehended; and public indignation against the abuses of legal procedure may have led in this case to the sweeping away some of the sound principles of law as well as the errors of practice, and we think that in some parts of this Code the commissioners have scarcely been sufficiently governed by caution or guided by experience. We do not here attempt a critical analysis of this Code, but have aimed simply in this article to lay its leading provisions before our readers. For ourselves we have derived great pleasure from this task, and we rise from it with increased respect for a people who could, with an energy of will characteristic of the American nation, resolve to throw off a system which, though sanctioned by the practice of centuries, they felt to be an evil, and who found agents able to execute with promptitude their wishes. To consolidate law is always beneficial; it is then better administered and better understood ; it conduces to certainty, because the framers of the consolidated law have the whole of their materials at once under their eyes, and therefore can readily make the different parts consistent.
In conclusion, we venture to express a hope, that the example may not be entirely lost upon ourselves, but that it will stimulate our law reformers to raise their minds at once to the contemplation of a radical and efficient reform, for they now have before them a proof that it is possible to sweep away all preexisting laws without rushing into chaos; and further, that by going to work in a right spirit-by studying authorities simply for the sound principles to be found in them, it is possible for educated men and “experts," with a knowledge of the wants of the age in which they live and unencumbered by any check, to create a system which shall answer well in practice, which shall afford redress for all civil wrongs, and power to enforce all civil rights, and yet be cheap, simple, just,and intelligible: and we avow our opinion, that our own law is too mathematically correct to work well in every day practice; that it is not necessary that the rules of law, when they are beside the merits, should be rigidly adhered to; that it is necessary in law to have some elasticity to meet ever-varying circumstances; and that, in a country like this, with a free press ever ready to seize upon and chastise any violation of judicial rectitude, no danger can be incurred by allowing power to the judges to amend in all cases where the strict letter of the law would manifestly work injustice.
ART. II.- THE OFFICE OF WOODS AND FORESTS,
LAND REVENUE, WORKS AND BUILDINGS.
HE “Woods and Forests” is perhaps the best abused office
in the Government. The Foreign Office may sometimes be exposed to more slashing charges; rendered more serious too, by the very different importance of its relations. But such charges are generally grounded on mistaken policy or stupidity, or at worst, partisanship, not upon nepotism or dishonesty. A Colonial Secretary sometimes excites a passing yet loudly expressed indignation by his petulance: but in this case as in the last there is always a large and powerful, sometimes the larger and more powerful, party bound by honour and inclination to support the ministers. Poor Law Commisioners are every now and then dragged blinking into unaccustomed light, when some pauper has been starved through the hard-heartedness or avarice of a relieving officer : but for a good, enduring cause of grumbling there is nothing like the Woods and Forests. Stupidity of intention, carelessness and petulance in transacting business, ignorance and wastefulness, gross frauds, or, in the words of an ExChancellor, negligence so crass as to amount to fraud-every description of charge is laid against the unfortunate “Woods, who have not equally with other branches of the Government the advantage of a disciplined phalanx to support them. Nor can it be said that these difficulties are altogether undeserved. No terms can be too decided to describe the transactions which were brought to light before the celebrated Committee appointed in 1786. Frauds and mismanagement of various descriptions have been exposed on various occasions by the committees of inquiry which have since then been from time to time appointed --and the last of such Committees, when preparing their Report, expressly negatived and rejected out of the draft Report the proposition that “the evidence before the Committee justified the belief that whether acting under the express and unqualified injunctions of parliament, or in the unfettered exercise of their own discretion, the duties of the Commissioners had been conscientiously and judiciously performed.”—(Parl. Papers, 1849. XX. Reports from Committees.)
Yet we question whether all the obloquy which has attached itself to the management of this office during so many years has, at least during the present century, been deserved. Frauds there undoubtedly have been ; but frauds also are perpetrated in every branch of the administration--and frauds are constantly perpetrated by servants under the very eye of the master. We question much whether if property of the same extent and description belonged to one individual, or to half a dozen, frauds as extensive would not have been practised. The forest lands of the Crown extends over 150,000 acres, a great part of which has been inclosed and planted since the end of the last century. The master's eye runs quickly over an open farm of 500 or even 1000 cultivated acres; but the care of the greater part of these wild woodland districts is abandoned to thinly-scattered servants, liable only at intervals to supervision and control; and there is no master personally interested in the welfare of the land. Moreover, in many parts there are ancient and modern rights of common, of pasturage and firewood, &c, which interfere with the indubitable rights of the crown and the public, and constitute a strangely incongruous mixture of claims and interests; for the right to and management of the timber resides in the crown, or its officers. The proprietor of the underwood must wish to prevent the growth of the timber, by which his crop is diminished; and all claiming as grantees of the herbage, again, will desire to see no wood of any kind : the whole being a perpetual strife of jarring interests, in which no party can improve his own share without injuring that of another.
The system under which the Land Revenues of the Crown were formerly managed, was indeed an outrageous example of
: The New Forest alone still contains 67,000 acres, besides 25,000 which have been inclosed, and over which the crown has forestal rights. But Waltham Forest has now only 12,000 acres out of the 60,000, of which it once consisted. Bilhagh and Birkland, together 1,500 acres, are the only remains of the once noble Sherwood Forest, which included 95,000 acres; while Rockingham, once the most extensive royal forest in the island, is now reduced to 10,500. In many now disafforested lands, rights are reserved to the crown, the charge of which is thrown upon the “ Woods and Forests."
complicated jobbery, created apparently merely to engender and conceal still more. Not to refer to very early times, when the Royal domains were under the immediate management of the monarch, Henry VIII., upon the confiscation of the monastic property, created a special court of management, the Court of Augmentations ;' and shortly afterwards another, the Court of the Surveyors-General of the King's lands. This was however shortly afterwards dissolved and a new Court of Augmentations instituted, which continued till Queen Mary's reign, when it was by letters-patent dissolved, and its authority annexed to the Court of Exchequert - subject as to the Church lands to the authority of this court, but as to other property without any controlling authority. The Land Revenues of the Crown were managed by a great variety of local officers with a sinecurist at the head of each department. The auditors of the land revenue were foremost among these. By an agreement between the Crown and House of Commons on the accession of George III., these revenues became subject to the supervision and control of parliament, and they were thus brought into connexion with certain very extravagant sinecurists, entitled auditors of the imprest, whose offices were abolished in 1785 with a retiring pension of 70001. per annum each-almost as gross a job as the six-clerks' office reform in later days. By the same act, 25 G. III. c. 52 (1785), were constituted five Auditors of Public Accounts, to whom in 1799 were transferred the duties of the Auditors of Land Revenue, whose office was however not finally abolished till 1832. There were besides the Surveyor-General of the Land Revenue of the Crown, the Surveyor-General of His Majesty's Woods, Forests, Parks and Chases,-Wardens, Chief Justices, and Justices in Eyre, north and south of the Trent, the SurveyorGeneral of His Majesty's Works and Public Buildings, all exercising very extensive authority in very nearly the same subjectmatters, yet totally independent of each other; an arrangement so curiously infelicitous as to excite mutual jealousy without the security of any mutual check; and increasing tenfold the delays and expense inevitable on such a multifarious management, without any probability of increasing the vigilance or even ensuring the honesty of the officers. The two first of the above offices were, however, amalgamated by the 50 G. III. c. 65 (1810), under the title of His Majesty's Commissioners of Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues. The offices of Wardens, Justices in Eyre,
1 27 Hen. VIII. c. 27.
? 33 Hen. VIII. c. 39. 3 Letters-Patent, 38 Hen. VIII.
· Letters-Patent, 2 Ph. & M.; 1 Ph. & M. sess. 2, c. 10, and see the preamble 1 Eliz. c. 4, s. 15.
&c., were by the 57 G. III. c. 61, abolished, and their duties, which beyond the receipt of very considerable salaries had become merely nominal, devolved on the Commissioners under the last mentioned act, which repealed the whole of the previous statutes on the subject, continuing and re-enacting all their useful provisions, so that that act, and the statute 2 Will. IV. c. 1 (1832), contain the whole of the present law on the subject. The act of William IV. united the office of the Surveyor-General of Works and Buildings with the office of the Woods and Forests, three Commissioners being appointed with the present title of “ The Commissioners of Her Majesty's Woods, Forests, Land Revenues, Works, and Public Buildings.
By these acts the whole of the management of all the royal domains is vested in these three Commissioners, who are, however, strictly bound to follow in every respect the instructions of the Treasury. Annual reports are laid before Parliament (instead of triennial as required by the act of 1794)—full and detailed estimates are laid before the Treasury at the commencement of each year, nor is it apparently possible to place the management more wholly under the control and within the knowledge of Parliament than by the present system. There is in fact, a triple check—the principles of management are pre scribed by Parliament--the application of those principles is sanctioned by the Treasury-and the expenditure of the money is subject to the examination of Auditors—besides the very efficient check of the annual accounts above described.1
The immense proportion which the expenditure in the Woods and Forests bears to the receipts when compared with the expenditure and receipts of private property is often very triumphantly but very fallaciously dwelt upon. Thus, in the return for
. last year, 1849, the receipts are stated at 414,1791., and the expenditure at 246,5901. Private estates, even when of very great extent, being subdivided into farms, enjoy the advantage of having at the head of each farm an unpaid commissioner personally interested in the highest degree in the productiveness of the land. This is both cheap and effective: but, even in these cases, the total expenditure in labour, manure, and stock, bears a very high ratio to the gross receipts. Labour alone, in high class farms, often ranges from 21. to 41. per acre. such plan is capable of being put in practice with the crown lands. If they are to be retained as nurseries for our navy, according to the recommendation of every successive committee,
" A. Milne, Esq., examination before the Committee of the House of Commons, 26th July, 1833.