Page images
PDF
EPUB

nearly the same as heretofore, namely, one dollar annually for each healthy man, half a dollar for a woman, one fourth of a dollar for a boy over fourteen years of age, and one eighth of a dollar for a girl of the same age. This tax may be paid in money or in any available property, at the market price. It is to be doubled if not paid within three months from the time specified. Sec. 2d regulates the rent of lands. A farm of the largest is to pay ten dollars annually. A farm of the second class is to pay seven dollars and a half, and one of the smallest class, five dollars. This rent is expected to be paid principally in live hogs at three cents per pound, but may be paid in any available property. The non-payment of rent is punishable by the forfeiture of the farm. Sec. 3d removes most of the former prohibitions on the fisheries, particularly those within the coral reefs which line the shores. In the shallow water within those reefs, some of the prohibitions remain. This section also restores to the proper persons all remnants of farms, and all privileges connected with them, which have been taken away during former years. Sec. 4th defines the fishing-grounds and the species of fish on which restrictions still remain. These restrictions are, to a considerable extent, of the protective kind, and are as important for the fishermen as for the chiefs, inasmuch as there are several kinds of fish which would not flourish, and perhaps would be driven from the shores by an irregular and unlimited manner of fishing. There are also several kinds of fish which are pretty uniformly found in large shoals, and could not be taken extensively except by large companies of fishermen. The law regulates the manner of taking and dividing such fish. Sec. 5th specifies the amount of labor which the king and landholders are permitted to require of the people. The king may require three days per month, and the landhold

ers three days more. Should more than this be required of any individual, on giving evidence thereof, he is to be freed from labor for the king or landholder requiring it, for the ensuing six months. Sickness, and attendance on sick relatives, are to be taken in excuse for nonattendance on the laboring days. Absence without excuse is punishable by a fine of half a dollar. If previous notice of absence is given, one fourth of a dollar shall be accepted for a day's labor. But any and every individual may be freed from all labor for the chiefs by paying nine dollars annually; and, if not a landholder, by paying four and a half dollars annually. Sec. 6th is somewhat miscellaneous. It secures to the landholders the permanent possession of their lands, while they continue to pay the rent. It prescribes the conditions on which men may leave their lands, namely, by putting them in as good condition as when they found them. It takes from all landlords the power of taxing their tenants, except for labor, as mentioned in section 5th. It offers land to all persons who desire but do not now possess it, and all persons who take new lands are freed from the payment of rent, and also from labor for the chiefs during the first three years. All parents having four children living with them, are freed from all labor for the chiefs, and all parents having five or more children living with them, are freed not only from labor but from all taxations whatsoever. Sections 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th, contain little else but explanations and advice, or requirements without penalties. The various officers are required to read the laws publicly on the working days. They are also forbidden to take the men to a distance to perform labor. They are forbidden to encourage idle persons about them, are advised to cultivate cotton, and are ordered to cease every requirement of the people not specified by law. Females are advised to attend to their business in the house, teach their children, or send them to school, etc. The parents are also advised to contribute to the support of teachers for their children.

Sec. 11th forbids the governors to enact new laws without the consent of the government generally. The first breach of these laws, whether by governors or under officers, is to be punished by the forfeiture of one third of the lands owned by the officer; second breach, two thirds; third breach, the whole. Any person proposing any new item of policy for the nation, which shall be approved by the government, shall thereby be entitled to a seat in the councils of the chiefs, and also to a tenth part of government property on the lands possessed by him. Every new and valuable invention, and every new kind of valuable labor is to be rewarded by freeing the individual from all taxation, and he is also to receive a present of ten dollars, and some other special privileges are allowed. Sec. 12th regulates the descent of property. All personal estate descends to heirs. Land also descends to heirs when held in small portions. But those individuals who possess three or more divisions of land can bequeath only two thirds to heirs, and the other third reverts to the king. Sec. 13th directs that all those lands which are artificially irrigated, shall be allowed a division of water proportioned according to the taxation. The first of the eight minor divisions provides, that the taxes and rent for the first year after these laws go into execution, shall be only half the amount specified in the first section. The second division repeats some part of section first, and mentions that these laws are to continue in force until repealed. The third division advises the chiefs to study well the duties of their office, and use their utmost endeavors to introduce a new state of things. The fourth division presents similar advice to the land agents and under officers. The fifth division refers to the new officers, whose duty it is to see that these laws are carried into effect, and decide cases in which they are broken. They are also to assist the land agents, and are to superintend the taking of the census of the islands. The sixth division allows the owner of each division of lands to select one kind of wood on that portion of the mountain connected with his land, which wood he may claim as private property. It also claims for the government two thirds of all the sandal wood. Whoever cuts it, has one third for himself and delivers the other two thirds to government. All large timber suitable for sawing into boards is also prohibited from being cut, except for sawing into boards and for canoes; and whoever kindles a fire on the mountain, which spreads and does damage, is liable to be put to hard labor for two and a half years. The seventh division states, that the laws shall be put in execution in six months from the time of their promulgation, and provides that the new officers shall receive regular salaries, which shall be agreed upon at the time of their appointment. The eighth division requires an annual meeting of the chiefs in the month of April, to enact laws and transact the business of the kingdom. The above epitome will probably give our readers a better idea of the laws than could be gained from a mere translation, which would also occupy more room than can be spared in this work.

ART. W. – SPECIAL LEGISLATION.

“Man calls himself a rational animal, and thus it is he is governed. To govern a camel, the Arabs put a hook into his nose; to govern a man, you sound a cANT word in his ear: church, liberty, equity, jury: and with this the animal with the two legs is led or drawn as you please.” Bentham's Rationale of Judicial Evidence, iv. 349.

[ocr errors]

Whoever has paid attention to that part of the great political contest of the last ten years, which has been carried on in the State of Massachusetts, will recognise in the phrase at the head of this article, a cant term employed by one of the contending parties, and sounded pretty loudly in the ears of those whom the leaders of that party desired to govern. How many of the animals with the two legs, as Bentham calls those to whom the compliment of a cant phrase is addressed, have been led or drawn as these leaders pleased, it is not our present purpose to inquire. As with cant in general, the cant of “special legislation ” does not of itself afford any very definite notion of what is meant by it, though the purpose for which it was sounded is plain enough. After having been sounded some years, without much if any meaning having been attached to it by any body, it seems at length to have been expanded into the following paragraph of the inaugural address of the late governor Morton, which may probably be considered as an authentic exposition of what is supposed to be meant by “special legislation.”

“A recurrence to our legislative history will show how small a proportion of our labor is given to the public, and how much to individuals. Of the nine hundred acts which were passed in the last four years, seven hundred fall under the denomination of ‘special laws,” while not over two hundred were general laws. And, as might naturally be expected, a still greater proportion of the resolves are of a private nature. There are undoubtedly cases involving private interests, which deserve and should receive the attention and the action of the legislature. But surely it should not be our principal employment to enact “special statutes.” It also appears, that some of the private acts are passed for the purpose of exempting particular cases from the operation of gene

« PreviousContinue »