Images de page

saisie, and obliging them to recommence a new suit against the new holder. The principle of the ordinance was much approved, but as some of its details required explanation, a committee was named, composed of the Attorney-General, Messrs. Carré and Le Retilley, Jurats, and Advocate

MacCulloch, who will report. With reference to the first ordinance, which proposes to alter the existing mode of procedure in cases of saisie, it must be universally acknowledged that the present system is extremely defective; but we apprehend that very little practical good will result, if the only alteration introduced be the exaction of ten per cent. from the party who declares himself tenant. The change now recommended takes but a one-eyed view of the subject : it favours the strong, at the expense of the weak, and sacrifices the debtor to the creditor.

Before we discuss this question, we shall, for the sake of our English readers, to whom the law relating to real property in Guernsey is unknown, briefly explain what is meant by a " saisie.Suppose that A possesses a house or lands, and being in want of money, raises a loan from B, say of one hundred pounds. B registers this claim against the estate of A, by placing it on the books of the Record or Greffe Office, where a regular debtor and creditor account is kept against every estate in the bailiwick. Again, suppose A to borrow further sums at different dates from C, D, and E, all of which are registered in the same manner as the demand of B. If A becomes insolvent, any of his creditors can enter against him the legal process of “ saisie,” the result of which is that he must either pay the demand of the suing creditor, or abandon his property. This process always occupies some months; but when it is complete, the registered creditors are called upon, each in turn, in a retrograde order, to take the estate of the bankrupt, and pay all prior incumbrances, or renounce. Thus : in the case we have supposed, E, being last registered, is first called upon to accept one of two alternatives : either to give up his claim, or take the estate, subject to the payment of the debts due by the insolvent to D, C, and B. If he abandons, then the same offer is made to D, on the same conditions ; if he follows the example of E, then C is called upon: and should he also decline, then B becomes possessed of the estate in satisfaction of his debt. As the law now exists, E, after the renunciation of the insolvent, can declare himself proprietor, and still not pay the prior mortgagees, who are thus compelled to enter a fresh process of saisie, and thus it is possible that B might have to carry on four law-suits before he could realize his claim. That this is a hardship, no man can doubt; and it is proposed to remedy it by this ordinance, which, in the case assumed, would compel E, on declaring himself proprietor, to pay down ten per cent. on the registered claims of D, C, and B. Surely this is a rich specimen of legislative tinkering! Why ten per cent. should be fixed on in preference to any other sum, it is impossible for us to divine, but we unhesitatingly pronounce this bit-by-bit scheme to be most exquisitely absurd.

It is a common and a just remark, that if it be worth while to do a thing, it is worth while to do it well ; and nothing more strongly denotes both weakness and ignorance than half measures. If the existing law is to be changed for the benefit of the first mortgagee, and it is evidently intended for him, and him alone, it would be far better to compel the last incumbrancer to abandon at once, than tempt him to lose, in addition to his own debt, the further sum of ten per cent. on the amount of the previous claims. Many persons might be induced to pay this instalment for the sake of a chance; but still, when the money was paid, a fresh saisie might be entered. Is it not, then, far better either to allow the law to stand as it is, or else to change the whole system of saisie from beginning to end ?

We recommend the committee appointed to take this proposed ordinance into consideration, to look at the condition of the debtor, for the object of law is to protect the weak against the strong. It is a fact well known, that many masons have been induced to build houses, receiving credit for timber, &c., and before they have had time to let their houses and receive rent, the whole has been stripped from them, for the value of only a small portion of the materials — an indirect species of usury of the most villainous description. We beg the attention of the committee to the practice of the Eng courts of equi on the subject of mortgages, which interpose to prevent the extortion sanctioned by the common law. The words of Blackstone are the following: “Though a mortgage be forfeited, and the estate absolutely vested in the mortgagee at common law, yet they (the courts of equity) will consider the real value of the tenements compared with the sum borrowed. And, if the estate be of greater value than the sum lent thereon, they will allow the mortgagor, at any reasonable time, to recall or redeem his estate,

paying to the mortgagee his principal, interest, and expenses ; for otherwise, in strictness of law, an estate worth a thousand pounds might be forfeited for nonpayment of a hundred pounds, or a less sum.'

It is to this broad principle of even-handed justice that we wish to direct the attention of our legislators. How often have we heard persons congratulating their friends on having made a capital hit by taking a saisie! And these people call themselves Christians, forsooth! aye, and men of honour, and respectability, and character. Alas! for the standard of morals, when the ruin of a fellow-creature is a subject of joy! Alas! for the purity of religion, when instead of loving their neighbours as themselves, mercenary wretches can be found who glory in having amassed their wealth by the iniquitous perversion of the law of saisie! It is a common saying, that fools build houses, and cunning men live in them; and most assuredly no place in the world affords more striking evidence of the truth of the remark than the island of Guernsey.

Assuming, however, that the committee, to whom this ordinance is referred, feel inclined to adopt its provisions, they must decide when it is to come into operation. It would be a flagrant outrage on justice, if it affected any existing interest, or had the least retrospective action. If this danger be not cautiously guarded against, the door will be opened to the most hateful tyranny; for, a precedent once established, laws may be enacted every Chief Pleas just to suit a specific purpose, to forward some personal interest, or injure some particular individual. Nor is this the only evil. There is no power in Guernsey to change the fundamental laws of the bailiwick. The Royal Court may certainly make police regulations, and pass ordinances declaratory and explanatory of the ancient laws, but they cannot shake the established customs, or introduce any purely new system without the sanction of his Majesty in Council. Now, we contend that the provisions of this proposed ordinance are utterly subversive of the ancient tenure of property, as recognized for centuries in this island ; and it does astonish us, that the first law officer of the crown should bring forward a measure which trenches on the prerogative of his Majesty, with whom alone, assisted by the Lords of the Council, the right of introducing new laws exclusively is vested. If the institutions of the bailiwick are to be changed, let the change be broad and fair, and let it be submitted to the sovereign and his advisers, who would, then, establish a judicial commission to report on the whole of our insular system of government on a comprehensive scale. But if the admitted right of the sovereign be violated in this instance, we now solemnly warn our local authorities to beware of the consequences.

2.-A regulation for better securing the privilege the island enjoys of sending

its produce, duty free, into England, which was that the farmer and exporter should appear before the Court, and not, as is now the case, before a Jurat, to pass their certificate. This, as well as the preceding, were the subjects of a discussion which lasted nearly two hours, and it was finally enacted that all certificates for the exportation of grain, the growth of the island, should be preserved, that a duplicate of the same should be sworn to by the exporter in open Court, and not, as might have been formerly the case, at a Jurat's residence. The farmer, however, might still pass his certificate before a

Jurat. 3.--A project proposing to limit to ten years, instead of thirty years, the right

of a creditor to recover on simple contract debts, where no acknowledgments have been given. This regulation to be provisional, only to take place after

the 1st of June, 1836. The third proposition, submitted to the Chief Pleas, was an ordinance to reduce the prescription in cases of claims of a personal nature from thirty years to ten years, and it was adopted provisionally. This is an improvement, so far as it goes; but the period is far too extended. If a man has a claim against another, he ought to sue him without delay, if the debtor refuses, in an amicable form, to acknowledge its validity. After the lapse of ten years, documents may be lost, and witnesses may be dead; and thus every advantage is given to an artful and unprincipled plaintiff. It is not many years agone since the following trick was attempted in this island : we merely omit the names of the parties, because we have forgotten them, or the wrong-doer should be consigned to infamy in our pages. A man met several acquaintances at a public house in the country, and proposed that they all shonld try who could write his name most legibly. Various experiments were made, and this swindler put into his pocket one of the pieces of paper. Many years afterwards, when he thought the frolic was forgotten, he

entered an action against one of his writing associates to pay a promissory note of fifty pounds, the rascal having filled up the upper part of the paper, so as to leave the signature at the bottom. Had all the witnesses died, the cheat would have been successful ; but fortunately the defendant cleared himself. We would suggest that instead of ten years, three years would be sufficient - the time alluwed for arrears of rent; excepting parties who have been out of the island, in respect to whom the law should not take effect before a complete local residence of three full years.

The other regulations were comparatively of little importance, and related to fixing ten pence as the charge for boatmen taking passengers to and from the roads to the pier, and five pence from the vessel, if in the harbour; to appointing Constables and Masters for the harbours of St. Peter's-Port and St. Sampson's; and receiving the reports of the Constables as to the state of the roads.

It may be right to observe, that the Court usually assembles on the Friday previous to the Monday on which the Chief Pleas are always held, to take into consideration the measures that are to be proposed — this meeting is always private; neither the Constables, as the representatives of the parishes, nor the public are admitted.

The following discussion, which took place upon the second regulation, may give an idea of the mode of conducting a discussion at a Chief Plea meeting

The Bailiff, as speaker or president, represented to the Court the vital importance of the inhabitants maintaining the privilege of exporting their produce free into England; and thought that by far the safest plan would be to compel every farmer, or exporter, to appear before the Court to take his affidavit, instead of going before a single Magistrate, as was now the case. The inconvenience could not be great, as the Court frequently assembled three times a week.

Messrs. Mansell, Le Retilley, and H. Dobrée, observed, that to compel every farmer to come before the Court, instead of allowing him to appear before a Magistrate, would be attended with the most serious inconvenience, as the Court does not sit every day, and that the time most convenient for the farmer might not be that for the Court; besides, it was well known that the farmers, by going before a Judge, were exempt by a common practice from paying a shilling fee, which was an object : it would also prove highly injurious to the industrious farmer, more particularly as he came early in town to pass his certificates, in order to save a day's work. Under these circumstances, these gentlemen thought there was no necessity that the Court should be assembled to pass a certificate.

The Bailiff: -- I am ready to abandon my fees; that is not the object, but to ensure greater solemnity to the deed. The trouble or inconvenience to the farmer will not be great by his attending Court. A fraud committed some time back by a countryman, who was aware that one of his neighbours was going to take a certificate, to save him the trouble of going to town, begged as a favour to allow him to mix a small quantity of wheat with his own. The person who took the oath, a well-meaning man, swore that the wheat was Guernsey produce, whilst, in point of fact, the portion which his neighbour had mixed up was foreign, and so bad, that the whole was spoilt, which circumstance led to its detection. In this case the deceiver would not swear, but got another unwittingly to answer his purpose : had the oath been required before the Court, this event would not have taken place.

Mr. Hubert.—The present method is quite as effectual as that proposed, for not only are farmers held to swear that the wheat is of the growth of the island, but also that it is their own produce. The farmer, in that case you allude to, Mr. Bailiff, could not have been deceived, or deceived the Jurat without perjuring himself.

The Bailiff.-The oath taken before the Court affords greater security. It is more public. Many are usually present, some of whom may know something about either the estate or affairs of the person taking the oath.

The Attorney-General.- Fraud must be prevented, and the remedy is an easy one. What do they do in Jersey ? Why, they cause every farmer to swear that the wheat is of his own produce; officers are held to give a list of the grounds cultivated with wheat; the exporter is held to swear of whom he has purchased, who again makes oath that the growth is of his own lands.

Messrs. Hubert, Carré and Dobrée, here remarked, that these measures were precisely similar to those of Guernsey, only that there was no annual account kept of the grounds cultivated with corn.

The Bailiff:-But in the case I have just mentioned, will any one believe such an oath would have been taken before the Court ?

Mr. Gosselin.-But in that case the man swore to what he considered was his neighbour's wheat. I should not have accepted such an oath, which, under the actual practice, the well-meaning man could not have given, as he could not have sworn that the whole contents he intended for exportation was of his own growth.

The second regulation was then adopted.

Such is the mode in which the proceedings are usually conducted : every member of the Court speaks as often as he pleases, and when the discussions are terminated, the Bailiff, as president, collects the votes. A simple majority of the Jurats is sufficient to enact a new regulation or abrogate an old one, the Bailiff having no vote excepting when those of the Jurats happen to be equal, when he then gives his casting vote. Regulations thus passed are then followed as the law of the land, unless they happen to be contrary to the decrees passed by the King in Council, who alone constitutionally possesses a legislative authority.


As we stated in our Prospectus that we would report all important cases that might occur either in the town or country hospitals, we have now to notice a case of amputation, which was performed on the 14th of April, by Mr. Peter Grut, surgeon to the country hospital, in the presence of Doctors O'Brien, Mauger, W. Mansell, and T. Mansell.

The patient was a young woman named Judith Jehan, about twenty-four years of age. About four years and a half agone, she had fractured and dislocated the bones of the ancle of the limb which Mr. Grut removed; but she had recovered from that serious accident, under the unremitting care and attentions of the late Mr. Adolphus Carey, who was at that time surgeon of the country hospital. The immediate cause of amputation was an affection of the knee joint. The operation she underwent is professionally termed the double flap operation; three arteries were secured, the flaps brought together, and the usual dressings, bandages, &c. applied : the whole process was skilfully performed in the space of fifteen to twenty minutes.

There were two peculiarities attending this case, which makes it physiologically interesting, and deserving of record. From the time of the original accident, when the bones of the ancle were dislocated and fractured, up to the very day on which the limb was amputated, the patient had constantly bled from the mouth; but in three days after the operation, this hemorrage totally ceased. During the same period, she had been troubled with a constant irregularity of the secretions, which were in every respect “ vicarious :" however, on the third day after amputation, this also returned to its natural state. We have made inquiries as to the state of the patient's health up to this date, the 26th April, and we are happy to learn that there is no apprehension entertained of a recurrence of these distressing complaints, but a sanguine hope that she will be entirely restored to health.


ON COMBUSTION. BETORE entering further on the subject of com. combustion of charcoal causes the formation of bustion, said Mr. Ollivier, it may perhaps be carbonic acid gas, because this body is the result proper to recapitulate briefy the principal parts of the chemical union of carbon with oxygen; of the last lecture. By such a proceeding, we charcoal is nearly all pure carbon. On the same shall be better prepared for the examination of principle, the combustion of tallow, a substance those facts relative to that process, which have containing hydrogen as well as carbon, will not yet been noticed. It was shewn that when cause water as well as carbonic acid to be bodies are burnt, that they are not destroyed, formed. For hydrogen, by combining with oxy. because combustion merely effects the decom. gen, forms water. In like manner, if sulphur position of the combustible body, and sets its be burned, sulphurous acid will be formed, and several component parts at liberty, in order to if phosphorous be burnt, phosphoric acid will be form new compounds. The component parts of formed. the combustible body combine during combus As I expressed at the commencment of the last tion with the oxygen of the surrounding atmos. lecture my intention of dwelling principally on phere, and new bodies are formed. Thus the facts, it now becomes necessary to demonstrate

practically that they are facts and not specula over water, and exposed to the action of the tions. It must however be observed, at the sun's rays, minute bubbles of air will collect on same time, that it is not possible to give more the upper surface of the leaves, and rising to the than a mere specimen of the means employed in upper part of the jar, will displace the water. arriving at this knowledge. A practical demon The gas thus evolved by the plant will be found stration of all the facts, on which our present to be pure oxygen. In like manner, a sprig of knowledge of combustion is founded, would be, mint, corked up with a small portion of carbonic not only an entire departure from the plan first acid gas, aud placed in the light, will absorb the proposed, but also, during a lecture, wholly im. carbon and render the air again capable of sup. practicable.

porting combustion and animal life. The lecturer then introduced a bell glass over Water, another of the products of combustion, a lighted candle, attached to a small board, and becomes also decomposed in the leaves of living floating on water. The light, after a short time, plants. Hydrogen, the basis of water, is also became extinguished, owing to its having con like carbon, one of the constituents, as well as sumed the oxygen contained in the glass,-or, to the necessary food, of all vegetables. During speak more correctly, owing to the oxygen the decomposition of water, the hydrogen is having entered into combination with the carbon retained for their nutriment, whilst the oxygen and hydrogen of the candle, and there being is evolved to renovate the atmosphere. The none left to enter into any further combination. wisdom, the simplicity, and the beneficence of The air in the bell glass which had served for these arrangements are so striking, that they the combustion of the candle, was then passed cannot fail, when contemplated, of exciting adby means of a bent tube attached to the top miration in every reflecting mind. “Surely," through lime water, which it rendered turbid. says Mr. Parkes, " nothing short of consummate This is caused by the carbonic acid, formed by wisdom could have conceived any thing half so the union of the carbon of the candle, with the beautiful in design, or extensively and superlaoxygen of the air, combining with the lime held tively useful in effect. When we recollect the in solution by the water, and forming carbonate immense quantities of oxygen which must be of lime. The insolubility of this last body in consumed daily by combustion and respiration; water, is the cause of its becoming turbid. A and that, notwithstanding, the atmosphere alfew drops of muriatic acid caused the water ways contains the same proportion of this vital again to become clear. For the muriatic acid principle, we can attribute the renovation to decomposes the carbonate of lime, by combining nothing but design, and perceive in it a proof with the lime, and expelling the carbonic acid, that the laws of nature must be referred, not to from its superior affinity for lime. By this de blind chance, but to unerring intelligence comcomposition and recomposition, muriate of lime bined with infinite goodness." Is formed, which being soluble in water, causes Shortly after the discovery of the composition the clearness of the water to be restored. The of the atmosphere, and the mode of supply and muriatic acid was added in order to show that regeneration of its vital part, Sir John Pringle, the lime water became turbid, owing to the the president of the royal society, in presenting cornbination of the carbonic acid with lime. the discoverer, Dr. Priestley, with a gold medal, The lecturer then burnt charcoal in oxygen gas, addressed him in an elegant speech, from which and proved by the application of the same tests, the following is an extract :-“ From these disthat carbonic acid had also been formed.

coveries, we are assured that no vegetable The consequent deterioration of the atmos. grows in vain; but that, from the oak of the phere, not only by combustion, but also by forest, to the grass of the field, every individual respiration, for every living being consumes plant is serviceable to mankind. In this the oxygen and gives out carbonic acid, might lead fragrant rose and deadly nightshade co-operate : to the supposition that the oxygen of the air is nor is the herbage nor the woods, that flourish continually decreasing and the carbonic acid in the most remote and unpeopled regions, increasing: and if so that it must eventually unprofitable to us, nor we to them, considering become so vitiated, as to be unfit for the support how constantly the winds convey to them our of combustion, and the sustenance of life. This, vitiated air, for our relief and their nourishment. in fact, must have been the inevitable conse And if ever these salutary gales rise to storms quence, it means had not been appointed for the and hurricanes, let us still trace and revere the restoration of its oxygen, and the withdrawal of ways of a beneficent Being, who, not fortuitously the carbonic acid. This important operation is but by design, not in wrath but in mercy, thus effected by the vegetable kingdom. The leaves shakes the water and the air together, to bury. of living plants are, as it were, so many labora. in the deep those pestilential and putrid efluvia tories in which the air undergoes purification, which the vegetables on the face of the earth and is rendered fit for the performance of its had been insufticient to consume." important functions. It is a remarkable eircum The examination of these phenomena unfolds stance in the economy of nature, that although to our view, some of the most interesting subjects carbonic acid gas is highly injurious to animal of contemplation which can occupy the mind of life, yet it is as essential to vegetable life as man. We thus see that nothing is lost. The oxygen gas to animal. The elementary sub decomposition of one thing is only a preparation stance called carbon, the basis of carbonic acid, for the being, the bloom, and beauty of another. enters into the composition of all vegetable Man can destroy nothing. Here it may be also substances. It is the necessary food of plants. remarked, that provision has been made even for By means of their respiratory organs, they seize the restoration of the fallen leaves of vegetables, the carbonic acid which comes within their which rot upon the ground, and, to a careless reach, in order to effect its decomposition. They observer, would appear to be lost for ever.appropriate the carbon to themselves, and throw Berthollet has shown by experiment, that when. off the oxygen, to renovate the atmosphere. ever the soil becomes charged with such matter, Thus, what is noxious to man, is rendered the oxygen of the atmosphere combines with it, beneficial to vegetables; and the oxygen which and converts it into carbonic acid gas. The vegetables are not in want of, is separated by consequence of this is, that this same carbon, in them in its utmost purity for the use of man. process of time, is absorbed by a new race of What the animal evolves and rejects as super vegetables, which it clothes with a new foliage fluous and excrementitious, the plants receive and which is itself destined to undergo simple as nutritious and vital; and what the plants putrefaction and renovation to the end of time. reject, is vital and indispensable to the animal. There are other supporters of combustion be. This was first proved experimentally by Dr. sides oxygen : it is not therefore essentially Priestley. If a living plant or shrub be placed necessary to that process. The other supporters in a glass jar, filled with water, and inverted of combustion are chlorine, iodine, and bromine.

« PrécédentContinuer »