« PreviousContinue »
clined, and exhibit marks of disturbance in every form of fracture and irregular position. Those of the second series, on the contrary, (the newer red sandstone, lias and colite,) are either perfectly level or inclined imperceptibly to the horizon: they seldom show traces of internal derangement, and they rest transversely on the truncated edges of the strata of the former series. That the inclined strata were formed originally in a nearly horizontal position is highly probable; for the order of their superposition is very regular. But the convulsions to which they owe their present fractures, curvature and elevation, must have been long subsequent to their formation; for all the members of the series are affected in the same manner.
As these disturbances very rarely extend to the over-lying beds, the lapse of a considerable interval of time between the deposition of the two series is clearly indicated. In consequence of the total want of conformity between these, and the occasional absence of some of the overlying formations, any member of one series may in this district be in contact with any member of the other.
We regret that we cannot present to such of our readers as may not be familiar with the first principles of geology an intelligible analysis of this admirable memoir without extending the present Article to an unreasonable length. But even those who have never before directed their attention to this subject will readily perceive the advantages derivable from the knowledge of the superposition of a succession of formations once ascertained to be constant and regular. In the eastern part of England, where few formations, reckoning from the new red sandstone upwards, are ever wanting, costly trials have been often made to obtain coal; and in some instances the operations have commenced in very recent deposits. In the present state of geological science such futile attempts will scarcely be repeated. In the west of England trials have been frequently made to reach coal by shafts sunk through strata now known invariably to occupy an inferior position to the coal measures when both are present. Wherever, in the map to which we have alluded, we find greywacke, transition limestone, mountain limestone, or old red sandstone, depicted as the superficial rock, it would be clearly absurd to sink for coal. As the coal measures are divisible into groups strata, preserving among themselves a regular order of succession, and distinguishable by mineralogical character and organic remains, an attention to these points may often assist the judgment when the propriety of enlarging operations in mines already worked with profit is to be decided on. An extensive comparison moreover of the relations of the two series of formations enables the geologist to form an opinion of the probability of obtaining
estate, I give and dispose (without saying “ of the same") as follows; again, where the charge of debts or legacies is not upon the devisee personally, or upon the land in his hands : in these, and similar cases, the devisee has been held to take for life only.'
He then adds or alludes to various other cases, in which, for different reasons of strong intention, a fee has been held to pass, though words of inheritance were wanting. Constructive estates tail in wills also fall under his consideration. The entire class of these cases evinces, according to him, the systematic disposition of judges, in modern times, to evade technical rules in favour of a testator's intention. · "As they were not prepared, however,' says the author, 'to go the full length of holding, in cases of implied fees-simple, that the gift of the land was a gift of all the testator's property in it, they have effected their object by distinctions so numerous and so complicated, as to render their decisions of doubtful benefit. The refinements on testamentary estates tail by implication, which have converted a settled formula (namely that by which an estate tail is created by deed) into a series of individual cases, obscurely shading down from a fee-simple to a feetail, and often terminating in a mere estate for life, with remainder to the issue by purchase, amply demonstrate, that rules of law, where they work injustice, should be repealed, not evaded.' • The author next treats of Powers, and of appointments under powers, by means of which a greater interest may be conferred than the alienor himself possesses. After a brief, but lucid exposition of the law on these important subjects, he concludes with a description of the mode in which courts of Equity have thought themselves called on to interfere, in aid of informal or defective, and in avoidance of what are technically termed, illusory, appointments. These he has succeeded in rendering plain to the comprehension of the most unlearned reader; and his exposition is better calculated to expose the radical absurdity of a distinct equitable jurisdiction, than any other text which could be selected for a similar purpose.
We must leave it, however, and pass to the next head of discussion--lhat which treats of involuntary alienation, or the rights of creditors, a subject which the author has subdivided into the liabilities of the living debtor, and those which affect his property or assets, as they are called, when dead. The origin and character of the distinction between legal and equitable assets is curious, as affording another specimen, at least equal in extent and importance, of the early interposition of equity to correct the imperfections and inequalities of the strict legal system, and the consequent glaring anomaly of two conflicting principles, applied to the government and distribution of one and the same description of property. The statement is too long to be transcribed; nor
strata several hundred species are now described; and it appears that the same kids are, with few exceptions, common to Eng. land, France, and Germany. It has been conjectured that the trees of these ancient forests were swept by torrents into friths and estuaries, and there buried, sometimes unmixed with foreign matter, but often with sand or with argillaceous and calcareous sediment. The accompanying shells are generally of a fluviatile character, but sometimes (as is perfectly consistent with the hypothesis) of marine genera. · In whatever manner these strata originated, the arrangement of their materials was evidently governed by the laws of gravitation, and they must therefore have been at first nearly horizontal. By various convulsions they were subsequently thrown into an inclined and often vertical position, and at other times fractured or violently contorted; at a still later period the truncated' edges of these strata were covered, in a variety of instances, by marine deposits of great thickness, inclosing shells, zoophytes, and many gigantic reptiles before described, and plants differing almost as widely from the Flora of the coal as from existing vegetable productions. To describe the various formations occurring in England, for the most part of marine origin, all evidently more recent than the carboniferous series, would require a separate treatise. We shall merely add that their organic contents indicate successive changes in animal and vegetable life, and the study of the whole phenomena attending them has uniformly impressed the minds of naturalists with an idea that periods of great duration elapsed during their accumulation.
After so many changes in position, the result apparently of alternate elevation and subsidence, we now find a large portion of the coal measures in Great Britain at various heights above the level of the ocean—sometimes exceeding 1000 feet; but a great portion still remain beneath that level, as is demonstrated by the dip of the strata on our coast. · In consequence of the abundance and accessibility of this mineral in our island, and its opportune association with beds of iron ore, and the invariable contiguity of limestone, employed to flux the iron ore, we are enabled to surpass all other nations in the cheapness of machinery. Without this advantage not only would the great superiority of our manufacturing system be impaired, but we should be incapable of availing ourselves of a great part of our metallic riches.' Independently therefore of the comfort derived from an economical source of fuel for domestic purposes, we may safely affirm that, without the aid of coal, neither the population nor the commerce or maritime power of the British empire could be maintained on their present extensive scale. If we pause for a moment and consider how intimately the
degree of moral advancement, and the comparative political power of our own and many other countries is thus shown to be connected with the former existence of a race of plants now extinct, which bore but a faint analogy to living species, and flourished at periods of immense antiquity, probably under a climate and in a state of the earth widely distinct from the present, the mind is elevated to an exalted conception of the magnificent extent of the whole system of nature, and of the wonderful relations subsisting between its remotest parts. The present disposition of the strata in the carboniferous series, and indeed in every other formation, is the best, if not the only conceivable, arrangement, by which each might be made to rise in succession to the surface, and present in its turn a variety of useful minerals or of soils adapted for different agricultural purposes. Had the strata been permitted to remain horizontal, they would have invested the nucleus of the earth,' as Dr. Buckland has justly observed,' in concentric coats, and the inferior must have been buried for ever beneath the highest.'* Now it scarcely admits of a doubt that the agents employed in effecting this most perfect and systematic arrangement have been earthquakes, operating with different degrees of violence and at various intervals of time during a lapse of ages. The order that now reigns has resulted therefore from causes which have generally been considered as capable only of defacing and devastating the earth's surface, but which we thus find strong grounds for suspecting were, in the primeval state of the globe, and perhaps still are, instrumental in its perpetual renovation. The effects of these subterranean forces prove that they are governed by general laws, and that these laws have been conceived by consummate wisdom and forethought. Their consequences were formerly enumerated amongst the signs of anarchy and misrule, whence the Epicurean hypothesis originated that the earth was first formed, and has been since maintained, by Chance; and in later times they have been appealed to as the visible manifestations of God's wrath and of a penal dispensation.
After the unexpected discoveries, for which we may already thank the Science of Geology, it can no longer be matter of surprize, that we remain in ignorance of the ends answered by many of the operations of nature and of her living works, in whose form and structure such infinite variety, contrivance and beauty are displayed. The zoophytes and testacea, whose exuviæ are entombed by millions in stratified rocks, contribute to our wants and enjoyments perhaps in a far greater degree than the analogous races that now fill the great deep with life. The fossil species have
Inaugural Lecture, p. 11. Oxford. 1819.
estate to an offensive seignorage, in the shape of heriots; and, above all, incapable of improvement, unless on the unthrifty and galling terms of effecting it for the lord's benefit as well as his own. The lord's gain is far from commensurate to his tenant's loss. His only material benefits are bis fine, and (where it exists) bis heriot; both yielded with reluctance, and evaded by every possible stratagem; but capable of ready compensation, either in land or money, on well-known terms. The public, without any advantage whatever, sustains a double loss ; first in the impediments which are opposed by fines arbitrary to the improvement of the land, and particularly to its circulation, by the fine on alienation ;. and next, in the injustice sustained by creditors, from copyholds not being either extendible by elegit, nor assets for payment of debts.'
The seventh title, which relates to the Registration of Legal Assurances, and exhibits, for the first time, the numerous crudities and inconsistencies which now pervade that important subject, em-, braces also the strangely involved and complicated head of equitable notice, which, in all its subtle ramifications of actual and.
constructive,' furnishes another signal example of the ill consequences of the intermeddling spirit already adverted to, and a most forcible illustration of the so often repeated and so much disregarded maxim-Summum jus summa injuria.'
In his eighth and last title, the author enumerates the sources of the laws of real property. Our readers will probably be appalled by the catalogue. We will give it in his owu words.
· The result is, that our laws of real property are to be sought for in the copious library of six hundred and seventy-four volumes, exclusive of Indexes to the Statutes. If, from this collection, we make a liberal deduction for obsolete and redundant treatises, and works of slight esteem, or only occasional relevancy, there will still remain a total of six HUNDRED VOLUMES.'
The importance of the subject, and the novelty with which it is discussed, have induced us to depart from the modern usage of reviewers, and, for the present, limit ourselves to a fair exhibition of our author's work in the form by which he has himself chosen to convey his impressions. This, indeed, we take leave to think, is but justice to the public in cases so very grave as the present; and, if we have been induced to extract from the first and more exegetical part of the work, more copiously than is our usual habit, or than may prove agreeable to some classes of our readers, we can only say, that we have given no more of the author than appeared to us a necessary introduction to the second and more original division of his treatise. We cannot however dismiss the preceding statement without observing, that it is composed in a style of equal conciseness and perspicuity; and that we know of no chart of any thing like the same dimensions in which the legal