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We have seen that a bicycle is a carriage. Now, “any other public office.” People ex rel. Kelly v. in Williams v. Ellis, 2 Q. B. Div., Feb. 19, 1880, 15 Common Council, 77 N. Y. 503. L. J. Rep. 19, it is held that it is not a “carriage” “Lodger” was defined in Lalorde v. McGloir, 3 within a statute imposing a toll " for every carriage Canada Legal News, 94, where a woman who hired drawn or impelled or set or kept in motion by steam unfurnished apartments at a monthy rate, cooking or by any other power or agency than being drawn” her own meals therein, was held to be a “lodger” by horse or other beast power. The court say: “The within the meaning of a statute giving a lodgingact was clearly intended to apply only to carriages house keeper a lien on the goods of lodgers. of a heavy description impelled by mechanical “Launch" was defined in Homer v. Lady of the power. A bicycle, therefore, is no more & -carriage' | Ocean, 70 Me. 350. Here a vessel was hauled in at within the meaning of the statute, than a wheelbar- the side of a wharf and dismantled, and blocks berow or perambulator would be."
ing laid down on the beach she was floated on them We have a definition of “cart,” in Danby v. and raised aft, and supported with shoes. The Hunter, Q. B. Div., November 28, 1879. This was water at ordinary tide flowed all around her, but an information against the defendant for using a holes were made in her for the passage of the water cart on the highway without having his name and to prevent her floating, as she would otherwise painted thereon. The cart in question was a light have gone adrift at full tide. Her release from this spring cart, and was used by the defendant, a maker position was held not to be “launching." The of agricultural implements, for conveying them to court said: “A vessel already in the water cannot market, as well as for driving himself and family be launched, the meaning of which in such cases from place to place. He paid the annual duty im- is, 'to cause to move or slide from the land into the posed by statute on every “carriage" with less than water.' During all the time the work in this case four wheels. The General Highway Act, in section was going on this vessel was in the water, certainly 76, enacts that the owner of every wagon, cart, or not upon the land. It was not in a situation where other such carriage shall cause to painted on uld be moved from the land into the water. It some conspicuous part of the off side of it his name was at no time upon the 'stocks' as a vessel in proin large, legible letters. The court (Lush, J., and cess of building. True it was blocked up, but in a Manisty, J.) gave judgment for the defendant; hold-place where, by a preponderance of evidence at ing that his cart was not a “cart” within the mean- least, it is shown that it was floated by the water, ing of section 76, so as to make it incumbent on and whence, whenever the blocks are removed, it him to have his name painted thereon. Webster may be floated again." defines a cart “a carriage with two wheels, for car- "One" is a “number.” So held by the English rying heavy commodities.” The court must have Common Pleas Division in Re Hereford Election used some such reasoning as the following: The Petition. The statute required a petitioner to give agricultural implements, although commodities, are security "by any number of sureties not exceeding not heavy; or the family, although heavy, are not four,” and it was decided that one would answer. commodities.
Lord Coleridge said he was unable to comprehend In Petition of Began, 12 R. I. 309, it is laid down that "one" was not a number. The Law Journal that “to revel” means “to behave in a noisy, bois- says “the decision is strictly in accordance with terous manner, like a bacchanal."
grammar, arithmetic, and the other elements of “ Toward” is defined in Hudson v. State, 6 Tex. knowledge.” Ct. App. 565. The statute makes “insulting lan- A real estate agent is not in a "professional emguage toward a female relation" of the prisoner a ployment.” Pennock v. Fuller, 41 Mich. 153; S. C., mitigation of homicide from murder to man- 32 Am. Rep. 148. slaughter. It was here held that “toward” in this The meaning of the word “file” was adjudged connection does not mean “to," and that such lan- in Gorham v. Sommers, 25 Minn. 81. The court obguage, even if the female was not present, will have served: “Irrespective of our statute, we think that the mitigating effect. The female in this case was an inquiry for the ordinary meaning of the word the prisoner's wife, but no question was made that file' will lead to the same conclusion. File' she was a “relation."
meant, at common law, 'a thread, string or wire, In Lee v. Barkhampsted, 46 Conn. 213, it was held upon which writs and other exhibits in courts and that a moving train of cars was not a “structure,' offices are fastened or filed for the more safe keepwithin a statute enacting that when an injury on a ing and ready turning to the same.' Wharton's Law highway is caused by a structure legally placed upon Lexicon; Bouvier's Law Dictionary. Within this it by a railroad company, the company, and not the definition, a paper might be said to be filed when party bound to keep the road in repair, shall be lia- strung upon the thread, string or wire. That parble.
ticular mode of filing having almost entirely gone In Walsh v. N. Y. Floating Dry Dock Co., 77 N. out of use, another mode of filing, the purpose of Y. 453, it is held that a vessel is not "lying at which is the same, has taken its place, so that, as anchor" when fastened to a pier.
Bouvier says, “a paper is said also to be filed when A representative in Congress holds a “public it is delivered to the proper officer, and by him reoffice” within the meaning of a statute prohibiting ceived to be kept on file.' This, which we take to aldermen of the city of Brooklyn from holding be the present ordinary sense of the word 'filed,'
would be presumed to be the legislative sense, un- ENGLISH AND AMERICAN BANKRUPTCY less the contrary is made to appear.” Mr. Young,
AND INSOLVENCY LAWS. the reporter, bearing in mind that Chaucer was once a law clerk, hercupon bethinks him of Spenser, and A LIVELY and general interest, on the subject of accompanies the report with the following apt
has quotation from the Faerie Queene:
awakened in England by the suggestion of a new bankrupt law, and the introduction of several bills
into Congress for the establishment of a general Dan Chaucer, well of English undefyled, On Fame's eternal bead-roll worthie to be fyled.
bankrupt law has provoked much discussion and in
quiry on this side of the Atlantic. The history of the Pigs were held to be “cattle,” in Child v. Hearn, treatment of insolvents is one with that of the ndvance
of civilization and the extension of personal liberty. L. R., 9 Ex. 176, within a statute requiring fencing.
In the year 1663 Justice Hyde was called upon to The court said “the word is wide enough to include pronounce judgment in a case of imprisonment for them.”
debt, and he did so in the following words: The Iowa Supreme Court, in State v. Dunn, April,
* If a man is taken in execution and lies in prison 1880, passed upon "previous chaste character,” un
for debt, neither the plaintiff, at whose suit he is ar
rested, nor the sheriff who took him is bound to find der the statute of seduction, holding that evidence
him meat, drink or clothes, but he must live on his own of lewd acts of the complainant when a child was or on the charity of others, and if uo one will relieve incompetent. The court said: “Improper conduct him, let him die in the name of God; says the law and occurring at so remote a time, when the prosecutrix so say I.” was a child, would not tend to establish an impure
This statement of the law, couveying as it did bitter
protest against its cruelty, led to the passage in 1670 of character at the time she was seduced. If, as a
the first law for the relief of insolvent debtors. child, she was indiscreet, immodest, or impure, she But this law seemed intended only to relieve the may have reformed and become a woman of chaste debtor from starvation, for it allowed the creditor to character. A woman who is unchaste may reform keep him iu prison by paying for his support, and his and gain a character for chastity within the mean
discharge still left the debt a lien upon his property.
The jails now became crowded with debtors, and ing of the statute defining the crime of seduction."
their distress so shocking that Parliament The same court, at the same term, passed upon rushed headlong into legislation which added thirty “habitual drunkard,” criticising the rule in Mahone statutes to the law, but conferred no benefits on the v. Mahone, 19 Cal. 627, where the jury were in
country. structed that the intoxication must be such as to
Society had not yet learned to protect the weak
from the strong, and not only among the barons but “completely disqualify the party from attending to
among the mercantile classes the law of might prehis business avocations.” It was held in that case
vailed. that this rule is too stringent, and that if there is a . Down to the 4th and 5th of Anne payments were “fixed habit of drinking to excess, to such a degree considered only tanto, traders alone had a right to disas to disqualify a person from attending to his busi
charge, and even they only when proceeded against in
invitum. The idea of voluntary bankruptcy did not ness during the principal portion of the time usually
occur until a much later date, and a large class redevoted to business, it is habitual intemperance.' mained, who, without hope of relief and without the In the principal case the court said: “This defini- | possibility of advantage from their own exertions, retion was sufficient for the case in hand, but we do mained a burden and oftentimes a terror to the comnot understand it to have been held that nothing munity. Many of this class, rendered desperate by short of the standard fixed in that case would be.
undeserved misfortunes from which they could see no
escape, came to America, and became good citizens in It is not regarded as necessary to affirmatively de
the new world. fine what constitutes ‘habitual drunkenness. We The first law which brought relief was known as the are not prepared to say, however, if a person has a “Lords' Act," originated in the Upper House, and fixed habit of drinking intoxicating liquors to ex
provided for a discharge from imprisonment of debtors
held in custody for amounts under 1001., which amount cess, is frequently drunk, and that such is his nomi
was subsequently increased to 2001. Under this law a nal condition during the night and in hours not de
former execution could be enforced against a man's voted to business, that his wife would not be enti- future acquisition of property, whether real or pertled to a divorce."
sonal, but in the 16th and 18th of George III its proA clergyman's residence is not rendered - a build
visions were made more liberal, and only real estate or ing for religious worship,” so as to be exempt from
money in the funds could be touched by prior execu
tion. Upon this act our statutes for the relief of taxation, by the setting apart and occupation of one debtors have been modelled. From this point on, the room as a chapel for religious worship. St. Joseph's advance toward an enlightened treatment of the comChurch v. Assessors of Taxes, 12 R. I. 19. On the mercially unfortunate has been marked and rapid, and other hand, the character of a building as a home
the hopeless misery of the inmates of the Marshalsea, stead is not impaired by the occupation of one or
so graphically depicted by Dickens in “Little Dorrit,"
was soon a thing of the past. two rooms for business purposes. Hogan v. Man
In 1813 a law was passed by which a debtor who had ners, 23 Kans. 551.
been imprisoned for three months could on full surA "lightning-rod man” is a “peddler.” State render of his property obtain release from imprisonv. Wilson, 2 Lea, 28.
ment, and a court for the relief of insolvent debtors
was established. By this court a judgment was entered Oysters are not “wild animals,” and are the sub
in the name of all the creditors, which was a permaject of larceny when planted. State v. Taylor, 27
nent lien on all the debtor's property until discharged N. J. L. 117.
by payment. This law applied, like its predecessors,
only to traders, but it provided for a pro rata distribu- At this point a word may be said of the distinction tion of assets, which was a long step forward.
between bankruptcy and insolvency laws in general. It expired by limitation, but a similar act was passed In the abstract a distinction is well nigh impossible. wbich was in effect until a comparatively recent date. Judge Cockburı, of England, defined insolvency as In 1838 arrest for debt was abolished for sums over 201., the state of the man who had brought himself under an exception being made against debtors about to leave the operation of the insolvency laws, and bankruptcy England, and a discharge from all liability to impris- that of the man who had committed an act of bankonment on surrender of the debtor's effects was pro- ruptcy. vided for.
This apparent truism is supplemented by the reThis leniency was still further extended by the 5th marks of the late Justice Story, who, speaking from and 6th of Victoria, and in 1861 the court for insolvent an historic standpoint, says: “The lines between two debtors was abolished, the bankrupt law was systems are faint and an insolvency law frequently tended to non-traders, and the distinction between contains provisions common to bankrupt laws, and bankruptcy and insolvency was obliterated.
bankrupt laws may often contain the regulations The present statute was passed in 1869. Its provis- generally found in insolvent laws." ions as to what is an act of bankruptcy are much the The first act of Congress under its constitutional same as those of our late statute, and may be covered right to pass uniform laws was passed in 1800, and was by the statement that any act openly showing a debt. repealed after three years, and the second endured or's inability to pay, or his attempt to evade his debts, only two years, from 1841 1843. The third act was is an act of bankruptcy. No discharge can be had passed in 1867, and after various amendments which unless fifty per cent has been paid or might have been served only to make it worse, it died in 1878. paid, but for mismanagement, unless a majority in Still its greatest faults were more in its defective number and three-quarters in amount of the creditors machinery than in the ideas on which it was based, 80 agree.
and even at the last it found friends to champion it. But this law, like ours, does not relieve him from The system of fees made bankruptoy proceedings very debts contracted through fraud or tainted by fraud burdensome to an estate, and this burden was further through fraudulent forbearance. Nor can he obtain increased by the almost unlimited allowances and fees a discharge from debts due the government or public which unscrupulous lawyers obtained out of the asrevenue or bad bonds, unless the commissioners of the sets. treasury consent thereto.
The drain on account of this last item almost realizes One judge and four registers from the ordinary the jest of a noted lawyer, who told an inquiring Court of Bankruptcy in London and the judges of the friend of his, in Liverpool, that he was going home superior courts of law and equity form an auxiliary because a client of his had died and he was afraid his court. The judges and clerks under this act are paid heirs would get all the property. by salaries determined in amount by the chief judge The law to prevent fraudulent creditors from taking and the commissioners of the treasury.
advantage of its provisions hedged them in with so This provision stands in marked and admirable con- many assumed safeguards that progress became at once trast with the system of fees which existed under our difficult and expensive. Moreover it was found that bankruptcy law, whose extravagance and the corrup- few paths were left open to the unscrupulous, and that tion engendered by it grew with its growth, and was the labyrinth of procedure, through which debtors checked only by its repeal. A clause in this act pro- were forced to pass, impeded honesty more than fraud. vides pensions for those who by the new order of af- Honest men found their assets eaten up by court and fairs have been thrown out of employment, an act of lawyers' fees, and saw with just anger the evident humanity and justice we would do well to imitate prosperity and wealth of those who had passed through here where long and honorable service is so seldom a bankruptcy, and who, within a year after making safeguard against the undeserved privations.
sworn statements of no assets, seemed, without labor, Thus have grown and developed the English laws re- to have become possessed of the means of luxury. lating to debtors from a time when the unfortunate Besides this, the bankruptcy law was often used simply were subject to the greatest and most cruel oppression as a means of collection. The modus operandi was to down to a period when a system was established which, obtain a rule to show cause why a man should not be however faulty and imperfect as a whole, embodies adjudged a bankrupt, and an injunction issued stopnearly all that humanity and justice can suggest. ping his business by forbidding him to sell any of his
The first trace of the New York insolvency laws is property; so that a firm often paid even when there found in the statute of 1797, which provided for a dis- was a good defense and ample assets, and allowed the charge of the debtor from debts ex contractu by a com- legalized blackmail, for was it not much better to go on? position agreed to by two-thirds of the creditows, but The subsequent amendments narrowed the path for it was too far in advance of the age and lasted only the voluntary bankrupt, but removed the necessity of one year, but it left footsteps on the sands of legisla- his paying 70 per cent of his indebtedness on a second tion and showed the way to enlightened enactments bankruptcy. The defects of the composition clause later on. The law which allowed a debtor's discharge added another objection to the statute. When one on a three-quarter vote of his creditors prevailed a spoke of the advantage of the pro rata division of long time in New York, but was finally repealed. Its assets, he was answered by the statement that as a place was taken by a statute which permitted a debt- rule there were no assets to pro rate. Statistics, 80 or's discharge on surrender of his property. It was often used to overthrow a law, so seldom as a basis for stigmatized by Chancellor Kent as an alluring bait its foundation, show that aside from preferences, to dishonesty, and was in less than a year stricken assignments have given general creditors a much from the statute book.
smaller amount of assets than bankruptcy proceedings. The insolvency laws in New York now prevailing When the law was repealed in 1878, there was a general have much to recommend them, and were New York jubilation and its obituaries were far from flattering. an isolated State might be sufficient. They provide The ALBANY LAW JOURNAL said: “Benefits will for discharge from debts on consent of two-thirds of a accrue to honest tradesmen and vigilant creditors from man's creditors and also permit preferences in the a restoration of the old state of affairs, and general payment of debts. They give the active creditor a law business will be increased so as to make it gratifybetter opportunity of collecting his claim, and do not ing to the profession." allow the fraudulent creditor so easily to wipe out as This statement might be regarded by the tradeswith a sponge at one sweep his whole indebtedness. people, who like to keep out of law, as paradoxical, but with the exception of the lawyers who make a may answer that no law could be passed which would specialty of bankruptcy practice, the majority of the prevent fraudulent debtors from imposing on houest bar favored the repeal.
men, unless we should concoct a law that like the The JOURNAL went so far as to lay the uncertain Roman law, gave the debtor's body to the creditors state of trade at the door of the bankruptcy courts, for a proportionate distribution among them. But the and made claim that solvent business houses, tempo- question upon which there is the most debate is the rarily embarrassed, are destroyed by operation of this expediency of relieving small debtors from imprisonlaw, reference to which has been made, and that it ment. Mr. Stonor, one of the Euglish county court made men careless in the contraction of debts, by judges, has gone so far as to maintain that to free the making escape from them easy, and adds, “when an petty debtor from the possibility of imprisonment obligation can be discharged only by payment, most would be to strip him of all credit, maintaining that men are cautious about entering into it."
without that provision no one would trust him and The JOURNAL represented the general feeling of that in time of adversity, which credit would enable lawyers at the time, who, disgusted at the faults and him to struggle through, his only refuge would be the imperfections of the law, and the abuses existing under work-house. It may also be urged that if all fear of it, found it difficult to perceive its good points or to imprisonment were taken away, fraudulent debtors believe that its repeal would subject them to still would run riot with those who gave them credit. At greater evils. Such was, however, the case.
the same time the present law tempts tradesmen not When the tide of bankruptcy matter, which had only to give but to urge credit, because they think they overflowed business and profession for some time pre- have an all-sufficient remedy in case of non-payment. vious and subsequent to the going into effect of the Their confidence betrays the poor into extravagance repeal, had ebbed, and people had an opportunity to and allures the weak or the unscrupulous. The evils observe and think, it was found that the position of of the present law fall more heavily on the honest than trade in its relation to the law was worse than before; on fraudulent debtor, as the latter knows how to assignments were more bare of assets than were bank- escape legal penalties, or if imprisoned, does not mind ruptcies. In no two States are the insolvency laws the an incarceration which enables him to indulge his love same, and the maze of conflicting decisions and incom- of idleness. The best law that could be passed would patible provisions makes the endeavors of the most seem that which would tend to prevent an imprudent learned and experienced unavailing. The increasing class from contracting debts at all. Free credit is apt intimacy of all trade relations between different States, to put a poor man on the wrong side of that scale of which enterprise and the distance-conquering inven- happiness and misery that Mr. Micawber tells of, while tions of our age are promoting, makes it desirable to cash payments leave a balance of income in his favor. the mercantile classes to know their exact relation to It may be hard in England to do away with this last each other; a thing impossible under the present laws. vestige of the right of imprisonment, but the time has
This fact of the diversity of laws increases vastly come for the clearing out of a great many old cobwebs and entangles the complex character of commercial from the English law, aud a man who represents prorelations. It may be said that if the bankruptcy sys- gress is master of the house. Therefore when, as is tem was more expensive it was more expeditious, and anticipated, the attorney-general introduces into Parif it encouraged some species of fraud it put a stop to liament a bankruptcy law, it may be expected that preferential assignments. Its abuses ruined some there will be many changes, though it is to be hoped sound establishments, but its six months clause pre- that it will be more in the nature of an amendment vented fraud that can now be perpetrated with impu- than of an entirely new bill. The English laws, unlike nity. The public have become restless under the ours, favor the creditor. The pro rata system prevails present laws, and preferences do not suit those who do in England, while preferences are permitted and not find themselves preferred, and many are now of largely taken advantage of here. the opinion that the late bankruptcy law, instead of Our laws differ, and in States whose boundaries, being repealed, should have been amended. The tend- commercially considered, are blotted out, while the ency of the American law is to favor the debtor. English law holds good from Carlisle to Lands End,
In a land where individual exertion is the basis of so and should include Ireland and Scotland. The law many fortunes, it seems contrary to the spirit of an which would meet with tho most general approval enlightened charity to fetter a man by means of legal would resemble the late bankruptcy law in its pro rata confiscation, or to break his spirit by the enervating distribution of assets, and which like it should be idleness of a prison.
general in its jurisdiction. Its working should be like Perhaps we have gone too far, and the provisions those of the Euglish law, easy and inexpensive, while which exist in Germany and France, discriminating unlike that system it should be lenient to the debtor against those whose books are incorrectly kept, and and should permit no imprisonment except for fraud. others similar, might well be enforced here. Three It should protect the creditor without oppressing the bills have recently been presented to Congress to estab- debtor, and the court should have such equity powers lish a uniform system of bankruptcy law. One drawn as to enable it to scrutinize closely every effort on the by Judge Lowell, of Massachusetts, and another by part of dishonest men to prostitute the law to their Mr. Blumenstiel, of this city
own advantage. And it is to be hoped that after two The probability is that a combination embracing the hundred and fifty years of experimenting, a law may best features of these bills, which in the judgment of at length be passed whose provisions may endure long the judiciary committee and their advisers will tend enough for thorough adjudication, and when adjudito aid the debtor, while it protects the creditors, and cated may remain perpetual. to lower the expenses while increasing the effective
EDWARD R. JOHNES. workings of the legal machinery of bankruptcy law, will, within a year or two, be passed.
RIGHT OF INDIVIDUALS TO INSPECT AND The English have just arrived at the point of dissat
COPY PUBLIC RECORDS. isfaction which we reached in 1878. The English law is complicated by the existence of a distinction be
MICHIGAN SUPREME COURT, JUNE 9, 1880. tween petty debtors and others, between whom a wide distinction is drawn on the matter of imprisonment
WEBBER ET AL. v. TOWNLEY. and of their standing before the courts.
Relators desired to make a complete abstract of the conTo the complaint of traders that the present law veyances recorded in a Michigan county registry office does not protect them from fraudulent debtors, we for the purpose of private emolument in carrying on an
"abstract business," but the register of deeds for the
relators have not the right claimed. The right to an county refused to permit them to inspect and copy
inspection and copy or abstract of a public record is the books in the office for that purpose. Held, that
not given indiscriminately to each and all who may, neither under the common law nor the statute of Michigan were relators entitled to access to the public rec
from curiosity or otherwise, desire the same, but is ords for the purpose named, and they were not enti
limited to those who have some interest therein. tled to mandamus to that end against the register.
What this interest must be we are not called upon in Under the common law the right to an inspection and copy the present case to determine. The question has
or abstract of a public record is not given indiscrim- usually arisen where the right claimed was to inspect inately to each and all who may from curiosity or other.
or obtain a copy of some particular document, or wise desire the same, but is limitted to those who
those relating to a given transaction or title. We havo have some interest therein
not been referred to any authority which recognizes
the right of a person, under the common law, to a of Jackson county to compel him to allow relators copy or abstract of the entire records of a public office to inspect and copy the records in his possession. The in which he had no special interest, the object in view facts appear in the opinion.
being simply private gain from the possession and use
thereof. Beakes & Cutchen, for relators. T. A. Wilson and Eugene Pringle, for respondent.
The object sought by the relators may be considered
of such modern origin as not to have been contemMARSTON, C. J. The relators show by their petition plated or covered by the common-law authorities rethat in November, 1879, they entered into copartner- lating to the inspection of public records, and the ship for the purpose of making and owning a complete reason upon which those authorities rest would exabstract of the title to all the lands in Jackson county, clude relators from the right claimed. What is the and for the purpose of carrying on the abstract busi- right which relators seek, and the result thereof? But ness in Jackson, in said county; that they had called first let us see what it is not. It is not for a public upon the respondent, who was and is register of deeds purpose. They do not seek these abstracts for purin said county, and stated to him fully and fairly the poses of publication for the use, benefit, or informapurpose of petitioners, and asked permission to put a tion of the public, even if such an unlimited publicatable in one of the rooms in the office of said register, tion could be justified. Relators do not ask for an which was granted.
inspection of a record and abstract thereof relating to That petitioners thereupon contracted for certain lands in which they claim to have any title or interest, blank books and incurred considerable expense, and or concerning which they desire information in concommenced copying from the public records into such templation of acquiring some right or interest, either books, and continued to do so until about January 15, by purchase or otherwise. It is not the agents or 1880, and that this was done without the slightest in- attorneys of parties seeking information because terference with or hindrance to the business of the interested or likely to become so. office of said register; that at the date last mentioned On the contrary, the right is based upon neither a the respondent informed a clerk then in the employ of present nor prospective interest in the lands, either said relators at such work that respondent would not personally or as a representative of others who have, allow him to work any more, because it would be un- but is for the future private gain and emolument of fair to the owner of another set of abstract books in relators in furnishing information therefrom to third which respondent was interested, and that since then parties for a compensation then to be paid. It is a relators have been unable to further prosecute their request for the law to grant them the right to inspect said work.
the record of the title to every person's land in the The relators further set forth that in doing such county, and obtain copies or abstracts thereof, to work they have not used pen or ink, or permitted enable them hereafter, for a fee or reward, to furnish their clerks to, using pencils only, and are willing to copies to such as may desire the same, whether intercomply with all reasonable rules and regulations which ested or not, and irrespective of the object or motive the register may prescribe. They further allege that such persons may have in view in seeking such informathe public records of said office embrace 100 books of tion. In other words, relators ask the right of copyrecords of deeds, and about sixty of records of mort- ing or abstracting the entire records of the county for gages, to be abstracted; that the making of a proper private and speculative purposes, they having no other abstract will be a work of great labor, and if done by interest whatever therein. one person, without assistance, would require several Conceding to them this right under such circumyears for completion. They allege an intention to stances, the same must be accorded to all others make a complete abstract, which would be of great asking it. Every resident of Jackson county may of benefit to the public and themselves. The relators ask right claim a similar privilege. Indeed, the right for for a peremptory writ of mandamus to compel the such purpose, if it exists at all, cannot be restricted by register to permit them and their clerks to inspect and the residence of the party, so that the result may be copy, or abstract, the public records, files and papers more applicants than the register's office could afford in the office of the register, subject to reasonable rules room to. Further than this, to make such abstracts, and regulations as to time, facilities, etc.
being open to all, and being a matter of right, must be An answer was put in by the respondent, to which a granted in such a manner, and such reasonable facilinumber of exceptions have been taken by relators' ties must be afforded, that the right claimed and exercounsel, but which we shall not consider, preferring to cised will not be barren but profitable. dispose of the application upon its merits, and without If none but the applicants are permitted to work, any reference to side issues, assuming for this purpose the time consumed in making the abstract will, in that sufficient facilities could be afforded relators in many counties, be so long that the full fruits thereof the register's office to make an abstract, even although, cannot be reaped during the life-time of the parties. as stated in the answer, it would require two persons An opportunity, therefore, should be afforded to all to five years to make such an abstract. The relators have the work done within a reasonable time. If, place their right to the relief asked upon two grounds: therefore, each applicant, with a corps of assistants and First, that the right to inspect public records and clerks, makes demand upon the register for facilities to make transcripts therefrom is given them by the com- prepare abstracts, may not that officer find his position mon law; second, under act No. 54 of the Session a somewhat embarrassing one, and his office uncomLaws of 1875, p. 51.
fortably crowded, to his inconvenience and that of the We are of the opinion that under the common law public?