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Page:Harvard Law Review Volume 1.djvu/76

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the mortgage debt on a day named, or accompanied by an agreement to reconvey the property upon a condition precedent, namely, the payment of the mortgage debt on a day named. In either case, if the mortgagor suffer the day to pass without performing the condition, his right to have the property restored to him is entirely and absolutely gone at law; and it is at the very moment that the mortgagor loses his legal right that his equitable right arises, namely, to have the property reconveyed to him (notwithstanding his failure to perform the condition agreed upon), on payment of the mortgage debt, interest, and costs. But how is it that equity can create such an obligation, it being not only without any warrant in law, but directly against the express agreement of the parties? Because, while the mortgagor has lost his right to the land, the mortgage debt remains wholly unpaid; and consequently the mortgagee can at law keep the land, and yet compel the mortgagor to pay the mortgage debt. In a word, the mortgagor loses (i.e., forfeits) his land merely by way of penalty for not performing the condition; and though this is by the express agreement of the parties, yet equity says the only legitimate object of the penalty was to secure performance of the condition; and, therefore, it is unconscionable for the mortgagee to enforce the penalty, provided he can be fully indemnified for the breach of the condition; and, the condition being merely for the payment of money, the mortgagee will, in legal contemplation, be fully indemnified for its breach by the payment of the mortgage debt (though after the day agreed upon) with interest and costs. In short, equity creates the equitable obligation in question upon the ancient and acknowledged principle of relieving against penalties and forfeitures.

Still another important class of equitable obligations created by equity alone are those commonly known as rights of subrogation. For example, a debtor becomes personally bound to his creditor for the payment of the debt, and also pledges his property to the creditor for the same purpose. A third person also becomes personally bound to the creditor for the payment of the same debt as surety for the debtor, and pledges his property to the creditor for the same purpose. In this state of things justice clearly requires that the debt be thrown upon the debtor, or upon the pledge belonging to him, and that the surety and the pledge belonging to him be exonerated from the debt, provided this can