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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/774

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

derstand except by hard study and risk of brain-fever, and even lawyers, judges, and conveyancers must judge of it by its conformity to prescribed legal forms rather than through any warrant of title conveyed by it. But though every man not a lawyer abhors such a jumble of words, it remains as part of the machinery by "which real estate is transferred, and any proposition in a State Legislature to abolish such a form and substitute something clear, short, and explicit, would call out the active opposition of not only every lawyer in the body—which is usually two thirds of all the members—but also of, substantially, every lawyer and court officer in the State, as well as every legal printer and dealer in legal stationery, for the reason urged by Demetrius in Acts xix, 25, "By this craft we have our wealth," And this evidently is the one controlling, all-powerful influence which stands in the way of legal reforms, and will until the people combine and overthrow it.

It is not the law's delays, then, which by any means constitute its one great offense. That is but an incident of a system which needs reform from top to bottom. The lawyer has, seemingly, settled down to the conviction that his "best hold" for a fortune is to oppose radical changes, at least until some substitute as profitable is within reach. He may not be opposed to reforms in the abstract, but a reform that is to cost perhaps thousands a year at first, though it may be of immense benefit to clients, is not to his liking. That is his conservatism. Perhaps morally it is not unlike that of others whose vocations have been abolished through great modern inventions—the use of steam, electricity, etc.—but if so, the peculiar tactics of the legal fraternity have defeated nearly all propositions for legal reforms, and thus justified the statement of Judge Learned already quoted. The lawyers forget that in other callings nothing has been lost in the aggregate to anybody by reforms that facilitate business, as new inventions create new industries requiring a higher grade of intelligence; and that business is always sure to develop in proportion to the facilities for its rapid, safe, and cheap dispatch. Kone smile sooner than they at the occasional outbreaks, even yet, of ignorant laborers against new inventions, on the ground that such changes drive them to starvation. They know, if laborers do not, that machinery only changes the form and method of industry without abolishing it, and hence it would be well to consider if this principle would not apply also to a reformed system of law procedure which would secure justice speedily instead of defeating it through delays that extend through generations, with little benefit to anybody but lawyers. It certainly prejudices the community against the legal profession, and impels many tempted into litigation to keep aloof, and often to bear their wrongs at great loss rather than risk further losses by employing lawyers who have no interest in any case except to extract fees or reputations from it. But if we had