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sons, and at liberty to leave his fortune to his friends, to charitable or public purposes, or to whom he wild, the same blood, proximity of blood, and the like, are merely modes of speech, implying noihicg rcal, nor any obligation of themselves.
There is always, however, a reason for provid.g for our poor relations, in preference to others Hl., may be equally necessitous, which is, that if we do not, nobody else will; mankind, by an establutet consent, leavirg the reduced branches of good famı lies to the bounty of their wealthy alliarc:s.
The rot making a will is a very culpable omili, where it is attended with the followig cici: where it leaves daughters or younger chilurerl ulit. mercy of the elden ion; where it diftributes a pe:fonal fortune equally amo gst the children, aking there be ro equality in their exigencies or tu beton, where it leaves an operirg for litigation ; or lantil, and principally, where it defraud, creditors; for by a defect in our laws, which has been log ad frangely overlookid, real eitates are not subject to!. pajnient of debıs by fimple contract, unkcis midden by will; although credit is in fact generally gnica (01. pollution of such eltares. He therefore, who men's to make the neceffary appointments for the p rinci of his debes, as far as bis eflicts exlerid, ts, as it has been juftly taid, in his grase ; aid, the varia this on purpole to defeat te demands of his cru. tors, he dies with a deliberate fraud in his heart.
Aiciently, when ary ore died without a w::!, !.. bithop of the diocele took pituition of los per end fortune, in order to diipoic of it for the benctio his foul, that is to pious and charitable utes. lib. come nec: 112ry therefuri, that the bih .p flieka a te fatisfied of the authenticity of the wil, isie meie was any, before beroliged the right which lie bad 10 ishe poil den of the dead n dii's furuce, 1:cale of i.cacy. In this way, wills, woduliuic.!<3
selating to wills, came within the cognizance of ecclesiastical courts ; under the jurisdiction of which, wills of personals (the only wills that were made formerly) still continue, though in truth, no more now-a-days connected with religion, than any other inftruments of conveyance. This is a peculiarity in the English law.
Succession to intestates must be regulated by positive rules of law, there being no principle of natural justice whereby to ascertain the proportion of the different claimants ; not to mention that the claim itselt, especially of collateral kindred, seems to have little foundation in the law of nature. These regulations should be guided by the duty and presumed inclination of the deceased, so far as these consideraLions can be consulted by general rules. The fatutes of Charles the Secord, commonly called the ftatuies of distribution, which adopt the rule of the Roman in the distribution of personals, are sufficiently equitable. They allign one-third to the widow, aid. two-thirds to the children ; in case of no children, one-half to the widow, and the other half to the next of kin, where neither widow nor lineal descendants survive, the whole to the next of kin, and to be equally divided amongst kindred of equal degrees; without distinction of whole blood and half blood, or of consanguinity by the facher's or mother's fide.
The descent of real estates, of houses, that is, and land, having been settled in more remote and in ruder times, is less reasonable. There never can be much to complain of in a rule, which every person may avoid by so easy a provision as that of making his will; otherwise, our law in this respect is chargeable with some flagrant absurdities; such as that an estate shall in no wise go to the brother or fister of the half blood, though it came to the deceased from the common parent; that it shall go to the remoteft relation the inteltate has in the world, rather than to
his own father or mother, or even be forfeited for want of an heir, though both parents survive; that the most distant paternal relation shall be preferred to an uncle or own cousin by the mother's fide, notwithstanding the estate was purchased and acquir. ed by the intestate himself.
Land not being so divisible as money, may be a reason for making a difference in the course of ir beritance; but there ought to be no difference but what is founded upon that reason. The Roman law made none.
TUSE the term Charity neither in the common
sense of bounty to the poor, nor in St. Paul's sense of benevolence to all mankind, but I apply it at present, in a sense more commodious to my purpose, to signify the promoting the happiness of our inferiors.
Charity in this sense I take to be the principal province of virtue and religion: for whilft worldly prudence will direct our behaviour towards our superiors, and politeness towards our equals, there is little beside the consideration of duty, or an habitual humanity which comes into the place of consideration, to produce a proper conduct towards those who are beneath us, and dependent upon us.
There are three principal methods of promoting the happiness of our inferiors :
1. By the treatment of our domestics and depen
dants. By profeuiary bo
2. By professional assistance. 3. By pecuniary bounty.