Art. XXVI.—Notes on the system of Survey proposed by Mr. Thomson to be adopted for New Zealand, from a Leyal point of View.
[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, 24th February, 1877.]
The paper read by Mr. Thomson before this society in September last, in which he seeks to justify his adoption of the “Meridian Circuit system of Minor Triangulation,” used by him in Otago, as the system best adapted for use in the survey of the waste lands of the Colony at large, is one which requires close criticism, not only at the hands of those who are more imme
diately connected with the surveys of the waste lands, but also at the hands of those who are engaged in the business of conveyancing; and, as I differ from the views of the Surveyor-General on the expediency of adopting the system in question, I propose—premising that my own knowledge of the practice of surveying is limited,—to offer a few remarks upon his paper, with the view of eliciting further discussion.
It is unnecessary that I should dwell upon the necessity of accuracy in the description of the “parcels” in conveyances of land. For, not merely lawyers, but almost every intelligent person who has had any practical acquaintance with our system of dealing with land as a marketable property, is more or less aware of the difficulties which result from errors on this point. Indeed our law books are full of cases arising out of such errors, and no warning is more strongly held out to the student of the art of conveyancing, than that of taking the greatest possible care in regard to the description of the property to be conveyed. The importance of this point is fully recognized in connection with the system of dealing with land under the Land Transfer Acts in force in this Colony; in which mere verbal descriptions are, as much as possible avoided, in favour of reference to plans preparedhy duly qualified and certificated surveyors. And the certainty that before many years have passed, all the land in the Colony belonging to private individuals will be brought within the provisions of these Acts, renders it imperative that the most reliable system of surveying known to science should be used in connection with alienations by the Crown, as well as with subsequent subdivisions of the land so alienated.
Now, it will be remembered that, in 1874, Major Palmer, a surveyor of great eminence, and who happened at the time to be in the Colony in connection with the observations of the transit of Venus, was requested by the General Government to examine and report upon the existing surveys of the Colony, and as to the best means of getting rid of the serious difficulties which were then known to exist in connection with them. Major Palmer undertook the duty, and, in April 1875, presented to the Government a most valuable report on the subject referred to him; in which he pointed out the causes and extent of error which had been committed,—involving, as he showed, the waste of enormous sums of money,—and recommended a course for the future, which would, in his opinion, not only remedy the errors already existing, but also provide, at a very moderate cost, for the completion of such trigonometrical surveys as would ensure the proper degree of accuracy in the ordinary sectional surveys. In dealing with the subject referred to him, he first gave a sketch of the history of each of the surveys then being carried on in the Colony, and an opinion of its worth; and then proceeded to point out the best means of remedying
the existing difficulties, and of setting on foot a sound general system. First in order, he referred to the surveys which had been made for the General Government, and Which were then under the direction of Mr. T. Heale, Inspector of Surveys, comprising surveys for the use of the Native Lands Court, surveys of Confiscated lands for sale, and surveys of blocks of land to be purchased from the Natives; and, after a most careful examination of all these surveys, which then extended over more than seven millions of acres of land, he came to the following conclusions:—
1. That, as regards lands surveyed for the purposes of the Native Lands Court, the area of which was,—
[The section below cannot be correctly rendered as it contains complex formatting. See the image of the page for a more accurate rendering.]
|In Auckland||2,330,760 acres,|
|" Hawke Bay||1,124,000 "|
|" Wellington||1,235,027 "|
|" Canterbury||21,769 "|
|Making a total of||4,711,556 "|
but little, if any, had been done with such accuracy and detail as would enable it to form part of a general cadastral survey.
2. That, as regards the surveys of confiscated lands (the area of which was about 1,916,000 acres), none were good; and that those in the Waikato were as bad as bad could be,—done mostly by contract, years ago; plotted to all kinds of compass meridians; unchecked and unconnected. But, nevertheless, the greater part of those lands had been granted by the Crown on the basis of those worthless surveys.
3. That, with regard to the surveys of blocks of land acquired from the Natives, the survey consisted simply of a periphery traverse of the boundaries of any block about to be purchased.
It is due to Mr. Heale to state, that he was in no degree responsible for the mass of error referred to by Major Palmer, and was then engaged in rectifying the matter as far as possible, and Major Palmer points out that if a sound system be introduced, and made the basis of land transfers, possession and documentary titles might gradually be brought into harmony, as required, without any special active provision for the purpose. He then proceeds to consider the various Provincial surveys, commencing with those on the North Island, and, first, with those of Auckland. The area supposed to have been surveyed under the direction of the Provincial Government was about 2,400,000 acres; and he tells us that the history of these surveys is one of lamentable confusion and neglect, and want of system and accuracy. He says,—
A block having been thrown open, selectors were allowed to take up sections, usually rectangular, anywhere within it, not less than eighty acres in extent, and to have them surveyed by men of their own choosing. The
section surveys were most of them made by contract, with compass and chain; and they were seldom inspected or tested. As a single section might be taken up anywhere in a block, and as there was no obligation on the surveyor to connect his work with previous surveys, or with boundary lines, or with any fixed points whatever, it often happened that the where abouts of a section could only be guessed at, until in course of time the intervening areas became filled up, and a sort of connection formed. The results of this miserable system may be easily imagined—constant errors of survey in the first instance, leading, in the way I have already described, to overlaps and discrepancies between the maps and the ground, to a fair prospect of having to do much of the work over again, and to the certainty of a rich future crop of trouble, expense, and litigation. It is almost incredible that such a reckless mode of dealing with the lands should have been allowed to prevail for a single week, yet it did prevail for two years without any attempt at improvement, and under it large areas were sold and granted.”
He next deals with the Hawke Bay surveys, extending over some 3,050,000 acres of land; and of these he says, that the work, though a little better than that in Auckland, had very many inaccuracies and shortcomings. And he points out that, although, for reasons which he gives, no great legal difficulties had yet arisen, yet the errors were sufficiently large and many to create a good deal of trouble, inconvenience and public distrust: and to prejudice the working of the Transfer Acts in a manner which had already caused bitter complaint.
He then passes to Wellington, and commences by stating that there was no occasion for him to enter at any length into the history of the early surveys in that Province, because the old mistakes had been, to a great extent reduced within the last ten years, by a more enlightened process of survey. He adds that the inheritance of blunders and chaos to which Mr. Jackson, the then Chief Surveyor of the Province had succeeded, on taking office in 1865, had been gradually swept away under a system of trigonometrical survey; and was then so far reduced that more than two-thirds of the sold and granted lands in the Province had been laid out and mapped within small limits of error, and might be brought, at any time, under the operation of the Land Transfer Acts without further trouble. In view of this opinion, it is unnecessary for me to call attention to the causes and extent of error which existed in the surveys of this Province before the department came under the charge of Mr. Jackson; but a perusal of Major Palmer's report will convince any one of the importance and value of the system adopted by Mr. Jackson, and of the excellence of the work, done by him.
Of Taranaki, Major Palmer says, “The old work is valueless for further use; many of the field-books are missing, and for miles together no original survey marks can be found.” And it appears that, of a total of 2,137,000 acres, 10,000 only are correctly section-surveyed; 130,000 are section-surveyed, but need revision; and 1,997,000 acres are practically unsurveyed.
Passing to the South Island, we find the same confusion to exist in the surveys of Nelson and Marlborough; and Major Palmer says, after pointing out the wretched condition of things in the former Province, that “most fortunately, whether from indifference, or despair, or fear of expense on the part of landowners, no serious legal difficulties had yet resulted.” Major Palmer was doubtless unaware that several expensive lawsuits had already taken place in that Province with reference to disputed boundaries, and that nothing short of the impossibility of procuring any proper definition of boundaries had prevented further litigation; landowners preferring, in many cases, to submit to considerable encroachments rather than plunge into litigation the issues of which were doubtful. Of Canterbury, Major Palmer says:—
“While in Auckland and some other Provinces one chief cause of the difficulties which beset the early land sales under the principle of selection before section survey was that they often had absolutely no topographical map with any pretension to accuracy as a basis to work upon; in Canterbury, on the other hand, we have the case of large areas having been triangulated and topographically mapped for purposes of land selection, with a certain show of accuracy, yet so carelessly, in reality, that but little good was gamed; error and confusion of the usual types were introduced at the very outset, in spite of a large expenditure of money, and have never since been thoroughly eradicated.”
After pointing out the nature and extent of the errors he refers to, and the evils which necessarily flow from original bad surveys, and other causes affecting the accuracy of Crown grants, he adds that “puzzling questions of disputed or defective title, and of overlaps and surplusage are for ever cropping up for decision by the Crown Commissioners, or the Registrar-General of land, and that Government incurs the risk of having to pay large sums of money as compensation for erroneous grants.”
Coming to Otago Major Palmer remarks that fortunately for that Province its chief surveyor had not been cramped in means for carrying on the work under his control, and he tells us that Mr. Thomson established, in 1861, a uniform system of surveying, which, if not highly scientific or scrupulously exact, was simple and practical, and not likely to introduce inordinate errors or distortions. He then proceeds to give a sketch of this
system, to which I need not refer, inasmuch as it forms the subject of the elaborate paper* read by Mr. Thomson before this society. Major Palmer remarks of the work done by Mr. Thomson, that it might be considered fairly accurate, showing that as an expedient for promoting rapid and correct land sales and preventing waste it had answered well; but Major Palmer does not recommend the adoption of this system as a general one throughout the colony, and, indeed, whilst giving credit for the skill and care with which it was carried on, he treats it only as an expedient for promoting rapid settlement in a country exibiting the natural features and resources of Otago.
On the contrary Major Palmer distinctly points to a different system as being necessary in order to remedy the serious mischiefs which have already resulted and must continue to result from the defects in the existing surveys over a large tract of the Colony, and to make careful provision for the future.
“On this point,” he says, “it is in my opinion perfectly clear that, whatever be the means introduced for systematizing and carrying on future detail surveys and revising old ones, the basis of all such reform must be a general triangulation of the Colony. In support of this view there could, perhaps, be no more convincing proof than this—that nearly all of the really good work hitherto done is that which has been founded on triangulation. That nothing short of trigonometrical survey will produce accurate estate maps of extensive areas is an axiom familiar to every educated surveyor; and in New Zealand accuracy is of special importance, from the responsibilities incurred in granting land, from the preponderance of undefined section boundaries, and from the scattered nature of the surveys. Triangulation, moreover, is cheap, because it insures the desired accuracy and saves the cutting of lines; the country is favourable for it; the old difficulties of native interference and want of roads are fast disappearing; it has been urged by the conference of Chief Surveyors, and by successive Secretaries and Registrars-General of Crown lands. Lastly, Government have already signified their assent to the principle, by taking a preliminary vote for this very purpose.”
It is important, moreover, to bear in mind, in connection with observations contained in Mr. Thomson's paper as to the relative cost of money and time required for completing the surveys of the Colony under his system, and that recommended by Major Palmer, that the latter estimates the total cost at £100,000, and the time at ten years only—figures which differ materially from those suggested by Mr. Thomson, and which, so far as I am able to judge, are much more reasonable.
It will have been observed that in the foregoing remarks I have relied
[Footnote] * “Trans. N. Z. Inst.,” ante, p. 96.
largely on the report of Major Palmer as an authority in connection with the system of survey to be used throughout the Colony, and I have had no hesitation in doing so, not merely because that report has emanated from a gentleman whose knowledge upon the subject under discussion is admittedly profound, but also because his views coincide with those of several surveyors in this Colony, whose opinions on the matter are entitled to the highest respect. I now propose, with some diffidence, however, to offer a few remarks on the adaptability of Mr. Thomson's system to the Colony as a whole, and to discuss it in comparison with that suggested by Major Palmer.
It is necessary to premise that where a country practically admits of the bearings of all its sectional lines being run by the theodolite in the open, and also of nearly all those lines being chained, a method of survey may be adopted which would not be applicable where neither of these operations can be performed, and therefore that a system might fairly be used as an expedient for the rapid settlement of an open and moderately hilly country which would in no degree answer for a country of a different aspect.
Now those portions of Otago which have been surveyed under Mr. Thomson's system consist chiefly of open and undulating or moderately hilly lands, the process of surveying which is easy as compared to that of surveying the densely wooded and broken tracts which, for the most part, prevail in other parts of the Colony, and especially in the North Island. Otago, therefore, does not furnish for the purposes of a system of survey, either as regards cost or accuracy, a fair example of what can be accomplished for New Zealand as a whole.
Let me call attention, in the first place, to the probable ratio of error between the meridian circuit system of minor triangulation of three-mile sides executed with five-inch theodolites divided to minutes of are, and a major triangulation of twelve to fifteen-mile sides, with eight or ten-inch theodolites divided to ten seconds of are. This ratio is quoted by Mr. Thomson as two links to one link per mile only in favour of the better class of instrument and higher standared of execution.
Now I apprehend that the limit of the measuring power of a theodolite may be said to be represented by the degree of accuracy with which an observation can be read with it. Thus all measures of an angle taken between two objects with a five-inch theodolite divided to minutes of are only, might result in giving the same whole minute of reading. The accordance of such observations is, therefore, not conclusive as infallible evidence of their accuracy. On the other hand a similar number of observations with an eight or ten-inch theodolite between the same objects would
result in actually showing discrepancies of ten seconds between the single observations, because in this latter case we have approached more closely the limits of our measuring powers, and have therefore become sensible of the discrepancies of the observations. Here, however, the discrepancies themselves are prima facia evidence of the angle observed being subject to an error of ten seconds only, wheréas in that taken with the five-inch theodolite the amount of error could not be relied upon as being within one minute. In both instances they may be called errors produced from constant causes.
The inference from these remarks is that the ratio of error of work performed by the two classes of instruments is as six links to one link per mile. I am informed, that remarkably enough, in practice the errors disclosed by the two class of triangulations bear out this theory. That taking, for example, the partial check afforded by the sides of triangles which combine into polygonal figures and comparing common sides, it is found that the computations derived from the eight or ten inch theodolite give consistent results with an average accuracy of a half link per mile, while those due to five-inch theodolites average three links.
The above figures cannot, however, be taken as representing the actual errors committed by each class of instrument. They serve only to show that the ratio of error is in the proportion of six links to one link per mile. The actual error of triangulation with eight or ten-inch theodolites, as exhibited by closing its sides on measured verification bases at intervals of 60 miles or so, amounts, I am told, to one foot per mile, and this large increase may easily be accounted for from various causes, such as errors arising from tremors of the telescope produced by wind, from anomalous changes in the atmosphere, from anomalous contraction and expansion of the parts of the instrument used, and from an accumulating tendency to error in the triangulation itself. Indeed, an accumulating tendency to error is obvious, and must proceed in arithmetical progression according to the number of triangles extended from the measured base line. It therefore follows that the risk of an accumulating tendency to error increases as the extent of country to be triangulated over without check. It was in order to avoid this that the engineers who conducted the great trigonometrical operations of Great Britain and India inaugurated the now received principles of primary, secondary, and minor triangulations, the superior order serving as a check upon the inferior. Thus by carrying each principal series of triangles in a direct course from one measured base line to another in as small a number of stations as possible, the accumulating tendency to error becomes reduced to a minimum.
Thus both theory and practice agree in allotting to triangulated sides of twelve to fifteen miles, with eight or ten inch theodolites, a minimum error of four inches per mile, progressing to a maximum of one foot per mile, when extended for sixty miles or so; and to triangulated sides of three miles, with five-inch theodolites, a minimum error of two feet per mile, progressing to a maximum of' six feet per mile, when similarly extended. In this latter case, however, it should be remarked that, on the theory of accumulating errors increasing in proportion to the number of stations triangulated, the maximum error becomes reached by minor triangulation when it has passed over fifteen miles or so. The average error may, there fore, be quoted at four feet per mile or six links, and as this may take either a positive or negative direction, a double error of twelve links per mile might become exhibited by crucial tests. Practical instances might be instanced bearing this out, either when triangulation of this class has been carried on from one measured base line to another about fifteen miles apart, or when the test of secondary triangulation has been applied to it.
Instances have, I am told, occurred, where closing meridian circuits in Otago have exhibited no greater errors than two links per mile; such an accordance, however, cannot be received as conclusive evidence of the consistent accuracy of the measures throughout the circuit, on the ground before stated with regard to five-inch theodolites, namely, the want of sufficient measuring power in its operations. It is only when a higher order of triangulation is placed over it that we should become sensible that the stations of a meridian circuit are more or less dislocated from their assumed positions, by the larger amount of error above quoted.
The practical question to discuss, therefore, resolves itself into this, what limit of error is it desirable not to exceed in the triangulation necessary for checking sectional surveys, the errors of these latter being admitted to far exceed any assigned limit to the triangulation? From the foregoing statements, if the assigned limit of error is to be four feet per mile, with a possible double error of eight feet per mile attached to it, minor triangulation meets the case; if it is to be one foot per mile, involving a double error of two feet per mile, secondary triangulation should be had recourse to in addition; but if greater accuracy is desired, then we must revert to primary triangulation. With regard to the adaptability of minor triangulation with measured bases at intervals twelve miles apart for New Zealand generally, it may be asked how are such operations to be carried on in vast wooded tracts, such as those which occur in many parts of the North Island, such, for example, as the Forty-mile Bush and the Manawatu districts in the Provincial district of Wellington, and others of still greater extent in that of Taranaki? It is clear that in these localities a larger system of triangu-
lation becomes a matter of necessity, from which minor points may become fixed as opportunities present themselves, in order to obtain an accurate system of rectangular co-ordinate distances for the traversed points. I have already shortly alluded to the question of the relative cost of a major triangulation and meridian circuit minor triangulation systems: which, on reference to Mr. Thomson's figures, I find is stated as eight to one in favour of the latter. But it may fairly be asked, even if this were established, whether—inasmuch as the cost of the survey of lands into one hundred acre sections or thereabouts in this Colony varies, as I am told, from 1s. to 3s. per acre before the Crown Grant can safely be issued—the fraction of a penny per acre more or less, which would be spent in securing efficient checks, would materially affect the total cost? Or whether the practice of such economy would possibly compensate for the obvious advantages to be derived from securing the superior check system?
However, in a return furnished to the Conference of Chief Surveyors, in 1873, shewing the total cost of the triangulations executed in the several Provinces of New Zealand up to that date, I find it stated that 6,739,920 acres cost £40,618 to triangulate in Otago; whereas, in Wellington, 2,496,000 acres, of major and minor triangulations combined, cost only £9, 800: thus shewing the relative cost to be two to one in favour of Wellington. I give these figures, as furnished in the return, merely as matter of information, and with no desire to disparage, in this aspect of the question, the system pursued in either Province.
It might, moreover, be asked whether astronomically determined latitudes, at intervals of 60 miles, with portable instruments, furnish a sufficient check on the accuracy or otherwise of triangulation. I have made inquires on this point, and am informed that even the most skilful observers with such instruments will scarcely venture to assert that a latitude could be determined within a probable error of two seconds of are, or nearly 200 feet of linear measurement; and as this error may take either a positive or negative direction, it may be concluded that, under the most favourable circumstances, there would be a possible error of 400 feet in a distance of 60 miles, or nearly seven feet per mile. A reliable check could only be expected by this method under similar conditions when the two stations are at very large distances apart, for the probable error would not thereby be increased, whilst the error per mile would be reduced in proportion to the greater distance of the stations; so that, for the reasons above given, this method could only be relied upon for checking triangulated distances when the statins are very far apart Electric differences of longitude, measured with the portable transit instrument, are asserted by competent authorities to be liable to an error of an error of one second of time, or equivalent to 1,150 feet in this latitude.
It will probably have appeared to my hearers, at the first blush, that the objections I have already urged against the adoption of Mr. Thomson's system, are objections rather from a surveyor's point of view than from alawyer's; but a more careful consideration of the matter will, I think, lead them to the inference, that, in the main, objections taken from the one must apply with equal force to the other. In a former part of this paper I pointed out the importance which lawyers, engaged in conveyancing, attach to accuracy in the description of the property to be dealt with, and I now propose shortly to sketch the origin of our system of conveyancing with the view of shewing the tendency of improvement in this particular direction, and the special necessity for such improvement if the system, established under the Land Transfer Acts, is to become a satisfactory reality.
I have always personally advocated the adoption of cheap and simple modes of dealing with landed property, but I have also deprecated interference with these questions on the part of untrained men. Changes of law and system in matters of such moment ought not lightly to be made, and, when made, ought to be attended with all the safeguards against error which the widest experience can bring to bear upon them. Now, although I am quite alive to the advantages which the community may reap from the adoption of the principle involved in the Land Transfer Acts, I cannot shut my eyes to the fact—and I do not hesitate in saying that all the officers engaged in administering those Acts will concur with me in opinion—that, as now in operation in this Colony, they are ill-constructed and embarrassing, and are sure to produce an abundant crop of litigation. If my watch is out of order, I do not take it to a tinker for repairs; and I see little difference between this case and that of a layman attempting to make amendments in a highly technical branch of law, with which he has no acquaintance whatever, beyond the possible accident of having purchased a few acres of land. Our system of dealing with land is one of very long growth, but although, in the remarks I am about to make, I shall have to go back many centuries in time, I do not propose to make them very wearisome.
Our Anglo-Saxon ancestors, who were ignorant of the art of writing, conveyed their property from one to another in open folkmoot, by means of visible signs and symbols, which awakened attention, and ensured that the memory of the transaction should remain with the Witan, who were called together by the “Mot-bel” to witness and record it. Many curious instances of alienation by symbol are to be found, collected by Selden, Palgrave, and others, but the symbols themselves appear to have varied with the whim of the donor, and not to have been reduced to any particular system. In like manner, we find that, amongst the Jews, when a purchase was effected,
the party “plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour, as a testimony in Israel.” But the delivery of the symbol was always accompanied by another ceremony, that of naming and recording the bounds of the property alienated, for its position and boundaries were as much matters for proof by oral evidence as the fact of alienation itself. It will be remembered by those who have read Mr. John White's instructive lectures on the manners and customs of the New Zealanders, that the boundaries of tribal lands were carefully handed down from father to son. And we find even amongst the deeds of cession to the Europeans, that the boundaries of the lands conveyed are described by reference to such ancient land-marks.
Antiquarians have found it impossible to ascertain, with any degree of precision, when the Anglo-Saxons began to use written forms of conveyance. It has been stated that the first written conveyance was one made by Withredus, King of Kent, in 694; and, as declared by the charter itself, was appointed to be kept at Canterbury, as a form for posterity to imitate. But, at whatever time these charters were first employed, they did not displace the use of symbols, which were continued long after the Norman conquest; and have been partially used even to this day.
When land was conveyed by a written instrument it was called boc-land, and the instrument itself corresponded to the “libellus de terra” of the Continental conveyancers; and the “possession-boke” of the ancient Jews. Sometimes the general body of the charter is in Latin, and the description of the land in Saxon, and sometimes the whole is in Latin.
“The Saxon conveyances,” says Turner, “consisted principally of these things: The grantor's name and title are stated. Next, a recital of title, or of some circumstances leading to the gift. Then the conveying words and the name of the donee. Next, the consideration for the gift. Then the premises are mentioned, which are usually very shortly described by their measured or estimated quantity of land, and the name of the place where they are situated. The nature of the tenure, and the services from which the land is liberated, and those to which it is to continue subject, are then stated; after which follow the date, signature, and attestation.”
It will be seen how closely this resembles the forms still in use; but, to whatever age in the history of conveyancing we look, we find that the greatest care was taken that the property dealt with should be capable of strict definition.
In former days, however, alienations were not frequent, and private sub-divisions of land still less so, and, indeed, it is only of late years that the practice of dealing with land has attained the enormous extent to which it now prevails. In this colony the sub-division and ownership of land already obtain to a very great extent, and daily experience shows the importance
of accuracy in the definition of boundaries. I have no hesitation in saying that but for the exercise of the greatest forbearance, and that natural unwillingness which exists to embark in litigation with a neighbour, the Courts of this colony might be fully employed from one year's end to another in cases of disputed boundaries. In the larger towns the settlement of such questions is daily assuming a more difficult aspect, owing chiefly to the extraordinary increase in the value of property, and I have already known instances in which a claim for a couple of feet of ground, originally valued at a few shillings, has caused an expenditure of hundreds of pounds, when the value had increased from £20 to £50 a foot. It is familiar knowledge, moreover, to those who are acquainted with the state of the surveys in the rural districts of this Provincial district, for example, that in numberless instances, the boundaries of adjoining properties, for which grants had been issued, over-lapped to the extent of a chain and upwards, the later occupant being usually the loser in such cases, and being advised to submit to his loss rather than attempt to remedy it by the expensive and uncertain course of a lawsuit. In the course of my own practice I have had occasion to advise in dozens of such cases, and I cannot therefore but look with concern upon the probable introduction of a system of surveys which is calculated, as I conceive, to maintain the continuance of evils, which were being rapidly and satisfactorily got rid of, under the more accurate and enlightened system which it is intended to displace. But the public are even more concerned than the lawyers in such a matter, and if it be desired that the “Land Transfer” system shall produce its best fruits they ought to insist upon the adoption of the most effectual and scientific system of surveys, as that alone which is likely to produce such fruits. Under that system, as I have before observed, written descriptions are as much avoided as possible, reference to an accurate plan having already proved itself to be of very great value in simplifying and cheapening dealings. This fact alone justifies me in offering objections to any system of survey which is not founded on a sound scientific basis, and which is opposed to the practice and recommendations of writers of authority on such matters. It is a rule in societies such as that which I am now addressing not to discuss political questions, but the complete enforcement of such a rule would necessarily exclude even such a paper as this, which was, of course, never intended. It is not even, as I conceive, a violation of that rule on my part to observe that those who are engaged in the work of administering the Government of the Colony, ought not to permit experiments to be made in matters of vital importance to the community; and that when they are in possession of, and have in effect adopted, the well-considered views of an eminent
man upon any matter under their control, more especially when those views are in accordance with systems used in countries of advanced civilization, they are in accordance with systems used in countries of advanced civilization, they are bound to give effect to those views, in preference to any mere expedient, however practical, unless circumstances of a very exceptional character happen to justify its temporary adoption.