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Kilty's Land-Holder's Assistant, and Land-Office Guide
Volume 73, Preface 5   View pdf image (33K)
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V. PREFACE        

to me the most perspicuous, and the best calculated to display the progress
of the land office system from its simple beginnings to the regular,
but complicated, form which it has ultimately assumed. I had originally
promised no more, in respect to the ancient practice, than a bare exhibition
of the conditions of plantation, and other documents, upon which it
rested. Finding myself, however, enabled to comment and reason upon
the design and effect of those authorities, I extended my plan, so as to
present a connected history, as well as a detailed exemplification, of that
practice. As to the matters purely historical which have been introduced,
it will not be supposed that I lay much stress upon them, as adding to the
interest, or at least to the utility, of the work. They were in some degree
necessary to my design, and I was willing by the aid of those notices trivial
as they are, to give a little spirit and variety to a dull subject. It is
with the same view that, instead of a continued recital, which would have
been infinitely less laborious, I have arranged my enquiries under distinct
heads, and applied to each the particular remarks which it required. The
division of the work into two books, destined, severally, to the examination
of the ancient and modern practice, was prompted by a similar motive,
and, by this kind of distribution I flatter myself that I have done something
to accomodate and repay that class of subscribers whose encouragement
flowed more from good-will than from any interest in the professed
subject of the work. These gentlemen, if the book contains any thing of
entertainment, or general information, will by this arrangement be enabled
to discover it, without wading through those documents and recitals
which are foreign to their pursuits.

       As to the style of what may be called composition, in this mixed
performance, it would not be worth noticing except for the purpose of averting
a criticism upon the familiarity and apparent egotism which may perhaps
be found to characterize it. On this point I will only say that what
may look like egotism has proceeded, in reality, from a very different
sentiment. This book is presented merely as a compilation; and, in the
introductory and connecting discourses, in which the compiler has to speak
in his own person, I have not thought myself entitled to use the formal
style of an author, but, speaking also as a public officer, I have pursued
that unstudied mode of expression which I should use if called upon, in
that character, to explain the proceedings of my office. So many things,
moreover, are advanced upon my own observation or opinion, and the
weight attached to them is so directly referable to the source from which
they proceed, that it would have been difficult to keep myself, in any degree,
out of view, and therefore I have not attempted it.

       In regard to the matter of this compilation, I have fulfilled, I believe,
literally, all that was promised in my prospectus, except in the article of
conveyance concerning which I have only inserted a few laws, without
attempting any comment upon them, and have omitted the forms, which
would have swelled the book to an inconvenient size, and encreased the
expence (already far beyond my original calculation) so at to leave no
chance of remuneration for my labour. I have substituted what appeared
more to the purpose, and this, with the further consideration that I have
greatly exceeded the number of pages proposed, will, I trust, be accepted
as an equivalent.

    I regret much that the errors of the press in this book are so numerous,
and that they so frequently fall upon words of importance, and appear still
more frequently in the essential article of punctuation. I am desirous to
relieve the printers from any responsibility on this score, and must
therefore state that it has arisen from the circumstance of the manuscript's
having been prepared under a full expectation that the publication would
take place at my place of residence, and under my own inspection, and
consequently prepared with a less minute exactness than it otherwise
would have been. All the attention of several gentlemen in Baltimore,
who, with unwearied kindness, have supplied my place in superintending
the publication, has not been sufficient to prevent a considerable number

Source: John Kilty. Land Holder's Assistant and Land Office Guide.
Baltimore: G. Dobbin & Murphy, 1808. MSA SC 5165-1-1.

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Kilty's Land-Holder's Assistant, and Land-Office Guide
Volume 73, Preface 5   View pdf image (33K)
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