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THE AMENDMENT TO THE BANKRUPT Act. — Bearing in mind the objects of all bankrupt legislation, it is difficult to understand on what theory this amendment was framed. Those who are familiar with the history of the subject will remember that the first English bankrupt acts were passed solely for the benefit of creditors, in order to protect them against fraudulent debtors, and that this has always been the purpose of the involuntary system, as appears from the acts which are made acts of bankruptcy. It was more than a century later that the relief of the honest debtor from the pressure of debt received the attention of Parliament and became an object of legislation. The insolvent laws, passed to effect that object, are the parents of the voluntary provisions in our present law, the aim of which is, briefly, to prevent fraud, to secure an equal division of the debtor's property among his creditors, and to encourage an honest debtor to make such a division by giving him a release from his debts if he does. The Bankrupt Act, as it stood, was well devised to effect these purposes, and the crying evils of the system were the delay and expense attending proceedings under it. The amendment does much to destroy the efficacy of the law, and little or nothing to remedy the evils of which the country complained. We could well believe it an act drawn by the attorneys of a bankrupt to defeat his creditors.

The efficacy of the involuntary system as a weapon to prevent fraud depends of course on the ease and speed with which it can be set in motion. Formerly a single creditor on the spot, and having knowledge of fraud, could with reasonable quickness procure an adjudication. Now, his knowledge must be communicated to at least one-quarter of all the creditors, who may be scattered all over the country, and who well may be strangers to him and unwilling to act upon his statements, or who may have secured preferences or made attachments which it is the object of the bankrupt law to avoid; and he must procure them to join with him before he can take the first step by filing his petition. If, then, the fraudulent debtor, desiring delay, chooses to deny that the necessary creditors in number and amount have joined, and files schedules including the names of persons whose demands are fictitious, he at least insures delay, and may make it impossible for the creditor to secure the assent of the necessary portion without first establishing that the pretended creditors are not really such, a process which may be subject to almost interminable delay.

If he chooses to make a preference, the assignee must prove that the creditor preferred knew it was a preference; it is no longer enough to prove that he ought to have known it. Nor does the creditor so preferred, if that

knowledge and even if actual fraud on his part are proved, lose more than half his debt. These provisions in aid of fraud are not enough ; for the preferred creditor need only delay the proceedings two months to secure his preference ; and the act furnishes him abundant means for so doing.

A discrimination, seemingly entirely without good reason, is made against those who become bankrupt by voluntary petition, who are required to pay thirty per cent of their debts, or else secure the assent of a certain portion of their creditors before they can obtain a discharge ; while the involuntary bankrupt obtains his without paying a cent or obtaining the consent of a single creditor. Such a provision is certainly intended entirely to suppress voluntary bankrupts. The whole result of these provisions must be to encourage fraud and preference, and to delay honest men in attempting to collect their debts.

That provision which enables a majority of creditors to compel the assent of a minority to a composition is of doubtful constitutionality; and the question whether Congress can enact such a law has been certified up to the District Court of Massachusetts.

The questions arising out of the provision which makes retroactive the amendment requiring a certain portion of the creditors to join in the petition have already been considered ; and it has been decided that all involuntary petitions filed since December 1, 1873, on which no adjudication has been had, must be amended, by joining the necessary number of creditors as petitioners, and alleging in the petition that they constitute the portion required by the law. This has been held in the District of Massachusetts by LOWELL, J., and in the Northern District of Illinois by BLODGETT, J. In re Joliet Iron and Steel Co., 2 & 3 N. B. R. 60; In re Scammon, Ibid. 67. Where there has been an adjudication, no amendment is necessary. In re Raffauf, Ibid. 69 ; In re Angell, Ibid. 73. In the Southern District of New York it has been decided, where an adjudication was ordered in March, and a memorandum of the order, signed with the judge's initials, made on the petition at the time, but by oversight no formal order was entered before the passage of the new law, that an amendment was necessary. In re Hill, Ibid. 133.

We have not space enough to discuss in detail the provisions of the amendment; but we regret to record another illustration of the entire disregard of the wishes and needs of the community for which the last session of Congress was so conspicuous. It is fair to add that an attempt is made to reduce the expenses by a somewhat ineffective and obscure clause at the end of the act.

THE REVISED STATUTES. - It may not be generally known that the whole body of the laws of the United States now in force is contained in one volume of about one thousand pages, of which an edition of forty copies was printed by order of Congress during the latter part of the last session, and that these forty copies are literally all the sources from which the people of this country can know under what laws they at present live, and for an ignorance of which no court can excuse them. It may be that a merchant may desire to know what his obligations and duties are with regard to his latest importation ; he acts at his peril ; Jayne and Sanborn, under some other name, may seize his books and blacken his reputation for their own profit, unless he or the astute

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