The Author had rather that the following pages should speak for themselves, than that he should speak for them. They are intended to supply, what he has long felt to be a desideratum, a First Book for the use of students in conveyancing, as easy and readable as the nature of the subject will allow. In attempting this object he has not always followed the old beaten track, but has pursued the more difficult, yet more interesting, course of original investigation. He has endeavoured to lead the student rather to work out his knowledge for himself, than to be content to gather fragments at the hand of authority. If the student wishes to become an adept in the practice of conveyancing, he must first be a master of the science; and if he would master the science, he should first trace out to their sources those great and leading principles, which, when well known, give easy access to innumerable minute details.
The object of the present work is not, therefore, to cram the student with learning, but rather to quicken his appetite for a kind of knowledge which seldom appears very palatable at first. It does not profess to present him with so ample and varied an entertainment as is afforded by Blackstone in his "Commentaries;" neither, on the other hand, is it as sparing and frugal as the " Principles" of Mr. Watkins; nor, it is hoped, so indigestible as the well-packed "Compendium" of Mr. Burton. This work was commenced many years ago; and it may be right to state that the substance of the introductory chapter has already appeared before the public in the shape of an article, "On the Division of Property into Real and Personal," in the "Jurist" newspaper for 7th September, 1839. The recent Act to simplify the transfer of property has occasioned many parts of the work to be re-written. But as this Act has so great a tendency to bewilder the student, the Author has since lost no time in committing his manuscript to the press, in hopes that he may be the means of bringing the minds of such beginners as may peruse his pages to that tone of quiet perseverance which alone can enable them to grapple with the increasing difficulties of Real Property Law. From the elder members of his profession he requests, and has no doubt of obtaining, a candid judgment of his performance of a most difficult task. To give to each principle its adequate importance, - from the crowds of illustrations to present the best, - to write a book readable, yet useful for reference, - to avoid plagiarism, and yet abide by authority, - is indeed no easy matter. That in all this he has succeeded he can scarcely hope. How far he has advanced towards it must be left for the profession to decide.
3, New Square, Lincoln's Inn, 29th November, 1844.