Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/536

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Earthquakes seem to be volcanic eruptions that are suppressed because they can not find any outlet, nearly as Dolomieu thought. The motive power of gases, the immense effects of which we can see in the protuberances or jets shot out from the sun with prodigious speed and of enormous dimensions, appears to be sufficiently considerable in the depths of the globe also to explain all the effects of earthquakes.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from the Revue Scientifique.

 

LAST WILLS AND TESTAMENTS.
By JOSEPH W. SUTPHEN.

CAN a will of real or personal property be so prepared and executed as, barring questions of incapacity and undue influence, to be incontestable? Protracted and expensive litigation, frequently involving a period of years, often eating up large portions of estates, and finally resulting in the defeat of a testator's wishes, suggests this oft-repeated question. Considering the matter of execution first, nothing would appear simpler. Our statutory requirements are few and explicit, and, if properly observed, the inquiry, so far as execution is concerned, is easily answered. The provisions of the New York Revised Statutes are—

1. That the will shall be in writing, and subscribed by the testator at the end.

2. That such subscription shall be made by the testator in the presence of each of the attesting witnesses, or shall be acknowledged by him to have been so made to each of the attesting witnesses.

3. The testator at the time of making such subscription, or at the time of acknowledging the same, shall declare the instrument so subscribed to be his last will and testament.

4. There shall be at least two attesting witnesses, each of whom shall sign his name as a witness, at the end of the will, at the request of the testator.

These provisions are practically the same in most of the United States, with the exception, perhaps, of Louisiana, unless it be that some of the States require three or more in the place of two witnesses. An intelligent compliance with the above directions would seem in no wise difficult, yet many an intended will has proved an abortion, solely from lack of their observance, ignorance, and carelessness, and in some instances, no doubt, forgetfulness on the part of witnesses as to what actually transpired at the execution, explaining the circumstance. A witness's stupidity or forgetfulness can not easily be guarded against, except by the selection of intelligent witnesses. This sometimes, as in the case where the testator is in extremis, is impossible; but a stupid or forgetful witness to a will is a great misfor-