The light in which the offense of insolvency is here exhibited, may perhaps at first consideration be apt to appear not only novel but improper. It may naturally enough appear, that when a man owes you a sum of- money, for instance, the right to the money is yours already, and that what he withholds from you by not paying you, is not the legal title to it, possession of it, or power over it, but the physical possession of it, or power over it, only. But upon a more accurate examination this will be found not to be the case. What is meant by payment, is always an act of investitive power, as above explained; an expression of an act of the will, and not a physical act: it is an act exercised with relation indeed to the thing said to be paid, but not in a physical sense exercised upon it. A man who owes you ten pounds, takes up a handful of silver to that amount, and lays it down on a table at which you are sitting. If then by words, or gestures, or any means whatever, addressing himself to you, he intimates it to be his will that you should take up the money, and do with it as you please, he is said to have paid you: but if the case was, that he laid it down not for that purpose, but for some other, for instance, to count it and examine it, meaning to take it up again himself, or leave it for somebody else, he has not paid you: yet the physical acts, exercised upon the pieces of money in question, are in both cases the same. Till he does express a will to that purport, what you have is not, properly speaking, the legal possession of the money, or a right to the money, but only a right to have him, or in his default perhaps a minister of justice, compelled to render you that sort of service, by the rendering of which he is said to pay you: that is, to express such will as above-mentioned, with regard to some corporeal article, or other of a certain species, and of value equal to the amount of what he owes you: or, in other words, to exercise in your favour an act of investitive power with relation to some such article

True it is, that in certain cases a man may perhaps not be deemed according to common acceptation, to have paid you, without rendering you a further set of services, and those of another sort: a set of services, which are rendered by the exercising of certain acts of a physical nature upon the very thing with which he is said to pay you: to wit, by transferring the thing to a certain place where you may be sure to find it, and where it may be convenient for you to receive it. But these services, although the obligation of rendering them should be annexed by law to the obligation of rendering those other services in the performance of which the operation of payment properly consists, are plainly acts of a distinct nature: nor are they essential to the operation: by themselves they do not constitute it, and it may be performed without them. It must be performed without them wherever the thing to be transferred happens to be already as much within the reach, physically speaking, of the creditor, as by any act of the debtor it can be made to be.

This matter would have appeared in a clearer light had it been practicable to enter here into a full examination of the nature of property, and the several modifications of which it is susceptible: but every thing cannot be done at once.

IPML Chapter 16 Section 3 Part 1