CONTRACT. -- I. HISTORY.
THE doctrine of contract has been so thoroughly remodelled to meet the needs of modern times, that there is less necessity here then elsewhere for historical research. It has been so ably discussed that there is less room here than elsewhere for essentially new analysis. But a short account of the growth of modern doctrines, whether necessary or not, will at least be interesting, while an analysis of their main characteristics cannot be omitted, and may present some new features.
It is popularly supposed that the oldest forms of contract known to our law are covenant and debt, and they are of early date, no doubt. But there are other contracts still in use which, although they have in some degree put on modern forms, at least suggest the question whether they were not of equally early appearance.
One of these, the promissory oath, is no longer the foundation of any rights in private law. It is used, but mainly as a solemnity connected with entering upon a public office. The judge swears that he will execute justice according to law, the juryman that he will find his verdict according to law and the evidence, the newly adopted citizen that he will bear true faith and allegiance to the government of his choice.
But there is another contract which plays a more important part. It may, perhaps, sound paradoxical to men