CONTRACT. -- II. ELEMENTS
THE general method to be pursued in the analysis of contract is the same as that already explained with regard to possession. Wherever the law gives special rights to one, or imposes special burdens on another, it does so on the ground that certain special facts are true of those individuals. In all such cases, therefore, there is a twofold task. First, to determine what are the facts to which the special consequences are attached; second, to ascertain the consequences. The first is the main field of legal argument. With regard to contracts the facts are not always the same. They may be that a certain person has signed, scaled, and delivered a writing of a certain purport. They may be that he has made an oral promise, and that the promisee has furnished him a consideration.
The common element of all contracts might be said to be a promise, although even a promise was not necessary to a liability in debt as formerly understood. But as it will not be possible to discuss covenants further, and as consideration formed the main topic of the last Lecture, I will take up that first. Furthermore, as there is an historical difference between consideration in debt and in assumpsit, I shall confine myself to the latter, which is the later and more philosophical form.
It is said that any benefit conferred by the promisee on the promisor, or any detriment incurred by the promisee,