A great many of the cases cited in support of the doctrine of anticipatory breach are upon contracts to marry; 25 and these cases may well be distinguished. Lord Cockburn said in Frost v. Knight : "On such a contract being entered into ... a new status, that of betrothment, at once arises between the parties."26 When a man promises to pay money or deliver goods at a future day, all he understands, all a reasonable man could understand, is that he will be ready to perform on the day. When a man promises to marry, his obligation, as he understands it and as it is understood, is wider, and includes some undertaking as to conduct before the marriage-day. If this be so, marriage with another than the betrothed is an immediate breach, not directly of the promise to marry, but of the subsidiary obligation implied from it. As this breach necessarily involves a loss of the marriage, full damages could be recovered. Lord Cock-burn tries to apply the same line of reasoning to other contracts, saying," The promisee has an inchoate right to the performance of the bargain, which becomes complete when the time for performance has arrived. In the meantime he has a right to have the contract kept open as a subsisting and effective contract. Its unimpaired and unimpeached efficacy may impossible, clearly dispensed with the necessity of a request as such. It does not seem so clear why he should forego the " reasonable time." Coleridge, J., avoided the difficulty by a strained construction of the declaration, holding the promise to mean after request made within a reasonable time. The other members of the court simply say the request is dispensed with.
25 Frost v. Knight, L. R. 7 Ex. Ill; Kurtz v. Frank, 76 Ind. 594, 40 Am. Rep. 275; Adams v. Byerly, 123 Ind. 368; Holloway v. Griffith, 32 la. 400, 7 Am. Rep. 208; Lewis v. Tapman, 90 Md. 294, 45 Atl. 459, 47 L. R. A. 385; Sheahan v. Barry, 27 Mich. 217; Trammell v. Vaughan, 158 Mo. 214, 59 S. W. 79, 51 L. R. A. 854, 81 Am.
St. Rep. 302; Burtis v. Thompson, 42 N. Y. 246, 1 Am. Rep. 516; Brown v. Odill, 104 Tenn. 250, 56 S. W. 840, 52 L. R. A. 660, 78 Am. St. Rep. 914; Burke v. Shaver, 92 Va. 345, 23 S. £. 749. The distinction here suggested was referred to in Stanford v. McGill, 6 N. Dak. 536, 72 N. W. 938, 38 L. R. A. 760, and in Lewis v. Tapman, 90 Md. 294,308, 45 Atl. 459,47 L. R. A. 385; the court said: "There is no occasion to adopt and we do not adopt Hochster v. De La Tour further than it applies under Frost v. Knight to an action for breach of promise to marry." See also Swiger v. Hay-man, 56 W. Va. 123, 48 S. E. 839, 107 Am. St. Rep. 899. 26 L. R. 7 Ex. Ill, 115.