A release properly is a present discharge; and a release of a right to be acquired in the future is, therefore, anomalous, and, in the view of early lawyers, an impossibility;14 but a covenant of perpetual forbearance has been from early times, in order to avoid circuity of action, a bar at law to an action, and if the covenantee or covenantees are the only defendants,15 a "covenant of permanent forbearance is, therefore, as effective as a release.15a The distinction between such a covenant and a release is nevertheless of importance, for a covenant not to sue one or any number less than all of several joint debtors does not have the consequences of a release, and is given only its literal meaning.16 Though the early law did not concern itself with implications, deeming the express words of a writing a conclusive limit of its meaning, there is no doubt in modern times that an attempted release of a future right must be construed as amounting at least to a covenant not to enforce the right whenever it arises.17
14 Hoe v. Marshall, Cro. Eliz. 579; Hoe's Case, 5 Rep. 70b, 71; Neale v. Sheffeild, Brownl. 109; S. C., Yelv. 192; 18 Vin. Abr. *327.
15 Hodges v. Smith, Cro. Eliz. 623; Smith v. Mapleback, 1 T. R. 441, 446; Ford v. Beech, 11 Q. B. 852.
15a Flinn v. Carter, 59 Ala. 364; Jones v. Quinnipiack Bank, 29 Conn. 25; Guard v. Whiteside, 13 111. 7; Peddi-oord v. Hill, 4 T. B. Mon. 370; Foster v. Purdy, 5 Met. 442; Stebbins v. Niles, 25 Miss. 267; Line v. Nelson, 38 N. J. L. 358; Phelps v. Johnson, 8 Johns. 54; Thurston v. James, 6 R. I. 103.
16 See supra, Sec. 338.
17 Pierce v. Parker, 4 Mete. 80; Reed v. Tarbell, 4 Mete. 93. See also Cram v. Sawyer, 132 111. 443, 24 N. £. 956; Curtis v. Curtis, 40 Me. 24, 63 Am. Dec. 651; Power's Appeal, 63 Pa. 443.