Most of the cases on releases involve questions of construction only, and some technical rules of construction have been established; but these, like most rules of construction,, would be held subordinate to the broad rule that the intention which the words of the instrument express in the light of the circumstances existing at the time shall prevail.21 Thus "by a release of all actions, suits, and quarrels, a covenant before the breach of it is not released, because there is not any cause of action, nor any certain duty before the breach of it, but the breach of it ought to precede the action, and the cause of the duty. . . . But ... by release of covenants, the covenant is discharged before the breach of it." 22
"If a man release to another all manner of demands, this is the best release to him to whom the release is made, that he can have, and shall enure most to his advantage. For by such release of all manner of demands all manner of actions reals, personals and actions of appeals are taken away and extinct, and all manner of executions are taken away and extinct." 23
The most important rule of construction relating to releases was thus expressed in an English case by lindley, M. R.: " General words of release are always controlled by recitals and context which show that unless the general words are restricted, the object and purpose of the document in which they occur must necessarily be frustrated. General words are always construed so as to give effect to, and not so as to destroy, the expressed intentions of those who use them." 24
21 See Rowe v. Rand, 111 Ind. 206,12 N. E. 377.
22 Hoe's Case, 5 Coke, 70b, 71a.
23 Litt., Sec. 508; Co. Litt., 291a. See Suit v. Suit, 07 Md. 530, 55 Atl. 382.
The nicety of construction which the early law sanctioned may be illustrated by some other sections of Littleton. Thus, section 498, "If I have any cause to have a writ of detinue of my goods against another, albeit that I release to him all actions personals, yet I may by the law take my goods out of his possession, because no right of the goods is released to him but only the action."
Again, section 504," If a man recover debt or damages, and he releaseth to the defendant all manner of actions, yet he may lawfully sue execution by capias ad satisfaciendum, or by elegit, or fieri facias; for execution upon such a writ cannot be said an action."