It is of assistance in the construction of the next provision of the statute to have in mind the probable purpose of the legislature in providing that promises to answer for the debt of another must be in writing. Why should such promises, more than others, be subject to that requirement? Doubtless because the promisor has received no benefit from the transaction. This circumstance may make perjury more likely, because while in the case of one who has received something the circumstances themselves which are capable of proof show probable liability, in the case of a guaranty nothing but the promise is of evidentiary value. Moreover, as the lack of any benefit received by the guarantor increases the hardship of his being called upon to pay, it also increases the importance of being very sure that he is justly charged. If these are the reasons for this clause of the statute it is not a mere technicality to require as the fundamental element In a valid oral promise to discharge another's liability the receipt by the promisor of a quid pro quo, or beneficial consideration; and whatever conflict there may be in the decisions, it is at least true that without consideration of this kind, such a promise is unenforceable. The Supreme Court of the United States has said in a leading case: 19
16 See Pratt v. Humphrey, 22 Conn. 317.
17As to the necessity of the estate being liable as a principal debtor in order to bring the executor's promise within the statute, see cases cited supra, n. 13 and also Dillaby v. Wilcox, 60 Conn. 71, 22 Atl. 491, 13 L. R. A. 643, 26 Am. St Rep. 299; Cochrane v.
McEntee (N. J.), 51 Atl. 279; Wales v. Stout, 115 N. Y. 638, 21 N. E. 1027.
18 Hannan v. Dreckman, 182 111.
App. 146, and see further as to this section of the statute, Ann. Cub. 1913, c. 396n.
19 Davis a. Patrick, 141 U. S. 479, 487, 35 L. Ed. 828, 12 S. Ct. 58.
"The purpose of this provision was not to effectuate, but to prevent, wrong. It does not apply to promises in respect to debts created at the instance and for the benefit of the promisor, but only to those by which the debt of one party is sought to be charged upon and collected from another. The reason of the statute is obvious, for in the one case if there be any conflict between the parties as to the exact terms of the promise, the courts can see that justice is done by charging against the promisor the reasonable value of that in respect to which the promise was made, while in the other case, and when a third party is the real debtor, and the party alone receiving benefit, it is impossible to solve the conflict of memory or testimony in any manner certain to accomplish justice. There is also a temptation for a promisee, in a case where the real debtor has proved insolvent or unable to pay, to enlarge the scope of the promise or to torture mere words of encouragement and confidence into an absolute promise; and it is so obviously just that a promisor receiving no benefits should be bound only by the exact terms of his promise, that this statute requiring a memorandum in writing was enacted. Therefore, whenever the alleged promisor is an absolute stranger to the transaction, and without interest in it, courts strictly uphold the obligations of this statute. But cases sometimes arise in which, though a third party is original obligor, the primary debtor, the promisor, has a personal, immediate and pecuniary interest in the transaction, and is therefore himself a party to be benefitted by the performance of the promisee. In such cases the reason which underlies and which prompted this statutory provision fails, and the courts will give effect to the promise."