No sooner had it been decided in England that a statement of consideration in the memorandum was essential, than the courts were called upon to decide what was a sufficient statement; and it was held there and has been held in the United States that an express statement is unnecessary if by a necessary or even probable inference of fact the memorandum indicates the consideration. Thus a written offer stating the consideration which is to be given is a sufficient memorandum.54 A writing which warrants the inference that the consideration for the defendant's promise was a mutual promise by the plaintiff, sufficiently expresses consideration though the plaintiff's promise is not stated in terms;55 and in other cases a memorandum was upheld which left the nature of the consideration to inference rather than expressly stated it in the writing.56 On the other hand, the inference from a writing guaranteeing a preexisting debt that the consideration was a requested forbearance has been thought too uncertain to make the writing a valid memorandum.57
51 Hayes v. Jackson, 169 Man. 41(1, 34 N. E. 683. See also Campbell v. Preece, 133 Ky. 572,118 S. W. 373.
52See dissenting opinion, Hayes v. Jackson, 159 Mass. 451, 34 N. E. 683. Also compare the application of the parol evidence rule to statements of consideration in contracts in writing which are not within the statute. Bee supra, Sec. 115.
53 See the following section.
54Stadt v. Lill, v. East, 348 ("I guarantee the payment of any goods which J. S. delivers to J. N."). Choate v. Hoogetraat, 106 Fed. 713, 46 C. C. A. 174 (under Wisconsin statute); McDonald v. Wood, 118 Ala. 589, 24
So. 86; Hargroves v. Cook, 15 Ga. 321; Hutton c. Padgett, 26 Md. 228; Church v. Brown, 21 N. Y. 315; City Bank v. Phelps, 86 N. Y. 484; Balfour v. Knight, 86 Oreg. 165, 167 Pac. 484; Young v. Brown, 53 Wis. 333, 10 N. W. 394; Coxe v. Milbrath, 110 Wis. 499, 86 N. W. 174; Miami County Nat. Bank v. Goldberg, 133 Wis. 175, 113 N. W. 391; Nash v. Hartland, 2 Ir. L. 190. See also infra, Sec. 579. In Quaker Oats Co. v. North, 102 N. Y. Misc 108, 168 N. Y. S. 145, a request to forbear was held sufficiently implied in a written promise of guaranty, though not expressed.
In construing a memorandum in order to determine whether it sufficiently states the consideration in jurisdictions where such a statement is necessary, evidence of surrounding circumstances may be introduced as an aid to the interpretation of a writing. Thus, a promise reading: "I hereby guarantee B.'s account with A.," might mean the account which B. owed at the time of the promise, or an account which B. was expected to owe. In the latter event the contract and the memorandum of it would be good. Parol evidence was introduced to show that there was an existing account, and the memorandum was held invalid.58 Unless forbearance or further advances were requested, the difficulty indeed would be deeper than one of the Statute of Frauds; there would be no contract. So a memorandum reading "In consideration. of your being in advance to L in the sum of ten thousand pounds, ... I do hereby give you my guaranty for that amount," was held valid on proof by parol that when the memorandum was made no debt had been incurred to the promisee.59 The principle which is thus applied is not different from that universally applicable in the construction of written documents.60
55 Bowers v. Ocean Accident, etc., Corp., 110 N. Y. App. D. 691,97 N. Y. 8. 485, affd. 187 N. Y. 561, SO N. E. HOG.
56 In Newbery v. Armstrong, Moody ft M. 389, a written guarantee to an employer guaranteeing the latter against loss of any sums which he might entrust to an employee to the amount of £50, was held sufficiently to indicate that the consideration for the promise was taking the employee into the employer's services. To the same effect is: Ryde v. Curtis, 8 Dowl. & R. 62; Kennaway v. Treleavan, 5 M. & W. 498; Wetdin v. Porter, 4 Houat. 236. Cf. Lees v. Whitcomb, 5 Bing. 34, where a promise in writing
"to remain with Mrs. Lees, . . . for 2 years from the date hereof for .the purpose of leaning the business of a dressmaker," was held insufficient as not warranting the inference of a promise to teach, or other consideration. See also Sykes v. Dixon, 9 A. ft E. 803, 697.
57 James v. Williams, 5 B. ft Ad. 1109; Emmott v. Reams, 5 Bing. N. C. 559; Smith v. Ives, 15 Wend. 182; Beaker p. Krank, 62 N. Y. App. Div. 514, 71 N. Y. S. 78. But see Neelson v. San-borne, 2 N. H. 413, 9 Am. Deo. 108; Union Nat. Bank v. Leary, 77 N. Y. App. Div. 332, 79 N. Y. S. 217.
58Allnutt v. Ashenden, 5 H. & Q. 392.
A desire to account satisfactorily for the enforcement of promises on negotiable paper to answer for the debt of another seems responsible for a line of decisions holding that the words "for value received" are a sufficient statement of consideration in a memorandum of guaranty in jurisdictions where a statement of the consideration is required. So far as concerns the recognized negotiable secondary obligations on negotiable instruments these decisions themselves would not be troublesome, for such obligations by the custom of merchants are withdrawn from the operation of the Statute of Frauds.61 But the statement in such cases of the sufficiency of the words "for value received" has been upheld by decisions not only relating to guaranties written on negotiable paper,62 though such a guaranty is not negotiable, but even guaranties on a separate paper or of a non-negotiable debt have been sustained in the same way.63 Such decisions are of course absurd. If a statement of the consideration is necessary at all it is necessary in order to indicate the exact terms of the agreement, - to furnish written evidence of those terms in order to establish the plaintiff's ease, and such general words stating consideration are of as little use for this purpose as words of like generality would be if contained in the promise. A memorandum that "for value received the undersigned promises to return value," would certainly not be acceptable.64 Not only has a general statement that consideration has been received been held sufficient, but an erroneous statement of a fictitious consideration has also been held enough to satisfy a requirement that the consideration must be stated.65 These decisions seem to rest in part at least on the idea that the maker of a written instrument is estopped to show the true consideration in contradiction of one recited in the instrument. This view has been previously criticized.66 That such a fiction should be resorted to in order to escape from a general rule that consideration must be stated in the memorandum certainly tends at least to show that any requirement where consideration is executed, that it should be stated in the memorandum, is undesirable. In spite of these cases, it is impossible to suppose that any general rule can be accepted that the insertion in a memorandum of any fictitious or erroneous consideration will satisfy a local requirement that consideration must be stated. Certainly if the consideration agreed upon is executory, it must be accurately stated.67
59 Haigh v. Brooks, 10 A. & E. 309.
60For illustrations of the admission of parol evidence to indicate whether words in a memorandum related to a future or past transactions see - Butcher v. Steuart, 11 M. & W. 857; Goldahede v. Swan, 1 Exch. 154; Lysaght v. Walker, 6 Bligh (N. S.), 1, 27; Bainbridge v. Wade, 16 Q. B. 89; D'Wolf v. Rabaud, 1 Pet. 476, 7 L. Ed. 227; Walrath v. Thompson, 4 Hill, 200. In Union Nat. Bank v. Leary, 77 N. Y. App. Div. 332, 79 N. Y. S. 217, parol evidence was admitted and held to show that a memorandum of guaranty stating no consideration, was in fact given for forbearance.
61 See Supra, Sec. 458.
62 Moses v. Lawrence County Bank, 149 U. S. 298, 37 L. Ed. 743; Dill-worth v. Holmes Furniture etc. Co.
(Ala. App.), 73 So. 288; Brooks v. Morgan, 1 Hair. (Del.) 123; Emerson v. Aultman, 69 Md. 126, 14 Atl. 671; Osborne v. Baker, 34 Minn. 307, 25 N. W. 606, 57 Am. Rep. 65; Connecticut Mut. L. Ins. Co. v. Cleveland etc. R. Co., 41 Barb. 9; Miller v. Cook, 23 N. Y. 496; Day v. Elmore, 4 Wis. 190. See also Jansen v. Kuensie, 145 Wis. 473, 130 N. W. 450, Ann Cas. 1912 A, 1241.
63 Flowers v. Steiner, 108 Als. 440, 19 So. 321 (assignment of stock as security); Smith v. Northrop, 80 Hun, 65, 29 N. Y. S. 851 (a guaranty of a mortgage debt on a separate paper); Dahiman v. Hammol, 46 Wis. 466 (a guaranty of several promissory notes on a separate paper); Cheney v. Cook, 7 Wis. 413, 423 (contract for sale of land).