The present work is intended, primarily, as a text-book for students, but it is by no means restricted in its scope or design to such a use. Its purpose is not only to sketch an elementary outline of the law relating to simple contracts, but to elucidate and systematize, as far as practicable, the general law applicable to the subject; in the hope that it may serve alike the student and the practitioner. It is believed, that such a work is now needed by the profession, for new circumstances and exigencies so modify and expand every department of jurisprudence, as to require new expositions of the law, however valuable preceding treatises may have been. The plan of the present work has been to render cases subordinate to principles, and, instead of pursuing the common method of merely digesting the various authorities, to throw the main body of them into the notes, and to incorporate those only in the text, which seemed to afford the best illustrations of the doctrine under consideration.
The author acknowledges himself to be indebted for real and valuable assistance to the Commentaries of Mr. Chancellor Kent, and to the labors of Mr. Metcalf. The lectures of the former contain many admirable sketches on the subject of Contracts, which are characterized by the comprehensive learning and ability of that distinguished jurist. But they do not profess to be more than a general sketch of the law appertaining to Contracts, and they still leave a large field unoccupied. So, also, the articles upon Contracts by Mr. Metcalf, which were published in the American Jurist, are distinguished by nice discrimination, and lucid arrangement, and, had they been completed, would have rendered the present work unnecessary. And here I may, also, be permitted gratefully and affectionately to acknowledge the valuable aid which I have derived from the Commentaries of my father, Mr. Justice Story, - an aid which it is my pride as well as my pleasure to receive; they have materially abridged my labors, and, in many instances, rendered further investigation unnecessary.
With the most unfeigned diffidence, this treatise is now submitted to the profession, with the wish, that it may aid their researches, and with the hope, that they will not "measure by the scale of perfection, the meagre product of reality."
Boston, June 17, 1844.