"The English decisions upon this subject have gone great lengths, - greater, indeed, in our judgment, than any sound interpretation of the statute will warrant, and in some instances to an extent which is irreconcilable with any just principle. There appears at present a disposition on established, that if there be no express promise to pay, a promise will not be raised by implication of law from the acknowledgment of the party, unless there be an unqualified admission of the debt, and also an unconditional expression of willingness to pay it.1 An acknowledgment, therefore, of the part of the English courts to retrace their steps, and, as far as they may, to bring back the doctrine to sober and rational limits. The American courts have evinced a like disposition. In the recent case of Bangs v. Hall, 2 Pick. 368, the principal cases were reviewed by the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, and it was held that to take a case out of the statute there must be an unqualified acknowledgment, not only of the debt as originally due, but that it continues so, and, if there has been a conditional promise, that the condition has been performed. A doctrine quite as comprehensive has been asserted in the Supreme Court of New York. The subject was much considered in the case of Sands v. Gelston, 15 Johns. 511, where Mr. Chief Justice Spencer, in delivering the opinion of the court, said: 'That if at the time of the acknowledgment of the existence of the debt, such acknowledgment is qualified in a way to repel the presumption of a promise to pay, it will not be evidence of a promise sufficient to revive the debt and take it out of the statute.' In consonance with this principle the same court has held that, 'if the acknowledgment be accompanied with a declaration that the party intends to rely on the statute as a defence, such an acknowledgment is wholly insufficient.' [See, also, Brown v. Campbell, 1 Serg. & R. 176; Fries v. Boisselet, 9 Ib. 128.]" See, also, Clementson v. Williams, 8 Cranch, 72; Tanner v. Smart, 6 B. & C. 603; A'Court v. Cross, 3 Bing. 329; Ayton v. Bolt, 4 Ib. 105; Hart v. Prendergast, 14 M. & W. 741; Williams v. Griffith, Exch. 335; Routledge v. Ramsay, 8 Ad. & El. 221; Cory v. Bretton, 4 C. & P. 462. 1 Tanner v. Smart, 6 B. & C. 603. Mr. Baron Parke, speaking of this case in Hart v. Prendergast, 14 M. & W. 741, says: "There is no doubt of the principle of law applicable to these cases, since the decision in Tanner v. Smart, namely, that the plaintiff must either show an unqualified acknowledgment of the debt, or if he show a promise to pay coupled with a condition, he must show performance of the condition; so as in either case to fit the promise laid in the declaration, which is a promise to pay on request. The case of Tanner v. Smart put an end to a series of decisions which were a disgrace to the law, and I trust we shall be in no danger of falling into the same course again." See, also, Smith v. Thome, 18 Q. B. 134; 10 Eng. Law & Eq. 391; Rackham v. Marriott, 1 H. &N. 234; Goate v. Goate, Id. 29; Gilkyson v. Larue, 6 Watts & Serg. 213; Gillingham v. Gillingham, 17 Penn. St. 303; Sherman v. Wakeman, 11 Barb. 254; Butterfield v. Jacobs, 15 N. H. 140; Moore v. Bank of Columbia, 6 Pet. 93; Wetzell v. Bussard, 11 Wheat. 309; Read v. Wilkinson, 2 Wash. C. C. 514; Clementson v. Williams, 8 Cranch, 72; Whitney v. Bige-low, 4 Pick. 110; Hill v. Kendall, 25 Vt. 528; Tompkins v. Brown, 1 Denio, the original justice of a claim is not sufficient to take the case out of the statute unless accompanied with an admission
247; 2 Stark. Evid. (8th Am. ed.) 479, note, and numerous cases as there cited. In Bell v. Morrison, 1 Pet. 360, Mr. Justice Story thus clearly states the rule: "In the case of Wetzell v. Bussard, 11 Wheat. 309, the subject again came before this court; and the English and American authorities were deliberately examined. The court there expressly held that ' an acknowledgment which will revive the original cause of action must be unqualified and unconditional. It must show, positively, that the debt is due, in whole or in part. If it be connected with circumstances which in any manner affect the claim, or if it be conditional it may amount to a new assumpsit, for which the old debt is a sufficient consideration; or, if it be construed to revive the original debt, the revival is conditional, and the performance of the condition or a readiness to perform it must be shown.'
"We adhere to the doctrine thus stated, and think it the only exposition of the statute which is consistent with its true object and import. If the bar is sought to be removed by the proof of a new promise, that promise, as a new cause of action, ought to be proved in a clear and explicit manner, and be in its terms unequivocal and determinate; and if any conditions are annexed, they ought to be shown to be performed.
"If there be no express promise, but a promise is to be raised by implication of law from the acknowledgment of the party, such acknowledgment ought to contain an unqualified and direct admission of a previous subsisting debt, which the party is liable and willing to pay.
"If there be accompanying circumstances which repel the presumption of a promise or intention to pay, if the expressions be equivocal, vague, and indeterminate, leading to no certain conclusion, but at best to probable inferences, which may affect different minds in different ways, we think they ought not to go to a jury as evidence of a new promise to revive the cause of action. Any other course would open all the mischiefs against which the statute was intended to guard innocent persons, and expose them to the dangers of being entrapped in careless conversations and betrayed by perjuries." See, also, Bell v. Rowland, Hardin, 301; Harrison v. Handley, 1 Bibb, 443. See Martin v. Geoghegan, 13 Irish Law, 403 (1850), that the acknowledgment need not contain any express promise to pay. A "promise to settle" has been held sufficient. See Maunsell v. Hedges, 2 Irish C. L. C. 88 (1851); Holmes v. Smith, 8 Irish Law, 424 (1858). The following lauguage was held as sufficient acknowledgment in writing within the Statute of Limitations: "I will try to pay you a little at a time if you will let me. I am sure that I am anxious to get out of your debt. I will endeavor to send you a little next week." Lee v. Wilmot, Law R. 1 Exch. 364 (1866). So of the following letter: "Yours of the 24th has been received, and in reply, I hardly know what to say; but as you request an answer soon, I will say in return of the party's present liability.1 But a clear admission of a debt, asking for indulgence, though not containing any words of promise, is sufficient.2 If the terms in which the acknowledgment is given be equivocal or indeterminate, so that they might impress different minds in different ways, or if there be circumstances which tend to create or repel the presumption of an intention to renew the promise, it should be left to a jury to say whether there were such an acknowledgment as is legally necessary.3 It is not necessary, however, that that I can't tell you what I can do at present, hut I have been thinking of coming to W. for some time, but will omit it till I hear from you again. I wish you by return of mail to send me a true copy of all the claims that you hold against me, in full dates; that is, I want it word for word, and indorsements, etc, and state where your mother and sister are now living, and I will either see them or write soon." Brown v. Keach, 24 Conn. 73 (1855), citing and approving De Forest v. Hunt, 8 Conn. 179.