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sible not only for any misuse of the ward's money or stock, but for letting it lie idle; and if he does so without sufficient cause, he must allow the ward interest or compound interest in his account.

To secure the proper execution of his trust, he is not only liable to an action by the ward, after the guardianship terminates, but, during its pendency, the ward may call him to account by his next friend, or by a guardian appointed by the court for the action. The courts have gone so far as to set aside transactions which took place soon after the ward came of age, and which were beneficial only to the former guardian, on the presumption that undue influence was used, and on the ground of public utility and policy.

A guardian cannot, by his own contract, bind the person or estate of his ward; but it he promise, on a sufficient consideration, to pay the debt of his ward, he is personally bound by his promise, although he expressly promises as guardian. And it is a sufficient consideration if such promise discharge the debt of the ward. And a guardian who thus discharges the debt of his ward may lawfully indemnify himself out of the ward's estate, or if he be discharged from his guardianship, he may have an action against the ward for money paid for his use. An action will not lie against a guardian on a contract made by the ward, but must be brought against the ward, and be defended by the guardian.

The guardianship is a trust so strictly personal, or attached to the individual, that it cannot be transferred from him, either by his own assignment or devise, or by inheritance or succes, sion,

A married woman cannot become a guardian without the consent of her husband; but with that she may. A single woman who is a guardian generally loses her guardianship by marriage; but she may be re-appointed. In some States, she loses it by statute; in others, not.

CHAPTER XL.

CONSTRUCTION AND INTERPRETATION OF CONTRACTS.

SECTION 1.

GENERAL PURPOSE AND PRINCIPLES OF CONSTRUCTION.

The importance of a just and rational construction of every contract and every instrument, is obvious. If any one contract is properly construed, justice is done to the parties directly interested therein. But the rectitude, consistency, and uniformity of all construction, enables all parties to do justice to themselves. For then all parties, before they enter into con tracts, or make or accept instruments, may know the force and effect of the words they employ, of the precautions they use, ind of the provisions which they make in their own behalf, or permit to be made by other parties.

It is obvious that this consistency and uniformity of construction can exist only so far as construction is governed by fixed principles, or, in other words, is matter of law. And hence arises the very first rule; which is, that what a contract means is a question of law. It is the court, therefore, that determines the construction of a contract. They do not state the rules and principies of law by which the jury are to be bound in construing the language which the parties have used, and then direct the jury to apply them at their discretion to the question of construction ; nor do they refer to these rules unless they think proper to do so for the purpose of illustrating and explaining their own decision. But they give to the jury, as matter of law, what the legal construction of the contract is, and this the jury are bound absolutely to take.

A distinction is to be observed between the construction of a contract and the correction of a mistake. For, if it were in proof that the parties had intended to use one word, and that another was in fact used by a mere verbal error in copying or writing, such error might be corrected by a court of equity upon a bill fried for that purpose, and the instrument so corrected

would be looked upon as the contract which the parties had made, and be interpreted accordingly. But this jurisdiction is confined strictly to those cases where different language has been used from that which the parties intended. For if the words employed were those intended to be used, but their actual meaning was totally different from that which the parties supposed and intended them to bear, still this actual meaning would, generally, if not always, be held to be their legal meaning. Upon sufficient proof that the contract did not express the meaning of the parties, it might be set aside ; but a contract which the parties intended to make, but did not make, cannot be set up in the place of one which they did make, but did not intend to make

SECTION II.

SOME OF THE GENERAL RULES OF CONSTRUCTION.

The subject-matter of the contract is to be fully considered. There are very many words and phrases which have one mean. ing in ordinary narration or composition, and quite another when they are used as technical words in relation to some spe. cial subject; and it is obvious that, if this be the subject-matter of the contract, it must be supposed that the words are used in this specific and technical sense.

So, too, the situation of the parties at the time, and of the property which is the subject-matter of the contract, and the intention and purpose of the parties in making the contract, will often be of great service in guiding the construction, be. cause this intention will be carried into effect so far as the rules of language and the rules of law will permit. So the moral rule may be applicable, that a party will be held to that mean. ing which he knew the other party supposed the words to bear, if this can be done without making a new contract for the parties.

Indeed, the very idea and purpose of construction imply a previous uncertainty as to the meaning of the contract; for where this is clear and unambiguous, there is no room for construction, and nothing for construction to do. A court would not, by construction of a contract, defeat the express stipulations

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of the parties. And if a contract is false to the actual meaning

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of the parties, or of either party, the remedy does not lie in construction; but, if the plaintiff be the injured party, in assuming the contract to be void, and establishing his rights by other and appropriate means; or, if the defendant be injured by defending against the contract on the ground of fraud or mistake, if the facts support such a defence.

A construction which would make the contract legal is preferred to one which would have an opposite effect; and by an extension of the same principle, where certain things are to be done by the contract which the law has regulated in whole or in part, the contract will be held to mean that they should be done in such a way as would be either required or indicated by the law.

The question may be whether the words used should be taken in a comprehensive or a restricted sense; in a general or a particular sense; in the popular and common, or in some unusual and peculiar sense. In all these cases the court will endeavor to give to the contract a rational and just construction; but the presumption-of greater or less strength, accord. ing to the language used, or the circumstances of the caseis in favor of the comprehensive over the restricted, the general over the particular, the common over the unusual sense.

It is a rule that the whole contract should be considered in determining the meaning of any or of all its parts. The reason is obvious. The same parties make all the contract, and may be supposed to have had the same purpose and object in view in all of it, and if this purpose is more clear and certain in some parts than in others, those which are obscure may be illustrated by the light of those which are clear. Thus, the condition of a bond may help to explain the obligatory part. And the recital in a deed or agreement has sometimes great influence in the interpretation of other parts of the instrument. The contract may be contained in several instruments, which, if made at the same time, between the same parties, and in relation to the same subject, will be held to constitute but one contract, and the court will read them in such order of time and priority as

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wili carry into effect the intention of the parties, as the same may be gathered from all the instruments taken together. And the recitals in each may be explained or corrected by a reference to any other, in the same way as if they were only several parts of one instrument.

Another rule requires that the contract should be supported rather than defeated. The court cannot, however, through a desire that there should be a valid contract between the parties, undertake to reconcile conflicting and antagonistic expressions, of which the inconsistency is so great that the meaning of the parties is necessarily uncertain. Nor where the language dis- . tinctly imports illegality, should they construe it in a different and a legal sense, for this would be to make a contract for the parties which they have not made themselves. But where there is room for it, the court will give a rational and equitable inter pretation, which, though neither necessary nor obvious, has the advantage of being just and legal, and supposes a lawful contract which the parties may fairly be regarded as having made So, for the same reason, all the parts of the contract will be construed in such a way as to give force and validity to all of them, and to all of the language used, where that is possible.

All legal instruments should be grammatically written, and should be construed according to the rules of grammar. But this is not an absolute rule of law. On the contrary, it is so far immaterial in what part of an instrument any clause is written that it will be read as of any place and with any context, and, if necessary, transposed, in order to give effect to the certain meaning and purpose of the parties. Still this will be done only when their certain and evident intent requires it. Inaccuracy or confusion in the arrangement of the parts and clauses of an instrument is, therefore, always dangerous; because the intent may in this way be made so uncertain as not to admit of a remedy by construction. Generally, all relative words are read as referring to the nearest antecedent. But this rule of grammar is not a rule of law, where the whole instrument shows plainly that a reference was intended to an earlier antecedent.

So, it is a general proposition, that where clauses are repug nant and incompatible, the earlier prevails in deeds and other

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