After an interlocutory judgment has been obtained, the damages must be, ascertained; the act of thus fixing the amount of damages is called the assessment of damages. 2. In cases sounding in damages, that is, when the object of the action is to recover damages only, and not brought for the specific recovery of lands, goods, or sums of money, the usual course is to issue a writ of inquiry, and, by virtue of such writ, the sheriff, aided by twelve lawful men, ascertains the amount of damages, and makes return to the court of the inquisition, which, unless set aside, fixes the damages, and a final judgment follows. 3. When, on the contrary, the action is founded on a promissory note, bond, or other contract in writing, by which the amount of money due may be easily computed, it is the practice, in some courts, to refer to the clerk or prothonotary the assessment of damages,. and in such case no writ of inquiry is issued.