Monday, August 16, 2010

Wiedemann v. Walpole 2: The Aftermath

Last time we attended the final installment of the proceedings brought by Miss Valerie Wiedemann against the Hon. Robert Horace Walpole on the grounds of breach of promise and libel. The coverage was , however, entirely from the London Times.

For a slightly different perspective, let's once again pick up a paper from the southern hemisphere. Plucked from the wire service on 20 June 1890, New Zealand's Star offered a summary of the sensational case for readers down under. It offers up some interesting bits of information.

In it, their "London Correspondent" takes an obligatory swipe at W. T. Stead of the Pall Mall Gazette, an interesting act given how very loosely tied to the correct facts and details of the trial the actual Star article below is.

We do become privy to some interesting details here: Prior to the trial Wiedemann had dismissed her own solicitors, who had been unable to persuade her "to accept their brief." Walpole's child had been named "Minnie Valerie Margaretta," and that by the count here in the Star, the baby had been her third illegitimate child. It was alleged she had threatened Monsieur Logothetti with death for testifying against her. And when Walpole refused to give her more money than the £100, she pitched a public fit, threw herself on the floor, held onto his coat, and had to be shaken loose "with difficulty."

There are no images of a youthful Walpole available, certainly none depicting his the age of the trial. We do, however, have written descriptions. You may recall that the Melbourne Argus of 5 January 1889 had described Walpole as a "handsome young man, with the usual F.O. repose and insolence of manner." Here we find a differing [and less than flattering] glimpse of Walpole's appearance, this article describing him as "a thin-faced little man, with a bald head, large nose, slightly receding chin, and harassed expression."

Most interestingly, the article below contains this bit of information from the trial: "Walpole, horrified, took [Wiedemann] to the Hotel Luxembourg, where they stayed for some days," after he had seduced and made love to her at the Hotel d'Angleterre. I wonder how many days they might have spent together, shacking-up in the second hotel where he had registered as "Mr. and Mrs. Boston," had he not been "horrified" by the entire ordeal.

Nonetheless, this is the story that went out across the wires after the conclusion of the trial, which had ended quickly in a 'hung jury.' One wonders how apoplectic Mr. Justice Mathews must have been to find out that four days spent on what had appeared to the learned judge to be a slam-dunk of a trial evaporated in a just a couple of hours when six jurymen for the plaintiff simply could not agree with six jury members who'd sided with the defendant.

The only thing we know for certain as a result of these proceedings is that—You guessed it!—we'll be having yet another trial: Wiedemann v. Walpole, Part 3.

And next time, it'll be for all of the proverbial marbles…

Star , Putanga 6919, 31 Hōngongoi 1890, Page 2

-♦ The Plaintiff's Past. Startling Disclosures. The Berlin Baby. [From our London Correspondent.] London, June 20.

It will be remembered that, when the fair Valerie's outburst of temper brought the first trial of the Wiedemann-Walpole breach of promise case to an abrupt termination, the defendant declared that the unexpected stoppage was the greatest misfortune which could have befallen him. How true this was and how undeserved the obloquy which "that good man Stead" and other enthusiastic champions of the much-injured plaintiff heaped upon Mr Walpole we now know.

The second trial commenced on Saturday last, before Mr Justice Matthew (perhaps the most painstaking judge on the Bench) and a Special Jury. Miss Wiedemann, whose solicitors had proved unable to persuade counsel to accept their brief, conducted her own case. She spoke fast, and with such a strong accent, that it was often impossible to comprehend. Fortunately her story was familiar to most in Court. On Monday the Solicitor-General rose to cross-examine, and then (as anticipated) the proceedings grew distinctly lively. Miss Wiedemann's past according to Sir E. Clarke was not that of a simple nursery governess, but of a crafty adventuress with numerous amatory passages of a distinctly discreditable character. When Mr Walpole met her at the Constantinople Hotel his name appeared in the visitors' book as Lord Walpole, and, believing him to be a big fish, the lady tried her best to land him. She beguiled the young man into her room at night, and deliberately arranged matters so that her reputation should be publicly compromised. Next day she posed before him as a girl who had been seduced and ruined. Walpole, horrified, took her to the Hotel Luxembourg, where they stayed for some days, and where the fair Valerie's behaviour enlightened the man as to her real character, and convinced him that he, at any rate, had not robbed her of her virtue. He gave her £100 when he left, and considered that sum ample solatium for any harm he might have done her.

The Solicitor-General, enquiring into the fair plaintiff's past, asked her if she knew M. Victor de Crenville.

She said she had heard of Mons. Victor de Crenville, who was in the Austrian service, but she had not seen him in Constantinople. She did not go to his apartments in December, 1881. She did not know of another Valerie Weidemann [sic] in Constantinople. It was not true that Mons. de Crenville made complaint against her to the German Consul. Such a statement was an infamous scandal.

The Solicitor-General : Do not be too strong in your expressions.

The Plaintiff : It is infamous ; I will not allow it.

The Solicitor-General : You had previous acquaintance with. Mons. de Crenville, and said he was the father of your child.

The Plaintiff :

The Solicitor-General : I will give you the date when the child was born, and the name of the person who attended you on your confinement. Were you ever in your life in Cyprus ?

The plaintiff : No.

Sir E. Clarke here read a statement by M. Crenville, to the effect; that he had had passing relations with Valerie Wiedemann through the payments of money, and that she charged him with being the father of her second illegitimate child. He caused lots of money to be paid her through his Vienna advocate, but at the same time contested the- paternity. On the utterly false assertion that he bad promised to marry her, Valerie Wiedemann went to his parents and to the Consulate at Constantinople to extort fresh sacrifices of money from him, and then came to his rooms, and tried to strangle him, and threw a heavy teapot at him. The witness, with great indignation and violent gesticulation, declared that the whole thing was false unless the Valeric Wiedemann referred to was a person who had
which was not impossible, as she had lost her passport.

Then Sir E. Clarke came to that part of the cross-examination at which the case broke off so abruptly before, the question of whether, before the end of 1881, the plaintiff had had a child. At first she again showed a disposition to refuse to answer, pleading that the question was offensive and insulting, but at length she denied the allegation. Sir E. Clarke gave her the alleged date, number, and name of the street in Berlin, and the name of the person who attended her, and the name which he alleged was given to the child, "Minnie Valerie Margaretta," but the plaintiff persisted in denying the allegation. Then the Solicitor-General handed up to her an official German certificate of birth chronicling the confinement of Valerie Wiedemann, but still the witness

Coming to another stage, Sir E.Clarke read the statement of M. Menosis, which • alleged that plaintiff called on M. Menosis and said she had not expected his father-in-law, M. Logothetti, the Constantinople hotel proprietor, to give evidence against 1 her, because M. Logothetti had always been "gallant et gentel" towards her. If she lost her case, she said, she would kill Logothetti, according to this state-ment by Menosis. Plaintiff denied this altogether, and said she only said she should proceed against Logothetti for his lies, and get him punished as he deserved. She was giving a piano lesson to one of her pupils when she saw Mr Walpole. He was inscribed in the visitors' book as Lord Walpole. He made love the first evening he saw her. She did not ask Mr Walpole to take her to England. He asked her to go, but she declined. There had been no arrangement that the defendant should come to her room on the night in question. She went to the opera with Mrs Manuso and her daughter that night. Mrs Manuso slept in the next room to hers. The defendant entered her bedroom about half an hour after she went into her room. She was undressed.
but she had bolted the door. She did not open the door to let Mr Walpole in, but she did not understand how he got in. She thought the bolt could not have caught. She was sitting with her back to the door when he must have entered. The room vas only lighted by moon-light, and she had not the slightest suspicion that anyone would enter. She was seated near the window in a dressing-gown. Mr Walpole was also attired in a dressing-gown. She was not only frightened, but shocked and indignant, and she would have turned him out, but he was too strong. There was an actual struggle of physical strength between them before he overcame her. She tried the door between her room and Madame Manuso's. She shouted and screamed, and as no assistance came to her she believed there was a conspiracy against her on the put of Madame Manuso and the people of the hotel. Mr Walpole held a handkerchief over her mouth. She had said nothing of that at the last trial. She tried to get at the bell pull, but he pulled l her arm away. She complained to the proprietor of the hotel as to how she had been treated. She only yielded to the defendant's overtures on the second day when he again promised her marriage. The proprietor of the hotel said someone in the place had complained. He had placed a man to watch at the door, and Mr Walpole had been seen to leave the room. Mr. Walpole enclosed £15 for her fare to Liverpool. He gave her a cheque for £100 at the Hotel Luxembourg, but it was ridiculous to say

He told her his mother was at Cannes, at the Hotel Continental, and he gave her the money to pay her expenses there on the journey. She stayed at an hotel at Malta for two or three days. She also stopped two weeks in a convent at Borne before proceeding to Cannes. She went by the name at Cannes of Madame Valerie. She had never heard from Mr. Walpole since 1882.

The defendant, who is a thin-faced little man, with a bald head, large nose, slightly receding chin, and harassed expression, told the story of his fatal liaison with Miss Wiedemann. Never, he swore, from first to last, was marriage mentioned. He gave her £100 to go to Liverpool with. She was delighted with it, and said it was very kind,

How ridiculous," said the plaintiff, with a laugh. "It is a downright lie."

Sir E. Clarke here read a letter from the plaintiff to the defendant, in which she said their little boy would one day ask his birthright of his father, and that if he did not break his hateful silence he would make of her a modern Brunhilda or some outraged woman.

Then the plaintiff proceeded to cross-examine the defendant.
any of my letters ?" she asked. " Because in one of your letters," said the defendant, " you threatened to make my life a burden unless I gave you thousands of pounds.

Did I tell you I was engaged to a German gentleman ?— She said she was engaged to the German officer who had brought her to Constantinople, and then she pretended to cry, and I did not ask her anything more.

Do you hope I can ever forgive the insult you have offered me by not answering my letters? Do you regret bringing these irreparable sufferings on me? Have you conspired with others against me — Logotnetti and the Manusos?" These were some of the questions which followed, but the two former were disallowed, and the defendant denied the last.

Have you anything to do with
written to persons with whom I have been in service? — No.

In answer to a Juryman, the defendant said that on the night of Sept. 26 he received a note from the plaintiff from the Hotel Imperial at Constantinople. He went there, and saw her

She has cashed the £100 cheque, and told him she wanted some more money.

The plaintiff : " How shameful."

The defendant went on to say that the plaintiff behaved very violently, threw herself on the ground, took hold of his coat, and it was with difficulty he got rid of her.

The plaintiff said the statement was untrue. She was not at the hotel.

The Judge summed up dead in favour of the defendant, pointing out clearly enough that Miss Wiedemann's allegations regarding there having been either a forced seduction or breach of promise were absolutely without corroboration. On the other hand, a number of different people told quaint stories of the lady's past, and her own family appeared to have held themselves conspicuously aloof from her.

The Jury were expected to agree forthwith, but, to the surprise of all concerned, were locked up for several hours without deciding on a verdict, and had then to be discharged. Strange to say, too, six were for the plaintiff and six for the defendant.

1 comment:

  1. Wow!

    Have just been researching and old silver trinket box of mine. On the bottom it reads Tiffany, Paris. Around the sides there is worked floral decoration and on the top it reads Loise Melissa Corbin, Robert Horace Walpole Married May17th 1888.

    What a surprise to come across your work!!