Welcome to Day 3 of the proceedings in which Valerie [Valery] Wiedemann sued the Hon. Robert Horace Walpole, heir to the Earl of Orford. In yesterday's lengthy segment of the trial we finished with the cross examination of the plaintiff under the watcdhful eye of judge, Mr. Justice Mathews [pictured, right]. In well over a year since the completion of the first trial [which ended in a mistrial], Walpole had told anyone who would listen that he was sorry he didn't get to testify and finish off the case once and for all.
On this day, the 18th of June, something Sir Edward George Clarke, the Solicitor General and defence counsel for the future Earl [pictured below, left], would get what was his own wish as well: Walpole finally would take the stand. With Valerie Wiedemann handling her own case in the courtroom, it must have been strange seeing the plaintiff questioning the defendant, face to face, and speaking to each other for the first time since 1882..
Let's get a seat before the proceedings begin at 10:30 am, and experience the exchanges viâ the 18 June 1890 edition of the London Times:
(Before MR. JUSTICE MATHEWS and a Special Jury.)
WIEDEMANN v. WALPOLE. The trial of this action, which was brought to recover damages for breach of promise of marriage and libel, was resumed to-day. At the adjournment of the Court yesterday the cross-examination of the plaintiff had concluded.
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (to the Judge)—Your Lordship has two pieces of paper with the names of Oxford Professors. (The papers were then handed to the Solicitor-General, and read as follows: —The name is Mr. Harmann. To the plaintiff—Do you say he was an Oxford Professor in 1879? Answer. —Yes. And Professor Bue? Answer. —Yes.
The plaintiff then concluded her evidence. My father died in 1868. She passed her examination for governess when she was 18. From 1869 to 1874 she was in the employment of Baroness ——— (The witness here read a testimonial from Baroness L——— when she left her service.) In 1874 she went to Berlin to the Royal School of Music, where she studied two years. She went to Russia till 1878. Then she came to England. She stayed a year in England in the service of Mrs. Lloyd. In 1879 she was in a school at Notting-hill. She then went to Oxford. In November she went to Innsbruck to relatives. She stayed at Innsbruck till March. She then went to Oderburg to her sister. She stayed there till October 1880. Both her brother-in-law and his sister were dead. They had six children, who were brought up by a brother, who is a physician at Charlottenburg. She had another brother in Berlin. She then went to her relations in Pomerania. In the beginning of 1881 she went to Rome with Countess Winsky. She stayed from February till September at Rome at the convent of the Sacré Cœur. She then went to Innsbruck again, and stayed some weeks. She was invited to stay in Vienna with a lady, and stayed there till February, 1882. The lady recommended her to a convent near Constantinople, and she was to stay there till the Countess founded her convent and then she was to go back to Rome. [The JUDGE (to plaintiff). —Is there anything else you wish to add? Answer. —No. The JUDGE. —Are there any other witnesses you wish to call? Answer. —No. The JUDGE. —Are there any depositions you wish to put in ? Answer. —Yes.]
Depositions which had been taken since the last trial in November, 1888, were here read: —
Deposition of the Rev. Charles Wagner, read on the part of the plaintiff. He was pastor of the German Church, Sydenham. He saw plaintiff's papers and testimonials. He saw her in 1878 and 1883. In 1888 she appeared in trouble and made a statement to him, and he addressed a letter to the defendant. (The letter was here read, to the effect that the plaintiff was in London in great distress, and asking the defendant whether he intended to fulfil his promise to marry her or give her a some of money, &c.) He had never heard anything against her moral character. He had given her testimonials.
The plaintiff here interposed, and said she never asked Dr. Wagner to ask for a sum of money, but only to ask the defendant to fulfil his promise.
The deposition of Julia Assmann read: —The plaintiff asked her to attend her in her confinement, in May, 1883. The child was dead. There was no one to assist her at the confinement. The child was an eight months' child.
Carl Huhndorf's deposition read: —He was registrar of births and deaths. Assmanm appeared before him, and reported the birth of a child on May 31, 1883. A woman calling herself Marie Valery Walpole was the mother.
Deposition of Dr. Theodor Römpler read: —He was hospital proprietor of Görbersdorf. Asked to attend a lady in her confinement. He visited a lady calling herself Mrs. Captain Walpole. The child was dead. It was an eight months' child.
Depositions of the witnesses examined at Constantinople on behalf of the plaintiff were then read.
The deposition of Hermann Muhlich read: —The plaintiff came to him and said she wished to enter the employment of Marco Pasha. He made a declaration to Marco Pasha that the contents of her certificates were favourable. She was in his service for two months. She was of irreproachable morality, and he never heard anything prejudicial to her character.
Colonel Altar Bey's deposition read: —He knew the plaintiff at Marco Pasha's. He expressed great satisfaction at her conduct. All he knew of the plaintiff was from Marco Pasha.
Omer Bey's deposition read: —He knew the plaintiff. He could not say under what circumstances the plaintiff came to Constantinople. Augustine Kroeker's deposition read: —She was a widow. The plaintiff taught her daughter. She gave plaintiff a certificate that plaintiff was in her house in April or May, 1882. Thought one of the sisters introduced plaintiff to her.
Osman Pasha's [left] deposition read: —The plaintiff came to him from Marco Pasha's. He tried to find her a place. While she stayed in his house he was satisfied with her conduct. He gave her a certification of good conduct.
This closed the plaintiff's case.
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL submitted that there was no corroboration of the promise.
The JUDGE. —I take note of the point to be discussed hereafter.
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL said he did not intend to make two speeches. He would put whatever evidence he had before the jury, and then address them. The deposition of John George Monoussa was then read by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL, to the effect that plaintiff had too much liberty with his father-in-law, M. Logothetti.
The deposition of Spiro Bahoumis read: —He was waiter at Logothetti's Hotel. Plaintiff was there at the same time as defendant. He saw plaintiff and defendant together on the terrace. There was a scandal, and M. Logothetti refused to allow her to dine at the table d'hôte.
The deposition of Urban Flament read: —He kept the Hôtel Luxembourg. The plaintiff and defendant remained there on September 24 and 25, 1882. Three whole days they occupied one room. (The book containing the entry was here produced.)
Theodore Leuser's deposition and the petition of Cieuneville to the Consulate-General were then read.
The JUDGE here interposed, and said the petition itself was not evidence against the plaintiff, but if it was read in her presence, her conduct with regard to it must be taken into consideration.
The deposition of M. Logothetti was then read: —Plaintiff asked for a situation as governess. She accepted employment to teach his illegitimate children. He had been on intimate terms with plaintiff.
At the close of the reading of the depositions,
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL called the defendant, who said his name was Robert Horace Walpole. He was 35 years of age, 36 next month. In 1882 he was at Constantinople. He had been in ill-health and was travelling. He arrived there the second week in September, and went to Logothetti's Hotel. He was in no employment. His income was then an allowance of £300 a year. He saw the plaintiff at the hotel. He had not seen her before. She spoke to him and asked him if be felt better. He answered her, and the conversation went on. It was not true that he went into a room where she was giving a music lesson and asked to stay there. It was four days before she left the hotel. During the four days he talked to her from time to time. They were talking on the terrace together outside the dining room after dinner. They spoke for about two hours. He asked permission to go to her room, and she gave it him. She told him her room was next to his. He said he would wait downstairs till she went to her door and then he would know her room. She went to her room. He went to his room and undressed. He put a dressing-gown on. He went to her room. She was standing at the door, which was ajar. She asked if Logothetti was about, as he had suspicions. He went into her room. There was no resistance or struggling on her part. It was not true that be put his hand over her mouth. He never promised to marry her. He was there about an hour and a half. She said good night and he returned to his room. He saw a man in the passage. There had been a conversation as to her passage to England. The first conversation they had, she asked when he was going. She said she had never been in England and would like to go. The next time they were together she asked him to pay for her passage. He did not agree at the time. The next morning a note was put under his bedroom door saying that Logothetti knew that he had been in her room and would not permit her to stay, and it asked him to take her away with him. He then sent back the note with the money. The money was in gold. It was £15, the price of the ticket. [The plan of the hotel was here handed in showing the position of the plaintiff's and defendant's rooms.] He could see into her window from his room. He told plaintiff he would take rooms at another hotel until the steamer left. He took rooms at the Hôtel Luxembourg in the name of Mr. and Mrs. Boston. He met plaintiff in the garden that afternoon. It was not true that he went to the ticket office with her. She stayed with him at that hotel from the 23d to 26th. He never promised her marriage at that hotel. On one occasion she asked witness to let her see his rings. One fell on the floor; the plaintiff took it up and put it on her finger. She refused to give it up. There was no truth in the statement that he gave her the ring as a pledge of his promise to marry. He found the steamer did not sail for a fortnight. He could not wait, and returned viâ Varna [pictured, right]. He got the money back for his ticket. He understood plaintiff was going to Liverpool. He gave her £100 by cheque. She was delighted, and said how good it was. It was not true that he suggested she should go to Cannes. He told her that his family were there. It was not true that he suggested that she should go to meet his mother. He said his family went to Cannes every year. The next thing he heard was by letter asking for money. He had not got the letters; he tore them up. He received a letter from Italy. He destroyed them at the time. He then heard of her being at Cannes. In consequence of what he heard he employed Cook (the detective). He was employed in getting plaintiff away from Cannes. It was not true that he ever said to Cook that he might have promised Miss Weidemann [sic] marriage when he seduced her. He had never seen plaint until the day he left Constantinople and the last trial before Mr. Baron Huddleston. He had received letters from her. [The letter of November 30, 1884, then read to witness.] He used to get letters from plaintiff by fits and starts till 1888. When his engagement was announced to Miss Corbett [sic], he received the letter on Foreign Office paper. The likeness of that lady, written over by the plaintiff, was left at his mother's house.
Cross-examined by the plaintiff. —He did not answer any of the letters because she said the last time he saw her she would follow him all her life unless he gave her thousands of pounds. She never told him she was engaged to a gentleman in Germany. She told him she had come to Constantinople [left] with a German officer who had promised to marry her. He had nothing to do with anonymous letters written to persons by whom she was engaged. It was not true that he suggested that she should go to Rome and wait for him. [The plaintiff here read from a long document which she held in her hand.]
A juryman. —Does this advance the case any further?
The JUDGE, to plaintiff. —I agree you are quite at liberty to go on, but you hear what the juryman says. You had better see some professional man during the adjournment.
The Court at this stage adjourned for luncheon.
After the adjournment the defendant continued his evidence. He gave no directions to the detective to get the ring by force or tear up the letters. [Letters written by the defendant to Cook were here handed in and read.] In answer to a juryman. —On the evening of the 26th, after he had given her a cheque for £100, she wrote to him to go and see her at a smaller hotel. She was sitting with some German officers who were drinking beer. She said that she had cashed the cheque and said she wanted more money. She said she heard he was very rich. He said he was not rich; that he had given her all he could afford. She said she would make his life a burden to him; go to his wife and tell her. She said that he had told her he was married. He never said he was married. She made such a noise a crowd collected, and he went back to his hotel. He paid the bill, and plaintiff said to him that if she had to stay till the steamer went she would have to go to a cheaper hotel.
The plaintiff here interposed. —"It is utterly untrue."
In answer to the JUDGE, the plaintiff said she passed the night of the 26th at the Hôtel Luxembourg. The defendant left her on the afternoon of the 26th.
Mrs. Walpole, examined by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL, said, —She was the mother of the defendant. In the autumn of 1882 she was at the Hotel Continental, Cannes. She had been there a short time before she saw the plaintiff. The plaintiff was passing as Mme. Valery, a Russian widow. She saw plaintiff at meals, and joined in general conversation. Plaintiff said to witness it was about witness's son she had come to Cannes. The plaintiff told witness that her son had seduced her by violence, and that if he had not been so strong it would not have happened. Neither the word marriage nor engagement was spoken by the plaintiff or witness on any occasion. It was not true that witness said plaintiff could not marry her son, as he was going to marry a rich woman. She communicated with her son, and afterwards with the manager of the hotel. After that the manager of the hotel removed the plaintiff to a part of the table away from witness. After that the plaintiff left the hotel. She next saw plaintiff in July, 1887. Plaintiff came to her house. She did not recognize plaintiff's name of Wiedemann. When she saw who plaintiff was she would not have anything to do with her. There was no truth in the suggestion that the witness laughed at plaintiff.
Cross-examined. —She never asked for the ring back. She had no communication with the police at Cannes. When the plaintiff walked up and down in front of her house in Park-lane [Park-lane pictured, right, ca. 1864] she asked her son to speak to the police, as the plaintiff caused annoyance.
James Black, examined, said he was butler in the employment of Mrs. Walpole. About three years ago his attention was called to plaintiff walking up and down before Mrs. Walpole's house. The plaintiff kicked the door and spat on the doorstep. He spoke to the policeman on duty. The policeman spoke to her in his presence.
That closed the evidence for the defence.
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL then addressed the jury. There were two matters which must have occurred to them as difficulties with which the defendant had to contend. One was the difficulty of conducting a case against a plaintiff in person who was a young and attractive woman. There was also the difficulty of cross-examining a witness like the plaintiff, who could make statements appealing to the jury. He hoped that they had got to the evidence of fact, and that there was no doubt but that the plaintiff had had the most absolute freedom and licence in the manner in which she had conducted her case. He had endeavoured in this trial that the plaintiff should be treated with absolute fairness. The postponement of the case for years by the plaintiff imposed a great burden on the defendant. When the child was born in 1883 the plaintiff brought an action against the defendant. Her mother was joined as co-plaintiff. That action was allowed to lapse, and the writ in this action was delivered nearly six years after the incidents at Constantinople, out of which the claim arose. In November, 1888, the defendant, for the first time, had the opportunity of testing the statements the plaintiff made. In the first instance he wished to call the attention of the jury to the difficulty that the defendant was in by reason of the lapse of time. There was a direct conflict of evidence, and the jury must decide between the plaintiff's and Cook's statement as against the defendant's, supported as it was by the evidence of the letters which the plaintiff herself had written, which were inconsistent with the idea that she was an innocent and injured person. As to the evidence of Cook, the law required in cases of breach of promise of marriage that there should be some corroboration of the plaintiff's evidence; otherwise men would be at the mercy of an adventuress. The corroboration in this case was of a curious kind. The letters to Cook showed the attitude the defendant took. In the letters there was no reference to a promise of marriage. His letters had reference to the plaintiff as a woman who was trying to get money from him. Cook when he was called on the former occasion forgot the words that he said defendant uttered about the promise of marriage which he now spoke of. The defendant absolutely denied that he made such a statement to Cook. Cook, who had been a confidential agent of the defendant, passed the papers that he had received as such agent into the hands of the plaintiff's solicitor, and therefore was a person whose testimony must be carefully examined. There was one remarkable fact about Cook's evidence. The plaintiff's evidence was in conflict with it, because she wrote that Cook had offered her violence. Cook denied that, so that the witness who corroborated her statement as to the promise contradicted her evidence in other respects. How had the plaintiff verified the story of her life since 1878? They had no evidence of the plaintiff's private means. She represented herself as a governess. Was it not curious that from 1878 to 1883 the plaintiff had not been able to specify the name of a place where she had earned her livelihood for the space of three months together, although the plaintiff had mentioned names? On the point of tracing her life for five years the plaintiff entirely failed. In November 1888, the plaintiff swore the child she had in 1883 was living. In this trial she had to call witnesses from Germany, and their statement showed that the child was dead, and their evidence showed that the plaintiff showed the dead child to the midwife. The letter of November 30, 1884, was material to consider whether she was trying to extort money from the defendant. In that letter she wrote "For the sake of our little boy, who will ask his birthright of you." She then knew the child was dead. The plaintiff on a former occasion said she travelled with Countess Winsky to Constantinople [left]. On this occasion she said she travelled the last day alone. On the former occasion she wrote on a piece of paper that it was the family of Omer Bey who had invited her to Constantinople. Omer Bey's deposition stated he did not know the time or circumstances under which the plaintiff came to Constantinople. The plaintiff now said that it ought to have been Osman Bey, but that would not help her, as his deposition showed he did not know the circumstances under which she went to Constantinople. The story now set up was that, having become a Roman Catholic, she entertained the idea of becoming a nun, which was curious for a person who said she was engaged to be married. With regard to Constantinople and what took place at the hotel, M. Logothetti had given evidence, which plaintiff contradicted. The plaintiff was driven to say that there was the most unaccountable conspiracy between Logothetti and the defendant. The evidence showed that Logothetti made improper proposals to her, which she accepted. On the last occasion the account she gave of what took place in the bed-room was different from the account she gave now. The evidence of Logothetti was that the door was bolted when he went to it at 7 o'clock in the morning. How did it become known that defendant had been to her room? When the defendant was leaving the room some one saw him. The letter of November 27, 1882, written from Cannes, was very important. If there had been a promise, the first thing would have been an appeal to the defendant's mother to intercede with her son on plaintiff's behalf. The language of the letter was not such as would come from a person such as the plaintiff represented herself to be. Was not the language of the letter in character with the history of a person such as he suggested the plaintiff was? The plaintiff admitted that she knew Victor Cieuneville, and he made a complaint against a person calling herself Valery Wiedemann. He asked the jury to consider the letters plaintiff had written; the way she had behaved; the time that had elapsed; and the changes made, and to come to the conclusion that the plaintiff was the adventuress who was trying to play off on Victor Cieuneville the trick she was now trying to play off on the defendant.
At 5 o'clock the Solicitor-General concluded his address, and the Court adjourned till to-morrow.
The plaintiff again conducted her own case; the Solicitor-General and Mr. William Graham were for the defendant.