Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"One of the most melancholy figures to be seen in all London..."

This article, dated 2 October, appeared on 12 Whiringa-ā-rangi [November] 1891 on page 3 of New Zealand's Star newspaper. It is the last news story [although its journalistic integrity is clearly open to question] regarding the four years of courtroom wrangling between German governess Valerie Wiedemann and the heir to the Earl of Orford, Robert Horace Walpole, father of Lady Dorothy Mills.

Despite the icily acidic quality of the text, it's very much a heart-wrenching description the lengthy and scandalous proceedings had on Wiedemann in particular. One wonders what became of her. The immigration and travel records of ancestry.com describe none of her movements, nor any record of her birth, death, or marriages.
She seems to have disappeared from public records and memory—at least records and memories to which I have access. The same wire service report also appeared untitled on page 2 of the Bush Advocate on 3 Hakihea [December] 1891.

With that, here is the text from an unknown "London correspondent," professing to describe the last known condition of Miss Valerie Wiedemann...



London, Oct. 2.


One of the most melancholy figures to be seen in all London just now is a faded, rather bilious-looking young woman, with watery eyes and a monomaniacal expression, who haunts popular public resorts trying to sell tickets for some "French and German Readings," to be given next week at the Piccadilly Hall. This is none other than Valerie Wiedemann, the heroine of the notorious Walpole case. A sane person would have been content with the £300 which the last Jury who tried the breach of promise issue so very unjustly gave the plaintiff. But Miss Wiedemann is mad, a raving lunatic on this one subject, and she is trying to raise money for more litigation. I saw her outside the Stock Exchange in Throgmorton Street on Monday. She waylaid all the men she could and persuaded them to buy tickets. A few, a very few did so out of curiosity or pity or both, but the majority fled like frightened rabbits at her approach. The whole affair is frightfully hard on Mr Walpole, who, by this never-ending scandal, has literally been driven out of England, as well as made bankrupt. Hot blooded youths, tempted to youthful indiscretions, should bear in mind his story. One evening's folly has cost him a lifetime of misery. What the end will be who can say, for Miss Wiedemann is mad, and lives only for revenge.

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