Abbildungen der Seite

proceedings of every sort and kind. The man admitted outright that he had put the photographs upon the market, saying that he had never stipulated not to do so, and that he could not afford to throw away five or six hundred pounds when a chance of making them came in his way.

Thereon Eustace departed, still vowing vengeance,

to consult the legal twins.

As a result of this, within

a week Mr. James Short made a motion for an injunction against the photographer, restraining the sale of the photographs in question, on the ground that such sale, being of copies of a document vital to a cause now pending in the Court, those copies having been obtained through the instrumentality of an officer of the Court, Dr. Probate, the sale thereof amounted to a contempt, inasmuch as, if for no other reason, the photographer who obtained them became technically, and for that purpose only, an officer of the Court, and had, therefore, no right to part with them, or any reproductions of them, without the leave of the Court. It will be remembered that this motion gave rise to some very delicate questions connected with the powers of the Court in such a matter, and also incidentally with the law of photographic copyright. It is also memorable for the unanimous and luminous judgment finally delivered by the Lords Justices of Appeal, whereby the sale of the photographs was stopped, and the photographer was held to have been guilty of a technical contempt. That judgment contained perhaps the most

searching and learned definition of constructive contempt that has yet been formulated; but for the text of this I must refer the student to the law reports, because, as it took two hours to deliver, I fear that it would, notwithstanding its many beauties, be thought too long for the purpose of this history. Unfortunately, however, it did not greatly benefit Augusta, the victim of the unlawful dissemination of photographs, inasmuch as the judgment was not delivered till a week after the great case of Meeson v. Addison and Another had been settled.

About eight days after Augusta's adventure in Regent Street, a motion was made in the Court of Probate on behalf of the defendants, Messrs. Addison and Roscoe, who were the executors and principal beneficiaries under the former will of November 1885, demanding that the Court should order the plaintiff to file a further and better affidavit of scripts, with the original will set up by him attached, the object, of course, being to compel an inspection of the document. This motion, which first brought the whole case under the notice of the public, was strenuously resisted by Mr. James Short, and resulted in the matter being referred to the learned Registrar for his report. On the next motion day this report was presented, and, on its appearing from it that the photography had taken place in his presence, and accurately represented the tattoo marks on the lady, the Court declined to harass the "will" by ordering her to submit to any further in

spection before the trial. It was on this occasion that it transpired that the "will" was engaged to be married to the plaintiff, a fact at which the Court metaphorically opened its eyes. After this the defendants obtained leave to amend their answer to the plaintiff's statement of claim. At first they had only pleaded that the testator had not duly executed the alleged will in accordance with the provisions of 1 Vic., cap. 26, sec. 2, and that he did not know and approve the contents thereof. But now they added a plea to the effect that the said alleged will was obtained by the undue influence of Augusta Smithers, or, as one of the learned counsel for the defendants put it much more clearly at the trial, "that the will had herself procured the will, by an undue projection of her own will upon the unwilling mind of the testator."

And so the time went on. As often as he could, Eustace got away from London, and went down to the little riverside hotel, and was as happy as a man can be who has a tremendous lawsuit hanging over him. The law, no doubt, is an admirable institution, out of which a large number of people make a living, and a proportion of benefit accrues to the community at large. But woe unto those who form the subject-matter of its operations. For instance, the Court of Chancery is an excellent institution in theory, and looks after the affairs of minors upon the purest principles. But how many of its wards after, and as a result of one of its wellintentioned interferences, have to struggle for the rest

of their lives under a load of debt raised to pay the crushing costs! To employ the Court of Chancery to look after wards is something as though one set a tame elephant to pick up pins. No doubt he could pick them up, but it would cost something to feed him. But of course these are revolutionary remarks, which one cannot expect everybody to agree with, least of all the conveyancing counsel of the Court.

However this may be, certainly his impending lawsuit proved a fly in Eustace's honey. Never a day passed but some fresh worry arose. James and John, the legal twins, fought like heroes, and held their own although their experience was so small-as men of talent almost invariably do when they are put to it. But it was difficult for Eustace to keep them supplied even with sufficient money for out-of-pocket expenses; and, of course, as was natural in a case where such enormous sums were at stake, and in which the defendants were already men of vast wealth, they found the flower of the entire talent and weight of the Bar arrayed against them. Naturally Eustace felt, and so did Mr. James Short-who, notwithstanding his pomposity and the technicality of his talk, was both a clever and a sensible man—that more counsel, men of weight and experience, ought to be briefed; but there were absolutely no funds for this purpose, nor was anybody likely to advance any upon the security of a will tattooed upon a young lady. This was awkward, because success in law proceedings so very often leans towards

[ocr errors]

the weightiest purse, and Judges, however impartial, being but men after all, are more apt to listen to an argument which is urged upon their attention by an Attorney-General than on one advanced by an unknown junior.

However, there the fact was, and they had to make the best of it; and a point in their favour was that the case, although of a most remarkable nature, was comparatively simple, and did not involve any great mass of documentary evidence.



THE most wearisome times go by at last, if only one lives to see 'the end of them; and so it came to pass that at length on one fine morning about a quarter to ten of the Law Courts' clock, that projects its ghastly hideousness upon unoffending Fleet Street, Augusta, accompanied by Eustace, Lady Holmhurst, and Mrs. Thomas, the wife of Captain Thomas, who had come up from visiting her relatives in the eastern counties in order to give evidence, found herself standing in the big entrance to the new Law Courts, feeling as though she would give five years of her life to be anywhere else.

"This way, my dear," said Eustace; "Mr. John

« ZurückWeiter »