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Evening Star, Issue 7991, 21 August 1889
The Right Hon. "Joo” Chamberlain takes the chair at the Kendal valedictory banquet on the 16th inst. Fergus Hume is ia London enjoying the season, and such distinction as appertains to being “ the man who wrote the ‘ Hansom Cab’ story, donoherknow.” Ho goes out a good bit into Brompton society, is made much of by Anglo-Australians as ‘‘one of our rising men,” and graciously patronised by the larger literary lions of the Savile Club, I don’t fancy he has made much money yet, either by his books or play. He has, however, a new drama in hand from which the inevitable "great things” are expected, and which should bring in the dollars. Sampson Low announce a two-shilling edition of ‘ Past and Present Australian Life ’ by Rev. J. H. L. Hillman. Miss Janet Achurch and her husband (Mr Gharrington) ought to reach Melbourne at the time you receive this letter. _ In the opinion of many capable judges she is one of the greatest living actresses, is a peer of Ellen Terry, Mrs Kendal, and Mrs Bernard Beere, and is not far removed from the great Sarah herself. Without quite gushing to this extent i am free to admit that she is a remarkably clever and painstaking artist, who improves every time that one sees her. Her recent performance of Nora in Ibsen’s ‘Doll’s House’ was undoubtedly an extremely able and meritorious performance, and deservedly took the town by storm. There can bo no doubt that the piece, albeit a trifle talky and tiresome, would —thanks to her acting—have run three months if the Australian tour could have been postponed. As the Charringtons are fond of travel it is very likely that you in New Zealand will sse them in ‘ A Doll’s House,’ and possibly in ‘ Ghosts ’ as well. THE TRAGIC STORY OF A RETURNER COLONIST. The story of the guileless Now Zealand colonist Lewis, who brought Homo his little saving only to be callously robbed of them in the city and driven to destitution and suicide, is one of the saddest and most exemplary I have read lately. The case attracted but little attention till after the coroner’s inquiry into tho unfortunate man’s death last Friday. Then, however, the unusual and highly significant character of the verdict of the jury sot tho Press all agog. Mr Marks, of the ‘ Financial News,’ who had some time back gone for Mr Elson James Humphreys and his various bogus companies in that journal, opened the ball by narrating the circumstances of the tragedy. “ Mr William Henry Lewis,” he explains, “ was a simple-minded man of about forty, who had made a little money in New Zealand. When business became stagnant in the colony he came home with his wife and his little savings, and looked round for some occupation. Towards the close of January he saw this advertisement in the ‘ Daily Telegraph’‘Clerk aud assistant-secretary required. Must invest LIOO to L2OO. Salary, L2 10s per week, progressive. Address C.C.,’ etc. He replied, and was asked to call on ‘ Frederick and Co,,’ at 164 Queen Victoria street. There he met Mr Elson James Humphreys, and there the first act in the tragedy was played. It is needless to rehearse each step in the decep tion practised by Humphreys on poor Lewis. The victim was appointed assistantseoretary to tho ‘ Great Britain Co-operative and Industrial Printing and Publishing Company ’ at a salary' of L2 10s a week, ami was asked to deposit Ll5O as security for large sums of money which he was told would he under his charge. All tho documents in connection with these transactions were signed by Elson James Humphreys, and by him alone. Falsehood after falsehood was told by Humphreys, sometimes about the company, sometimes about its pretended officials, occasionally about property alleged to belong to Humphreys, and no.v and then about his family affaire. Mr Lewis received two or three weeks’ s ffai y, and then the supplies stopped. One Saturday Humphreys borrowed LIO from Mr Lewis, and of that loan cn'y L2 was returned. Lewis thus lostLleS, which represented his whole available fur,dr, ami got no salary. From April until his death he divided bis time between trying to obtain employment in tho city—no easy task ior a man of forty—and attempting to obtain brek some of the money of which ho had been defrauded. Both efforts were vain. If he called at tho office of the pretended printing company he was met with a request to call on Mr Humphreys at his house in 1 u'hara, and there in turn he was referred back to the office. To keep a roof o\er his head, and to keep his wife and himself from starvation, Lewis parted with his furniture, till latterly he had to sleep on the floor. He had no Mends in this country; but the kindness of sonic neighbors helped to keep the wolf a little distance from the door. Rut at last, swindled out of his meagre means, pushed about from pillar to post by tho authors of his misfortunes, starving and in despair, Lewis shot himself through tho head. The coroner’s jury which investigated the circumstances under which Lewis took his life lias placed the responsibility ia tho right spot. Tnc verdict was : ‘ That tko decease I took his life during a fit of temporary insanity, and that he was driven to this act by the conduct of Elson James Humphreys. And the jury would add a rider that the Public Prosecutor be called on to take action in the case.’ This verdict ia possibly a little irregular, but never was there one more just. The tone of the exculpatory letters which Humphreys wrote to this journal and his conduct at the inquest yesterday were sufficient to show the stamp of the man. Ho is ore of those sordid adventurers who form one of the greatest pests of tho City of London.” JUBILEE UENZON’S AFFAIRS. The case of Cochrane v, Moore, which has been occupying the Court of the Queen’s Bench this week, is principally interesting as disclosing some of the methods by which Mr E. Bcnzon "lost L2i50,C00 in two years.” Poor Trischler, the Jubilee’s publisher, gnashed his teeth when that young man went into the witness-box on Wednesday. •‘He’ll let it all out,” he moaned; " lie’ll spoil the book, take the edge off public curiosity, and damn the sale.” Mr Bcnzon didn’t quite do this, bat some of his evidence was distinctly piquant. He came into Court gorgeously arrayed in frock coat, with silk lining, and wearing a gigantic buttonhole. His hat was as glossy as his boots, and his manner more infantinely insolent than over. The plaintiff Cochrane (explained the latter’s counsel) was a money-lender in Jermyn street, and he had advanced at various times sums of money amounting to LIO,OOO to Mr Ernest Benzon, who was said of late to have been well known in the racing world, • Security for the advances was given upon some racehorses, which were afterwards sold at Tatteraall’s, and the plaintiff received most of his money back. One of the horses sold was a steeplechaser called Kilworth, and it realised LC27 16s lOd. Mr Moore, a gentleman jockey who had ridden for Mr Benzon, claimed to be entitled to a one-fourth shave in the horse, while plaintiff claimed the whole of tho money realised under tho security for his advances. Messrs Tattersall paid the money Into Court under an interpleader order, and the question now to be disposed of was which of the two parties was entitled to it Mr Charles Cochrane, the plaintiff’s son, said that he was present when Mr Powell brought Mr Benzon and said that he wanted L 3.000 to pay Mr Brower, a racing commissioner. He wanted to know if he could have the money if he charged his horses. The plaintiff was willing to lend him the L 3.000 upon the horses that were being trained by Mr Yates. The money was advanced, and Mr Benzon offered LSOO for interest for a month for the L 3.000. Mr Powell did not say *‘ How about Kilworth ; you know a quarter of it belongs to Moore?” Mr Benzon offered Kilworth as security with the other horses. On July 16 he came again and wanted L 4.000 to settle his racing accounts. On the 23rd he came again and said that he must have some ready money. The plaintiff replied " There ia Mr Sherrard’a bill for L1,C00.” Ho said " Will you advance me the amount just to make it LIO,OOO ?” Ho asked them to pay Mr Sherrard’s account for training—Ll,6Bo. Witness’s father gave Mr Benzon a cheque for L 1,680, and Mr Benzon endorsed it. The plaintitfhad previously said “I will lend you LIO,OOO, but I must have a bill of sale on all the horses.” On July 26 Mr Benzon came again, and asked whether the bill of sale would have to appear in the papers. Witness told him “ Yes,” and showed him ‘Stubbs’s Gazette,’ He said ho did not mind it appearing, because he did not owe creditors any money. He then read the bill pf sale said signed it.
This finished the case for the plaintiff. ! Mr Ernest Benzon said that down to the end of May, 1888, he was solo proprietor of : Kilworth. He was in Paris during the j Grand Prix week, and had two horses there j —Kilworth and Dalesman. Mr Moore, the ; defendant, rode Kilworth for him. Kilworth j won, but he was disqualified, and the race i was declared void. There was a rule in Prance that if anyone hit a horse as he ; was going over a fence the horse was disqualified. It was made out that someone j hit witness’s horse whilst he was going over j a hedge; and they thought it very hard luck . Indeed, When he got back to the Hotel ■ Meurlce at Paris he said to Mr Moore : ‘‘l hope you will accept a quarter of Kil- . worth,” and he replied: ‘‘Thanks very; much.” This was all that passed, ex- j cept that witness wrote to_ Mr Yates; and told him about it. The gift was to be 1 au immediate one. July 9 was tho first transaction that he had with Mr Cochrane. Witness asked for L 3.000, and Mr Cochrane i said “ You can have it.” He was to pay • L3,’)00 in a month, but if not, then witness j was to sell his hnrsee upon which he had : given a charge. He gave a charge upon his horses which were at Yates’s, and Kilworth was there. Witness gave plaintiff a list of the horses. They came to Percival, of which j witness had only a half. Then they came ■ to Kilworth. Mr Powell interrupted him 1 and said “What about Billy Moore’s! quarter ?” He also said that witness i must see that it was all right for him. j Mr Cochrane said that that would bo all j right, and that he would see to it him- ] self. They tohl him that a quarter of: Kilworth belonged to Moore, and that they ■ could not get riff of that. It was not true that he went to the plaintiff to ask him to lend him L 4,000 to pay SherrarJ’s bill. ; Cochrane observed that ho would like to make tho debt due to him to LIO,OOO, and said “I am going to pay Slicrmrd, and to give you a balance of LGOO or L7OO. 1 ’ Witness, of course, was very pleased to get the money, but bad not asked for it, and, to tell tho truth, he did not think he would give it to him. Plaintiff said : " I have another paper for you to sign, which will take tho whole lot together. 1 ’ Witness replied: “All right; I don’t mind signing tho paper so long as it ia like the last.” He thought that it was like the last two that he had signed, except that the plaintiff told him that it was a kind of mortgage. Ho had given charges before on some of Ms landed property, and he thought, of course, that this was the same kind of thing. The plaintiff or his sou handed him the document, and he signed it. Ho scanned through it roughly, as he had a good many documents in his time. He did not think it waa anything out of the way, and ho said to Mr Cooper : “ I suppose this ia all right, and nobody will know anything about it,” He replied: “Oh, dear, no; this ia only an ordinary kind of mortgage.” Witness struck out of the schedule a half of Percival, because lie bad sold his half. Ho could not say whether this was before or after ho had signed the document. They gave him a cheque—Ll,COO, or something like that—to send to Slierrard. Witness replied “ f will sooner send it myself”; and he put it into an envelope, and said to the plaintiff “ Will you see this is sent ” Witness got about L 745, or something like that, for himself. Were you told by anybody that that document was a bill of sale '/—Most certainly not. Were you told anything as to whether it must be registered / —Certainly. They told mo it would not be registered at all. Lord Justice Lopes: Did they show you ‘ Stubbs’s Gazette ’ ?—Yes, they did. Wliy ? —I lion’t know why, but I remember perfectly well they showed mo some book, and I suppose it was ‘ Stubbs’s Gazette.’ I had never seen anything like it before.—(Laughter.) Were you told in words that it was a bill of sale?— Certainly not. I would not have signed it on any account. 'is it true that in reading it over you read /out these words : “Section 7 of tho Bills of Sale Amendment Act?”—l don’t remember it at all. Lord Justice Lopes: Tiffs is rather a serious matter. There has been a good deal of evidence upon ir. Arc you prepared to siy that yon did not read out those words : —No, lam not prepared to do that. Mr Pollard : It is said you read out the words, and asked : “Is this a bill of sale ? ’ —I cannot say that. Lord Justice Lopes ; You will not swear you diil not say: “This ia not a bill oi s1 j ? No, I cannot swear it. I will swear they told me it was not a bill of sale. They knew how dead I was against bills of sale. To .Mr Pollard: They told him distinctly that it was a kind of mortgage—that it was the tame thing that he had given on his house once before. Did you know that tiffs document reserved interest at the rate of 60 per cent, per annum? -I did not know about interest at ail. Lord Justice Lopes : Did you know what interest you were to pay' on tho first loan 5 —Yi-a. What did you think it was ?—Well, I heard yesterday in Court that it was iiOOjper cent. Witness went on to say that ho did not think that lie offered L6OO for the L 4,000 ; ho thought that at first Mr Cochrane asked LI,OOO, and witness thought that LDOO o: some other sum would be enough. Mr Cochrane than said : “ Well, make it L 800.” Witness replied “Very well,”— (Laughter.) He could not remember what occurred, but he knew that he paid LSOO. Cross-examined : He had had other money transactions before this ; he had borrowed money of Mr Lewis. He wanted money whan lie came of age, and he borrowed LIO,OOO of Mr Lewis. He paid a large cheque for that and other things—L33,ooo in all. What interest did you pay then ?—fie did not know. Was it 60 per cent. ?—He supposed so, as that was the usual thing.—(Laughter.) Lord Justice Lopes; According to your experience.—(Laughter.) Witness continued : He borrowed of Mr Turner L 5.000 upon bis racehorses for a month, and he paid him L2,ooofor it. That was before he saw Mr Cochrane. Mr Turner had no security whatever. Witness wrote a letter and sealed it with Ids own seal, and Mr Turner gave him his word of honor that ho would not open the letter until witness paid the money. Then you had other money transactions before you knew Mr Cochrane, and paid more than 60 per cent. ?—Yes, before he came of age, he thought, not afterwards. Did you consider yourself then a person of youth and inexperience !—lt was very funny', but nobody considered oneself a person of youth and inexperience. Witness signed <a declaration that his unsecured debts did not exceed LSOO, aud that was true. He had plenty of money to pay everybody, and that was what he meant when he signed the declaration. How much have you lost in horse racing, LIOO.OOO ?—I really do not know ; I have no idea. Lord Justice Lopes : We need not go into that. Everybody who has heard this case must see ho is a very impiudent young man. Witness continued: Ho was about to bring out a book to show how he got rid of L 250,000 in a short time. Lord Justice Lopes ; I hope it will bo a benefit to inexperienced young men. Is its tendency to guard against inexperience / Witness: Yes, he thought so.—(Laughter.) He did not know that the bill of sale was endorsed “Mortgage.’’ He did not think that he ever looked at it. Have yon had petitions against you in bankruptcy ?—He thought they had all been settled. Lord Justice Lopes said he thought that that question was irrelevant, and that irrelevant questions of an unpleasant nature should not bo asked. (To the witness :) Is your book out or coming out ?—lt will be out in about a fortnight.—(Laughter.) Mr Walter Arthur Rowell, who was with Mr Benzon in Paris, gave evidence as to what passed at tho Hotel Meurlce. Cross-examined: Was it true that Kilworth refused the water jump and somebody pushed it over with an umbrella ?—Ho believed that somebody hit it with an umbrella. He know that Mr Benzon had promised people many things, but he generally performed his promise. Was ho very free with his money ? Lord Justice Lopes: You need not ask that. It is evident that he was very free with his money. The further hearing of tho case was adjourned.
Evening Star, Issue 7991, 21 August 1889
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