From the Freeman’s Journal, 1 February 1900, this story set during the Anglo- Boer War of 1899-1902:

There is nothing more interesting in the Four Courts Law Library at present than the telegrams which are sent there daily to a group of barristers who have arranged for a supply of information from Stock Exchange sources.  Of course the supply they get is as reliable as is the usual Stock Exchange telegrams to whom the public has become accustomed since the war began.  But frequent error has not disturbed the confidence of the legal “operators.” 

These telegrams, which the Stock Exchange swallows so greedily, and which are disseminated so freely, never reach the newspaper offices, which have all the recognised channels of information at their command – they are never denied, never explained and never apologised for.  Still, they are believed in, the telegrams are believed in, and at one moment send the lawyers in the Four courts into bursts of enthusiasm; at the next into fits of deeper despondency. 

Yesterday’s telegrams to the Four Courts are worth reproduction.  There were three in all. One announced again the relief of Mafeking; another, that Lord Methuen had captured Spyfontein, and was in a position to dominate the Boer position at Magersfontein, and a third announced that Sir Redvers Buller had again crossed the Tugela.  Any stuff-gownsmen desirous of getting back their losses on Dunlops or Grapplers by backing these announcements of British successes will find their mistake.”

Perhaps the above might be viewed as a revival of the 18th century Law Library tradition of gambling? Or maybe it was just a case of any excuse to avail of the pioneering pneumatic telegram delivery mechanism running from the Four Courts to the GPO?

Either way, there is no evidence that this enterprise generated any Law Library millionaires. I hope the members who participated weren’t left too much out of pocket by their financial ventures!

More on the Boer War and the Law Library here.

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