Where the signer of a writing has made an innocent mistake without carelessness, whether induced by fraud or not, the writing is not his expression, and there is no contract.89 But if a man acts negligently, and in such a way as to justify others in supposing that the writing is assented to by him, he will be bound both at law and in equity. Accordingly, even if an illiterate executes a deed under a mistake as to its contents, he is bound if he did not require it to be read to him or its object ex-ject explained.90 And much more, if the signer is not illiterate, "it will not do for him to enter into a contract and when called upon to abide by its conditions, say that he did not read it when he signed it, or did not know what it contained."91 Though declining to decree rescission for such a reason, a court of equity, in its discretion, may refuse specific enforcement on that account.92 And if the promisee was guilty of fraud, the fraud will be a defence to an action by him, though the promisor was negligent in failing to read the contract.93

88 Bree v. Holbech, 2 Doug. 654; Baker v. Courage, [1010] 1 K. B. 56; Richardson v. Bales, 66 Ark. 452, 51 S. W. 321; Maxwell v. Walsh, 117 Ga. 467, 43 S. E. 704; Schults v. Board, 05 Ind. 323; Brown v. Edes, 37 Me. 318; Ely v. Norton (1 Halst.), 6 N. J. L. 187; State Hospital tr. Philadelphia County, 205 Fa. 336, 54 Atl. 1032. See also Board v. Veghte, 44 N. J. L, 508. A contrary conclusion has been reached in Texas where the statute does not begin to run until by the exercise of reasonable diligence the plaintiff should have discovered his rights. Standford v. Pinks, 45 Tex. Civ. App. 30, 35, 00 S. W. 400; and the same result has been reached in several States by statute. 8hain v. Sresovich, 104 Cal. 402, 38 Pac. 51; West v. Fry, 134 Iowa, 675, 112 N. W. 184, 11 L. R. A. (N. S.) 1191; German Security Bank v. Columbia F. & T. Co., 27 Ky. L. Rep. 581, 85 S. W. 761; Peacock v. Barnes, 142 N. C. 215, 55 S. E. 00, and such is the rule generally adopted by courts of equity. Brooksbank v. Smith, 2 Y. & C. Ex. 58; Ecclesiastical Commrs. v. North Eastern Ry. Co., 4 Ch. D. 845, 860; Ainsfield v. More, 30 Neb. 385, 402,46 N. W. 828; Hall v. Graham, 112 Va. 560, 72 S. E. 105; Gould v. Emerson, 160 Mass. 438, 35 N. E. 1065, 30 Am. St. Rep. 501.

89 See supra, Sec.1488.

90 Supra, Sec. 35.

91 Supra, Sec. 35. See also supra, Sec. 906. In Williams v. Leisen, 72 N. J. L. 410, 60 AH. 1006, the defendant testified when sued on a written contract for the purchase of books that the plaintiff's agent told him that he wanted to get some influential citisens to indorse the work and the defendant signed the slip supposing that it was merely an indorsement of the work. This was held insufficient to excuse the defendant. But see Carlisle Banking Co. v. Bragg, [1011] 1 K. B. 480, (C. A.); Bank of Ireland v. McManamy, Ir. Rep., [1016] 2 K. B. 161.