§ 272. In the next place, as to dissolution of agency. An agency may be dissolved in three ways: either by a revocation of the agent's power by the principal; or by a renunciation of such power by the agent; or by operation of law.
§ 273. First. A principal may, at any time, revoke the authority of his agent, when such authority has not been executed in part, and no injury is worked thereby.3 If, however, there be an express stipulation by the principal that the authority shall be irrevocable; or if the authority be given for a valuable consideration; or be coupled with an interest; or be part of a security; the authority will be irrevocable, unless there be an express stipulation that it shall be revocable.4 Thus, if a power of attorney be given to a creditor to sell lands, and to pay his debts out of the proceeds of the sale, it,is irrevocable.5 If the authority of the agent be executed in part, and that part be capable of severance, so as to work no injury to the agent, the revocation would be good as to the unexecuted part. But if the authority be partly executed, and be incapable of severance, without injury to the agent, the principal cannot revoke his authority, without fully indemnifying the agent.1
1 Amidon v. Wheeler, 3 Hill, 137.
2 Story on Agency, 436; Taylor v. Plumer, 3 M. & S. 562; Stevenson v. Mortimer, 2 Cowp. 806; Holt v. Ely, 1 El. & B. 795; 1 Com. Law, 420; 18 Eng. Law & Eq. 424. See ante, § 266.
3 2 Liverm. on Agency, 309; Story on Agency, § 462, 465; Smart v. Sandars, 5 C. B. 895; Brown v. Pforr, 38 Cal. 550 (1869).
4 Story on Agency, § 476, 477. See MacGregor v. Gardner, 14 Iowa, 326.
5 Gaussen v. Morton, 10 B. & C. 732. See also Walsh v. Whitcomb, 2 Esp. 565; Hunt v. Rousmaniere, 2 Mason, 244; ib. 342; 8 Wheat. 174; 1 Peters, 1; Goodwin v. Bowden, 54 Me. 424.
§ 274. An authority may be revoked either by a public and formal declaration; or by an informal instrument; or by word of mouth; or it may be implied from circumstances.2 Thus, if a person appoint another agent to do the same act, it may or may not, according to the circumstances,3 be construed to be a revocation of the former agent's authority.4 A revocation takes effect, so far as the agent is concerned, when he receives notice thereof; and, so far as third persons are concerned, when they receive notice thereof.5 Of course, whenever the power of the agent is revoked, that of his subordinate agents and substitutes is also revoked.6 Where an agency, constituted by writing, is revoked, if the written authority be left in the hands of the agent, and he subsequently exhibit it to a third person, who, on faith of it, innocently deals with him as agent, the principal will be bound, in like manner as if the revocation had not taken place, by all acts within the scope of the agent's authority conferred by the writing.7
§ 275. Secondly. An agent may renounce his authority at any time. But, by so doing, he renders himself liable for all losses and damages accruing to his principal from his renunciation, unless the agency be purely voluntary and gratuitous.8 And if the agent refuse to deliver to his principal goods purchased with funds furnished by the principal, the latter may recover the funds.9
1 Story on Agency, § 466, 467; Hodgson v. Anderson, 3 B. & C. 842; 2 Story, Eq. Jur. § 1041-1047.
2 Story on Agency, § 474; Morgan v. Stell, 5 Binn. 305; Copeland v. Mercantile Ins. Co., 6 Pick. 198.
3 Davol v. Q.uimby, 11 Allen, 208.
4 Morgan v. Stell, 5 Binn. 305.
5 Salte v. Field, 5 T. R. 213. See Blanchard v. Trim, 38 N. Y. 225;
----- v. Harrison, 12 Mod. 346; Paley on Agency, by Lloyd, 188, 570;
Hazard v. Treadwell, 1 Str. 506; 2 Liverm, on Agency, 306, 310; 2 Kent, Comm. lect. 41, p. 644, 3d ed.; Morgan v. Stell, 5 Binn. 305; Story on Bailm. § 208.
6 Story on Agency, § 490.
7 Beard v. Kirk, 11 N. H. 398. See Ryan v. Sams, 12 Q. B. 460.
8 Story on Bailm. § 202; Story on Agency, § 478.
9 Safford v. Kinsley, 40 Vt. 506 (1868).
§ 276. Thirdly. The revocation may be by operation of law. And this may arise, either by the lapse of the time for which it was limited; as if it be created for a year, and the year elapse;1 or by a change of condition or of state, producing an incapacity in either party; as if an unmarried woman should execute a power of attorney, and then marry, or become insane; or if the principal, or agent2 in some cases, should become bankrupt;3 or by the death of either party;4 or by the extinction of the subject-matter of the agency, or of the principal's power over it; or by the complete execution of the trust. Where the authority is revoked by the death of the principal, all acts done by the agent after such event will be void, 'although done in good faith, and in ignorance of the principal's death.5 Although it has been held, that a simple payment made to an agent after his principal's death, unknown to all parties, is good, and bound the principal.6 There is but one exception to this rule, which obtains in cases of incapacity and death, where the power or authority is coupled with an interest; upon the ground that the authority may still be executed by the agent, notwithstanding the incapacity or death of the principal, and notwithstanding the legal incapacity of the agent.7 Thus, if an unmarried woman be made an agent, and afterwards marry, she may still be an agent, unless prohibited by her husband.1 So, also, although insanity generally operates as a revocation of the agency, it has not this effect in cases where a power is coupled with an interest, so that it can be exercised in the name of the agent.2
1 Story on Agency, § 480 et seq.
2 Audenried v. Betteley, 8 Allen, 302.
3 Anon., 1 Salk. 117, 399; 2 Kent, Comm. lect. 41, p. 645, 3d ed.; White v. Gifford, 1 Roll. Abr. 331, tit. Authoritie, E. pl. 4; Charnley v. Winstanley, 5 East, 266; Story on Bailm. § 206; Hunt v. Rousmaniere, 8 Wheat. 174, 201-204. See Story on Agency, § 481, and note; Minett v. Forrester, 4 Taunt. 541; Parker v. Smith, 16 East, 382; Dixon v. Ewart, 3 Meriv. 332.
4 See Michigan Ins. Co. v. Leavenworth, 30 Vt. 11 (1856). And no notice need be given in such case. Ibid.
5 Rigs v. Cage, 2 Humph. 350; Peries v. Aycinena, 3 Watts & Serg. 64; Johnson v. Johnson, Wright, 594; Gale v. Tappan, 12 N. H. 145; Campanari v. Woodburn, 15 C. B. 400; Johnson v. Wilcox, 25 Ind. 182; Ferris v. Irving, 28 Cal. 645.
6 Cassiday v. M'Kenzie, 4 Watts & Serg. 382. And see Carriger v. Whittington, 26 Mo. 313. As to the general doctrine of revocation by death, see Wilson v. Edmonds, 4 Fost. 517; Saltmarsh v. Smith, 32 Ala. 404; Gleason v. Dodd, 4 Met. 333; Huston v. Cantril, 11 Leigh, 137; Scruggs v. Driver, 31 Ala. 274; Yerrington v. Greene, 7 R. I. 589.
7 Story on Agency, § 483, 484, 485, 489; Davis v. Lane, 10 N. H. 156.
§ 277. A principal may, by acts or omissions, so conduct himself, after he has actually terminated the agency, as to render himself liable for the acts of his late agent, where the latter still professes to act in the capacity of agent.3 In a late case in England,4 the defendant, residing near London, had a jewelry shop at Lewes. His business there was managed by an agent, who was in the habit, by the defendant's authority, of getting goods from the plaintiff. The agent absconded, went to the plaintiff in London, and obtained a quantity of jewelry of him, saying that he was going to Lewes. The Court of Queen's Bench held, that the defendant, by failing to give notice of the termination of the agent's authority, had become liable, under the above state of facts, for the value of the goods.
1 Co. Litt. 52a,;Com. Dig. Attorney, C. 4; ib. Baron et Feme, D.
2 Davis v. Lane, 10 N. H. 156.
3 Tier v. Lampson, 35 Vt. 179 (1862); Diversy v. Kellogg, 44 III. 114 (1867).
4 Summers v. Solomon, 7 El. & B. 879 (1857). See Bradish v. Belknap, 41 Vt. 172 (1868). Notice of the revocation of the agency need not be given where the agent had only a special authority to do a particular act. Watts v. Kavanagh, 35 Vt. 34 (1861). The principal cannot terminate the agency by mere secret instructions to his agent. Trickett v. Tomlinson, 13 C. B. (n. s.) 663 (1863).