Many cases also occur where there is no such con(z) 2 M. & W. 172. See Cockerell v. Aucompte, 2 C. B. (N. S.) (89 E. C. L. R.) 440; 26 L.J. (C. P.) 194.
1 And therefore it has been held, that where the authority purports to have been derived from a written instrument, or the agent expressly signs the contract, "by procuration," the party dealing with him is put upon inquiry, and is bound to examine the instrument: Attwood v. Munnings, 7 B. & C. (14 E. C. L. R.) 278; Withington v. Herring, 5 Bing. (15 E.G. L. R.) 442; Schim-melpennich v. Bayard, 1 Pet. 264; North River Bank v. Aymar, 3 Hill, 262.-R.
Structive or express authority at the time of the contract, but where it has been supplied by the subsequent assent or adoption of the principal, in which case his liability depends upon the same general reason as before. The subsequent ratification is equivalent to a prior command, and the great maxim of agency, "Qui facit per alium facit per se," has a retrospective effect. And such ratification may be inferred from the conduct of the principal, as well as expressed by him in words. Thus, Pollard, having sent a quantity of goods for sale to Fernando Po, died intestate. After his death the defendant purchased the goods from the agent of the intestate, who sold them for the benefit of the estate. At the time of sale no administration to the intestate had been granted. Subsequently the plaintiff took out letters of administration. The Court, after first laying it down that the title of administrator relates back to the death of the intestate, decided that the plaintiff had, by suing, ratified the sale by the agent, and that it was no objection that he was unknown to the agent at *the time of sale (a). But, as the question is, whether the principal did or did not approve of the transaction to which it is endeavoured to make him a party through the agency of another, it is held that the former cannot ratify a part of the transaction and repudiate the rest, but must adopt the whole or none (b). But, where a person at the time of doing an act does not profess to be therein acting as an agent, there is nothing, strictly speaking, to ratify; and another person, however interested, cannot afterwards, by adopting the act, make the former his agent, and thereby incur any liability or take any benefit under the unauthorized act. This is a rule of considerable importance, and is fully explained in the case of Wilson v. Tumman (c).1
(a) Foster v. Bates, 12 M. & W. 226; Lewis v. Read, 13 M. & W. 834; Rob-inson v. Gleadow, 2 Bing. N. C. (29 E. C. L. R.) 156; Freeman v. Bosher, 13 Q. B. (66 E. C. L. R.) 780.
(b) Wilson v. Poulter, 2 Str. 859; Brewer v. Sparrow, 7 B. & C. (14 E.C. L. R.) 310.
But the rule, that the agent acting within the extent of his usual employment binds his principal, though in the particular case the agent is exceeding his authority, is subject to the observation that the person who contracts with the agent has not notice of the limitation of his authority. It is very right that a stranger who sees an agent permitted to contract generally for his principal in this or that business should be safe in dealing *with him, on the assumption that he has authority. But if he knows that he has no authority, in that case to hold the principal bound by a contract made contrary to the agent's real instructions, would be to give effect to a fraud; and accordingly, wherever the person who contracts with an agent knows that that agent's authority is limited, and nevertheless contracts with him beyond those limits, he does so at his peril, for the principal is not bound (d). And on this account it is wise and usual for persons who have been in the habit of employing a general agent, and are desirous of discontinuing him, to give notice to the world of their intention in the Gazette, and to those persons with whom they are in the habit of dealing, by circulars (e). For the agent, although discontinued, might still make his principal liable to those who dealt with the agent, without notice of the revocation of his authority. This rule is well illustrated by the case of
(c) 6 M. & Gr. (46 E. C. L. R.) 236; Anon., Godbolt, 109.
(d) See Trueman v. Loder, 11 A. & E. (39 E. C. L. R.) 589.
(e) See Smith's Merc. Law, 9th ed. 122.
1 Bearce v. Bowker, 115 Mass. 129; Carson v. Cummings, 69 Mo. 325.
Drew v. Nunn (f). There the plaintiff was a tradesman, and the defendant had given his wife authority to deal with the plaintiff, and had held her out as his agent and as entitled to pledge his credit. Afterwards, the defendant became insane, and whilst his malady lasted, his wife ordered goods from the plaintiff, who accordingly supplied them. At the *time of supplying the goods the plaintiff was unaware that the defendant had become insane. The defendant afterwards recovered his reason, and then refused to pay for the goods supplied to his wife by the plaintiff. It was held that even if the insanity were so complete as to amount to a revocation of the authority as between the principal and the agent, yet that as the plaintiff had no notice of it the defendant was liable for the price of the goods.
(f) 4 Q. B. D. 661; 48 L. J. (Q. B.) 591.