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“Captain Halley, Savilian Professor of lisher he procured employment as a literthe Mathematics, Oxford, and some ary drudge, and for half a century workother gentlemen,” touching the sun's ed upon the Universal History and other position at mid-day and the duration of meritorious but now obsolete productwilight in Formosa, all their inquiries tions. He long outlived his infamy, and upon which subjects he declares were the world—if it heard his name at allsatisfactorily answered. On turning to knew it only as that of a learned, assidthe chapter that treats of “the situa- uous, inoffensive man of letters. Dr. tion, &c., of the isle," we find a pas- Johnson delighted in his society, and sage not contained in the first edition has recorded him with affectionate wherein the sun's verticality at midsum- praise as one of the best men he had mer is curtly mentioned. To unenlight- ever known. He died in 1763, leaving ened readers these passages might seem directions that his MS. autobiography commonplace announcements. "Rem should be published for the benefit of acu tetigisti !'' cried those in the secret. his executrix, an old woman in whose The eminent astronomer and his learned house he had long lodged. This singucompanions, Drs. Mead and Woodward, lar narrative, published in the following gave their own version of the conversa- year, contains a full confession of what tion referred to. When they questioned the writer calls “the base and shameful him respecting the sun's position and imposture of passing upon the world for the length of twilight, he was utterly a native of Formosa and a convert to dumbfoundered. In anyone less re- Christianity, and backing it with a fictimarkable for exact observation and re- tious account of that island and of my tentive memory, a lapse on such points own travels, conversion, &c., all or most might not excite suspicion ; in Psalma- of it hatched in my own brain without nazar's case the savans, coupling it with regard to truth or honesty.” the other incredibilities of his story, can While maintaining reserve as to his arrive at but one conclusion--that he is real name, parentage, and place of birth, an impudent impostor.
he confesses that out of Europe I was Slowly and reluctantly the public mind not born, nor educated, nor ever traywas brought to acquiesce in this view. elled.” He received his early training For a considerable time the adventurer under the Jesuits in the south of France, braved exposure, and retained a congre- to whom he was indebted for his progation of believers. Some influential ficiency in Latin and the acquaintance patrons procured him private tutorships, which he displayed with the current à regimental clerkship, and other ap- questions of theological polemics. Prepointinents, but he failed to keep them. ferring a vagabond life in France and His next stroke of imposture was to lend Germany to any settled occupation, but his name to the advertisements of one finding it difficult to subsist, he assumed Pattenden, the inventor of a “white the disguise of a Japanese convert for Japan enamel,” which the public was the purpose of exciting sympathy. Failrequested to believe had been prepared ing in this attempt, he adopted the rôle from a Formosan recipe. The public, of a heathen fugitive, and invented the however, either questioned the statement, outlines of the imposture which he subor whether, if true, the enamel was rec- sequently elaborated in his Account of ommended by its origin at any rate Formosa. Having been pressed into the declined to purchase it. He maintained service of the Elector of Cologne, and his assumed character nevertheless for accompanying his regiment to Sluys, he some years longer, and so late as 1716 there fell in with Innes, who undertook found a sufficient number of subscribers to convert him to Christianity. During to make up an annuity of 201. or zol. for the colloquies that ensued, the chaplain him as a convert, He eventually discovered and taxed him with the imunderwent what appears to have been a posture ; but, instead of disclosing it, genuine conversion, abandoned his ca- proposed to become his accomplice. A reer of imposture, and set about ob- scheme which should be mutually adtaining an honest livelihood. Few vantageous was then matured between rogues have ended their days so credit- them. Innes saw the opportunity which ably. Through the aid of a kindly pub- offered of securing a reputation for professional zeal and a prospect of preser- some new thing," than possessed the ment, while Psalmanazar was ambitious London of Anne. In one paper, markof obtaining his discharge from the army ed by his favorite vein of quiet satire, and figuring as a lion in London society. Addison ridicules “the general thirst Having gone through the farce of " con- after news" which could not be sated verting his confederate, Innes found a without some daily draught, however vadupe in Brigadier Lauder, who consented pid or stale. “It is notorious," he to stand as sponsor at the baptism. says, “ that men who frequent coffeeThe story was then communicated to the houses and delight in news are pleased Bishop of London, who unhesitatingly with everything that is matter of fact, received it for gospel, and gave the chap- so it be what they have not heard belian and his proselyte the desired invi- fore. A victory or a defeat is equally tation to England. Soon after their ar- agreeable to them; the shutting of a rival, a lucrative regimental chaplaincy cardinal's mouth pleases them one post, in Portugal became vacant, and was and the opening of it another. placed at the disposal of Innes, who left They read the advertisements with the Psalmanazar to carry on the fraud alone, same curiosity as the articles of public which he proceeded to do in the manner news, and are as pleased to hear of a already told.
piebald horse that is strayed out of There can be no doubt that one or a field near Islington as of a whole troop both of these astute knaves had formed that has been engaged in any foreign ada shrewd estimate of the character of the venture. In short, they have a relish society which they undertook to delude. for everything that is news, let the matThe inception of the scheme was due to ter of it be what it will ; or, to speak Psalmanazar, but Innes must be credited more properly, they are men of a vorawith the idea of executing it in England, cious appetite but no taste.” The writer and cloaking it in the attractive garb of in whose mouth he puts these observareligion. In the excited state of the tions is represented as a projector who public mind upon that subject, no bait is willing to turn a penny by this recould be better timed than a fiction markable curiosity of his countrymen,' which aggravated the Protestant hatred and accordingly proposes to start a of Jesuitical craft and exalted the via daily paper which shall comprehend in media of Anglicanism above all the rest it all the most remarkable occurrences of the Reformed Churches. That the in every little town, village, and hamlet religious world of England had recently that lie within ten miles of London.” begun to feel interested in missions to In another paper Addison illustrates the heathen, was another fact which the the avidity with which the quidnuncs of chaplain with his professional training the day seized upon any material for was not likely to overlook. The histor- gossip, however untrustworthy, by reical details of the fraud were concocted counting how he tracked from coffeeby Psalmanazar alone, after he had re- house to coffee-house the passage of a sided for some months in England, and casual report that the King of France enjoyed ample opportunities of observa- was dead, and how the serious discus. tion. The systematic shape in which sions to which it gave rise suddenly colthey appear in his work may thus be re- lapsed upon the arrival of another report garded as embodying his deliberate cal- that His Majesty had just taken an airculation of the extent to which the pub- ing. lic appetite for marvels would bear The advantage which charlatans took cramming. No society, perhaps, ever of this disposition in the public mind to afforded a better subject for experiment accept any statement for truth is the than that in which he found himself. subject of other papers from the pen
of The faithful mirror of the time which Steele. Of Duncan Campbell, the deaf Steele and Addison held up for it in the and dumb fortune-teller, already named, Spectator, has reflected one feature of its he says
“ that the blind Tiresias was likeness as especially prominent. Athens, not more famous in Greece than this Rome, and Paris, in their most frivolous dumb artist has been for some years last days, cannot have displayed a more feverish eagerness “ to tell and to hear * Spectator, No. 452. + 1b. No. 625.
past in the cities of London and West- to whom these marvels were repeated
All classes of society show- were well disposed to a visitor who deed an equal readiness to take pretenders scribed a state of existence so unlike at their own valuation, and a robustness their own. An affected love of simplicof faith that was staggered by no demon- ity is a familiar characteristic of the stration of their falsehood. There is most artificial societies, and there are alhardly a man in the world, one would ways to be found“ Mrs. Merdles," who, think, so ignorant as not to know that though forced to live in the fashionable the ordinary quack doctors who publish world,“ are pastoral to a degree by natheir great abilities in little brown billets, ture, and would have been charmed to distributed to all that pass by, are to a be savages in the tropical seas." Psalmaman impostors and murderers. Yet nazar had wit to discern the prevalence such is the credulity of the vulgar and of a tendency which had already given the impudence of these professors that rise to “ Arcadian” verse, and was the affair still goes on, and new prom- about to develope the “Dresden-Shepises of what was never done before are herd period" of art, and played his made every day.” After quoting one of game accordingly His invention of a these advertisements from a professed barbarous alphabet and grammar was surgeon, lately come from his travels, plausible enough to mystify even men after twenty-four years' practice by sea of culture, acquainted only with the and land,” who affects to cure "all dis- classical languages of Europe, and ignoeases incident
to men, women and rant of the rudiments of comparative children,” Steele proceeds-" There is philology. Literary critics were equally something unaccountably taking among baffled by the ingenuity with which, while the vulgar, in those who come from a pretending to rectify the mis-statements great way off. Ignorant people of qual- of previous historians, he pieced toity, as many there are of such, doat ex- gether so much of their information as cessively this way, many instances of sufficed, with additions of his own, to which every man will suggest to himself, compose an independent narrative.' It without my enumerating them." Among was not until the light of a positive scithe impostors who profitably traded upon ence had been brought to bear upon his this footing, he names a doctor, in fabrication that its true character was Mouse Alley, near Wapping, who sets detected. up for curing cataracts upon the credit Early in 1795, Mr. Samuel Ireland, of having, as his bill sets forth, lost an well known in the literary world of Loneye in the Emperor's service. His pa- don as a collector of rare books and tients come in upon this, and he shows prints, and the author of several contrithe muster-roll, which confirms that he butions to belles lettres, publicly anwas in his Imperial Majesty's troops, nounced that he had come into possesand he puts out their eyes with great sion of a large number of MSS. in the success.”
handwriting of Shakespeare, the authenIt was on the symptoms of this epi- ticity of which he was desirous of subdemic phrenitis, while yet in an early mitting to the opinion of all competent stage, that Psalmanazar reckoned for judges. His latest illustrated work had success. Having already secured the been devoted to the scenery of the Warsuffrages of the religious world, he pro- wickshire Avon, which he had explored ceeded to draw the majority of his dupes with the particular object of gleaning from the class to which Steele refers as any unknown memorials relating to the “ignorant people of quality.” The Sir poet, of whose genius and fame he was Plumes and Dapperwits, who passed a fervently avowed worshipper ; so that their lives in retailing club and coffee- this momentous discovery appealed to house gossip, required no better evi- the sympathy of all likeminded enthudence of his savage origin than that he siasts as the legitimate reward of much ate roots and raw meat, and told mon- pious labor. His invitation to inspect strous stories of cannibal atrocity and ihe MSS. was accepted by a large conrepulsive modes of life. The fine ladies course of the brotherhood, including sev
eral men of high literary distinction. * Spectator, No. 474. + 1b. No. 444. Few living scholars were more erudite than Dr. Parr, Dr. Valpy, and Dr. cluded many persons of celebrity, beJoseph Warton. George Chalmers and sides those already named, and the comJohn Pinkerton were experts, specially mittees of several public libraries. skilled in old English literature. The In an ornate preface the editor, deprofessional antiquaries were well rep- scribing the instalment as “part of that resented by Sir Isaac Heard, Garter valuable treasure of our Shakespeare, King-at-Arms, and Francis Townshend, which having been by accident discoverWindsor Herald ; and miscellaneous men ed in MS., has since been deposited in of letters by R. B. Sheridan, Sir Her- his hands," assures the public that from bert Croft, H. J. Pye, the Poet Laureate, the “ first moment of their discovery he and James Boswell. After carefully col- has labored by every means to inform lating the principal MSS. with the poet's himself with respect to the validity of undoubted autographs, these critics ex- these interesting papers ;" that“ he has pressed a firm conviction of their authen- courted, he has even challenged the ticity, and a certificate to that effect critical judgment of those who are best was numerously signed. A collection of skilled in the poetry or phraseology of rarer literary and biographical value was the times in which Shakespeare lived, as certainly never offered to the world. It well as those whose profession or course comprised the entire MS. of Lear, vary- of study has made them conversant with ing in some important respects from the ancient deeds, writings, seals, and autoprinted copies; a fragment of Hamlet; graphs;" that, not content with having two unpublished plays, entitled, Vorti- them tested by “ the scholar, the man of gern and Henry the Second ; a number taste, the antiquarian, and the herald, of books from the poet's library, enrich- he has submitted them to the “practical ed with copious marginal notes ; be- experience of the paper-maker," and, as sides letters to Anne Hathaway, Lord the result of these investigations, has Southampton, and others; a Profession 'the satisfaction of announcing to the of Faith, legal contracts, deeds of gift, public that, as far as he has been able to and autograph receipts. The external collect the sentiments of the several evidence for the authenticity of these classes of persons above referred to, they precious remains was pronounced by the have unanimously testified in favor of attesting critics to be strikingly confirm- their authenticity, and declared that ed by their internal evidence. The in- where there was such a mass of eviimitable style of the master was to be dence, internal and external, it was imclearly discerned in the unpublished possible, amidst such various sources of writings. After hearing the Profession detection, for the art of imitation to of Faith read, Warton exclaimed, “We have hazarded so much without betrayhave very fine things in our Church Ser- ing itself, and consequently that these vice, and our Litany abounds with beau- papers can be no other than the producties; but here is a man who has distanced tion of Shakespeare himself.” Respectus all !" Boswell, before signing the ing the source whence they were obtaincertificate of authenticity, fell upon his ed, some little reserve was unavoidably knees to kiss “ the invaluable relics of necessary. The editor “received them our bard," and,“ in a tone of enthu- from his son, Samuel William Henry Iresiasm and exultation, thanked God that land, a young man then under nineteen he had lived to witness the discovery, years of age, by whom the discovery was and . . could now die in peace. The accidentally made at the house of a public interest excited by the discovery gentleman of considerable property.' was so great that Mr. Ireland's house in The contracts to which Shakespeare was Norfolk Street was besieged by visitors, a party were first found among a mass and he had to limit their number by or- of family papers, and soon afterwards ders and the days of admission to three in the deed of gift to William Henry Irethe week. The publication of the MSS. land, described as Shakespeare's friend, by subscription was soon announced, in consequence of having saved his and the first volume was issued in 1796 life from drowning in the Thames." at the price of four guineas, under the The owner of the papers was struck by editorship of Mr. Ireland. The list of the coincidence that they should be dissubscribers for this handsome folio in- covered by a namesake of this person, narrative of their discovery and owner whom he had duped. Notwithstanding ship, and any doubt as to the resem- this avowal, the elder Ireland remained, blance of the handwriting to Shake- or affected to remain, incredulous of speare's, the evidence of error in minute the forgery, and for two or three years particulars of language, spelling, and afterwards kept up a paper warfare in date was so cumulative as to determine its defence ; vindicating his own honor the question in the minds of all impartial at the same time by discarding his son. judges. Many of the experts who had The latter, thrown upon his wits for a compromised their reputation were now livelihood, and bitterly complaining of satisfied that they had been duped, but the persecution which he underwent for a few still clung to their belief, especial- an act of youthful folly, maintained himly George Chalmers, who, in two bulky self more or less creditably by literature, volumes of “ Apology, marked by until his death in 1835. He repeated considerable research, attempted to re- his former narrative with some further fute Malone's arguments. Samuel Ire- details in a volume of Confessions publand also put forth an immediate reply lished in 1805, and adhered to it in the to them, but rather by way of vindicat- preface to a reprint of Vortigern, in ing his character from the imputation of 1832 ; but is said to have made a last fraud, than of sustaining the credit of confession shortly before his death, in the papers. Any chance of his doing so which he recanted all that he had said with success was rendered hopeless by before as “a tissue of lies," invented the simultaneous appearance of a pam- for the sole purpose of gaining money, phlet written by his son, William Henry If this final version may be trusted, it Ireland, a young law-student, who was his father who originated the forgavowed himself the sole author of the ery, and systematically employed him imposture. Induced in the first in- and his sisters in elaborating it. Other stance, according to his own account, evidence has been adduced to show that by the sole motive of gratifying his the elder Ireland was not wholly incafather's ardent wish for Shakespearian pable of the part imputed to him, but relics, he had commenced by the forgery how much credit can be given to the of a single autograph, and finding this testimony of a thrice-convicted liar succeed, was prompted partly by a mis- against a deceased accomplice, and what chievous desire to see how far credu- may be their respective shares of crimility would go in the search for antiqui- nality, it would scarcely be profitable to ties," and partly by flattered vanity, to enquire.* carry the deception further.
When It will be more instructive to consider pressed by his father to disclose the how a fact so unique in the annals of litsource whence he obtained the manu- erature as the duping of several eminent scripts, he concocted a story that they experts at once, and under circumstances belonged to a descendant of the actor singularly favorable to the detection of Heminge, who had been a comrade of fraud, may be reasonably explained. Shakespeare's, and acquired them as his We shall hardly err in ascribing the trustee of certain bequests to an imagin- forger's success, in great measure, to the ary W. H. Ireland, which had never been opportuneness of the occasion which he fulfilled. The owner's readiness to part selected. The indifference with which with his treasures to a namesake and Shakespeare's genius had been regarded presumed representative of the man by his greatest countrymen since the whom his ancestor had defrauded, and his reluctance to let his own name be known, were thus plausibly explained. * See Willis's Current Notes, Dec. 1855, and
This curious confession, in which the Dr. Ingleby's Shakespeare Fabrications, app. i. writer particularises the gradual process ject may consult a paper recently (March 27th,
1859. Those who are curious on the subof his forgery, the places where the ma- 1878) read before the Royal Society of Literaterials were procured, and the persons ture, by Dr. Ingleby, in which, after reviewing whom he entrusted with the secret, ex- by the light of fresh evidence the conclusion culpates his father from any complicity to which he had formerly come, that the imin it, and pleads on the score of his son, he reverts to the generally accepted view youth for a lenient verdict from those that the latter was alone responsible for it.