ISBN: 1110008139 / ISBN-13: 9781110008131
Books and Bookmen
by Andrew Lang
Excerpt: ...held aloof, were as much influenced by jealousy as by science. The whole story of young Ireland's forgeries is not only too long to be ... Show synopsis Excerpt: ...held aloof, were as much influenced by jealousy as by science. The whole story of young Ireland's forgeries is not only too long to be told here, but forms the topic of a novel ('The Talk of the Town') by Mr. James Payn. The frauds in his hands lose neither their humour nor their complicated interest of plot. To be brief, then, Mr. Samuel Ireland was a gentleman extremely fond of old literature and old books. If we may trust the 'Confessions' (1805) of his candid son, Mr. W. H. Ireland, a more harmless and confiding old person than Samuel never collected early English tracts. Living in his learned society, his son, Mr. W. H. Ireland, acquired not only a passion for black letters, but a desire to emulate Chatterton. His first step in guilt was the forgery of an autograph on an old pamphlet, with which he gratified Samuel Ireland. He also wrote a sham inscription on a modern bust of Cromwell, which he represented as an authentic antique. Finding that the critics were taken in, and attributed this new bust to the old sculptor Simeon, Ireland conceived a very low and not unjustifiable opinion of critical tact. Critics would find merit in anything which seemed old enough. Ireland's next achievement was the forgery of some legal documents concerning Shakespeare. Just as the bad man who deceived the guileless Mr. Shapira forged his 'Deuteronomy' on the blank spaces of old synagogue rolls, so young Ireland used the cut-off ends of old rent rolls. He next bought up quantities of old fly-leaves of books, and on this ancient paper he indicted a sham confession of faith, which he attributed to Shakespeare. Being a strong "evangelical," young Mr. Ireland gave a very Protestant complexion to this edifying document. And still the critics gaped and wondered and believed. Ireland's method was to write in an ink made by blending various liquids used in the marbling of paper for bookbinding. This stuff was supplied to him by a bookbinder's apprentice. When people...