Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Ireland Forgeries in Joseph Farington's Diary, Part II

NB: See Part I for an introduction to this series. Note that only the relevant sections from Farington's entries are included here.

Continuing with Joseph Farington's diary entries relating to the William Henry Ireland Shakespeare forgeries, we move into 1796. Some of the early entries are particularly interesting, and include references to publication of Malone's exposure of the documents and illustration techniques to be used:

Saturday, 2 January 1796: "Mr Malone I called on this morning, and found young James Boswell1 at breakfast with him.

He began a conversation on the subject of Irelands manuscripts; on which He is preparing some remarks which will fully prove the manuscripts to be forgeries. I told him that having seen his advertisement, I called to mention to him some observations which I had heard on the manuscripts by Mr. Lodge2 &c.: but before I stated them to him, He repeated most of them as having occurred to him. — He shewed me a tracing of the handwriting, & signature, of Queen Elizabeth; and the same of Lord Southampton; In both instances but particularly in the writing of Lord Southampton, the forgeries were grossly manifested.

Ireland once called on Mr. Malone to whom He was a stranger, to request He might see a cast from the Head of Shakespeare at Stratford upon Avon. Mr. Malone not being very well pleased with such an intrusion of a stranger, declined shewing it at that time. — Some time before the manuscripts now so much spoken of were announced to the publick, Mr. Byng3 an ignorant man in such matters, but ardent, and violently prejudiced in favor of their authenticity by Ireland, told Malone of this extraordinary treasure, and expressed a strong desire for him to see them. Malone recollecting what has passed between him & Ireland on the subject of the cast of Shakespeares head, & doubting the originality of the manuscripts, resolved not to go to Irelands to see them; but said, if the letters were original they might be proved such beyond doubt, by comparing the hand writing with letters known to be original. Mr. Byng desired Malone to come to his House on a certain day to see the letters; when He might compare the handwriting. He went, but no manuscripts were brought; and the excuse afterwards made was, that Dr. Joseph Wharton was that day examining them. Malone in consequence of what then passed wrote to Mr. Byng a private note for the purpose of seeing them in the way proposed by Mr. St. John; which note Mr. Byng very improperly shewed to Ireland; who from hearing it read, (He did not obtain Mr. Malones note) wrote down a Copy of it, suppressing all the circumstances which caused Malone to write the note, and shewed it to many persons as a proof that Malone desired to obtain a sight of the manuscripts in a clandestine manner. This transaction caused Malone to call St. John to account, and explain it.

Malone spoke of Steevens as having been formerly much acquainted with him: but the intimacy has ceased.

He has a difficulty to find an engraver to imitate the handwriting for the publication. I told him I thought it might be more easily etched.

Westall I called on. Ireland He knew more than thirteen years ago. The Children were then called Irwin. Ireland had an Uncle, who was a Bricklayer, on whom He had a little dependance. He was, Westall understood, originally intended to be an Architect; but became a Spittal-fields, weaver. In this business, he failed. — It was Mrs. Freeman with whom Ireland lived in Arundel Street.4

A friend of Westall, observed to Irelands daughter, that unless Her father could prove his pedigree clearly as being descended from William Ireland the friend of Shakespeare, He could not maintain his claim to the deeds &c. The girl faulteringly said that it was pretty nearly proved; not more than 30 years wanting proof.5

Westall describes Young Ireland to be a lad of no parts. Two yrs. ago He was in some part of the country hunting with a party, & was invited by a gentleman to dinner, where the Company got drunk. In this state, young Ireland, speaking of himself, said he was bred an Attorney; but that he did other things besides writing law deeds: that he had been employed in writing a Copy of all Shakespeares plays. The gentleman observed that must be a great waste of time, when He might purchase an edition for very little money."6

Sunday, 3 January 1796: Malone, I called on; and proposed to him to have his facsimiles of the Hand writings of Queen Elizabeth & Lord Southampton, etched with a black lead pencil on a soft etching ground, which I think will produce a more perfect imitation than can be obtained by the Engraver. — I offered to assist him; & with the assistance of Stadler, I told him I thought we should be able to complete the plates. — He asked me to breakfast with him tomorrow morning, and to go with him to the British museum, to trace the Hand writings of Queen Eliz. & Lord Southampton, which I engaged to do.

He told me he had written to Mr. Windham to request him to write to Lord Cornwallis, Governor of the Tower, for leave to inspect papers there; as probably some letters of Lord Southampton, written when He was Master of the House, will be found there."

Monday, 4 January 1796: "The British Museum I went to with Malone, and traced the parts of two letters of Queen Elizabeth with Her signatures; also parts of two letters of Lord Southampton with his signatures. One of the letters of Queen Eliz: was written to King James 1st. then King of Scotland; the other to Sir [blank].

One of the letters of Lord Southampton was written to the then Lord Keeper Williams in the reign of James 1st, as appears, only the concluding part of a letter, the persons name to whom it was addressed is not on any part of it. ...

[Later in the day, over a dinner] Mr. Byng who supports the authenticity of the Ireland manuscripts, is Brother to Lord Torrington. He is abt. 50 years of age. He was formerly in the Guards, and married a daur. of the late Commodore Forrest. Byng is ardent and ignorant of what is required to judge the authenticity of ancient manuscripts.

We talked of the singularies of George Steevens. He is so much offended with Mr. Cracherode7 for declaring in favor of Irelands manuscripts, that Mr. C. has told Malone Steevens will scarcely speak to him.

In conversation Steevens is limited to certain subjects. On Scholastic, or Shakespearian topics, He speaks much: but on political, Historical, or general topicks, He has little to say; and is apt to be impatient at the Literary Club, till He turn the conversation from such subjects.

Malone spoke of the powers of the mind. Were Johnson, said He, to have treated such a subject as Irelands Manuscripts, He would have preceded the investigation by a general review of forgeries and their effects; and in the course of his examination disputations would have risen on passages, which would have elucidated and strengthened them. I, said Malone, think only of facts, and confine my mind to them."

Thursday, 7 January 1796: "Malone sent to me. I called on him, & traced from Irelands book part of Queen Elizabeths letter, part of Lord Southamptons, and Shakespeares note of hand. The grossness of the forgeries is evident."

Friday, 8 January 1796: "Shakespeare Gallery I went to. G. Steevens there. He was full of Irelands Shakespearian forgeries — neither Payne, nor Edwards, have sold one copy. — He has found the word derange in Irelands Book. This is a modern derivation from the French. Were it used at that period it would be called disranged.

Ireland outmanuevered Sheriden by giving out that He wd. offer the play to Harris at Covent Garden. This caused Sheridan to engage that it shd. be played at Drury Lane. Sheridan has since scouted the play. Richardson who has £12000 engaged in shares at that theatre, to avoid Law suits agreed to let the play be brought forward."

Tuesday, 12 January 1796: "Malone I called on, and returned to him the tracings of the Shakespearian handwritings, as my etching from them would not answer. He sent to Young Longmeat who undertook to do them.8. Malone wishes me to obtain, through Westall, particulars of the Christening &c. [of] yougn Ireland, from Mr. William Aytoun his Godfather."

Wednesday, 13 January 1796: "Westall called on me. I proposed to him the questions stated by Mr. Malone relative to the christening of Irelands children. He said He wd. write to Mr. Aytoun for information.

Mrs. Freeman who lives with Ireland and is the mother of the Children, had, it is said, a fortune of £12000, and is of a good family. Her Brother is now living in London in great circumstances, but disowns Her: Westall does not now her maiden name. Ireland behaves very ill to her. — The Children for many years bore the name of Irwin; and it was at the birth day of one of them, when many persons were invited, & Westall one of the party, that it was signified by Mrs. Freeman that the young people were to be addressed by the name of Ireland. They had passed as her nieces. She still retains the name of Ireland.

Mr. Aytoun said told Westall that Irelands effects will not pay to his creditors under his bankruptcy 20 shillings in the pound. He now owes Coxe, his printer, £800, for work done & money lent.

Bowden [Boaden] was with Westall today. He proposes to publish his remarks on Irelands manuscripts tomorrow."

Thursday, 14 January 1796: "Malone sent to request me to go to the Prerogative Office, Doctors Commons, to trace the name of Hemynge annexed to his will. On inspecting the will we found it to be only a Copy, the original not being in the Office. From thence we went to Aldermanbury to find out the Parish Clerk in order to see the Old Registers, as it is possible the name of Hemynge or Cundall may be in one of them9. The Clerk was out.

I asked Malone if he knows anything of Mr. Riston [Ritson] who is said to be writing upon the Shakespearian manuscripts. Riston he said had attacked Steevens, Johnson, Dr. Wharton & himself on the subject of Shakespeare. He is a Northumberland man, and was bred an Attorney; has abilities and much acrimony.

Mr. Malone left me to go to Mr. Albany Wallis10, in Norfolk street, and in the evening He wrote to me that his visit had been crowned with success beyond his expectations; Mr. Wallis having lent him an original signature of Shakespeare that has never been seen, and which proves that He wrote his name Shakspere. — Mr. Wallis had also lent him a signature of John Hemynge which turns out a small fair hand. — On His way home Malone called on a friend who told him that Ireland says He cares not what Mr. Malone may write for as soon as He shall have published, Ireland will produce irresistible proof of the authenticity of all this trumpery.

Friday, 15 January 1796: "Malone I called on this morning, & traaced the names of Shakespeare & Hemynge from deeds signed by them which are now in the care of Mr. Albany Wallis, who lent them to Malone for three days. I also traced several other names. Shakspere, the Poet writes it."

Saturday, 16 January 1796: "Shakespeare Gallery I went to: Steevens there. He had got Boadens pamphlet on Irelands manuscripts11 which was published this day. It seems a superficial attempt. Steevens mentioned many more errors which He had discovered in Irelands publication.

John Ireland came and shewed me many words absurdly spelt in Irelands publication."

Sunday, 17 January 1796: At a dinner at the home of Sir Joseph Banks, "Much conversation about Irelands manuscripts. Craven Ord12 is a believer in their Authenticity; so is Dr. Greive, to whom Ireland has shewn an Edition of Spencer with marginal notes by Shakespere. Willis told me he is also a believer.

Sir Joseph Banks said the internal evidence is sufficient for him. He is convinced they are forgeries.

Lysons told me that Mr. Byng says Young Ireland frequently tells him He is going to dine with the gentleman who gave him the Manuscripts. Old Ireland still says He does not know who the gentleman is."

Tuesday, 19 January 1796: "Shakespeare Gallery I went to. Steevens there. He has learnt through Humphry, that I Have traced the Handwritings of Queen Elizabeth & Lord Southampton for Malone. He says there is a genuine letter of Queen Elizabeth in the Heralds Office. We made out a list of such as are Believers & Disbelievers of Irelands Manuscripts.

[NB: The Disbelievers list given below is in three columns in the printed text; for ease of reading here I've simply separated the names with commas; the | separates the columns. The Believers list is as printed.]
Disbelievers: Dr. Farmer, The Chief Baron, Mr. Malone, Lodge, Steevens, Ritson, Henley, Lord Orford, O.S. Brereton, Geo. Hardinge, Mr. Cracherode, Mr. West, Hoppner, Dance, Westall, | Bishop of Dromore, Isaac Reed, Fuseli, Courtney, Porson, Grey, Ld. Lauderdale, Sir Jos. Banks, Duke of Leeds, Humphry, Cosway, Farington, Hamilton, Mr. Rogers, D. Lysons, S. Lysons, Ant. Storer, Sir Wm. Scott, Sir Wm. Musgrave, Roger Wilbraham, Holte White, Barnard, Rev. Mr. Langham.

Believers: Craven Ord — Master Pepyss — Honble. John Byng — Sir Isaack Heard — Mr. Chalmers — Dr. Greive — Rev. Dr. Parr — Mr. Bindley — Caldecot — Caleb Whiteford — Albany Wallis — Mr. Champion — Mr. Townshend Heralds Office.

[Later in the day, at a meeting of the Trent Club] Mr. Rogers mentioned that His acquaintance the Revd. Mr. Wesson saw Irelands manuscripts and observed to Ireland that one of the letters was dated three years after the death of the person (Lord Leicester as I understood) alluded to in it as being then living. Soon after the manuscript being again seen it appeared that the date had either been expunged or was torn of[f]."

Wednesday, 20 January 1796: "Malone I called on this morning. He had completed his remarks of Irelands Manuscripts, and is proceeding to write them out fair for the press. I told him what Mr. Wesson had said about cancelling the date of one of the letters. He knows Wesson and will write to him. I mentioned that Humphry had told of my having traced the Handwriting, & that Steevens had attacked me on it. I gave him Steevens' list of persons who are for & against the authenticity of the Manuscripts.

Westall I called on. He has not recd. an answer from Mr. Aytoun."

Thursday, 21 January 1796: "Malone I dined with. The Revd. Mr. Courtney, Son to Mr. Courtney, Member of Parliament dined there.

Impressions of the two plates of Queen Eliz: & of Lord Southamptons handwriting, were brought to us finished."

Sunday, 31 January 1796: "Malone, I called on this morning. Harding, who paints Portraits, was with him. I read some pages of his Remarks on Irelands Manuscripts."

More soon! [Update: Part III]

1: James Boswell (1778-1822), the son of James Boswell the biographer.
2: See the entry for 29 December 1795 in Part I.
3: John Byng (1743-1813), later the 5th Viscount Torrington. A vocal supporter of Ireland, whose well-known diary ends, most unfortunately, in 1794.
4: This concerns the life of Samuel Ireland, William Henry's father.
5: Among the forgeries was a "deed of gift" from Shakespeare to an earlier "Masterre William henrye Irelande" for several manuscript plays and other docuements in Shakespeare's hand.
6: This entry is subject to a slight misreading in Jeffrey Kahan's Reforging Shakespeare (Lehigh University Press, 1998), p. 50. Kahan reports that Farington himself attended the party and heard Ireland make the remark, when in fact Farington was told the anecdote by Westall.
7: Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode (1730-1799), a major collector of books and artwork; his collections were bequeathed to the British Museum.
8: Barak Longmate the Younger (1768-1836).
9: John Hemings and Henry Condell, the editors of the First Folio.
10: Albany Wallis (1713-1800), a neighbor of the Irelands, whose Hemynge signature (which looked nothing like Ireland's forgery) led Ireland to create additional forged signatures in an attempt to match the real one.
11: James Boaden, "A Letter to George Steevens, Esq. Containing a Critical Examination of the Papers of Shakespeare; published by Mr. Samuel Ireland."
12: Craven Ord (1756-1832), antiquarian and collector.

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