1796 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Henry Ireland

Edmond Malone, in An inquiry into the Authenticity of certain Papers attributed to Shakespeare (1796) 349-52.



The fabrications of Lauder, and of the poems of Ossian and Rowley, are yet fresh in the memory of every one; and some time before either Ossian or Chatterton was heard of, William Rufus Chetwood, and obscure bookseller, distinguished himself by the fruitfulness of his inventions, which, like those now before us, related to Shakespeare: he did not, however, aspire to the dignity of forging manuscripts, contenting himself with inventing the titles of editions of our author's plays, never seen by any one except himself. But none of these impostors were daring enough to produce any pretended original manuscript, as written by the author himself: all these fictions therefore, however reprehensible, were, for obvious reasons, harmless and innocent compared with the present fabrication, whether it be considered with a view to society, or to the character and history of the incomparable poet whose handwriting has been counterfeited.