James Boswell died in 1795 believing he had touched and kissed a cache of Shakespeare's original letters and papers discovered by a Mr. Ireland. His friend, Edmond Malone, publicly exposed the lot as a forgery just a year later.
James Boswell the Genius
It has been 180 years since Lord Macaulay published his damning description of James Boswell in his review of the Croker edition of the Life of Johnson. I am glad to observe, however, that public perception of Boswell has changed a good deal since then.
One of the, perhaps, most surprisingly positive references to Boswell in recent years was made yesterday by controversial journalist and political commentator Peter Oborne, who in his column in the Daily Telegraph included Boswell on his list of great 18th century Edinburgh geniusses:
"The fusion of those nations [England and Scotland] created something quite extraordinary. In Scotland, the Act of Union was followed by an age of culture at which the world still marvels. Edinburgh, no longer an isolated outpost, suddenly produced a series of geniuses comparable to Vienna at the start of the last century: David Hume, Adam Smith, James Boswell, Robert Adam and many more."
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