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.
Frans SircksenBorn ca. 1670
Died ca. 1766
Boswell's fencing master in Utrecht. The identification is tentative - Boswell gave his name as Cirx or Cirkz, and the editors of Boswell in Holland conjectures that he was in fact a Frans Dirxen. The evidence mentioned is, that in 1740 the Utrecht Town Council gave permission to one Frans Dirxen, drum-major of the regiment then occupying the garrison, to give lessons in fencing.1 Presumably, the fencing master's father, an Italian, had himself been the fencing master to William III (1650-1702), King of England and Prince of Orange.
The editors of The General Correspondence of James Boswell, 1766-1769, Volume 1: 1766-1767 seems to have identifed the fencing master with much greater certainty, naming him as Frans Sircksen. (GC66, p. 116) Presumably it's still the same drum master previously named, only with the name spelled differently.
Life with Boswell:
Dirxen (or Cirkz) is first mentioned in one of Boswell's Dutch themes, tentatively dated ca. February 20, 1764, in which Boswell describes how he goes "every morning to a fencing-master. He is ninety-four yeras old. His father taught William III, Prince of Orange, to fence. He was an Italian." On June 15, 1764, Boswell "took cordial farewell of old Fencer Cirx and bid him live till he was past one hundred". In a letter dated January 27, 1767, Robert Brown informed Boswell of the death of "the old fencing master", who was "touched with [Boswell's] remembrance of him, but died suddenly soon after [Brown] communicated the contents of [Boswell's] letter relative to him".2