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"Be sure thou prove my love a whore": forged evidence and engines of proof in Coleridge's Shakespearean politics.

COLERIDGE'S LECTURES ON SHAKESPEARE'S DRAMAS HAVE LONG FIGURED as an important moment in the history of Shakespeare criticism, but Shakespeare's contribution to Coleridge's own dramas has hardly been noticed, even by scholars participating in the last decade's explosion of research on Romantic-era drama. As Greg Kucich has pointed out, Romantic-era critics strongly urged poet-dramatists to reform contemporary theater by emulating the Renaissance masters who dominated the Romantic stage, but discouraged them by exalting their predecessors' powerful talent. (1) Worse for reform-minded poets, conservative critics pursued "a process of mapping literary history that was thoroughly implicated in the period's most bitterly contested sociopolitical struggles" and "entailed a presentation of the old English dramatists as passionate supporters of rank and monarchy." (2) In the theater, conservative actors and playwrights appropriated Shakespeare's plays through politically resonant productions, such as John Philip Kemble's 1796 Coriolanus, which gave noticeably greater emphasis to Coriolanus' nobility and the populace's fickleness in this notoriously equivocal text. (3) Of equal or greater interest to Coleridge, other playwrights enlisted Shakespearean characters and plot elements in their own dramas. One virulently anti-jacobin drama, modeled partly on Shakespeare's plays and partly on Gothic melodrama, was Edwin Eyre's The Death of the Queen of France, rejected by John Larpent, the Examiner of plays, in 1794 but published as The Maid of Normandy in the same year. Robespierre becomes an ambitious Gothic villain, uttering a soliloquy, says George Taylor, "worthy of Richard III" and crafting a plot against Louis XVI's heirs reminiscent of Macbeth's against the heirs of Banquo. Eyre models Marat, the second Gothic villain, on "the hypocritical Angelo in Measure for Measure," depicting him as "sexually stimulated by [Charlotte] Corday's righteous indignation." (4) Coleridge's 1797 tragedy Osorio (revised and performed in 1813 as Remorse) likewise engaged the post-French Revolution political controversy through Shakespearean motifs and stage business. Constructing a more complex set of relations to Shakespeare than Eyre's play does, however, Coleridge's tragedy can be seen as an attempt to wrest Shakespeare from conservative control.

One important consideration, as Jeffrey Cox points out, is that Eyre's play and other "reactionary" dramas were censored, as were the pro-revolutionary dramas, for incorporating anti-monarchical, revolutionary language or action and thus giving audiences the opportunity to enjoy moments of revolutionary exhilaration, despite the anti-revolutionary tenor of the whole. (5) This general point seems particularly pertinent to Shakespeare appropriation, given Jonathan Bate's observations on the use of Shakespeare in political caricature:
 While political discourse ... tends to polarity, literary texts,
 especially Shakespearean ones, tend to multivalence. The risk,
 though also the excitement and the potential subversiveness, of
 Shakespearean allusions in political caricature is that they cannot
 be easily contained; to 'quote' Falstaff is to give new life to a
 set of values which governments would generally prefer to restrain.
 (6)


Larpent's strictness would have made it difficult for playwrights in the royal theaters to exercise the relative freedom enjoyed by caricaturists in the press; however, the audience's familiarity with the Shakespeare caricatures Bate describes (albeit predominantly conservative) meant that they "would be quick to read the plays metaphorically" and discover covert meanings. (7) These observations suggest that conditions in the major theaters were somewhat less than hegemonic. When Coleridge was writing Osorio, he was appropriating a Shakespeare who had certainly been turned to conservative political purposes through dramatic criticism and stage practice, but it was also a Shakespeare whose fertility in equivocation and repeated adaptation could support a multivalent message. As this essay will show, Coleridge adapts the "forgery" theme of Othello to mount a critique of all claims to political authority based on "forged" evidence and testimony--practices that damage the affective relations of citizens to their country and each other.

For Coleridge, Shakespeare appropriation linked claims of literary expertise to those of a political authority whose partisan interest revealed both claims to be fraudulent. He had seen these assumptions invoked in discussions of the well-known literary forgeries of Thomas Chatterton and William Henry Ireland. The prominent person who (along with Horace Walpole) assumed the authority of expertise in pronouncing on both cases was Edmond Malone, the widely respected Shakespeare scholar and editor. While Malone explicitly linked literary forgery and fraud with political imposture by radicals, Coleridge (familiar with the 1794 treason trials) knew that political imposture by governors could also be construed as forgery and fraud. By 1797, however, Coleridge was losing faith in popular reform and, though eager to appropriate Shakespeare from the reactionaries, he was also willing to take advantage of the Bard's ambiguous forgery and fraud motifs to query all political imposture. In Osorio, Coleridge constructed scenes centering on manipulated evidence and engines of proof, using props analogous to the handkerchief of Othello and stage business like the play-within-a-play of Hamlet. He interpreted the complex dilemmas of these dramas in terms of the epistemological and affective skepticism that resulted from manipulation of evidentiary and interpretive authority, using Shakespeare's scenes to frame his response to injustices on both sides of the political divide.

Paul Baines has called the eighteenth century "an age of forgery," in which cases of documentary forgery, vastly increasing in number and seriousness, were matched by legislation, ever more inclusive and more severe. The crime, as Baines says, was known in Shakespeare's day as well, indeed as early as the middle ages, when the Norman Conquest upset land tenure and provided opportunities for profitable forgery of documents. (8) While the legal cognizance of forgery would alter over time with changes in the economic and social structure of England, there is generic and genetic continuity between Coleridge's understanding of the term and Shakespeare's. Hamlet uses his father's signet ring to seal his letter forging an order for the death of Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern. The seal marks his usurpation (or counter-usurpation) of the reigning king's authority. A king's particular acts, as Guildenstern observes to Claudius, have more general and serious effects than a mere individual's (184; 3.3.8-10) (9)--an observation that in the play casts a retrospective light on Claudius' "forged" account of his brother's death and in Coleridge's application condemns the Pitt ministry's attempt to "forge" a treason charge against radical reformers in 1794.

"Forgery" is a term of great amplitude and serviceable ambiguity. Baines, who tries to stay as close to the money nexus of the word as possible, nonetheless sees the crime as a cultural problem, "threaten[ing] basic ideas of value, and the security of human exchanges and interactions." (10) The term's potential for synecdochic spread was evident to eighteenth-century regime--critics like Swift and Pope, for whom "[a]llegations about forgery functioned ... as ciphers for other kinds of concern ... political or ideological in scope." Baines concludes that "[t]he whole [economic and political] system could be typified by the forgery it naturally engendered." (11) Nick Groom describes the "cultural ambiguities" of forgery, distinguishing it from counterfeit and plagiarism "as an original work within an unoriginal, or rather a pre-existent context." (12) His view that forgery "has no actual original source," but "conjures the illusion of a source," (13) is particularly relevant to this essay, which recognizes forgeries that gesture toward an elusive, even invented origin, whether author, text, or act. Groom's practice of defining forgery by calling up its associates ("copy, fraud, imposture") and literal forebears ("smithying and hammering and beating") not only asserts forgery's ambiguous history as transgression and invention, but also suggests that figurative meanings of the term gain the status of literal meanings and vice versa. (14) In order to emphasize the literary importance of forgery as "an art of making," Groom proposes to eliminate the legal perspective on the term by focusing on the text rather than the author's intent. (15) This, however, would also eliminate the element of usurped authority that is central to the political uses of the forgery accusation. The accuser claims that the forger uses his invention to perpetrate a fraud or act an imposture in order to expropriate authority, whether of art or expertise.

The forgery accusation is especially apt as a weapon of political attack because of forgery's sometime association with counterfeit. Viewed from the perspective of the status quo, forgery is an attack on public confidence in "the system." Although, as Groom points out, counterfeiting and forgery produce different relations between copy and original, the historical association of the two terms provides the critic of forgery with a highly suggestive label. It implies that the forger has interfered with the natural association between the object and its meaning (of which its origination forms a part), and has therefore deprived his or her victim of belief in its value. The forgery's resemblance to the original object, forgery accusations suggest, lands its victim in a state of debilitating uncertainty we might call "epistemological skepticism," since it is a global state of doubt whether one can know the object of one's perceptions. This state resonates with that radical skepticism that led Montaigne to admit his abysmal ignorance and (in order to avoid despair) follow nature and the customs of his country. (16) In this respect, skepticism is a weapon the status quo uses to protect itself from forgery's usurpation, as well as an affliction the status quo suffers from forgery. The fideistic consequences of this position were rejected in post-Reformation English institutions, whose main defense against skepticism (gradually altering law, science and religion) made the criterion of truth reasonable (as opposed to absolute) certainty, offered empirical evidence and systematic testing of the rehability of witnesses as the method of reaching a probable conclusion, and backed this method with the general rules of consistent experience. (17) But here too forgery is adept at turning the weapons ranged against it to its own advantage: the forger uses the system of empirical evidences, of documentary witness, of probable reasoning to give the forged object verisimilitude. His exposure only ends up destroying the epistemological trust the observer needs to credit assurances of authenticity in general, thereby undermining what Michael McKeon calls the "naive empiricism" essential to maintaining the status quo. (18)

Given the double nature of skepticism as curse and cure, and forgery's double meaning as usurpation and authentic invention, it would not be surprising that one day's invention would be the next day's forgery in the volatile political discourse of the 1790S. In a way that resonated with contemporary forgery accusations, Coleridge could recognize forgery in Shakespeare's plays as a complex struggle for control of interpretive authority. (19) Shakespeare made forgers of his heroes as well as his villains, and in his plays forgeries function as both transgressions and engines of proof. Shakespearean forgery confirms for Coleridge what is at stake in interpretive authority--whether claimed by radicals or reactionaries--namely, confidence in the affective relations of individuals to the nation and to each other. Epistemological skepticism assaults affective security--confidence that one is loved and belongs to a community. This is a circular relation, however, since once affective insecurity is activated, it attacks epistemological belief as well. How Coleridge comes to see these national and private stakes as related through forgery is the subject of the next section of this essay; how he builds them into his play Osorio by following Shakespeare's lead is the subject of the final section.

In the 1790s Coleridge's interest focused on two cases of forgery that effloresced into political criticism: those of Thomas Chatterton and William Henry Ireland. Both were "literary forger[ies]" and not punishable by law, (20) but criticism of them abounded in legal metaphors. Chatterton "forged" papers by the fifteenth-century monk Thomas Rowley, claiming he found them in a chest in St. Mary's Redcliffe church near Bristol. Using parchments gleaned from a hoard of old documents actually found there by his father, the young poet composed for Rowley a variety of poems, plays, translations of antiquarian documents, and correspondence. Detected by Horace Walpole, to whom Chatterton sent some of his works, he was not actually exposed until seven years after his death in 1770 at age seventeen. (21) Thomas Tyrwhitt stirred readers' interest by keeping the question of forgery open, even though he was already convinced the Rowley poems were not genuine when he published them in 1777. (22) Walpole, who was drawn into the controversy because Chatterton sympathizers accused him of neglecting the poverty-stricken poet and thus of driving him to suicide, defended himself by arguing that by helping Chatterton he would have
 encouraged a propensity to forgery, which is not the talent most
 wanting culture in the present age. All of the house of forgery are
 relations; and though it is just to Chatterton's memory to say,
 that his poverty never made him claim kindred with the richest, or
 most enriching branches, yet his ingenuity in counterfeiting
 styles, and, I believe, hands, might easily have led him to those
 more facile imitations of prose, promissory notes. (23)


The phrase "All the house of forgery are relations" generated controversy--did literary forgery indeed carry the same threat to economic and political stability as monetary forgery?--and though several writers turned Walpole's assertion to ridicule, it helped to make forgery a figure for subversion as well as genius. (24)

In the case of William Henry Ireland, who forged documents by and concerning Shakespeare, there is also a disputed penchant for extending legal thinking into literary culture. Wanting to impress his father, Samuel Ireland, a bookseller and amateur antiquarian with a love for Shakespeare, William forged a series of items, including Shakespeare's Spiritual Last Will and Testament, a love letter and poem to Anne Hathaway, and manuscript plays. (25) The forgery, published in 1796, was detected by (among others) Edmond Malone, a lawyer as well as a Shakespeare scholar, who had earlier scooped his fellow scholars by giving a full analysis of the Chatterton evidence. His devastatingly detailed expose was penetrated with legal language and legal standards. William had told his father that he obtained these treasures from a wealthy gentleman, with the proviso that William not reveal his source. Pointing out to Ireland senior (the possessor of the papers) that he should not even expect the papers to be seriously considered unless he divulged the source, Malone complained that such recalcitrance would not be tolerated in a court of law considering a will, for example; rather "the claimant would be turned out of court, and his paper immediately flung after him." In Ireland's as in Chatterton's case, the cry was for evidence of authenticity. Malone, citing Blackstone's Commentaries and Sir Geoffrey Gilbert's Law of Evidence, asserted, "In that court, as in all other courts, it is an established rule that the best evidence the nature of the case will admit of, shall always be required." (26)

If these forgeries were not illegal, why all the expenditure of words to construe them as illegal? Baines presents one rationale: literary forgeries could be sold for money, and they could fool the antiquarians, who placed (money) value on antiquities. (27) One could, it seems, view them as a synecdoche for the total commercial system that ought to be guarded by law. There is also (in nay view) a more subtle political reason for incorporating these cases under a legal umbrella: at stake within this system was the authority of the expert, who felt himself in charge of the integrity of material facts that could become evidence in innumerable controversies underpinning other claims to authority--historical, religious, and political. (28) At the time Coleridge began his literary and political career in the 1790s, there was in England a reticulating legal culture, available to the educated public through print sources such as newspapers, pamphlets, and published trial transcripts. Through this culture the public shared in the vocabulary of evidence, probability, and reasonable belief. They could appreciate the knowledge of the expert, but could also appropriate it, and through appropriation could challenge it. While monetary forgery posed a direct threat to political and economic authority, and was punished accordingly, literary forgery was perceived as operating more indirectly. The controversy over Chatterton's Rowley poems, Maria Grazia Lolla demonstrates, dwelt on "conflicting views of the past," and these entailed an assault both on experts and on a conservative ideology. Thomas Warton and many likeminded scholars believed that the authenticity of Rowley would undermine the accepted theory of literary progress by showing that modernity was not the epitome of value and that the supposed dark ages were actually illuminated by talent and invention. (29)

In the Ireland controversy, disputants' assumption of literary authority was explicitly cast in the mold of post-French Revolution political alignments. In his Inquiry into the Authenticity of Certain Miscellaneous Papers, Malone declares his heritage of Protestant liberty when, as an "intelligent reader" in a "free country," he "claims a right to judge for himself, uninfluenced by any authority but that of right reason, and the best information he can procure." (30) Samuel Ireland had claimed in his Preface to the Miscellaneous Papers ... of William Shakspeare that "[i]t was the great object of the Editor [himself] to obtain the fair and free suffrages of the literary world, that they should see with their own eyes, and judge with their own understandings." (31) In direct contradiction, Malone depicts Ireland as the tyrannical owner of the Shakespeare papers, arbitrarily limiting access to them and excluding qualified critics. Enlisting Burke's strategy against Dissenters' support for French revolutionaries, Malone lumps "the merchant" with "the man of narrow income" and "the leveller and republican," placing Ireland among misguided English sympathizers with radical reform. (32) Believing, with Burke, that veneration for royalty is "happily and beneficially inwoven in our inestimable constitution," he finds in the language of William Ireland's forged letter to Anne Hathaway a glaring revelation of the forger's "contemptuous" view of kings. (33) Although he says he rejects the "vile and slavish doctrine" of "unconditional and passive obedience to the prince on the throne," he nonetheless argues that the changes in religion in Shakespeare's day, "[having] been earned at the expence of much blood and labour ... begot a zeal for religion" that much improved "the morals of the reformed," particularly in that "it produced a cheerful submission to the Government." (34)

Malone couples his political and literary knowingness with attacks on Ireland's evidentiary ignorance, suggesting that Ireland is not capable of "seeing with his own eyes" or "judging with his own understanding." He corrects Ireland's notions about external evidence--it has nothing to do with ink, parchment, and seals--and asserts the priority of the legal viewpoint: what, he demands, is the provenance of the papers? Malone then condescends to consider orthography, phraseology, dates, and handwriting, launching on a lengthy comparison of these in the papers and in known documents of the sixteenth century. (35) Displaying his wide range of expertise and illustrating his educated knowledge of entire literary eras, Malone's move appears a kind of imperial as well as empirical conquest of the field. His supererogatory deployment of expertise, however, also tempts his opponent to detect imposture in Malone's assumption of authority. In An Investigation of Mr. Malone's Claims to the Character of Scholar, or Critic, Samuel Ireland attempts--and often succeeds in--meeting Malone on this ground, showing him to be mistaken about specific spellings and usages. Ireland also repudiates Malone's accusation that he prevented access to the papers. (36) Malone did not inspect the papers (Ireland follows Malone's own words) solely because he did not want to lend his authority to sanction them. (37) That authority Ireland attempts to bring into question, along with Malone's libertarian and ethical stance, when he points out that Malone is proud to possess numerous papers associated with Shakespeare, yet has not "laid [them] before the world," though using them to judge Ireland's papers. "Malone [he says] seems to have entered [into the dispute] ... as if every thing that belonged to Shakespeare was his own exclusive property." (38)

The most important thrust in Ireland's defense is political. Retorting Malone's insinuation that he forged the Shakespeare papers in order to enlist Shakespeare in the revolutionary cause, Ireland asserts that Malone belongs, by inclination and by reasoning, with the "crown lawyer ... on a case of high treason." (39) Ireland has in mind here the treason trials of 1794, in which the government's case against Thomas Hardy, Home Tooke, and John Thelwall was resoundingly defeated at the hands of defense attorney Thomas Erskine. (40) Erskine showed that the mounds of papers, confiscated from the various reform societies, and the interminable succession of oral testimony, some of it from spies planted in these societies to report their activities and to incite their members to some overt action, was an overflow of expertise meant to intimidate the jury. The Attorney General lacked any single overt act to qualify the reformers' activities as "compassing and imagining the king's death," the definition of treason according to statute law. Instead, he attempted to construct the testimony and documents cumulatively into evidence of an intention to usurp legislative power and implicitly endanger the king's life. The government asserted that the reformers attempted to perpetrate a fraud upon a well-meaning but gullible public, getting them to abandon the British constitution for a delusory written substitute. Erskine, it is clear, was retaliating the forgery stigma by pointing out the excess of empirical materials and convoluted logic in the government's case. Ireland certainly alludes to this shameful episode when he says (in a distinct echo of Erskine's opening remarks in Hardy's trial),
 The greatest difficulty which I have to encounter, in my
 examination of Mr. Malone's work, is that which arises from the
 superfluous matter, with which it abounds. The advantage which that
 author derives, from this redundant and desultory method of
 pursuing his subject, is very obvious. If he does not overpower his
 adversaries, he at least overwhelms his readers.... Thus the
 greater part of its readers are stupified [sic] into assent, and
 are perplexed into acquiescence. (41)


Malone's inferences about the reformist sympathies of the Irelands were not wrong, though they were exaggerated. Nor was he wrong in judging the Shakespeare papers forgeries. But the exchange between Malone and Ireland captures the way pretensions to legal knowledge, along with rhetorical manipulation of empirical evidence, could be construed as political imposture.

The complex relationship between claims to literary expertise and assumptions of political authority in both the Chatterton and Ireland cases was evident to Coleridge. I shall turn to Coleridge's response to the Chatterton scandal in a moment. As for Ireland's forgeries, Coleridge gave them no approval, seeing them (perhaps in contrast to Chatterton's) as lacking genius; nonetheless, he found in the controversy a fund of material usable for political criticism. In his journal The Watchman, he reported the efforts of James Boaden, an ally of Malone, to impugn the Shakespeare papers. Going a step further than Malone in demonstrating his literary expertise, Boaden showed how easily one could imitate Shakespeare's "manner" once one had picked up his vocabulary. Coleridge points out that Boaden (a playwright of dubious merit) had captured Shakespeare's "phraseology," but not "the uncommonness and rapid succession of his images." (42) In the club of educated taste, Coleridge, a brilliant young man who dropped out of college, registers his own credentials for discernment. If the "Vortigern and Rowena" has the quality that marks Shakespeare's distinctive style, Coleridge suggests, it is probably not a forgery--unless Edmund Burke assisted in the writing. This left-handed praise for Burke's eloquence is a right-handed slap at his politics; the legal expert and man of taste, as political reactionary, may turn out to be a forger of a different, more dangerous stripe than the Irelands, as his case against Dissenters in Reflections on the Revolution in France had shown. Besides exhibiting Coleridge's awareness of the political uses of expertise claims, this whimsical comment reveals his understanding that the forgery accusation is appropriable, carrying threats to authority of many kinds. In his journalism of 1797 he would use it liberally as a counter-thrust against the war-mongering Pitt ministry, (43) as well as against Bonaparte's liberty-encroaching constitution of 1798, but alongside this political game-playing he also experienced a more personal distress.

Such attempts as the treason trials to encroach on British liberties through the law meant for many young men and women a loss of faith in British institutions. They felt and expressed this loss in terms of both epistemological and affective skepticism. The pattern could have been predicted from the effect of the Chatterton controversy. The experts' progressive argument in the Chatterton case was met, among others, by Jacob Bryant, who undermined both sides by advancing a skeptical reduction of the evidence. He not only attacked the "system" of literature, but he also expressed doubts about scholars' ability to draw any definite conclusions at all, since much of the evidence could be interpreted to support either side. (44) This skeptical conclusion is echoed in the effect of the treason trials on such sensitive observers as Wordsworth and Coleridge. They perceived a similarity between the spirit of the French Reign of Terror and the intimidation tactics of William Pitt's ministry. Yet they felt (and dreaded) the revolutionaries' "lust of Revenge," fed by accumulated "wrongs." (45) The evidence of French violence could be interpreted as justification for viewing either side as promoters of a fraudulent solution to the political unrest. Wordsworth recalled his distress as epistemological confusion brought on by "unjust tribunals" in France, exacerbated in the treason trials by "Our shepherds," who "[t]hirsted to make the guardian crook of law / A tool of murder." (46) In his play "The Borderers," which he read to Coleridge when Osorio was in progress, Wordsworth described the effect of this epistemological crisis as a loss of affective discernment as well: the hero, Mortimer, is unable to decide whether his intended victim, a man whom he has hitherto held in filial esteem, is genuinely innocent or merely adept at forging the appearance of innocence. Meanwhile, he completely misses the manipulation of evidence by his Iago-like confidant, Rivers, and his belated discovery of this chicanery estranges him from the community of his fellows. (47) In Osorio, Coleridge responds to (and recapitulates) this despair by reading the political ambiguity of forgery and fraud through Shakespearean scenes.

Coleridge in the 1790s was very much aware of the controversies over literary forgeries and their political parallels. In a canceled note intended for the 1796 publication of his "Monody on the Death of Chatterton," he quoted Walpole's "All the house of forgery" passage, adding a note of disdain (and leveling republicanism) for Walpole's attempt to construe the literary forgery as a monetary forgery: "O ye who honour the name of Man, rejoice that this Walpole is called a Lord!" In his 1790 version of the "Monody," Coleridge's speaker, imbued with indignation, follows Walpole's critics in blaming Chatterton's death on "neglect," turning the death into a satire on English complacency about the country's enlightened constitution: "Is this the land of liberal Heart?" (48) The emphasis on "Heart" already broaches the idea that political injustice damages affective confidence. Coleridge imagines Chatterton busy with plans for his future poems, from which he might gain fame and wealth, as well as a status enabling him to save the downtrodden and punish their oppressors. Suddenly this hopefulness is violently driven from his mind by recollection of injustices against him. In another version, published in 1796, Coleridge adds lines that (in imagination) invite Chatterton to escape poverty and neglect by joining the egalitarian agrarian society that he and Robert Southey were intending to establish in America. The crucial element in Coleridge's theoretical grounding of this "pantisocracy" was a necessitarian view of personal and political history. All happiness and suffering were the necessary product of preceding states of mind and behaviors, a condition Coleridge then viewed with Hartleyan optimism: every amelioration introduced into opinion and education would become permanent and form the foundation for other improvements. (49) Pantisocracy was meant to model that fact. As a fraternal community of mutually supportive participants, in Coleridge's "Monody" they appreciate Chatterton's forgery as a literary strategy, in the manner of pantisocracy itself, for gaining (and displacing) political authority. In 1797, in the wake of pantisocracy's demise, Coleridge reviews his hopes for political change through the equivocal trope of forgery in Shakespeare's plays.

Early in 1797 Coleridge received an indirect invitation from Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the well-known dramatist, member of Parliament, and manager of Drury Lane Theater, "'to write a tragedy on some popular subject.'" Coleridge inquired of Sheridan "whether you meant by [this phrase] to recommend a fictitious and domestic subject, or one founded on well-known History," pointing out that "[t]he four most popular Tragedies of Shakespear (Lear, Othello, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet) are either fictitious, or drawn from Histories and parts of History unknown to the Many." (50) Coleridge later sent Sheridan a play that, like Othello, dramatizes a fictitious domestic conflict, within a historical setting that gives it political point. For Coleridge, who is also writing his groundbreaking conversation poems at this time, the everyday is where affective belief crosses perceptual barriers, assures relationship, and grounds community over time. In Osorio the destruction of affective belief reflects political conditions: the manipulation of knowledge through church-state control produces an ethical distortion in the everyday. Not genuine Christianity, but a forged simulacrum, the Inquisition in Osorio's sixteenth-century Spain promotes a false ethics of vengeance that infects the perceptions of everyone in the play. This is the extreme to which the English establishment tends in Coleridge's political allegory. Engaging Shakespeare's plays in producing this allegory, however, Coleridge also finds the means of expressing his fear that oppressor and oppressed may change places. As we shall see, in Osorio, as in Othello, forgery operates as a trope for both invention and usurpation. Thus, Iago's story of Desdemona's adultery, resting on the handkerchief she never gave Cassio, is a forged account, as is Osorio's proof of Albert's death, a portrait belonging to Albert that he never took with him. In this sense, Coleridge's incorporating Othello into Osorio recalls the Attorney General's construction of evidence into a threat that did not exist. But the reform-minded Albert too provides a picture, made by himself, of an assassination that never took place.

From the beginning Osorio (like Othello) questions the ability to interpret appearances and to impose one's interpretation upon others--two aspects of authority and expertise that the forgery controversies showed were devolving into political imposture. Osorio's first scene is structured as an argument situated within an exercise of surrogate parental authority and an assumption of superior ethical proof. Although backed by avowal of concern for a child's happiness, it is later linked to an exercise of political--Inquisitional--authority; and although resisted with a practical skepticism, it also registers as an attempt to destabilize interpretive confidence. In this scene, Lord Velez urges his ward Maria to marry his younger son Osorio; she, however, wishes to remain faithful to Velez's older son Albert, who, according to Osorio's eyewitness testimony, perished at sea after being captured by Morescan (Mohammedan) pirates. Velez claims that before their decease Maria's parents committed her to his authority and trusted him to promote her happiness. Yet his assumption that he knows what will make Mafia happy is problematic, because Velez is considering the happiness of someone--Osorio--other than the child he addresses, and his enjoining gratitude is an ethical disguise, one that bears structural similarity to Malone's adoption of the libertarian stance, and one that radicals in Coleridge's day translated as aristocratic imposture. (51)

Maria relies on her own observations: distrusting Osorio's "proud forbidding eye, and his dark brow," (52) she senses that marriage to him would hold her in the interpreting scrutiny of one who harbors secret guilt and love of power. The encroachment of Osorio, who allies himself with the Inquisition, represents a deprivation of liberty, confirmed later in the play when Velez, seconded by the Inquisitor, threatens to send Maria to a convent for continuing to refuse Osorio's suit.

Maria's rejection of Velez's authority has come about because she has absorbed Albert's ethical way of judging the world. Through Maria's observations, Coleridge conveys the nexus of her lover's personal and political views. Her concurrence in Albert's revolutionary understanding of the institutions of Spanish Catholicism, her belief (like his) that revenge is a poor solution to oppression, mirrors the oneness of heart Coleridge had felt with Mary Ann Evans and the earnestness with which he urged amelioration of mind and heart on the female pantisocrats. (53) It is no accident that Maria fantasizes herself as a bereaved Moorish woman while Albert, upon his secret return home, disguises himself as a Moor, and that she attempts to moderate the hatred of the Moresco widow, Alhadra, for her Christian persecutors, just as Albert refuses Alhadra's invitation to lead the Morescoes in a vengeful revolution. By becoming the co-thinker of Albert's political fantasy of peaceful reform, Maria has lent her everyday affective courage, her faithfulness and unceasing expectation, to guarantee the success of religious and political reformation.

Through Maria's interpretive acumen and sympathy for the underclass, Coleridge not only reveals women's importance in his political vision, but also describes their terrifying responsibility for knowing themselves in a way that will promote fraternity in a frighteningly post-fraternal world. Yet against her knowledge and will she is also an obstacle to community. Maria's absorption in Albert is met by a reciprocal absorption of the disguised Albert in Maria. Together they make one self--Albert tells Alhadra he "was wont to call [Maria] not mine, but me" (1.1.290)--producing, one would think, a model of perfect mutual understanding that could found a community. Yet as Reeve Parker notices, Maria's love figures as a burden to Albert. (54) While he feels an epistemological vertigo when he thinks she has betrayed him with Osorio, he also relinquished her portrait to his brother for safe-keeping while he fought in the Protestant wars. Their perfect oneness (like the relation of an individual to himself) has so far produced no perfect instantiation of the political vision--perhaps because, like Southey, who betrayed Coleridge by abandoning the pantisocracy project, the brother remains outside that community, or because, like Coleridge, Albert finds it difficult to live up to the image he has created of himself.

Coleridge thus complicates this review of his political vision when, bringing the rift in French revolutionary brotherhood home to England and interrogating the government's intimidation tactics in England's law courts, he invokes the epistemological and affective skepticism of Othello. Choosing Iago as his template for Osorio, Coleridge makes him a forger, a manipulator of evidence to attain power over interpretation, confident of his expertise in reading character and subverting it with specious reasoning. Coleridge gives Osorio a scene similar to the one following Othello's successful elopement with Desdemona. Iago, working to engage Desdemona's admirer Roderigo in his plan to destroy Othello, pretends to comfort the disappointed lover. Arguing that reason is needed to support the will against appetite to prevent one's ending in "preposterous conclusions," he convinces Roderigo that what he calls love is "merely a lust of the blood, and a permission of the will" (278; 1.3.324-25, 329). Yet he turns this argument into the fiction Roderigo wants to hear, that Desdemona's desires are changeable, that he should therefore make his reason serve his will (as Iago himself does) and bribe the woman to his desires. Later, after Roderigo has funneled his fortune into Iago's pocket and has perceived that Iago's "words and performances are no kin together" (347; 4.2-186-87), he avows his intentions to "repent [his] unlawful solicitation" of Desdemona (347; 4.2.201). But Iago gives him "satisfying reasons," which defer his perception of the fraud and convert him to a depreciation of human life: he agrees to assassinate Cassio on the skeptical grounds that "'Tis but a man gone" (352;5.1.9-10).

Osorio likewise reasons speciously and invents evidence. In the back story to the play, he forged--both invented and counterfeited--a tale to deceive the Moresco Ferdinand, Alhadra's husband, into believing that he and a young lady, affianced to Albert, had fallen in love; that the young lady was now with child; and that the return of Albert would spell the death of all three. Ferdinand took on the task of assassinating Albert out of "gratitude" (2.1.60) for Osorio's having protected him at the siege that defeated his Moresco people. Later, like Roderigo, Ferdinand discovered he had been practiced upon, Albert happening to reveal to the assassin that he is Osorio's brother. Osorio now wants Ferdinand to help him convince Maria that Albert is dead. Having drawn the scene on his Shakespearean model, however, Coleridge now abruptly changes its outcome. To kill a brother strikes Ferdinand as shockingly base. Instead of complying, he expresses resentment against the man "who proffers his past favors for my Virtue" (2.1.63). To Coleridge, who had experienced a homicidal surge of fraternal rivalry with his brother Francis, and the loss of his elder brother's trust when he escaped confronting his debts by joining the dragoons, who had made the effort to recapture brotherhood in pantisocracy and was alert to the devolutionary pattern in French politics, the destruction of a brother would have had special poignancy. (55) All the more important then is Coleridge's departure from the Iago-Roderigo model, focusing attention on the instability of Osorio's villainy, his self-duping. Osorio scoffs at Ferdinand's scruples and distinctions, attempting (like Iago) to give his pawn "satisfying reasons" to place little worth on a man's life. While Iago's skeptical philosophy does not preclude his understanding the force of principle on behavior, however, Osorio's skepticism produces blindness to the real power of the ethical/affective principle--even as his enduring connection to such a principle deprives him of Iago's sheer delight in manipulation. Osorio's seduction of Ferdinand is repeatedly interrupted by his recollections of the love he once bore to his brother. When Ferdinand describes to Osorio the scene of the attempted assassination, in which, upon learning Osorio was the agent of the assassination, Albert "threw / His Sword away, and bade us take his life--/It was not worth his keeping" (2.1.101-2), Osorio interrupts: "And you kill'd him? / O blood-hounds! may eternal Wrath flame round you! / He was the Image of the Deity" (2.1.102-4).

Osorio's spontaneous relapses into affective belief in his brother's integrity argue for the mixture of elements in human character that for Coleridge paradoxically grounds his political hope. According to Hartley's Christian necessitarianism, which continued to influence Coleridge in 1797, good in the long term will prove permanent, while evil and pain will drop away. This theory is in some ways a direct reversal of the pleasure-pain calculus available in Iago's and Osorio's skepticism. Both describe humankind as machines of desire, but Iago pictures himself as the conscious will operating those machines while Coleridge's villain conceives himself as part of the mechanism: "What have I done but that which Nature destin'd / Or the blind elements stirr'd up within me?" (2.1.114-15). Afraid of the dark driving passions and imaginations he finds in himself, Osorio assigns them to an evil god outside himself. "If good were meant, why were we made these beings? / And if not meant--" (2.1.116-17). For Coleridge's necessitarianism, all human action is determined by preceding states of mind and behavior. This mechanism may seem "blind" as Osorio says, but since it was "meant" by a benevolent God, good states of mind and behavior will propagate and gradually diminish and dilute evil. Coleridge means Osorio's inconsistencies and spontaneous reactions to verify that the religious ground exists for necessitarian progress. (56) The key to that progress Coleridge locates in the loving self-restraint of reformers. Thus, in Act 1 Albert refuses revenge and in the last scene of the play refutes Osorio's philosophy by reading the feelings that he guesses must have produced it. Life, thought, will--even if the product of mechanism--are infinitely valuable and therefore deserve care. Denying that care, he explains, does not give an oppressor the power of insight, but renders him fearful. In Coleridge's interpretive rewriting, Iago becomes an Osorio--terrifying because he undervalues affective belief, but pitiable because his mechanistic rationale is a forgery, a misknowing by which he is self-exiled from the human community. (57)

The political implication of this rewriting is that the oppressor has no knowledge-based power, hence is a straw figure that can be dispelled by one who does have knowledge and couples it with compassion. Albert's refutation of Osorio's skepticism is not, however, Coleridge's last thought on his political vision. The precariousness of this vision is evident in the final scene, where Albert's forgiveness is balked (he believes) by Osorio's horror of being known. Albert, oddly enough, offers safety through forgery: "We will invent some tale to save your honor ..." (5.2.138). But this project of recreating community through forgery, reminiscent of the belated wish to assimilate Chatterton to pantisocracy, has already been tested in the trick scene of Act 3. Here, Albert, in his disguise as a Moorish wizard, consents to aid Osorio's plan of magically producing the portrait that will prove to Maria he has died, only to substitute his own painting of his assassination at the last minute, unveiling it unexpectedly to shock Osorio into remorse. In creating this scene, Coleridge takes his hint from Othello's demand for ocular proof before he will finally relinquish his faith in Desdemona, the linchpin of his self-understanding. Coleridge reverses genders, however: Albert is the Desdemona, the object of faith, to Maria's Othello, beset by doubts, and she is the target of Osorio's Iago-like machinations.

In Othello, Iago takes advantage of conditions of epistemological uncertainty--Othello cannot have a direct view of Desdemona's unfaithfulness--to forge a story around the circumstantial evidence of the lost handkerchief. Iago knows the characters he has to deal with, that "'tis most easy / Th' inclining Desdemona to subdue / In any honest suit" and that Othello's "soul is so enfetter'd to her love / That she may make, unmake ..." (302; 2.3.313-20). Although Iago prefers to reduce all motives to passion, he understands what really moves his dupes and how deeply, and he understands above all the relational system of their affection: "by how much she strives to do [Cassio] good, / She shall undo her credit with the Moor" (302; 2.3.332-33). Iago need only touch the network of Cassio's friendship, Desdemona's faithfulness, and Othello's love at a single point--"turn her virtue into pitch"--in order to "unmesh [enmesh] them all" (302; 2.3.334-36). When Othello tells Desdemona, then, that "there's magick in the web" of the handkerchief (325; 3.4.67), he enters into Iago's knowledge that it signifies the weave Othello has given his affective world. In close imitation of Iago, he forges--"forges" because he invents with expert skill--a narrative that has no external original, but that still entraps Desdemona. As Kenneth Gross says, it is actually Othello's terrified looking into himself that has destroyed his belief in himself and her, "confront[ing] ... a depth or dimension of the 'inward' that he seems hardly to have confronted before," (58) and this looking transforms the narrative artistry with which he wooed her into a weapon against her--and himself.

The irony--and for Coleridge the political import of all this--is that Othello thinks of Iago's manipulative knowledge as expertise--"This fellow's of exceeding honesty, / And knows all qualities, with a learned spirit, / Of human dealings"--that will give him certainty (315; 3.3.262-64). Although Iago possesses knowledge of character (and is able to distinguish what he knows from what he pretends to believe), his power does not come from empathetic depth, but from his "aware[ness] of the rhetorical character of human apprehensions" that can be made complicit in self-destruction. (59) Joel Altman illustrates this kind of knowledge with Iago's skilled exploitation of the hysteron proteron, a figure related to the circumstantial evidence of the law courts, but capable of operating somewhat sophistically: "it starts with a presumption passionately grounded in some relational notion of identity ... and upon this literally empirical foundation it layers successive bits of evidence." An auricular figure that "possess[es] the quality of enargeia" or "vividness," moreover, it stimulates imagination by coloring particulars, overwhelming abstract thought. (60) Before Othello sees the handkerchief, he has already heard from Iago and pictured in his own mind what operates as evidence. Othello has lost all his previous confidence in his interpretive ability, consequently in his ability to know himself, and even to be himself. Under the influence of Iago's vivid hints, he begins to acquire a promptness of invidious interpretation that will replace affective belief. When he subsequently watches (without hearing) Cassio speak of Bianca with Iago, he supplies a running (mis)interpretation that employs the premise Iago has implanted, for he supplies the detail to Iago's pantomime. What makes Othello kill Desdemona lies deeper than, but fuels, this rhetorical strategy. For Coleridge, what is at stake in this triumph of Iago's rhetorical acumen is political justice in a profoundly personal register.

In Coleridge's play, the intended dupe, Maria, escapes the fate of Othello, but equivocally so. Osorio contrives the trick scene to convince Maria, through circumstantial evidence, that Albert is dead: he lends the Moorish wizard (Albert in disguise) something she will consider ocular proof, the portrait of herself that she gave to Albert when he departed to fight in the religious wars and that she does not know he left in the safekeeping of Osorio. The wizard is to use his chicanery with empirical objects to make the portrait magically appear in answer to his invocation of Albert's spirit. Maria is to give up her idea of Albert (which has formed her political and religious being) under the direction of the expert, with his engines of proof, much as Othello gave up his idea of Desdemona in light of the recovered handkerchief--and much as the jury in the treason trials were to subscribe to the Attorney General's political and religious premises in his compilation of evidence. Coleridge, however, creates an equivocal similarity with Othello's unconscious complicity in Iago's rhetorical manipulation. Rather than seducing Maria into abandoning her perceptual confidence, Osorio's trick only confirms her interpretive acumen. While Velez sees the trick as evidence of Osorio's desperate love, Maria concludes ironically that "[i]f this [mummery] were all assum'd" to win her love, Osorio "must needs be a most consummate Actor; / And hath so vast a power to deceive me, / I never could be safe" (4.2.112-15). Maria recognizes the forgery as an attempt to destabilize her systematic means of knowing and judging: she does not credit "the magick" in its web, as Othello does that of the handkerchief, but recognizes it instead as an overt attempt to play upon her own fears. The vertiginous "inward" that threatens Othello's epistemological security (and makes him seek the bloody answer) is something Maria has already confronted in her "visions" and dreams (1.1.25), the terrifying potential for betraying her beloved, and these equivocal emotions produce her fainting when the picture is mentioned. The message she hears that finally releases her from the effect of the scene comes from Albert's voice and tells her Albert is not dead. But her equivocal desire and fear temporarily rob her of consciousness, as if she is resisting the fact of his presence because it will then be not simply her acumen in reading the signs, but the auricular figure of the wizard, his magical rhetoric, that, under Osorio's Iago-like machinations, would guide her knowing and defraud her of her love.

Coleridge's association of the trick scene with Iago's rhetoric thus raises some disturbing questions: Is it Albert rather than Osorio who becomes another Iago when he exercises his expertise in magic and, if so, does his voice awaken Maria to freedom from imposture or only to another imposture? For Coleridge the plotting of Osorio (as of Iago) would resonate with the sophistic arguments in the treason trials, where empirical evidence functions like the hysteron proteron: the Attorney General starts with the presumption that to call a convention for parliamentary reform threatens the life of the king and, through cumulative detail, attempts to give an impression of extensive conspiracy that will rewrite reform as revolution. (61) In Albert's appropriation of Osorio's trick, however, Coleridge himself raises questions about the self-consistency of reform (and signals its counter-appropriability). (62) In forging a copy of Osorio's (intended) crime, Albert wants to shock Osorio into remorse (a move that seems more indebted to Hamlet than to Othello), but Reeve Parker may be right in asking whether Albert "remains on the prowl for vengeance," noticing that the "low imposture" of this scene (3.3.130) is as much Albert's as Osorio's. (63) Coleridge would have known something of this equivocal strategy from personal experience: self-doubt, assertions of expertise, and attempts to achieve rhetorical victories were prominent in Coleridge's relations with Robert Southey and (besides the financial worries) dragged down their pantisocratic aspirations.

My argument has been that Coleridge recognized a common ground between the struggles over political authority in his day and the forgery trope in Shakespeare's plays. He could hardly avoid the connection since the forgery trope was used by both sides of the political divide in the treason trials and since the accusation appeared so dramatically in the controversy over Ireland's Shakspeare forgeries. Coleridge worked this vein in a way that could challenge the conservative appropriation of Shakespeare. At the same time, we cannot see this challenge as a simple act of political propaganda. The Shakespeare material appealed to Coleridge because in it he saw a way to express the confluence of the personal and the political loss of fraternity he had known during the 1790s. For him as for Wordsworth, the destruction of brothers, of affective attachment to one's nation, occurred in England as well as France through the assumption of expertise, the political manipulation of evidence and engines of proof. For Coleridge that destruction was echoed in the estrangements resulting from loss of faith in reform and the demise of the pantisocracy plan, a plan that was itself intended to be both a political model and a fraternal way of being in the world. He recognized these stories of loss in the trope of fraud and forgery, both cause and cure of epistemological and affective skepticism, in Shakespeare's plays.

Pepperdine University

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(1.) Greg Kucich, "'A Haunted Ruin': Romantic Drama, Renaissance Tradition, and the Critical Establishment," in British Romantic Drama: Historical and Critical Essays, eds. Terence Hoagwood and Daniel Watkins (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1998), 56-83.

(2.) Kucich, "'A Haunted Ruin,'" 66, 75. Shakespeare had held a central position in the convergence of "cultural conservatism" with "upsurgent nationalism and expansive imperialism" at least since the mid-eighteenth century, according to Gary Taylor, Reinventing Shakespeare: A Cultural History, from the Restoration to the Present (1989) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), 120-21.

(3.) Jonathan Bate calls Kemble "[a]n ardent monarchist and defender of 'rank and

station,'" in Shakespearean Constitutions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), 63; quoting James Boaden, Memoirs of the Life of John Philip Kemble (1825), 1:119. See also George Taylor, The French Revolution and the London Stage, 1789-1805 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 55.

(4.) Taylor, French Revolution, 85-87. Eyre's is not the only such play. Jeffrey Cox shows that William Preston's Democratic Rage; or, Louis the Unfortunate (published 1793) appropriated Richard III for its depiction of Philippe Egalite and Edmund (from Lear) for its depiction of Marat. See "Ideology and Genre in the British Antirevolutionary Drama in the 1790s" in British Romantic Drama, 100.

(5.) Cox, "Ideology and Genre," 106-8.

(6.) Bate, Shakespearean Constitutions, 77.

(7.) Taylor, French Revolution, 55.

(8.) Paul Baines, The House of Forgery in Eighteenth-Century, Britain (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999), 7-8.

(9.) Citations of Shakespeare's plays (parenthetical in text) will refer to both the edition of Lewis Theobald (one of the three editions possibly used by Coleridge in the 1790s): The Works of Shakespeare, ed Lewis Theobald, vol. 8 (London, 1773), and the Norton edition: The Norton Shakespeare: Based on the Oxford Edition, ed. Stephen Greenblatt and others (New York: Norton, 1988), the former by page number, the latter by act, scene, and line.

(10.) Baines, House of Forgery, 11.

(11.) Baines, House of Forgery, 14.

(12.) Nick Groom, The Forger's Shadou,: How Forgery Changed the Course of Literature (Basingstoke: Picador, 2002), 70. By contrast, "a counterfeit should properly be considered as a facsimile copy without a necessary source, a plagiarism as a facsimile copy mistaken for an original ..." (70). At the same time, however, Groom discovers in past usage similarities between counterfeit and forgery: both involve craft and skill, both "make something in fraudulent imitation and pass it off as genuine," but while both are excesses, "[f]orgery is ... an extreme of invention" and counterfeit an extreme of transgression (49). Ambiguities plague plagiarism as well: Groom calls it "wrongful copying" (31), but recognizes both its closeness to allowable mimesis in earlier literature and its pejorative connotation as Romantic-era writers took on issues of originality. Plagiarism will not figure in the present essay, which is more focused on authority than on ownership, but for more extensive exploration of the subject, see Tilar Mazzeo, Plagiarism and Literary Property in the Romantic Period (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), esp. chap. 1.

(13.) Groom, Forger's Shadow, 70, 16.

(14.) Groom, Forger's Shadow, 17, 49.

(15.) Groom, Forger's Shadow, 66, 61. Margaret Russett articulates a provocative nexus between legal and literary perceptions of forgery in Fictions and Fakes: Forging Romantic Authenticity, 1760-1845 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 16.

(16.) Richard H. Popkin, The History of Skepticism from Erasmus to Spinoza (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), 47.

(17.) See Barbara Shapiro, Beyond Reasonable Doubt and Probable Cause (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), chap. 1; and Probability and Certainty its Seventeenth-Century England (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), 61-62, 74, 78-88.

(18.) Michael McKeon, The Origins of" the English Novel 1600-1740 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987), 47-52.

(19.) Coleridge contested the role of the expert during Romanticism's revolutionary phase, and when he later advocated a body of cultural experts, his "clerisy," he still conceived it as "more than a collection of rules and certifying procedures," requiring it to be "the correspondence of a social formation to an internalized, evanescent formation in which any of its members realizes in his act the whole outside him that echoes the greater whole within him." See Jon Klancher, The Making of English Reading Audiences, 1790-1832 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987), 164.

(20.) Robert Miles observes, "Monetary forgery was a capital offense; and while literary forgery obviously was not, in actual courts of law, it was similarly fatal in the tribunals of the republic of letters." See "Trouble in the Republic of Letters: The Reception of the Shakespeare Forgeries," SiR 44, no. 3 (2005): 321.

(21.) Groom, Forger's Shadow, 149, 144-53.

(22.) Baines, House of Forgery, 158.

(23.) Quoted in Baines, House of Forgery, 162.

(24.) See Peter Martin, Edmond Malone: Shakespearean Scholar: A Literary Biography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 79. For information relevant to Chatterton's political alignment, see Ian Haywood, The Making of History: A Study of James MacPherson and Thomas Chatterton (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1986), chap. 5; and Robert W. Jones, "'We Proclaim Our Darling Son': The Politics of Chatterton's Memory during the War for America," Review of English Studies 53, no. 211 (2002); 373-95.

(25.) Sources for information in this paragraph include: Groom, Forger's Shadow, chap. 6 and Martin, Edmond Malone, 75-79, 188-98.

(26.) Malone, An Inquiry into the Authenticity of Certain Miscellaneous Papers and Legal Instruments ... 1769, facsimile reprint (New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1970), 17.

(27.) Baines, House of Forgery, 162-68.

(28.) Popkin, History of Scepticism, 48-49, suggests this assault on "experts" was evident at least as early as Montaigne's attack on religious dogmatism.

(29.) Grazia Lolla, "'Truth Sacrifising to the Muses': The Rowley Controversy and the Genesis of the Romantic Chatterton" in Thomas Chatterton and Romantic Culture, ed. Nick Groom (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999), 153, 161.

(30.) Malone, Inquiry into the Authenticity, 5.

(31.) Ireland, Miscellaneous Papers and Legal Instruments under the Hand and Seal of William Shakespeare ... (London, 1796), xi.

(32.) Malone, Inquiry into the Authenticity, 40-41n.

(33.) Malone, Inquiry into the Authenticity, 148-49; see also 150-52.

(34.) Malone, Inquiry into the Authenticity, 154, 152-53.

(35.) Malone, Inquiry into the Authenticity, 23.

(36.) Ireland, An Investigation of Mr. Malone's Claim ... 1796, facsimile reprint (New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1970), 2-5.

(37.) Malone, Inquiry into the Authenticity, 22-23n; Ireland, Investigation of Mr. Malone's Claim, 3.

(38.) Ireland, Investigation of Mr. Malone's Claim, 7, 6.

(39.) Ireland, Investigation of Mr. Malone's Claim, 28.

(40.) The information in this paragraph is compiled from James Ridgway, ed., The Speeches of the Right Hon. Lord Erskine..., 3rd ed., vol. 3 (London: Ridgway, n.d.); T. B. Howell, ed., A Complete Collection of State Trials, vol. 18 (London, 1813); and John Barrell, Imagining the King's Death: Figurative Treason, Fantasies of Regicide 1793-1796 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), chap. 11.

(41.) Ireland, Investigation of Mr. Malone's Claim, 1.

(42.) Collected Works of Coleridge, vol. 2, The Watchman, ed. Lewis Patton (London: Routledge, 1970), 97.

(43.) See Victoria Myers, "The Other Fraud: Coleridge and the Rhetoric of Political Discourse," in Romanticism, Radicalism, and the Press, ed. Stephen C. Behrendt (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1997), 65-82.

(44.) Grazia Lolla, "'Truth Sacrifising,'" 163-64.

(45.) Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Collected Works of Coleridge, vol. 1, Lectures 1795 on Politics and Religion, eds. Lewis Patton and Peter Mann (London: Routledge, 1971), 9.

(46.) William Wordsworth, The Prelude 1805, in The Prelude 1799, 1805, 1850, eds. Jonathan Wordsworth, M. H. Abrams, and Stephen Gill (New York: Norton, 1979), 10:377; 10:645-47.

(47.) See Victoria Myers' treatment of this epistemological crisis and loss of affective discernment in "Justice and Indeterminacy: Wordsworth's The Borderers and the Trials of the 1790S," SiR 40, no. 3 (Fall 2001): 427-57.

(48.) Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Collected Works of Coleridge, vol. 16, Poetical Works, vol. 2, part 1, Poems, ed. J. C. C. Mays (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), 172, 174.

(49.) See David Hartley, Observations on Man, His Frame, His Duty, and His Expectations, in Two Parts, 1749, facsimile edition (Delmar, NY: Scholars' Facsimiles & Reprints, 1976), part 1, chapter 4, section 1.

(50.) Coleridge, Collected Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ed. Earl Leshe Griggs, vol. 1 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966), 304. For a brief history of the negotiations and other sources for the play, see Mays, ed., Collected Works, 16, Poetical Works, vol. 3, Plays, part 1:52-55, and of the eventual production, see part 2:1027-51. Coleridge may have been eager to take the opportunity of Sheridan's known friendliness to reform and his courageous stands against the Pitt government's repressive measures to write a play with a political message. Sheridan rejected the play, but communicated with Coleridge several times subsequently concerning its stageworthiness (Collected Works, 16, 3:48).

(51.) See, for example, Godwin's view of gratitude in the 1793 edition of Political Justice, in Political and Philosophical Writings of William Godwin, vol. 3, ed. Mark Philp (London: William Pickering, 1993), 113-14, which Coleridge (ironically) made considerable efforts to combat.

(52.) Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Osorio: A Tragedy, in Collected Works, 16, Poetical Works, 3, part 1:1.1.80. Hereafter cited parenthetically by act, scene, and line.

(53.) For the role of women in the pantisocracy project, see Collected Letters of Coleridge, 119-20. For Mary Ann Evans as possible model, compare the qualities Coleridge assigns to her (130) with those he attributes to the pantisocrats (97).

(54.) Parker sees this burden symbolized in the portrait which Maria hangs around his neck, like an "albatross," and reflected in the "excess of ... remorse" he feels for having left the "fetishistic" image with Osorio, as well as phrasal parallels which evoke her as a revenant. See "Osorio's Dark Employments: Tricking Out Coleridgean Tragedy," SiR 33, no. 1 (1994): 144-47.

(55.) On Coleridge's rivalry with his brother Francis, see Richard Holmes, Coleridge: Early Visions (New York: Viking, 1989), 16-17; on learning to be a brother, see Collected Letters, 53-54, 64-66, 125; on his effort to recapture brotherhood in pantisocracy, see Collected Letters, 86, 103; and on brotherhood in French politics, see Lynn Hunt, The Family Romance of the French Revolution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), chap. 3. Marjean Purinton notes: "Osorio dramatizes the dissolution of the French fraternity during the Reign of Terror as the rivalry between brothers Osorio and Albert." See "The English Pamphlet War of the 1790s and Coleridge's Osorio," in British Romantic Drama, 162. In his exploration of the context of Coleridge's "This Lime-tree Bower," Charles Rzepka accumulates evidence of fraternal rivalry and loss of fraternal trust, including a number of observations on Osorio. See "Thoughts in Prison/Imprisoned Thoughts: William Dodd's Forgotten Poem and the Incarceration Trope of Coleridge's 'This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison,'" in Thoughts in Prison, ed. Rzepka, Romantic Circles, http://www.rc.umd.edu/editions/prison/ HTML/poetryEEd.28intro.html, pars. 4, 20, 41, 46-49.

(56.) Coleridge here counters Godwinian necessitarianism, whose mechanistic and atheistic implications he saw as a deleterious influence on radicalism during the mid-1790s.

(57.) For the concept of self-knowing and misknowing here and elsewhere in this essay, I am indebted in general to Stanley Cavell, Disowning Knowledge in Six Plays of Shakespeare (2003 rpt.; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

(58.) Gross, "Slander and Skepticism," ELH 56, no. 4 (Winter 1989): 825.

(59.) Altman, "'Preposterous Conclusions': Eros, Enargeia, and the Composition of Othello," Representations 18 (Spring 1987): 138.

(60.) Altman. "Preposterous Conclusions," 136, 133.

(61.) For the rhetorical sources of legal treatment of evidence from early modern revival of classical rhetoric up through the eighteenth century, see Barbara Shapiro, "Classical Rhetoric and the English Law of Evidence," in Rhetoric and Law in Early Modern Europe, eds. Victoria Kahn and Loma Hutson (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001), 54-72.

(62.) For a similar theme, see Kevin Gilmartin, Print Politics: The Press and Radical Opposition in Early Nineteenth-Century England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 53-64.

(63.) Parker, "Osorio's Dark Employments," 138. On Coleridge's revolutionary guilt, which induced him to revise the character of Albert in Remorse, see also Julie A. Carlson, In the Theatre of Romanticism: Coleridge, Nationalism, Women (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 41-42.
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