The Right Coast

September 15, 2004
Rather Be In Ireland?
By Maimon Schwarzschild

Connoiseurs of forgery, and of Irish history, will recall the Piggott Forgeries. In 1882, two senior government officials were stabbed to death in broad daylight by Republicans in Dublin. Charles Stewart Parnell, the leader of the Irish home rule movement, a member of Parliament in Westminster, and a steadfast opponent of violence, offered to resign from parliament in protest against "these vile murders" -- an offer declined by Prime Minister Gladstone. Five years later, in 1887, the Times of London reported the existence of letters suggesting that Parnell had been complicit in the murders. A Commission of Inquiry was created, and it emerged that the letters had been forged by Richard Piggott, an "embittered" anti-Parnell journalist. Piggott then did the honourable thing and committed suicide.

It should be added that the London Times had not been advised in advance by its own "experts" that the letters were probably forgeries. Nor did the Times "stand by" the forgeries when they were revealed as such, nor accuse those who vindicated Parnell of being "political operatives". Furthermore, nothing whatsoever was said about pyjamas (or pajamas).

Hat tip to Peter Connolly of Washington, D.C.