Forgery in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture: by S. Malton

By S. Malton

Malton examines the literary and cultural illustration of the monetary crime of forgery from the time of big executions of forgers in the course of the early 19th century to the forger's emergence because the final legal aesthete on the fin-de-siècle.

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Extra info for Forgery in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture: Fictions of Finance from Dickens to Wilde

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And how high he stood, in his official capacity, in the favour of the Crown, and both Houses of Parliament, the Mint, the Bank of England and the Judges of the land; when he recollected that whatever ministry was in or out, he remained their peculiar pet and panacea, and that for his sake England stood single and conspicuous among the civilised nations of the earth: when he called these things to mind and dwelt upon them, he felt certain that the national gratitude must relieve him from the consequences of his late proceedings, and restore him to his place in the happy social system.

The Bank of England’s increased vulnerability to forgery did much to hamper its reputation, but so too did its perceived role in the number of executions for the crime. The Bank was seen by many to possess a stronghold on England’s financial affairs, a stronghold frequently tightened by the hangman’s noose. Commentators from Cobbett to Dickens identified the Bank as usurping the force of law, and with unnecessarily bloody results, “fattening on the profits of the Restriction while it was hanging forgers” (Fetter 95).

We teach him to lie, or rather we lie for him during the whole ceremony of his trial” (I: 178). In this narrative, the arbiters of truth and justice are thus ultimately held to greater account than the criminal herself. Nonfiction writers also continue to draw on the Fauntleroy case in order to indict the failures of the legal system, especially in a climate of widespread fraud. While exploiting the melodramatic potential of the case, George Thornbury’s 1866 article, “The Trial and Execution of Fauntleroy,” which I have brief ly referred to earlier, seeks to correct the kind of romanticized views of Fauntleroy that often appeared in fictional renderings.

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