27 AUGUST 1948, Page 4

A shilling spent in the Charing Cross Road on an

admirably bound volume of Macmillan's Magazine for parts of 1881 and 1882 turns out to have been extremely well invested, as a catalogue of the names of the principal contributors would indicate. One entry in the index I find of particular interest. It runs, " The Irish Question, by Richard Pigott." In a week or two it will be exactly sixty years since the Parnell Commission began its enquiry into the forged letters which The Times published in all good faith, and which were finally proved to be a fabrication by Richard Pigott— who before the Commission's work was ended fled the country and blew his brains out. Now what manner of man was this forger ? In The History of The Times he is characterised, perhaps with some slight prejudice, as " one of those seedy Irishmen, so familiar in every generation, who live in a state of chronic and incurable in- solvency." That may have been so, but the article in Macmillan's precludes completely the idea that the man was no more than a worthless scoundrel. It is not particularly well written, but it is en- tirely competent and informed, and the magazine was much too effi- ciently edited to find a place for an inefficient writer side by side (so far as this particular volume is concerned) with Alfred Tennyson and J. R. Seeley and Sir Archibald Geikie and Henry James and many others of similar calibre. Some reassessment of the forger on the literary side may yet be called for. On the personal side rather less than nothing can be said for him.