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Psalmanazar
Psalmanazar
439

concerning royal mines' (5 Will. & Mary, c. 6), empowering all subjects, of the crown to work their own mines in England and Wales, but securing to the crown the right of pre-emption. Pryse is said to have conveyed the news of the passing of this act to Escairhir within forty-eight hours. He and his partners now subdivided their twenty-four shares into 4,008 shares, for the term of twenty-two years and a half, and obtained considerable support for the new company. He died in 1695, leaving the company greatly in debt. He was unmarried, and the baronetcy expired with him. After his death, Sir Humphry Mackworth [q. v.] purchased his shares, and formed the famous Company of Mine-Adventurers.

[Burke's Extinct Baronetcies, p. 431; Meyrick's History of Cardiganshire; Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, ii. 647; A True Copy of Several Affidavits … of the Mines late of Sir Carbery Pryse, 1698; Waller's Essay on the Value of the Mines late of Sir Carbery Pryse; numerous tracts and broadsides relating to the Mine-Adventurers' Company.]

W. A. S. H.


PSALMANAZAR, GEORGE (1679?–1763), literary impostor, was a native of the south of France. His real name is not revealed. That by which he is alone known he fashioned for himself from Shalmaneser, an Assyrian prince mentioned in the second book of Kings (xvii. 3; Memoirs, p. 141). According to his vague autobiography, his birthplace was a city lying on the road between Avignon and Rome. Both his parents were Roman catholics. His father's family was 'antient but decayed.' His pronunciation of French 'had a spice of the Gascoin accent.' He was educated in the neighbourhood of his birthplace, successively attending a free school kept by two Franciscan monks, a Jesuits' college, a school taught by the rector of a small Dominican convent, and a university. Well grounded in Latin, he soon spoke it fluently, and developed a marked faculty for learning languages. A passion for notoriety also declared itself at an early age. When barely sixteen he secured a passport, in which he contrived to have himself described as 'a young student in theology of Irish extract[ion], who had left his country for the sake of religion' (p. 98). With this document he set out for Rome, but he changed his plans, and resolved to join his father, five hundred miles off, in Germany. Reduced to the utmost destitution, he begged by the roadside, but his appeals, in the guise of a persecuted Irish catholic, failed to attract much attention. At length he found his father, who proved unable to support him, and he extended his tour, as a mendicant student, through Germany and the Low Countries. Hungering for public notice, he now hit on the eccentric device of forging a fresh passport, in which he designated himself a native of Japan who had been converted to Christianity. His Jesuit tutors had instructed him in the history and geography of Japan and China, and he had heard vaguely of recent Jesuit missions to the former country. To render his new device more effective, he soon modified it by passing himself off as a Japanese who still adhered to his pagan faith. This rôle he filled for many years. The trick was worked with much ingenuity. He lived on raw flesh, roots, and herbs, in accordance with what he represented to be the customs of his native land. Then, with bolder assurance, he set to work to construct a language which he pretended was his native tongue. He completed an elaborate alphabet and grammar, making the symbols run from right to left, as in Hebrew. At Landau the whimsical account that he gave of himself led to his imprisonment as a spy, but at Aix-la-Chapelle he obtained, in his assumed character, an engagement as a waiter at a coffee-house. The employment was not permanent, and, in despair, he enlisted in the army of the elector of Cologne. Weak health brought about his dismissal, but he re-enlisted at) Cologne in a regiment belonging to the Duke of Mecklenburg, which was in the pay of the Dutch, and consisted mainly of Lutherans.

He now first called himself Psalmanazar, and his singular story excited curiosity. By this time he had invented a worship of his own, which he represented as the religion of Japan. Turning his face to the rising or setting sun, he muttered or chanted gibberish prose and verse which he wrote out in his invented character in a little book, and he adorned the work with 'figures of the sun, moon, and stars, and such other imagery as his frenzy suggested to him' (Memoirs, pp. 144-5). He challenged his fellow-soldiers who were interested in religious controversy to defend their faith against his. When the regiment moved to Sluys at the end of 1702, his eccentricities were reported to Major-general George Lauder, the governor of the town. Lauder invited Isaac Amalvi, the minister of the Walloon church, and William Innes, chaplain to a Scots regiment at Sluys, to examine him. Conferences on religion between Amalvi and Psalmanazar were held in the governor's presence. Psalmanazar claimed the victory, and his honesty was not generally suspected. Innes was a shrewder observer. He detected the imposture at once, but wickedly suggested to the youth a mode of developing it which might