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[53] been in fact, if not in form, stolen from him; to all which the Count replied by the schedule and receipt, and the matter was quashed. So much the greater, however, was the noise the manuscripts made in the world; the Grand Duke of Tuscany heard of them and entered into treaty for them; they were brought to Florence, and he agreed to give six thousand crowns for them, if they should be found genuine by persons skilled in manuscripts. But here was the rub. Experts beyond all suspicion of unfairness examined them, and declined to pronounce them genuine, without absolutely declaring them to be forgeries; the Grand Duke gave Count Alberti some hundred crowns for his trouble, and from that time–which is now three years—the general opinion has gone against their authenticity.

Count Alberti, on his side, appeals to the well-known facts touching the Falconieri Library, and to the legal suit, and objects to the persons who examined his manuscripts, that they ought not to have been mere experts in handwriting, but rather men of letters, who should have judged in part, at least, from internal evidence and historical proofs.

On the other hand, it is said that Count Alberti is an adventurer, who had formerly been an officer in the army; that, among other doubtful characteristics and accomplishments, he has that of being able to imitate all sorts of handwriting; that, knowing the history of the Falconieri Library, he went there and found two or three sonnets, and other inconsiderable autograph manuscripts of Tasso; that he then, probably, entered into an arrangement with the Prince to carry on the imposition of making others, which the Prince should seem to sell him by schedule; that the lawsuit was intended merely to give form to the fraud; that the Count has not been frank and open in showing all the manuscripts to those who could best judge, or who had suspicions of their authenticity; that a man of honor could never have received the few hundred crowns given by the Grand Duke, on the ground that the manuscripts were not genuine, because, if they were not, the inference is irresistible that the Count has forged them; and that, finally, the manuscripts which seem on all accounts to be Tasso's do not touch the interesting questions of his life, while all the rest relate to nothing else, and have a most suspicious completeness about them, comprising even several notes of the Princess Eleonora herself. Of this last party,—adverse to the genuineness of the manuscripts,—are now, I am told, all the men of letters in Florence: Niccolini, Capponi, Micali, Becchi, etc., though some of them, like Niccolini, were at first believers in their authenticity,

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