Book Library

Sketches of Imposture, Deception and Credulity


Author: Anonymous but Christopher Dennistoun IDed as Richard Alfred Davenport

Publisher: Thomas Tegg Cheapside

Year Printed: 1838

Edition: First

Printing: First

Condition: Good

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Pages: 368

Height: 6 inches

Width: 4 inches

Source: Christopher Dennistoun:
It was published by Thomas Tegg in 1837, reprinted in 1840. Neither edition mentions the author, Richard Alfred Davenport. What could be more fertile ground for Mackay and his publisher? Davenport’s book was shorter, anonymous and a good seller. Something on the same lines with a bigger print run in two, then three volumes, written by a new boy might turn out to be a blockbuster, on the back of such recent success. 

These two works shared many of the same issues, dwelt on similar subjects, including alchemy, mesmerism, superstition, holy relics and financial bubbles. 

On the title page, Davenport quotes Shakespeare:

 “The earth has Bubbles, as the water hath, and these are of them.”

Then Watts: “The prejudice of credulity may, in some measure, be cured by learning to set a high value on truth.”

He understands desire’s role in the human mind; its overwhelming presence in action: “ Many, and even contradictory, causes might be assigned for the constant disposition towards credulity; the mind is prone to believe that for which it most anxiously wishes; difficulties vanish in desire, which thus becomes frequently the main cause of success…This is seen in times of popular excitement, when an assertion quite at variance with common sense or experience will run like a wild-fire through a city and be productive of most serious results….”.

Also see:

Lectures on Modern History by William Smyth

About Those Bulls and Bears - article published by IFA

Note: Mark has borrowed the book from the library to take home.