Tuesday, January 17, 2006



Norman Draper and Paul Levy, Young journalists uncover a fraud (Star Tribune, January 13, 2006):
He passed himself off as a British aristocrat sizing up Stillwater High School as a distinguished visitor and prospective student. Then he made the mistake of trying to peddle his tale to the staffers at the school's student newspaper, the Pony Express.

It wasn't long before the budding journalists discovered the true identity of the alleged blue-blooded teenager who passed himself off as "Caspian James Crichton-Stuart IV, the Fifth Duke of Cleveland," hobnobber with the upper crust and 27th in line for the British throne.

His more prosaic title was Joshua Adam Gardner, convicted sex offender.
I wonder if he got the idea from Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, chapter XIX:
"No, I know you haven't. I ain't blaming you, gentlemen. I brought myself down--yes, I did it myself. It's right I should suffer--perfectly right--I don't make any moan."

"Brought you down from whar? Whar was you brought down from?"

"Ah, you would not believe me; the world never believes--let it pass--'tis no matter. The secret of my birth--"

"The secret of your birth! Do you mean to say--"

"Gentlemen," says the young man, very solemn, "I will reveal it to you, for I feel I may have confidence in you. By rights I am a duke!"

Jim's eyes bugged out when he heard that; and I reckon mine did, too. Then the baldhead says: "No! you can't mean it?"

"Yes. My great-grandfather, eldest son of the Duke of Bridgewater, fled to this country about the end of the last century, to breathe the pure air of freedom; married here, and died, leaving a son, his own father dying about the same time. The second son of the late duke seized the titles and estates--the infant real duke was ignored. I am the lineal descendant of that infant--I am the rightful Duke of Bridgewater; and here am I, forlorn, torn from my high estate, hunted of men, despised by the cold world, ragged, worn, heart-broken, and degraded to the companionship of felons on a raft!"

Jim pitied him ever so much, and so did I. We tried to comfort him, but he said it warn't much use, he couldn't be much comforted; said if we was a mind to acknowledge him, that would do him more good than most anything else; so we said we would, if he would tell us how. He said we ought to bow when we spoke to him, and say "Your Grace," or "My Lord," or "Your Lordship"--and he wouldn't mind it if we called him plain "Bridgewater," which, he said, was a title anyway, and not a name; and one of us ought to wait on him at dinner, and do any little thing for him he wanted done.

Well, that was all easy, so we done it. All through dinner Jim stood around and waited on him, and says, "Will yo' Grace have some o' dis or some o' dat?" and so on, and a body could see it was mighty pleasing to him.
Compare this paragraph in the Star Tribune article:
In the meantime, he carried on his airs. "He was demanding that we call him 'Your Grace,'" said Chantal Leonhart, one of the paper's managing editors. "He even demanded that the principal call him 'Your Grace.'"

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