An airship hoax has been worked on a London crowd. A smithfield [sic] porter, realising how little a thing will attract a crowd, stood for a few seconds looking intently up into the sky. Gradually his example was followed by others, and when he declared that he both saw and heard an airship above Farringdon-street, they agreed. Some went so far as to state that they occasionally saw flashlights. When he had collected a great crowd the porter quietly disappeared, well satisfied with his test of the credulity of the people.
This is very similar to the Chronicle's account as quoted by the Globe, but there are some significant differences. For example here the porter is said to have claimed 'that he both saw and heard an airship', whereas the Chronicle said nothing about hearing; similarly the Chronicle said nothing about any 'flashlights'. More significantly, the Western Times apparently has access to the porter's mental state, since it tells its readers how he 'realis[ed] how little a thing will attract a crowd' and that he was 'well satisfied with his test of the credulity of the people'. Perhaps that's journalistic invention or a rhetorical flourish; but it does raise the question of how this story of the porter hoaxing a crowd arose in the first place. It seems unlikely that it would have come from somebody in the crowd, so perhaps it was the porter himself who told the press. That would at least explain the Western Times's knowledge of his thought processes. But given the degree of egotism this would involve, the story's veracity may be questioned.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://airminded.org/copyright/.