Playfair, William (1759–1823)
Playfair attempted in his youth with little success to combine the positions of inventor and tradesman. He went to Paris, and in 1789 became agent to an American Land Company, the operations of which were disastrous to those sent out. On returning to London he opened a ‘Security’ Bank, which, however, soon collapsed. After Waterloo he returned to Paris as editor of Galignani’s Messenger, but had to leave France to avoid imprisonment on a judgement in an action for libel. His publications were very numerous; many were directed against the French, and he advocated the issue of forged assignats. In the Gentleman’s Magazine (1823, pt. i. 564) is an imperfect list of forty-one pamphlets and books, among which are A General View of the Actual Force and Resources of France (1793); Better Prospects to the Merchants and Manufacturers of Great Britain (1793); Letter to Sir Wm. Pulteney on the establishment of another Public Bank in London (1797); Statistical Tables, from the German of Boetticher (1800); Statistical Account of the US from the French (1807).