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The Works of Edgar Allan Poe

Part 4 out of 5

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"Hem ! ahem ! rather civil that, I should say !" said the
bundle, in one of the smallest, and altogether the funniest little
voices, between a squeak and a whistle, that I ever heard in all the
days of my existence.

"Ahem ! rather civil that, I should observe."

I fairly shouted with terror, and made off, at a tangent, into
the farthest extremity of the room.

"God bless me ! my dear fellow," here again whistled the
bundle, "what - what - what - why, what _is_ the matter ? I really
believe you don't know me at all."

What _could_ I say to all this - what _could_ I ? I staggered
into an arm-chair, and, with staring eyes and open mouth, awaited the
solution of the wonder.

"Strange you shouldn't know me though, isn't it ?" presently
re-squeaked the nondescript, which I now perceived was performing,
upon the floor, some inexplicable evolution, very analogous to the
drawing on of a stocking. There was only a single leg, however,

"Strange you shouldn't know me, though, isn't it ? Pompey, bring
me that leg !" Here Pompey handed the bundle, a very capital cork
leg, already dressed, which it screwed on in a trice ; and then it
stood up before my eyes.

"And a bloody action it _was_," continued the thing, as if in a
soliloquy ; "but then one mustn't fight with the Bugaboos and
Kickapoos, and think of coming off with a mere scratch. Pompey, I'll
thank you now for that arm. Thomas" [turning to me] "is decidedly
the best hand at a cork leg ; but if you should ever want an arm, my
dear fellow, you must really let me recommend you to Bishop." Here
Pompey screwed on an arm.

"We had rather hot work of it, that you may say. Now, you dog,
slip on my shoulders and bosom ! Pettitt makes the best shoulders,
but for a bosom you will have to go to Ducrow."

"Bosom !" said I.

"Pompey, will you _never_ be ready with that wig ? Scalping is
a rough process after all ; but then you can procure such a capital
scratch at De L'Orme's."

"Scratch !"

"Now, you nigger, my teeth ! For a _good_ set of these you had
better go to Parmly's at once ; high prices, but excellent work. I
swallowed some very capital articles, though, when the big Bugaboo
rammed me down with the butt end of his rifle."

"Butt end ! ram down !! my eye !!"

"O yes, by-the-by, my eye - here, Pompey, you scamp, screw it in
! Those Kickapoos are not so very slow at a gouge ; but he's a
belied man, that Dr. Williams, after all ; you can't imagine how well
I see with the eyes of his make."

I now began very clearly to perceive that the object before me
was nothing more nor less than my new acquaintance, Brevet Brigadier
General John A. B. C. Smith. The manipulations of Pompey had made, I
must confess, a very striking difference in the appearance of the
personal man. The voice, however, still puzzled me no little ; but
even this apparent mystery was speedily cleared up.

"Pompey, you black rascal," squeaked the General, "I really do
believe you would let me go out without my palate."

Hereupon, the negro, grumbling out an apology, went up to his
master, opened his mouth with the knowing air of a horse-jockey, and
adjusted therein a somewhat singular-looking machine, in a very
dexterous manner, that I could not altogether comprehend. The
alteration, however, in the entire expression of the General's
countenance was instantaneous and surprising. When he again spoke,
his voice had resumed all that rich melody and strength which I had
noticed upon our original introduction.

"D--n the vagabonds !" said he, in so clear a tone that I
positively started at the change, "D--n the vagabonds ! they not
only knocked in the roof of my mouth, but took the trouble to cut off
at least seven-eighths of my tongue. There isn't Bonfanti's equal,
however, in America, for really good articles of this description. I
can recommend you to him with confidence," [here the General bowed,]
" and assure you that I have the greatest pleasure in so doing."

I acknowledged his kindness in my best manner, and took leave of
him at once, with a perfect understanding of the true state of
affairs - with a full comprehension of the mystery which had troubled
me so long. It was evident. It was a clear case. Brevet Brigadier
General John A. B. C. Smith was the man --- was _the man that was
used up_.

~~~ End of Text ~~~



Method is the soul of business. -- OLD SAYING.

I AM a business man. I am a methodical man. Method is the thing,
after all. But there are no people I more heartily despise than your
eccentric fools who prate about method without understanding it;
attending strictly to its letter, and violating its spirit. These
fellows are always doing the most out-of-the-way things in what they
call an orderly manner. Now here, I conceive, is a positive paradox.
True method appertains to the ordinary and the obvious alone, and
cannot be applied to the outre. What definite idea can a body attach
to such expressions as "methodical Jack o' Dandy," or "a systematical
Will o' the Wisp"?

My notions upon this head might not have been so clear as they are,
but for a fortunate accident which happened to me when I was a very
little boy. A good-hearted old Irish nurse (whom I shall not forget
in my will) took me up one day by the heels, when I was making more
noise than was necessary, and swinging me round two or knocked my
head into a cocked hat against the bedpost. This, I say, decided my
fate, and made my fortune. A bump arose at once on my sinciput, and
turned out to be as pretty an organ of order as one shall see on a
summer's day. Hence that positive appetite for system and regularity
which has made me the distinguished man of business that I am.

If there is any thing on earth I hate, it is a genius. Your geniuses
are all arrant asses -- the greater the genius the greater the ass --
and to this rule there is no exception whatever. Especially, you
cannot make a man of business out of a genius, any more than money
out of a Jew, or the best nutmegs out of pine-knots. The creatures
are always going off at a tangent into some fantastic employment, or
ridiculous speculation, entirely at variance with the "fitness of
things," and having no business whatever to be considered as a
business at all. Thus you may tell these characters immediately by
the nature of their occupations. If you ever perceive a man setting
up as a merchant or a manufacturer, or going into the cotton or
tobacco trade, or any of those eccentric pursuits; or getting to be a
drygoods dealer, or soap-boiler, or something of that kind; or
pretending to be a lawyer, or a blacksmith, or a physician -- any
thing out of the usual way -- you may set him down at once as a
genius, and then, according to the rule-of-three, he's an ass.

Now I am not in any respect a genius, but a regular business man. My
Day-book and Ledger will evince this in a minute. They are well kept,
though I say it myself; and, in my general habits of accuracy and
punctuality, I am not to be beat by a clock. Moreover, my occupations
have been always made to chime in with the ordinary habitudes of my
fellowmen. Not that I feel the least indebted, upon this score, to my
exceedingly weak-minded parents, who, beyond doubt, would have made
an arrant genius of me at last, if my guardian angel had not come, in
good time, to the rescue. In biography the truth is every thing, and
in autobiography it is especially so -- yet I scarcely hope to be
believed when I state, however solemnly, that my poor father put me,
when I was about fifteen years of age, into the counting-house of
what be termed "a respectable hardware and commission merchant doing
a capital bit of business!" A capital bit of fiddlestick! However,
the consequence of this folly was, that in two or three days, I had
to be sent home to my button-headed family in a high state of fever,
and with a most violent and dangerous pain in the sinciput, all
around about my organ of order. It was nearly a gone case with me
then -- just touch-and-go for six weeks -- the physicians giving me
up and all that sort of thing. But, although I suffered much, I was a
thankful boy in the main. I was saved from being a "respectable
hardware and commission merchant, doing a capital bit of business,"
and I felt grateful to the protuberance which had been the means of
my salvation, as well as to the kindhearted female who had originally
put these means within my reach.

The most of boys run away from home at ten or twelve years of age,
but I waited till I was sixteen. I don't know that I should have gone
even then, if I had not happened to hear my old mother talk about
setting me up on my own hook in the grocery way. The grocery way! --
only think of that! I resolved to be off forthwith, and try and
establish myself in some decent occupation, without dancing
attendance any longer upon the caprices of these eccentric old
people, and running the risk of being made a genius of in the end. In
this project I succeeded perfectly well at the first effort, and by
the time I was fairly eighteen, found myself doing an extensive and
profitable business in the Tailor's Walking-Advertisement line.

I was enabled to discharge the onerous duties of this profession,
only by that rigid adherence to system which formed the leading
feature of my mind. A scrupulous method characterized my actions as
well as my accounts. In my case it was method -- not money -- which
made the man: at least all of him that was not made by the tailor
whom I served. At nine, every morning, I called upon that individual
for the clothes of the day. Ten o'clock found me in some fashionable
promenade or other place of public amusement. The precise regularity
with which I turned my handsome person about, so as to bring
successively into view every portion of the suit upon my back, was
the admiration of all the knowing men in the trade. Noon never passed
without my bringing home a customer to the house of my employers,
Messrs. Cut & Comeagain. I say this proudly, but with tears in my
eyes -- for the firm proved themselves the basest of ingrates. The
little account, about which we quarreled and finally parted, cannot,
in any item, be thought overcharged, by gentlemen really conversant
with the nature of the business. Upon this point, however, I feel a
degree of proud satisfaction in permitting the reader to judge for
himself. My bill ran thus:

Messrs. Cut & Comeagain, Merchant Tailors.
To Peter Proffit, Walking Advertiser, Drs.
JULY 10. -- to promenade, as usual and customer brought home... $00
JULY 11. -- To do do do 25
JULY 12. -- To one lie, second class; damaged black cloth sold for
invisible green............................................... 25

JULY 13. -- To one lie, first class, extra quality and size;
recommended milled satinet as broadcloth...................... 75

JULY 20. -- To purchasing bran new paper shirt collar or dickey, to
set off gray Petersham..................................... 02

AUG. 15. -- To wearing double-padded bobtail frock, (thermometer 106
in the shade)............................................. 25

AUG. 16. -- Standing on one leg three hours, to show off new-style
strapped pants at 12 1/2 cents per leg per hour............. 37 1/2

AUG. 17. -- To promenade, as usual, and large customer brought (fat
man)..................................................... 50

AUG. 18. -- To do do (medium size)................. 25

AUG. 19. -- To do do (small man and bad pay)....... 06

TOTAL [sic] $2 95 1/2

The item chiefly disputed in this bill was the very moderate charge
of two pennies for the dickey. Upon my word of honor, this was not an
unreasonable price for that dickey. It was one of the cleanest and
prettiest little dickeys I ever saw; and I have good reason to
believe that it effected the sale of three Petershams. The elder
partner of the firm, however, would allow me only one penny of the
charge, and took it upon himself to show in what manner four of the
same sized conveniences could be got out of a sheet of foolscap. But
it is needless to say that I stood upon the principle of the thing.
Business is business, and should be done in a business way. There was
no system whatever in swindling me out of a penny -- a clear fraud of
fifty per cent -- no method in any respect. I left at once the
employment of Messrs. Cut & Comeagain, and set up in the Eye-Sore
line by myself -- one of the most lucrative, respectable, and
independent of the ordinary occupations.

My strict integrity, economy, and rigorous business habits, here
again came into play. I found myself driving a flourishing trade, and
soon became a marked man upon 'Change. The truth is, I never dabbled
in flashy matters, but jogged on in the good old sober routine of the
calling -- a calling in which I should, no doubt, have remained to
the present hour, but for a little accident which happened to me in
the prosecution of one of the usual business operations of the
profession. Whenever a rich old hunks or prodigal heir or bankrupt
corporation gets into the notion of putting up a palace, there is no
such thing in the world as stopping either of them, and this every
intelligent person knows. The fact in question is indeed the basis of
the Eye-Sore trade. As soon, therefore, as a building-project is
fairly afoot by one of these parties, we merchants secure a nice
corner of the lot in contemplation, or a prime little situation just
adjoining, or tight in front. This done, we wait until the palace is
half-way up, and then we pay some tasty architect to run us up an
ornamental mud hovel, right against it; or a Down-East or Dutch
Pagoda, or a pig-sty, or an ingenious little bit of fancy work,
either Esquimau, Kickapoo, or Hottentot. Of course we can't afford to
take these structures down under a bonus of five hundred per cent
upon the prime cost of our lot and plaster. Can we? I ask the
question. I ask it of business men. It would be irrational to suppose
that we can. And yet there was a rascally corporation which asked me
to do this very thing -- this very thing! I did not reply to their
absurd proposition, of course; but I felt it a duty to go that same
night, and lamp-black the whole of their palace. For this the
unreasonable villains clapped me into jail; and the gentlemen of the
Eye-Sore trade could not well avoid cutting my connection when I came

The Assault-and-Battery business, into which I was now forced to
adventure for a livelihood, was somewhat ill-adapted to the delicate
nature of my constitution; but I went to work in it with a good
heart, and found my account here, as heretofore, in those stern
habits of methodical accuracy which had been thumped into me by that
delightful old nurse -- I would indeed be the basest of men not to
remember her well in my will. By observing, as I say, the strictest
system in all my dealings, and keeping a well-regulated set of books,
I was enabled to get over many serious difficulties, and, in the end,
to establish myself very decently in the profession. The truth is,
that few individuals, in any line, did a snugger little business than
I. I will just copy a page or so out of my Day-Book; and this will
save me the necessity of blowing my own trumpet -- a contemptible
practice of which no high-minded man will be guilty. Now, the
Day-Book is a thing that don't lie.

"Jan. 1. -- New Year's Day. Met Snap in the street, groggy. Mem --
he'll do. Met Gruff shortly afterward, blind drunk. Mem -- he'll
answer, too. Entered both gentlemen in my Ledger, and opened a
running account with each.

"Jan. 2. -- Saw Snap at the Exchange, and went up and trod on his
toe. Doubled his fist and knocked me down. Good! -- got up again.
Some trifling difficulty with Bag, my attorney. I want the damages at
a thousand, but he says that for so simple a knock down we can't lay
them at more than five hundred. Mem -- must get rid of Bag -- no
system at all.

"Jan. 3 -- Went to the theatre, to look for Gruff. Saw him sitting in
a side box, in the second tier, between a fat lady and a lean one.
Quizzed the whole party through an opera-glass, till I saw the fat
lady blush and whisper to G. Went round, then, into the box, and put
my nose within reach of his hand. Wouldn't pull it -- no go. Blew it,
and tried again -- no go. Sat down then, and winked at the lean lady,
when I had the high satisfaction of finding him lift me up by the
nape of the neck, and fling me over into the pit. Neck dislocated,
and right leg capitally splintered. Went home in high glee, drank a
bottle of champagne, and booked the young man for five thousand. Bag
says it'll do.

"Feb. 15 -- Compromised the case of Mr. Snap. Amount entered in
Journal -- fifty cents -- which see.

"Feb. 16. -- Cast by that ruffian, Gruff, who made me a present of
five dollars. Costs of suit, four dollars and twenty-five cents. Nett
profit, -- see Journal,- seventy-five cents."

Now, here is a clear gain, in a very brief period, of no less than
one dollar and twenty-five cents -- this is in the mere cases of Snap
and Gruff; and I solemnly assure the reader that these extracts are
taken at random from my Day-Book.

It's an old saying, and a true one, however, that money is nothing in
comparison with health. I found the exactions of the profession
somewhat too much for my delicate state of body; and, discovering, at
last, that I was knocked all out of shape, so that I didn't know very
well what to make of the matter, and so that my friends, when they
met me in the street, couldn't tell that I was Peter Proffit at all,
it occurred to me that the best expedient I could adopt was to alter
my line of business. I turned my attention, therefore, to
Mud-Dabbling, and continued it for some years.

The worst of this occupation is, that too many people take a fancy to
it, and the competition is in consequence excessive. Every ignoramus
of a fellow who finds that he hasn't brains in sufficient quantity to
make his way as a walking advertiser, or an eye-sore prig, or a
salt-and-batter man, thinks, of course, that he'll answer very well
as a dabbler of mud. But there never was entertained a more erroneous
idea than that it requires no brains to mud-dabble. Especially, there
is nothing to be made in this way without method. I did only a retail
business myself, but my old habits of system carried me swimmingly
along. I selected my street-crossing, in the first place, with great
deliberation, and I never put down a broom in any part of the town
but that. I took care, too, to have a nice little puddle at hand,
which I could get at in a minute. By these means I got to be well
known as a man to be trusted; and this is one-half the battle, let me
tell you, in trade. Nobody ever failed to pitch me a copper, and got
over my crossing with a clean pair of pantaloons. And, as my business
habits, in this respect, were sufficiently understood, I never met
with any attempt at imposition. I wouldn't have put up with it, if I
had. Never imposing upon any one myself, I suffered no one to play
the possum with me. The frauds of the banks of course I couldn't
help. Their suspension put me to ruinous inconvenience. These,
however, are not individuals, but corporations; and corporations, it
is very well known, have neither bodies to be kicked nor souls to be

I was making money at this business when, in an evil moment, I was
induced to merge it in the Cur-Spattering -- a somewhat analogous,
but, by no means, so respectable a profession. My location, to be
sure, was an excellent one, being central, and I had capital blacking
and brushes. My little dog, too, was quite fat and up to all
varieties of snuff. He had been in the trade a long time, and, I may
say, understood it. Our general routine was this: -- Pompey, having
rolled himself well in the mud, sat upon end at the shop door, until
he observed a dandy approaching in bright boots. He then proceeded to
meet him, and gave the Wellingtons a rub or two with his wool. Then
the dandy swore very much, and looked about for a boot-black. There I
was, full in his view, with blacking and brushes. It was only a
minute's work, and then came a sixpence. This did moderately well for
a time; -- in fact, I was not avaricious, but my dog was. I allowed
him a third of the profit, but he was advised to insist upon half.
This I couldn't stand -- so we quarrelled and parted.

I next tried my hand at the Organ-Grinding for a while, and may say
that I made out pretty well. It is a plain, straightforward business,
and requires no particular abilities. You can get a music-mill for a
mere song, and to put it in order, you have but to open the works,
and give them three or four smart raps with a hammer. In improves the
tone of the thing, for business purposes, more than you can imagine.
This done, you have only to stroll along, with the mill on your back,
until you see tanbark in the street, and a knocker wrapped up in
buckskin. Then you stop and grind; looking as if you meant to stop
and grind till doomsday. Presently a window opens, and somebody
pitches you a sixpence, with a request to "Hush up and go on," etc. I
am aware that some grinders have actually afforded to "go on" for
this sum; but for my part, I found the necessary outlay of capital
too great to permit of my "going on" under a shilling.

At this occupation I did a good deal; but, somehow, I was not quite
satisfied, and so finally abandoned it. The truth is, I labored under
the disadvantage of having no monkey -- and American streets are so
muddy, and a Democratic rabble is so obstrusive, and so full of
demnition mischievous little boys.

I was now out of employment for some months, but at length succeeded,
by dint of great interest, in procuring a situation in the Sham-Post.
The duties, here, are simple, and not altogether unprofitable. For
example: -- very early in the morning I had to make up my packet of
sham letters. Upon the inside of each of these I had to scrawl a few
lines on any subject which occurred to me as sufficiently mysterious
-- signing all the epistles Tom Dobson, or Bobby Tompkins, or
anything in that way. Having folded and sealed all, and stamped them
with sham postmarks -- New Orleans, Bengal, Botany Bay, or any other
place a great way off- I set out, forthwith, upon my daily route, as
if in a very great hurry. I always called at the big houses to
deliver the letters, and receive the postage. Nobody hesitates at
paying for a letter -- especially for a double one -- people are such
fools- and it was no trouble to get round a corner before there was
time to open the epistles. The worst of this profession was, that I
had to walk so much and so fast; and so frequently to vary my route.
Besides, I had serious scruples of conscience. I can't bear to hear
innocent individuals abused -- and the way the whole town took to
cursing Tom Dobson and Bobby Tompkins was really awful to hear. I
washed my hands of the matter in disgust.

My eighth and last speculation has been in the Cat-Growing way. I
have found that a most pleasant and lucrative business, and, really,
no trouble at all. The country, it is well known, has become infested
with cats -- so much so of late, that a petition for relief, most
numerously and respectably signed, was brought before the Legislature
at its late memorable session. The Assembly, at this epoch, was
unusually well-informed, and, having passed many other wise and
wholesome enactments, it crowned all with the Cat-Act. In its
original form, this law offered a premium for cat-heads (fourpence
a-piece), but the Senate succeeded in amending the main clause, so as
to substitute the word "tails" for "heads." This amendment was so
obviously proper, that the House concurred in it nem. con.

As soon as the governor had signed the bill, I invested my whole
estate in the purchase of Toms and Tabbies. At first I could only
afford to feed them upon mice (which are cheap), but they fulfilled
the scriptural injunction at so marvellous a rate, that I at length
considered it my best policy to be liberal, and so indulged them in
oysters and turtle. Their tails, at a legislative price, now bring me
in a good income; for I have discovered a way, in which, by means of
Macassar oil, I can force three crops in a year. It delights me to
find, too, that the animals soon get accustomed to the thing, and
would rather have the appendages cut off than otherwise. I consider
myself, therefore, a made man, and am bargaining for a country seat
on the Hudson.

~~~ End of Text ~~~



The garden like a lady fair was cut
That lay as if she slumbered in delight,
And to the open skies her eyes did shut;
The azure fields of heaven were 'sembled right
In a large round set with flow'rs of light:
The flowers de luce and the round sparks of dew
That hung upon their azure leaves, did show
Like twinkling stars that sparkle in the ev'ning blue.

NO MORE remarkable man ever lived than my friend, the young Ellison.
He was remarkable in the entire and continuous profusion of good
gifts ever lavished upon him by fortune. From his cradle to his
grave, a gale of the blandest prosperity bore him along. Nor do I use
the word Prosperity in its mere wordly or external sense. I mean it
as synonymous with happiness. The person of whom I speak, seemed born
for the purpose of foreshadowing the wild doctrines of Turgot, Price,
Priestley, and Condorcet -- of exemplifying, by individual instance,
what has been deemed the mere chimera of the perfectionists. In the
brief existence of Ellison, I fancy, that I have seen refuted the
dogma -- that in man's physical and spiritual nature, lies some
hidden principle, the antagonist of Bliss. An intimate and anxious
examination of his career, has taught me to understand that, in
general, from the violation of a few simple laws of Humanity, arises
the Wretchedness of mankind; that, as a species, we have in our
possession the as yet unwrought elements of Content, -- and that even
now, in the present blindness and darkness of all idea on the great
question of the Social Condition, it is not impossible that Man, the
individual, under certain unusual and highly fortuitous conditions,
may be happy.

With opinions such as these was my young friend fully imbued; and
thus is it especially worthy of observation that the uninterrupted
enjoyment which distinguished his life was in great part the result
of preconcert. It is, indeed evident, that with less of the
instinctive philosophy which, now and then, stands so well in the
stead of experience, Mr. Ellison would have found himself
precipitated, by the very extraordinary successes of his life, into
the common vortex of Unhappiness which yawns for those of preeminent
endowments. But it is by no means my present object to pen an essay
on Happiness. The ideas of my friend may be summed up in a few words.
He admitted but four unvarying laws, or rather elementary principles,
of Bliss. That which he considered chief, was (strange to say!) the
simple and purely physical one of free exercise in the open air. "The
health," he said, "attainable by other means than this is scarcely
worth the name." He pointed to the tillers of the earth -- the only
people who, as a class, are proverbially more happy than others --
and then he instanced the high ecstasies of the fox-hunter. His
second principle was the love of woman. His third was the contempt of
ambition. His fourth was an object of unceasing pursuit; and he held
that, other things being equal, the extent of happiness was
proportioned to the spirituality of this object.

I have said that Ellison was remarkable in the continuous profusion
of good gifts lavished upon him by Fortune. In personal grace and
beauty he exceeded all men. His intellect was of that order to which
the attainment of knowledge is less a labor than a necessity and an
intuition. His family was one of the most illustrious of the empire.
His bride was the loveliest and most devoted of women. His
possessions had been always ample; but, upon the attainment of his
one and twentieth year, it was discovered that one of those
extraordinary freaks of Fate had been played in his behalf which
startle the whole social world amid which they occur, and seldom fail
radically to alter the entire moral constitution of those who are
their objects. It appears that about one hundred years prior to Mr.
Ellison's attainment of his majority, there had died, in a remote
province, one Mr. Seabright Ellison. This gentlemen had amassed a
princely fortune, and, having no very immediate connexions, conceived
the whim of suffering his wealth to accumulate for a century after
his decease. Minutely and sagaciously directing the various modes of
investment, he bequeathed the aggregate amount to the nearest of
blood, bearing the name Ellison, who should be alive at the end of
the hundred years. Many futile attempts had been made to set aside
this singular bequest; their ex post facto character rendered them
abortive; but the attention of a jealous government was aroused, and
a decree finally obtained, forbidding all similar accumulations. This
act did not prevent young Ellison, upon his twenty-first birth-day,
from entering into possession, as the heir of his ancestor,
Seabright, of a fortune of four hundred and fifty millions of
dollars. {*1}

When it had become definitely known that such was the enormous wealth
inherited, there were, of course, many speculations as to the mode of
its disposal. The gigantic magnitude and the immediately available
nature of the sum, dazzled and bewildered all who thought upon the
topic. The possessor of any appreciable amount of money might have
been imagined to perform any one of a thousand things. With riches
merely surpassing those of any citizen, it would have been easy to
suppose him engaging to supreme excess in the fashionable
extravagances of his time; or busying himself with political
intrigues; or aiming at ministerial power, or purchasing increase of
nobility, or devising gorgeous architectural piles; or collecting
large specimens of Virtu; or playing the munificent patron of Letters
and Art; or endowing and bestowing his name upon extensive
institutions of charity. But, for the inconceivable wealth in the
actual possession of the young heir, these objects and all ordinary
objects were felt to be inadequate. Recourse was had to figures; and
figures but sufficed to confound. It was seen, that even at three per
cent, the annual income of the inheritance amounted to no less than
thirteen millions and five hundred thousand dollars; which was one
million and one hundred and twenty-five thousand per month; or
thirty-six thousand, nine hundred and eighty-six per day, or one
thousand five hundred and forty-one per hour, or six and twenty
dollars for every minute that flew. Thus the usual track of
supposition was thoroughly broken up. Men knew not what to imagine.
There were some who even conceived that Mr. Ellison would divest
himself forthwith of at least two-thirds of his fortune as of utterly
superfluous opulence; enriching whole troops of his relatives by
division of his superabundance.

I was not surprised, however, to perceive that he had long made up
his mind upon a topic which had occasioned so much of discussion to
his friends. Nor was I greatly astonished at the nature of his
decision. In the widest and noblest sense, he was a poet. He
comprehended, moreover, the true character, the august aims, the
supreme majesty and dignity of the poetic sentiment. The proper
gratification of the sentiment he instinctively felt to lie in the
creation of novel forms of Beauty. Some peculiarities, either in his
early education, or in the nature of his intellect, had tinged with
what is termed materialism the whole cast of his ethical
speculations; and it was this bias, perhaps, which imperceptibly led
him to perceive that the most advantageous, if not the sole
legitimate field for the exercise of the poetic sentiment, was to be
found in the creation of novel moods of purely physical loveliness.
Thus it happened that he became neither musician nor poet; if we use
this latter term in its every -- day acceptation. Or it might have
been that he became neither the one nor the other, in pursuance of an
idea of his which I have already mentioned -- the idea, that in the
contempt of ambition lay one of the essential principles of happiness
on earth. Is it not, indeed, possible that while a high order of
genius is necessarily ambitious, the highest is invariably above that
which is termed ambition? And may it not thus happen that many far
greater than Milton, have contentedly remained "mute and inglorious?"
I believe the world has never yet seen, and that, unless through some
series of accidents goading the noblest order of mind into
distasteful exertion, the world will never behold, that full extent
of triumphant execution, in the richer productions of Art, of which
the human nature is absolutely capable.

Mr. Ellison became neither musician nor poet; although no man lived
more profoundly enamored both of Music and the Muse. Under other
circumstances than those which invested him, it is not impossible
that he would have become a painter. The field of sculpture, although
in its nature rigidly poetical, was too limited in its extent and in
its consequences, to have occupied, at any time, much of his
attention. And I have now mentioned all the provinces in which even
the most liberal understanding of the poetic sentiment has declared
this sentiment capable of expatiating. I mean the most liberal public
or recognized conception of the idea involved in the phrase "poetic
sentiment." But Mr. Ellison imagined that the richest, and altogether
the most natural and most suitable province, had been blindly
neglected. No definition had spoken of the Landscape-Gardener, as of
the poet; yet my friend could not fail to perceive that the creation
of the Landscape-Garden offered to the true muse the most magnificent
of opportunities. Here was, indeed, the fairest field for the display
of invention, or imagination, in the endless combining of forms of
novel Beauty; the elements which should enter into combination being,
at all times, and by a vast superiority, the most glorious which the
earth could afford. In the multiform of the tree, and in the
multicolor of the flower, he recognized the most direct and the most
energetic efforts of Nature at physical loveliness. And in the
direction or concentration of this effort, or, still more properly,
in its adaption to the eyes which were to behold it upon earth, he
perceived that he should be employing the best means -- laboring to
the greatest advantage -- in the fulfilment of his destiny as Poet.

"Its adaptation to the eyes which were to behold it upon earth." In
his explanation of this phraseology, Mr. Ellison did much towards
solving what has always seemed to me an enigma. I mean the fact
(which none but the ignorant dispute,) that no such combinations of
scenery exist in Nature as the painter of genius has in his power to
produce. No such Paradises are to be found in reality as have glowed
upon the canvass of Claude. In the most enchanting of natural
landscapes, there will always be found a defect or an excess -- many
excesses and defects. While the component parts may exceed,
individually, the highest skill of the artist, the arrangement of the
parts will always be susceptible of improvement. In short, no
position can be attained, from which an artistical eye, looking
steadily, will not find matter of offence, in what is technically
termed the composition of a natural landscape. And yet how
unintelligible is this! In all other matters we are justly instructed
to regard Nature as supreme. With her details we shrink from
competition. Who shall presume to imitate the colors of the tulip, or
to improve the proportions of the lily of the valley? The criticism
which says, of sculpture or of portraiture, that "Nature is to be
exalted rather than imitated," is in error. No pictorial or
sculptural combinations of points of human loveliness, do more than
approach the living and breathing human beauty as it gladdens our
daily path. Byron, who often erred, erred not in saying,

I've seen more living beauty, ripe and real,

Than all the nonsense of their stone ideal. In landscape alone is the
principle of the critic true; and, having felt its truth here, it is
but the headlong spirit of generalization which has induced him to
pronounce it true throughout all the domains of Art. Having, I say,
felt its truth here. For the feeling is no affectation or chimera.
The mathematics afford no more absolute demonstrations, than the
sentiment of his Art yields to the artist. He not only believes, but
positively knows, that such and such apparently arbitrary
arrangements of matter, or form, constitute, and alone constitute,
the true Beauty. Yet his reasons have not yet been matured into
expression. It remains for a more profound analysis than the world
has yet seen, fully to investigate and express them. Nevertheless is
he confirmed in his instinctive opinions, by the concurrence of all
his compeers. Let a composition be defective, let an emendation be
wrought in its mere arrangement of form; let this emendation be
submitted to every artist in the world; by each will its necessity be
admitted. And even far more than this, in remedy of the defective
composition, each insulated member of the fraternity will suggest the
identical emendation.

I repeat that in landscape arrangements, or collocations alone, is
the physical Nature susceptible of "exaltation" and that, therefore,
her susceptibility of improvement at this one point, was a mystery
which, hitherto I had been unable to solve. It was Mr. Ellison who
first suggested the idea that what we regarded as improvement or
exaltation of the natural beauty, was really such, as respected only
the mortal or human point of view; that each alteration or
disturbance of the primitive scenery might possibly effect a blemish
in the picture, if we could suppose this picture viewed at large from
some remote point in the heavens. "It is easily understood," says Mr.
Ellison, "that what might improve a closely scrutinized detail,
might, at the same time, injure a general and more distantly --
observed effect." He spoke upon this topic with warmth: regarding not
so much its immediate or obvious importance, (which is little,) as
the character of the conclusions to which it might lead, or of the
collateral propositions which it might serve to corroborate or
sustain. There might be a class of beings, human once, but now to
humanity invisible, for whose scrutiny and for whose refined
appreciation of the beautiful, more especially than for our own, had
been set in order by God the great landscape-garden of the whole

In the course of our discussion, my young friend took occasion to
quote some passages from a writer who has been supposed to have well
treated this theme.

"There are, properly," he writes, "but two styles of
landscape-gardening, the natural and the artificial. One seeks to
recall the original beauty of the country, by adapting its means to
the surrounding scenery; cultivating trees in harmony with the hills
or plain of the neighboring land; detecting and bringing into
practice those nice relations of size, proportion and color which,
hid from the common observer, are revealed everywhere to the
experienced student of nature. The result of the natural style of
gardening, is seen rather in the absence of all defects and
incongruities -- in the prevalence of a beautiful harmony and order,
than in the creation of any special wonders or miracles. The
artificial style has as many varieties as there are different tastes
to gratify. It has a certain general relation to the various styles
of building. There are the stately avenues and retirements of
Versailles; Italian terraces; and a various mixed old English style,
which bears some relation to the domestic Gothic or English
Elizabethan architecture. Whatever may be said against the abuses of
the artificial landscape-gardening, a mixture of pure art in a garden
scene, adds to it a great beauty. This is partly pleasing to the eye,
by the show of order and design, and partly moral. A terrace, with an
old moss-covered balustrade, calls up at once to the eye, the fair
forms that have passed there in other days. The slightest exhibition
of art is an evidence of care and human interest."

"From what I have already observed," said Mr. Ellison, "you will
understand that I reject the idea, here expressed, of 'recalling the
original beauty of the country.' The original beauty is never so
great as that which may be introduced. Of course, much depends upon
the selection of a spot with capabilities. What is said in respect to
the 'detecting and bringing into practice those nice relations of
size, proportion and color,' is a mere vagueness of speech, which may
mean much, or little, or nothing, and which guides in no degree. That
the true 'result of the natural style of gardening is seen rather in
the absence of all defects and incongruities, than in the creation of
any special wonders or miracles,' is a proposition better suited to
the grovelling apprehension of the herd, than to the fervid dreams of
the man of genius. The merit suggested is, at best, negative, and
appertains to that hobbling criticism which, in letters, would
elevate Addison into apotheosis. In truth, while that merit which
consists in the mere avoiding demerit, appeals directly to the
understanding, and can thus be foreshadowed in Rule, the loftier
merit, which breathes and flames in invention or creation, can be
apprehended solely in its results. Rule applies but to the
excellences of avoidance -- to the virtues which deny or refrain.
Beyond these the critical art can but suggest. We may be instructed
to build an Odyssey, but it is in vain that we are told how to
conceive a 'Tempest,' an 'Inferno,' a 'Prometheus Bound,' a
'Nightingale,' such as that of Keats, or the 'Sensitive Plant' of
Shelley. But, the thing done, the wonder accomplished, and the
capacity for apprehension becomes universal. The sophists of the
negative school, who, through inability to create, have scoffed at
creation, are now found the loudest in applause. What, in its
chrysalis condition of principle, affronted their demure reason,
never fails, in its maturity of accomplishment, to extort admiration
from their instinct of the beautiful or of the sublime.

"Our author's observations on the artificial style of gardening,"
continued Mr. Ellison, "are less objectionable. 'A mixture of pure
art in a garden scene, adds to it a great beauty.' This is just; and
the reference to the sense of human interest is equally so. I repeat
that the principle here expressed, is incontrovertible; but there may
be something even beyond it. There may be an object in full keeping
with the principle suggested -- an object unattainable by the means
ordinarily in possession of mankind, yet which, if attained, would
lend a charm to the landscape-garden immeasurably surpassing that
which a merely human interest could bestow. The true poet possessed
of very unusual pecuniary resources, might possibly, while retaining
the necessary idea of art or interest or culture, so imbue his
designs at once with extent and novelty of Beauty, as to convey the
sentiment of spiritual interference. It will be seen that, in
bringing about such result, he secures all the advantages of interest
or design, while relieving his work of all the harshness and
technicality of Art. In the most rugged of wildernesses -- in the
most savage of the scenes of pure Nature -- there is apparent the art
of a Creator; yet is this art apparent only to reflection; in no
respect has it the obvious force of a feeling. Now, if we imagine
this sense of the Almighty Design to be harmonized in a measurable
degree, if we suppose a landscape whose combined strangeness,
vastness, definitiveness, and magnificence, shall inspire the idea of
culture, or care, or superintendence, on the part of intelligences
superior yet akin to humanity -- then the sentiment of interest is
preserved, while the Art is made to assume the air of an intermediate
or secondary Nature -- a Nature which is not God, nor an emanation of
God, but which still is Nature, in the sense that it is the handiwork
of the angels that hover between man and God."

It was in devoting his gigantic wealth to the practical embodiment of
a vision such as this -- in the free exercise in the open air, which
resulted from personal direction of his plans -- in the continuous
and unceasing object which these plans afford -- in the contempt of
ambition which it enabled him more to feel than to affect -- and,
lastly, it was in the companionship and sympathy of a devoted wife,
that Ellison thought to find, and found, an exemption from the
ordinary cares of Humanity, with a far greater amount of positive
happiness than ever glowed in the rapt day-dreams of De Stael.

~~~ End of Text ~~~


Maelzel's Chess-Player

PERHAPS no exhibition of the kind has ever elicited so general
attention as the Chess-Player of Maelzel. Wherever seen it has been
an object of intense curiosity, to all persons who think. Yet the
question of its _modus operandi is _still undetermined. Nothing has
been written on this topic which can be considered as decisive--and
accordingly we find every where men of mechanical genius, of great
general acuteness, and discriminative understanding, who make no
scruple in pronouncing the Automaton a _pure machine, _unconnected
with human agency in its movements, and consequently, beyond all
comparison, the most astonishing of the inventions of mankind. And
such it would undoubtedly be, were they right in their supposition.
Assuming this hypothesis, it would be grossly absurd to compare with
the Chess-Player, any similar thing of either modern or ancient days.
Yet there have been many and wonderful automata. In Brewster's
Letters on Natural Magic, we have an account of the most remarkable.
Among these may be mentioned, as having beyond doubt existed,
firstly, the coach invented by M. Camus for the amusement of Louis
XIV when a child. A table, about four feet square, was introduced,
into the room appropriated for the exhibition. Upon this table was
placed a carriage, six inches in length, made of wood, and drawn by
two horses of the same material. One window being down, a lady was
seen on the back seat. A coachman held the reins on the box, and a
footman and page were in their places behind. M. Camus now touched a
spring; whereupon the coachman smacked his whip, and the horses
proceeded in a natural manner, along the edge of the table, drawing
after them the carriage. Having gone as far as possible in this
direction, a sudden turn was made to the left, and the vehicle was
driven at right angles to its former course, and still closely along
the edge of the table. In this way the coach proceeded until it
arrived opposite the chair of the young prince. It then stopped, the
page descended and opened the door, the lady alighted, and presented
a petition to her sovereign. She then re-entered. The page put up the
steps, closed the door, and resumed his station. The coachman whipped
his horses, and the carriage was driven back to its original

The magician of M. Maillardet is also worthy of notice. We copy the
following account of it from the _Letters _before mentioned of Dr.
B., who derived his information principal!

from the Edinburgh Encyclopaedia.

"One of the most popular pieces of mechanism which we have seen, Is
the Magician constructed by M. Maillardet, for the purpose of
answering certain given questions. A figure, dressed like a magician,
appears seated at the bottom of a wall, holding a wand in one hand,
and a book in the other A number of questions, ready prepared, are
inscribed on oval medallions, and the spectator takes any of these he
chooses and to which he wishes an answer, and having placed it in a
drawer ready to receive it, the drawer shuts with a spring till the
answer is returned. The magician then arises from his seat, bows his
head, describes circles with his wand, and consulting the book as If
in deep thought, he lifts it towards his face. Having thus appeared
to ponder over the proposed question he raises his wand, and striking
with it the wall above his head, two folding doors fly open, and
display an appropriate answer to the question. The doors again close,
the magician resumes his original position, and the drawer opens to
return the medallion. There are twenty of these medallions, all
containing different questions, to which the magician returns the
most suitable and striking answers. The medallions are thin plates of
brass, of an elliptical form, exactly resembling each other. Some of
the medallions have a question inscribed on each side, both of which
the magician answered in succession. If the drawer is shut without a
medallion being put into it, the magician rises, consults his book,
shakes his head, and resumes his seat. The folding doors remain shut,
and the drawer is returned empty. If two medallions are put into the
drawer together, an answer is returned only to the lower one. When
the machinery is wound up, the movements continue about an hour,
during which time about fifty questions may be answered. The inventor
stated that the means by which the different medallions acted upon
the machinery, so as to produce the proper answers to the questions
which they contained, were extremely simple."

The duck of Vaucanson was still more remarkable. It was _of _the size
of life, and so perfect an imitation of the living animal that all
the spectators were deceived. It executed, says Brewster, all the
natural movements and gestures, it ate and drank with avidity,
performed all the quick motions of the head and throat which are
peculiar to the duck, and like it muddled the water which it drank
with its bill. It produced also the sound of quacking in the most
natural manner. In the anatomical structure the artist exhibited the
highest skill. Every bone in the real duck had its representative In
the automaton, and its wings were anatomically exact. Every cavity,
apophysis, and curvature was imitated, and each bone executed its
proper movements. When corn was thrown down before it, the duck
stretched out its neck to pick it up, swallowed, and digested it.

But if these machines were ingenious, what shall we think of the
calculating machine of Mr. Babbage? What shall we think of an engine
of wood and metal which can not only compute astronomical and
navigation tables to any given extent, but render the exactitude of
its operations mathematically certain through its power of correcting
its possible errors? What shall we think of a machine which can not
only accomplish all this, but actually print off its elaborate
results, when obtained, without the slightest intervention of the
intellect of man? It will, perhaps, be said, in reply, that a machine
such as we have described is altogether above comparison with the
Chess-Player of Maelzel. By no means--it is altogether beneath
it--that is to say provided we assume(what should never for a moment
be assumed) that the Chess-Player is a _pure machine, _and performs
its operations without any immediate human agency. Arithmetical or
algebraical calculations are, from their very nature, fixed and
determinate. Certain _data _being given, certain results necessarily
and inevitably follow. These results have dependence upon nothing,
and are influenced by nothing but the _data _originally given. And
the question to be solved proceeds, or should proceed, to its final
determination, by a succession of unerring steps liable to no change,
and subject to no modification. This being the case, we can without
difficulty conceive the _possibility _of so arranging a piece of
mechanism, that upon starting In accordance with the _data _of the
question to be solved, it should continue its movements regularly,
progressively, and undeviatingly towards the required solution, since
these movements, however complex, are never imagined to be otherwise
than finite and determinate. But the case is widely different with
the Chess-Player. With him there is no determinate progression. No
one move in chess necessarily follows upon any one other. From no
particular disposition of the men at one period of a game can we
predicate their disposition at a different period. Let us place the
_first move _in a game of chess, in juxta-position with the _data _of
an algebraical question, and their great difference will be
immediately perceived. From the latter--from the _data--_the second
step of the question, dependent thereupon, inevitably follows. It is
modelled by the _data. _It must be _thus _and not otherwise. But from
the first move in the game of chess no especial second move follows
of necessity. In the algebraical question, as it proceeds towards
solution, the _certainty _of its operations remains altogether
unimpaired. The second step having been a consequence of the _data,
_the third step is equally a consequence of the second, the fourth of
the third, the fifth of the fourth, and so on, _and not possibly
otherwise, _to the end. But in proportion to the progress made in a
game of chess, is the _uncertainty _of each ensuing move. A few moves
having been made, _no _step is certain. Different spectators of the
game would advise different moves. All is then dependent upon the
variable judgment of the players. Now even granting (what should not
be granted) that the movements of the Automaton Chess-Player were in
themselves determinate, they would be necessarily interrupted and
disarranged by the indeterminate will of his antagonist. There is
then no analogy whatever between the operations of the Chess-Player,
and those of the calculating machine of Mr. Babbage, and if we choose
to call the former a _pure machine _we must be prepared to admit that
it is, beyond all comparison, the most wonderful of the inventions of
mankind. Its original projector, however, Baron Kempelen, had no
scruple in declaring it to be a "very ordinary piece of mechanism--a
_bagatelle _whose effects appeared so marvellous only from the
boldness of the conception, and the fortunate choice of the methods
adopted for promoting the illusion." But it is needless to dwell upon
this point. It is quite certain that the operations of the Automaton
are regulated by _mind, _and by nothing else. Indeed this matter is
susceptible of a mathematical demonstration, _a priori. _The only
question then is of the _manner _in which human agency is brought to
bear. Before entering upon this subject it would be as well to give a
brief history and description of the Chess-Player for the benefit of
such of our readers as may never have had an opportunity of
witnessing Mr. Maelzel's exhibition.

The Automaton Chess-Player was invented in 1769, by Baron Kempelen, a
nobleman of Presburg, in Hungary, who afterwards disposed of it,
together with the secret of its operations, to its present possessor.
{2*} Soon after its completion it was exhibited in Presburg, Paris,
Vienna, and other continental cities. In 1783 and 1784, it was taken
to London by Mr. Maelzel. Of late years it has visited the principal
towns in the United States. Wherever seen, the most intense curiosity
was excited by its appearance, and numerous have been the attempts,
by men of all classes, to fathom the mystery of its evolutions. The
cut on this page gives a tolerable representation of the figure as
seen by the citizens of Richmond a few weeks ago. The right arm,
however, should lie more at length upon the box, a chess-board should
appear upon it, and the cushion should not be seen while the pipe is
held. Some immaterial alterations have been made in the costume of
the player since it came into the possession of Maelzel--the plume,
for example, was not originally worn. {image of automaton}

At the hour appointed for exhibition, a curtain is withdrawn, or
folding doors are thrown open, and the machine rolled to within about
twelve feet of the nearest of the spectators, between whom and it
(the machine) a rope is stretched. A figure is seen habited as a
Turk, and seated, with its legs crossed, at a large box apparently of
maple wood, which serves it as a table. The exhibiter will, if
requested, roll the machine to any portion of the room, suffer it to
remain altogether on any designated spot, or even shift its location
repeatedly during the progress of a game. The bottom of the box is
elevated considerably above the floor by means of the castors or
brazen rollers on which it moves, a clear view of the surface
immediately beneath the Automaton being thus afforded to the
spectators. The chair on which the figure sits is affixed permanently
to the box. On the top of this latter is a chess-board, also
permanently affixed. The right arm of the Chess-Player is extended at
full length before him, at right angles with his body, and lying, in
an apparently careless position, by the side of the board. The back
of the hand is upwards. The board itself is eighteen inches square.
The left arm of the figure is bent at the elbow, and in the left hand
is a pipe. A green drapery conceals the back of the Turk, and falls
partially over the front of both shoulders. To judge from the
external appearance of the box, it is divided into five
compartments--three cupboards of equal dimensions, and two drawers
occupying that portion of the chest lying beneath the cupboards. The
foregoing observations apply to the appearance of the Automaton upon
its first introduction into the presence of the spectators.

Maelzel now informs the company that he will disclose to their view
the mechanism of the machine. Taking from his pocket a bunch of keys
he unlocks with one of them, door marked ~ in the cut above, and
throws the cupboard fully open to the inspection of all present. Its
whole interior is apparently filled with wheels, pinions, levers, and
other machinery, crowded very closely together, so that the eye can
penetrate but a little distance into the mass. Leaving this door open
to its full extent, he goes now round to the back of the box, and
raising the drapery of the figure, opens another door situated
precisely in the rear of the one first opened. Holding a lighted
candle at this door, and shifting the position of the whole machine
repeatedly at the same time, a bright light is thrown entirely
through the cupboard, which is now clearly seen to be full,
completely full, of machinery. The spectators being satisfied of this
fact, Maelzel closes the back door, locks it, takes the key from the
lock, lets fall the drapery of the figure, and comes round to the
front. The door marked I, it will be remembered, is still open. The
exhibiter now proceeds to open the drawer which lies beneath the
cupboards at the bottom of the box--for although there are apparently
two drawers, there is really only one--the two handles and two key
holes being intended merely for ornament. Having opened this drawer
to its full extent, a small cushion, and a set of chessmen, fixed in
a frame work made to support them perpendicularly, are discovered.
Leaving this drawer, as well as cupboard No. 1 open, Maelzel now
unlocks door No. 2, and door No. 3, which are discovered to be
folding doors, opening into one and the same compartment. To the
right of this compartment, however, (that is to say the spectators'
right) a small division, six inches wide, and filled with machinery,
is partitioned off. The main compartment itself (in speaking of that
portion of the box visible upon opening doors 2 and 3, we shall
always call it the main compartment) is lined with dark cloth and
contains no machinery whatever beyond two pieces of steel,
quadrant-shaped, and situated one in each of the rear top corners of
the compartment. A small protuberance about eight inches square, and
also covered with dark cloth, lies on the floor of the compartment
near the rear corner on the spectators' left hand. Leaving doors No.
2 and No. 3 open as well as the drawer, and door No. I, the exhibiter
now goes round to the back of the main compartment, and, unlocking
another door there, displays clearly all the interior of the main
compartment, by introducing a candle behind it and within it. The
whole box being thus apparently disclosed to the scrutiny of the
company, Maelzel, still leaving the doors and drawer open, rolls the
Automaton entirely round, and exposes the back of the Turk by lifting
up the drapery. A door about ten inches square is thrown open in the
loins of the figure, and a smaller one also in the left thigh. The
interior of the figure, as seen through these apertures, appears to
be crowded with machinery. In general, every spectator is now
thoroughly satisfied of having beheld and completely scrutinized, at
one and the same time, every individual portion of the Automaton, and
the idea of any person being concealed in the interior, during so
complete an exhibition of that interior, if ever entertained, is
immediately dismissed as preposterous in the extreme.

M. Maelzel, having rolled the machine back into its original
position, now informs the company that the Automaton will play a game
of chess with any one disposed to encounter him. This challenge being
accepted, a small table is prepared for the antagonist, and placed
close by the rope, but on the spectators' side of it, and so situated
as not to prevent the company from obtaining a full view of the
Automaton. From a drawer in this table is taken a set of chess-men,
and Maelzel arranges them generally, but not always, with his own
hands, on the chess board, which consists merely of the usual number
of squares painted upon the table. The antagonist having taken his
seat, the exhibiter approaches the drawer of the box, and takes
therefrom the cushion, which, after removing the pipe from the hand
of the Automaton, he places under its left arm as a support. Then
taking also from the drawer the Automaton's set of chess-men, he
arranges them upon the chessboard before the figure. He now proceeds
to close the doors and to lock them--leaving the bunch of keys in
door No. 1. He also closes the drawer, and, finally, winds up the
machine, by applying a key to an aperture in the left end (the
spectators' left) of the box. The game now commences--the Automaton
taking the first move. The duration of the contest is usually limited
to half an hour, but if it be not finished at the expiration of this
period, and the antagonist still contend that he can beat the
Automaton, M. Maelzel has seldom any objection to continue it. Not to
weary the company, is the ostensible, and no doubt the real object of
the limitation. It Wits of course be understood that when a move is
made at his own table, by the antagonist, the corresponding move is
made at the box of the Automaton, by Maelzel himself, who then acts
as the representative of the antagonist. On the other hand, when the
Turk moves, the corresponding move is made at the table of the
antagonist, also by M. Maelzel, who then acts as the representative
of the Automaton. In this manner it is necessary that the exhibiter
should often pass from one table to the other. He also frequently
goes in rear of the figure to remove the chess-men which it has
taken, and which it deposits, when taken, on the box to the left (to
its own left) of the board. When the Automaton hesitates in relation
to its move, the exhibiter is occasionally seen to place himself very
near its right side, and to lay his hand, now and then, in a careless
manner upon the box. He has also a peculiar shuffle with his feet,
calculated to induce suspicion of collusion with the machine in minds
which are more cunning than sagacious. These peculiarities are, no
doubt, mere mannerisms of M. Maelzel, or, if he is aware of them at
all, he puts them in practice with a view of exciting in the
spectators a false idea of the pure mechanism in the Automaton.

The Turk plays with his left hand. All the movements of the arm are
at right angles. In this manner, the hand (which is gloved and bent
in a natural way,) being brought directly above the piece to be
moved, descends finally upon it, the fingers receiving it, in most
cases, without difficulty. Occasionally, however, when the piece is
not precisely in its proper situation, the Automaton fails in his
attempt at seizing it. When this occurs, no second effort is made,
but the arm continues its movement in the direction originally
intended, precisely as if the piece were in the fingers. Having thus
designated the spot whither the move should have been made, the arm
returns to its cushion, and Maelzel performs the evolution which the
Automaton pointed out. At every movement of the figure machinery is
heard in motion. During the progress of the game, the figure now and
then rolls its eyes, as if surveying the board, moves its head, and
pronounces the word _echec _(check) when necessary. {*3} If a false
move be made by his antagonist, he raps briskly on the box with the
fingers of his right hand, shakes his head roughly, and replacing the
piece falsely moved, in its former situation, assumes the next move
himself. Upon beating the game, he waves his head with an air of
triumph, looks round complacently upon the spectators, and drawing
his left arm farther back than usual, suffers his fingers alone to
rest upon the cushion. In general, the Turk is victorious--once or
twice he has been beaten. The game being ended, Maelzel will again if
desired, exhibit the mechanism of the box, in the same manner as
before. The machine is then rolled back, and a curtain hides it from
the view of the company.

There have been many attempts at solving the mystery of the
Automaton. The most general opinion in relation to it, an opinion too
not unfrequently adopted by men who should have known better, was, as
we have before said, that no immediate human agency was employed--in
other words, that the machine was purely a machine and nothing else.
Many, however maintained that the exhibiter himself regulated the
movements of the figure by mechanical means operating through the
feet of the box. Others again, spoke confidently of a magnet. Of the
first of these opinions we shall say nothing at present more than we
have already said. In relation to the second it is only necessary to
repeat what we have before stated, that the machine is rolled about
on castors, and will, at the request of a spectator, be moved to and
fro to any portion of the room, even during the progress of a game.
The supposition of the magnet is also untenable--for if a magnet were
the agent, any other magnet in the pocket of a spectator would
disarrange the entire mechanism. The exhibiter, however, will suffer
the most powerful loadstone to remain even upon the box during the
whole of the exhibition.

The first attempt at a written explanation of the secret, at least
the first attempt of which we ourselves have any knowledge, was made
in a large pamphlet printed at Paris in 1785. The author's hypothesis
amounted to this--that a dwarf actuated the machine. This dwarf he
supposed to conceal himself during the opening of the box by
thrusting his legs into two hollow cylinders, which were represented
to be (but which are not) among the machinery in the cupboard No. I,
while his body was out of the box entirely, and covered by the
drapery of the Turk. When the doors were shut, the dwarf was enabled
to bring his body within the box--the noise produced by some portion
of the machinery allowing him to do so unheard, and also to close the
door by which he entered. The interior of the automaton being then
exhibited, and no person discovered, the spectators, says the author
of this pamphlet, are satisfied that no one is within any portion of
the machine. This whole hypothesis was too obviously absurd to
require comment, or refutation, and accordingly we find that it
attracted very little attention.

In 1789 a book was published at Dresden by M. I. F. Freyhere in which
another endeavor was made to unravel the mystery. Mr. Freyhere's book
was a pretty large one, and copiously illustrated by colored
engravings. His supposition was that "a well-taught boy very thin and
tall of his age (sufficiently so that he could be concealed in a
drawer almost immediately under the chess-board") played the game of
chess and effected all the evolutions of the Automaton. This idea,
although even more silly than that of the Parisian author, met with a
better reception, and was in some measure believed to be the true
solution of the wonder, until the inventor put an end to the
discussion by suffering a close examination of the top of the box.

These bizarre attempts at explanation were followed by others equally
bizarre. Of late years however, an anonymous writer, by a course of
reasoning exceedingly unphilosophical, has contrived to blunder upon
a plausible solution--although we cannot consider it altogether the
true one. His Essay was first published in a Baltimore weekly paper,
was illustrated by cuts, and was entitled "An attempt to analyze the
Automaton Chess-Player of M. Maelzel." This Essay we suppose to have
been the original of the _pamphlet to _which Sir David Brewster
alludes in his letters on Natural Magic, and which he has no
hesitation in declaring a thorough and satisfactory explanation. The
_results _of the analysis are undoubtedly, in the main, just; but we
can only account for Brewster's pronouncing the Essay a thorough and
satisfactory explanation, by supposing him to have bestowed upon it a
very cursory and inattentive perusal. In the compendium of the Essay,
made use of in the Letters on Natural Magic, it is quite impossible
to arrive at any distinct conclusion in regard to the adequacy or
inadequacy of the analysis, on account of the gross misarrangement
and deficiency of the letters of reference employed. The same fault
is to be found in the '`Attempt &c.," as we originally saw it. The
solution consists in a series of minute explanations, (accompanied by
wood-cuts, the whole occupying many pages) in which the object is to
show the _possibility _of _so shifting the partitions _of the box, as
to allow a human being, concealed in the interior, to move portions
of his body from one part of the box to another, during the
exhibition of the mechanism--thus eluding the scrutiny of the
spectators. There can be no doubt, as we have before observed, and as
we will presently endeavor to show, that the principle, or rather the
result, of this solution is the true one. Some person is concealed in
the box during the whole time of exhibiting the interior. We object,
however, to the whole verbose description of the _manner _in which
the partitions are shifted, to accommodate the movements of the
person concealed. We object to it as a mere theory assumed in the
first place, and to which circumstances are afterwards made to adapt
themselves. It was not, and could not have been, arrived at by any
inductive reasoning. In whatever way the shifting is managed, it is
of course concealed at every step from observation. To show that
certain movements might possibly be effected in a certain way, is
very far from showing that they are actually so effected. There may
be an infinity of other methods by which the same results may be
obtained. The probability of the one assumed proving the correct one
is then as unity to infinity. But, in reality, this particular point,
the shifting of the partitions, is of no consequence whatever. It was
altogether unnecessary to devote seven or eight pages for the purpose
of proving what no one in his senses would deny--viz: that the
wonderful mechanical genius of Baron Kempelen could invent the
necessary means for shutting a door or slipping aside a pannel, with
a human agent too at his service in actual contact with the pannel or
the door, and the whole operations carried on, as the author of the
Essay himself shows, and as we shall attempt to show more fully
hereafter, entirely out of reach of the observation of the

In attempting ourselves an explanation of the Automaton, we will, in
the first place, endeavor to show how its operations are effected,
and afterwards describe, as briefly as possible, the nature of the
_observations _from which we have deduced our result.

It will be necessary for a proper understanding of the subject, that
we repeat here in a few words, the routine adopted by the exhibiter
in disclosing the interior of the box--a routine from which he _never
_deviates in any material particular. In the first place he opens the
door No. I. Leaving this open, he goes round to the rear of the box,
and opens a door precisely at the back of door No. I. To this back
door he holds a lighted candle. He then _closes the back door, _locks
it, and, coming round to the front, opens the drawer to its full
extent. This done, he opens the doors No. 2 and No. 3, (the folding
doors) and displays the interior of the main compartment. Leaving
open the main compartment, the drawer, and the front door of cupboard
No. I, he now goes to the rear again, and throws open the back door
of the main compartment. In shutting up the box no particular order
is observed, except that the folding doors are always closed before
the drawer.

Now, let us suppose that when the machine is first rolled into the
presence of the spectators, a man is already within it. His body is
situated behind the dense machinery in cupboard No. T. (the rear
portion of which machinery is so contrived as to slip _en masse,
_from the main compartment to the cupboard No. I, as occasion may
require,) and his legs lie at full length in the main compartment.
When Maelzel opens the door No. I, the man within is not in any
danger of discovery, for the keenest eve cannot penetrate more than
about two inches into the darkness within. But the case is otherwise
when the back door of the cupboard No. I, is opened. A bright light
then pervades the cupboard, and the body of the man would be
discovered if it were there. But it is not. The putting the key in
the lock of the back door was a signal on hearing which the person
concealed brought his body forward to an angle as acute as
possible--throwing it altogether, or nearly so, into the main
compartment. This, however, is a painful position, and cannot be long
maintained. Accordingly we find that Maelzel _closes the back door.
_This being done, there is no reason why the body of the man may not
resume its former situation--for the cupboard is again so dark as to
defy scrutiny. The drawer is now opened, and the legs of the person
within drop down behind it in the space it formerly occupied. {*4}
There is, consequently, now no longer any part of the man in the main
compartment--his body being behind the machinery in cupboard No. 1,
and his legs in the space occupied by the drawer. The exhibiter,
therefore, finds himself at liberty to display the main compartment.
This he does--opening both its back and front doors--and no person Is
discovered. The spectators are now satisfied that the whole of the
box is exposed to view--and exposed too, all portions of it at one
and the same time. But of course this is not the case. They neither
see the space behind the drawer, nor the interior of cupboard No. 1
--the front door of which latter the exhibiter virtually shuts in
shutting its back door. Maelzel, having now rolled the machine
around, lifted up the drapery of the Turk, opened the doors in his
back and thigh, and shown his trunk to be full of machinery, brings
the whole back into its original position, and closes the doors. The
man within is now at liberty to move about. He gets up into the body
of the Turk just so high as to bring his eyes above the level of the
chess-board. It is very probable that he seats himself upon the
little square block or protuberance which is seen in a corner of the
main compartment when the doors are open. In this position he sees
the chess-board through the bosom of the Turk which is of gauze.
Bringing his right arm across his breast he actuates the little
machinery necessary to guide the left arm and the fingers of the
figure. This machinery is situated just beneath the left shoulder of
the Turk, and is consequently easily reached by the right hand of the
man concealed, if we suppose his right arm brought across the breast.
The motions of the head and eyes, and of the right arm of the figure,
as well as the sound _echec _are produced by other mechanism in the
interior, and actuated at will by the man within. The whole of this
mechanism--that is to say all the mechanism essential to the
machine--is most probably contained within the little cupboard (of
about six inches in breadth) partitioned off at the right (the
spectators' right) of the main compartment.

In this analysis of the operations of the Automaton, we have
purposely avoided any allusion to the manner in which the partitions
are shifted, and it will now be readily comprehended that this point
is a matter of no importance, since, by mechanism within the ability
of any common carpenter, it might be effected in an infinity of
different ways, and since we have shown that, however performed, it
is performed out of the view of the spectators. Our result is founded
upon the following _observations _taken during frequent visits to the
exhibition of Maelzel. {*5}

I. The moves of the Turk are not made at regular intervals of time,
but accommodate themselves to the moves of the antagonist--although
this point (of regularity) so important in all kinds of mechanical
contrivance, might have been readily brought about by limiting the
time allowed for the moves of the antagonist. For example, if this
limit were three minutes, the moves of the Automaton might be made at
any given intervals longer than three minutes. The fact then of
irregularity, when regularity might have been so easily attained,
goes to prove that regularity is unimportant to the action of the
Automaton--in other words, that the Automaton is not a _pure

2. When the Automaton is about to move a piece, a distinct motion is
observable just beneath the left shoulder, and which motion agitates
in a slight degree, the drapery covering the front of the left
shoulder. This motion invariably precedes, by about two seconds, the
movement of the arm itself--and the arm never, in any instance, moves
without this preparatory motion in the shoulder. Now let the
antagonist move a piece, and let the corresponding move be made by
Maelzel, as usual, upon the board of the Automaton. Then let the
antagonist narrowly watch the Automaton, until he detect the
preparatory motion in the shoulder. Immediately upon detecting this
motion, and before the arm itself begins to move, let him withdraw
his piece, as if perceiving an error in his manoeuvre. It will then
be seen that the movement of the arm, which, in all other cases,
immediately succeeds the motion in the shoulder, is withheld--is not
made--although Maelzel has not yet performed, on the board of the
Automaton, any move corresponding to the withdrawal of the
antagonist. In this case, that the Automaton was about to move is
evident--and that he did not move, was an effect plainly produced by
the withdrawal of the antagonist, and without any intervention of

This fact fully proves, ~--that the intervention of Maelzel, in
performing the moves of the antagonist on the board of the Automaton,
is not essential to the movements of the Automaton, 2--that its
movements are regulated by _mind--_by some person who sees the board
of the antagonist, 3--that its movements are not regulated by the
mind of Maelzel, whose back was turned towards the antagonist at the
withdrawal of his move.

3. The Automaton does not invariably win the game. Were the machine a
pure machine this would not be the case--it would always win. The
_principle _being discovered by which a machine can be made to _play
_a game of chess, an extension of the same principle would enable it
to win a game--a farther extension would enable it to win _all
_games--that is, to beat any possible game of an antagonist. A little
consideration will convince any one that the difficulty of making a
machine beat all games, Is not in the least degree greater, as
regards the principle of the operations necessary, than that of
making it beat a single game. If then we regard the Chess-Player as a
machine, we must suppose, (what is highly improbable,) that its
inventor preferred leaving it incomplete to perfecting it-- a
supposition rendered still more absurd, when we reflect that the
leaving it incomplete would afford an argument against the
possibility of its being a pure machine--the very argument we now

4. When the situation of the game is difficult or complex, we never
perceive the Turk either shake his head or roll his eyes. It is only
when his next move is obvious, or when the game is so circumstanced
that to a man in the Automaton's place there would be no necessity
for reflection. Now these peculiar movements of the head and eves are
movements customary with persons engaged in meditation, and the
ingenious Baron Kempelen would have adapted these movements (were the
machine a pure machine) to occasions proper for their display--that
is, to occasions of complexity. But the reverse is seen to be the
case, and this reverse applies precisely to our supposition of a man
in the interior. When engaged in meditation about the game he has no
time to think of setting in motion the mechanism of the Automaton by
which are moved the head and the eyes. When the game, however, is
obvious, he has time to look about hirn, and, accordingly, we see the
head shake and the eyes roll.

5. When the machine is rolled round to allow the spectators an
examination of the back of the Turk, and when his drapery is lifted
up and the doors in the trunk and thigh thrown open, the interior of
the trunk is seen to be crowded with machinery. In scrutinizing this
machinery while the Automaton was in motion, that is to say while the
whole machine was moving on the castors, it appeared to us that
certain portions of the mechanism changed their shape and position in
a degree too great to be accounted for by the simple laws of
perspective; and subsequent examinations convinced us that these
undue alterations were attributable to mirrors in the interior of the
trunk. The introduction of mirrors among the machinery could not have
been intended to influence, in any degree, the machinery itself.
Their operation, whatever that operation should prove to be, must
necessarily have reference to the eve of the spectator. We at once
concluded that these mirrors were so placed to multiply to the vision
some few pieces of machinery within the trunk so as to give it the
appearance of being crowded with mechanism. Now the direct inference
from this is that the machine is not a pure machine. For if it were,
the inventor, so far from wishing its mechanism to appear complex,
and using deception for the purpose of giving it this appearance,
would have been especially desirous of convincing those who witnessed
his exhibition, of the _simplicity _of the means by which results so
wonderful were brought about.

6. The external appearance, and, especially, the deportment of the
Turk, are, when we consider them as imitations of _life, _but very
indifferent imitations. The countenance evinces no ingenuity, and is
surpassed, in its resemblance to the human face, by the very
commonest of wax-works. The eyes roll unnaturally in the head,
without any corresponding motions of the lids or brows. The arm,
particularly, performs its operations in an exceedingly stiff,
awkward, jerking, and rectangular manner. Now, all this is the result
either of inability in Maelzel to do better, or of intentional
neglect--accidental neglect being out of the question, when we
consider that the whole time of the ingenious proprietor is occupied
in the improvement of his machines. Most assuredly we must not refer
the unlife-like appearances to inability--for all the rest of
Maelzel's automata are evidence of his full ability to copy the
motions and peculiarities of life with the most wonderful exactitude.
The rope-dancers, for example, are inimitable. When the clown laughs,
his lips, his eyes, his eye-brows, and eyelids--indeed, all the
features of his countenance--are imbued with their appropriate
expressions. In both him and his companion, every gesture is so
entirely easy, and free from the semblance of artificiality, that,
were it not for the diminutiveness of their size, and the fact of
their being passed from one spectator to another previous to their
exhibition on the rope, it would be difficult to convince any
assemblage of persons that these wooden automata were not living
creatures. We cannot, therefore, doubt Mr. Maelzel's ability, and we
must necessarily suppose that he intentionally suffered his Chess
Player to remain the same artificial and unnatural figure which Baron
Kempelen (no doubt also through design) originally made it. What this
design was it is not difficult to conceive. Were the Automaton
life-like in its motions, the spectator would be more apt to
attribute its operations to their true cause, (that is, to human
agency within) than he is now, when the awkward and rectangular
manoeuvres convey the idea of pure and unaided mechanism.

7. When, a short time previous to the commencement of the game, the
Automaton is wound up by the exhibiter as usual, an ear in any degree
accustomed to the sounds produced in winding up a system of
machinery, will not fail to discover, instantaneously, that the axis
turned by the key in the box of the Chess-Player, cannot possibly be
connected with either a weight, a spring, or any system of machinery
whatever. The inference here is the same as in our last observation.
The winding up is inessential to the operations of the Automaton, and
is performed with the design of exciting in the spectators the false
idea of mechanism.

8. When the question is demanded explicitly of Maelzel-- "Is the
Automaton a pure machine or not?" his reply is invariably the
same--"I will say nothing about it." Now the notoriety of the
Automaton, and the great curiosity it has every where excited, are
owing more especially to the prevalent opinion that it is a pure
machine, than to any other circumstance. Of course, then, it is the
interest of the proprietor to represent it as a pure machine. And
what more obvious, and more effectual method could there be of
impressing the spectators with this desired idea, than a positive and
explicit declaration to that effect? On the other hand, what more
obvious and effectual method could there be of exciting a disbelief
in the Automaton's being a pure machine, than by withholding such
explicit declaration? For, people will naturally reason thus,--It is
Maelzel's interest to represent this thing a pure machine--he refuses
to do so, directly, in words, although he does not scruple, and is
evidently anxious to do so, indirectly by actions--were it actually
what he wishes to represent it by actions, he would gladly avail
himself of the more direct testimony of words--the inference is, that
a consciousness of its not being a pure machine, is the reason of his
silence--his actions cannot implicate him in a falsehood--his words

9. When, in exhibiting the interior of the box, Maelzel has thrown
open the door No. I, and also the door immediately behind it, he
holds a lighted candle at the back door (as mentioned above) and
moves the entire machine to and fro with a view of convincing the
company that the cupboard No. 1 is entirely filled with machinery.
When the machine is thus moved about, it will be apparent to any
careful observer, that whereas that portion of the machinery near the
front door No. 1, is perfectly steady and unwavering, the portion
farther within fluctuates, in a very slight degree, with the
movements of the machine. This circumstance first aroused in us the
suspicion that the more remote portion of the machinery was so
arranged as to be easily slipped, _en masse, _from its position when
occasion should require it. This occasion we have already stated to
occur when the man concealed within brings his body into an erect
position upon the closing of the back door.

10. Sir David Brewster states the figure of the Turk to be of the
size of life--but in fact it is far above the ordinary size. Nothing
is more easy than to err in our notions of magnitude. The body of the
Automaton is generally insulated, and, having no means of immediately
comparing it with any human form, we suffer ourselves to consider it
as of ordinary dimensions. This mistake may, however, be corrected by
observing the Chess-Player when, as is sometimes the case, the
exhibiter approaches it. Mr. Maelzel, to be sure, is not very tall,
but upon drawing near the machine, his head will be found at least
eighteen inches below the head of the Turk, although the latter, it
will be remembered, is in a sitting position.

11. The box behind which the Automaton is placed, is precisely three
feet six inches long, two feet four inches deep, and two feet six
inches high. These dimensions are fully sufficient for the
accommodation of a man very much above the common size--and the main
compartment alone is capable of holding any ordinary man in the
position we have mentioned as assumed by the person concealed. As
these are facts, which any one who doubts them may prove by actual
calculation, we deem it unnecessary to dwell upon them. We will only
suggest that, although the top of the box is apparently a board of
about three inches in thickness, the spectator may satisfy himself by
stooping and looking up at it when the main compartment is open, that
it is in reality very thin. The height of the drawer also will be
misconceived by those who examine it in a cursory manner. There is a
space of about three inches between the top of the drawer as seen
from the exterior, and the bottom of the cupboard--a space which must
be included in the height of the drawer. These contrivances to make
the room within the box appear less than it actually is, are
referrible to a design on the part of the inventor, to impress the
company again with a false idea, viz. that no human being can be
accommodated within the box.

12. The interior of the main compartment is lined throughout with
_cloth. _This cloth we suppose to have a twofold object. A portion of
_it _may form, when tightly stretched, the only partitions which
there is anv necessity for removing during the changes of the man's
position, viz: the partition between the rear of the main compartment
and the rear of the cupboard No. 1, and the partition between the
main compartment, and the space behind the drawer when open. If we
imagine this to be the case, the difficulty of shifting the
partitions vanishes at once, if indeed any such difficulty could be
supposed under any circumstances to exist. The second object of the
cloth is to deaden and render indistinct all sounds occasioned by the
movements of the person within.

13. The antagonist (as we have before observed) is not suffered to
play at the board of the Automaton, but is seated at some distance
from the machine. The reason which, most probably, would be assigned
for this circumstance, if the question were demanded, is, that were
the antagonist otherwise situated, his person would intervene between
the machine and the spectators, and preclude the latter from a
distinct view. But this difficulty might be easily obviated, either
by elevating the seats of the company, or by turning the end of the
box towards them during the game. The true cause of the restriction
is, perhaps, very different. Were the antagonist seated in contact
with the box, the secret would be liable to discovery, by his
detecting, with the aid of a quick car, the breathings of the man

14. Although M. Maelzel, in disclosing the interior of the machine,
sometimes slightly deviates from the _routine _which we have pointed
out, yet _reeler in _any instance does he _so _deviate from it as to
interfere with our solution. For example, he has been known to open,
first of all, the drawer--but he never opens the main compartment
without first closing the back door of cupboard No. 1--he never opens
the main compartment without first pulling out the drawer--he never
shuts the drawer without first shutting the main compartment--he
never opens the back door of cupboard No. 1 while the main
compartment is open--and the game of chess is never commenced until
the whole machine is closed. Now if it were observed that _never, in
any single instance, _did M. Maelzel differ from the routine we have
pointed out as necessary to our solution, it would be one of the
strongest possible arguments in corroboration of it--but the argument
becomes infinitely strengthened if we duly consider the circumstance
that he _does occasionally _deviate from the routine but never does
_so _deviate as to falsify the solution.

15. There are six candles on the board of the Automaton during
exhibition. The question naturally arises--"Why are so many employed,
when a single candle, or, at farthest, two, would have been amply
sufficient to afford the spectators a clear view of the board, in a
room otherwise so well lit up as the exhibition room always is--when,
moreover, if we suppose the machine a _pure machine, _there can be no
necessity for so much light, or indeed any light at all, to enable
_it _to perform its operations--and when, especially, only a single
candle is placed upon the table of the antagonist?" The first and
most obvious inference is, that so strong a light is requisite to
enable the man within to see through the transparent material
(probably fine gauze) of which the breast of the Turk is composed.
But when we consider the arrangement of the candles, another reason
immediately presents itself. There are six lights (as we have said
before) in all. Three of these are on each side of the figure. Those
most remote from the spectators are the longest--those in the middle
are about two inches shorter--and those nearest the company about two
inches shorter still--and the candles on one side differ in height
from the candles respectively opposite on the other, by a ratio
different from two inches--that is to say, the longest candle on one
side is about three inches shorter than the longest candle on the
other, and so on. Thus it will be seen that no two of the candles are
of the same height, and thus also the difficulty of ascertaining the
_material _of the breast of the figure (against which the light is
especially directed) is greatly augmented by the dazzling effect of
the complicated crossings of the rays--crossings which are brought
about by placing the centres of radiation all upon different levels.

16. While the Chess-Player was in possession of Baron Kempelen, it
was more than once observed, first, that an Italian in the suite of
the Baron was never visible during the playing of a game at chess by
the Turk, and, secondly, that the Italian being taken seriously ill,
the exhibition was suspended until his recovery. This Italian
professed a _total _ignorance of the game of chess, although all
others of the suite played well. Similar observations have been made
since the Automaton has been purchased by Maelzel. There is a man,
_Schlumber0er, _who attends him wherever he goes, but who has no
ostensible occupation other than that of assisting in the packing and
unpacking of the automata. This man is about the medium size, and has
a remarkable stoop in the shoulders. Whether he professes to play
chess or not, we are not informed. It is quite certain, however, that
he is never to be seen during the exhibition of the Chess-Player,
although frequently visible just before and just after the
exhibition. Moreover, some years ago Maelzel visited Richmond with
his automata, and exhibited them, we believe, in the house now
occupied by M. Bossieux as a Dancing Academy. _Schlumberg_er was
suddenly taken ill, and during his illness there was no exhibition of
the Chess-Player. These facts are well known to many of our citizens.
The reason assigned for the suspension of the Chess-Player's
performances, was _not _the illness of _Schlumberger. _The inferences
from all this we leave, without farther comment, to the reader.

17. The Turk plays with his _left _arm. A circumstance so remarkable
cannot be whatever. beyond a accidental. Brewster takes no notice of
it whatever beyond a mere statement, we believe, that such is the
fact. The early writers of treatises on the Automaton, seem not to
have observed the matter at all, and have no reference to it. The
author of the pamphlet alluded to by Brewster, mentions it, but
acknowledges his inability to account for it. Yet it is obviously
from such prominent discrepancies or incongruities as this that
deductions are to be made (if made at all) which shall lead us to the

The circumstance of the Automaton's playing with his left hand cannot
have connexion with the operations of the machine, considered merely
as such. Any mechanical arrangement which would cause the figure to
move, in any given manner, the left arm--could, if reversed, cause it
to move, in the same manner, the right. But these principles cannot
be extended to the human organization, wherein there is a marked and
radical difference in the construction, and, at all events, in the
powers, of the right and left arms. Reflecting upon this latter fact,
we naturally refer the incongruity noticeable in the Chess-Player to
this peculiarity in the human organization. If so, we must imagine
some _reversion--_for the Chess-Player plays precisely as a man
_would not. _These ideas, once entertained, are sufficient of
themselves, to suggest the notion of a man in the interior. A few
more imperceptible steps lead us, finally, to the result. The
Automaton plays with his left arm, because under no other
circumstances could the man within play with his right--a
_desideratum _of course. Let us, for example, imagine the Automaton
to play with his right arm. To reach the machinery which moves the
arm, and which we have before explained to lie just beneath the
shoulder, it would be necessary for the man within either to use his
right arm in an exceedingly painful and awkward position, (viz.
brought up close to his body and tightly compressed between his body
and the side of the Automaton,) or else to use his left arm brought
across his breast. In neither case could he act with the requisite
ease or precision. On the contrary, the Automaton playing, as it
actually does, with the left arm, all difficulties vanish. The right
arm of the man within is brought across his breast, and his right
fingers act, without any constraint, upon tile machinery in the
shoulder of the figure.

We do not believe that any reasonable objections can be urged against
this solution of the Automaton Chess-Player.

~~~ End of Text ~~~



OINOS. Pardon, Agathos, the weakness of a spirit new-fledged with

AGATHOS. You have spoken nothing, my Oinos, for which pardon is to be
demanded. Not even here is knowledge thing of intuition. For wisdom,
ask of the angels freely, that it may be given!

OINOS. But in this existence, I dreamed that I should be at once
cognizant of all things, and thus at once be happy in being cognizant
of all.

AGATHOS. Ah, not in knowledge is happiness, but in the acquisition of
knowledge! In for ever knowing, we are for ever blessed; but to know
all were the curse of a fiend.

OINOS. But does not The Most High know all?

AGATHOS. That (since he is The Most Happy) must be still the one
thing unknown even to Him.

OINOS. But, since we grow hourly in knowledge, must not at last all
things be known?

AGATHOS. Look down into the abysmal distances! -- attempt to force
the gaze down the multitudinous vistas of the stars, as we sweep
slowly through them thus -- and thus -- and thus! Even the spiritual
vision, is it not at all points arrested by the continuous golden
walls of the universe? -- the walls of the myriads of the shining
bodies that mere number has appeared to blend into unity?

OINOS. I clearly perceive that the infinity of matter is no dream.

AGATHOS. There are no dreams in Aidenn -- but it is here whispered
that, of this infinity of matter, the sole purpose is to afford
infinite springs, at which the soul may allay the thirst to know,
which is for ever unquenchable within it -- since to quench it, would
be to extinguish the soul's self. Question me then, my Oinos, freely
and without fear. Come! we will leave to the left the loud harmony of
the Pleiades, and swoop outward from the throne into the starry
meadows beyond Orion, where, for pansies and violets, and heart's --
ease, are the beds of the triplicate and triple -- tinted suns.

OINOS. And now, Agathos, as we proceed, instruct me! -- speak to me
in the earth's familiar tones. I understand not what you hinted to
me, just now, of the modes or of the method of what, during
mortality, we were accustomed to call Creation. Do you mean to say
that the Creator is not God?

AGATHOS. I mean to say that the Deity does not create.

OINOS. Explain.

AGATHOS. In the beginning only, he created. The seeming creatures
which are now, throughout the universe, so perpetually springing into
being, can only be considered as the mediate or indirect, not as the
direct or immediate results of the Divine creative power.

OINOS. Among men, my Agathos, this idea would be considered heretical
in the extreme.

AGATHOS. Among angels, my Oinos, it is seen to be simply true.

OINOS. I can comprehend you thus far -- that certain operations of
what we term Nature, or the natural laws, will, under certain
conditions, give rise to that which has all the appearance of
creation. Shortly before the final overthrow of the earth, there
were, I well remember, many very successful experiments in what some
philosophers were weak enough to denominate the creation of

AGATHOS. The cases of which you speak were, in fact, instances of the
secondary creation -- and of the only species of creation which has
ever been, since the first word spoke into existence the first law.

OINOS. Are not the starry worlds that, from the abyss of nonentity,
burst hourly forth into the heavens -- are not these stars, Agathos,
the immediate handiwork of the King?

AGATHOS. Let me endeavor, my Oinos, to lead you, step by step, to the
conception I intend. You are well aware that, as no thought can
perish, so no act is without infinite result. We moved our hands, for
example, when we were dwellers on the earth, and, in so doing, gave
vibration to the atmosphere which engirdled it. This vibration was
indefinitely extended, till it gave impulse to every particle of the
earth's air, which thenceforward, and for ever, was actuated by the
one movement of the hand. This fact the mathematicians of our globe
well knew. They made the special effects, indeed, wrought in the
fluid by special impulses, the subject of exact calculation -- so
that it became easy to determine in what precise period an impulse of
given extent would engirdle the orb, and impress (for ever) every
atom of the atmosphere circumambient. Retrograding, they found no
difficulty, from a given effect, under given conditions, in
determining the value of the original impulse. Now the mathematicians
who saw that the results of any given impulse were absolutely endless
-- and who saw that a portion of these results were accurately
traceable through the agency of algebraic analysis -- who saw, too,
the facility of the retrogradation -- these men saw, at the same
time, that this species of analysis itself, had within itself a
capacity for indefinite progress -- that there were no bounds
conceivable to its advancement and applicability, except within the
intellect of him who advanced or applied it. But at this point our
mathematicians paused.

OINOS. And why, Agathos, should they have proceeded?

AGATHOS. Because there were some considerations of deep interest
beyond. It was deducible from what they knew, that to a being of
infinite understanding -- one to whom the perfection of the algebraic
analysis lay unfolded -- there could be no difficulty in tracing
every impulse given the air -- and the ether through the air -- to
the remotest consequences at any even infinitely remote epoch of
time. It is indeed demonstrable that every such impulse given the
air, must, in the end, impress every individual thing that exists
within the universe; -- and the being of infinite understanding --
the being whom we have imagined -- might trace the remote undulations
of the impulse -- trace them upward and onward in their influences
upon all particles of an matter -- upward and onward for ever in
their modifications of old forms -- or, in other words, in their
creation of new -- until he found them reflected -- unimpressive at
last -- back from the throne of the Godhead. And not only could such
a thing do this, but at any epoch, should a given result be afforded
him -- should one of these numberless comets, for example, be
presented to his inspection -- he could have no difficulty in
determining, by the analytic retrogradation, to what original impulse
it was due. This power of retrogradation in its absolute fulness and
perfection -- this faculty of referring at all epochs, all effects to
all causes -- is of course the prerogative of the Deity alone -- but
in every variety of degree, short of the absolute perfection, is the
power itself exercised by the whole host of the Angelic

OINOS. But you speak merely of impulses upon the air.

AGATHOS. In speaking of the air, I referred only to the earth; but
the general proposition has reference to impulses upon the ether --
which, since it pervades, and alone pervades all space, is thus the
great medium of creation.

OINOS. Then all motion, of whatever nature, creates?

AGATHOS. It must: but a true philosophy has long taught that the
source of all motion is thought -- and the source of all thought is-


AGATHOS. I have spoken to you, Oinos, as to a child of the fair Earth
which lately perished -- of impulses upon the atmosphere of the

OINOS. You did.

AGATHOS. And while I thus spoke, did there not cross your mind some
thought of the physical power of words? Is not every word an impulse
on the air?

OINOS. But why, Agathos, do you weep -- and why, oh why do your wings
droop as we hover above this fair star -- which is the greenest and
yet most terrible of all we have encountered in our flight? Its
brilliant flowers look like a fairy dream -- but its fierce volcanoes
like the passions of a turbulent heart.

AGATHOS. They are! -- they are! This wild star -- it is now three
centuries since, with clasped hands, and with streaming eyes, at the
feet of my beloved -- I spoke it -- with a few passionate sentences
-- into birth. Its brilliant flowers are the dearest of all
unfulfilled dreams, and its raging volcanoes are the passions of the
most turbulent and unhallowed of hearts.

~~~ End of Text ~~~




_ Sophocles - Antig _:

"These; things are in the future."

_ Una._ "Born again?"

_ Monos._ Yes, fairest and best beloved Una, "born again." These
were the words upon whose mystical meaning I had so long pondered,
rejecting the explanations of the priesthood, until Death himself
resolved for me the secret.

_Una._ Death!

_Monos._ How strangely, sweet Una, you echo my words! I observe,
too, a vacillation in your step - a joyous inquietude in your eyes.
You are confused and oppressed by the majestic novelty of the Life
Eternal. Yes, it was of Death I spoke. And here how singularly sounds
that word which of old was wont to bring terror to all hearts -
throwing a mildew upon all pleasures!

_ Una._ Ah, Death, the spectre which sate at all feasts! How
often, Monos, did we lose ourselves in speculations upon its nature!
How mysteriously did it act as a check to human bliss - saying unto
it "thus far, and no farther!" That earnest mutual love, my own
Monos, which burned within our bosoms how vainly did we flatter
ourselves, feeling happy in its first up-springing, that our
happiness would strengthen with its strength! Alas! as it grew, so
grew in our hearts the dread of that evil hour which was hurrying to
separate us forever! Thus, in time, it became painful to love. Hate
would have been mercy then.

_ Monos._ Speak not here of these griefs, dear Una - mine, mine,
forever now!

_ Una._ But the memory of past sorrow - is it not present joy? I
have much to say yet of the things which have been. Above all, I burn
to know the incidents of your own passage through the dark Valley and

_ Monos._ And when did the radiant Una ask anything of her Monos
in vain? I will be minute in relating all - but at what point shall
the weird narrative begin?

_Una._ At what point?

_Monos._ You have said.

_Una._ Monos, I comprehend you. In Death we have both learned the
propensity of man to define the indefinable. I will not say, then,
commence with the moment of life's cessation - but commence with that
sad, sad instant when, the fever having abandoned you, you sank into
a breathless and motionless torpor, and I pressed down your pallid
eyelids with the passionate fingers of love.

_ Monos._ One word first, my Una, in regard to man's general
condition at this epoch. You will remember that one or two of the
wise among our forefathers - wise in fact, although not in the
world's esteem - had ventured to doubt the propriety of the term
"improvement," as applied to the progress of our civilization. There
were periods in each of the five or six centuries immediately
preceding our dissolution, when arose some vigorous intellect, boldly
contending for those principles whose truth appears now, to our
disenfranchised reason, so utterly obvious - principles which should
have taught our race to submit to the guidance of the natural laws,
rather than attempt their control. At long intervals some masterminds
appeared, looking upon each advance in practical science as a
retro-gradation in the true utility. Occasionally the poetic
intellect - that intellect which we now feel to have been the most
exalted of all - since those truths which to us were of the most
enduring importance could only be reached by that analogywhich speaks
in proof tones to the imagination alone and to the unaided reason
bears no weight - occasionally did this poetic intellect proceed a
step farther in the evolving of the vague idea of the philosophic,
and find in the mystic parable that tells of the tree of knowledge,
and of its forbidden fruit, death-producing, a distinct intimation
that knowledge was not meet for man in the infant condition of his
soul. And these men - the poets - living and perishing amid the scorn
of the "utilitarians" - of rough pedants, who arrogated to themselves
a title which could have been properly applied only to the scorned -
these men, the poets, pondered piningly, yet not unwisely, upon the
ancient days when our wants were not more simple than our enjoyments
were keen - days when mirth was a word unknown, so solemnly
deep-toned was happiness - holy, august and blissful days, when blue
rivers ran undammed, between hills unhewn, into far forest solitudes,
primæval, odorous, and unexplored.

Yet these noble exceptions from the general misrule served but to
strengthen it by opposition. Alas! we had fallen upon the most evil
of all our evil days. The great "movement" - that was the cant term -
went on: a diseased commotion, moral and physical. Art - the Arts -
arose supreme, and, once enthroned, cast chains upon the intellect
which had elevated them to power. Man, because he could not but
acknowledge the majesty of Nature, fell into childish exultation at
his acquired and still-increasing dominion over her elements. Even
while he stalked a God in his own fancy, an infantine imbecility came
over him. As might be supposed from the origin of his disorder, he
grew infected with system, and with abstraction. He enwrapped himself
in generalities. Among other odd ideas, that of universal equality
gained ground; and in the face of analogy and of God - in despite of
the loud warning voice of the laws of gradation so visibly pervading
all things in Earth an Heaven - wild attempts at an omni-prevalent
Democracy were made. Yet this evil sprang necessarily from the
leading evil, Knowledge. Man could not both know and succumb.
Meantime huge smoking cities arose, innumerable. Green leaves shrank
before the hot breath of furnaces. The fair face of Nature was
deformed as with the ravages of some loathsome disease. And methinks,
sweet Una, even our slumbering sense of the forced and of the
far-fetched might have arrested us here. But now it appears that we
had worked out our own destruction in the perversion of our taste, or
rather in the blind neglect of its culture in the schools. For, in
truth, it was at this crisis that taste alone - that faculty which,
holding a middle position between the pure intellect and the moral
sense, could never safely have been disregarded - it was now that
taste alone could have led us gently back to Beauty, to Nature, and
to Life. But alas for the pure contemplative spirit and majestic
intuition of Plato! Alas for the which he justly regarded as an
all-sufficient education for the soul! Alas for him and for it! -
since both were most desperately needed when both were most entirely
forgotten or despised. {*1}

Pascal, a philosopher whom we both love, has said, how truly! -
"que tout notre raisonnement se rèduit à céder au sentiment;" and it
is not impossible that the sentiment of the natural, had time
permitted it, would have regained its old ascendancy over the harsh
mathematical reason of the schools. But this thing was not to be.
Prematurely induced by intemperance of knowledge the old age of the
world drew on. This the mass of mankind saw not, or, living lustily
although unhappily, affected not to see. But, for myself, the Earth's
records had taught me to look for widest ruin as the price of highest
civilization. I had imbibed a prescience of our Fate from comparison
of China the simple and enduring, with Assyria the architect, with
Egypt the astrologer, with Nubia, more crafty than either, the
turbulent mother of all Arts. In history {*2} of these regions I met
with a ray from the Future. The individual artificialities of the
three latter were local diseases of the Earth, and in their
individual overthrows we had seen local remedies applied; but for the
infected world at large I could anticipate no regeneration save in
death. That man, as a race, should not become extinct, I saw that he
must be "born again."

And now it was, fairest and dearest, that we wrapped our spirits,
daily, in dreams. Now it was that, in twilight, we discoursed of the
days to come, when the Art-scarred surface of the Earth, having
undergone that purification {*3} which alone could efface its
rectangular obscenities, should clothe itself anew in the verdure and
the mountain-slopes and the smiling waters of Paradise, and be
rendered at length a fit dwelling-place for man: - for man the Death
purged - for man to whose now exalted intellect there should be
poison in knowledge no more - for the redeemed, regenerated,
blissful, and now immortal, but still for the material, man.

_Una._ Well do I remember these conversations, dear Monos; but
the epoch of the fiery overthrow was not so near at hand as we
believed, and as the corruption you indicate did surely warrant us in
believing. Men lived; and died individually. You yourself sickened,
and passed into the grave; and thither your constant Una speedily
followed you. And though the century which has since elapsed, and
whose conclusion brings us thus together once more, tortured our
slumbering senses with no impatience of duration, yet, my Monos, it
was a century still.

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