Page images

reader, whose duty it was to interpret such changes of thought, whereupon he said:

'It is perfectly true that I did at first think of 365, the number of days in the year; but when you had got the first two figures I thought that you, being such a sharp sort of man-you will pardon the expression(this with that sweet apologetic smile which his friends so dearly love and his opponents envy)' might by sequence guess the remaining figure. So at that moment, remembering it was leap-year, I took the liberty of altering my number to 366. I am afraid thereby I gave you much unnecessary trouble.'

At which I hastened to assure him that it had made the experiment doubly interesting.

[ocr errors]

With the Emperor of Germany another remarkable thing occurred in connection with figure-divining. The Kaiser, when I was in Berlin, was graciously pleased to express the desire of having the pleasure of making Mr. Cumberland's acquaintance,' and I had the honour of being presented to him soon after my arrival in the city. Before experimenting with his Majesty I performed preliminary experiments with Prince Henry of Battenberg and Count Hatzfeldt, now German Ambassador in London; and it was, I believe, chiefly my success with the latter subject in telling the number of a bank-note that determined the Kaiser in his choice of what to think.

Taking the Emperor by the hand I led him up to a blackboard, and almost immediately I wrote thereon 61, whilst underneath this date, after a moment's pause, I made the figure 4.

Wonderful, wonderful!' exclaimed his Majesty; it is my coronation year.' He was crowned King of Prussia on the 18th of October, 1861.

The appearance of the figure 4 was accounted for by the fact that the number of the bank-note I had previously read with Count Hatzfeldt was mostly made up of fours, and that the Emperor, quite unconsciously as it were, let the numeral run through his mind after I had written down the date upon which his mind had. been so firmly concentrated.

The Emperor of Germany, in his firmness and quickness of thought, ranks amongst my very best subjects.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

When the subject' is a good one, the operator is enabled not only to give a greater precision but often a much higher finish to his experiments, leaving out in his execution of them not a single detail which has had place in the subject's' thoughts. This was notably the case in my drawing illustration with his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, which took place about two and a half years ago when I was on a visit to Baron Ferdinand Rothschild at Waddesdon.

After dinner one night, his Royal Highness was pleased to offer himself as a subject for experiment; and he chose a test altogether different from anything I had attempted before. It consisted of my

having to draw upon a piece of paper the outline of an animal which his Royal Highness had at the time in his mind. A sheet of paper was placed upon a music-stand on the piano; and, having blindfolded myself, I took the Prince by the left hand, holding a lead-pencil in my right. In a few moments I had drawn the outline of the animal desired-viz. an elephant. The drawing was very rough, but, as neither his Royal Highness nor myself is an artist, the irregular contour of the animal depicted was readily accounted for. There was, however, one striking peculiarity about the sketch which was not allowed to pass notice. The animal I had drawn was tailless. It was afterwards explained that the Prince had in mind the first elephant he had shot in Ceylon, and whose tail he had himself docked at the time of shooting.

One's powers at arriving at the thoughts of others in the higher phase of experiment are not limited to divining numbers and sketching animals, for I found at the first attempt that I could write down sentences in languages of which I knew absolutely nothing.

My first attempt of this kind was with the Khedive when I was in Cairo last year.

It appears that His Highness had long taken an interest in my work, and the very day I arrived in the Egyptian capital he sent a message through a friend in common asking me to pay him a visit at the Abdin Palace on the following morning.

When I presented myself he greeted me most cordially, and thus flatteringly addressed me:

'It has long been my wish to see you, for all your doings have been known to me. I never thought that I should have the pleasure of seeing you here, but that I should have to go to England to see you. But, strange to say, I have dreamt of you two nights running, and we believe, according to our religion, that he whom we dream of we shall see '

Having thus expressed himself, coffee and cigarettes (His Highness, unlike any other Mohammedan potentate I have met, is himself a non-smoker) were brought in, and we conversed for half an hour or so on general topics, His Highness seeming pleased to hear that I had come to Egypt for the purpose of making myself acquainted with Egyptian affairs. As I was taking my leave, the friend referred to above suggested that I should give the Khedive an exhibition of my skill, which I consented to do. His Highness clapped his hands, and an attendant obeyed the summons. Paper and pencils were brought and a sheet of the former was gummed upon one of the gilded doors.

The Khedive thereupon thought of a word, and, without any sort of hesitation, I wrote on the paper the word Abbas (the name of his son) in Arabic characters. I did not know at the time a single letter of the Arabic alphabet; and, as I have already pointed out, the experiment was entirely impromptu.

The Oriental mind is much impressed by experiments of this kind; and, when I left Egypt for India, the Khedive did me the honour of making me the bearer of a congratulatory message to Lord Dufferin.

Some four months later I performed a somewhat similar test with Arabi Pasha. I had been breakfasting with the exile at his house in Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo; and, as we adjourned to the verandah to smoke and sip coffee, he took me playfully by the hand and said, 'Come, read my thoughts.' I proceeded to gratify his wish; and, taking out of my pocket a pencil, I asked him to think of a word which I would try and write upon the wall.

He replied "Good! I think of one English word.' I suppose he did try his hardest to think of that one English word, but I found it impossible to trace it out; the letters I did make being perfectly unintelligible. I then begged of him to think of the word in Arabic and not in Latin characters. He demurred to this, as he is very proud of the progress he is making in English; but he at last consented to do so. In an instant I had scrawled over the yellow plaster in front of me a word in Arabic. I knew I was right by the tremendous start of surprise my 'subject' gave, and a moment later he told me, in an excited tone, that it was correct. The word was


On Arabi being asked to write this word down in Latin characters, he, as I anticipated, found himself utterly unable to do so.

With the Maharajah of Cashmere I had some extraordinary results. I even succeeded in writing out a word with him which could not be read by perhaps half a dozen people in Calcutta, it being written in Dogra, a Cashmerian hill patois-a language, I need hardly say, I had never heard of before. The Maharajah was so impressed by my demonstrations that he strongly urged me to come to Srinuggur, there to act as a sort of supplementary dewan, with the object, I understood, of reading the thoughts of his ministers, in whom he appeared to have but little confidence. I was, of course, unable to accept his offers of hospitality.

The Indian princes, whilst making much of me whenever I visited their dominions, were in some instances inclined to look upon me with something akin to awe. I am sure several of them were frightened by my experiments, and thought me supernaturally endowed, whilst many a peccant minister would shut up his thoughts as it were whenever he met me, or avoid me whenever he saw me coming.

In time of trouble I really think I could turn my influence in some of these Native States to good account.

But in western countries one is met on all sides by the question, 'What is the use of this thought-reading? What is there in it beyond a striking and peculiar form of amusement?'

Well, if in this very blasé age one has produced something calculated to amuse the world, one, I take it, will have done not a little towards earning recognition; and no one will, I think, deny that thought-reading, so called, has afforded endless amusement (to say the very least) to hundreds of thousands of both sexes.

But, beyond this, thought-reading has its uses; and I see no reason why something practical should not, at some time or other, come out of it. For instance, I fail to see why it could not, in certain instances, be applied to the detection of crime.

We will say, par exemple, that a murder has been committed, a dagger having been used for the purpose, and that this dagger has been found, suspicion resting upon a man who is assumed to be its


He is, we will say, arrested, but nothing definite can be proved against him. Justice halts. Then might be the time for calling in a thought-reader. Such a person would naturally be better able to tell whether the suspect' had used the knife than an ordinary observer; for very few men if confronted with the evidence of their crime could help in some measure betraying themselves. This would not refer to habitual criminals, who are better able to control their emotions. Most murderers, are, however, emotional beings, who momentarily allow their passions to get the better of them. The fear of detection, although they may remain undiscovered, is seldom absent from them; and what their tongue has not the courage to say their beating pulses unconsciously confess, whenever the remembrance of the crime thay have committed becomes the dominant idea in their minds. No thought-reader operating, as I do, through the action of other people's nervous systems, could divine what a man did not wish to tell; but under the combined influence of fear and expectancy very few men would be able to physically retain their secret. On one or two occasions I have put these views to a practical proof, for, in addition to having operated with imaginary criminals, I have successfully tried my hand with genuine ones.

In Warsaw, for instance, two labourers were confined in the prison on the charge of having dug up on the estate of a M. Bartholdi, and hid away for their own uses, a quantity of gold, buried by a relative of the said M. Bartholdi during the last Polish rebellion. The men were examined by the juge d'instruction; but they obstinately remained silent, and no information of a practical character was arrived at during the examination. I happened to be in Warsaw at the time; and one evening, at General Gourko's, the facts were related to me, and I was asked if I could not assist justice in the matter. The outcome was, that a séance with the prisoners was arranged in the prison, in the presence of the governor of the gaol, the British pro-consul, the juge d'instruction, M. Bartholdi, and another.

The two men were quite different from each other in appearance,

One was a stolid, brutal-looking moujik, whilst the other seemed to have been cast in an altogether different mould. I somehow at once made up my mind that the former was the actual thief, and that the latter was at the most but an accessory to the fact; and the experiment which I presented amply proved this contention.

I took some pieces of money from my pocket, which the men were told represented some of the coins which they, in their haste to remove the treasure, had dropped on the ground, and that, no matter where they should hide them in the prison, I could find them; and that, just as easily as I could find money so hidden, so could I discover the stolen box of gold.

The coins, having been placed in a piece of paper, were given to the first-mentioned prisoner to hide within the knowledge of his companion, I being out of the room the while. On my return I took the former as a subject,' but, as I had anticipated, I could make nothing out of him. He was not content with stolidly declining to think of the place, but he refused to accompany me in my peregrinations around the room. With the other prisoner it was quite different. Directly I came in contact with him, I felt him thrill with excitement; and with perfect ease I took him to an ancient Russian stove let into the wall, and having unscrewed the door, I scraped from out of the ashes the hidden coins. The man seemed terrified, and he straightway made the following confession: That he and his companion were digging in the woods, when his companion's spade struck something hard which proved to be an iron chest full of gold pieces. They took a few (in order to purchase groceries and other necessaries), the passing of which ultimately led to their arrest. It was their intention, he said, to share the money and get away from Russia; but that, when he went to the place with his companion the next morning for the purpose of removing the chest, he found that it was gone, and his friend then told him that he had got up in the night and had removed it to a safe spot on his own account. He explained that he had been forced to keep the secret because his companion avowed he should never have a single coin if he said anything of the original discovery of the money. ‘if I only knew where this money now was, towards me, would be sure to find it out.' himself. How this case ended I don't know, as I have not been to or heard from Warsaw since.

But,' he added shudderingly, this " devil-man," pointing And he vigorously crossed

Whilst I am now with the reader at Warsaw, it will not, I venture to think, be out of place to relate an experience I had with General Gourko (the hero of the Shipka Pass incident), Governor-General of Poland.

His Excellency was pleased to give a reception in my honour at the old palace of the Polish kings; and, during the evening, he asked me if I thought it would be possible to trace out, by my VOL. XX.-No. 118.

3 P

« PreviousContinue »