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which any one who doubts them may prove by actual
calculation, we deem it unnecessary to dwell upon


Maelzel's Chess-Play er

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 stoop
ing 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 ex
amine 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 referable 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 any
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 cupboard No. i,
and the partition between the main compartment and
the space behind the drawer when open. If we im
agine this to be the case, the difficulty of shifting the
partitions vanishes at once, if, indeed, any such diffi
culty could be supposed under any circumstances to
exist. The second object of the cloth is to deaden and

VOL. X. 3, .5

Maelzel's Chess-Player

render indistinct all sounds occasioned by the move
ments 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 specta
tors and preclude the latter from a distinct view. But
this difficulty might be easily obviated, either by ele
vating the seats of the company, or by turning the end
of the box toward 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 detect
ing, with the aid of a quick ear, the breathings of the
man concealed.

14. Although M. Maelzel, in disclosing the interior
of the machine, sometimes slightly deviates from the
routine which we have pointed out, yet never 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. i ; he never opens the main compart
ment without first pulling out the drawer; he never
shuts the drawer without first shutting the main com-


Maelzel's Chess-Play er

partment; he never opens the back door of cupboard
No. i 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 solu
tion, it would be one of the strongest possible argu
ments in corroboration of it ; but the argument becomes
infinitely stengthened if we duly consider the circum
stance that he does occasionally deviate from the
routine, but never does so deviate as to falsify the

15. There are six candles on the board of the Au
tomaton 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 exhibi
tion room always is; when, moreover, if we suppose
the machine a pure machine, there can be no neces
sity for so much light, or, indeed, any light at all, to
enable it to perform its operations; and when, espe
cially, only a single candle is placed upon the table of
the antagonist ? " The first and most obvious infer
ence 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


Maelzel's Chess-Player

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 ascertain
ing the material of the breast of the figure (against
which the light is especially directed) is greatly aug
mented by the dazzling effect of the complicated cross
ings of the rays, crossings which are brought about
by placing the centres of radiation all upon different

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 seri
ously ill, the exhibition was suspended until his recov
ery. 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




Maelzel's Chess-Play er

of the canflif, another reaaon 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 ftem the spectators are the longest,
those in the tmddie 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 caudles mpectively 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 se^^tg^lgggO^^i^v^jg^^are of
same height, and thus also the difficulty of ascertain
ing the material of the breast of the figure (against
which the light to especially directed) is greatly aug
mented by teiwttftt dtart of the complicated craft
ings of th* ' **** *M* * brought about
by placing tfee e***** ** fttittftMl ail upon different

16. WhS tfcs OwiS-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, Mid, secondly, that, the Italian being taken seri
ously ill, the f xhibition was suspended until his recov
ery. This ttftttaa pretested a total ignorance of the
gam* of <&*, afefcMf* all others of the suite played
wdL aMtar otofrvm&ot* have been made since the

Maelzel's Chess-Player

Automaton has been purchased by Maelzel. There is
a man, Schlumberger, who attends him wherever he
goes, but who has no ostensible occupation other than
that of assisting in the packing and unpacking of the
Automaton. 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 exhibi
tion. Moreover, some years ago Maelzel visited Rich
mond with his automata, and exhibited them, we
believe, in the house now occupied by M. Bossieux
as a dancing academy. Schlumberger 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 circum
stance so remarkable cannot be accidental. Brewster
takes no notice of it whatever beyond a mere state
ment, 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 men
tions it, but acknowledges his inability to account for


Maelzel's Chess-Play er

it. Yet it is obviously from such prominent discrep
ancies 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 connection with the opera
tions 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 incon
gruity noticeable hi the Chess-Player to this peculiarity
hi 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 ex
plained to lie just beneath the shoulder, it would be


Maelzel's Chess-Play er

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 com
pressed between his body and the side of the Autom
aton), or else to use his left arm brought across his
breast. In neither case could he act with the requi
site ease or precision. On the contrary, the Autom
aton 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 the machinery in the
shoulder of the figure.

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


Prefaces to "The Concholo-
gist's First Book" 1


E term " Malacology," an abbreviation of
" Malacozoology," from the Greek ^oka-
nog (soft), Co5o^ (an animal), and AGIOS' (a
discourse), was first employed by the French naturalist
De Blainville to designate an important division of
Natural History, in which the leading feature of the
animals discussed was the softness of the flesh, or, to
speak with greater accuracy, of the general envelop.
This division comprehends not only the Mollusca, but

1 The full title is " The Conchologist's First Book : a System of Testaceous
Malacology, arranged expressly for the use of schools ; in which the animals,
according to Cuvier, are given with the shells, a great number of new species
added, and the whole brought up, as accurately as possible, to the present con
dition of the science. By Edgar A. Poe. Second edition. With illustrations
of two hundred and fifteen shells, presenting a correct type of each genus.
Philadelphia: Published for the Author by Haswell, Barrington, & Haswell,
and for sale by the principal booksellers in the United States." [First edition.
1839; second edition, 1840; both prefaces signed " E. A. P."]


" The Conchologist's First Book"

also the Testacea of Aristotle and Pliny, and, of course,
had reference to molluscous animals in general, of
which the greater portion have shells.

A treatise concerning the shells, exclusively, of this
greater portion, is termed, in accordance with general
usage, a "Treatise upon Conchology or Conchyliology" ;
although the word is somewhat improperly applied, as
the Greek conchyllon, from which it is derived, em
braces in its signification both the animal and shell.
Ostracology would have been more definite.

The common works upon this subject, however, will
appear to every person of science very essentially de
fective, inasmuch as the relation of the animal and
shell, with their dependence upon each other, is a
radically important consideration in the examination of
either. Neither, in the attempt to obviate this diffi
culty, is a work upon Malacology at large necessarily
included. Shells, it is true, form, and for many obvi
ous reasons will continue to form, the subject of chief
interest, whether with regard to the school or the
cabinet ; still, there is no good reason why a book upon
Conchology (using the common term) may not be
malacological as far as it proceeds.

In this view of the subject the present little work is
offered to the public. Beyond the ruling feature,
that of giving an anatomical account of each animal,
together with a description of the shell which it in
habits, I have aimed at little more than accuracy and


" The Conchologist's First Book "

simplicity, as far as the latter quality can be thought
consistent with the rigid exactions of science.

No attention has been given to the mere history of
the subject; it is conceived that any disquisition on
this head would more properly appertain to works of
ultimate research than to one whose sole intention is
to make the pupil acquainted, in as tangible a form as
possible, with results. To afford, at a cheap rate, a
concise, yet sufficiently comprehensive, and especially
a well-illustrated school-book, has been the principal

In conclusion, I have only to acknowledge my great
indebtedness to the valuable public labors, as well as
private assistance, of Mr. Isaac Lea of Philadelphia. To
Mr. Thomas Wyatt and his late excellent Manual of
Conchology t I am also under many obligations. No
better work, perhaps, could be put into the hands of
the student as a secondary text-book. Its beautiful
and perfectly well-colored illustrations afford an aid
in the collection of a cabinet scarcely to be met with


In issuing a second edition of this " Conchology " in
so very brief a period since the publication of the first
large impression, the author has little more to do than
to express the high pleasure with which he has seen


"The Conchologist's First Book"

his labors well received. The success of the work has
been decided ; and the entire design has been accom
plished hi its general introduction into schools.

Many important alterations and additions are now
made; errors of the press carefully corrected; many
more recently discovered American species added; and
the work, upon the whole, is rendered more worthy of
public approbation.


Philosophy of Furniture

the internal decoration, if not in the exter
nal architecture of their residences, the
English are supreme. The Italians have
but little sentiment beyond marbles and colors. In
France, meliora ptobant, detetiota seqvantur, the
people are too much a race of gadabouts to maintain
those household proprieties of which, indeed, they have
a delicate appreciation, or, at least, the elements of a
proper sense. The Chinese and most of the Eastern
races have a warm but inappropriate fancy. The
Scotch are poor decorists. The Dutch have, perhaps,
an indeterminate idea that a curtain is not a cabbage.
In Spain they are all curtains a nation of hangmen.
The Russians do not furnish. The Hottentots and
Kickapoos are very well in their way. The Yankees
alone are preposterous.

How this happens it is not difficult to see. We have
no aristocracy of blood, and having, therefore, as a
natural, and, indeed, as an inevitable thing, fashioned


Philosophy of Furniture

for ourselves an aristocracy of dollars, the display of
wealth has here to take the place and perform the
office of the heraldic display in monarchical countries.
By a transition readily understood, and which might
have been as readily foreseen, we have been brought
to merge in simple show our notions of taste itself.

To speak less abstractly. In England, for example,
no mere parade of costly appurtenances would be so
likely, as with us, to create an impression of the beauti
ful in respect to the appurtenances themselves, or of
taste as regards the proprietor; this for the reason,
first, that wealth is not, in England, the loftiest object of
ambition as constituting a nobility ; and, secondly, that
there, the true nobility of blood, confining itself within
the strict limits of legitimate taste, rather avoids than
affects that mere costliness in which a parvenu ri
valry may at any time be successfully attempted. The
people will imitate the nobles, and the result is a thor
ough diffusion of the proper feeling. But in America,
the coins current being the sole arms of the aristoc
racy, their display may be said, in general, to be the
sole means of aristocratic distinction; and the popu
lace, looking always upward for models, are insensibly
led to confound the two entirely separate ideas of mag
nificence and beauty. In short, the cost of an article
of furniture has at length come to be, with us, nearly
the sole test of its merit in a decorative point of view,
and this test, once established, has led the way to many


Philosophy of Furniture

analogous errors, readily traceable to the one primitive

There could be nothing more directly offensive to the
eye of an artist than the interior of what is termed
in the United States, that is to say, in Appalachia, a
well-furnished apartment. Its most usual defect is a
want of keeping. We speak of the keeping of a room
as we would of the keeping of a picture, for both the
picture and the room are amenable to those undeviat-
ing principles which regulate all varieties of art; and
very nearly the same laws by which we decide on the
higher merits of a painting suffice for decision on the
adjustment of a chamber.

A want of keeping is observable sometimes in the
character of the several pieces of furniture, but gen
erally in their colors or modes of adaptation to use.
Very often the eye is offended by their inartistical
arrangement. Straight lines are too prevalent, too
uninterruptedly continued, or clumsily interrupted at
right angles. If curved lines occur, they are repeated
into unpleasant uniformity. By undue precision the
appearance of many a fine apartment is utterly

Curtains are rarely well disposed, or well chosen, in
respect to other decorations. With formal furniture,
curtains are out of place ; and an extensive volume of
drapery of any kind is, under any circumstances, ir
reconcilable with good taste, the proper quantum, as


Philosophy of Furniture

well as the proper adjustment, depending upon the
character of the general effect.

Carpets are better understood of late than of ancient
days, but we still very frequently err in their patterns
and colors. The soul of the apartment is the carpet.
From it are deduced not only the hues, but the forms of
all objects incumbent. A judge at common law may be
an ordinary man ; a good judge of a carpet must be a
genius. Yet we have heard discoursing of carpets,
with the air d'um mouton qtti reve f fellows who
should not and who could not be entrusted with the
management of their own moustaches. Every one
knows that a large floor may have a covering of large
figures, and that a small one must have a covering of
small ; yet this is not all the knowledge in the world.
As regards texture, the Saxony is alone admissible.
Brussels is the preter-pluperfect tense of fashion, and
Turkey is taste in its dying agonies. Touching pat
tern, a carpet should not be bedizened out like a Ric-
caree Indian all red chalk, yellow ochre, and cock's
feathers. In brief, distinct grounds and vivid circular
or cycloid figures, of no meaning, are here Median
laws. The abomination of flowers, or representations
of well-known objects of any kind, should not be en
dured within the limits of Christendom. Indeed,
whether on carpets, or curtains, or tapestry, or otto
man coverings, all upholstery of this nature should be
rigidly arabesque. As for those antique floor-cloths


Philosophy of Furniture

still occasionally seen in the dwellings of the rabble,
cloths of huge, sprawling, and radiating devices, stripe-
interspersed, and glorious with all hues, among which
no ground is intelligible, these are but the wicked in
vention of a race of time-servers and money-lovers,
children of Baal and worshippers of Mammon, Ben-
thams, who, to spare thought and economize fancy,
first cruelly invented the kaleidoscope and then estab
lished joint-stock companies to twirl it by steam.

Glare is a leading error in the philosophy of Ameri
can household decoration, an error easily recognized
as deduced from the perversion of taste just specified.
We are violently enamored of gas and of glass. The
former is totally inadmissible within doors. Its harsh
and unsteady light offends. No one having both
brains and eyes will use it. A mild, or what artists
term a cool light, with its consequent warm shadows,
will do wonders for even an ill-furnished apartment.
Never was a more lovely thought than that of the
astral lamp. We mean, of course, the astral lamp
proper the lamp of Argand, with its original plain
ground-glass shade and its tempered and uniform
moonlight rays. The cut-glass shade is a weak inven
tion of the enemy. The eagerness with which we have
adopted it, partly on account of its flashiness, but prin
cipally on account of its greater cost, is a good com
mentary on the proposition with which we began. It
is not too much to say that the deliberate employer of


Philosophy of Furniture

a cut-glass shade is either radically deficient in taste,
or blindly subservient to the caprices of fashion. The
light proceeding from one of these gaudy abomina
tions is unequal, broken, and painful. It alone is
sufficient to mar a world of good effect in the furniture
subjected to its influence. Female loveliness, in espe
cial, is more than one half disenchanted beneath its
evil eye.

In the matter of glass, generally, we proceed upon
false principles. Its leading feature is glitter, and in
that one word how much of all that is detestable do
we express! Flickering, unquiet lights, are some
times pleasing to children and idiots always so ; but
in the embellishment of a room they should be scrupu
lously avoided. In truth, even strong, steady lights are
inadmissible. The huge and unmeaning glass chande
liers, prism-cut, gas-lighted, and without shade, which
dangle in our most fashionable drawing-rooms, may
be cited as the quintessence of all that is false in taste or
preposterous in folly.

The rage for glitter, because its idea has become, as
we before observed, confounded with that of mag
nificence in the abstract, has led us, also, to the exag
gerated employment of mirrors. We line our dwellings
with great British plates and then imagine we have
done a fine thing. Now, the slightest thought will be
sufficient to convince any one, who has an eye at all,
of the ill effect of ' numerous looking-glasses, and

VOL. X.- 4 .

Philosophy of Furniture

especially of large ones. Regarded apart from its re
flection, the mirror presents a continuous flat, color
less, unrelieved surface, a thing always and obviously
unpleasant. Considered as a reflector, it is potent in
producing a monstrous and odious uniformity: and
the evil is here aggravated, not in merely direct pro
portion with the augmentation of its sources, but in a

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