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    Maelzel's Chess-Player

    by Edgar Allan Poe
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    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 him, 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 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 truth.

    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.
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