Memoirs of Robert-Houdin, written by himself [tr. by sir F.C.L. Wraxall]. Copyright ed (Google eBook)

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1859 - History
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Page 231 - MOMENT. 231 the questions I asked it. I had only to press the spring in order to enjoy the long awaited result. My heart beat violently, and though I was alone, I trembled with emotion at the mere thought of this imposing trial. I had just laid the first sheet of paper before my writer, and asked him this question : "Who is the author of your being?
Page 174 - The trick was as simple as it was interesting. A vase, containing seed steeped in water, was placed before the bird. The motion of the bill in dabbling crushed the food, and facilitated its introduction into a pipe placed beneath the lower bill. The water and seed thus swallowed fell into a box placed under the bird's stomach, which was emptied every three or four days. The other part of the operation was thus effected : Bread-crumb, colored green, was expelled by a forcing pump, and carefully caught...
Page 180 - ... Turk was to rest his arm. This examination ended, the robe of the automaton was raised, and the interior of the body could also be inspected. " The doors being then closed, M. de Kempelen wound up one of the wheels with a key he inserted in a hole in the chest ; after which the Turk, with a gentle nod of salutation, placed his hand on one of the pieces, raised it, deposited it on another square, and laid his arm on the cushion before him. The inventor had stated that, as the automaton could not...
Page 33 - Would any workman, artisan, or tradesman give up a certainty, however slight it may be, to yield to a passion which would be surely regarded as a mania? Hence my irresistible penchant for the mysterious could only be followed at this precise period of my life. How often since have I blessed this providential error, without which I should have probably vegetated as a country watchmaker ! My life would have been spent in gentle monotony; I should have been spared many sufferings, emotions, and shocks...
Page 180 - The doctor moved in his turn, and waited patiently till his adversary, whose movements had all the dignity of the Sultan he represented, had moved. The game, though slow at first, soon grew animated, and the doctor found he had to deal with a tremendous opponent ; for, in spite of all his efforts to defeat the figure, his game Was growing quite desperate. It is true, though, that for some minutes past, the doctor's attention had appeared to be distracted, and one idea, seemed to occupy him. But while...
Page 181 - The mechanician began laughing, and not wishing to prolong this mystification, the prelude to so many others, he confessed to his friend that he had really been playing with Worousky. " ' But where the deuce have you put him, then ?' the doctor said, looking round to try and discover his opponent " The inventor laughed heartily. " ' Well ! do you not recognize me...
Page 237 - ... respects, the nightingale's throat. The instrument had to work mechanically; clockwork set in motion the bellows, opened or closed a valve which produced the twittering, the modulation, and the sliding notes, while it guided the piston according to the different degrees of speed and strength wanted. Houdin had also to impart motion to the bird. It must move its beak in accordance with the sounds it produced, flap its wings, and leap from branch to branch — which, however, was purely a mechanical...
Page 175 - ... its introduction into a pipe placed beneath the lower bill. The water and seed thus swallowed fell into a box placed under the bird's stomach, which was emptied every three or four days. The other part of the operation was thus effected: Bread-crumb, colored green, was expelled by a forcing pump, and carefully caught on a silver salver as the result of artificial digestion. This was handed round to be admired, while the ingenious trickster laughed in his sleeve at the credulity of the public.
Page 177 - Worousky had both thighs shattered by a cannon-ball, and fell on the battle-field ; however, he escaped 'from tttS general massacre by throwing himself into a ditch behind a hedge. At nightfall, Worousky dragged himself along with great difficulty to the adjacent house of a physician of the name of Osloff, whose benevolence was well known, and the doctor, moved by his sufferings, attended upon, and promised to conceal him. His wound was serious, but the doctor felt confident of curing him, until...
Page 287 - ... serious, and ill-disposed to be favorable to you. If, however, you appear on the stage with a cheerful face, the most sombre brows unwrinkle, and every one seems to say to the artist : " How d'ye do, old fellow, your face pleases me, I only want an opportunity to applaud you.

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