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The Child of Europe
The story of Kaspar Hauser, a boy, apparently idiotic, who appeared, as if from the clouds, in Nuremberg (1828), divided Germany into hostile parties, and caused legal proceedings as late as 1883. Whence this lad came, and what his previous adventures had been, has never been ascertained. His death by a dagger-wound, in 1833--whether inflicted by his own hand or that of another--deepened the mystery. According to one view, the boy was only a waif and an impostor, who had strayed from some peasant home, where nobody desired his return. According to the other theory, he was the Crown Prince of Baden, stolen as an infant in the interests of a junior branch of the House, reduced to imbecility by systematic ill-treatment, turned loose on the world at the age of sixteen, and finally murdered, lest his secret origin might be discovered.
I state first the theory of the second party in the dispute, which believed that Kaspar was some great one: I employ language as romantic as my vocabulary affords.
* * * * * * *
Darkness in Karlsruhe! 'Tis the high noon of night: October 15, 1812. Hark to the tread of the Twelve Hours as they pass on the palace clock, and join their comrades that have been! The vast corridors are still; in the shadows lurk two burly minions of ambitious crime, Burkard and Sauerbeck. Is that a white moving shadow which approaches through the gloom? There arises a shriek, a heavy body falls, 'tis a lacquey who has seen and recognised The White Lady of the Grand Ducal House, that walks before the deaths of Princes. Burkard and Sauerbeck spurn the inanimate body of the menial witness. The white figure, bearing in her arms a sleeping child, glides to the tapestried wall, and vanishes through it, into the Chamber of the Crown Prince, a babe of fourteen days. She returns carrying another unconscious infant form, she places it in the hands of the ruffian Sauerbeck, she disappears. The miscreant speeds with the child through a postern into the park, you hear the trample of four horses, and the roll of the carriage on the road. Next day there is silence in the palace, broken but by the shrieks of a bereaved though Royal (or at least Grand Ducal) mother. Her babe lies a corpse! The Crown Prince has died in the night! The path to the throne lies open to the offspring of the Countess von Hochberg, morganatic wife of the reigning Prince, Karl Friedrich, and mother of the children of Ludwig Wilhelm August, his youngest son.
Sixteen years fleet by; years rich in Royal crimes. 'Tis four of a golden Whit Monday afternoon, in old Nuremberg, May 26, 1828. The town lies empty, dusty, silent; her merry people are rejoicing in the green wood, and among the suburban beer-gardens. One man alone, a shoemaker, stands by the door of his house in the Unschlitt Plas: around him lie the vacant streets of the sleeping city. His eyes rest on the form, risen as it were out of the earth or fallen from the skies, of a boy, strangely clad, speechless, incapable either of standing erect or of moving his limbs. That boy is the Royal infant placed of yore by the White Shadow in the hands of the cloaked ruffian. Thus does the Crown Prince of Baden return from the darkness to the daylight! He names himself KASPAR HAUSER. He is to die by the dagger of a cruel courtier, or of a hireling English Earl.
Thus briefly, and, I trust, impressively, have I sketched the history of Kaspar Hauser, 'the Child of Europe,' as it was presented by various foreign pamphleteers, and, in 1892, by Miss Elizabeth E. Evans. But, as for the 'authentic records' on which the partisans of Kaspar Hauser based their version, they are anonymous, unauthenticated, discredited by the results of a libel action in 1883; and, in short, are worthless and impudent rubbish.
[Footnote 11: The Story of Kaspar Hauser from Authentic Records. Swan Sonnenschein & Co., London, 1892.]
On all sides, indeed, the evidence as to Kaspar Hauser is in bewildering confusion. In 1832, four years after his appearance, a book about him was published by Paul John Anselm Von Feuerbach. The man was mortal, had been a professor, and, though a legal reformer and a learned jurist, was 'a nervous invalid' when he wrote, and he soon after died of paralysis (or poison according to Kasparites). He was approaching a period of life in which British judges write books to prove that Bacon was Shakespeare, and his arguments were like theirs. His Kaspar Hauser is composed in a violently injudicial style. 'To seek the giant perpetrator of such a crime' (as the injustice to Kaspar), 'it would be necessary ... to be in possession of Joshua's ram's horns, or at least of Oberon's horn, in order, for some time at least, to suspend the activity of the powerful enchanted Colossi that guard the golden gates of certain castles,' that is, of the palace at Karlsruhe. Such early Nuremberg records of Kaspar's first exploits as existed were ignored by Feuerbach, who told Lord Stanhope, that any reader of these 'would conceive Kaspar to be an impostor.' 'They ought to be burned.' The records, which were read and in part published, by the younger Meyer (son of one of Kaspar's tutors) and by President Karl Schmausz, have disappeared, and, in 1883, Schmausz could only attest the general accuracy of Meyer's excerpts from the town's manuscripts.
Taking Feuerbach's romantic narrative of 1832, we find him averring that, about 4.30 P.M. on Whit Monday, May 26, 1828, a citizen, unnamed, was loitering at his door, in the Unschlitt Plas, Nuremberg, intending to sally out by the New Gate, when he saw a young peasant, standing in an attitude suggestive of intoxication, and apparently suffering from locomotor ataxia, 'unable to govern fully the movements of his legs.' The citizen went to the boy, who showed him a letter directed to the captain of a cavalry regiment. The gallant captain lived near the New Gate (654 paces from the citizen's house), and thither the young peasant walked with the citizen. So he could 'govern fully the movements of his legs.' At the house, the captain being out, the boy said, 'I would be a horseman as my father was,' also 'Don't know.' Later he was taken to the prison, up a steep hill, and the ascent to his room was one of over ninety steps. Thus he could certainly walk, and when he spoke of himself he said 'I' like other people. Later he took to speaking of himself as 'Kaspar,' in the manner of small children, and some hysterical patients under hypnotism. But this was an after-thought, for Kaspar's line came to be that he had only learned a few words, like a parrot, words which he used to express all senses indifferently. His eye-sight, when he first appeared, seems to have been normal, at the prison he wrote his own name as 'Kaspar Hauser,' and covered a sheet of paper with writing. Later he could see best in the dark.
So says Feuerbach, in 1832. What he does not say is whence he got his information as to Kaspar's earliest exploits. Now our earliest evidence, on oath, before a magistrate, is dated November 4, 1829. George Weichmann, shoemaker (Feuerbach's anonymous 'citizen'), then swore that, on May 26, 1828, he saw Kaspar, not making paralysed efforts to walk, but trudging down a hilly street, shouting 'Hi!' ('or any loud cry'), and presently asking, 'with tolerable distinctness,' 'New Gate Street?' He took the boy that way, and the boy gave him the letter for the captain. Weichmann said that they had better ask for him at the New Gate Guard House, and the boy said 'Guard House? Guard House? New Gate no doubt just built?' He said he came from Ratisbon, and was in Nuremberg for the first time, but clearly did not understand what Weichmann meant when he inquired as to the chances of war breaking out. In May 1834 Weichmann repeated his evidence as to Kaspar's power of talking and walking, and was corroborated by one Jacob Beck, not heard of in 1829. On December 20, 1829, Merk, the captain's servant, spoke to Kaspar's fatigue, 'he reeled as he walked,' and would answer no questions. In 1834 Merk expanded, and said 'we had a long chat.' Kaspar averred that he could read and write, and had crossed the frontier daily on his way to school. 'He did not know where he came from.' Certainly Merk, in 1834, remembered much more than in 1829. Whether he suppressed facts in 1829, or, in 1834, invented fables, we do not know. The cavalry captain (November 2, 1829) remembered several intelligent remarks made by Kaspar. His dress was new and clean (denied by Feuerbach), he was tired and footsore. The evidence of the police, taken in 1834, was remote in time, but went to prove that Kaspar's eyesight and power of writing were normal. Feuerbach absolutely discredits all the sworn evidence of 1829, without giving his own sources. The early evidence shows that Kaspar could both walk and talk, and see normally, by artificial and natural light, all of which is absolutely inconsistent with Kaspar's later account of himself.
The personal property of Kaspar was a horn rosary, and several Catholic tracts with prayers to the Guardian Angel, and so forth. Feuerbach holds that these were furnished by 'devout villains'--a very sound Protestant was Feuerbach--and that Kaspar was ignorant of the being of a Deity, at least of a Protestant Deity. The letter carried by the boy said that the writer first took charge of him, as an infant, in 1812, and had never let him 'take a single step out of my house.... I have already taught him to read and write, and he writes my handwriting exactly as I do.' In the same hand was a letter in Latin characters, purporting to come from Kaspar's mother, 'a poor girl,' as the author of the German letter was 'a poor day-labourer.' Humbug as I take Kaspar to have been, I am not sure that he wrote these pieces. If not, somebody else was in the affair; somebody who wanted to get rid of Kaspar. As that youth was an useless, false, convulsionary, and hysterical patient, no one was likely to want to keep him, if he could do better. No specified reward was offered at the time for information about Kaspar; no portrait of him was then published and circulated. The Burgomaster, Binder, had a portrait, and a facsimile of Kaspar's signature engraved, but Feuerbach would not allow them to be circulated, heaven knows why.
How Kaspar fell, as it were from the clouds, and unseen, into the middle of Nuremberg, even on a holiday when almost every one was out of town, is certainly a puzzle. The earliest witnesses took him for a journeyman tailor lad (he was about sixteen), and perhaps nobody paid any attention to a dusty travelling tradesman, or groom out of place. Feuerbach (who did not see Kaspar till July) says that his feet were covered with blisters, the gaoler says that they were merely swollen by the tightness of his boots.
Once in prison, Kaspar, who asked to be taken home, adopted the rôle of 'a semi-unconscious animal,' playing with toy horses, 'blind though he saw,' yet, not long after, he wrote a minute account of all that he had then observed. He could only eat bread and water: meat made him shudder, and Lord Stanhope says that this peculiarity did occur in the cases of some peasant soldiers. He had no sense of hearing, which means, perhaps, that he did not think of pretending to be amazed by the sound of church bells till he had been in prison for some days. Till then he had been deaf to their noise. This is Feuerbach's story, but we shall see that it is contradicted by Kaspar himself, in writing. Thus the alleged facts may be explained without recourse even to a theory of intermittent deafness. Kaspar was no more deaf than blind. He 'was all there,' and though, ten days after his arrival, he denied that he had ever seen Weichmann, in ten days more his memory for faces was deemed extraordinary, and he minutely described all that, on May 26 and later, he had observed. Kaspar was taught to write by the gaoler's little boy, though he could write when he came--in the same hand as the author of his mysterious letter. Though he had but half a dozen words on May 26, according to Feuerbach, by July 7 he had furnished Binder with his history--pretty quick work! Later in 1828 he was able to write that history himself. In 1829 he completed a work of autobiography.
Kaspar wrote that till the age of sixteen he was kept in 'a prison,' 'perhaps six or seven feet long, four broad, and five high.' There were two small windows, with closed black wooden shutters. He lay on straw, lived on bread and water, and played with toy horses, and blue and red ribbons. That he could see colours in total darkness is a proof of his inconsistent fables, or of his 'hyperæsthesia'--abnormal acuteness of the senses. 'The man' who kept him was not less hyperæsthetic, for he taught Kaspar to write in the dark. He never heard any noise, but avers that, in prison, he was alarmed by the town clock striking, on the first morning, though Feuerbach says that he did not hear the bells for several days.
Such is Kaspar's written account (1829); the published account of July 1828, derived from 'the expressions of a half-dumb animal' (as Feuerbach puts it), is much more prolix and minute in detail. The animal said that he had sat on the ground, and never seen daylight, till he came to Nuremberg. He used to be hocussed with water of an evil taste, and wake in a clean shirt. 'The man' once hit him and hurt him, for making too much noise. The man taught him his letters and the Arabic numerals. Later he gave him instructions in the art of standing. Next he took him out, and taught him about nine words. He was made by the man to walk he knew not how far, or how long, the man leading him. Nobody saw this extraordinary pair on the march. Feuerbach, who maintains that Kaspar's feet were covered with cruel blisters, from walking, also supposes that 'perhaps for the greater part of the way' he was carried in a carriage or waggon! Whence then the cruel blisters caused by walking? There is medical evidence that his legs were distorted by confinement, but the medical post-mortem evidence says that this was not the case. He told Binder that his windows were shuttered: he told Hiltel, the gaoler, that from his windows he saw 'a pile of wood and above it the top of a tree.'
Obviously Kaspar's legends about himself, whether spoken in June 1828, or written in February 1829, are absurdly false. He was for three weeks in the tower, and was daily visited by the curious. Yet in these three weeks the half-conscious animal 'learned to read tolerably well, to count, to write figures' (that he could do when he arrived, Feuerbach says), 'he made progress in writing a good hand, and learned a simple tune on the harpsichord,' pretty well for a half-unconscious animal.
In July 1828, after being adopted by the excited town of Nuremberg, he was sent to be educated by and live with a schoolmaster named Daumer, and was studied by Feuerbach. They found, in Kaspar, a splendid example of the 'sensitive,' and a noble proof of the powers of 'animal magnetism.' In Germany, at this time, much was talked and written about 'somnambulism' (the hypnotic state), and about a kind of 'animal magnetism' which, in accordance with Mesmer's theory, was supposed to pass between stars, metals, magnets, and human beings. The effects produced on the patient by the hypnotist (now ascribed to 'suggestion') were attributed to a 'magnetic efflux,' and Reichenbach's subjects saw strange currents flowing from metals and magnets. His experiments have never, perhaps, been successfully repeated, though hysterical persons have pretended to feel the traditional effects, even when non-magnetic objects were pointed at them. Now Kaspar was really a 'sensitive,' or feigned to be one, with hysterical cunning. Anything unusual would throw him into convulsions, or reduce him to unconsciousness. He was addicted to the tears of sensibility. Years later Meyer read to him an account of the Noachian Deluge, and he wept bitterly. Meyer thought this rather too much, the Deluge being so remote an event, and, after that, though Meyer read pathetic things in his best manner, Kaspar remained unmoved. He wrote a long account of his remarkable magnetic sensations during and before the first thunderstorm after his arrival at Nuremberg. Yet, before his appearance there, he must have heard plenty of thunderstorms, though he pretended that this was his first. The sight of the moon produced in him 'emotions of horror.' He had visions, like the Rev. Ansel Bourne, later to be described, of a beautiful male figure in a white garment, who gave him a garland. He was taken to a 'somnambulist,' and felt 'magnetic' pulls and pushes, and a strong current of air. Indeed the tutor, Daumer, shared these sensations, obviously by virtue of 'suggestion.' They are out of fashion, the doctrine of animal magnetism being as good as exploded, and nobody feels pulled or pushed or blown upon, when he consults Mrs. Piper or any other 'medium.'
From a letter of Feuerbach of September 20, 1828, we learn that Kaspar, 'without being an albino,' can see as well in utter darkness as in daylight. Perhaps the man who taught Kaspar to write, in the dark, was an albino: Kaspar never saw his face. Kaspar's powers of vision abated, as he took to beef, but he remained hyperæsthetic, and could see better in a bad light than Daumer or Feuerbach. Some 'dowsers,' we know, can detect subterranean water, by the sensations of their hands, without using a twig, or divining rod, and others can 'spot' gold hidden under the carpet, with the twig. Kaspar, merely with the bare hand, detected (without touching it?) a needle under a table cloth. He gradually lost these gifts, and the theory seems to have been that they were the result of his imprisonment in the dark, and a proof of it. The one thing certain is that Kaspar had the sensitive or 'mediumistic' temperament, which usually--though not always--is accompanied by hysteria, while hysteria means cunning and fraud, whether conscious or not so conscious. Meanwhile the boy was in the hands of men credulous, curious, and, in the case of Daumer, capable of odd sensations induced by suggestion. From such a boy, in such company, the truth could not be expected, above all if, like some other persons of his class, he was subject to 'dissociation' and obliviousness as to his own past.
Rather curiously we find in Feuerbach's own published collection of Trials the case of a boy, Sörgel, who had 'paroxysms of second consciousness ... of which he was ignorant upon returning to his ordinary state of consciousness.' We have also the famous case of the atheistic carpenter, Ansel Bourne, who was struck deaf, dumb, and blind, and miraculously healed, in a dissenting chapel, to the great comfort of 'a large and warm congregation.' Mr. Bourne then became a preacher, but later forgot who he was, strolled to a distant part of the States, called himself Browne, set up a 'notions store,' and, one day, awoke among his notions to the consciousness that he was Bourne, not Browne, a preacher, not a dealer in cheap futilities. Bourne was examined, under hypnotism, by Professor William James and others.
[Footnote 12: Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, vol. vii. pp. 221-257.]
Many such instances of 'ambulatory automatism' are given. In my view, Kaspar was, to put it mildly, an ambulatory automatist, who had strayed away, like the Rev. Mr. Bourne, from some place where nobody desired his return: rather his lifelong absence was an object of hope. The longer Kaspar lived, the more frequently was he detected in every sort of imposture that could make him notorious, or enable him to shirk work.
Kaspar had for months been the pet mystery of Nuremberg. People were sure that, like the mysterious prisoner of Pignerol, Les Exiles, and the Isle Sainte-Marguerite (1669-1703?), Kaspar was some great one, 'kept out of his own.' Now the prisoner of Pignerol was really a valet, and Kaspar was a peasant. Some thought him a son of Napoleon: others averred (as we saw) that he was the infant son of the Grand Duke Karl of Baden, born in 1812, who had not died within a fortnight of his birth, but been spirited away by a lady disguised as the spectral 'White Lady of Baden,' an aristocratic ban-shie. The subtle conspirators had bred the Grand Duke Kaspar in a dark den, the theory ran, hoping that he would prove, by virtue of such education, an acceptable recruit for the Bavarian cavalry, and that no questions would be asked. Unluckily questions were now being asked, for a boy who could only occasionally see and hear was not (though he could smell a cemetery at a distance of five hundred yards), an useful man on a patrol, at least the military authorities thought not. Had they known that Kaspar could see in the dark, they might have kept him as a guide in night attacks, but they did not know. The promising young hussar (he rode well but clumsily) was thus left in the hands of civilians: the Grand Ducal secret might be discovered, so an assassin was sent to take off the young prince.
The wonder was not unnaturally expressed that Kaspar had not smelled out the villain, especially as he was probably the educational albino, who taught him to write in the dark. On hearing of this, later, Kaspar told Lord Stanhope that he had smelled the man: however, he did not mention this at the time. To make a long story short, on October 17, 1829, Kaspar did not come to midday eating, but was found weltering in his gore, in the cellar of Daumer's house. Being offered refreshment in a cup, he bit out a piece of the porcelain and swallowed it. He had 'an inconsiderable wound' on the forehead; to that extent the assassin had effected his purpose. Feuerbach thinks that the murderer had made a shot at Kaspar's throat with a razor, that Kaspar ducked cleverly, and got it on the brow, and that the assassin believed his crime to be consummated, and fled, after uttering words in which Kaspar recognised the voice of his tutor, the possible albino. No albino or other suspicious character was observed. Herr Daumer, before this cruel outrage, had remarked, in Kaspar, 'a highly regrettable tendency to dissimulation and untruthfulness,' and, just before the attack, had told the pupil that he was a humbug. Lord Stanhope quoted a paper of Daumer's in the Universal Gazette of February 6, 1834 (Allgemeine Zeitung), in which he says that 'lying and deceit were become to Kaspar a second nature.' When did they begin to become a second nature? In any case Daumer clove to the romantic theory of Kaspar's origin. Kaspar left Daumer's house and stayed with various good people, being accompanied by a policeman in his walks. He was sent to school, and Feuerbach bitterly complains that he was compelled to study the Latin grammar, 'and finally even Cæsar's Commentaries!' Like other boys, Kaspar protested that he 'did not see the use of Latin,' and indeed many of our modern authors too obviously share Kaspar's indifference to the dead languages. He laughed, in 1831, says Feuerbach, at the popish superstition 'of his early attendants' (we only hear of one, and about his theological predilections we learn nothing), and he also laughed at ghosts. In his new homes Kaspar lied terribly, was angry when detected, and wounded himself--he said accidentally--with a pistol, after being reproached for shirking the Commentaries of Julius Cæsar, and for mendacity. He was very vain, very agreeable as long as no one found fault with him, very lazy, and very sentimental.
In May 1831 Lord Stanhope, who, since the attack on Kaspar in 1829, had been curious about him, came to Nuremberg, and 'took up' the hero, with fantastic fondness. Though he recognised Kaspar's mythopoeic tendencies, he believed him to be the victim of some nefarious criminals, and offered a reward of 500 florins, anonymously, for information. It never was claimed.
Already had arisen a new theory, that Kaspar was the son of an Hungarian magnate. Later, Lord Stanhope averred, on oath, that inquiries made in Hungary proved Kaspar to be an impostor. In 1830, a man named Müller, who had been a Protestant preacher, and was now a Catholic priest, denounced a preacher named Wirth, and a Miss Dalbonn, a governess, as kidnappers of Kaspar from the family of a Countess, living near Pesth. Müller was exposed, his motives were revealed, and the newspapers told the story. Kaspar was therefore tried with Hungarian words, and seemed to recognise some, especially Posonbya (Pressburg). He thought that some one had said that his father was at Pressburg: and thither Lord Stanhope sent him, with Lieutenant Hickel. This was in 1831, but Kaspar recognised nothing: his companions, however, found that he pretended to be asleep in the carriage, to hear what was said about him. They ceased to speak of him, and Kaspar ceased to slumber. A later expedition into Hungary, by Hickel, in February 1832, on the strength of more Hungarian excitement on Kaspar's part, discovered that there was nothing to discover, and shook the credulity of Lord Stanhope. He could not believe Kaspar's narrative, but still hoped that he had been terrorised into falsehood. He could not believe both that the albino had never spoken to Kaspar in his prison, and also that 'the man always taught me to do what I was told.' To Lord Stanhope Kaspar averred that 'the man with whom he had always lived said nothing to him till he was on his journey.' Yet, during his imprisonment, the man had taught him, he declared, the phrases which, by his account, were all the words that he knew when he arrived at Nuremberg.
For these and other obvious reasons, Lord Stanhope, though he had relieved Nuremberg of Kaspar (November 1831), and made ample provision for him, was deeply sceptical about his narrative. The town of Nuremberg had already tried to shift the load of Kaspar on to the shoulders of the Bavarian Government. Lord Stanhope did not adopt him, but undertook to pay for his maintenance, and left him, in January 1832, under the charge of a Dr. Meyer, at Anspach. He had a curator, and a guardian, and escaped from the Commentaries of Julius Cæsar into the genial society of Feuerbach. That jurist died in May 1833 (poisoned, say the Kasparites), a new guardian was appointed, and Kaspar lived with Dr. Meyer. Finding him incurably untruthful, the doctor ceased to provoke him by comments on his inaccuracies, and Kaspar got a small clerkly place. With this he was much dissatisfied, for he, like Feuerbach, had expected Lord Stanhope to take him to England. Feuerbach, in the dedication to Lord Stanhope of his book (1832), writes, 'Beyond the sea, in fair old England, you have prepared for him a secure retreat, until the rising sun of Truth shall have dispersed the darkness which still hangs over his mysterious fate.' If Lord Stanhope ever made this promise, his growing scepticism about Kaspar prevented him from fulfilling it. On December 9, 1833, Meyer was much provoked by Kaspar's inveterate falseness, and said that he did not know how to face Lord Stanhope, who was expected to visit Anspach at Christmas. For some weeks Kaspar had been sulky, and there had been questions about a journal which he was supposed to keep, but would not show. He was now especially resentful. On two earlier occasions, after a scene with his tutor, Kaspar had been injured, once by the assassin who cut his forehead; once by a pistol accident. On December 14, he rushed into Dr. Meyer's room, pointed to his side, and led Meyer to a place distant about five hundred yards from his house. So agitated was he that Meyer would go no further, especially as Kaspar would answer no questions. On their return, Kaspar said, 'Went Court Garden--Man--had a knife--gave a bag--struck--I ran as I could--bag must lie there.' Kaspar was found to have a narrow wound, 'two inches and a half under the centre of the left breast,' clearly caused by a very sharp double-edged weapon. In three or four days he died, the heart had been injured. He was able to depose, but not on oath, that on the morning of the 14th a man in a blouse (who had addressed him some days earlier) brought him a verbal message from the Court gardener, asking him to come and view some clay from a newly bored well, where, in fact, no work was being done at this time. He found no one at the well, and went to the monument of the rather forgotten poet Uz. Here a man came forward, gave him a bag, stabbed him, and fled. Of the man he gave discrepant descriptions. He became incoherent, and died.
There was snow lying, when Kaspar was stabbed, but there were no footmarks near the well, and elsewhere, only one man's track was in the Hofgarten. Was that track Kaspar's? We are not told. No knife was found. Kaspar was left-handed, and Dr. Horlacher declared that the blow must have been dealt by a left-handed man. Lord Stanhope suggested that Kaspar himself had inflicted the wound by pressure, and that, after he had squeezed the point of the knife through his wadded coat, it had penetrated much deeper than he had intended, a very probable hypothesis.
As for the bag which the assassin gave him, it was found, and Dr. Meyer said that it was very like a bag which he had seen in Kaspar's possession. It contained a note, folded, said Madame Meyer, as Kaspar folded his own notes. The writing was in pencil, in Spiegelschrift, that is, it had to be read in a mirror. Kaspar, on his deathbed, kept muttering incoherences about 'what is written with lead, no one can read.' The note contained vague phrases about coming from the Bavarian frontier.
After Kaspar's death, the question of 'murder or suicide?' agitated Germany, and gave birth to a long succession of pamphlets. A wild woman, Countess Albersdorf ('née Lady Graham,' says Miss Evans, who later calls her 'Lady Caroline Albersdorf'), saw visions, dreamed dreams, and published nonsense. Other pamphlets came out, directed against the House of Baden. In 1870 an anonymous French pamphleteer offered the Baden romance, as from the papers of a Major von Hennenhofer, the villain in chief of the White Lady plot. Lord Stanhope was named as the ringleader in the attacks on Kaspar, both at Nuremberg and Anspach. In 1883 all the fables were revived in a pamphlet produced at Ratisbon, a mere hash of the libels of 1834, 1839, 1840, and 1870. Dr. Meyer was especially attacked, his sons defended his reputation by an action for libel on the dead, an action which German law permits. There was no defence, and the publisher was fined, and ordered to destroy all the copies. In 1892 the libels were repeated, by 'Baron Alexander von Artin:' two documents of a palpably fraudulent character were added, the rest was the old stuff. The reader may find it in Miss Evans's Kaspar Hauser (1892). For example, Daumer knew a great deal. He even, in 1833, received an anonymous letter from Anspach, containing the following statement: 'Lord Daniel Alban Durteal, advocate of the Royal Court in London, said to me, "I am firmly convinced that Kaspar Hauser was murdered. It was all done by bribery. Stanhope has no money, and lives by this affair."' Daumer and Miss Evans appear to have seen nothing odd in relying on an anonymous letter about Lord Daniel Alban Durteal!
Lord Stanhope, says Miss Evans, 'was known to have subsisted principally upon the sale of his German hymnbook, and other devotional works, for which he was a colporteur.' Weary of piety, Lord Stanhope became a hired assassin. Perhaps this nonsense still has its believers, seduced by 'Lady Caroline Albersdorf, née Lady Graham,' by Lord Daniel Alban Durteal, and by the spirit of Kaspar himself, who, summoned by Daniel Dunglas Home, at a séance with the Empress Eugénie, apparently, announced himself as Prince of Baden. No authority for this interesting ghost of one who disbelieved in ghosts is given.
It is quite possible that Kaspar Hauser no more knew who he was than the valet of 1669-1703 knew why he was a prisoner, no more than Mr. Browne, when a dealer in 'notions,' knew that he was Mr. Bourne, a dissenting preacher. Nothing is certain, except that Kaspar was an hysterical humbug, whom people of sense suspected from the first, and whom believers in animal magnetism and homoeopathy accepted as some great one, educated by his Royal enemies in total darkness--to fit him for the military profession.
It is difficult, of course, to account for the impossibility of finding whence Kaspar had come to Nuremberg. But, in 1887, it proved just as impossible to discover whither the Rev. Ansel Bourne had gone. Mr. Bourne's lot was cast, not in the sleepy Royalist Bavaria of 1828, but in the midst of the admired 'hustle' of the great Western Republic. He was one of the most remarkable men in the country, not a yokel of sixteen. He was last seen at his nephew's store, 121 Broad Street, Providence, R.I., on January 17. On January 20, the hue and cry arose in the able and energetic press of his State. Mr. Bourne, as a travelling evangelist, was widely known, but, after a fortnight unaccounted for, he arrived, as A.J. Browne, at Norristown, Pa., sold notions there, and held forth with acceptance at religious meetings. On March 14 he awoke, still undiscovered, and wondered where he was. He remembered nothing since January 17, so he wired to Providence, R.I., for information. He had a whole fortnight to account for, between his departure from Providence, R.I., and his arrival at Norristown, Pa. Nobody could help him, he had apparently walked invisible, like Kaspar on his way to Nuremberg. He was hypnotised by Professor William James, and brought into his Browne condition, but could give practically no verifiable account of Browne's behaviour in that missing fortnight. He said that he went from Providence to Pawtucket, and was for some days at Philadelphia, Pa., where he really seems to have been; as to the rest 'back of that it was mixed up.' We do not hear that Kaspar was ever hypnotised and questioned, but probably he also would have been 'mixed up,' like Mr. Bourne.
The fable about a Prince of Baden had not a single shred of evidence in its favour. It is true that the Grand Duchess was too ill to be permitted to see her dead baby, in 1812, but the baby's father, grandmother, and aunt, with the ten Court physicians, the nurses and others, must have seen it, in death, and it is too absurd to suppose, on no authority, that they were all parties to the White Lady's plot. We might as well believe, as Miss Evans seems to do, on the authority of an unnamed Paris newspaper, that a Latin letter, complaining of imprisonment, was picked up in the Rhine, signed 'S. Haues Spraucio,' that the words ought to be read 'Hares Sprauka,' and that they are an anagram of Kaspar Hauser. This occurred in 1816, when Kaspar, being about four years of age, could not write Latin. No one in the secret could have hoped that the Royal infant and captive would be recognised under the name of Spraucio or even of Sprauka. Abject credulity, love of mystery, love of scandal, and political passions, produced the ludicrous mass of fables to which, as late as 1893, the Duchess of Cleveland thought it advisable to reply. In England it is quite safe to accuse a dead man of murder, or of what you please, as far as the Duchess understood the law of libel, so she had no legal remedy.
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