I paid my shilling and was shown into a large room, half filled with boxes and lumber, and badly lighted with lamps. In the centre was a box on a table, looking like a rough piano without legs and having two key-boards. This was surmounted by a half-length weird figure, rather bigger than a full-grown man, with an automaton head and face looking more mysteriously vacant than such faceslook. Its mouth was large, and opened like the eyes of Gorgibuster in the pantomime, disclosing artificial gums, teeth, and all the organs of speech. There was no lecturer, no lecture, no music - none of the usual adjuncts of a show. The exhibitor, Professor Faber, was a sad-faced man, dressed in respectable well-worn clothes that were soiled by contact with tools, wood, and machinery. The room looked like a laboratory and workshop, which it was. The Professor was not too clean, and his hair and beard sadly wanted the attention of a barber. I have no doubt that he slept in the same room as his figure - his scientific Frankenstein monster - and I felt the secret influence of an idea that the two were destined to live and die together. The Professor, with a slight German accent, put his wonderful toy in motion. He explained its action: it was not necessary to prove the absence of deception. One keyboard, touched by the Professor, produced words which. slowly and deliberately in a hoarse sepulchral voice came from the mouth of the figure, as if from the depths of a tomb. It wanted little imagination to make the very few visitors believe that the figure contained an imprisoned human - or half human - being, bound to speak slowly when tormented by the unseen power outside. No one thought for a moment that they were being fooled by a second edition of the "Invisible Girl" fraud. There were truth, laborious invention, and good faith, in every part of the melancholy room. As a crowning display, the head sang a sepulchral version of "God save the Queen," which suggested inevitably, God save the inventor. This extraordinary effect was achieved by the Professor working two keyboards - one for the words, and one for the music. Never probably, before or since, has the National Anthem been so sung. Sadder and wiser, I, and the few visitors, crept slowly from the place, leaving the professor with his one and only treasure - his child of infinite labour and unmeasurable sorrow.

John Hollingshead, My Lifetime, 2 Vols (London: Sampson, Low, Marston & Co., 1895), Vol 1, pp. 67-9.

Compiled by Steven Connor. as part of The Dumbstruck Archive, a continuing, online supplement to Dumbstruck: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).