The Great Wizard of the North, August 1841

In among other great tricks and `delusions', including The Animated Oranges, the Dissolving Rabbit and the Flying Guinea Pig; a playbill for Professor Anderson, the 'Wizard of the North', August 1841, promised:
The Inanimate Endowed With Speech!

Has anything but Mankind been known to speak? Yes: a Quanary [sic] was known some time ago to distinctly articulate one or two words. Dogs have been known to articulate a word, though indistinctly. The Americans tell (and would have us believe) that even Oysters have been endowed with Instinct (?) [sic] The Wizard's next Delusion will throw all these wondrous Phenomena into oblivion; for by his mighty power he will make things inanimate not only speak, but to hold a Conversation! That this scarcely can be credited is, without doubt, the general belief; but "practice and ocular demonstration" is the Wizard's motto. He will borrow from two Gentlemen, from each Half-a-Crown, which he will cause to speak, to hold conversation, the describe the suit and number of cards, tell what sum of money any Gentleman has in his pocket, and the hour and minute by any Lady's watch. To describe the effects of this extraordinary Delusion would be to rob the Spectator of the great pleasure invariably experienced in witnessing this incredible feat - suffice it to state that the Half-Crowns will dance "à la Taglioni," beating the time, piano and forte, with utmost precision. 

British Library, Adelphi Theatre Playbills, 1821-41, f.79 


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).