Cornhill Magazine,  5 (1862), 634–40.

Roundabout Papers.—No. XX. The Notch on the Axe.—A Story À La Mode. Part II  [2/3]

[William M Thackeray]


Regular Feature, Editorial—Short Fiction, Drollery, Serial


Spiritualism, Supernaturalism, Mesmerism

    While drinking several bottles of port-wine at the 'Gray's-inn Coffee-house' (635), the 'ill-looking rascal' the Count de Pinto tells the narrator of his love for his deceased grandmother (634). During the conversation Pinto 'pulled up his coat-sleeve' to reveal 'the very name of the kind old creature written in red on his arm' (a séance trick used by Charles H Foster). The dead woman then communicated with them by 'three quiet little taps on the table', and when asked if they may have another magnum of port-wine 'the table distinctly rapped "No"'. The narrator tells the reader 'this I declare upon my honour', and states, 'I appeal to Mr. Hart, the landlord—I appeal to James, the respectful and intelligent waiter, if this statement is not true?', although he later concedes that the 'room happened to be very dark'. (637) He also tells how, when Pinto had to write him a cheque, 'I saw a hand come quivering down from the ceiling [...]. I saw that hand take a dip of ink and write across the paper'. He then asserts, 'Does anybody doubt me? I have that pen now. [...] It is in my inkstand now, I tell you. Anybody may see it'. (638) In addition, the seemingly immortal Pinto relates how, when living in revolutionary Paris, he performed 'some chemical experiments [...] with my friend Dr. Mesmer' (640).


Thackeray 1863

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