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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 38

New York Correspondence. — Wonders of the Audiphone

page 23

New York Correspondence.

Wonders of the Audiphone.

Interesting Experiments in New York—The Deaf Made to Hear—Sensations of a Young Lady Who Heard Her Voice for the First Time.

New York, November 26.—An interesting exhibition of the Audiphone was given in this city last Friday afternoon, under the auspices of the inventor, Mr. Richard S. Rhodes, of Chicago, in the handsome parlors rented by Caswell & Hazard, who have taken the agency for this country.

The audience was a very stylish one, and beside a number of society people, who are scientific to a fashionable extent, included a number of notabilities, the most interesting of whom was the honored old man, Peter Cooper, who entered the room with the inevitable air-cushion in hand, and installed in a large easy chair, with a number of charming young women hovering about, anxious to contribute to his comfort, sat seeming unconcerned of the attention he attracted.

Never was there a man upon whose face and bearing, riches and power had left so little impress. With his kindly benevolent face, wrinkled with age, stamped with thought, and framed in white hair, long and a little wavy; his gentle, considerate manners and quiet thankfulness, not pride in his green old age, make an impression on the mind not easily, effaced. As he came through the door he was met by Henry Bergh, whose giant height and strong, resolute face, render him conspicuous anywhere.

The friends of mankind and animal kind shook hands and beamed at each other. They met on ground of mutual admiration, and both alike devote their time and their wealth to doing the work that seems to them most needed.

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Dr. George M. Beard, the scientist, keen-eyed, keen-eared, keen-nosed, was there, ready to detect fault or flaw at a second's notice; Frank B. Carpenter, the artist, who, since the Beecher trial, has been called "the man with the dark, mysterious eyes," sat looking on with interest, and next to him was seated the father of the inventor, George A. Rhodes, a pleasant-faced old gentleman, who told me that he had just been visiting his live sisters, all old ladies, and living in Rhode Island.

Mr. Rhodes was introduced by Dr. Beard in a few well-chosen remarks, and he then gave a brief history of the invention, the years and thought he had given it, the experiments made with different woods, metals, and compositions, before he hit upon the carbonized rubber, which, cut in the shape of a Japanese fan and regulated by cords, is the wonderful instrument that makes the deaf hear, the dumb speak, and an exhibition of it a foretaste of the day of judgment.

Mr. Rhodes added that the principle of the invention was suggested to him by noticing the distinctness with which he could hear a watch held between his teeth tick, when applying it to his ear he heard nothing.

At the conclusion of his remarks the scholars of the Deaf and Dumb Institute were led out and the invention was more severely tested than it had ever been before.

One sweet-faced girl of sixteen, born deaf and dumb, was brought forward, and the instrument adjusted between two rows of as pearly teeth as can be found. Mr. Rhodes then called out, "A." Instantly a strange look—half fear, half delight—appeared on the girl's countenance, and, in response to a question, she answered with her nimble fingers that she heard, but did not know what, being unable to connect the sound with her figures of speech. This was explained, and the inventor called B. Again she assented; C, the same, and after being told once she really distin- page 25 guished the letters, even blindfolded. She was then requested to articulate, that she might hear the sound of her own voice, which had never fallen upon her ear. At first she refused, saying, in her own language, she was afraid, not knowing what noise might come. Being gently encouraged, but with cheeks burning red with excitement, she at last opened her mouth, and the most pathetic wail, like of a soul in anguish, burst from her lips. Several of the audience were so affected that tears fell from their eyes; as to the girl, she turned white and shivered, saying, with her little hands:

"Was that really I? Tell me the truth; did I make that strange noise?"

When assured that she did, and could learn to speak like others, her joy was extreme.

Mr. Rhodes was warmly congratulated by the company, and Mr. Cooper spoke of his invention as a blessing and a godsend to the afflicted. Before dispersing refreshments were served, and, highly gratified with the exhibition, the audience dispersed. * * *