A New Calculating Boy.
In the Baranyer district of the Kingdom of Hungary lies a little town called Fuufkirchen. In this place a grocery and general store is to Ik; found belonging to a cmT/i'viu Jacob Blanhorn. One afternoon, about a year and a half ago, a little boy appeared at the counter, asking slyly for a farthing’s worth of barley sugar. The shopman happened to have his hands full at the time, and paid but scanty attention to the modest application. An order of uncommon magnitude had just been given out for the marriage of the local b liliif, and a sum as long as his big servant’s arm of all kind of foreign and colonial products had to be added up. This array of sugar and spice and other things nice possessed, however, small charms for our li bole four-and-a-half year old, who had by this time requested three tinu s vainly to be served. The barefooted customer stood fingering his kronicer, retorting with a vein of unconscious precocious sarcasm—“ If it was only the reckoning that stood in the way, so that I could come to my own matter, I would soon tell you how much it makes; it is just 200 gulden and 20 kreutzer.” “ Bassama teromtete !” burst forth the Hungarian clerk, “ does the urchin mean to best us like that; cut with you, and be quick about, too.” The assistant was about to suit the action to the word, and had stretched out a hand to seize the small child by the collar, when Herr Blanhorn cried “ Halt !” Stepping out of his private door, he peered curiously at this strange new customer. “ Just cast up the figures,” he said to the apprentice, “ it seems to me as if the boy was right—the mischief only knows how he lias come by it.” Grumbling at the interruption, the storeman returned to his desk, while little Moritz had the unwonted honor of being served by the principal himself. He was just walking : away, biting a bit off the candy, when the assistant called out, “ Yes, he has hit it exactly.” “Boy, how did you reckon this ?” inquired the puzzled pair in the same breath. “Just did it in my head,” was the careless answer, as the little fellow toddled away out into the street. “ That lad will do more than eat sweeties,” gasped the grocer’s young man, while his master, who plumed himself on having come into the world with a better knowledge of two and two than most of his follows in the trade, shook his grey hairs, muttering to himself, “ That’s a miracle child ; if only old Frankl knows how his Moritz can handle figures !” Papa Frankl, in truth, knew nothing of his offspring’s wondrons gift, and would hardly believe it when told. The child was summoned, and an examination began, and it turned out quite as had been reported. All Funfkirchen knew of it the same day, and the whole town was full of the prodigy—a child that could neither read nor write, but yet had such powers of calculation. The educational authority of the place took the matter up, and sifted the story, finding . things had not been exaggerated. The uncles and aunts thereupon pressed hither Frankl to send the child out into the world. The first public performance of his powers was given in Pesth, and others followed in Graz and Presburg. At Breslau the des-cribe;-of this sketch saw the youthful prodigy. He confesses that opinion generally was sceptical as to the genuineness oi the child’s talent. Might not the whole affair be a cleverly contrived humbug ? But the proceedings soon dismissed all possibility of deception. A board was placed over the orchestra, and just before the first row of stalls a table and chair were set for the performer ; his teacher stood behind on the stage near a black board, ready with chalk to work out the sums that might be put to the child as a check on his answer!. In the; meantime his mentor gave a short sketch of his history, how that he was bom on. the 22nd of October, 1873, and had without any teaching, without even knowing the signs of different figures, but merely operating through the sense of number, arrived at adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing amounts of six to nine figures; extracting the square and cube roots of six and eight rows, and raising numbers to the third, fourth, and even fifth power. This little ready reckoner after making his bow, began by asking the audience to set him a sum. A prominent magnate of the Exchange happened to be present in a front box, and called out, “ I am 45 years old to-day ; how many seconds have I lived ?” Immediately the reply came back, the tutor following on the blackboard in the space of about two minutes. When the number proved to be the same loud applause broke out. The other questions, to the number of six, wereanswered with the same ease and rapidity. In the algebraic sums without the use of signs or formula;, the figures often running into billions, caused the performer some difficulty ; at times he would correct himself, and ask to have the last number repeated. Moritz Frankl went through this collossal brain-work without the least apparent effort; his manner was quiet and cheerful. Generally he counted half aloud, a,nd only rarely closed his eyes. The demonstrations of interest in nis favor only excited, a pleased smile, and a response of a hand kiss, withr 1 out any artificial character about it. There i was-no fear of injury to this little body becoming ns it were electrified by the tension of the brain. On the contrary the boy had the appearance of being perfectly passive throughout all’ this cerebral action ; and his teacher confirmed this by assuring apprehensive persona that after such a performance he would go and play; with other children, take a good supper, and sleep quietly till morning. The writer of this account in the Leipzig“lllustrirte Zeitung,” to which is appended a charming portrait of the infant wonder, states that he made a private examination of the boy, and found him in other reaped s not beyond his years. Of a simple and happy disposition, he shows no sign of being spoiled by early notoriety. In eleven months he has grown 10 centimetres (nearly four inches), and increased 24 kilogrammes (541 b.) What may be the future of Moritz" Frankl no one can as yet predict.—Paris correspondent of “ Leeds Mercury. ”
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 29, 2 December 1879
A New Calculating Boy. Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 29, 2 December 1879
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