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Title: The Divining Rod - Virgula Divina—Baculus Divinatorius (Water-Witching)
Author: Latimer, Charles
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's Note: Minor typographical errors have been corrected
without note. Irregularities and inconsistencies in the text have
been retained as printed. Words printed in italics are noted with
underscores: _italics_.




"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are
dreamt of in your philosophy."--_Shakespeare._


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1876, by
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.

AT CHICAGO, FEB. 1, 1875.


My Essay on the "Divining Rod," (_vulgus_, "Water-Witching,") having
proved interesting to a number of my friends, I have concluded to give
it to the public, with the hope that some useful practical results may
be derived from it. I have no apology to make for presenting this
subject in a serious light. I regard it as one strictly in the domain
of science, and, therefore, worthy of the consideration of scientific
men. I have no fear of ridicule, knowing for myself and "not for
another," that what is here presented is the truth.

To those who seek absolute truth, I need not recommend a reading of
these pages. To those who merely live by science, drawing their
sustenance from it as from the "convenient cow," as Goethe says, I
will simply say, imprison yourselves, gentlemen, in your shell; the
world will move quite as well without you.

I add a number of notes from various sources to which I had not access
before writing my own experience.



I have always observed that when any novelty is presented for the
consideration of man, which is not readily proven by already well
known scientific laws, or which may not be demonstrated by the
knowledge and power of most persons, it is found extremely difficult,
if not impossible, to gain the attention of the devotee of science.
Whether, indeed, it be from lack of interest, from incredulity, or
from the fear of ridicule, or from any other cause, we look with
distrust upon anything which is not in harmony with our preconceived
ideas or theories, and we are apt to raise the cry of humbug or
superstition, and reject, with a contemptuous assumption of
superiority as unbelievers, propositions which properly put to the
test might prove of value to mankind.

Happily for us a wise Providence has not ordained that all minds shall
plough in a single furrow of the great field of knowledge. Some,
therefore, believe nothing but what they see, and frequently doubt the
evidence of their own senses. Others believe everything they see and
nearly everything they hear, and seize with too great credulity upon
every new thing presented to them. There are others who disbelieve
nothing that is presented to them, however apocryphal, without full
and impartial investigation, aided not by testimony alone, but by
actual demonstration. Again, there are men who are afraid to
investigate, lest the world should call them visionary; these are
always prepared to apologize for examining anything outside the mere
routine of their special science. But the most frequent error of
mankind is to doubt and ridicule, without investigation, everything
which is not commonly received. To such I would cite the pungent words
of Solomon: "He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is a
folly and a shame unto him."

I feel that I am speaking to those, who always listen with interest to
every proposition, and are willing to examine it, until its
demonstration is clear and its hidden mysteries revealed, and never
pronounce anything a superstition or an imposture, until from patient
research they have a right, through their own experimental knowledge,
to utter a verdict. But, lest there should be among us one of these
doubting Thomases or disbelieving cynics, I would appeal to him with
the history of the two Spanish students. These two young gentlemen,
while traveling from Peñaflor to Salamanca, stopped at a spring to
quench their thirst, and whilst seated upon the ground near the
fountain observed something like a tombstone, level with the water;
engraven on the stone were these words: "Here lies interred the soul
of Pedro Garcia." The youngest of the students, a thoughtless fellow,
said, laughing loudly: "What a joke. Here lies interred the soul! Who
ever heard of a soul being buried? who can tell me the author of so
ridiculous an epitaph?" The other, a reflective, judicious youth, said
to himself: "There is some mystery here, and I intend to solve it
before I leave this spot." Letting his companion depart, without
losing a moment's time he took out his knife, cut around the stone,
dug under it a little, and there found buried a purse containing one
hundred ducats, with these words in Latin inscribed upon it: "I
declare thee my heir, whomsoe'er thou art, who hast had the genius to
understand the meaning of the inscription; but I charge thee to use
this money better than I used it."

Now to the point. The subject to which I am about to call your
attention--that of finding water by means of the "divining rod"--is
one of those which in modern times is classed among mere
superstitions, and as such unworthy of serious consideration by
sensible people. I think I have it in my power to demonstrate to you,
principally from my own personal experiences--the relation of which I
beg you to accept as strictly accurate--that this is an error on the
part of the over-wise skeptics of our progressive epoch.

Worcester's dictionary gives the following definition of the "divining
rod:--A forked branch, usually of hazel, said to be useful to discern
mines and water." "Witch-hazel--a tall shrub of eastern North America,
remarkable for blossoming late in the autumn."

Another authority gives the following: "Divining rod--A hazel twig cut
in the form of a Y, by the aid of which certain persons (meaning, of
course, sorcerers like myself,) called '_scientific_,' pretend to be
able to discover water or mineral veins. The rod is held in a peculiar
manner, and the 'dowsers' walk backward and forward over the ground to
be tried. As soon as he crosses or approaches a metallic vein or
aqueous spring the twig turns toward it with a slow, rotary motion.
This superstition has not yet died out, and 'dowsers' are yet common
in remote parts of England, France and Germany."

Now, one can easily see that this writer is one of those who apologize
for seeming to believe a thing of the kind by calling it "a
superstition not yet died out."

Here is another definition: "Divining rod--A forked branch, usually of
hazel, by which it has been pretended that minerals and water may be
discovered in the earth. The rod, if slowly carried along in
suspension, dipping and pointing downwards, it is affirmed when
brought over the spot, where the concealed mine or spring is

The form, the material and the mode of using the divining rod of the
modern miners and water finders seem to be superstitions of
comparative recent introduction. Many persons with some pretensions to
science have been believers in the powers ascribed to the "divining

Here we have another case of the apologetic historian. He dared not
say that he believed it, even though he had seen it. Why? Simply
because there was no scientific fact or theory upon which he could
base his belief--so he was afraid even to say what he believed, lest
people who read his encyclopedia might say he was visionary.

I read somewhere, a long time ago, that this superstition was also
rife in the eleventh century. Now, like the young students above
cited, some one among you may exclaim, "Who will inform me who can be
the author of this ridiculous superstition?" I wish I could tell you;
I am sorry I can not, but I should not wonder if he lived before the
days of Moses, the first "dowser" on record. When oil was discovered
in this country many of us believed that there was at last "something
new under the sun.' We have only to turn to the Scriptures to learn
that Job was in the oil and dairy business a few thousand years before
Oil City sprung up under our wondering eyes. Job has always been
supposed to refer to some great miracle when he says, in the 29th
chapter of his book, "I washed my steps with butter and the rock
poured me out rivers of oil; the young men saw me and hid themselves."
Also, in Deuteronomy, we read, chapter 32, verse 13, "And he made him
to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock." Now,
we have these marvels repeating themselves daily; and I think it no
very far-fetched idea to assume that the "divining rod" was used in
the discovery of these precious deposits. I am myself acquainted with
a gentleman who has lately successfully located two oil wells by this
magic (so-called) process.

In fact, who knows but that the first knowledge of the "divining rod"
was a revelation, and that Moses not only understood the art, but
taught it to the Children of Israel, from whence the supposed
superstition has spread.

When Moses found the water at Meribeh-Rephidim and Meribeh-Kadesh, in
the wilderness of Zin, he had received the Almighty's command: "Go
before the people and take with thee the elders of Israel, and thy rod
wherewith thou smotest the river; take it in thine hand and go.
Behold, I will stand before thee upon the rock in Horeb, and thou
shalt smite the rock, and then shall come water out of it, that the
people may drink; and Moses did so in the sight of the elders of

In the 20th chapter of Numbers we read of a similar miracle occurring
three years afterward--"And Moses took the rod from before the Lord as
he commanded him, and said, Hear, now, ye rebels, must we fetch water
out of this rock. And Moses lifted up his hand and with his rod smote
the rock twice, and the water came out abundantly and the congregation
drank and their beasts also."

Now in the 21st chapter of Numbers we find these verses: "And from
thence they went to Beer, that is, the well whereof the Lord spake
unto Moses. Gather the people together and I will give them water.
Then sang Israel this song--Spring up, O, well! sing ye unto it. The
princes digged the well, the nobles of the people digged it, by the
direction of the lawgiver, with their staves." This shows that the
lawgiver pointed out the places for them to dig, and the people made
the wells.

There is nothing like faithful searching if you wish to find; so I
advise you to look back also as far as Confucius, and then come down
to the old monk, Roger Bacon, and it would not surprise me if you
should ascertain that those old wise-heads had gone even farther than
your humble servant into the mysteries of the divining rod.

But I will not quote from these ancients; I will only look back a
short hundred years. In Sir David Brewster's Philosophy you will find
that he says that there is no doubt that the presence of water can be
detected by the divining rod, although it can not be demonstrated by
any known science. It was this last paragraph which I stumbled upon
many years ago, that first brought me to a practical knowledge of this
phenomenon. I read it, and being on a visit in Raymond, Miss., I went
to Judge ----, of that place, a scholar and a man of good sense, whom
I took for granted had not failed to gather in, among his great stores
of learning, something about the topic which had struck me so
forcibly. I was not mistaken; the old gentleman told me that he had
not only heard a good deal about this matter, but possessed, himself,
the power of finding water, offering to show me how he proceeded. Soon
after we went, accompanied by my brother, Dr. L., to a spot where
there was a well known under-ground stream. The Judge cut three forked
branches from a peach tree, each took one and we marched over the spot
indicated, holding our rods according to the approved style of the
"dowser" proper. At a certain point the switches in the hands of the
Judge and myself went down simultaneously; the effect was very
apparent; but my brother, in whose hands there was no movement,
mercilessly ridiculed the whole proceeding; neither the Judge nor
I being at all disconcerted by his skeptical derision of our
_scientific_ research. I could not be shaken from faith in my actual,
absolute experience, and was fully convinced that there was a
mysterious power, beyond my ken, that turned the switch. I pondered
over the matter, and resolved that at some future day I would examine
more closely into it.

This, to me, decisive epoch finally came after a great number of
trials, always with satisfactory results as to the bare fact that
water could be traced or discovered. That the switch did turn in my
hand readily was undoubtedly true--the agency which moved it was the

I knew that electricity had broad shoulders, and had always carried
the weight of every unexplained phenomenon. I said this switch turns
by electric force. Having evolved my theory, I set out to sustain it,
by experiment. Upon inquiry, I found that not only could water be
discovered, but it was asserted that minerals as readily answered to
the call of the magic rod; and, indeed, that even their depth beneath
the earth's surface might be computed.

Granting this to be true, I concluded that I had not only a
philosophical but a mathematical problem to solve. I, however, never
met any one having any information on this latter point, nor in my
readings did I find any allusion to the possibility of ascertaining
the depth below the surface of any concealed stream or mineral. On the
contrary, I found the general impression to be that the whole thing
was a superstition of ignorant minds. The doubters frequently met me,
and with some show of reason, with this personal argument: "I cannot
believe this thing, because the switch does not turn in my hand." It
is quite true that every hand does not have the power of giving the
motion to the switch; but this does not disprove the fact of its
turning. I have heard that the evidence of one man who heard a bell is
worth that of a dozen who did not hear it. The testimony is,
therefore, to my mind, clearly in favor of the "dowsers." All men are
not the same conductors of electricity. I have known persons who could
light the gas by running across the floor, rubbing their feet upon the
carpet, and pointing a finger at the jet. I never saw this done, but I
have no doubt that there are many who can do it, and also many who

Now, although the switch may not turn in the hands of all, this is no
proof that the current producing the movement does not pass through
the persons just the same--the effect is only less perceptible in
some, than in others.

I had made a very large number of experiments, from time to time,
before I had an opportunity to make one which satisfied me that I was
on the right track. I had in these experiments exploded the
superstition of the "witch-hazel," and learned that peach, apple,
willow, dog-wood, beech, maple, iron, steel, copper--in fact, that
even an old barrel hoop possessed all of its virtues, and so concluded
that after all this relic of the necromancer's art of former days was
a very simple matter, if we could but find the clue to it. A few years
ago it happened that I wanted to get water at a place called Coloma,
upon the Chicago, Michigan & Lake Shore Railroad, of which I was then
chief engineer. I concluded to test my electric theory here. I found
that it was necessary to dig a well upon the depot grounds--the point
was to see if I could find water where I needed a tank. I took a
switch and found water near the desired spot; then, with my theory in
view, I made a second experiment. I bought four ink bottles, adjusted
them to a pair of wooden sandals, which I fastened to my feet. Thus
insulated, I walked over the ground, my switch in hand, but, as I had
anticipated, there was no movement--the diviner's rod was powerless. I
therefore assume that I am right in ascribing the phenomenon to
electricity. I continued my experiments, having yet the mathematical
point unsettled. Upon walking over the ground again and again, I found
that the switch commenced always to turn at the same places, equally
(or nearly) distant from a centre, and kept gradually turning until it
pointed directly downward. To assure myself, I repeated this
experiment many times, and arrived at the conclusion that the switch
commenced to turn at an angle of forty-five degrees from the edge of
the water, and that the distance from my hand to the water would be
measured by the distance from the point where the switch commenced to
turn to the point of absolute turn-down, and so it seems to be. The
following diagram will show more clearly my meaning:

A B, B A is the surface of the earth; W, a stream or pool of water
below the surface. Walking along toward A B the switch begins to move
at A, and turns down at B; the angles B A C and B C A being equal, the
distance from A to B is equal to B C. Measure the distance, therefore,
from the point of commencement of turning to the point of turn-down,
and you have the depth from your hand to the water. I have verified
this over many water-courses, upon bridges, etc., and I am satisfied
it is correct, at least for the latitude in which my experiments were
made. Upon this basis I made my first estimate of the depth of the
water at Coloma, and gave it as from twenty-five to thirty feet. I
employed an experienced well borer and had a two and one-half inch
pipe driven into the ground at the exact point my switch indicated,
and found water at twenty-seven feet exactly. I had the pipe driven
down forty feet, and found that I had thirteen feet of water in it. I
then had a windmill erected and a large tank. Up to the time of my
leaving the road, the engines were supplied with the water, which,
besides, proved to be of excellent quality for drinking.

My well borer, who was a doubting Thomas, said he believed that he
could get water at the same depth anywhere. Fortunately for my theory,
a neighboring store-keeper tried the doubter and failed to get water
under fifty-nine feet.

Subsequent to the satisfactory experiment at Coloma it happened that
on one occasion, when I was traveling west on the Hannibal & St.
Joseph Railroad, that I was introduced to a gentleman engaged in
building a road, who related to me that during its construction the
engineers had made use of drive wells as they moved rapidly along. As
the water question was always one of interest to me, our conversation
drifted, naturally, to "water-witching." The gentleman said that all
of his knowledge on this subject had been obtained from his brother--a
young man employed by Horace Greeley on his farm at Chappaqua. Mr.
Greeley had sent for him from hearing of him as extremely intelligent
and thrifty as a farm hand. It happened while the young man was at
Chappaqua that a well was needed, and the question of "water-witching"
came up. The young man said that his belief was, that if one man could
find water, so could another--whereupon he took a forked switch and,
walking about, found that the magic wand turned down over a rock. He
had a blast of powder put in at the point, the smoke of which hardly
cleared away, revealed a spring of water. Here is simply a repetition
of the smiting of the rock. In my own experience I have a similar
instance: I was assistant superintendent at Highlands, on the Vandalia
line. Mr. ----, then chief engineer, had, previous to my arrival,
caused a well of ten feet diameter and forty feet depth to be dug and
walled up with brick, but the supply of water was so small that it
could be pumped out in a few minutes. A hole had then been drilled
sixteen feet to the rock, which was conglomerate, of very great
hardness, with no better results. The well was therefore abandoned. If
I had seen Mr. ----, I should have advised penetrating the rock, but I
did not meet him, and did not wish to interfere with the work.

Mr. Koepfle, the owner of the land upon which the well was located,
arrived just at that time from Switzerland, and I soon became
acquainted with him. He came into my office one day and said: "Mr.
Latimer, do you not think there is water under that ground?" I
replied, "Yes, I thought so." "Did you ever hear of 'water-witching?'"
he then asked. I said "Yes." "Can you tell where water is?" Upon my
affirmative answer he requested me to go down and try a switch. I did
so and found that it turned down in a number of places about the well.
Mr. Koepfle came to me again to say that there was a "dowser" in the
neighborhood and to ask me what I thought of his employing him. I
advised him to try the skill of this man by all means. I was not
present at the trial, but a short time afterward Mr. K. came to me in
great excitement to tell me that the man said there was a subterranean
lake at that very point. Among other things, he told me that the wand
in this case was a bit of whalebone--an item I treasured for future
consideration. Mr. ---- had already commenced another well in a marsh
about half a mile west of the first. Mr. Koepfle asked my advice as to
what he should do. I replied, "I cannot take any action in the matter
officially, but if you will take it upon yourself to bore through that
rock and pay the expense of it, I think that no objection can be made
to it, and I believe that you will get plenty of water--in which case,
I am sure you will not lose your money." "But where can I get a man?"
urged Mr. Koepfle. "Try Mr. ----'s man. I think Mr. ---- will be glad
to get rid of the expense," I said. Mr. K. came soon after with the
man and agreed, by my advice, to give him $7.50 per day for his own
work and that of his man with the drills. In five days the rock was
smitten through with a three-inch drill, and the water immediately
rushed up to a point above the natural surface of the ground, only
held by the railroad bank--which surrounded the well--and there
remained. I am not aware that Mr. ---- ever knew that his excellent
well water was provided for him by the magic power of a morsel of
whalebone and a peach twig.

Upon one occasion, at a farm of one of my connections, the water gave
out in the well, (seventeen feet deep,) which had for years supplied a
large number of cattle. In the first place I ordered the well to be
cleaned out, for it was very dirty; but there was no improvement. It
was then decided to dig another. I found a place about ten feet north
of the old well, where I judged there was a small stream, and
repeatedly estimated the depth to it by my rule, and came to the
conclusion that it was between ten and twelve feet. I was rather
astonished at this, for the water, it may be observed, was seventeen
feet deep in the old well. However the well was begun. I asked the
digger at what depth water ought to be found; he said at seventeen
feet; but I made this a test case, and said, "You will find water here
between ten and twelve feet, but if I should have to say precisely, I
should say at ten feet." Water was found at exactly ten feet, and
stood at that point after the well was finished.

A peculiar test occurred at Toulon, Illinois. I was talking on the
subject with a friend, a lawyer of that place, one dark night at about
nine o'clock. He asked, "Can you tell how deep it is to the water in
the well in this hotel yard?" I answered at once, "Yes," but said, "it
is rather dark, and I know nothing about the yard or the position of
the well." However I went out and started at the kitchen door, only
asking upon which side of the house I should seek. I traced the stream
from the kitchen door, passing back and forth rapidly until I found
the well about forty feet from the kitchen and near the barn. When I
came to the well I said, "This stream passes five feet from the well
and does not go directly into it." I then made some examination with
the rod, and pronounced the depth to the water to be fourteen feet,
which was found by measurement to be correct. I will add, that I was
never before in the hotel yard, did not know where the well was
located, and the night was exceedingly dark. The next morning, while
paying my bill, the landlord said, "You probably do not know how close
was your calculation last night. I had that well dug myself, and we
went down forty feet without finding water. Before giving it up the
digger had himself lowered into the well, listening as he went to hear
the sound of some stream. At fourteen feet he heard water, and boring
in laterally five feet, where you said the stream was, he found a
plentiful supply, filling the well with twenty-three feet of water."

Another experience. One day at Wyoming, Ill., a friend said to me, "I
must introduce you to our 'water-witch,'" who proved to be a gentleman
named ----, a banker of the place. After some conversation with him,
we agreed to try an experiment together and compare experiences
generally. I asked first, "What do you use?" "Willow, hazel or
peach--perhaps any green twig would do as well; but I only employ
those three." "What would you say to an old barrel hoop?" I asked.
"Oh, that would not do at all; there must be sap in the wood." We each
took our rod and went forth, I holding mine in my hands, whilst my
companion held one end of his in his teeth, the other in both hands. I
asked what he meant by that mode of holding the switch. He replied,
"That is my way; there is no chance for presumption or pretence in it;
some persons can make the switch turn and be deceived." I observed
that our switches moved at the same moment, mine turning down, his
sidewise; but in every case we agreed, and thus traced a number of
streams. I tried his plan, but it would not answer, while his switch
moved held in either way. In discussing the matter, I asked his
theory, which he declined to give, but which I divined by a question
he asked, viz: "Did you ever see a switch turn for stagnant water?" I
said, "Yes." "Well," he responded, "I never did, and the rod will not
turn over stagnant water for me." "Now," said I, "I understand your
theory; it is that the friction of running waters underground produces
an electric current which causes the switch to turn." He admitted that
I was right. "Now," I said, "I propose to explode two of your notions
at once. In the first place, let us get an old barrel hoop." I found
one, which we divided. I then went with him across the railroad track,
which at that place runs north and south. The rod turned down for both
of us at once; in this case he used the rod in his hand. "Now, you
see," I said, "that the rail represents stagnant water, and you find
that a dry twig or stick is as good as a green one." I then obtained a
piece of copper wire from the telegraph office and gave him. He walked
across the track with it in his mouth and hands, and in every case the
rod turned to the south for him. In finding water the rod always
turned for him in the direction the stream ran. I found he knew
nothing about estimating the depth beneath the surface. He remarked
that he had fancied that he knew much of the subject, but that a man
must "live and learn." I went with him to his bank, where we threw
down a rod of iron on the floor, and with our switches found the
movement to be the same at every trial. Again, we placed a silver coin
on the floor, with the same result--trying several times with his hand
on my arm. I told him that I meant to invent an instrument for finding
water and estimating its depth. A few months ago I received a letter
from him, asking after my proposed invention. This gentleman gave me a
curious confirmation of my experiment at Coloma. He related that a few
days previous a friend had been out with him to try if the switch
would turn in his hand. It did readily; but after dinner he found,
upon a second trial, that there was no movement. This mystery was soon
explained by the discovery that our neophyte was standing in his
India-rubber shoes.

Another important test I made at the Naval Academy, at Annapolis, a
few years ago. I went there to look at Sir David Thompson's
Electrometer, to ascertain if it could give me a clue to something
which might guide me in the invention of the instrument in question. I
could discover nothing from it, or from the most delicate
galvanometer. One of the professors, however, asked me to give them a
test. I called for a piece of iron wire, walked a few feet, put my
foot down and said "There is something immediately under here." The
board was taken up and disclosed the gas-pipe. I asked if they were
satisfied. "You are a man of quick perceptions and might have noticed
the direction of the pipe," was the answer. "Are you willing to be
blindfolded?" I consented and succeeded repeatedly in locating the
pipe, and what is more, in indicating other points of attraction to
the rod, where all said that my experiment had failed, but which
proved as full a confirmation of my theory as the lead pipe. These
points were those where the iron columns supporting the building
touched the ceiling underneath.

Upon one occasion, I visited Professor Henry, of the Smithsonian
Institute, and presented the subject to him. The professor took notes
in a book, and asked for a test. I gave him several by locating the
gas and water pipes. We then sat down and the professor remarked:
"This is all personal influence." Of course, the question is none the
less important or curious on this account, and I was a little nettled
at the summary disposal of the matter. I therefore replied: "Professor
Henry, you scientific men are always behindhand in discoveries,
because you will not investigate, and it is left to those not well
versed in the laws of science to ferret out mysteries and lay them
bare. I present you two things, Professor--first, I find, by
insulating myself that there is no motion of the rod, which proves
electricity; second, I show that the motion begins at a certain
point--an angle of forty-five degrees from the concealed water or
metal--and the rod turns down directly over it; thus physical science
and mathematics disprove your theory." I will say that my remarks
moved the professor, who then showed a very decided interest and asked
me to come and spend the following morning with him. Unfortunately, my
departure from the city deprived me of the proposed interview. I have
had many other experiences, but the relation of them would demand more
time than it is expedient to give to them at present. I would add that
I have observed in my experiments that the smallest underground stream
affects the rod in my hand in the same degree as the cataract of
Niagara itself, and that the presence of a stove, a bar of iron, or
any other metal--a water or gas pipe, causes it to turn with the same
movement as a large mineral deposit; but it is my belief that there is
a hidden mode of distinguishing between them all, outside of all
questions of personal influence. We know that in what we call the dark
age of the world, all unexplained phenomena were referred to personal
witchcraft. We, as yet, know little of the many phenomena of
electricity, and in the midst of our own intelligent population we
find, that, to very many, the working of the electric telegraph itself
is ascribed to superhuman agency. Only a few days ago an intelligent
telegraph operator and his wife, at Horican, thought the spirits were
communicating with him through the wires because they heard the air
"Home, Sweet Home" in their vibrations--not knowing that he was
receiving a musical message from the newly invented telephone, played
at Chicago, many miles distant.

I have desired to show that the use of the "divining rod" is at least
as old as the Mosaic dispensation; that the knowledge or tradition of
its use has been understood, to some extent, by certain "wise" men in
all ages, and that in the present age--one of inquiry and
research--many have a knowledge of it and make use of it to their own
advantage; that there is no superstition in the matter, but that it is
governed by fixed laws; that it requires only intelligent research and
earnest investigation to understand them thoroughly, and, finally, to
arrive at results of the greatest practical benefit to mankind.

When we understand that the earth is a great electric ball, giving and
receiving electricity with the nature of the conductors which
transport or absorb the various currents, we may arrive at more
comprehensive and correct theories about natural phenomena.

I picked up, a few days since, a periodical containing an admirable
article on the Electric Telegraph, describing most vividly the motion
of the currents, and I make use of the words of the writer to
illustrate how it is possible to bring this subject to a scientific

"The observer, whom we have supposed capable of seeing electricity,
would find that the whole surface of the earth, the atmosphere and
probably the fathomless space beyond, were teeming with manifestations
of the electric force. Every chemical process and every blow in nature
or in art evolves it. The great process of vegetation and the
reciprocal process of animal life all over the globe are accompanied
by it. As incessantly as the sun's rays pass around the earth, warming
every part in alternation with the cooling influences of night, great
currents or fluctuations of magnetic tension, which never cease their
play, circulate about the globe, and other apparently irregular
currents come and go according to laws not yet understood; while the
aurora borealis, flaming in the sky, indicates the measureless extent
of this wonderful power, the existence of which the world has but
begun to discover. Our observer would see that these great earth
currents infinitely transcend the little artificial currents which men
produce in their insulated wires, and that they constantly interfere
with the latter, attracting or driving them from their work, and
making them play truant, greatly to the vexation of the operators and
sometimes to the entire confusion of business. If a thunder-storm
passed across the country, he would see all the wires sparkling with
unusual excitement. When the rain fell and water, which is a
conductor, trickled along the wires and stood in drops upon the
insulators, he would see the electricity of the line deserting its
path and stealing off slyly, in greater or less quantities, over the
wet surface of the insulators or by the wet straws or kite strings
which sometimes hang across the line. Now and then he might see the
free electricity of the storm overleap the barriers and take
possession for the moment of some unguarded circuit, frightening
operators from their posts. Such an observer would realize what it is
difficult adequately to conceive, that electricity is, as has been
said, the hidden force in nature, and still remains, as far as man is
concerned, almost dormant. A high scientific authority has remarked,
in speaking of metals, that the abundance of any object in nature,
bears a proportion to its adaptation to the service of man. If this be
true in general, we may expect electricity will become, one day, a
familiar thing."

I conclude with a word from the wise and godly man I have before
cited: "Oh that mine enemy would write a book," cried Job. Of course,
he meant a book setting forth some new-fangled idea which he knew
would bring upon its author the whole army of cavilers. This my little
book or essay may bring upon me the same legions, grown mightier with
the centuries which have elapsed since Job's day. To them, I can only
reply, "Truth is mighty and will prevail."

                     *      *      *      *      *

_From Dr. Ashburner in Reichenbach's Dynamics of Magnetism._

However vulgar and absurd, because, perhaps, not severely exact to
habitually erroneous thinkers themselves, may appear much of the
knowledge floating among boors and peasants, a very remarkable proof
of the importance of some of it is seen in a singular, though rude
anticipation of a part of the most brilliant of Professor Faraday's
discoveries on magnetism and diamagnetism by means of an instrument,
the name of which has been sufficient to excite the contempt of some
so-styled _savans_ of repute. If knowledge be not in the range of the
thoughts of certain severe cogitators, it is then forsooth, no
knowledge at all. The unmerciful contempt which has been cast on the
_divining rod--virgula divina_ or _baguette divinatoire_--by certain
cultivators of science may be estimated by a reference to the earlier
editions of a translation by Dr. Hutton, of Montucla's improvement of
Ozanam's Mathematical Recreations, a book full of most interesting
matter.--In the last edition of that work, however, Dr. Hutton proved
himself to be, what he always was, a sincere lover of truth. Led into
error at an earlier period, he was open to inquiry, and became,
subsequently, convinced of facts, the existence of which he had at one
time doubted. My friend, Mr. Charles Hutton Gregory, lent me a copy of
the Speculum Anni for the year, 1828, in which he pointed out some
passages relating to this matter which I cannot avoid extracting here,
and premising a few observations on the instrument called the divining
rod, _virgula divina_, _baculus divinatorius_, _baguette divinatoire_.
This has been supposed to be a branch of a tree or shrub, necessarily
of a forked or letter V shape, by the assistance of which, certain
gifted persons were enabled to discover mines, springs of water
underground, hidden treasures, and to practice other occult doings.
This, with regard to shape, is just as vulgar an error as that which
supposes that a stick of any kind of wood, held in the hand, serves as
well as the hazel or white thorn, for the production of the phenomena.
In the counties of Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, the facts on this
subject are well known, and the practice of "dowsing," as it is
called, has been cultivated time out of mind. In France, the men of
scientific pursuit have for the most part ridiculed the use of the
baguette, notwithstanding abundant evidence in various parts of the
country being extant of the success which has attended the practice of
the _sourciers_. The Baron Von Reichenbach has established facts
regarding the emanation of lights from graves which are quite as
remarkable as the proofs of emanations taking place from metals or
from running water. Now that the Baron's researches and the concurrent
testimony of the cultivators of mesmeric science have established that
certain individuals are more susceptible of magnetic impressions than
others, it will not be pronounced impossible that subterraneous
running water may influence some persons and not others. In different
classes the sensitive powers are known to vary greatly as they do
indeed among those of the same species. "But," it has been asked,
"granting that emanations from subterraneous waters may powerfully
effect certain persons, what connection is there between this
impression and the motion or rotation of the hazel rod which is held
in the person's hand or laid over his fingers?" What! is it fact that
the hazel rod or white thorn moves or rotates in the hands of a person
of a certain impressionability, when that person passes over any
ground underneath his footsteps on which there happens to be a
metallic lode or a subterraneous stream of water which we call a
spring? I have been informed by highly respectable persons, who have
in the West of England, witnessed the facts, that under these
circumstances a hazel or a white thorn rod does rotate and does move
and occasionally dips with so energetic a force that on one occasion
the bark of a fresh hazel rod was stripped from the stick and left in
the grasp of the operator's hand.

The following extracts will further illustrate the subject: "Although
the effects or motion of the divining rod, when in the proximity of
springs, has been and is to this day considered by most philosophers a
mere illusion, yet I think the following brief observations relating
to the subject, and which was communicated to Dr. Hutton by a lady of
rank, with the account of her subsequent experiments performed before
him, his family and a number of friends, (as given in the Doctor's
translation of Montucla's edition of Ozanam's Recreations), must
convince the most incredulous that in the hands of some persons in
certain situations the baguette is forcibly acted on by some unknown,
invisible cause. Notwithstanding the incredulity expressed by Montucla
relative to the indication of springs by the baguette or divining rod,
there appears to exist such evidences of the reality of that motion as
it seems next to be impossible to be questioned. This evidence was
brought about in the following manner. Soon after the publication of
the former edition of the Recreations, the editor received by the post
the following well written pseudonymous letter on the subject of this
problem. The letter in question is dated Feb. 10, 1805, and, as with
the whole correspondence it would be too long for our limits, I shall
select such parts only as are immediately essential to a right
understanding of the subject.

"The lady observes, 'In the year 1772, (I was then nineteen), I passed
six months at Aix, in Provence. I there heard the popular story of one
of the fountains in that city having been discovered by a boy who
always expressed an aversion for passing one particular spot, crying
out each time _there was water_. This was held by myself and by the
family I was with, in utter contempt. In the course of the spring the
family went to pass a week at the Chateau d'Ansonis, situated a few
miles to the north of the Durance, a tract of country very mountainous
and where water was ill supplied. We found the Marquis d'Ansonis
busied in erecting what may be termed a miniature aqueduct to convey a
spring the distance of half a league, or nearly as much, to his
chateau, which spring he asserted had been found out by a peasant, who
made the discovery of water his occupation in that country, and
maintained himself by it, and was known by the appellation of _L'Homme
a la Baguette_. This account was received with unbelief almost
amounting to derision. The Marquis, piqued with being discredited,
sent for the man and requested we would witness the experiment. A
large party of French and English accordingly attended. The man was
quite a peasant in manners and appearance: he produced some twigs cut
from a hazel, of different sizes and strength, only they were forked
branches, and hazel was preferred as forking more equally than most
other trees, but it was not requisite that the angle should be of any
particular number of degrees. He held the ends of the twigs between
each forefinger and thumb, with the vertex pointing downwards.
Standing where there was no water, the baguette remained motionless.
Walking gradually to the spot where the spring was _under ground_, the
twig was sensibly affected; and, as he approached the spot, began to
turn round; that is, the vertex raised itself and turned towards his
body, and continued to turn till the point was vertical; it then
descended outwards, and continued to turn, describing a circle as long
as he remained standing over the spring, or till one or both the
branches were broken by the twisting, the ends being firmly grasped by
the fingers and thumbs, and the hands kept stationary, so that the
rotary motion must, of course, twist them. After seeing him do this
repeatedly, the whole party tried the baguette in succession, but
without effect. I chanced to be the last. No sooner did I hold the
twig as directed than it began to move as with him, which startled me
so much, that I dropt it and felt considerably agitated. I was,
however, induced to resume the experiment, and the effect was perfect.
I was then told it was no very unusual thing, many having that
faculty--which, from what has since come to my knowledge, I have
reason to believe is true. On my return to England I forbore to let
this faculty (or whatever you may term it) be known, fearing to become
the topic of conversation or discussion. But two years afterwards,
being on a visit to a nobleman's house, Kimbolton, Huntingdonshire,
and his lady lamenting that she was disappointed of building a dairy
house on a spot she particularly wished, because there was no water to
be found--a supply she looked on as essential--under _promise of
secresy_ I told her I would endeavor to find a spring. I accordingly
procured some hazel twigs, and in the presence of herself and
husband, walked over the ground proposed, till the twig turned with
_considerable force_. A stake was immediately driven into the ground
to mark the spot, which was not very distant from where they had
before sunk. They then took me to another and distant building in the
park, and desired me to try there. I found the baguette turn _very
strong_, so that it soon twisted and broke. The gentleman persisted
that there was no water there, unless at a great depth, the foundation
being very deep (a considerable stone cellar) and that no water
appeared when they dug for it. I could only reply that I knew no
more than from the baguette turning, and that I had too little
experience of its powers or certainty, to answer for the truth of its
indications. He then acknowledged that when that building was erected
they were obliged to drive piles for the whole foundation, as they met
with nothing but a quicksand. This induced him to dig in the spot I
first directed. They met with a very fluent spring; the dairy was
built and it is at this time supplied by it. I could give a long
detail of other trials I have made, all of which have been convincing
of the truth, but they would be tedious. For some years past, I have
been indifferent about its becoming known, and have consequently been
frequently requested to show the experiment, which has often been done
to persons of high estimation for understanding and knowledge, and I
believe they have all been convinced. Three people I have met with who
have, on trying, found themselves possessed of the same faculty. I
shall add only one more particular incident. Having once shown it to a
party, we returned into the house to a room on the ground floor. I was
again asked _how I held the twig_. Taking one in my hand, I found it
turned immediately; on which an old lady, mother to the gentleman of
the house, said that room was formed out of an old cloister, in which
cloister was a _well_, simply boarded over when they made the room.

"'L'Homme a la Baguette, from experience, could with tolerable
accuracy, tell the depth at which the springs were, and their volume,
from the force with which the baguette turned; I can only give a rough
guess. In strong frost, I think its powers not so great. On a bridge
or in a boat, I think it has no effect--the water must be under ground
to affect the baguette, and running through wooden pipes acts the same
as a spring. I can neither make the baguette turn where there is _no
water_, nor prevent it from turning where there is any, and I am
perfectly ignorant of _the cause why it turns_. The only sensation I
am conscious of, is, an emotion similar to that felt on being startled
by sudden noise, or surprise of any kind.

"'I generally use a baguette about six inches from the vertex to the
ends of the twigs where they are cut off.

"'I shall most probably be in London next winter, and will (if you
wish it) afford you an opportunity of making your own observations on
this curious fact.'

"The lady arrived in London, wrote to Dr. Hutton to inform him that
she proposed being in Woolwich on Friday, the 30th inst., (May, 1806,)
at eleven in the forenoon. 'Accordingly,' says Dr. H., 'at the time
appointed, the lady, with all her family, arrived at my house at
Woolwich Common, where, after preparing the rods, etc., they walked
out to the grounds, accompanied by the individuals of my own family
and some friends; when Lady ---- showed the experiment several times
in different places, holding the rods, etc., in the manner as
described in her Ladyship's first letter above given. In the places
where I had good reason to know that no water was to be found, the rod
was always quiescent; but in other places, where I knew there was
water below the surface, the rods turned slowly and regularly, in the
manner above described, till the twigs twisted themselves off below
the fingers, which were considerably indented by so forcibly holding
the rods between them.

"'All the company present stood close around the lady, with all eyes
intently fixed on her hands and the rods, to watch if any particular
motion might be made by the fingers, but in vain; nothing of the kind
was perceived, and all the company could observe no cause or reason
why the rods should move in the manner they were seen to do. After the
experiments were ended, every one of the company tried the rods in the
same manner as they saw the lady had done, but without the least
motion from any of them. And, in my family, among ourselves, we have
since then several times tried if we could possibly cause the rod to
turn by means of any trick, or twisting of the fingers held in the
manner the lady did; but in vain; we had no power to accomplish it.'

"The annexed figure represents the form and position of the rod, about
six inches in length, cut off just below the joint or junction of the
two twigs.

"There can be no impropriety in stating now that the lady in question
was the Honorable Lady Milbanke, wife of Sir Ralph Milbanke, Bart.,
(afterward Noel,) and mother of the present Dowager Lady Byron, wife
and widow of the great poet. A very interesting analogous statement
relating to the same person will be found in the _Quarterly Review_
for March, 1820, No. XLIV, volume 22.

"Lately, in France, the Count de Tristan has published a work on the
subject, and a most interesting volume, containing two memoirs, has
been written by M. Thouvenel, a physician of reputation in France, who
was commissioned in the year 1781, by the king, to analyze and report
upon the mineral and medicinal waters of the kingdom. The author
undertakes a patient and laborious investigation, in the spirit of a
philosopher, and regards his inquiries as leading to a new thread in
the tangled skein of physics, which, like any fact of science, may
lead to the discovery of a thousand others; a fact which may have
escaped the vigilant sagacity of observers, or which may have been
totally abandoned to the blind credulity of worthy soft-headed
persons, or, in short, since the reign of a kind of false philosophy,
the offspring of scientific pride, may have been delivered over to the
presumption of men of false wisdom. Thouvenel found a man named
Bleton, whose business was that of a _sourcier_, or discoverer of
springs by means of the divining rod, and upon this man he made more
than six hundred observations, many of them in the presence of above
one hundred and fifty persons, mostly of important stations, and very
creditable from their high character, who testify to the truth of the
observed phenomena. Among others, was M. Jadelet, professor of physic
at Nancy, a man eminent for his abilities, who was not only a witness
of these experiments, but was actually concerned in the greatest part
of them. As in the case of Lady Milbanke, with Bleton an _internal
feeling_ was coincident with the movement of the rod. Whenever this
man was in a place where there existed subterraneous waters, he was
immediately sensible of a lively impression, referable to the
diaphragm, which he called his "_commotion_." This was followed by a
sense of oppression in the upper part of the chest; at the same time
he felt a shock, with general tremor and chilliness, staggering of the
legs, stiffness of the wrists, with twitchings, a concentrated pulse,
which gradually diminished. All these symptoms were more or less
strong, according to the volume and depth of the water, and they were
more sensibly felt when Bleton _went in a direction against_ the
subterranean current than when he _followed its course_. Stagnant
water under ground did not affect him; nor did open sheets of water,
ponds, lakes or rivers affect him. The nervous system of this man
must have been susceptible, since he was more sensibly affected by
change of weather and variations in the atmosphere than other persons;
otherwise he appeared healthy. A severe acute disorder had absolutely
at one time deprived him of the faculty of perceiving water, and his
sensibility in this respect did not return until three months after
his recovery; so that if he were sensitive, he could not be classed
among the _sick sensitive_.

"But however remarkable these constitutional peculiarities may have
been, there was in Bleton's case a more than usual distinctness in the
behavior of the divining rod. Unlike many _sourciers_, he did not
grasp it closely; he did not warm it in his hands; he did not prefer a
young, hard branch, forked, newly plucked and full of sap. His custom
was to place horizontally on his forefinger and thumb a rod of any
kind of wood (except elder), fresh or dry, not forked, only a little
curved or bent. A very straight rod failed to turn on its axis, but a
bent rod turned on its axis with more or less rapidity, according to
the quantity of the water and the force of the current. Thouvenel
counted from thirty-five to eighty revolutions in a minute, and always
noted an exact proportion between the rotation of the rod and the
convulsive motions of Bleton. If these memoirs be critically examined,
it will be found that the author experimented with full care to avoid
every source of fallacy. The natural motions of the rod on Bleton's
fingers were backward, but as soon as he withdrew from the spring over
which he stood, in any direction whatever, the rod, which instantly
ceased to turn, was subject to a new law, for at a determinate
distance from the spring an action of rotation in a direction contrary
to the former one took place. This was invariable, and upon measuring
the distance of the spot where this retrograde phenomenon took place,
from the spring, the depth could generally be found.

"I pass over an account of numerous experiments made by this
intelligent and careful observer, pointing out the analogies of the
known phenomena of electricity and magnetism, by modifications
resulting to the sensibility of Bleton, and the rotation of the rod by
various ingenious electrical and magnetic trials suggested by the
inventive sagacity of Thouvenel, in order to arrive at the curious
anticipations of some of Professor Faraday's discoveries, by means of
the sensibility of Bleton and the invariable laws which regulated the
rotation of the divining rod, when the experiments were made over
places where various substances had been concealed under ground. It
was found that whether the trials were made in this manner, or over
masses of coal, subterraneous currents of water or metallic veins, the
divining rod indicated a determined sphere of electric activity, and
was, in fact, an _electrometrical rod_. 'Of all the phenomena
relating to the distinction of fossil bodies,' says Thouvenel, 'acting
by their electrical emanations, doubtless the most surprising is this:
upon the mines of iron, of whatever kind they may be, the rods
supported by the fingers of Bleton turned constantly on their axes
from behind forward, as upon the mines of coal; while upon other
metallic mines, as upon other metals extracted from their mines, the
rotary movement took place in the contrary direction, that is to say,
from before backward. This circular movement, which never varies while
Bleton is in a perpendicular position over mines or upon metals,
presents revolutions as rapid and as regular as the revolutions in the
contrary direction upon the mines of iron and coal.'

"The constitutional effects of spasms and convulsive twitchings took
place more or less in all the veins, but copper emanations excited
very strong and disagreeable spasmodic symptoms, accompanied by pains
about the heart, by flatulent movements in the bowels, and by abundant
eructations of air. On lead, there seemed to be less unpleasant
consequences, but stronger again on the mines of antimony. Having
previously determined that for Bleton, on all the metals except iron,
there existed a sphere of electric activity which propagated itself
toward the west, a great number of experiments were made, which always
had the same results. At the depth of two, three or four feet under
ground were buried gold, silver, copper, tin, lead and iron. The
weight of each was only from five to eight pounds. In other similar
pits, pyrites of all kinds, sulphur, coal, resin, wax and lard were
buried. All these different deposits were made at distances from each
other in gardens or in open country, and they were so well covered
over and concealed, that nothing could be perceived but private marks,
to be known only by certain assistants. Over the resin, wax and lard,
Bleton experienced nothing. Over the coal, there was a decided effect,
the convulsive tremor of muscle was manifest, and the rod rotated from
behind forward. Over the iron, the same indications, but more
energetic. A feeble impression from the sulphur, but sufficient to
establish a difference between it and the two preceding; and the rod
over the sulphur turned from before backward. Pyrites produced the
same rotation as sulphur, and a slight tendency of the electric sphere
toward the west. Gold and copper especially exhibited strongly this
singular tendency of the active electric emanations. Over silver, tin
and lead, also, it was more remarkable. It extends itself more or less
from the focus of the metals according to their depth and their mass.
For example, in describing a circle having a radius of three or four
feet from this focus, Bleton felt absolutely no action except on the
line of the west. It was the same when, in proceeding from the
vertical point of the focus, he successively traversed all the radii
of the circle, or even if he went from all the points of the
circumference to proceed to the center. In these two inverse
proceedings it was always only on the radii going westward, that his
person and the rods were affected by movements more or less intense,
according to the kinds of metal.

"It must, however, be admitted that the action of these metals
presenting only the differences of greater or less in degree, either
in the nervous and muscular impressions of the body or in the circular
revolutions of the rods constantly moved from before backward, these
differences do not yield a certain means of distinguishing the five
metals one from the other. The object Thouvenel had in view was
nevertheless fulfilled, for he had established the extent and the
determination of a sphere of electric activity towards the west in
certain metals and on sulphur which does not exist in the same manner,
on iron, on coal, or on streams of water.

"To give a summary then of the relations of these phenomena to those
established by Professor Faraday, it may be said that over iron mines,
the divining rod assumes a movement of rotation diametrically opposite
to that which it exhibits over all other mines. When iron and other
metals are extracted from their ores and deposited under ground, the
phenomenon occurs with the same distinction, that is to say, with the
iron it rotates towards the north. With all other metals submitted to
trial, its action is from east to west. The influence of the red
metals seems to be more energetic than that of the white. But with
regard to this divining rod, let one condition be remarked--the
relation of the organic substance to another organic and living power
of matter, to a human being in a certain susceptible state of nervous
system. Thouvenel describes the symptoms which affected Bleton when he
was in the sphere of metallic action, and the rod becomes the
secondary part of a philosophical instrument composed of an
impressionable human being and a piece of stick.

"A highly respectable girl, the lady's maid of a very clever and
intelligent friend of mine residing in Hertfordshire, offers, when she
is mesmerized, a great many deeply interesting phenomena. She is as
guileless and as good a being as can be met with, and is much beloved
by her excellent and amiable mistress who has repeatedly addressed me
in her case. If a piece of hazel stick or white thorn be presented to
Harriet, she grasps it and sleeps mesmerically in less than a minute.
The sleep is at first very intense and deep, and then the stick is
held so firmly that the spasmodic state of the muscles renders it very
difficult for even a powerful bystander to turn it in her hand.
Harriet P's impressionability was put to a very useful purpose. Her
mistress heard that she had a practice of 'dowsing' for water, and
writes thus to a friend, July, 1845: 'We made a carious experiment
here, some days since, with Harriet P----. We have very bad water here
and have long been unable to find a good spring. Mr. G. has in vain
dug and dug for one. I proposed the divining rod; "for" said I, "Dr.
Ashburner would not think it a foolish experiment." Harriet P. was
willing, so we went forth to a field the most likely one for a
spring--Mr. and Mrs. G., myself, and two friends staying here. We put
Harriet to sleep with the hazel stick. She grasped it so tightly we
were obliged to use the gold chain. She then held it only in one hand,
and immediately began to walk, taking her own way. She went very
carefully for about twenty yards, then suddenly stopped as if she had
been shot. Not a word was uttered by any one. We all looked on, and
were not a little surprised to see the rod slowly turn round until her
hand was almost twisted backwards. It looked as if it must pain her;
still no one spoke. Suddenly she exclaimed, "There! there! don't you
see the stick turn? The water is here, under my hand. I see, oh, I
see; let me look; don't speak to me; I like to look." "How deep is the
water?" said Mrs. G., speaking to Harriet's fingers. "Oh, about three
feet; I can't quite tell, but it is here." In a moment, to our
astonishment, she sank down on the grass, and took the stick again in
her hands. We made a strange group around her, as we were all much
astonished to see what we had come there to see. She seemed so like a
witch. We marked the place, and, after a few minutes, we awoke her. In
the evening she was again mesmerized to sleep, and we asked her what
she saw at the spring. "Why, I saw water, water everywhere." "Then,"
said I, "how do you know where the spring is?" "Oh, because it goes
trinkle, trinkle, I know it is there." "Why did you sit down?" "Why,
because I was so giddy; it seemed as if all was water but the little
piece of ground I stood upon. I saw so much water, all fresh, no sea.
I tried to see the sea but could not; I could not at all." Mr. G.
caused a large hole to be dug, and just at the depth of three feet the
water was found. A brick well has been constructed, and there is a
good supply of excellent water. No one could doubt the action of the
rod, it turned so evidently _of itself_ in her hand. Of course,
when awake, Harriet knew nothing of the circumstance.'"

So many and so various are the testimonies and the facts relating to
the divining rod, that it would be tedious to recite the hundreds of
respectable documents offered by those authors who have written on the
subject. A work by Tardy de Montravel, printed in 1781, entitled
"Memoire Physique et Medicinale sur la Baguette Divinatoire," abounds
in testimonies of the truth of the same class of facts. One of the
most curious works on this subject, is a little book entitled "Occult
Physics, or treatise on the Divining Wand and on its utility in the
discovery of springs of water, mines, concealed treasures, thieves,
and escaped murderers, with principles which explain the most obscure
phenomena of Nature," by L. L. de Vallemont, Ph.D. This work,
embellished with plates, illustrating the different kinds of divining
rods with the various modes of holding them for use, appeared at the
latter part of the seventeenth century, and passed through several
editions in France and Holland. It is remarkable for much curious
literary and historical learning, and for able statements of the
arguments which were used in the controversies rife at that period, on
the realities of the facts under consideration. It contains a curious
catalogue of a great number of mines discovered in France, by means of
the divining rod, made out by a German mineralogist employed for the
purpose by the Cardinal de Richelieu.

                     *      *      *      *      *

[_From Cyclopedia Americana._]

DIVINING ROD.--A rod made with certain superstitions ceremonies,
either single and curved, or with two branches like a fork, of wood,
brass or other metal.

The rod is held in a particular way, and if it bends towards one side,
those who use the rod believe it to be an indication that there is
treasure under the spot.

Some publications respecting a man who, in quite recent times
pretended to be able to discover water and metals under the ground by
his feelings, attracted much attention.

Campetti, an Italian, born at Gargnano, on Lake Garda, has attracted
much attention in our time by pretending to be capable of ascertaining
by his feelings the places where metals and water exist under ground.

Many experiments seem to confirm his statements. The King of Bavaria
sent for him in 1806, and he came to Munich, where the experiments
were renewed.

These experiments were chiefly made with pendulums of sulphurous
pyrites, which are said to vibrate if brought near to metals.

_Rhabdomancy_ is the power considered by some as existing in
particular individuals, partly natural and partly acquired, of
discovering things hid in the earth, especially metals, ores, and
bodies of water, by a change in their perceptions, and likewise the
art of aiding the discovery of these substances by the use of certain
instruments; for example, the divining rod.

That rhabdomancy, generally speaking, is little more than
self-delusion, or intentional deception, is now the opinion of most
natural philosophers and physiologists. Still it has some champions.
From the most remote periods, indications are found of the art of
discovering veins of ore and water concealed in the bowels of the
earth, by a direct perception of their existence.

The divining rod is held in the hand so that the curvature is inclined
outward. If the person who holds the rod possesses the powers of
rhabdomancy, and touches the metallic or any other magnetic substance,
or comes near them, a slow, rotatory motion of the rod ensues in
different directions, according to particular circumstances; and, as
in the other cases, no motion takes place without a direct or indirect
contact with a living person. In the South of France and Switzerland
this art is frequently made use of under the name of METALLOSCOPE
(when discovering or feeling for metals,) and of HYDROSCOPE (when
discovering or feeling for water).

                     *      *      *      *      *

[_From Chamber's Cyclopedia._]

THE DIVINING ROD--often called the Virgula Divina, the Baculus
Divinatorius, the Caduceus, or Wand of Mercury, the Rod of Aaron,
etc.--is a forked branch, usually of hazel, sometimes of iron, or even
brass or copper, by which it has been pretended that minerals and
water have been discovered beneath the surface of the earth.

The rod when suspended by the two prongs, sometimes between the balls
of the thumbs, will distinctly indicate by a decided inclination, it
is alleged, the spot over which the concealed mine or spring is

Many men, even of some pretensions to scientific knowledge, have been
believers in the occult power ascribed to the magic wand.

Agricola, Sperlingius, and Kirchmayer, all believed in its
supernatural influence. So did Richelet, the author of the Dictionary.
The learned Morhoff remained in suspense, while Thouvenot and Pryce,
in the latter part of the eighteenth century, gave ample records of
its power.

In a work published by Dr. Herbert Mayo, in 1847 and 1851, entitled,
"On the Truth Contained in Popular Superstitions," he gave some
curious illustrations of the art, supposed to be possessed by one in
forty of the Cornish miners. At Weilbach, in Nassau, he likewise met
with one Leebold, who, he says, possessed the power, but afterwards
lost it.

Arthur Phippen, in 1853, published a pamphlet containing an account of
two professional diviners, or "dowsers." One of them, named Adams,
gave remarkable indications of being able to detect water underground.
He not only was able to discover the particular spot where the water
might be found, he could even perceive a whole line of water running

                     *      *      *      *      *

[_From Hartwig's Subterranean World._]

As far back as the eleventh century, the divining rod came into
practice and found full credence in a superstitious age. A forked
branch of hazel tree, cut during a peculiar phase of the moon, was the
means employed in Germany for the discovery of buried treasures, of
veins of metals, of deposits of salt, or of subterranean sources.

But the miraculous rod did not indiscriminately show its power in
every hand. It was necessary to have been born in certain months,
and soft and warm, or--according to modern expression, _magnetic_
fingers were indispensable for handling it with effect.

The diviner possessing these qualifications took hold of the rod by
its branches so that the stem into which they united was directed

On approaching the spot where the sought for treasure lay concealed,
the magical rod slowly turned towards it, until finally the stem had
fully changed its position, pointed vertically downwards.

To increase the solemnity of the scene, the wily conjurers generally
traced magical circles, that were not to be passed, burnt strong
smelling herbs and spices, and uttered powerful charms, to disarm the
enmity of the evil spirits that were supposed to guard the hidden

                     *      *      *      *      *

[_From American Cyclopedia._]

DIVINING ROD.--The increase of knowledge has not yet expelled even
from the educated portions of the United States all faith in the magic
virtues of this instrument.

There is a mystery in the hidden flow of subterranean courses of
water, and in the occurrence of deposits of valuable ores, which
encourage a resort to mysterious methods for discovering them.

If the wise can point to no sure clue to them, the ignorant pretender
does not fail to find one, which to many is all the more acceptable
for its extravagant pretensions and inexplicable nature. It is stated
by a writer in the "American Journal of Science," (Vol. 11, 1826,)
that the divining rod has been in frequent use since the eleventh

A work was published in France, in 1871, detailing six hundred
experiments made to ascertain the facts attributed to it, "by which is
unfolded," according to this work, "their resemblance to the admirable
and uniform laws of electricity and magnetism."

These sciences still continue to be appealed to in order to support in
some vague way phenomena which defy other means of explication.

As commonly used, the divining rod is a forked, slender stick of witch
hazel; elastic twigs, however, of any sort, or even two sticks of
whale-bone fastened together at one end, do not appear to be rejected
in the want of the hazel tree.

One branch of the twig is taken in each hand between the thumb and
forefinger, the two ends pointing down. Holding the stick in this
position, the palms towards the face, the gifted operator passes over
the surface of the ground; and whenever the upper point of the stick
bends over and points downward, there he affirms the spring or
metallic vein will be found.

Some even pretend to designate the distance below the surface
according to the force of the movement, or according to the diameter
of the circle over which the action is perceived, one rule being that
the depth is half the diameter of this circle; whence, the deeper the
object is, below the surface, the further is its influence exerted. It
is observable that a rod so held will of necessity turn as the hands
are closed more tightly upon it, though this has at first the
appearance of serving to resist its motion. From the character of many
who use the rod and believe in it, it is also plain that this force is
exerted without any intention or consciousness on their part, and that
they are themselves honestly deceived by the movement.

On putting the experiment to the test by digging, if water is found it
proves the genuineness of the operation; if it is not found, something
else is, to which the effect is attributed, or the water which
attracted the rod is sure to be met with if the digging is only
continued deep enough. Some ingenuity is therefore necessary to expose
the deception.

The writer above referred to succeeded in showing the absurdity of the
operation by taking the "diviners" over the same ground twice, the
second time blindfolded, and each time marking the points designated
by the rod. This, however, is a test to which they are not often
willing to subject their art.

Some operators do not require a forked twig. There was, in 1857, and
may be still, within less than one hundred miles from New York, a man
who believed himself gifted in the use of the divining rod, and was
occasionally sent for to go great distances, to determine the position
of objects of value sunk in the lakes, of ores and of wells of water.
He carried several little cylinders of tin, but what they contained
was a secret. One had an attraction for iron, another for copper, a
third for water, etc. He had in his hand a little rattan cane, which
he used as not likely to excite the observation of those he met.

Taking one of the cylinders out of his pocket he slipped the rattan
into a socket in its end, and holding in his hands the other end of
the stick, he set the contrivance bobbing up and down and around. That
it was attracted and drawn towards any body of ore in the vicinity he
was evidently convinced.

                     *      *      *      *      *

[_From Notes and Queries._]

DIVINING ROD.--Divination by the rod or wand is mentioned in the
prophecy of Ezekiel. Hosea, too, reproaches the Jews as being infected
with the like superstition: "My people ask counsel at their stocks
and their _staff_ declareth unto them." Chap. iv, 12. Not only the
Chaldeans used rods for divination, but almost every nation which has
pretended to that science, has practiced the same method. Herodotus
mentions it as a custom of the Alani, and Tacitus of the old Germans.
See Cambridge's "Scribleriad," book V, note on line 21.

In the manuscript "Discourse on Witchcraft," 1705, written by Mr. John
Bell, page 41, I find the following account from Theophylact on the
subject of _rabdomanteia_ or rod-divination: "They set up two
staffs, and, having whispered some verses and incantations, the staffs
fell by the operation of dæmons. Then they considered which way each
of them fell--forward or backward, to the right or left hand--and
agreeably gave responses, having made use of the fall of their staffs
for their signs."

Dr. Henry, in his "History of Great Britain," tells us (II, 550), that
after the Anglo-Saxons and Danes embraced the Christian religion, the
clergy were commanded by the canons to preach very frequently against
_diviners_, sorcerers, auguries, omens, charms, incantations, and
all the filth of the wicked and dotages of the Gentiles."

The following is from "Epigrams, etc.," published London,
1651--_Virgula Divina_:

    "Some sorcerers do boast they have a rod,
      Gathered with vowes and sacrifice,
    And (borne about) will strangely nod
      To hidden treasure where it lies;
    Mankind is (sure) that rod divine,
    For to the wealthiest (ever) they incline."

The earliest use made of the divining rod by the miners was for the
discovery of the _lode_. So late as three years ago (1850), the
process has been tried. The method of procedure was to cut the twig of
an hazel or apple-tree of twelve months' growth, into a forked shape,
and to hold this by both hands in a peculiar way, walking across the
land until the twig bent, which was taken as an indication of the
locality of the lode. The person who generally practises this
divination boasts himself to be the seventh son of a seventh son. The
twig of hazel bends in his hands to the conviction of the miners that
ore is present; but then the peculiar manner in which the twig is
held, bringing muscular action to bear upon it, accounts for its
gradual deflection, and the circumstance of the strata walked over
always containing ore gives a further credit to the process of

The vulgar notion still prevalent in the north of England of the
hazel's tendency to a vein of lead ore, seam or stratum of coal, etc.,
seems to be a vestige of this rod divination.

The _virgula divina_ or _baculus divinatorius_ is a forked branch in
the form of a Y, cut off an hazel stick, by means whereof people have
pretended to discover mines, springs, etc., underground. The method of
using it is this: the person who bears it, walking very slowly over
the places where he suspects mines or springs may be, the effluvia
exhaling from the metals, or vapor from the water impregnating the
wood, makes it dip or decline, which is the sign of a discovery.

In the _Living Library_ or _Historical Meditations_ we read: "No man
can tell why forked sticks of hazill (rather than sticks of other
trees growing upon the very same places) are fit to shew the places
where the veins of gold and silver are." See Lilly's History of his
Life and Times, for a curious experiment (which he confesses, however,
to have failed), to discover hidden treasure by the hazel rod.

In the _Gentleman's Magazine_, for February, 1752, xxii, 77, we
read: "M. Linnæus, when he was upon his voyage to Scania, hearing his
secretary highly extol the virtues of his divining rod, was willing to
convince himself of its insufficiency, and for that purpose concealed
a purse of one hundred ducats under a ranunculus which grew by itself
in a meadow and bid the secretary find it if he could. The wand
discovered nothing, and M. Linnæus's mark was soon trampled down by
the company who were present; so that when M. Linnæus went to finish
the experiment by fetching the gold himself, he was utterly at a loss
where to seek it. The man with the wand assisted him and pronounced
that it could not lie the way they were going, but quite the contrary;
so he pursued the direction of his wand and actually dug out the gold.
M. Linnæus adds, that such another experiment would make a proselyte
of him." We read in the same book for November, 1751, xxi, 507: "So
early as Agricola, the divining rod was in much request, and has
obtained great credit for its discovery where to dig for metals and
springs of water; for some years past its reputation has been on the
decline, but lately it has been revived by an ingenious gentleman who,
from numerous experiments, hath good reason to believe its effects to
be more than imagination. He says that hazel and willow rods, he has
by experience found, will actually answer, with all persons in a good
state of health, if they are used with moderation and at some distance
of time, and after meals, when the operator is in good spirits. The
hazel, willow and elm are all attracted by springs of water. Some
persons have the virtue intermittently; the rod in their hands will
attract one half hour and repel the next. The rod is attracted by all
metals, coals, amber and limestone, but with different degrees of
strength. The best rods are those from the hazel or nut tree, as they
are pliant and tough and cut in the winter months. A shoot that
terminates equally forked is to be met with--two single ones of a
length and size may be tied together by a thread and will answer as
well as the other."

In the supplement to the Athenian Oracle, p. 234, we read that "the
experiment of a hazel's tendency 'to a vein' of lead ore is limited to
St. John Baptist's Eve, and that with an hazel of that same year's

There is a treatise in French entitled, _La Phisique Occulte ou
Traite de la Baguette Divinatoire_, et de son utilite pour la
decouverte des sources d'Eau, des Minieres, de Tresors caches, des
Voleurs et des Meurtriers fugitifs: par M. L. L. de Vallemont pretre
et docteur en theologie; 12 mo., Amsterdam, 1693. 464 pages.

                     *      *      *      *      *

[_From Brand's Popular Antiquities._]

At the end of Henry Alan's edition of Cicero's treatise De Divinatione,
and De Fate, 1839, will be found "Catalogus auctorum de _divinatione_
ac fato, de oraculis, de somniis, de astrologia, de dæmonibus, de
magia id genus aliis."

With the divining rod seems connected a _lusus naturae_ of ash tree
bough resembling the litui of the Roman augurs and the Christian
pastoral staff which still obtains a place, if not on this account I
know not why, in the catalogue of popular superstitions. Seven or
eight years ago, I remember to have seen one of these, which I thought
extremely beautiful and curious, in the house of an old woman at
Beeralston, in Devonshire, of whom I would most gladly have purchased
it; but she declined parting with it on any account, thinking it would
be unlucky to do so. Mr. Gostling, in the Antiquarian Repertory, ii,
164, has some observations on this subject. He thinks the lituus or
staff, with the crook at one end, which the augurs of old carried as
badges of their profession and instruments in the superstitious
exercise of it, was not made of metal but of the substance above
mentioned. Whether, says he, to call it a work of art or nature may be
doubted: some were probably of the former kind; others, Hogarth, in
his Analysis of Beauty, calls _lusus naturæ_ found in plants of
different sorts, and in one of the plates of that work gives a
specimen of a very elegant one, a branch of ash. I should rather,
continues he, style it a distemper or distortion of nature; for it
seems the effect of a wound by some insect which, piercing to the
heart of the plant with its proboscis, poisons that, while the bark
remains uninjured and proceeds in its growth, but formed into various
stripes, flatness and curves for the want of the support which nature
designed it. The beauty, some of these arrive at, might well
consecrate them to the mysterious fopperies of heathenism, and their
rarity occasions imitations of them by art. The pastoral staff of the
Church of Rome seems to have been formed from the vegetable litui,
though the general idea is that it is an imitation of the shepherd's
crook. The engravings given in the Antiquarian Repertory are of carved
branches of the ash.

                     *      *      *      *      *

[_From Modern Magic, by M. Shele de Vere, published 1873._]

The relations in which some men stand to nature are sometimes so close
as to enable them to make discoveries which are impossible to others.

This is, for instance, the case with persons who feel the presence of
waters or of metals. The former have, from time immemorial, generally
used a wand, the so-called divining rod, which, according to Pliny,
was already known to the ancient Etruscans as a means for the
discovery of hidden springs.

An Italian author, Amoretti, who has given special attention to this
subject, states that at least every fifth man is susceptible to the
influence of water and metals, but this is evidently an over-estimate.

In recent times many persons have been known to possess this gift of
discovering hidden springs or subterranean masses of water, and these
have but rarely employed an instrument.

Catharine Beutler, of Thurgovia, in Switzerland, and Anna Maria
Brugger, of the same place, were both so seriously affected by the
presence of water that they fell into violent nervous excitement when
they happened to cross places beneath which, large quantities were
concealed, and became perfectly exhausted.

In France, a class of men, called _sourciers_, have for ages possessed
this instinctive power of perceiving the presence of water, and
others, like the famous Abbe Paramelle, have cultivated the natural
gift till they were finally enabled, by a mere cursory examination of
a landscape, to ascertain whether large masses of water were hidden
anywhere, and to indicate the precise spots where they might be found.

Why water and metals should almost always go hand in hand in
connection with this peculiar gift, is not quite clear; but the staff
of Hermes, having probably the form of the divining rod was always
represented as giving the command over the treasures of the earth, and
the Orphic Hymn (v. 527,) calls it--hence, the golden rod, producing
wealth and happiness.

On the other hand, the Aquæ Virga, the nymph of springs, had also a
divining rod in her hand, and Numa, inspired by a water-nymph,
established the worship of waters in connection of that of the dead.
For here, also, riches and death seem to have entered into a strange

Del Rio, in his _Disquisitiones Magicæ_, mentions thus the Rahuri
of Spain--the lynx-eyed, as he translates the name--who were able, on
Wednesdays and Saturdays, to discover all the veins of metals or of
water beneath the surface, all hidden treasures and corpses in their

There is at least one instance recorded, where a person possessed the
power to see even more than the Rahuris. This was a Portuguese lady,
Pedegache, who first attracted attention by being able to discover
subterranean springs and their connections, a gift which brought her
great honors after she had informed the king of all the various
supplies of water which were hidden near a palace which he was about
to build. Shafts were sunk according to her directions, and not only
water was found but also various soils and stones which she had
foretold would have to be pierced.

She also seems to have cultivated her talent, for we hear of her next
being able to discover treasures, even valuable antique statues in the
interior of houses, and finally she reached such a degree of intuition
that she saw the inner parts of the human body, and pointed out their
diseases and defects.

The divining rod, originally a twig of willow or hazel, is often made
of metal, and the impression prevails that in such cases an electric
current arising from the subterranean water or metals enters the
diviner's body by the feet, passes through him, and finally affects
the two branches of the rod, which represent opposite poles. It is
certain that when the electric current is interrupted, the power of
the divining rod is suspended.

                     *      *      *      *      *

[_From Notes and Queries._]

Perhaps, like many of your correspondents, I had imagined that the
supposed properties of the divining rod had been a discovery recently
made, either by the great American artist, Mr. Barnum, or by one of
_Dii Minores_ of this country. To my mortification, however, I
find that it is "as old as the hills," or at least contemporaneous
with the Sortes Virgilianæ, _et id genus omne_. I have before me
the works of Mr. Abraham Cowley, in two vols. 12 mo., London, 1681,
and in one of his Pindarique Odes, addressed to Mr. Hobs, I find the
following lines:

    To walk in ruines like vain ghosts, we love,
    And with fond divining wands,
    We search among the dead
    For treasures buried.

And to these lines is added the following note:

"Virgula Divina, or divining wand, is a two-forked branch of a hazel
tree which is used for the finding out either of veins or hidden
treasures of gold or silver, and being carried about bends downwards
(or rather is said to do so,) when it comes to the place where they

"In the first edition of his _Mathematical Recreations_, Dr.
Hutton laughed at the divining rod. In the interval between that and
the second edition a lady made him change his note, by using one
before him, at Woolwich. Hutton had the courage to publish the account
of the experiment in his second edition, after the account he had
previously given. By a letter from Hutton to Bruce, printed in the
memoir of the former which the latter wrote, it appears that the lady
was Lady Milbanke."

"A Cornish lady informs me that the Cornish miners to this day use the
divining rod."

However the pretended effect of the divining rod may be attributed to
knavery and credulity by philosophers who will not take the trouble of
witnessing and investigating the operation, any one who will pay a
visit to the Mendip Hills, in Somersetshire, and the country around
their base, may have abundant proof of the efficacy of it. Its success
has been very strikingly proved along the range of the Pennard Hills,
also, to the south of the Mendip. The faculty of discovering water by
means of the divining rod is not possessed by every one, for indeed
there are but few who possess it in any considerable degree, or in
whose hands the motion of the rod, when passing over an underground
stream, is very decided, and they who have it are quite unconscious of
their capability until made aware of it by experiment.

I saw the operation of the rod, or rather of a fork formed by the
shoots of the last year, held in the hands of the experimenter by the
extremities, with the angle projecting before him. When he came over
the spot beneath which the water flowed, the rod, which had before
been perfectly still, writhed about with considerable force, so that
the holder could not keep it in its former position, and he appealed
to the bystanders to notice that he had made no motion to produce this
effect, and used every effort to prevent it. The operation was several
times repeated with the same result, and each time under the close
inspection of shrewd and doubting, if not incredulous observers. Forks
of any kind of green wood served equally well, but those of dead wood
had no effect. The experimenter had discovered water, in several
instances, in the same parish (Pennard), but was perfectly unaware of
his capability till he was requested by his landlord to try. The
operator had the reputation of a perfectly honest man, whose word
might be safely trusted, and who was incapable of attempting to
deceive any one--as indeed appeared by his open and ingenuous manner
and conversation on this occasion. He was a farmer, and respected by
all his neighbors. So general is the conviction of the efficacy of the
divining rod in discovering both water and the ores of calameni or
zinc all over the Mendip, that the people are quite astonished when
any doubt is expressed about it. The late Dr. Hutton wrote against the
pretension, as one of many instances of deception founded upon gross
ignorance and credulity, when a lady of quality, who herself possessed
the faculty, called upon him and gave him experimental proof, in the
neighborhood of Woolwich, that water was discoverable by that means.
This, Dr. Hutton afterwards publicly acknowledged.

                     *      *      *      *      *

After delivering my essay before the Civil Engineers' Club of the
Northwest, the following letter was forwarded to me by the secretary:


    GENTLEMEN:--I notice that at a meeting of your honorable Club, Mr.
    Latimer read an essay upon the subject of the "Divining Rod," and
    seemed to be at a loss to know how to tell whether the rod's
    movements pointed to or indicated any particular substance under
    the earth. I am now seventy-three years of age, and have been
    studying and experimenting with it since twenty years of age. I am
    not satisfied what causes the motion of it in my hands, but by
    experimenting, I can tell to a certainty whether I am over any
    substance, either water or mineral, or whether it is sulphur, salt
    or any other kind of water.

    I am glad that investigation in this is being made by scientific
    men, and hope some day it may profit man. For any information you
    may want, address me at Brownsville, Tennessee.

    Very respectfully,


Upon receipt of this letter from Mr. Sangster, I wrote to him asking
him to explain to me upon what principle he could discover the
difference between metals and water, and between one kind of water and
another. To this I have received the following answer, just in time to
add it to this publication:

    BROWNSVILLE, May 10, 1876.

    C. LATIMER, ESQ., _Cleveland, Ohio_:

    DEAR SIR:--Your favor of the 5th inst. is before me; also that of
    the 15th ult. You must excuse me for not answering the latter
    sooner, owing to ill health and other causes. I am glad to furnish
    you all the information in my power relative to the matter in
    question, because I would like to see it developed--as I believe
    it will be eventually--into a tangible, practical and useful
    science. The prejudice now prevailing against it will, in my
    opinion, ere long be dispelled. It is impossible for me, in the
    space of a letter, to give a full statement of my views, theory
    and experience on the subject of finding the locality of metals,
    minerals and water under the surface of the ground; but will
    endeavor to answer the inquiry of your first letter as concisely
    and explicitly as possible.

    I understand fully the method of calculating the depth of water
    beneath the surface. What you wish to know is, after the substance
    is shown to exist beneath a certain point, whether it be mineral,
    metal or water, and the kind, character and description of each.
    As you are aware of the fact, the simple "forked rod" will
    indicate the presence of either of these. Now, to tell which of
    these it is, and the character of the same; if it be water, the
    kind of water. This is my method of testing the same, whether it
    be water, mineral or metal: It is on the principle of
    _affinity_--the attraction that like substances have for each
    other. After the rod indicates the particular spot, I take a
    sponge and saturate it with ordinary drinking water, either from
    spring or well, and put it on the top of the rod, and test it with
    this. If the substance beneath be water, and the same kind of that
    in the sponge, it will turn much stronger, and the demonstration
    be more active and powerful. But, if the rod should not turn at
    all, it will be some other substance, either mineral or metal. To
    test the kind of water, after I am satisfied that it is water--to
    discover, for instance, whether it be sulphur water, I dip my
    sponge in that kind of water, and test as above. If the movement
    of the rod be active and strong when this is done, the water below
    will be that species of water. If salt water, dip the sponge in
    that kind of water, and the result will be similar; and so on
    through the whole catalogue of waters.

    In regard to the metals. The tests are made in a similar manner.
    After I discover by proper tests that it is a metal, which are as
    follows: If it be metal or mineral, after the sponge is saturated
    with water, the rod will not act at all. I then put a piece of
    metal on the top of the rod; first, a small bit of iron. If there
    is no movement of the rod at the spot already indicated, it is
    safe to conclude that the substance is not of that nature; so I
    continue the experiment with different kinds of metal--lead,
    silver, copper, tin, gold, etc., until I find some one of these
    that will cause the rod to turn and operate in a manner
    sufficiently strong and satisfactory. The same method pertains to
    the minerals. Of course, a great deal of the practical operations
    of these various tests, will depend upon one's discretion and
    judgment at the time they are made, which it is impossible to put
    upon paper. This is but a general outline of the system.

    If I can be of any further assistance to you in the investigation
    of this subject, do not fail to let me know of it. Would be
    pleased to hear from you at any and all times. Be sure and send me
    your pamphlet.

    Yours, respectfully,


Immediately after receiving this letter, I made some experiments as
follows: I took a green, forked twig, and found that over iron
water-pipe, gas-pipe, and over a cistern of water, it turned down
vigorously. I then took a wet rag and fastened it on top of the twig
or rod. As Mr. Sangster testifies, I found it powerless over the iron
water-pipe and over the gas-pipe, but it turned rapidly over the
cistern. I put a key on the end of the rod over the wet rag; then the
rod turned over both iron pipes promptly. Again, I took off the rag
and put the key on the rod, and walking to the cistern, found that
there was no movement. I took off the key and the rod turned
instantly. I have no doubt but that he is correct as regards other


If any one, after the perusal of these pages, is disposed to doubt the
efficacy of the divining rod, he will find it at least difficult to
explain the coincidences between my experiences and those of the
various persons presented in the foregoing pages--all confirming most
fully conclusions reached by me, after many experiments made when
quite alone. And, he must be even more eccentric than L'Homme à la
Baguette, who does not find in the subject a treasure hidden, well
worthy of his research.

It will be noticed that I can lay claim to no originality, or rather
to no knowledge beyond that of the greater number of the parties
mentioned, in regard to the fact of the discovery of minerals or
waters; but, I find myself in advance in two essentials. First, I
absolutely proved, by insulating myself on glass or India rubber
sandals, that the electric emanations were cut off. Secondly, that
these emanations universally radiate at an angle of forty-five degrees
from the horizontal, and thus the calculation of the depth below the
surface, is simply the solution of a mathematical problem.

In this theory of the invariable law of electric emanations, I have
received the strongest confirmation in the perusal of Baron Von
Reichenbach's _Dynamics of Magnetism_. By numerous and varied
experiments, Reichenbach proved that from metals, and especially from
magnets, there is a constant emanation of electric flame upward, at an
angle of forty-five degrees with the horizon. For a more serious study
of the subject, I refer the reader to the work itself, which is full
of curious and well authenticated experiences.

Finally, I would paraphrase the words of my friend, the renowned Pedro
Garcia: "To thee, whomsoever thou art, who mayst have the genius to
investigate and the courage to face wise fools, I predict a valuable
discovery, which will benefit the human race."


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