Kaspar Hauser, a German youth, remarkable for his mysterious history, born about 1812, died at Anspach, Dec. 17, 1833. He was found in the streets of Nuremberg, May 26, 1828, dressed in the garb of a peasant, and by his apparent helplessness attracted the attention of one of the citizens. On his person was found a letter from which it appeared that since he was six months old his mother had left him in charge of a poor laborer, the writer of the letter, who kept him in close confinement, but brought him up in the Christian religion and taught him to write. The time having arrived for relinquishing the custody of the boy, the laborer removed him from his house during the night and escorted him as far as the vicinity of Nuremberg, leaving him to reach that town alone. Enclosed in the letter was a note purporting to come from Kaspar's mother, and stating that she was a poor girl when she gave birth to him (April 30, 1812), and that his father was a cavalry officer at Nuremberg. The only information which the person to whom the letter was addressed could elicit from the boy was that he came from Ratisbon, and wanted to become a cavalry officer as his father had been.
He was removed to the station house, but was unable or unwilling to give any account of himself except that his name was Kaspar Hauser. He would not take anything but bread and water. He could write his name and a few other words, but was otherwise entirely ignorant. Besides the letter, there were found in his possession a pocket handkerchief with his initials marked in red and several Roman Catholic prayer books. He was of a delicate constitution, but well formed, and his general appearance was that of a highborn youth. He was detained in prison as a vagrant, but the mayor of Nuremberg frequently took him to his house, and gradually learned from him that from his earliest childhood he had been kept in a kind of cellar, from which the light was shut out. No human being ever came to see him, excepting a man during the night, who washed and dressed him and brought him bread and water. His only amusement was two wooden horses. Shortly before he was taken away, this man, whose face he was never permitted to see, came more frequently to teach him to write and to walk, and eventually he carried him on his back to Nuremberg. After about two months he was handed over to Professor Dau-mer, who undertook his education.
But the natural ability of which he had given evidence in his conversation decreased as he was subjected to a regular system of instruction. He mastered, however, writing and drawing. He was fond of riding on horseback, and rode well. One of his many peculiarities was that he could not bear the presence of priests and physicians, and that he was restless and uneasy in church. He entered Daumer's family July 18, 1828. On Oct. 17 the professor's mother found him lying prostrate in the cellar with a wound on his forehead. He said that a man whose face was blackened had assaulted him with a knife, upon which he ran away and hid himself in the cellar. The most searching investigations were unavailing to detect the man. By order of the authorities the boy was now removed to the residence of a magistrate and attended by two policemen, but had only been there a few months when one day they heard the report of a firearm, and on entering the room whence it came they found Kaspar weltering in his blood. His explanation was that the wound had been inflicted by the accidental discharge of a pistol.
Among the many strangers who became interested in Hauser's fate was Lord Stanhope, who went to Nuremberg in 1831. He removed him to Anspach with a view of completing his education, and placed him in a law office there, where he displayed little ability. He also provided Feuerbach, the jurist, and president of the court of appeal, with the means of pushing legal proceedings. After the death of Feuer-bach, who had gained more insight into the case than any other person, and had published Kaspar Hauser, Beispiel eines Verbrechens am Seelenleben (Anspach, 1832), Stanhope was about taking his protege to England, when Kaspar was stabbed in the side, Dec. 14, 1833. He was able to reach his home, and to tell that his murderer was a stranger, who professed to be the bearer of some important revelations, and whom he met by appointment in the palace garden when the wound was inflicted, from which he died three days afterward. Persons then were not wanting who regarded Kaspar Hauser as an impostor, and Merker published a work entitled Kaspar Hauser nicht unicahr-scheinlich ein Betruger (Berlin, 1830); but Daumer defended him upon psychological and moral grounds. Strenuous efforts were vainly made to discover the murderer.
In 1859 Daumer published at Frankfort Enthullungen uber Kaspar Hauser; and several other works on the subject appeared at about the same time. In 1872 the interest in Hauser was revived by the publication of official documents (Au-thentische Mittheilungen uber Kaspar Hauser), by means of which Julius Meyer, a Bavarian jurist, endeavored to prove that he was an impostor. Prof. Daumer published in reply an exhaustive work, Kaspar Hauser, sein Wesen, seine Unschuld, seine Erduldungen und sein Ursprung (Ratisbon, 1873), which makes it highly probable that he was the son of the grand duke Charles of Baden and his wife Stephanie, and that the countess of Hochberg and Major Hennehofer were the authors of the crime, which was designed to secure the succession in Baden to the children of the countess and the grand duke Charles Frederick.