Cumberland was a muscle reader who did not claim to possess any psychic abilities. In this work he recounts many such 'thought-reading' encounters with notable people.
I have visited many courts and travelled in many lands and have, from time to time, been brought in close contact with the world’s rulers and those who have made their mark in the world’s history. With a great number of them I have performed actual experiments, whilst others I have read without the direct application of any experiments at all.
Upon the correctness of my reading in connection with the various people herein dealt with, I am prepared to take my stand. It is only too possible that I have made mistakes, and that exception may be taken to some of my criticisms; but, whatever exception may be taken, my criticisms, such as they are, have been honestly arrived at.
With respect to thought-reading itself, I have been asked whether I assume a power which no one else possesses? Not a bit of it! Very many people possess a similar power, and might very well accomplish results like those I have myself accomplished.
There is nothing occult, nothing very much out of the way, in experiments of this kind. Briefly, it all amounts to the possession of a fineness of touch—the ability to receive and interpret the physical indications which are conveyed by a “subject” in the course of the experiment. It is practically impossible for anyone to concentrate his thoughts entirely upon a given object or idea without giving some physical indication of that thought. This indication, whilst conscious to the operator, is invariably unconscious on the part of the “subject.”
At the very end of the book is included a book catalog of the C. Arthur Pearson Ltd.