One of the most taking of all the tricks performed by the many public exhibitors is that in which a hat is borrowed from the audience, and at once from its interior are produced a quantity of heterogeneous articles, the nature and number of which cause, not only the greatest merriment, but also the most unbounded astonishment that they should ever have found lodgment in so unsuitable a receptacle as an ordinary "chimney-pot" hat. The reader will hardly require to be told that every article which is produced from the hat has first to be introduced into it by the performer, and on the skill with which this is done will the success of the trick depend. It must be understood that there is no middle degree of perfection allowed in performing this trick. No one must be able to say, "Yes; he got them in pretty well that time—I hardly noticed him." The motion which accompanies the introduction of any article or articles into a hat must be absolutely unobserved by anyone of the audience. No extraordinary degree of speed is required, for success will depend more upon the completeness of the arrangements made by the performer for the accomplishment of his designs than upon mere rapidity of movement, which, as I have often explained, is by itself of no use whatever, it being impossible for the human hand to make any movement openly so rapidly that it cannot be followed by the human eye. The object of the performer being to introduce certain articles into a hat without detection, anything falling below this accomplishment is imperfect; but, at the same time, anything which goes beyond this in a striving to obtain an ideal perfection is useless, and results in a mere waste of energy.
The essence of the trick being that it is (apparently, at least) performed for the most part whilst surrounded by the audience, the articles to be produced must be chiefly such as can be concealed about the performer's person. Of such a nature, the reader will doubtless be astonished to find, are, when properly constructed, bird-cages containing live birds, quantities of ladies' reticules, lighted Chinese lanterns, and many other articles entirely at variance with any possibly preconceived notions of what might ordinarily be contained in a hat. The beginner, however, will have to commence with less startling productions than bird-cages, &c., and graduate in the art, as it were.