Magic Trick: Clairvoyance

This is one of the most mysterious agencies with which the scientific world has ever had to deal. Doubted by the majority, because of its seeming improbability, and because of the difficulty of comprehending it, the faculty of clairvoyance or second sight has, nevertheless, been possessed, and is possessed, by not a few. Some marvellous manifestations of seeing without the eyes have been shown, and in a manner sufficient to convince even the most sceptical of its reality. This faculty has often been imitated by conjurors, some of whom have fairly admitted that they were only imitators, whilst others have assumed possession of the actual power itself. At that now defunct institution, the Polytechnic, and other places of amusement, cleverly arranged telegraphic communication has been the means adopted for bringing a person on the stage en rapport with another amongst the audience. I would not recommend the amateur to take any serious trouble in the matter, but to merely make himself master of a few tricks relating to it. A very simple one is performed with the aid of a pack of cards. An assistant is blindfolded on the stage, and placed with his back to the audience. Before proceeding any farther, the performer explains that, beyond a certain point, he will neither speak nor make any sound or movement, lest it should be said that he conveyed information to the assistant. He then proceeds to "force" three or more cards in an order previously agreed upon, and the holders thereupon ask of the assistant, as the performer has previously instructed them to do, what the names of the cards are. The performer must mentally reserve to himself the right of pointing with his wand to the person who is to speak next, so as to ensure the cards being asked for in the proper order.

Instead of using cards, the performer can distribute slips of paper amongst the audience, for the purpose of having short sentences written upon them. He has a piece of paper of his own previously prepared, with a sentence upon it that is known to the blindfolded assistant. The papers written upon by the audience are folded up and placed upon a tray, or the crown of a hat, each some distance from the other. Whilst doing this, the performer contrives to effect an exchange between his own paper and any one of the others, it does not signify which. He then asks one of the audience to select one of the papers, and, manipulating the hat or tray adroitly, "forces" his own. Before it is opened, the assistant is requested to say what is written upon it.

This trick is farther elaborated as follows: The performer hands round a fair quantity of paper slips, and asks the audience to write what they please upon them very plainly. As it is advisable that whatever is written should be brief, it is best to ask to have the names of celebrated deceased persons only written. The performer has a piece of his own, previously written upon and folded, concealed in his hand. Supposing this to be in the left hand, the right takes a folded slip from one of the audience, and, under pretence of putting it into the left, for the purpose of handing it to another person, an exchange is effected, and the performer's own piece given instead. The learner will know the proper "pass" for effecting this by this time. The performer then says that he will go upon the stage and from a distance read what is upon the paper. He does so, and seizes the opportunity for rapidly opening the paper of which he has just become possessed, and of reading the name upon it. If much were written upon the paper, it would be impossible to read its contents in the limited space of time at the performer's disposal. When he turns round there is of course no trace visible of what he has been about, and he then proceeds to read the name on the paper held by one of the audience. This he does not do readily, but first names the sex of the person, and then the capital letter of the name, as if it were only developing itself by degrees and through some very mysterious medium. The first paper duly read, a second one is taken, exchanged as before, and borne off to the stage, to be read in transit. This process can be repeated any number of times, although four will be found quite sufficient, as it is a harassing trick to perform. An excellent finish is to "force" a previously prepared paper, and then have it burnt, after it has been read aloud by one of the audience. The ashes are collected and rubbed upon the conjuror's bare arm, upon which the name then appears in black. This is contrived by having the name written upon the arm in glycerine. This will be invisible, but if the ashes be rubbed lightly upon it they will adhere, and so show the name. There are chemical preparations used for the same purpose, but the method described here is by far the most simple and practicable. With this trick "Dr." Lynn created a great sensation for several months, some years ago.

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