Magic Trick: The Electric Touch

The performer may, if he pleases, either commence or conclude those portions of his entertainments which have to do with mesmerism with a bogus explanation of the forces latent within him, the result of a natural gift. He must purposely make his elucidation a little far-fetched, in order to raise a smile, or even a remark, of incredulity. This gives him the desired opportunity for offering to practically prove the truth of what he states. Advancing to the company, he asks one of the spectators to extend his hands in front of him, palms downward. Standing immediately opposite this gentleman, the performer rubs the back of one of his own hands with the fingers of the other, and reverses the operation. This he continues for a quarter of a minute or so, and then suddenly extends his hands over the backs of those held out before him, an inch or two removed. The spectator feels no shock, so the performer continues his rubbing, and, at the third or fourth trial, the spectator jerks one of his hands away, a slight electric shock having been communicated to him. The experiment may be repeated as often as the performer pleases. A little pin is the cause of this marvellous manifestation. This the performer has about him (stuck under the vest is the best place), and often, in gesticulating, indirectly showing the hands to be empty, it is got down, with the head between the first joints of the first and second fingers, where it can be held firmly, of course pointing downwards. The rubbing of the fingers of each hand alternately upon the back of the other indirectly points to the absence of anything of the protruding nature of a pin being held in them, so the assumed excitation of electricity by friction is not the only reason for the action.

It adds to the effect when the production of the shock on the first experimenter comes only at the third or fourth attempt. With others, it may safely come at the first or second, if the performer be careful to explain that, the electric power once worked up, very little is necessary to keep it going. The rubbing is kept up throughout. The shock is, of course, produced by bringing the hand holding the pin nearer and nearer to the one beneath it, until the pin's point touches it. The touch must be as delicate as possible, as then an after feeling is experienced which necessitates rubbing. If the point enters the skin, the presence of the pin is at once detected. It being so absolutely necessary to the success of the trick that the touch should be very delicate, the use of fine entomological pins is recommended, but they must not be too long. The performer will do well to fail to produce shocks on some of those experimented upon at first, a return to them being necessary when the electric power has accumulated. Any particularly healthy and rubicund person may as well prove quite impervious, the performer explaining that the strength of mind present is too great. The company will judge by the person's healthy exterior, forgetting that, notwithstanding, the mind within may be nothing very great. As the performer is standing and the company sitting, he must slant his hands downwards, or the pin will be seen. The hands experimented upon must, for the same reason, be kept low. Should anyone suggest a pin, that article must be at once dropped, the performer being, of course, provided with reserve ones. This part of the trick is very seriously carried out, the performer congratulating himself and the company upon a state of atmosphere which enables him to exhibit such satisfactory results.

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