Magic Trick: Magic Tricks with Common Objects

The prevailing idea with the public is that a conjuror moves things about from place to place before one's very eyes, but with such extreme rapidity as to avoid detection. This, I say, is the prevailing idea, and long may it continue to be so, since it is the very thing an audience is supposed to imagine. The learner, however, must, from the outset, dismiss such an impression from his mind as untenable, even for an instant. If he has a lurking opinion that a hand can be moved without the motion being detected, let him practise at moving, say, a cork or a piece of sugar, a distance of only one short inch. Let him practise for a twelvemonth to begin with, and I will guarantee that at the end of that period he is no nearer the consummation of the feat than he was at the commencement. If time hangs heavily on his hands, let him go on practising, say, for five or ten years: the result will be precisely similar. No; conjuring is based upon more deceptive principles than mere rapidity of movement, although that, of course, enters largely into its composition. Articles are, indeed, transmitted from one place to another before the eyes of the audience, but it is always, as it were, sub rosa. This is the reason why conjurors say so much about the hand being quicker than the eye, &c. The audience is continually trying to detect movements which are never even attempted, the result being that other movements are conducted with impunity. The conjuror must start with the one principle firmly fixed in his mind that he is to deceive his audience in every way possible. At no time is he actually to do that which he says he is doing. Every look and gesture, besides every word, should tend to lead the mind into the wrong groove. Misdirection is the grand basis of the conjuror's actions; and the more natural the performer's movements in this particular, the more complete will be his success. With each trick that requires it, I shall give hints for misdirecting the spectator's attention, although I am of opinion that every conjuror can best suit himself if he is only firmly impressed with the necessity for misdirection. The drawing-room conjuror must hold himself prepared to perform offhand with any article that may happen to present itself to view; although it is, of course, perfectly allowable for him to send for anything he may require. An article which one is tolerably certain to find in most houses is

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