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directed to the supposed spot from whence the illusive voice is supposed to proceed.
Student. Are you up there, Jem?
Voice. Hallo! who's that?
Student. It's me. Are you nearly finished?
Voice. Only three mors slates to put on, master.
Student. I want you here, Jem.
Voice. I am corning directly.
Student. Which way, Jem? „
Voice (nearer). Through the trap and down the stairs.
Voice. Only a few minutes. I am coming as fast as I can.
The voice now approaches the door, and is taken up by the same tone, but produced as in the first voice. As another illustration, we will introduce the reader to
The Invis1ble Sweep.—This is a striking example of the second voice. Let the student pretend to look up the chimney, and rehearse the following or some similar colloquy:
Student. Arc you up there?
Voice. Yes. Chimley want sweep.
Student. Really, it is extraordinary! What are you doing?
Voice. Looking for birds' nests.
Student. Birds' nests! There are none there.
Voice. Dick says there be.
Voice. I shan't.
Student (stirring the fire). I 'll make you show yourself.
Voice. I say, don'l; it's so hot.
Student. Come down, then.
Voice. Don't be so stupid. Let I alone.
Student. Will you come down?
Voice. Yes, I will.
Student. What's your name?
Voice (much nearer). Sam Lillyvite. I say, what do you want me for among company?
Student. To show yourself.
Student. To let these ladies and gentlemen see that there are many strange things between heaven and earth, but not Sam Lillyvite, the sweep.
Another good illustration is to hold a conversation with a friend who lives on the first floor, and with whom you can converse on any subject—as the retired and mysterious student; but the moment the student can master the e'ementary sounds, he will not need our assistance in providing him with dialogues, which, however simple they may be to read, have an extraordinary effect when properly spoken. In sundry books wherein ventriloquism is mentioned, the voice of the ventriloquist is described as being "thrown into" the spot whence it appears to proceed. This, however, is a total mistake, and, unless the ventriloquist keeps himself between the voice and the audience, the latter will not be deceived.
The Tormenting Bee.—It is related that Mr. Love, when young, took great delight in imitating the buzzing of insects and the cries of animals; indeed, it is difficult to decide whether he or Mr. Thurton most excelled in this particular species of mimetic illusion. In all imitations of such noises, the bee should be heard to hum gently at first, so as in a private party not likely to attract attention till the right pitch is obtained; and be it remembered that the sound, without being particularly loud, can be made to penetrate every corner of a large room. The illusion is greatly increased by pretending to catch the offending and intrusive insect. The humble-bee, the wasp, and the blue-bottle fly are best to imitate, and afford an agreeable relief to the other exercises of ventriloquial power. To imitate the tormenting bee, the student must use considerable pressure on his chest, as if he was about to groan suddenly, but instead of which, the sound must be confined and prolonged in the throat; the greater the pressure, the higher will be the faint note produced, and which will perfectly resemble the buzzing of the bee or wasp.
Now, to imitate the buzzing of a blue-bottle fly, it will be necessary for the sound to be made with the lips instead of the throat: this is done by closing the lips very tight, except at one corner, where a small aperture is left; fill that cheek full of wind, but not the other, then slowly blow or force the wind contained in the cheek out of the aperture: if this is done properly, it will cause a sound exactly like the buzzing of a blue-bottle fly. In these two instances it will show how necessary it is for the ventriloquist to study minutely the different effect of sounds upon his hearers in all his exploits. And to make the above properly effective, he should turn his face to a wall; with a handkerchief strike at the pretended bee or fly, at the same time pretend to follow his victim first this way and then that, and finally to "dab" his pocket-handkerchief on the wall as though he had killed it. The sound should be at times suddenly louder and then softer, which will make it appear as if it is heard in different parts of the room.
The Spectre Carpenter. — The noise caused by planing and sawing wood can also be imitated, and causes a great deal of amusement without much difficulty. The student must, however, bear in mind that every action must be imitated as well as the noise, for the eye assists to delude the car. We have seen ventriloquists carry this eye-deception so far as to have a few shavings to scatter as they proceed, and a piece of wood to fall when the sawing is ended. To imitate planing, the student must stand at a table a little distance from the audience, and appear to take hold of a plane and push it forward.
It would be impossible in the contracted space of one of these short notices to give full instructions how to produce this clever illusion; a mere outline of the method of procedure is all that can be attempted. This, however, will be amply sufficient for a boy of any intelligence to grasp the idea of the leading principles; the mere details he will soon learn to work out for himself. If he should desire any further particulars, he will find much interesting information in the "Memoirs" of Robert-Houdin, which may now be procured at almost any library.
The method of procedure is as follows: The clairvoyant makes it his business to observe narrowly—unostentatiously, of course—and to catalogue in his mind the persons present, any little peculiarities in their dress, ornaments, &c, the general arrangement of the room, and any little knickknackeries lying about. Practice only will enable him to do this to any considerable extent; but if he have any talent for such mental exercise, and without it he will never make a clever clairvoyant, practice will soon enable him to observe almost at a glance and retain in his memory almost all the leading features of all around him, animate and inanimate.
Robert-Houdin trained his son and himself by walking rapidly past various shops in the streets of Paris, and then writing down on paper, after passing each shop, all the articles they could remember seeing in their transitory glimpse through the window: at first half a dozen or so was all they could manage, but they rapidly rose by practice to twenty or thirty, until the young Houdin, who quite outstripped his father, would tell almost the whole contents of a large window.
Of course, such a wonderful pitch of perfection is scarcely attainable by an ordinary boy, and would not be worth his while if it were; nor, indeed, is it, or anything like it, necessary; but the instance may serve as an indication of the right method of procedure, to be worked out by each boy according to his individual bent and opportunities.
It should be understood that all this preparation and practice is not absolutely necessary before beginning to exhibit the trick. A very few rehearsals will suffice for a very respectable performance; only if anything like perfection be aimed at, some extra trouble must be taken to attain it. Of course, every exhibition will do its work of improvement.
Meanwhile professor and patient must practise the code of signals by which the former conveys to the latter any necessary information about the objects to be described.
These signs may be words or other sounds; but great care must be taken with the latter, as they are more open to detection.
The initial letter of the first, second, or last word in each sentence the professor addresses to the clairvoyant is the same as that of the object; and as the number of objects likely to be offered for description is limited, a little practice will ensure its instant recognition from the clue thus given. Some signal should be preconcerted by which the clairvoyant may be warned that the object presented is at all out of the common.
If there be any difficulty in making out the object, the professor may, by a little ingenuity and assurance, spell out in successive sentences the name of the object in his hand. To cover this manoeuvre, he should pretend that the mesmeric influence is failing, and make " passes "at the patient, being careful, of course, not to go near him, and the clairvoyant must pretend to brighten up under their influence.
In the instance above referred to in the author's own experience, one of the company presented for description something very much out of the common way, a nutmeg-grater or something similar, and the professor, with the greatest readiness and the coolest assurance, deliberately spelt its name through almost to the last letter without detection.
The above, it is hoped, will be found sufficient to set the young aspirant to mesmeric fame on the right track; but an example of the actual working may, perhaps, prove more serviceable than much description.
Suppose, for instance, the object be a coin—a shilling, say, of George the Third, date 1800. The professor, who, by the way, should speak with as much rapidity as is compatible with distinctness, says sharply,
George the Third.
Thank you, sir! Your shilling, I believe? Right, is it not?
Can you tell me what I have in my
Modern or ancient?
English or foreign?
The first question, it will be seen, begins with c\ this, without further explanation, means coin. The next two explain themselves. The fourth begins with G for George, the only possible modern English reign; and the next word beginning with / gives the clue to third. B at the beginning of the next stands for "bob? or shilling, when speaking of English coins. The guesser can't be far wrong in his date, knowing the reign. In enumeration the several digits are represented by the letters of the alphabet; /; is the eighth letter, and therefore stands for 1800. Any odd numbers might have been spelt out in similar fashion.
Both professor and clairvoyant should speak rapidly and decisively to prevent detection, and should constantly change the key-word from first to last, and so on. A knowledge of French or some ether language will be of great service in concealing the machinery.
Conjuring, fluffs, Nibbles, fm'ostirs, iff.
A few preliminary hints are necessary in order to enable an amateur to perform the tricks he attempts with effect and success.
A conjuror should always be able to " palm " well. That is done by holding a coin in the fingers, and by a quick movement passing it into the middle or palm of the hand, and, by contracting the muscles on each side of the hand, to reiain it there, making the hand appear open and as though nothing were in it. After a little practice this will become comparatively easy, but it will require the exercise of great perseverance in order to become perfect. The pains, however, will be well bestowed, as this is one of the principal means by which prestidigitators deceive their audiences.
Making The Pass.
In many of the tricks with cards it is necessaiy to "make the pass," as it is termed, which is a very neat and simple movement. The operator shows a card, which he wishes his audience to believe he can change by simply using the mysterious words, " Presto, begone!'' While, however, he is saying these words, he gives a sharp blow on the pack he holds in his hand, and at the same time slips the card under the pack and takes off the top one, or vice versd. Practice, in this as in other matters, will impart'grcat dexterity to the operator; and as the hand can be trained to move more quickly than the eye can see, he will be able to go through the movement without it being perceived by his audience.
The following mode of "making the pass" should be well studied: Hold the pack of cards in your right hand so that the palm of your hand may be under the cards; place the thumb of that hand on one side of the pack, and the first, second, and third fingers on the other side, and your little finger be.veen those cards that are to be brought to the top and the rest of the pack. Then place your left hand over the card in such a manner that the thumb may be at 5, the forefinger at 6, and the other fingers at 7, as in the accompanying figure:
Ri«ht hand. 7