gives perfection to the whole. To elucidate this my opinion, —What had nature done for Demosthenes ? Nothing ! Demosthenes did all for himself ; and, surmounting the impediment she threw in the way of his pursuit, became one of the greatest orators of his age. Thus I conclude, if a man can become a distinguished orator from the mere propensity to be such, where the imagination, memory, eyes, hands and tongue are concerned, it appears to me much easier to acquire the art of ventriloquism, which is nothing but the imitation of sounds. Leaving this sentiment to your better judgment, in my next I Shall inform you how you may, by practice and perseverance, be able to perform a number of other Deceptions made practicable by the Art of Legerdemain. However we may differ in opinion,
I am your friend,
W. F. P.
From A. B. to W. F. P.
After properly considering the sentiments on Ventriloquism, contained in your
Letter, I perfectly acquiesce with you on the subject.
If you have any more Deceptions in your possession, and will send them, with your explanations on the same, you will confer additional favours on
Your friend and well-wisher,
From W. F. P. to A. B.
I am happy that you have become a proselyte to my opinion on Ventriloquism. I now proceed, agreeably to your wishes, in further explaining the Art of Legerdemain, by making you acquainted with the merits of the following Deceptions.
1st. How to take a number of Eggs, from a Bag apparently empty. —This bag, apparently empty, must be made according to the form of the one for breaking a watch, mentioned in letter seventeenth, with this addition only, observing that as one pocket only is necessary in the former experiment, you must increase
the number of pockets according to the number of eggs you mean to take from the bag. The eggs being buttoned in the pockets, turning the bag inside out, convince the Company it is the same as empty. When you do this, keep towards you the aperture by which you have access to the pockets Now when you intend taking an egg, turn this bag, which naturally brings this aperture the inside then putting your hand within the said aperture, take an egg from a pocket, shewing it to the Company, and so proceed according to the number of eggs you intend shewing.
2d. How to make the Ace of Hearts become the Ace of Clubs, and vice versa. —Take two cards, on which are represented the Ace of Hearts, stripping the leaves of both about two-thirds of the cards, then painting on a thin piece of paste-board the Ace of Clubs and Ace of Hearts, paste down the two edges of the leaves to the cards, thereby forming a case for the two Aces so painted easily to slide. The original Aces being nicely taken from the leaves, you may by easily moving the slides on which these two Aces are depictured, cause either of them to appear ; consequently, you can easily make them take the place of each other.
3d. How to burn a Card to ashes, and restore it to its former state, the Company detaining a piece of the Card in order to prove its being the same proposed to be burnt. —To accomplish this experiment, have a tin box made in such a manner as to open one half its depth, the top after opening appearing like the bottom ; underneath the inside of the top have a tin plate, the exact size of the box, appearing like no other but the inside of that which forms the cover ; within this, previous to exhibiting the feat, place a card with the one corner torn off, of the fame sort with those you mean to present the Company, from which they are to choose one to be burnt : The choice of one being made, inform them they may tear off the corner, and keep it in their possession, until you shall be ready to restore the card going to be burnt ; then, placing it in the box, shut down the cover, and the tin plate with the substituted card there concealed will fall upon it, appearing like the bottom. Open the box, and burn this card ; the corner being torn off appears like the one drawn, which is now at the bottom of the box under the tin plate. Now, while stirring the ashes which were placed in the box, with your metempsychostical stick, dexterously and unseen, turn the
box ; consequently the ashes are secreted under the tin plate, and the card drawn appears to view.
4th. How to light a Candle with the point of a Sword. —To perform this, dip the point of the Sword into Phosphorus, and by rubbing it, it will not be seen to possess fire, until you touch it to the candle, the wick of which must be previously prepared with Spirits of Wine.
5th. How to transfer Money from one Handkerchief to another. —In performing this, provide yourself with an Handkerchief, in one corner of which must be sewn whatever you mean to transfer. Request the favour of some one of the Company to lend you an Handkerchief : Now shew them two pieces of money of the same denomination with that concealed, putting one piece into one Handkerchief and the other piece into the other placing the Handkerchiefs at a distance, pretending to fold one of these pieces of money in your own Handkerchief, conceal it in your hand or sleeve, wrapping up the Handkerchief, with that corner in the middle in which the piece of money is sewn, telling them to convince themselves by feeling that the money is there. Now,
presenting the other piece of money, fold that up, with the other piece you have in your hand, and the feat is done. All you have to do is, taking up the Handkerchief in which the piece of money is sewn, shaking it, it will not fall out ; whilst the other Handkerchief contains the two pieces.
Concluding these will be sufficient for your present practice, in my next I will give your further information ; till then I subscribe myself, as formerly,
W. F. P.
W. F. P. to A. B.
Supposing you to continue in the same mind as when you first wished to become a Conjurer, I will send you a few more Deceptions.
6th. How to fire a Lady’s Ring from a Gun in such a manner, that the same shall be found confined under lock and key, one of the Company taking the key. —To perform this feat, agency
is necessary ; but not diabolical. In some part of your Exhibition Room have a table, in which table you must have a drawer placed contiguous to a partition through which partition there must be an opening to another apartment sufficient for the drawer to slide through : In this apartment your Agent must take his station. Within the drawer dispose a box, in which the ring is to be found. The gun from which the ring is to be fired must be made similar to the one for performing Deception 2, (which you will find in Letter XV.) with the tube charged as there mentioned. A Lady having lent you a ring for that purpose, drop it into the barrel of the gun, making sure that it passes the tube, opening the breech, which gives it access to the flock : Take it from thence as soon as possible. When you have the ring in your possession, give some of the Company the gun to put in a wadding, telling them to be sure to ram it tight ; and while thus diverting their attention, slide the ring into the drawer, and your Agent’s business is to put the same into the box, locking it. Then, under pretence of going to the draw for something you have forgot, take the box therefrom, and place it on a table. Finally, shew the Company the box,
telling them your intention ; then give them the key, ordering the gun to be fired ; after which any of the Company may unlock the box, and the design is answered by finding the ring. —Or, by having your box made similar to the one in Deception 3, Letter XXIV. you may conceal the ring and shew an empty box, and by turning it as is done to re-establish the card, unlocking the same you may produce the ring.
No more at present, from
Your humble servant,
W. F. P.
From A. B. to W F. P.
I received your two last, containing a number of Deceptions, with their demonstrations, and it occurs to my mind that a building of a size convenient for containing a variety of Mechanical and Philosophical Curiosities, erected in some eligible situation, would be found profitable : I mean that the collection shall be greater than has ever been yet exhibited in the United States. For instance :
ln addition to what you have already exhibited, such as your Writing Figure, Invisible Lady, Magician, Tumbling Figure, Miraculous Barrel, Whispering Figure, and Penetrating Spy-Glass, you may introduce the Little Conjurer, Fisherman, Flute Player, Cupid’s Feats, Vanishing Figure, and many other curiosities you have the faculty of making, and which if thus collected, would in my opinion render it a Museum of respectable resort. In such an undertaking I would wish to be your associate.
From your earnest inquirer and friend,
From W. F. P. to A. B.
Relative to the place mentioned, I conclude it would be found profitable. The only objection I have to it is the sum of money necessary to complete a building in a style sufficiently elegant and convenient to command success. What if we spend the last dollar, before the place is completed ? How and of whom shall we be certain to borrow ? Where
are the resources to enable us to carry the plan into desired effect ? Will not our pretended friends, who promise and hover around us in the season of prosperity, turn their backs and forsake us in the hour of necessity ? If we tell them we have drained our purses, will they not inform our creditors ? If we importune them to lend, will they not catechise us, with a stupid harangue of what we ought to have done ; or, more likely, condemn the whole undertaking, in order to form an excuse for their non-assistance ? They may, with a countenance of seeming concern, declare they are heartily sorry ; and that is all the comfort that may be expected from professed friends of the present age. While speaking of this, it occurs to my mind, the reason why the man of ingenuity is poor. I have heard it stated, as almost an infallible rule, that to be ingenious is to be poor ; and this is thus accounted for : One abruptly but modestly affirms, “He is too lazy.” Another’s opinion is, “He is too unsteady, and by that means forfeits the fortune he might acquire by a steady adherence to one pursuit.” A third says, “He is too extravagant.” All these opinions are easily confuted. The truly ingenious man cannot be lazy, for ingenuity is the result of