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CONSIDERING the great antiquity and the unfading popularity of the magic art, it seems at first sight a matter of wonder that its literature should be so extremely scanty. In England, in particular, is this the case. Until within the last few years it would have been difficult to name a single book worth reading upon this subject, the whole literature of the art consisting of single chapters in books written for the amusement of youth (which were chiefly remarkable for the unanimity with which each copied, without acknowledgment, from its predecessors), and handbooks sold at the entertainments of various public performers, who took care not to reveal therein any trick which they deemed worthy of performance by themselves. Upon a little consideration, however, the scarcity of treatises on "White Magic" is easily accounted for. The more important secrets of the art have been known but to few, and those few have jealously guarded them, knowing that the more closely they concealed the clue to their mysteries, the more would those mysteries be valued. Indeed, the more noted conjurors of fifty years ago strove to keep the secret of their best tricks not only from the outside world, but from their confrères . At the present day the secrets of the art are not so well kept; and there is hardly a trick performed upon the stage which the amateur may not, at a sufficient expenditure of shillings or guineas, procure at the conjuring depôts. There being, therefore, no longer the same strict secresy, the literature of magic has improved a little, though it still leaves much to be desired. The general ambition of compilers seems to be to produce books containing nominally some fabulous number of tricks. In order to do this, they occupy two-thirds of their space with chemical and arithmetical recreations, and, as a necessary result, the portion devoted to conjuring tricks, properly so called, is treated so briefly and scantily as to be practically useless. There is a vast difference between telling how a trick is done and teaching how to do it. The existing treatises, with few exceptions, do the former only. The intention of the present work is to do the latter also; to teach sleight-of-hand generally, as well as particular tricks; and to conduct the neophyte from the very A B C of the magic art gradually up to those marvels which are exhibited on the public stage. The student may rest assured that, if he will diligently follow the instructions here given, he will be able in due time, not merely to astonish his friends extempore with a borrowed coin or pack of cards, but to roll two rabbits into one, compel chosen cards to rise spontaneously from the pack, produce lighted lanterns from empty hats, and bowls of gold-fish from empty pocket-handkerchiefs; in a word, to execute all those wonders which he has hitherto deemed the exclusive property of the public performer. There are, of course, different degrees of natural aptitude. " Non cuivis hominum contingit adire Corinthum. " It is not every one that can be a Robert-Houdin or a Buatier, but, given the usual number of fingers and thumbs, fair intelligence, and a sufficiency of perseverance, any one who will may become at least a tolerable conjuror. Be it remembered, that we especially stipulate for perseverance . A wizard is not to be made in a day, and he who would attain excellence must be content to proceed as he would with music, drawing, or any other accomplishment-viz., begin at the beginning, and practise diligently until he attains the coveted dexterity. The student need not, however, wait the termination of the somewhat formidable course of study we have indicated, before he begins to astonish his friends; on the contrary, there are numerous tricks requiring very little manual dexterity, which are yet, if neatly performed, brilliant in effect. These simpler tricks, for which we shall give full instructions, will supply the beginner, even at the outset, with a fair programme, which he may from time to time enlarge as he feels able to undertake more elaborate illusions.


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