To celebrate Christmas, here are some entertaining party tricks from a children’s magic book published in 1634. Try these at home during the festive season, to the admiration of all.
[The credentials needed for a junior magician] First, he must be one of an impudent and audatious spirit, so that hee may set a good face upon the matter. Secondly, he must have a nimble and cleanly conveyance [that is, a good sleight of hand]. Thirdly, hee must have strange termes, and emphaticall words, to grace and adorne his actions, and the more to astonish the beholders. Fourthly, and lastly, such gestures of body as may leade away the spectators eyes from a strict and diligent beholding his manner of conveyance.
How to make a Card vanish, and finde it againe in a Nut
Take what Card you will, and roll it hard up, and make a hole in a nut, and take out the kirnell, and then thrust in the Card, afterwards stop the hole of the nut neatly. This nut you must have in readinesse about you, and when you are in your play, call for such a Card as you inclosed in your Nut, or else have one in a readines, and say, ‘You see Gentlemen, here is such a Card.’ Then roll it up, and in the usuall manner convey it away [which seems in all these tricks to mean slipping into a hat in the lap]. Then take your Nut out of your pocket, and give it unto one, and say ‘Cracke that Nut, and tell me if you can find the card there.’ Which being found will be thought very strange.
Then have another such like Nut, but filled with Inke, and stopped after the same manner that your other Nut was, and give that unto another, and bid him cracke it, and see what he can find in that, and so soone as he hath cracked it, all the inke will run about his mouth, which will move more mirth and laughter than the former.
How to seeme to cut ones nose halfe off
For the effecting of this feate, you must have a knife for the nonce [purpose], made with a gap in the midst of the blade, as it is demonstrated in the following figure noted with the letter A. You must conceale the notch with your finger, and then wring it over the fleshy part of your nose, and your nose will seeme as it were halfe cut off with the knife.
How to make a six-pence seeme to fall through a Table
You must have an Handkercher about you, having a Counter neatly sewed in one of the corners of it: take it out of your pocket, and desire some body to lend you a six-pence, and seeme to wrap it up in the midst of the Handkercher, but retain it in your hand, and instead of so doing, wrap the corner in the middest that hath the Counter sewed in it, and then bid them feele if it be not there, which they will imagin to be no other than the coin that they lent you, then bid them lay it under a hat upon the Table, and call for a Basin of water hold it under the Table, and knock, saying, ‘Vade, come quicke’, and then let the six-pence fall out of your hand into the water. Then take up the hat, and take the Handkercher and shake it, saying, ‘That is gone!’ then shew them the money in the Basin of water.
How to seem to pull a rope through your nose
You must have likewise for the effecting of this delusion, an Implement on purpose. The figure whereof followeth. It may be made of two elder stickes, thrusting out the pith, and afterward glued together, the ends whereof must have a peece of corke cut hollow, and glued over them: then must there be a little whipcord put through them, the ends whereof must come out at two holes made on the outward side of each elder sticke.
Put this Trinket over the fleshy part of your nose, then pull one end of the rope, and afterwards the other and it will bee thought that the rope commeth quite through your nose.
How to make it freeze by the fire side
This feate cannot be performed at every time, but only in Winter, and at such times as snow may be had, and he that will shew it must have in readinesse an handfull of salt. The time serving, and the party provided, let him call for a joynt-stoole, a quart pot, a handfull of snow, a little water; and a short staffe or sticke. First let him poure a little water upon the top of the stoole, and upon it let him set the quart pot, and put the snow into the pot, the salt also, but privately, then let him hold the pot fast with his left hand, and take the short sticke in his right, and therewith churne the snow and salt in the pot, as if one should churne for butter, and in halfe a quarter of an houre the pot will freeze so hard to the stoole, that you can scarcely with both hands pull it off from the stoole: there’s a naturall reason may be given for this, which he that is a Scholler need not be told, and for a common Jugler I would not have so wise as to know, therefore I omit it.
How to seem to cut off a mans head
You must have a table with two good wide holes towards one end, also a cloath on purpoe to cover the table with, so that the said covering may hang to the ground round about the table. Also this covering must have two holes made in it, even with the holes of the table. You must also have a platter of wood for the purpose, having a hole in the bottome to fit also unto the holes of the table. Having these in readines, you must have two boyes; the one must lye along upon the table with his backe upward, and he must put his head through the one hole of the table, cloth and all. The other must sit under the table, and put his head through the other hole of the table, then put the platter about his neck.
To make the sight more dreadfull to behold, you may forme some loome about the neckes of them, making small holes in them as it were veins, and besmeare it over with sheepes blood, putting some blood also and little bits of liver into the platter, and set a chafing-dish of coales before the head, strewing some brimston upon the coales; for this will make the head seeme so pale and wan, as if in very deed it were separated from the body. The head may gaspe once or twice and it will be better. Let no body be present while you doe this, neither when you have given entrance, permit any to be meddling, nor let them tarry long.
How to vanish a glasse of Beere
Take a low glasse, fill it reasonable full of Beer, and take a six-pence and lay it downe upon the table and set the glasse of Beere upon it, and dipping your finger into the Beere, say, ‘Whether is the sixpence? In or under the glasse?’ Some will say perhaps it is under: then say, ‘Let’s see’, and take up at once both six-pence and glasse (hold the glasse so that both your hands may quite hide it) and let the glasse slip plum-downe into your lap, then make as if you threw it away, looking up after it. Then seeme to blow your nose, and let all the sixpence upon the table, saying, ‘I am glad I have got my mony againe: but now what is become of the glasse?’ Then seeme to take it out of your pocket, saying, ‘I am a good fellow, and would not willingly lose my liquor’, then drinke in up. This is an excellent tricke if it be swiftly and neatly performed. Though you spill a part of the Bere, it is no matter, neither is it any disgrace unto it; besides you may put it off very well.
How to make the face of a child to appeare in a pot of water
You must get a ball made of wood, and upon one halfe or side of it, there must the face of a child bee artificially carved: on the back-side of this face there must bee made a hole, but not very deepe; this hole must be filled with lead, to the end that it may (the ball being cast into the water) sway the face uppermost. Then paint it lively with oyle colours, and it is done. Note that it ought not to be full so big as a tennis ball. Call for a wine quart-pot filled with faire water up to the necke, having the face in a readinesse, concealed in your right hand, take the pot in your left hand, and set it on the table, and say, ‘See you Gentlemen, here is nothing in the pot but water.’ With that, clap down the pot-lid with your right hand, and in clapping it downe, slip the face into the pot. This you may doe without any the least suspition. Then cause them all to stand off, and if they please, to marke you as narrowly as they can: with that put your hand into your pocket, and seeme to take out a handfull of powder, and to strew it over the pot, saying ‘Sarge celeriter, by the powder of exeriene, sarge’, then bid them look what is there. After the same manner may you make a Toad to appeare, which will cause no small admiration.
Shakespeare’s England would like to wish everyone
a very Merry Christmas