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ridicule, with imperturbable good hu- great subject, or under the influence mour, and seemed to possess a charm of extraordinary excitement, astonish ed life amidst a fire of oratorical artil- the house by a burst of eloquence, in lery, by which any one else must have the highest degree impressive and been extinguished.
commanding; and then, suddenly, as Of his public speaking it could not much astonish them, by sinking flab. be said, as it might of that of some of bergasted, like a collapsed balloon, his great cotemporaries, “materiem until he became almost an object of superabat opus. The matter was ridicule to those to whom he had just generally excellent; it was the man. been an object of admiration. ner, and the copia verborum, that were But as we must very soon have defective. He often wanted words another opportunity of adverting to for his ideas—as there are those who the parliamentary and official career sometimes want ideas for their words of the noble lord, we shall content
-and there was a cold monotony in ourselves for the present with what his delivery, that greatly interfered with has been already said, and expressing the effect of his elocution. But we our thanks to the noble editor for the have heard one of the most competent interesting information which bis judges we ever knew, and who was a work has afforded us, repeat our ad. constant listener to the noble lord in vice, that when he publishes again, he the English House of Commons, one, may procure a fuller and more able too, who had no prejudice in his biographical notice of his noble brofavour, aver, that he had sometimes ther, than that which, in these volumes, heard him, when in possession of a he has presented to his readers.
* The late John Sydney Taylor.
JUGGLERS THE EMPEROR OF NECROMANCERS—THE BASIN OF WATER AND
FISH–THE GROWING OF A SHRUB-THE PRODUCTION OF EDIBLES—ANALOGY BETWEEN THE CHINESE AND INDIAN JUGGLERS.
Theastounding performances of Indian jugglers have not only been frequently described by various authors and travellers, but the British public have had a few opportunities afforded them of judging of their abilities in executing some of their extraordinary feats; however, it should be borne in mind that very inferior artistes have, at any period, visited this country, with the exception, possibly, of Ramee Samee, who is in the recollection of many of the present generation, and whose won derful exploits of catching balls of fire, swallowing swords, and various magical deeds, might be attributed to leger. de-main or ocular deception. A description of their brethren of the Ce. lestial Empire may not prove uninteresting, as their talents are by no means of a despicable or ordinary standard; and their dexterity, sleight-of-hand, magic, or whatever other denomination their art may properly belong to, or by what designation the same should more correctly be described-assuredly it is the occult science, for hidden it is from us ordinary mortals-is, at all events, equally deserving of attention and record. Some of the perform ances of the eastern jugglers seem so incredible, even to those who have had the benefit of ocular demonstration, that they must appear to those who have not had that opportunity afforded them, as the tales, or long-bows, of travellers. For our own part we must confess that we should have ranged ourselves among the ranks of unbelievers and sceptics, had we not had opportunity of judging, as eyewitnesses, of the truth of the facts which we are about to describe. For our selves, we are free to admit that we not only believe (for seeing is believing, even in these matter-of-fact times), all we have seen ourselves, but much more which has been described to us, and we have deliberately come to the
conclusion, that there is no sleight-ofhand, foreign aid of trap-doors, false bottoms, and assistants concealed under tables, or such like accompaniments as are well known to be the attendants upon - The Great Wizard of the North," Robert Handier, or such like gentlemen, but that the skill, science, or art, has been handed down or inherited from their predecessors, and is of a similar nature to that which was possessed by the magicians of ancient Egypt, and of the truth of whose performances we can have no doubt, having the authority of Holy Writ itself.
We are not prepared to say that there is no legér-de-main or deception at any time or period practised by eastern jugglers, as there may have been in such exhibitions as those which have been witnessed in England, and already referred to, since these took place upon the stages of our public theatres, where, necessarily, every facility existed to practise deception; but what we now allude to, took place in our own domicile, and under circumstances which totally precluded the possibility of any assistance being derived from trap-doors, or collusion with confederates of any kind; and being fully convinced of this fact, we were the more astonished at the wonders which we did behold, and we were rather inclined to doubt the evi. dences of our own senses, and rubbed our organs of vision to ascertain if we were not dreaming ; and we will not swear that we did not bite each of our little fingers in our anxiety to ascertain the truth that we were wide awake, and in the full possession of all our faculties.
Having received marks of attention and hospitality from various friends, it was incumbent to return such civilities, and it became a subject of no little solicitude how we might best, at the same time, cater for their amuse. ment. This latter, it must be confessed, at the period we allude to, was a matter of no small difficulty in a new colony like Hong-Kong, composed of raw materials, and unlicked into shape. At length, after frequent consultations with our compredore (who is a head servant or butler), as to the practicability of inducing a celebrated juggler of Canton, for the sake of “the filthy lucre of gain,” to transport himself to Hong-Kong, and exhibit his various acquirements to us “red-bristled bar barians," the aforesaid compredore one day announced to us with much official importance, that the celebrated individual of the juggler species had ar. rived in the island. He was sent forth. with in quest of the said necromancer, and returned, after a lapse of some hours, with the intelligence that he had succeeded in finding the rara avis, and had secured his services for a valuable consideration, to display his cabalistic skill, and, for the first time, to perform for the gratification and amusement of an audience composed of liege subjects of Her Britannic Majesty. Invitations in due course were issued, and accepted with alacrityrecreation of any kind being at that period, in that lugubrious colony, rare--and a large assemblage, consisting for the most part of lords of the creation, arrived on the evening in question.
The room in which the performance took place was denuded of every ar. ticle of furniture, with the exception of chairs, which were arranged close to the walls, for the convenience of the spectators, thus leaving the floor un. matted, and a clear and wide arena for the performer. At the hour named, the great attraction of the evening was introduced by the compredore; he appeared to be a man of about five-and. thirty years of age, sallow complexion (for even amongst the tawney-skinned inhabitants of the Celestial Empire there are various degrees of yellow. ness), his eyes were exceedingly small, with an expression of shrewd observa. tion and cunning depicted therein, and he appeared to take in the whole company assembled at one glance; there was an expression of finesse about the mouth, and the toût ensemble of his countenance evinced a character of intelligence, shrewdness, and determi.
nation, rarely combined ; but he observed the imperturbable gravity so characteristic of the Chinese nation. In height he was about five feet seven inches, not an athletically formed man, but of a wiry, spare make; he was attired in the ordinary dress of the middle ranks of Chinese, which consists of the loose jacket and trowsers, with white calico stockings, and black silken shoes, embroidered with blue, and white felt soles two inches thick ; he had no covering on his head, and was followed by his coolee or servant, bear. ing an unpainted teak-wood box of about three feet by two feet in size, who placed it in the room and retired.
The juggler, magician, necromancer, or conjuror (for we care not by which of these denominations to designatethe individual), advanced into the centre of the room, accompanied by the compredore, and delivered a Chinese oration, which was rendered into Anglo-Chinese by the compredore act. ing as interpreter on the occasion, which was to the following effect, namely :-“ That he had never before exhibited the mysteries of his art to any but natives of China, and mandarins of the highest rank ; but that as the compredore was his particular friend, and had promised him faithfully that the mandarin of Canton should not be made cognisant of his having exhibited the acts of his peculiar vocation before any but the favoured sons of the Celestial 'Empire, he would display such wonders as would undoubtedly convince us that he was no common professor of the occult science; for as Taou-Kwang was the greatest emperor in the whole world, all other potentates being his inferiors, so was he (the speaker) the chief and head of all the professors of his art, all others his compeers being as inferior to him as the aforesaid potentates were to TaouKwang." This oration was delivered with an amazing show of pomposity, which was received by us for exactly as much as it was worth, still keeping our resolution, previously formed, of watching him most narrowly and closely.
The compredore having retired, the emperor of all the jugglers, magicians, necromancers, and conjurors was left solus; he commenced operations by placing his box in the centre of the room; he then stripped off his
jacket, thus appearing in a state of nudity from the waist upwards, hav ing a white cloth twisted round his loins. He next took his long tail of plaited hair, and twined it round his head, and being thus prepared, he opened his box, and took therefrom an ordinary basin, or bowl, of about eighteen inches in diameter, closed the lid of the box, leaving it exposed com pletely to our view: he then walked round the room, allowing each indi. vidual separately to inspect the basin, and handle it the whole of the time talking in his native language, which we afterwards learned was a species of incantation. We were all sufficiently satisfied that the basin was an ordinary one, and perfectly empty. He then placed it on the floor, about five feet from the box, untwisted the cloth from round his waist, which was in size about a yard and a-half long, by one yard wide, and which he threw over the basin, spreading it out, continuing during all the time his mumbling. In about half a minute, he raised the cloth from the basin, exposing it to view, when lo, and behold! to our astonishment, it was filled with limpid water, and a fish of three or four inches long was swimming about in it! He took up the bowl, and handed it to each spectator, as he had previously done, and we satisfied ourselves that there was no ocular deception, but that the water was indeed veritable, and the fish a living one! How this was accomplished, we leave it to others more learned in necromantic arts to solve, but this is certain, that there was no false lining or bottom to the basin ; and it was impossible to have changed the vessel, or to have put anything into it, as the performer did not approach it from the time of placing it upon the floor until after he had withdrawn the cloth, and we had seen the limpid water in it. After we had sufficiently satisfied ourselves, by examining the contents of the basin, he replaced it in the box, and took therefrom a green flower-pot, filled with mould, which was about twelve inches in height, and eighteen inches in diameter. Holding this in one hand, and exhibiting what appeared to be an or. dinary seed in the other, he handed them round for inspection after the previous fashion; he then made a avity in the mould, and placed the
seed, in it, covering it carefully with the earth; he afterwards set down the flower-pot where the bowl had previously rested, covered it in like man. ner with the cloth, and recoinmenced his mutterings, which occupied about ten minutes, after which he withdrew the cloth, and we beheld a young and tender plant in the flower-pot, about two inches above the mould; this was of a beautiful bright green colour, with the leaves folded about the stem, one within the other, and apparently a healthy plant, having all that fresh. ness peculiar to one which has just burst from the parent earth, but of what botanical species we are not in a position to determine. This was handed round by the enchanter, and examined by all, with the same feel. ings and expressions of surprise, but with no less care and accuracy, than the water and fish which had preceded it. He again placed it in its previous position, re-covered it with the cloth, and recommenced his incantations, which continued for about twenty minutes ; during which period, we observed the cloth gradually rising in a conical form over the spot where it covered the flower-pot, until it had risen about a foot and a half, when the cloth was again withdrawn, and to our increased amazement, we beheld the tender plant grown into a small shrub, regularly formed, clothed with verdure, and having its branches covered with buds and leaves ; and again, the same examination was resumed—we were as equally convincell of the shrub being a bona fidè one, and of the impossibility of deception, as we had been of the truth and accuracy of what we bad seen on the two former occasions. The replacing, recovering, remuttering, were all seve. rally renewed, and after the lapse of half-an-hour, the cloth was once more removed, and need we say that the amazement of the spectators was considerably augmented, by discovering that the shrub was now clothed with blossoms and flowers, in appearance resembling those of the China aster! " Most wonderful-astounding-extraordinary-beyond belief-scarcely to be credited--surely, our eyes deceive us,” were some of the expressions which escaped from those present; we came to the conclusion that nothing more extraordinary could be
exhibited, and we imagined that the manipulations, vehemently and loudly show was concluded, when our friend muttering his incantations—it has the necromancer re-called the com- just been suggested to us by an imp at predore, and through him requested our elbow, that the manipulations he us to resume our seats, as he had was indulging in might possibly have something further to produce, by been of a mesmeric character)--this which he hoped to prove his right and continued for the space of half-an-hour, title to the imperial dignity which he our necromancer never budging from assumed over his confrères ; he, at the the spot, or changing the elegant attisame time, intimated that our patience tude which he had first adopted; we would be slightly taxed, as it required observed sundry movements under the some time to bring the forthcoming cloth at divers times, and in various spectacle to a completion; we has. places; it appeared to be raised from tened to comply with this his most the ground, until the whole presented reasonable request, by reseating our an appearance not unlike the uneven selves.
surface and undulations of the model Again the casket of wonders, in the of a hilly country: the three sides form of the aforesaid teak-wood box, which were removed from the magician was called into requisition, and the lid resting upon the floor. At the expirahaving been opened, our wonder. tion of the half-hour, he arose, and worker took therefrom a common removed the cloth, walking round, and round earthenware white-and-blue carefully gathering it up by the four plate, of about two feet in diameter, corners, which being thus raised, dis. and placed thereon about a pound of covered to our view, arranged in sym. unboiled rice; this he handed round in metrical order, six dishes or plates the manner previously described, and similar to that which had been handed we took the platter, examining it more round, but of various sizes, and these narrowly than any of the former arti. were filled with sundry cooked edibles cles, resolved that this time there peculiar to the country, and amongst should be no mistake (for, as he had them was a dish of boiled rice, but, promised that it should be something where the dish of unboiled rice had more supernatural than anything which vanished to, or from whence came the we had yet witnessed, we resolved, if six dishes, or how they came there, possible, to be uncommonly sharp)-we amply provided, as they were, with handled the rice, therefore, which ready-dressed food, it passed human there could be no mistake about, it ken to explain! Neither is it conbeing, indeed, “la veritable" (asceivable how he could have arranged Jean Maria Farina says), and uncooked these six dishes without moving from also. All this time it must be kept in one spot, as those which were farthest mind, that although the necromancer from him, when the cloth was recould see the box, yet it was kept moved, were considerably beyond the closed at a distance from him, and he reach of his arm- but, certes, it cannever approached it during his opera not be denied that he could with equal tions, so that it was perfectly imprac. facility arrange the order of the dishes, ticable that he could abstract anyas he could have caused to appear, or article from it during the time. He have produced, the six dishes of va. now put the plate of rice in the centre rious descriptions of cooked food from of the room, and covered it with the one solitary platter of unboiled rice! cloth, and squatting down after the Again were exclamations of wonder manner of these pagans (for, be it and astonishment heard to issue from known, that their attitude resembles the mouths of all those wbo were prethat of a monkey squatted, more than sent; again did we conclude that the that of a human being seated, as their spectacle had been brought to a close, nether end rests upon, or balances over but again were we requested to resume their heels, and when their long tails our seats, and again did we comply rest upon the ground, the resemblance with the solicitation. The conjuror is nearly perfect), he varied the per. re-covered the viands with his magic formance this time, by putting his cloth, which, to our ordinary vision, hands under the cloth, scrupulously appeared to be nothing more or less keeping his arms covered up to the than two pieces of white calico sewn elbows, and then commenced divers together up the middle ; re-seating