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room, he gave a long, confused, and impassioned debate of democrats (in French, as almost the whole of his performance was ;) it seemed to proceed from a multitude of speakers: and an inaccurate observer might have thought that several were speaking at once. A ludicrous scene of drawing a tooth was performed in the same manner
These examples, and many more which might be added, are sufficient, in proof that ventriloquism is the art of mimicry, an imitation applied to sounds of every description, and attended with circumstances which produce an entertaining deception, and lead the hearers to imagine that the voice proceeds from different situations. When distant low voices are to be imitated, the articulation may be given with suffi cient distinctness, without moving the lips, or altering the countenance. It was by a supposed supernatural voice of this kind, from a ventriloquist, that the famous musical small coal man, Thomas Britton, received a warning of his death, which so greatly affected him, that he did not survive the affright.
The following quotation from Richerand's Physiology will be sufficient to give the reader a further idea of the mechanism of this singular art. "At first," says Richerand, "I had con jectured that a great portion of the air driven out by expiration did not pass out by the mouth and nostrils, but was swallowed and carried into the stomach, reflected in some part of the digestive canal, and gave rise to a real echo; but after having attentively observed this curious phenomenon, in Mr. Fitz-James, who represents it in its greatest perfection, I was enabled to convince myself that the name ventriloquism is by no means applicable, since the whole of its mechanism consists in a slow gradual expiration, drawn in such a v that the artist either makes use of the influence exerted I / volition over the muscles or parietis of the thorax, or that he keeps the epiglottis down by the base of the tongue, the apex of which is not carried beyond the dental arches.
"He always makes a strong inspiration just before this long expiration, and thus conveys a considerable mass of air into the lungs, the exit of which he afterwards manages with such address. Therefore, repletion of the stomach greatly incom modes the talent of Mr. Fitz-James, by preventing the dia phragm from descending sufficiently to admit of a dilatation of the thorax, in proportion to the quantity of air that the lungs should receive. By accelerating or retarding the exit of the air, he can imitate different voices, and induce his auditors to a belief that the interlocutors of a dialogue, which is kept up by himself alone, are placed at different distances; and this illusion is the more complete in proportion to the perfection of his peculiar talent. No man possesses, to such
a degree as Mr. Fitz-James, the art of deceiving persons who are least liable to delusion, he can carry his execution to five or six different tones, pass rapidly from one to another, as he does when representing an animated dispute in the midst of a popular assembly."
Some persons are of opinion that the witch of Endor was a ventriloquist, and that she practised this art before King Saul, and deceived him in the resurrection of Samuel; the present writer, however, does not vouch for this opinion.
Another very extraordinary acquirement, and which the pre sent writer has been witness to, is, SwORD-SWALLOWING.
This surprising act is performed by the Indian Jugglers; the following account of which, is extracted from Forbes's Oriental Memoirs.
"I have elsewhere mentioned some feats of the Indian Jugglers at Zinore I saw one which surpassed every thing of the kind I had before witnessed, I mean the swallowing a sword up to the hilt. Had I not afterwards met with the same set on the island of Salsette, exhibiting before the English chief at Tannah, I should have doubted the evidence of my senses. I witnessed the fact more than once, and am convinced there was no deception. Finding my tale generally disbelieved in Europe, I suppressed it; but having since read a clear and satisfactory account of this extraordinary transaction, drawn up by Mr. Johnson, surgeon in the navy, who, in the year 1804, was an eye-witness of this performance, and having described it as a professional man, I shall transcribe the account from his memoir :
"Having been visited by one of these conjurers, I resolved to see clearly his mode of performing this operation; and for that purpose ordered him to seat himself on the floor of the veranda. The sword he intended to use has some resemblance to a common spit in shape, except at the handle, which is merely a part of the blade itself, rounded and elongated into a little rod. It is from twenty-two to twenty-six inches in length, about an inch in breadth, and about onefifth of an inch in thickness; the edges and point are blunt, being rounded, and of the same thickness as the rest of the blade; it is of iron or steel, smooth, and a little bright. Having satisfied himself with respect to the sword, by attempting bend it; and by striking it against a stone, I firmly grasped it by the handle, and ordered him to proceed. He first took a small phial of oil, and with one of his fingers rubbed a little of it over the surface of the instrument; then, stretching up his neck as much as possible, and bending himself a little backwards, he introduced the point of it into his mouth, and pushed it gently down his throat, until my
hand, which was on the handle, came in contact with his lips. He then made a sign to me with one of his hands, to feel the point of the instrument between his breast and navel: which I could do, by bending him a little more backwarus, and pressing my fingers on his stomach, he being a very thin and lean fellow. On letting go the handle of the sword, he instantly fixed on it a little machine that spun round, and disengaged a small fire-work, which encircling his head with a blue flame, gave him, as he then sat, a truly diabolical appearance. On withdrawing the instrument, several parts of its surface were covered with blood, which shewed that he was still obliged to use a degree of violence in the introduction.
"I was at first a good deal surprised at this transaction altogether; but when I came to reflect a little upon it, there appeared nothing at all improbable, much less impossible, in the business. He told me, on giving him a trifle, that he had been accustomed, from his early years, to introduce at first small elastic instruments down his throat, and into his stomach; that by degrees he had used larger ones, until at length he was able to use the present iron sword.'" Oriental Memoirs, vol. ii. pp. 515–517.
Two of these jugglers have lately visited England, and performed the above exploit, with many others, almost equally surprising, to the satisfaction of crowded audiences.
We may learn from various instances in this chapter the value of perseverance; this will overcome difficulties, which at first appear insuperable; and it is amazing to consider, how great and numerous obstacles may be removed by a continual attention to any particular point. By such attention and perseverance, what may not man effect! Any man, unless he be an absolute idiot, may by these means raise himself to excellence in some branch or other; and what is best of all, by divine assistance, and by unwearied and keen application, he may resist temptation, conquer the evil principle, rise superior to all the difficulties and trials of life, excel in wisdom and goodness, and thus be fitted for a better country when death summons him away from the present world.
Man must soar.
An obstinate activity within,
INDIAN JUGGLERS; (see pages 62 and 63.)-The Indian jugglers, who exhibited in London from 1810 to 1815, performed such astonishing feats, that it would appear to require a long life, spent in incessant practice, to acquire facility in any one of them; such proficiency is so common, however, in India, that it probably excites no extraordinary interest there. The following is a description of their performances, which were witnessed by the editor of this work.
The exhibition takes place upon a raised platform, on which, having performed his salaam, or eastern obeisance, the chief performer takes his seat; and behind him sits the second juggler, and an attendant boy, whose occupation is to beat together two metallic plates, somewhat resembling cymbals, which emit an unremitting sound, like the clucking of a hen.
The first tricks are performed with cups and balls. These are similar in their mode to the deceptions of our own conjurers, and only remarkable for the superiority of their evolutions in the hands of this celebrated Asiatic. The cups seem enchanted; the balls fly; they increase in number; they diminish; now one, now two, now. none under the cup; and now the sepent, the cobra de capella, usurps the place of a small globule of cork, and winds its snaky folds as if from under the puny vessel. The facility with which this dexterous feat is accomplished, gives life and animation to the sable countenance of the artist, whose arm is bared to the elbow, to shew that the whole is done by sleight of hand. During his performances, the juggler keeps up an unremitting noise, striking his tongue against his teeth, like the clack of machinery, and uttering sounds, as if he were repeating, with inconceivable rapidity, the words "Crickery-tick, crickerytick, crickery-tick, a-tow, geret-tow, crickery-tick, a-tow, &c."
The next feat is that of breaking a cotton thread into the consistency of scraped lint, as used by surgeons, and reproducing it continued and entire; after which he lays upon the palm of his hand a small quantity of common sand; this he rubs with the fingers of his other hand, and it changes its hue the colourless grains become yellow; he rubs them again, they are white; again, and they are black.
A series of evolutions then succeeds, with four hollow brass balls, about the size of oranges. His power over these is almost miraculous. He causes them to describe every possible circle-horizontally, perpendicularly, obliquely, transversely, round his legs, under his arms, about his head, in small and in large circumferences-with wondrous rapidity, and keeping the whole number in motion at the same time. This being the sole fruit of effort, activity, quickness of eye, and rapidity of action, no one who has not witnessed it can form ar idea of its excellence He then exhibits his astonishing power