Article from Cassiers's, January, 1895
by Nelson W. Perry, E. M.
"Seeing is believing," is an old saw that depends for its truth very largely upon the individual who sees. We most of us know, however, how fallible is the sense of sight; for it is upon this very fallibility that the sleight-of-hand performer depends for his success. He passes a coin from one hand to the other (or appears to do so), before your very eyes and then, after some diversion or other, in some mysterious manner, again shows the coins in the hand which it never had left. So prone is the eye to deceive itself, that when this simple trick is skillfully done, it will involuntarily follow the palpable itinerary of the coin hat its possessor knows full well it does not make.
Neither is the sense of hearing to be relied upon, else the ventriloquist's occupation, like that of Othello, would be gone. But who that has seen Heller or Hermann at his best, would not willingly see him again, though he knew that their performances were but tricks for the deception of the masses. Doubtless, the magicians of the East were adepts in this art, but their tricks have lost none of their mystery by the tales of travelers who have witnessed them. If it be true, as Barnum said, that the public likes to be humbugged, it is also true that this same public, after having been humbugged, itself delights in assisting other publics in becoming humbugged. It becomes a ready accomplice to the performer whose tricks it has itself witnessed.
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