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After some time he asked the boy if he saw any thing, and being answered twice or thrice in the negative, he continued the incantation with redoubled energy; at length the boy said he saw two people sweeping the street, and then a man on a white horse approach ; that the sweeping ceased, and he sat down on the deewan ; presently the figures vanished, and the magician demanded of us what we would have appear in the mirror. A gentleman present desired that a lady of his acquaintance in Syria should be brought up; this lady was described by the boy as an ill-favoured person, with red hair, and seated tete-a-tete upon a sofa with a black man. As our friend had already described her to us as a person of considerable personal beauty, a hearty laugh went round, in which the magician and boy joined, (at least as much as a Mooslim can laugh,) supposing they had made a good hit. He was tried with other persons in England, but always failed ; however as he made an attempt to describe somebody, and seemed evidently prepared by the magician, we dismissed him and procured another ; the very one who a few days before had so valiantly chopped off his finger. He certainly not being educated to the affair, was unable to see anything but his own face, although the incantation was repeated till the operator was nearly hoarse, and the smoke of the frankincense had well nigh smothered the little boy. A third was tried, but with like success; the magician, however, asserted, that from their having
TRIAL OF THE POWERS OF MAGIC.
some evil thoughts, or from some untoward circumstances, they were unable to see the person he wished—in fact they were not magnetisable.
To try still further the powers of this man, a Greek chief, who was present, brought in a picture case, containing the portrait of a lady then alive, and offered the man a hundred dollars, which he placed in the hands of Count Albert, if he could then, either himself or by his own boy, describe the dress and features of the person represented in the picture. This he declined at the time, but said he would come on Sunday and do it. He soon slunk down stairs and decamped, and I need hardly say he never came back. So much for our magician, who we all agreed was a complete hoax, and a much more clumsy conjuror than an English fair could afford. There was decidedly an endeavour to deceive, and of this I am the more convinced by a circumstance related to me by our vice-consul, Dr. Walne.
Some English travellers wished to see the magician, and an evening was appointed for his performance. He arrived, and the company not relishing the accomplice he had brought with him, one of the servants of the consulate was sent out to procure a boy, but directed to be on his guard, and not take any whom he might suspect of being in the
of the conjuror. Now in the vicinity of the consulate a number of streets meet, and on the servant coming to one, a man asked him where he was going ; being informed of his errand, he instantly said, “Oh
here is one for you,” producing a boy who was in waiting. The servant perceiving the trick refused him and turned another way ; again and again the same thing happened. In fact, fearful of failure, they had beset every avenue with boys instructed by the magician. Hence, I think, it is a fair inference to draw, that where there is a studied endeavour to practise a deception there is no reality.
Except by the Almighty's permission, satanic influence is the only power by which the representation of persons living or dead could be thus really “brought up” in a distant land, and that
I do not believe now exists. I have heard and read many wonderful accounts of those men, but such was our experience.
Not the least wonderful, and certainly one of the most disgusting performances we saw, was that of serpent eating An Arah, of most ferocious mien and appearance, presented himself one day at our hotel for this purpose. He had a bag full of snakes, principally the coluber haje, * several of
* The Haje (Coluber Haje, Linn.) Geoffr. Egypt. Rept. pl. vii. and Savigny, suppl. pl. 111, in which the neck is indented somewhat less than the Cobra De Capello used by the Indian jugglers, and which is greenish, bordered with brown. “The jugglers of this country, by pressing its nape with the finger, know how to throw this serpent into a kind of catalepsy, which renders it stiff and immoveable, thus seeming to change it into a rod or stick. The habit which the Haje has of raising itself upright when approached, made the ancient Egyptians believe that it guarded the fields which it inhabited. They made it the
which he took out, and hanging some round his neck and on his arms, he placed others on the ground, and by treading on their tails, irritated them so as to make them become erect, raising themselves up, swelling out their necks laterally in a most remarkable manner, and assuming with their extended jaws, vibrating forked tongue, and hissing note, a most threatening aspect, as they formed a circle round the serpent charmer. Their fangs had been, however, previously removed. For a four-piaster piece, he offered to eat one for our amusement, and accordingly, taking it up, he held it at full length opposite his face, for some minutes, his eyes glistened with a most inhuman brightness, his lip curled, and the muscles of his face played with unusual and apparently involuntary motions, displaying a set of particularly white teeth within the setting of his thick and grisly black beard and moustache. Each end of the serpent writhed in his hand; he placed the centre across his mouth, and with one champ bit it in two, and then placing one end of the twining severed snake within his jaws, nipped off a large mouthful, and putting his finger to the still living morsel, to give it a jerk, bolted it. The stream of blood trickling like
emblem of the protecting Divinity of the world, and sculptured it on the portals of all their temples on the two sides of a globe. It is incontestably the serpent which the ancients have described under the name of Aspic of Egypt, of Cleopatra, &c.”—Cuvier, Animal Kingdom.
from the corners of his mouth, and, the head and tail of the snake he still held up, twining in his bloody hands—a more demoniac face I do not think I ever beheld, or a scene more sickening ; but it is his mode of living, and there are many more pleasing, but perhaps less honest, as I that evening had an opportunity of observing.
An invitation from the managers introduced me to a public ball, held in the house of one of the European representatives. The scene inspired particular interest in a foreigner, as from the number and diversity of costumes, it had all the appearance of a masquerade, while the ridiculous oddity of the dress of some of the men, strengthened the illusion. These being in the native service, and glad of an opportunity of reviving, even in dress, the recollections of their father-land, had assumed their old garbs, but had covered their heads (shaven to meet the “regulation”) with the red turboosh, which made them look as if they had crowned their finery with old Kilmarnock night-caps. A number of ladies were present, principally French, but dressed in the Levantine costume. Some few were natives, Jews, Copts, or Syrian Christians. The general effect of their costume was pleasing, though strange; the wide trowsers, tied tightly round the ancles, made their beautiful little feet look still smaller ; the loose, flowing robe of pink or white, and the short under-garment, were very becoming. The bosom is, however, much more