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Memoirs of Robert-Houdin, ambassador, author and c

Footnotes have been moved to the end of the text body.]

MEMOIRS

OF

ROBERT-HOUDIN

AMBASSADOR, AUTHOR, AND CONJURER.

WRITTEN BY HIMSELF.

EDITED BY

DR. R. SHELTON MACKENZIE.

PHILADELPHIA: GEO. G. EVANS, PUBLISHER, NO. 439 CHESTNUT STREET. 1859.

Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1859, by

G. G. EVANS,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

STEREOTYPED AND PRINTED BY RINWALT & CO., 34 SOUTH THIRD STREET.

EDITOR'S PREFACE.

A man may not only "take his own life," by writing his autobiography, without committing _felo de se_, but may carry himself into future time by producing a book which the world will not willingly let die. This is what M. Robert-Houdin, the greatest artist in what is called Conjuring, has lately done in the remarkable book _Confidences d'un Prestigiteur_, a faithful translation of which is here presented to the American reading public. The work has had the greatest success in Europe, from its lively style as well as the various information it contains, historical and philosophical, on the practice and principles of sleight-of-hand, and the other details, mental as well as mechanical, which unite to make perfect the exhibition of White Magic, the antipodes of what our forefathers knew, persecuted, and punished as the Black Art.

Houdin has been considered of such importance and interest in France, that in Didot's _Nouvelle Biographie G?n?rale_, now in course of publication at Paris, a whole page is given to him. From this memoir, and from his own account in the pages which follow, we learn that he was born at Blois, on the 6th December, 1805,--that his father, a watchmaker in that city, gave him a good education at the College of Orleans,--that his inclination for _escamotage_ (or juggling) was so decided as to make him averse to pursue his father's trade,--that he early exhibited great taste for mechanical inventions, which he so successfully cultivated that, at the Paris Exhibition of 1844, he was awarded a medal for the ingenious construction of several automata,--that, having studied the displays of the great masters on the art of juggling, he opened a theatre of his own, in the Palais Royal in Paris, to which his celebrated _soir?es fantastiques_ attracted crowds,--that, in 1848, when the Revolution had ruined all theatrical speculations in Paris, he visited London, where his performances at St. James's Theatre were universally attractive and lucrative,--that he made a tour through Great Britain with equal success, returning to Paris when France had settled down quietly under the rule of a President,--that he subsequently visited many other parts of Europe, every where received with distinction and applause,--that at the Great Parisian Exhibition of 1855, he was awarded the gold medal for his scientific application of electricity to clocks,--that, shortly after, he closed ten years of active public life by relinquishing his theatre to Mr. Hamilton, his brother-in-law, retiring with a well-earned competency to Blois,--and that, in 1857, at the special request of the French Government, which desired to lessen the influence of the Marabouts, whose conjuring tricks, accepted as actual magic by the Arabs, gave them too much influence, he went to Algeria, as a sort of Ambassador, to play off his tricks against theirs, and, by greater marvels than they could shew, destroy the _prestige_ which they had acquired. He so completely succeeded that the Arabs lost all faith in the miracles of the Marabouts, and thus was destroyed an influence very dangerous to the French Government.


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