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Title: Parlour Magic
Author: Perkins, Henry
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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        _To the_
      Little Manual
    Family Recreation

[Illustration: PARLOUR MAGIC]



ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1838, by HENRY
PERKINS, in the Clerk’s office of the District Court for the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania.

Printed by Haswell, Barrington, and Haswell.

[Illustration: PREFACE.]

To furnish the ingenious youth with the means of relieving the
tediousness of a long winter’s or a wet summer’s evening,—to enable
him to provide for a party of juvenile friends, instructive as well
as recreative entertainment, without having recourse to any of the
vulgar modes of killing time,—to qualify the hero of his little circle
to divert and astonish his friends, and, at the same time, to improve
himself, are the principal objects of the following little Work.

The boy whose wonder and curiosity have been excited by the experiments
of the scientific lecturer, or the illusions of the ventriloquist,
will here find many of these mysteries unveiled, and plain directions
for performing them, divested, as far as possible, of scientific or
technical language. Many of the descriptions are strictly original, and
now, for the first time, appear in print; and especial care has been
taken to introduce only such Experiments as are adapted for performance
at the parlour or drawing-room table, or fire-side, and such as are
practicable without expensive chemical or mechanical apparatus, and
require no implements beyond those which any ingenious youth may
readily furnish from his own resources, or at a trifling expense.

Another object of these pages is to inform, without being dryly
scientific,—by imparting interesting facts, to stimulate the young
experimentalist to inquire into the laws that regulate them,—by aiding
him to acquire dexterity of practice, to smooth the road to the
development of principles,—and, above all, to enable him to escape
an imputation which every boy of spirit would consider the depth of
disgrace,—that of being “No Conjuror!”


[Illustration: CONTENTS.]

  The Spectral Lamp                                                  1
  Curious Change of Colours                                          2
  The Protean Light                                                  2
  The Chameleon Flowers                                              3
  To change the Colours of Flowers                                   3
  Changes of the Poppy                                               3
  To change the Colour of a Rose                                     4
  Light changing White into Black                                    4
  The Visibly growing Acorn                                          4
  Changes in Sap-Green                                               5
  To revive apparently dead Plants                                   5
  Singular effect of Tears                                           5
  Beauties of Crystallization                                        5
  To crystallize Camphor                                             7
  Crystallized Tin                                                   7
  Crystals in hard Water                                             7
  Varieties of Crystals                                              7
  Heat from Crystallization                                          8
  Splendid Sublimation                                               8
  Artificial Ice                                                     8
  Magic Inks                                                         8
  Chameleon Liquids                                                  9
  The Magic Dyes                                                     9
  Wine changed into Water                                           10
  Two colourless transparent Liquids become black and opaque        10
  Two colourless Fluids make a coloured one                         10
  Change of colour by colourless Fluids                             10
  To change a Blue Liquid to White                                  11
  Veritable “Black” Tea                                             11
  Restoration of Colour by Water                                    11
  The Magic Writing                                                 12
  Two Liquids make a Solid                                          12
  Two Solids make a Liquid                                          12
  A solid opaque mass made a transparent Liquid                     12
  Two cold Liquids make a hot one                                   12
  Quadruple Transmutation                                           13
  Quintuple Transmutation                                           13
  Combination of Colours                                            13
  Union of two Metals without Heat                                  13
  Magic Breath                                                      13
  Two Bitters make a Sweet                                          14
  Visible and Invisible                                             14

  Sight and Sound.
  Artificial Mirage                                                 17
  Motion of the Eye                                                 18
  Single Vision with two Eyes                                       19
  Two objects seen as one                                           19
  Only one object can be seen at a time                             20
  Straight objects seen crooked                                     20
  Optical Illusion                                                  21
  Pin-hole Focus                                                    21
  Optical Deceptions                                                22
  Accuracy of Sight                                                 22
  Visual Deception                                                  23
  Handwriting upon the Wall                                         23
  Imitative Haloes                                                  23
  To read a Coin in the dark                                        24
  To make a Prism                                                   24
  Optical Augmentation                                              25
  Gold Fish in a glass Globe                                        26
  Colours produced by the unequal action of Light upon the Eyes     26
  Optical Deception                                                 27
  Coloured Shadows                                                  27
  Colours of Scratches                                              27
  Ocular Spectra                                                    28
  Beautiful Colours of Mother of Pearl                              28
  White Letters seen further than Black                             29
  Artificial Rainbow                                                29
  Fringe about a Candle                                             29
  The Double Coloured Reflection                                    30
  Luminous Cross                                                    30
  Ring of Colours round a Candle                                    30
  Simple and Cheap Opera-glass                                      31
  Multiplying Theatres                                              31
  Apparatus for Writing in the Dark                                 32
  Portable Microscope                                               33
  The Phenakistiscope or Stroboscope                                34
  To look at the Sun without injury                                 35
  Brilliant Water Mirror                                            35
  Optical Illusion under Water                                      35
  The Magic Wheels                                                  36
  Acoustic Rainbow                                                  37
  Transmission of Sound                                             37
  Progress of Sound                                                 39
  Sound turning Corners                                             39
  To tell the distance of Thunder                                   40
  Hearing by the Touch                                              40
  Conversation for the Deaf                                         40
  Glass broken by the Voice                                         41
  Figures produced by Sound                                         41
  Transmitted Vibration                                             42
  Double Vibration                                                  42
  Champagne and Sound                                               42
  Music from Palisades                                              43
  Theory of the Jew’s Harp                                          43
  Music of the Snail                                                44
  To tune a Guitar without the assistance of the Ear                44
  Music from Glass or Metal Rods                                    44
  The Tuning-fork a Flute-player                                    45
  Musical Bottles                                                   46
  Theory of Whispering                                              46
  Theory of the Voice                                               46
  Sound along a Wall                                                47
  Sounds more audible by Night than by Day                          47
  Musical Echo                                                      47
  Ventriloquism                                                     48

  Light and Heat.
  Flashes of Light upon revolving Wheels                            53
  Decomposition of Light                                            54
  Solar Refraction                                                  54
  Incantations                                                      55
  To imitate the Light of the Sea                                   55
  Instantaneous Lights                                              56
  To colour the Flame of a Candle                                   57
  To divide the Flame of a Candle                                   57
  Cane Wick Lamp                                                    58
  Camphor and Platinum Lamp                                         58
  Platinum and Ether Lamp                                           58
  Floating Light                                                    59
  Substitute for a Wax Taper                                        59
  Phosphorescent Fish                                               59
  The Luminous Spectre                                              59
  Light, a Painter                                                  60
  Effect of Light upon Crystallization                              60
  Effect of Light on Plants                                         60
  Instantaneous Light upon Ice                                      61
  White Light from Zinc                                             61
  Brilliant Light from two Metals                                   61
  Brilliant Light from Steel                                        61
  Lighted Tin                                                       62
  Light from Gilt Buttons                                           62
  Light from a Flower                                               62
  Light from Sugar                                                  62
  Light from the Potato                                             63
  Light from the Oyster                                             63
  Light from Derbyshire Spar                                        63
  Light from Oyster-shells                                          64
  Rings of Light in Crystal                                         64
  To strike Light with Cane                                         64
  Cause of Transparency                                             64
  Transparency of Gold                                              65
  Tint changed by Thickness                                         65
  Shadows made darker by increased Light                            65
  Miniature Thunder and Lightning                                   66
  The Burning Glass                                                 66
  Magic of Heat                                                     66
  Repulsion by Heat                                                 67
  Heat passing through Glass                                        68
  Metals unequally influenced by Heat                               68
  Spontaneous Combustion                                            69
  Inequality of Heat in Fire irons                                  69
  Expansion of Metal by Heat                                        69
  Evaporation of a Metal                                            69
  A Floating Metal on Fire                                          70
  Heat and Cold from Flannel                                        70
  Ice melted by Air                                                 70
  To hold a hot Tea-kettle on the Hand                              70
  Incombustible Linen                                               71
  The Burning Circle                                                71
  Water of different Temperatures in the same Vessel                71
  Warmth of different Colours                                       71
  Substitute for Fire                                               72

  Gas and Steam.
  Laughing Gas                                                      75
  The Luminous Wand                                                 76
  To make Carbonic Acid Gas                                         76
  Carbonic Acid Gas in Wine or Beer Vessels                         76
  To extinguish Flame with Gas                                      77
  Effect of Hydrogen on the Voice                                   77
  Magic Taper                                                       78
  The Gas Candle                                                    78
  Gas Bubbles                                                       78
  Gas-light in the day-time                                         79
  Miniature Balloons                                                79
  Miniature Gas-lighting                                            79
  Musical Gas                                                       80
  Miniature Will o’-the-wisp                                        81
  Phosphoric Illumination                                           81
  Combustion of Iron in Oxygen Gas                                  81
  Glow-worm in Oxygen Gas                                           82
  Luminous Charcoal                                                 82
  Brilliant Combustion in Oxygen                                    82
  Flame from Cold Metals                                            83
  Phosphorus in Chlorine                                            83
  Caoutchouc Balloons                                               84
  To increase the Light of Coal Gas                                 84
  Gas from Indian Rubber                                            84
  Ether Gas                                                         85
  Magic Vapour                                                      85
  Gas from the union of Metals                                      85
  Invisible Gases made Visible                                      86
  Light under Water                                                 86
  Gaseous Evanescence                                               86
  Violet-coloured Gas                                               86
  To collect Gases                                                  87
  The Deflagrating Spoon                                            87
  What is Steam?                                                    87
  The Steam Engine simplified                                       88
  To boil Water by Steam                                            88
  Distillation in Miniature                                         89
  Candle or Fire Crackers                                           89
  Steam from the Kettle                                             89

  Fire, Water, and Air.
  Coloured Flames                                                   93
  Yellow Flame                                                      94
  Orange-coloured Flame                                             94
  Emerald Green Flame                                               94
  Instantaneous Flame                                               94
  The Cup of Flame                                                  95
  To cool Flame by Metal                                            95
  Proof that Flame is Hollow                                        95
  Camphor sublimed by Flame                                         95
  Green Fire                                                        96
  Brilliant Red Fire                                                96
  Purple Fire                                                       96
  Silver Fire                                                       97
  The Fiery Fountain                                                97
  The Artificial Conflagration                                      97
  Inflammable Powder                                                97
  Combustion without Flame                                          98
  Combustion of Three Metals                                        98
  To make Paper Incombustible                                       98
  Singular Experiments with Glass Tubes                             98
  Aquatic Bomb                                                      99
  Heat not to be estimated by Touch                                 99
  Flame upon Water                                                 100
  Rose-coloured Flame on Water                                     100
  To set a Mixture on Fire with Water                              100
  Waves of Fire on Water                                           100
  Explosion in Water                                               101
  Water from the Flame of a Candle                                 101
  Formation of Water by Fire                                       101
  Boiling upon Cold Water                                          101
  Currents in Boiling Water                                        102
  Hot Water lighter than Cold                                      102
  Expansion of Water by Cold                                       102
  The Cup of Tantalus                                              103
  Imitative Diving Bell                                            103
  The Water-proof Sieve                                            104
  More than full                                                   104
  To cause Wine and Water to change places                         104
  Pyramid of Alum                                                  104
  Visible Vibration                                                105
  Charcoal in Sugar                                                106
  Floating Needles                                                 106
  Water in a Sling                                                 106
  Attraction in a Glass of Water                                   106
  To prevent Cork floating in Water                                107
  Instantaneous Freezing                                           107
  To freeze Water with Ether                                       107
  Production of Nitre                                              108
  Curious Transposition                                            108
  Animal Barometer                                                 108
  Magic Soap                                                       108
  Equal Pressure of Water                                          109
  To empty a Glass under Water                                     109
  To empty a Glass of Water without touching it                    109
  Decomposition of Water                                           110
  Water heavier than Wine                                          110
  To inflate a Bladder without Air                                 110
  Air and Water Balloon                                            110
  Heated Air Balloon                                               111
  The Pneumatic Tinder-box                                         111
  The Bacchus Experiment                                           111
  The Mysterious Circles                                           112
  Prince Rupert’s Drops                                            114
  Vegetable Hygrometer                                             114
  The Pneumatic Dancer                                             115
  The Ascending Snake                                              116
  The Pneumatic Phial                                              116
  Resin Bubbles                                                    117
  Moisture of the Atmosphere                                       117
  Climates of a Room                                               117
  Bubbles in Champagne                                             118
  Proofs that Air is a heavy Fluid                                 118
  To support a Pea on Air                                          119
  Pyrophorus, or Air-tinder                                        119
  Beauty of a Soap-bubble                                          120
  Why a Guinea falls more quickly than a Feather through the Air   121
  Solidity of Air                                                  122
  Breathing and Smelling                                           122

  Sleights and Subtleties.
  The Ring and the Handkerchief                                    127
  The Knotted Handkerchief                                         128
  The Invisible Springs                                            130
  The Miraculous Apple                                             131
  The Self-balanced Pail                                           132
  The Phantom at command                                           132
  The Miraculous Shilling                                          134
  The Locomotive Shilling                                          135
  The Penetrative Sixpence                                         136
  The Vanishing Sixpence                                           136
  To make a Sixpence balance and spin on its edge on the
        point of a Needle                                          137
  The Multiplying Coin                                             137
  The Magic Rat Trap                                               137
  The Velocity of Motion                                           138
  The Exploding Bubble                                             139
  The Magic Picture                                                139
  Artificial Lightning                                             140
  Three objects discernible only with both Eyes                    140
  To tell by a Watch Dial the Hour when a Person intends to rise   140
  To make a Ring suspend by a Thread, after the Thread has
        been burned                                                141
  To melt a piece of Money in a Walnut-shell without injuring
        the Shell                                                  141
  The Magical Mirrors                                              142
  The Enchanted Bottle                                             143
  The Armed Apparition                                             143
  To extract the Silver out of a Ring that is thickly Gilded,
        so that the Gold may remain entire                         144
  Curious Experiment with a Glass of Water                         144
  A Luminous Bottle, which will show the Hour on a Watch in
        the Dark                                                   144
  The Wonderful Hat                                                145
  To bring a Person down upon a Feather                            145
  The Apparent Impossibility                                       146
  An Omelet cooked in a Hat over the Flame of a Candle             146
  The Impossible Omelet                                            147
  Go if you can                                                    147
  The Figure Puzzle                                                147
  The Visible Invisible                                            147
  The Double Meaning                                               148
  Quite tired out                                                  148
  Something out of the Common                                      148
  To rub one Sixpence into two                                     149
  Magic Circle                                                     149

  Illusions of Touch                                               153
  Illusion of the Taste                                            154
  The General Bleacher                                             154
  Influence of coloured Glass on bulbous Roots                     155
  The Spinning-top “asleep”                                        155
  To judge of Weights                                              156
  Quicksilver and Oil united                                       156
  To dissolve the Soda in Glass                                    156
  Waterproof Paper                                                 157
  To Dissolve Gold or Platinum                                     157
  Colder than Ice                                                  157
  Contra-crystallization                                           157
  One and one do not make two                                      158
  To copy Writing instantly                                        158
  The Rival Dials                                                  158
  To spin Indian Rubber                                            158
  Indelible Writing                                                159
  Vegetable Anatomy                                                159
  To tell what o’Clock it is by the Moon                           160
  The Physiognotype                                                161
  Infinite Divisibility of Matter                                  161
  Holding the Breath                                               162
  Sand in the Hour-Glass                                           162
  Resistance of Sand                                               163
  Glass broken by Sand                                             164
  To bleach Ivory                                                  164
  Vanishing Shells                                                 164
  The Magic Egg                                                    164
  The Magic Whirlpool                                              165
  Magic Porcelain                                                  167
  A Galvanic Tongue                                                168
  Drinking Porter out of Pewter                                    168
  Electric or Galvanic Preservation                                168
  Light from the Diamond                                           169
  To break a Stone with a blow of the Fist                         169
  Mimic Frost-work                                                 169
  To melt Lead in a piece of Paper                                 170
  Hydrostatic Balance                                              170
  Metallic Reduction                                               171
  Electrical Attraction and Repulsion                              171
  Alchemical Electricity                                           172
  The Electric Balls                                               173
  The Electric Dance                                               173
  Electric Light                                                   173
  Electric Light from Brown Paper                                  174
  Sudden Production of Light                                       174
  Electricity of the Cat                                           174


[Illustration: TRANSMUTATIONS.]




MIX some common salt with spirit of wine in a platinum or metallic
cup; set the cup upon a wire frame over a spirit-lamp, which should
be inclosed on each side, or in a dark-lantern: when the cup becomes
heated, and the spirit ignited, it will burn with a strong yellow
flame; if, however, it should not be perfectly yellow, throw more salt
into the cup. The lamp being thus prepared, all other lights should
be extinguished, and the yellow lamp introduced, when an appalling
change will be exhibited; all the objects in the room will be but of
one colour, and the complexions of the several persons, whether old or
young, fair or brunette, will be metamorphosed to a ghastly, death-like
yellow; whilst the gayest dresses, as the brightest crimson, the
choicest lilac, the most vivid blue or green—all will be changed into
one monotony of yellow: each person will be inclined to laugh at his
neighbour, himself insensible of being one of the spectral company.

Their astonishment may be heightened by removing the yellow light to
one end of the room, and restoring the usual or white light at the
other; when one side of each person’s dress will resume its original
colour, while the other will remain yellow; one cheek may bear the
bloom of health, and the other, the yellow of jaundice. Or if, when the
yellow light only is burning, the white light be introduced within a
wire sieve, the company and the objects in the apartment will appear
yellow, mottled with white.

Red light may be produced by mixing with the spirit in the cup over
the lamp, salt of strontian instead of common salt; and the effect of
the white or yellow lights, if introduced through a sieve upon the red
light, will be even more striking than the white upon the yellow light.


Let there be no other light than a taper in the room; then put on
a pair of dark green spectacles, and having closed one eye, view
the taper with the other. Suddenly remove the spectacles, and the
taper will assume a bright red appearance; but, if the spectacles be
instantly replaced, the eye will be unable to distinguish any thing
for a second or two. The order of colours will, therefore, be as
follows:—green, red, green, black.


Soak a cotton wick in a strong solution of salt and water, dry it,
place it in a spirit lamp, and, when lit, it will give a bright yellow
light for a long time. If you look through a piece of blue glass
at the flame, it will lose all its yellow light, and you will only
perceive feeble violet rays. If, before the blue glass, you place a
pale yellow glass, the lamp will be absolutely invisible, though a
candle may be distinctly seen through the same glasses.


Trim a spirit-lamp, add a little salt to the wick, and light it. Set
near it, a scarlet geranium, and the flower will appear yellow. Purple
colours, in the same light, appear blue.


Hold over a lighted match, a purple columbine, or a blue larkspur, and
it will change first to pink, and then to black. The yellow of other
flowers, held as above, will continue unchanged. Thus, the purple tint
will instantly disappear from a heart’s-ease, but the yellow will
remain; and the yellow of a wall-flower will continue the same, though
the brown streak will be discharged. If a scarlet, crimson, or maroon
dahlia be tried, the colour will change to yellow; a fact known to
gardeners, who by this mode, variegate their growing dahlias.


Some flowers which are red, become blue by merely bruising them. Thus,
if the petals of the common corn-poppy be rubbed upon white paper, they
will stain it purple, which may be made green by washing it over with a
strong solution of potash in water. Put poppy petals into very dilute
muriatic acid, and the infusion will be of a florid red colour; by
adding a little chalk, it will become the colour of port wine; and this
tint, by the addition of potash, may be changed to green or yellow.


Hold a red rose over the blue flame of a common match, and the colour
will be discharged wherever the fume touches the leaves of the flower,
so as to render it beautifully variegated, or entirely white. If it be
then dipped into water, the redness, after a time, will be restored.


Write upon linen with permanent ink, (which is a strong solution of
nitrate of silver,) and the characters will be scarcely visible; remove
the linen into a dark room, and they will not change; but expose them
to a strong light, and they will be indelibly black.


Cut a circular piece of card to fit the top of a hyacinth glass, so as
to rest upon the ledge, and exclude the air. Pierce a hole through the
centre of the card, and pass through it a strong thread, having a small
piece of wood tied to one end, which, resting transversely on the card,
prevents its being drawn through. To the other end of the thread attach
an acorn; and, having half filled the glass with water, suspend the
acorn at a short distance from the surface.


The glass must be kept in a warm room; and, in a few days, the steam
which has generated in the glass will hang from the acorn in a large
drop. Shortly afterwards, the acorn will burst, the root will protrude
and thrust itself into the water; and, in a few days more, a stem will
shoot out at the other end, and, rising upwards, will press against the
card, in which an orifice must be made to allow it to pass through.
From this stem, small leaves will soon be observed to sprout; and, in
the course of a few weeks, you will have a handsome oak plant, several
inches in height.


Sap green is the inspissated juice of the buckthorn berries: if a
little carbonate of soda be dropped into it, the colour will be changed
from green to yellow; it may be reddened by acids, and its green colour
restored by chalk.


Make a strong dilution of camphor in spirit of wine, which add to
soft water, in the proportion of a dram to a pint. If withered, or
apparently dead plants be put into this liquid, and allowed to remain
therein from two to three hours, they will revive.


If tears are dropped on a dry piece of paper, stained with the juice
of the petals of mallows or violets, they will change the paper to a
permanently green colour.


Dissolve alum in hot water until no more can be dissolved in it; place
in it a smooth glass rod and a stick of the same size; next day, the
stick will be found covered with crystals, but the glass rod will be
free from them: in this case, the crystals cling to the rough surface
of the stick, but have no hold upon the smooth surface of the glass
rod. But, if the rod be roughened with a file at certain intervals,
and then placed in the alum and water, the crystals will adhere to the
rough surfaces, and leave the smooth bright and clear.

Tie some threads of lamp-cotton irregularly around a copper wire or
glass rod; place it in a hot solution of blue vitriol, strong as above,
and the threads will be covered with beautiful blue crystals, while the
glass rod will be bare.

Bore a hole through a piece of coke, and suspend it by a string from a
stick, placed across a hot solution of alum; it will float; but, as it
becomes loaded with crystals, it will sink in the solution according to
the length of the string. Gas-coke has mostly a smooth, shining, and
almost metallic surface, which the crystals will avoid, while they will
cling only to the most irregular and porous parts.

If powdered tumeric be added to the hot solution of alum, the crystals
will be of a bright yellow; litmus will cause them to be of a bright
red; logwood will yield purple; and common writing ink, black; and the
more muddy the solution, the finer will be the crystals.

To keep coloured alumn crystals from breaking, or losing their colour,
place them under a glass shade with a saucer of water; this will
preserve the atmosphere moist, and prevent the crystals getting too dry.

If crystals be formed on wire, they will be liable to break off, from
the expansion and contraction of the wire by changes of temperature.


Dissolve camphor in spirit of wine, moderately heated, until the
spirit will not dissolve any more; pour some of the solution into a
cold glass, and the camphor will instantly crystallize in beautiful
tree-like forms, such as we see in the show-glasses of camphor in
druggists’ windows.


Mix half an ounce of nitric acid, six drams of muriatic acid, and
two ounces of water; pour the mixture upon a piece of tin plate
previously made hot, and, after washing it in the mixture, it will
bear a beautiful crystalline surface, in feathery forms. This is the
celebrated _moirée metallique_, and, when varnished, is made into
ornamental boxes, &c. The figures will vary according to the degree of
heat previously given to the metal.


Hold in a wine-glass of hard water, a crystal of oxalic acid, and white
threads will instantly descend through the liquid, suspended from the


Make distinct solutions of common salt, nitre, and alum; set them in
three saucers in any warm place, and let part of the water dry away or
evaporate; then remove them to a warm room. The particles of the salts
in each saucer will begin to attract each other, and form crystals, but
not all of the same figure: the common salt will yield crystals with
six square and equal faces, or sides; the nitre, six-sided crystals;
and the alum, eight-sided crystals; and if these crystals be dissolved
over and over again, they will always appear in the same forms.


Make a strong solution of Epsom salts in hot water, and while warm,
bottle it, cork it closely, and it will remain liquid: draw out the
cork, when the salts will immediately crystallize, and in the process,
the remaining liquid and the bottle will become very warm.


Put into a flask a small portion of iodine; hold the flask over the
flame of a spirit-lamp, and, from the state of rich ruby crystals, the
iodine, on being heated, will become a ruby-coloured transparent gas;
but, in cooling, will resume its crystalline form.


Mix four ounces of nitrate of ammonia, and four ounces of subcarbonate
of soda, with four ounces of water, in a tin vessel, and in three hours
the mixture will produce ten ounces of ice.


Dissolve oxide of cobalt in acetic acid, to which add a little nitre;
write with this solution, hold the writing to the fire, and it will be
of a pale rose colour, which will disappear on cooling.

Dissolve equal parts of sulphate of copper and muriate of ammonia in
water; write with the solution, and it will give a yellow colour when
heated, which will disappear when cold.

Dissolve nitrate of bismuth in water; write with the solution, and
the characters will be invisible when dry, but will become legible on
immersion in water.

Dissolve, in water, muriate of cobalt, which is of a bluish-green
colour, and the solution will be pink; write with it, and the
characters will be scarcely visible; but, if gently heated, they will
appear in brilliant green, which will disappear as the paper cools.


Put a small portion of the compound called mineral chameleon into
several glasses, pour upon each water at different temperatures, and
the contents of each glass will exhibit a different shade of colour. A
very hot solution will be of a beautiful green colour; a cold one, a
deep purple.

Make a colourless solution of sulphate of copper; add to it a little
ammonia, equally colourless, and the mixture will be of an intense blue
colour; add to it a little sulphuric acid, and the blue colour will
disappear; pour in a little solution of caustic ammonia, and the blue
colour will be restored. Thus, may the liquor be thrice changed at


Dissolve indigo in diluted sulphuric acid, and add to it an equal
quantity of solution of carbonate of potass. If a piece of white cloth
be dipped in the mixture, it will be changed to blue; yellow cloth,
in the same mixture, may be changed to green; red to purple, and blue
litmus paper to red.

Nearly fill a wine-glass with the juice of beet-root, which is of a
deep red colour; add a little lime water, and the mixture will be
colourless; dip into it a piece of white cloth, dry it rapidly, and in
a few hours, the cloth will become red.


Mix a little solution of subacetate of lead with port wine; filter
the mixture through blotting paper, and a colourless liquid will pass
through; to this add a small quantity of dry salt of tartar, when a
spirit will rise, which may be inflamed on the surface of the water.


Have in one vessel some sulphuric acid, and in another an infusion of
nut-galls; they are both colourless and transparent; mix them, and they
will become black and opaque.


Put into a wine-glass of water, a few drops of prussiate of potash; and
into a second glass of water, a little weak solution of sulphate of
iron in water: pour the colourless mixtures together into a tumbler,
and they will be immediately changed to a bright deep blue colour.

Or, mix the solution of prussiate of potash with that of nitrate of
bismuth, and a yellow will be the product.

Or, mix the solution of prussiate of potash with that of sulphate of
copper, and the mixture will be of a reddish brown colour.


Three different colours may be produced from the same infusion, merely
by the addition of three colourless fluids. Slice a little red cabbage,
pour boiling water upon it, and when cold, decant the clear infusion,
which divide into three wine-glasses: to one, add a small quantity of
solution of alum in water; to the second, a little solution of potash
in water; and to the third, a few drops of muriatic acid. The liquor
in the first glass will assume a purple colour, the second, a bright
green, and the third a rich crimson.

Put a dram of powdered nitrate of cobalt into a phial containing an
ounce of the solution of caustic potass; cork the phial, and the liquid
will assume a blue colour, next a lilac, afterwards a peach colour, and
lastly a light red.


Dissolve a small lump of indigo in sulphuric acid, by the aid of
moderate heat, and you will obtain an intense blue colour: add a drop
of this to half a pint of water, so as to dilute the blue; then pour
some of it into strong chloride of lime, and the blue will be bleached
with almost magical velocity.


Make a cup of strong green tea; dissolve a little green copperas in
water, which add to the tea, and its colour will be black.


Water being a colourless fluid, ought, one would imagine, when mixed
with other substances of no decided colour, to produce a colourless
compound. Nevertheless, it is to water only that blue vitriol, or
sulphate of copper, owes its vivid blueness; as will be plainly evinced
by the following simple experiment. Heat a few crystals of the vitriol
in a fire shovel, pulverize them, and the powder will be of a dull and
dirty white appearance. Pour a little water upon this, when a slight
hissing noise will be heard, and at the same moment, the blue colour
will instantly re-appear.

Under the microscope, the beauty of this experiment will be increased,
for the instant that a drop of water is placed in contact with the
vitriol, the powder may be seen to shoot into blue prisms. If a crystal
of prussiate of potash be similarly heated, its yellow colour will
vanish, but re-appear on being dropped into water.


Dissolve a small portion of green-copperas in water, and soak in it
sheets of writing paper, so as to allow them to be taken out whole, and
then dried; then, cover the paper with very finely powdered galls, and
write on it with a pen dipped in water; when dry, brush off the galls,
and the writing will appear.


Dissolve muriate of lime in water until it will dissolve no more;
make also a similar solution of carbonate of potash; both will be
transparent fluids; but if equal quantities of each be mixed and
stirred together, they will become a solid mass.


Rub together in a mortar, equal quantities of the crystals of Glauber’s
salts and nitrate of ammonia, and the two salts will slowly become a


Take the solid mixture of the solutions of muriate of lime and
carbonate of potash, pour upon it a very little nitric acid, and the
solid opaque mass will be changed to a transparent liquid.


Mix four drams of sulphuric acid, (oil of vitrol,) with one dram of
cold water, suddenly, in a cup, and the mixture will be nearly half as
hot again as boiling water.


Dissolve a small piece of nickel in nitric acid, and it will appear
of a fine grass-green colour; add to it a little ammonia, and a blue
precipitate will be formed; this will change to a purple-red in a few
hours, and the addition of any acid will convert it to an apple-green.


Heat potassium over the flame of a spirit-lamp, and the colour will
change from white to a bright azure, thence to a bright blue, green,
and olive.


Cut out a disc or circle of pasteboard, and cover it with paper half
green and half black: cause the disc to be rapidly turned round, (like
the shafts of a toy wind-mill,) and the colours will combine and
produce white.


Cut a circular piece of gold-leaf, called “dentist’s gold,” about half
an inch in diameter; drop upon it a globule of mercury, about the size
of a small pea, and if they be left for a short time, the gold will
lose its solidity and yellow colour, and the mercury its liquid form,
making a soft mass, of the colour of mercury.


Half fill a glass tumbler with lime-water; breathe into it frequently,
at the same time stirring it with a piece of glass. The fluid, which
before was perfectly transparent, will presently become quite white,
and, if allowed to remain at rest, real chalk will be deposited.


It has been discovered, that a mixture of nitrate of silver with
hypo-sulphate of soda, both of which are remarkably bitter, will
produce the sweetest known substance.


Write with French chalk on a looking-glass; wipe it with a
handkerchief, and the lines will disappear; breathe on it, and they
will re-appear. This alteration will take place for a great number of
times, and after the lapse of a considerable period.


[Illustration: SIGHT & SOUND.]




THE mirage is an optical phenomenon, produced by the refractive
power of the atmosphere. The appearance presented is that of the
double image of an object in the air; one of the images being in the
natural position, and the other inverted, so as to resemble a natural
object and its image in the water. The mirage is commonly vertical,
or upright, that is, presenting the appearance, above described, of
one object over another, like a ship above its shadow in the water.
Sometimes, however, the image is horizontal, or upon the water, and at
other times, it is seen on the right or left hand of the real object,
or on both sides.

All the effects of the mirage may be represented artificially to the
eye. For this purpose, provide a glass tumbler two-thirds full of
water, and pour spirit of wine upon it; or pour into a tumbler some
syrup, and fill it up with water: as the water and spirit, or the
syrup and water incorporate, they will produce a refractive power;
then, by looking through the mixed or intermediate liquids at any
object held behind the tumblers, its inverted image may be seen. The
same effect, Dr. Walloston has shown, may be produced, by looking along
the side of a red-hot poker at a word or object ten or twelve feet
distant. At a distance less than three-eighths of an inch from the line
of the poker, an inverted image was seen; and within and without that,
an erect image.

The above phenomena may likewise be illustrated, by holding a heated
iron above a tumbler of water, until the whole becomes changed; then
withdraw the iron, and, through the water, the phenomena of the mirage
may be seen in the finest manner.

Or, look directly above the flame of a candle, or over the glass of a
lighted lamp, and a tremulous motion may be observed; because the warm
air rises, and its refracting power being less than that of the colder
air, the currents are rendered visible by the distortion of objects
viewed through them. The same effect is observable over chimney pots,
and slated roofs which have been heated by the sun.


On entering a room, we imagine that we see the whole side of it at
once, as the cornice, the pattern of the paper-hanging, pictures,
chairs, &c., but we are deceived; for each object is rapidly, but
singly presented to the eye, by its constant motion. If the eye were
steady, vision would be lost. For example, fix the eye on one point,
and you will find the whole scene become more and more obscure, till it
vanishes. Then, if you change the direction of the eye ever so little,
at once the whole scene will be again perfect before you.


As we have two eyes, and a separate image of every external object
is formed in each, it may be asked, why do we not see double? The
answer is, it is a matter of habit. Habit alone teaches us, that
the sensations of sight correspond to any thing external, and shows
to what they correspond. Thus, place a wafer on a table before you;
direct your eyes to it, that is, bring its image on both retinæ to
those parts which habit has ascertained to be the most sensible, and
best situated for seeing distinctly, and you will see only the _single
wafer_. But, while looking at the wafer, squeeze the upper part of one
eye downwards, by pressing on the eyelid with the finger, and thereby
forcibly throw the image on another part of the retina of that eye,
and double vision will be immediately produced; that is, _two wafers_
will be distinctly seen, which will appear to recede from each other
as the pressure is stronger, and approach, and finally blend into one,
as it is relieved. The same effect maybe produced without pressure, by
directing the eyes to a point nearer to, or farther from them, than the
wafer; the optic axes, in this case, being both directed away from the
object seen.


On a sheet of black paper, or other dark ground, place two white
wafers, having their centres three inches distant. Vertically above the
paper, and to the _left_, look with the _right_ eye, at twelve inches
from it, and so that, when looking down on it, the line joining the
two eyes shall be parallel to that joining the centre of the wafers.
In this situation, close the left eye, and look full with the right
perpendicularly at the wafer below it, when this wafer only will be
seen, the other being completely invisible. But, if it be removed
ever so little from its place, either to the right or left, above or
below, it will become immediately visible, and start, as it were, into
existence. The distances here set down may, perhaps, vary slightly in
different eyes.

Upon this curious effect, Sir John Herschel observes: “It will cease
to be thought singular, that this fact of the absolute invisibility of
objects in a certain point of the field of view of each eye, should be
one of which not one person in ten thousand is apprised, when we learn,
that it is not extremely uncommon to find persons who have for some
time been totally blind with one eye, without being aware of the fact.”


Look at the pattern of the paper-hanging of a room, a picture, or
almost any other object in it; then, without altering your position,
call to mind the magnificent dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral; the pattern
of the paper-hanging, or the subject of the picture, though actually
impressed on the retina of the eye, will be momentarily lost sight of
by the mind; and, during the instant, the recollected image of the dome
rising from the dingy roofs of London, will be distinctly seen, but in
indistinct colouring and outline. When the object of the recollection
is answered, the dome will quickly disappear, and the paper-hanging
pattern, or the picture, again resume the ascendancy.


Look through a series of vertical bars, as those of a palisade, or of
a Venetian window-blind, at the wheel of a carriage passing along the
street, and the spokes of the wheel, instead of appearing straight, as
they naturally would do, if no bars intervened, seem to be of a curved
form. The velocity of the wheel must not be so great as to prevent the
eye from following the spokes as they revolve.

Again, when the disk of the wheel, instead of being marked by a number
of radiant lines, has only one radius marked upon it, it presents the
appearance, when rolled behind the bars, of a number of radii, each
having the curvature corresponding to its situation, their number being
the same as that of the bars through which you look at the wheel. It
is, therefore, evident that the several portions of one and the same
line, seen through the intervals of the bars, form on the retina of the
eye so many different radii.


Shut one eye, direct the other to any fixed point, as the head of a
pin, and you will indistinctly see all other objects. Suppose one
of these to be a strip of white paper, or a pen lying upon a table
covered with a green cloth: either of them will disappear altogether,
as if taken off the table; for the impression of the green cloth will
entirely extend itself over that part of the retina which the image of
the pen occupied. The vanished pen will, however, shortly re-appear,
and again vanish; and the same effect will take place when both eyes
are open, though not so readily as with one eye.


Make a pin-hole in a card, which hold between a candle and a piece of
white paper, in a dark room, when an exact representation of the flame,
but inverted, will be seen depicted upon the paper, and be enlarged
as the paper is drawn from the hole; and if, in a dark room, a white
screen or sheet of paper be extended at a few feet from a small round
hole, an exact picture of all external objects, of their natural
colours and forms, will be seen traced on the screen; moving objects
being represented in motion, and stationary ones at rest.


Prick a hole in a card with a needle; place the same needle near the
eye, in a line with the card-hole, look by daylight at the end of the
needle, and it will appear to be behind the card, and reversed.

Prick a hole with a pin in a black card, place it very near the eye,
look through it at any small object, and it will appear larger as it
is nearer the eye; while, if we observe it without the card, it will
appear sensibly of the same magnitude at all parts of the room.


Rule a short line upon a slate, and upon another slate rule another
line, one-eleventh longer than the first: a person possessing what is
called “a true eye,” may perceive the difference in length, even though
fifty or sixty seconds elapse between looking at the first and the
second lines. If they differ only one-twentieth, then an interval of
thirty-five seconds may elapse without destroying the judgment; but,
if it be longer, the estimate will be incorrect. When the difference
between the lines amounts only to one-fiftieth, an interval of three
seconds between the examination of each, is the longest that can be
allowed without interfering with the correctness of the comparison.


Let a room be only lit by the feeble gleam of a fire, almost
extinguished, and the eye will see with difficulty the objects in the
apartment, from the small degree of light with which they happen to be
illuminated. The more exertion is made to ascertain what these objects
are, as by fixing the eye more steadily upon them, the greater will be
the difficulty in accomplishing it. The eye will be painfully agitated,
the object will swell and contract, and partly disappear, but will
again become visible when the eye has recovered from its delirium.


Cut the word or words to be shown, out of a thick card or pasteboard,
place it before a lighted lamp, and the writing will be distinctly seen
upon the wall of the apartment.


Look at a candle, or any other luminous body, through a plate of glass,
covered with vapour, or dust in a finely divided state, and it will be
surrounded with a ring of colours, like a halo round the sun or moon.
These rings increase with the size of the particles which produce them;
and their brilliancy and number depend on the uniform size of these

Or, haloes may be imitated by crystallizing various salts upon thin
plates of glass, and looking through the plate at a candle or the sun.
For example, spread a few drops of a strong solution of alum over a
plate of glass so as to crystallize quickly, and cover it with a crust
scarcely visible to the eye. Then place the eye close behind the
smooth side of the glass plate, look through it at a candle, and you
will perceive three fine haloes at different distances, encircling the


By the following simple method, the legend or inscription upon a coin
may be read in absolute darkness. Polish the surface of any silver coin
as highly as possible; touch the raised parts with aqua-fortis, so as
to make them rough, taking care that the parts not raised retain their
polish. Place the coin thus prepared upon red-hot iron, remove it into
a dark room, and the figure and inscription will become more luminous
than the rest, and may be distinctly seen and read by the spectator. If
the lower parts of the coin be roughened with the acid, and the raised
parts be polished, the effect will be reversed, and the figure and
inscription will appear dark, or black upon a light or white ground.

This experiment will be more surprising if made with an old coin, from
which the figure and inscription have been obliterated; for, when the
coin is placed upon the red-hot iron, the figure and inscription may be
distinctly read upon a surface which had hitherto appeared blank.

This experiment may be made with small coins upon a heated poker, a
flat iron, or a salamander. The effect will be more perfect if the
red-hot iron be concealed from the eye of the spectator: this may be
done by placing upon the iron a piece of blackened tin, with a hole cut
out, the size of the coin to be heated.


Provide two small pieces of window-glass and a lump of wax. Soften and
mould the wax, stick the two pieces of glass upon it, so that they
meet, as in the cut, where _w_ is the wax, _g_ and _g_ the glasses
stuck to it, (Fig. 1.) The end view (Fig. 2) will show the angle, _a_,
at which the pieces of glass meet; into which angle put a drop of water.

[Illustration: Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: Fig. 2.]

To use the instrument thus made, make a small hole, or a narrow
horizontal slit, so that you can see the sky through it, when you stand
at some distance from it in the room. Or a piece of pasteboard placed
in the upper part of the window-sash, with a slit cut in it, will
serve the purpose of the hole in the shutter. The slit should be about
one-tenth of an inch wide, and an inch or two long, with even edges.
Then hold the prism in your hand, place it close to your eye, and look
through the drop of water, when you will see a beautiful train of
colours, called a spectrum; at one end red, at the other violet, and in
the middle yellowish green.

[Illustration: Fig. 3.]

The annexed figure will better explain the direction in which to
look: here, _e_, is the eye of the spectator, _p_, is the prism,
_h_, the hole in the shutter or pasteboard, _s_, the spectrum. By a
little practice, you will soon become accustomed to look in the right
direction, and will see the colours very bright and distinct.

By means of this simple contrivance, white light may be analysed and
proved to consist of coloured rays, and several of its properties be
beautifully illustrated.


Take a glass rummer that is narrow at bottom and wide at top, into
which put a half-sovereign, and fill the glass three-fourths with
water; place on it a piece of paper, and then a plate, and turn the
glass upside down quickly, that the water may not escape: by looking
sideways at the glass, you will perceive a sovereign at the bottom, and
higher up the half-sovereign, floating near the surface. Fill the glass
with water, and the large piece only will be visible.


A single gold fish in a globe vase, is often mistaken for two fishes,
because it is seen as well by the light bent through the upper surface
of the water, as by straight rays passing through the side of the vase.


If we hold a slip of white paper vertically, about a foot from the
eye, and direct both eyes to an object at some distance beyond it, so
as to see the slip of paper double, then, when a candle is brought
near the right eye, so as to act strongly upon it, while the left
eye is protected from its light, the left-hand slip of paper will be
of a tolerably bright _green_ colour, while the right-hand slip of
paper, seen by the left eye, will be of a red colour. If the one image
overlaps the other, the colour of the overlapping parts will be white,
arising from a mixture of the complementary red and green. When equal
candles are held equally near to each eye, each of the images of the
slip of paper is white. If, when the paper is seen red and green by
holding the candle to the right eye, we quickly take it to the left
eye, we shall find that the left image of the slip of paper gradually
changes from _green_ to _red_, and the right one from _red_ to _green_,
both of them having the same tint during the time that the change is
going on.


Look steadily at a carpet having figures of one colour, green, for
example, upon a ground of another colour, suppose red, and you will
sometimes see the whole of the green pattern as if the red one were
obliterated; and at other times, you will see the whole of the red
pattern, as if the green one were obliterated. The former effect takes
place when the eye is steadily fixed on the green part, and the latter,
when it is steadily fixed on the red portion.


Provide two lighted candles, and place them upon a table before a
whitewashed or light papered wall: hold before one of the candles a
piece of coloured glass, taking care to remove to a greater distance
the candle before which the coloured glass is not placed, in order to
equalize the darkness of the two shadows. If you use a piece of green
glass, one of the shadows will be green, and the other a fine red; if
you use blue glass, one of the shadows will be blue, and the other a
pale yellow.


An extremely fine scratch on a well-polished surface, may be regarded
as having a concave, cylindrical, or, at least, a curved surface,
capable of reflecting light in all directions; this is evident, for it
is visible in all directions. Hence, a single scratch or furrow in a
surface, may produce colours by the interference of the rays reflected
from its opposite edges. Examine a spider’s thread in the sunshine, and
it will gleam with vivid colours. These may arise from a similar cause,
or from the thread itself, as spun by the animal, consisting of several
threads agglutinated together, and thus presenting, not a cylindrical,
but a furrowed surface.


One of the most curious affections of the eye is that, in virtue of
which it sees what are called _ocular spectra_, or accidental colours.
If we place a red wafer on a sheet of white paper, and, closing one
eye, keep the other directed for some time to the centre of the wafer,
then, if we turn the same eye to another part of the paper, we shall
see a green wafer, the colour of which will continue to grow fainter
and fainter, as we continue to look at it.

By using differently coloured wafers, we obtain the following results:


     Black       White.
     White       Black.
     Red         Bluish Green.
     Orange      Blue.
     Yellow      Indigo.
     Green       Violet, with a little Red.
     Blue        Orange Red.
     Indigo      Orange Yellow.
     Violet      Bluish Green.


This substance, obtained from the shell of the pearl oyster, is much
admired for the fine play of its colours. To observe them accurately,
select a plate of regularly formed mother-of-pearl, with its surface
nearly parallel, and grind this surface upon a hone, or upon a plate
of glass, with the powder of slate, till the image of the candle,
reflected from the surfaces, is of a dull reddish white colour,
when it will glow with all the colours of the rainbow. The colours
of mother-of-pearl may be communicated to soft black wax; and to
clean surfaces of lead and tin by hard pressure, or the blow of a
hammer. Or, dissolve gum arabic, or isinglass, in water, and allow
it to harden upon a surface of mother-of-pearl, when it will take
a perfect impression from it, and exhibit all the colours in the
finest manner. Or, place the isinglass between two finely-polished
surfaces of mother-of-pearl, and you may obtain a film of artificial
mother-of-pearl, which, when seen by the light of a candle, or by an
aperture in the window, will shine with the brightest hues.


Paint the same letters of the same size precisely on two boards, the
one white on a black ground, and the other a black on a white ground;
the white letters will appear larger, and be read at a greater distance
than the black.


Observe the various colours which are reflected from the glass drops
usually suspended from a lustre or chandelier, and you will witness a
mimic rainbow. A rainbow may also be made by a garden engine, if the
water be thrown high in the air, and the spectator stand between it and
the sun.


Provide two small pieces of plate glass, moisten two of their sides
with water, and put them together; then look through them at a candle,
and you will perceive the flame surrounded with beautifully coloured
fringes: these are the effect of moisture, intermixed with portions of
air, and exhibiting an appearance similar to dew.


Provide a circular piece of coloured glass, and pierce its centre by
means of a common awl, well moistened with oil of turpentine: encircle
the glass with the fingers and thumb, hold it in the sunshine or the
strong light of a lamp, and the following beautiful effects will be
produced. If the glass be red, the luminous spot in the centre will be
reflected green; if the glass be green, the spot will be red; if blue,
orange; and if yellow, indigo.


Place a lighted candle before a looking-glass, and there will appear
a luminous cross radiating from the flame of the candle. This is
produced by the direction of the friction by which the glass is
polished; the scratches placed in a horizontal direction, exhibiting
the perpendicular part of the cross, and the vertical scratches the
horizontal part.


Look at a candle through a plate of glass, upon which you have gently
breathed, or over which are scattered particles of dust, or any fine
powder, and you will perceive the flame surrounded with beautiful
rings of colours. By using the seed of the lycopodium, or by placing
a drop of blood diluted with water between two pieces of glass, the
rings of colour will be still more finely exhibited. Round the luminous
body there will be seen a light area, terminating in a reddish dark
margin; this will be succeeded by a ring of bluish-green, and then by
a red ring; these two last colours succeeding each other several times
when the particles are of uniform diameter, as are the seeds of the
lycopodium, each of which is but the 850th part of an inch in diameter.


In this new instrument, no tubes are necessary, as in the ordinary
opera-glass; their place being supplied by a slender elastic conical
spring of wire, into the upper extremity of which is inserted the
eye-glass; the object-glass being fixed to the other extremity, as
shown in the engraving. The two glasses must, of course, be kept
parallel to each other when in use; which is very easily effected.


In using this opera-glass, rest the finger and thumb of one hand on
the rim of the object-glass, B, whilst, with the thumb and finger of
the other hand you hold the rim of the eye-glass, A. The spring tube
may then be drawn out or shut up to very minute distances. Thus, the
ordinary sliding tubes are superseded; nor is any external covering
necessary, as the hand in grasping the instrument serves the purpose.
If, however, a covering be preferred, a piece of silk may be sewn to
the spirals of the spring.

This kind of opera-glass may be made very cheaply; it may be shut into
a small space for the pocket, merely by pressing the object-glass and
eye-glass together.


Place two pieces of looking-glass, one at each end, parallel to one
another, and looking over, or by the edge of one of them, the images of
any objects placed on the bottom of the box, will appear continued to a
considerable distance.

Or, line each of the four sides of the box with looking-glass, and the
bottom of the box will be multiplied to an astonishing extent, there
being no other limitation to the number of images but what is owing to
the continued loss of light from reflection. The top of the box may be
almost covered with thin canvas, which will admit sufficient light to
render the exhibition very distinct.

The above experiments may be made very entertaining, by placing on the
bottom of the box some toy, as sentry soldiers, &c.; and, if these be
put in motion, by wires attached to them, or passing through the bottom
or side of the box, it will afford a still more entertaining spectacle.
Or the bottom of the box may be covered with moss, shining pebbles,
flowers, &c.; only, in all cases, the upright figures between the
pieces of looking-glass should be slender, and not too numerous, else
they will obstruct the reflected light.

In a box with six, eight, or more sides, lined with looking-glass, as
above, the different objects in it will be multiplied to an almost
indefinite extent.


In this ingenious contrivance, A is a frame of wood, into the back and
front of which are inserted two thin boards, the front one, B, reaching
about half the height of the frame, and the back one being movable, by
sliding in grooves, for better fixing the paper to be written on, C, to
a roller at top, with a handle and ratchet working into a spring.


To use the apparatus, the paper is to be fixed on the roller, and a
strip of lead, or other weight, suspended from the bottom of the paper,
to keep it smooth: then, by resting the right hand on the edge of the
board B, and turning, with the left hand, the ratchet, the distance of
the lines may be regulated by the number of clicks caused by the spring
on the ratchet. D, is a foot to support the apparatus, which, however,
should be light enough to be held in the hand as a slate.



This cheap and useful instrument consists of a handle of hard wood,
_a_, which is screwed into a brass piece, _d_, having, at its top, a
ring, with screws on back and front, into which are to be screwed two
cells with lenses of different foci. There is also a projecting piece
formed on the side of the brass piece, _d_, in which is a hole to
receive the screwed end of a cylindrical rod of brass, _c_. Upon this
rod, a springing slit socket, _e_, slides backwards and forwards, and
is also capable of being turned round. This socket has affixed to it,
on one side, a projecting part, with a screwed cavity in it, to receive
a short screwed tube, with a small hole in its centre, made to fit the
steel stem of the spring forceps; a corresponding hole being made at
the bottom of the screwed cavity, where is lodged a piece of perforated
cork; which, being pressed upon by the action of the screw, closes upon
the steel stem of the forceps, and steadies them, and the objects held
in them. The stem of the forceps being removed from its place in the
short tube; the handles and lenses, and the rod, _c_, and the sliding
socket upon it, being unscrewed from its place in the handle; they can
all three be packed in a black paper case, which is only three and a
half inches long, one inch broad, and half an inch thick.

This microscope possesses three different magnifying powers, namely,
those of two lenses separately, and the two in combination.

Microscopes of a still simpler nature are small globules of glass,
formed by smelting the ends of fine threads of glass in the flame of a
candle; and small globular microscopes of great magnifying power, made
of hollow glass about the size of a small walnut, may be purchased very
cheaply at the opticians’.


This amusing instrument consists of a turning wheel, upon which figures
are seen to walk, jump, pump water, &c. The disc or wheel should be
of stout card-board, upon which should be painted, towards the edge,
figures in eight or ten postures. Thus, if it is wished to represent
a man bowing, the first position is a man standing upright; in the
second, his body has a slight inclination; in the third, still more;
and so on, to the sixth position, where the body is most bent: the four
following, represent the figure recovering its erect posture, so that
the fifth and seventh, the fourth and eighth, the third and ninth, and
second and tenth figures, have the same posture. Between each of the
figures on the wheel, should be a slit, three-fourths of an inch long,
and one-fourth of an inch wide, in a direction parallel with the radii
of the wheel, and extending to an equal distance from the centre.

To work this instrument, place the figured side of the wheel before
a looking-glass, and cause it to revolve upon its centre; then look
through the slits or apertures, and you may observe, in the glass,
the figures bowing continually, and with a rapidity proportionate
to the rate at which the wheel turns. The illusion depends on the
circumstance, that the wheel between each aperture is covered, while
the figure goes further. That the deception may be complete, it is
necessary that every part of the figures not bowing shall be at an
equal distance from the centre of the wheel, and from the slits; also
that the figures possess equal thickness and colour.


Provide a wine-glass filled with plain water, which will keep off the
heat so effectually, that the brightest sun may be viewed some time
through it without any inconvenience. If a little black ink be added
to the water, the image of the sun will appear through it, as white
as snow; and when the ink is still more diluted, the sun will be of a
purple hue.



Nearly fill a glass tumbler with water, and hold it, with your back
to the window, above the level of the eye, as in the engraving. Then
look obliquely as in the direction E, _a_, _c_, and you will see the
whole surface shining like burnished silver, with a strong metallic
reflection; and any object, as a spoon, A C B, immersed in the water,
will have its immersed part C B, reflected on the surface, as in a
mirror, but with a brilliancy far surpassing that which can be obtained
from quicksilver, or from the most highly-polished metals.


Procure a large gallipot; place on the bottom, next the side furthest
from you, a sixpence, and next to it, but towards the centre, a
shilling; move to such a distance as will render the coins invisible;
then let another person pour water gently in, and as it rises in the
gallipot, it will cause both the sixpence and shilling to be seen,
without your approaching nearer to the gallipot, or moving it towards


Cut out two card-board cog-wheels of equal size; place them upon a
pin, and whirl them round with equal velocity in opposite directions;
when, instead of producing a hazy tint, as one wheel would do, or as
the two would if revolving in the same direction, there will be an
extraordinary appearance of a fixed wheel. If the cogs be cut slantwise
on both wheels, the spectral wheel, as it may be called, will exhibit
slanting cogs; but if one of the wheels be turned, so that the cogs
shall point in opposite directions, then the spectral wheel will have
straight cogs. If wheels with radii, or arms, be viewed when moving,
the deception will be similar; and however fast the wheels may move,
provided it be with equal velocity, the magic of a fixed wheel will be

Or, cut a card-board wheel with a certain number of teeth or cogs
at its edge; a little nearer the centre, cut a series of apertures
resembling the cogs in arrangement, but not to the same number; and
still nearer the centre cut another series of apertures, different in
number, and varying from the former. Fix this wheel upon another, with
its face held two or three yards from an illuminated mirror; spin it
round, the cogs will disappear, and a greyish belt, three inches broad,
will become visible; but, on looking at the glass through the moving
wheel, appearances will entirely change; one row of cogs, or apertures,
will appear fixed, as if the wheel were not moving, whilst the other
two will appear as if in motion; and, by shifting the eye, other and
new effects appear.

These amusing deceptions were first experimented by Mr. Faraday. The
simple apparatus for their exhibition may be purchased, for a trifling
sum, of any respectable optician.


A sounding-plate, made of brass, nine inches long, and half a line in
thickness, covered with a layer of water, may be employed to produce
a rainbow in a chamber which admits the sun. On drawing a violin bow
strongly across the plate, so as to produce the greatest possible
intensity of tone, numerous drops of water fly perpendicularly and
laterally upwards. The size of the drops is smaller as the tone is
higher. The inner and outer rainbows are very beautifully seen in these
ascending and descending drops, when the artificial shower is held
opposite to the sun. When the eyes are close to the falling drops,
each eye sees its appropriate rainbow; and four rainbows are perceived
at the same time, particularly if the floor of the room is of a dark
colour. The experiment succeeds best, if, when a finger is placed under
the middle of the plate, and both of the angular points at one side
are supported, the tone is produced at a point of the opposite side,
a fourth of its length from one of its angles. An abundant shower of
drops is thus obtained.


Suspend any sonorous body, as a bell, a glass, a silver spoon, or
a tuning-fork, from a double thread, and put with the finger the
extremities of the thread, one in each ear; if the body be then struck,
the apparent loudness and depth of the sound will be surprising.

Again, if you shut your ears altogether, you will yet feel very
sensible of the impression of any sound conveyed through the mouth, the
teeth, or the head: if you put one end of a small stick or rod in the
mouth, and touch with the other extremity a watch lying on the table,
the beatings will become quite audible, though the ears be actually
shut. So, also, if a log of wood be scratched at one end with a pin,
a person who applies his ear to the other end will hear the sound

Fogs and falling rain, but especially snow, powerfully obstruct the
free propagation of sound; and the same effect is produced by a coating
of fresh-fallen snow on the ground, though when glazed and hardened at
the surface by freezing, it has no such influence.

Over water, or a surface of ice, sound is propagated with remarkable
clearness and strength. Dr. Hutton relates, that on a quiet part of
the Thames, near Chelsea, he could hear a person distinctly at 140
feet distance, while on the land the same could only be heard at 76
feet. Lieutenant Forster, in the third Polar expedition of Captain
Parry, held a conversation with a man across the harbour of Port
Bowen, a distance of 6696 feet, or about a mile and a quarter. This,
however remarkable, falls short of what is related by Dr. Young, on the
authority of the Rev. W. Derham, _viz._ that, at Gibraltar, the voice
has been heard ten miles, perhaps, across the strait.

The cannonade of a sea-fight between the English and Dutch, in 1672,
was heard across England as far as Shrewsbury, and even in Wales, a
distance of upwards of 200 miles from the scene of action.

At Carisbrook Castle, in the Isle of Wight, is a well 210 feet in
depth, and twelve feet in diameter, into which if a pin be dropped, it
will be distinctly heard to strike the water. The interior is lined
with very smooth masonry.


A stretched string, as that of a piano-forte, may be made to vibrate
not only from end to end, but in aliquot parts, the portions being
separated by points of rest which interrupted the progress of the
sound. This kind of effect may be shown by shaking a long piece of
cane in the air, when there will be one, two, or three points of rest,
according to the mode of vibrating it.

An elastic surface has, likewise, some parts in motion and others at
rest; and these parts may be made visibly distinct, by strewing pieces
of bristle over them upon the sounding-board of an instrument.

When a bow is drawn across the strings of a violin, the impulses
produced may be rendered evident by fixing a small steel bead upon the
bow; when looked at by light or in sunshine, the bead will seem to form
a series of dots during the passage of the bow.


Take a common tuning-fork, strike it, and hold it, (when set in
vibration,) about three or four inches from the ear, with the flat side
towards it, when the sound will be distinctly heard; let a strip of
card, somewhat longer than the flat of the tuning-fork, be interposed
at about half an inch from the fork, and the sound will be almost
entirely intercepted by it; and, if the card be alternately removed and
replaced in pretty quick succession, alternations of sound and silence
will be produced; proving that sound is by no means propagated with so
much intensity round the edge of the card, as straight forward. Indeed,
to be convinced of this fact, you have only to listen to the sound of
a carriage turning a corner from the street in which you happen to
be, into an adjoining one. Even where there is no obstacle in the
way, sounds are by no means equally audible in all directions from the
sounding body; as you may ascertain, by holding a vibrating tuning-fork
or pitch-pipe near your ear, and turning it quickly on its axis.


Count, by means of a watch, the number of seconds that elapse between
seeing the flash of lightning and hearing the report of the thunder;
allow somewhat more than five seconds for a mile, and the distance may
be ascertained. Thus, say the number of seconds is

       4 miles distant;

or the distance may be estimated by remarking the number of beats of
the pulse in the above interval; provided, of course, that we know the
rate at which the pulse beats in a certain time. In a French work, it
is stated that if the pulse beat six times, the distance of the thunder
will be about 30,000 feet, or five miles and a half; thus reckoning
5000 feet for each pulsation.

In a violent thunder-storm, when the sound instantly succeeds the
flash, the persons who witness the circumstance are in some danger;
when the interval is a quarter of a minute, they are secure.


If a deaf person merely place the tips of his finger-nails on the
window-shutters or door of a room in which instruments are playing, he
may enjoy their concert of harmony.


If two persons stop their ears closely, they may converse with each
other by holding a long stick between their teeth, or by resting their
teeth against them. The person who speaks may rest the stick against
his throat or his breast; or he may rest the stick, which he holds in
his teeth, against a glass tumbler or china basin into which the other
speaks. The sound may also be heard when a thread is held between the
teeth by both persons, so as to be somewhat stretched.


On vibrating bodies, which present a large surface, the effects of
sounds are very surprising. Persons with a clear and powerful voice
have been known to break a drinking-glass, by singing the proper
fundamental note of their voice close to it. Looking-glasses are also
said to have been broken by music, the vibrations of the atoms of the
glass being so great as to strain them beyond the limits of their


Stretch a sheet of wet paper over the mouth of a glass tumbler, which
has a footstalk, and glue or paste the paper at the edges. When the
paper is dry, strew dry sand thinly upon its surface. Place the tumbler
on a table, and hold immediately above it, and parallel to the paper,
a plate of glass, which you also strew with sand, having previously
rubbed the edges smooth with emery powder. Draw a violin bow along any
part of the edges, and as the sand upon the glass is made to vibrate,
it will form various figures, which will be accurately imitated by the
sand upon the paper; or, if a violin or flute be played within a few
inches of the paper, they will cause the sand upon its surface to form
regular lines and figures.



Provide a long, flat glass ruler or rod, as in the engraving, and
cement it with mastic to the edge of a drinking-glass fixed into a
wooden stand; support the other end of the rod very lightly on a
piece of cork, and strew its upper surface with sand; set the glass
in vibration by a bow, at a point opposite where the rod meets it,
and the motions will be communicated to the rod without any change in
their direction. If the apparatus be inverted, and sand be strewed on
the under side of the rod, the figures will be seen to correspond with
those produced on the upper surface.



Provide two discs of metal or glass, precisely of the same dimensions,
and a glass or metal rod; cement the two discs at their centres to
the two ends of the rod, as in the engraving, and strew their upper
surfaces with sand. Cause one of the discs, viz. the upper one, to
vibrate by a bow, and its vibration will be exactly imitated by the
lower disc, and the sand strewed over both will arrange itself in
precisely the same forms on both discs. But if, separately, they do not
agree in their tones, the figures on them will not correspond.


Pour sparkling champagne into a glass until it is half full, when the
glass will lose its power of ringing by a stroke upon its edges, and
will emit only a disagreeable and puffy sound. Nor will the glass ring
while the wine is brisk, and filled with air-bubbles; but, as the
effervescence subsides, the sound will become clearer and clearer,
and when the air bubbles have entirely disappeared, the glass will
ring as usual. If a crumb of bread be thrown into the champagne, and
effervescence be re-produced, the glass will again cease to ring. The
same experiment will also succeed with soda-water, ginger wine, or any
other effervescing liquid.


If a line of broad palisades, set edgewise in a line directed from
the ear, and at even distances from each other, be struck at the end
nearest the auditor, they will reflect the sound of the blow, and
produce a succession of echoes: these, from the equal distance of the
palisades, will reach the ear at equal intervals of time, and will,
therefore, produce the effect of a number of impulses originating in
one point. Thus, a musical note will be heard.


If you cause the tongue of this little instrument to vibrate, it will
produce a very low sound; but, if you place it before a cavity, (as the
mouth,) containing a column of air, which vibrates much faster, but
in the proportion of any simple multiple, it will then produce other
higher sounds, dependent upon the reciprocation of that portion of the
air. Now, the bulk of air in the mouth can be altered in its form,
size, and other circumstances, so as to produce by reciprocation, many
different sounds; and these are the sounds belonging to the Jew’s Harp.

A proof of this fact has been given by Mr. Eulenstein, who fitted into
a long metallic tube a piston, which, being moved, could be made to
lengthen or shorten the efficient column of air within at pleasure. A
Jew’s Harp was then so fixed that it could be made to vibrate before
the mouth of the tube, and it was found that the column of air produced
a series of sounds, according as it was lengthened or shortened; a
sound being produced whenever the length of the column was such that
its vibrations were a multiple of those of the Jew’s Harp.


Place a garden-snail upon a pane of glass, and in drawing itself along,
it will frequently produce sounds similar to those of musical glasses.


Make one string to sound, and its vibrations will, with much force,
be transferred to the next string: this transference may be seen by
placing a saddle of paper (like an inverted v, Λ) upon the
string, at first in a state of rest. When this string _hears_ the
other, the saddle will be shaken, or fall off; when both strings are in
harmony, the paper will be very little, or not at all, shaken.


Provide a straight rod of glass or metal; strike it at the end in the
direction of its length, or rub it lengthwise with a moistened finger,
and it will yield a musical sound, which, unless its length be very
great, will be of an extremely acute pitch; much more so than in the
case of a column of air of the same length, as in a flute. The reason
of this is the greater velocity with which sound is propagated in
solids than in the air. If the rod be metal, the friction will be found
to succeed best when made with a bit of cloth, sprinkled with powdered
resin; or, if of glass, the cloth or the finger may be moistened and
touched with some very fine sand or pumice powder.

Generally speaking, a fiddle-bow, well resined, is the readiest and
most convenient means of setting solid bodies in vibration. To bring
out their gravest or fundamental tones, the bow must be pressed hard
and drawn slowly; but, for the higher harmonies, a short, swift stroke,
with light pressure, is most proper.



Take a common tuning-fork, and on one of its branches fasten with
sealing-wax a circular piece of card, of the size of a small wafer, or
sufficient nearly to cover the aperture of a pipe, as the sliding of
the upper end of a flute with the mouth stopped: it may be tuned in
unison with the loaded tuning-fork (a C fork), by means of the moveable
stopper or card, or the fork may be loaded till the unison is perfect.
Then set the fork in vibration by a blow on the unloaded branch, and
hold the card closely over the mouth of the pipe, as in the engraving,
when a note of surprising clearness and strength will be heard. Indeed,
a flute may be made to “speak” perfectly well, by holding close to the
opening a vibrating tuning-fork, while the fingering proper to the note
of the fork is at the same time performed.


Provide two glass bottles, and tune them by pouring water into them,
so that each corresponds to the sound of a different tuning-fork. Then
apply both tuning-forks to the mouth of each bottle alternately, when
that sound only will be heard, in each case, which is reciprocated by
the unisonant bottle, or, in other words, by that bottle which contains
a column of air susceptible of vibrating in unison with the fork.


Apartments of a circular or elliptical form are best calculated for
the exhibition of this phenomenon. If a person stand near the wall,
with his face turned to it, and whisper a few words, they may be more
distinctly heard at nearly the opposite side of the apartment, than if
the listener was situated nearer to the speaker.


Provide a species of whistle, common as a child’s toy or a sportsman’s
call, in the form of a hollow cylinder, about three-fourths of an inch
in diameter, closed at both ends by flat circular plates, with holes in
their centres. Hold this toy between the teeth and lips; blow through
it, and you may produce sounds varying in pitch with the force with
which you blow. If the air be cautiously graduated, all the sounds
within the compass of a double octave may be produced from it; and, if
great precaution be taken in the management of the wind, tones even yet
graver may be brought out. This simple instrument or toy, has, indeed,
the greatest resemblance to the larynx, which is the organ of voice.

A speaking-machine has been invented in Germany, with which have been
distinctly pronounced the words, _mamma_, _papa_, _mother_, _father_,
_summer_. This instrument consists of a pair of bellows, to which
is adapted a tube terminating in a bell, the aperture of which is
regulated by the hand, so as to produce the articulate sounds.


Whisper along the bare wall of an apartment, and you will be heard much
further than in the middle of the room; for the trough or angle between
the wall and the floor, forms two sides of a square pipe which conveys
the sound.


The experiment with the glass of champagne (page 40) has been employed
by Humboldt, in explanation of the greater audibility of distant
sounds by night than by day. This he attributes to the uniformity of
temperature in the atmosphere by night, when currents of air no longer
rise and disturb its equilibrium; as the air-bubbles in the champagne
interfere with the vibration within the glass. Again, the universal and
dead silence generally prevalent at night, renders our auditory nerves
sensible to sounds which would otherwise escape them, and which are
inaudible among the continual hum of noises which is always going on in
the day time.


If a noise be made in a narrow passage, or apartment of regular form,
the echoes will be repeated at equal very small intervals, and will
always impress the ear with a musical note. This is, doubtless, one of
the means which blind persons have of judging of the size and shape of
any room they happen to be in.


The main secret of this surprising art simply consists in first making
a strong and deep inspiration, by which a considerable quantity of
air is introduced into the lungs, to be afterwards acted upon by the
flexible powers of the larynx, or cavity situated behind the tongue,
and the trachea, or windpipe: thus prepared, the expiration should be
slow and gradual. Any person, by practice, can, therefore, obtain more
or less expertness in this exercise; in which, though not apparently,
the voice is still modified by the mouth and tongue; and it is in the
concealment of this aid, that much of the perfection of ventriloquism

But the distinctive character of ventriloquism consists in its
imitations being performed by the voice _seeming_ to come from the
stomach: hence its name, from _venter_, the stomach, and _loquor_, to
speak. Although the voice does not actually come from that region,
in order to enable the ventriloquist to utter sounds from the larynx
without moving the muscles of his face, he strengthens them by a
powerful action of the abdominal muscles. Hence, he speaks by means
of his stomach; although the throat is the real source from whence
the sound proceeds. It should, however, be added, that this speaking
distinctly, without any movement of the lips at all, is the highest
perfection of ventriloquism, and has but rarely been attained. Thus,
MM. St. Gille and Louis Brabant, two celebrated French ventriloquists,
appeared to be absolutely mute while exercising their art, and no
change in their countenances could be discovered.

It has lately been shown, that some ventriloquists have acquired by
practice the power of exercising the veil of the palate in such a
manner, that, by raising or depressing it, they dilate or contract the
inner nostrils. If they are closely contracted, the sound produced is
weak, dull, and seems to be more or less distant; if, on the contrary,
these cavities are widely dilated, the sound will be strengthened, the
voice become loud, and apparently close to us.

Another of the secrets of ventriloquism, is the uncertainty with
respect to the direction of sounds. Thus, if we place a man and a child
in the same angle of uncertainty, and the man speaks with the accent
of a child, without any corresponding motion in his mouth or face, we
shall necessarily believe that the voice comes from the child. In this
case, the belief is so strengthened by the imagination; for if we were
directed to a statue, as the source from which we were to expect sounds
to issue, we should still be deceived, and refer the sounds to the
lifeless stone or marble. This illusion will be greatly assisted by the
voice being totally different in tone and character from that of the
man from whom it really comes. Thus, we see how easy is the deception
when the sounds are required to proceed from any given object, and are
such as they actually yield.

The ventriloquists of our time, as M. Alexander and M. Fitz-James,
have carried their art still further. They have not only spoken by the
muscles of the throat and the abdomen, without moving those of the
face, but have so far overcome the uncertainty of sound, as to become
acquainted with modifications of distance, obstruction, and other
causes, so to imitate them with the greatest accuracy. Thus, each of
these artists has succeeded in carrying on a dialogue; and each, in
his own single person and with his own single voice, has represented
a scene apparently with several actors. These ventriloquists have
likewise possessed such power over their faces and figures, that, aided
by rapid changes of dress, their personal identity has scarcely been
recognised among the range of personations.

Vocal imitations are much less striking and ingenious than the feats
of ventriloquism. Extraordinary varieties of voice may be produced, by
speaking with a more acute or grave pitch than usual, and by different
contractions of the mouth. Thus may be imitated the grinding of cutlery
on a wheel, the sawing of wood, the frying of a pancake, the uncorking
of a bottle, and the gurgling noise in emptying its contents.


[Illustration: LIGHT & HEAT.]

[Illustration: LIGHT AND HEAT.]


PROVIDE a circle of card-board, six inches in diameter; divide it
into sixteen parts, and paint them alternately red and black. Provide
a second circle or disc of the same size, and paint on it, in large
characters, the words “At rest,” on a white ground. Connect both discs
with the simple apparatus for causing them to turn round, used in the
construction of a toy windmill. Next fill a basin with water, and
provide a few small pieces of phosphuret of lime: darken the room,
hold the discs over the basin, and turn them round; let the phosphuret
of lime be put into the water, and bubbles of light will rise to its
surface. If they come up slowly, both discs will appear stationary
during their turning round; but when the bubbles come up quickly, the
black and red spaces will exhibit a dancing motion, and sometimes
two black spaces will seem joined into one, to the exclusion of the
intervening red, and _vice versâ_: the words on the second disc will
also cross each other in various directions, when the flashes of
light interfere; and, in both cases, confusion will be excited by an
impression being made on the retina, before preceding impressions have


Sir Isaac Newton first divided a white ray of light, and found it to
consist of an assemblage of coloured rays, which formed an image upon a
wall, and in which were displayed the following colours: red, orange,
yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Sir Isaac then showed that
these seven colours, when again put together or combined, recomposed
white light. This may be proved by painting a card wheel in circles
with the above colours, and whirling it rapidly upon a pin, when it
will appear white.

Light may also be decomposed by the following beautiful experiment:
Form a tube about ten inches long and one inch in diameter, of paper,
one side of which is of a bright blue colour. This may be done by
wrapping the paper once round a cylinder of wood, and securing the
edges of the paper with paste. The coloured side of the paper must be
the interior of the tube. Apply this tube to one eye, the other being
closed, and on looking at the ceiling, a circular orange spot will be
seen, which is the result of decomposition: the white light from the
ceiling enters the tube, the blue is retained, and the red and yellow
rays enter the eye, and produce the impression of orange.


The theory of solar refraction may be beautifully illustrated as
follows: Put a shilling into a basin, and pour some water on it, when
the silver will be refracted through the medium; and, if the vessel be
filled, you may withdraw to any distance from which the surface of the
water will be visible, and, by the refraction from it, you can still
observe the shilling.


Dissolve crystals of nitrate of copper in spirit of wine; light the
solution, and it will burn with a beautiful emerald-green flame:
pieces of sponge soaked in this spirit, lighted and suspended by fine
wires, produce the lambent green flames now so common in incantation
scenes: strips of flannel saturated with it, and applied round copper
swords, tridents, &c., produce, when lighted, the flaming swords and
fire-forks, brandished by the demons in such scenes: indeed, the chief
consumption of nitrate of copper is for these purposes.


It is well known, that on dark, stormy nights, the sea emits a
brilliant light, the effect of which may be thus imitated. Scrape off
four drams of the substance of putrefying fish, as whiting, herring,
or mackerel, and put it into a white glass bottle, containing two
ounces of sea-water, or of pure water with two drams of common salt
dissolved in it; set the bottle in a dark place, and in three days a
ring of light will be seen on the surface of the liquid, and the whole,
if shaken, will become luminous, and continue so for some time. If it
be set in a warm place, the light will be brighter; if the liquid be
frozen, the light will disappear, but will re-appear on being thawed.

If more salt be added to the solution, the light will disappear, but
instantly burst forth from absolute darkness by dilution with water.
Lime-water, common water, beer, acids, even very dilute alkaline
leys, as pearl-ash or soda and water, will permanently extinguish this
spontaneous light.


The oxygenated, or _chlorate matches_, are first dipped in melted
sulphur, and then tipped with a paste made of chlorate of potass,
sulphur, and sugar, mixed with gum-water, and coloured with vermilion:
frankincense and camphor are sometimes mixed with the composition, and
the wood of the match is pencil-cedar, so that a fragrant odour is
diffused from the matches in burning. To obtain light, a match is very
lightly dipped in a bottle containing a little asbestos soaked in oil
of vitriol.

_Lucifers_ consist of chips of wood tipped with a paste of chlorate of
potass mixed with sulphuret of antimony, starch, and gum-water: when a
match is pinched between the folds of glass-paper, and suddenly drawn
out, a light is instantly obtained.

_Prometheans_ consist of small rolls of waxed paper, in one end of
which is a minute quantity of vitriol, in a glass bulb, sealed up,
and surrounded with chlorate of potass: when the end thus prepared is
pressed so as to break the bulb, the vitriol comes in contact with the
composition, and produces light instantly.

For cigar-smokers, Prometheans are made with touch-paper; this ignites
from the composition, and glows without flame, like a slow match; and
as the wind will not extinguish it, a dry cigar may be readily lighted
at it.

Lucifers and Prometheans must be used with caution, and should never be
carelessly left about: by letting them fall upon a sanded floor, and
being accidentally trod upon, they may take fire, and thus do great


Take a piece of packthread, or cotton thread, boil it in clean water to
free it from saline particles, and dry it; wet one end, and take upon
it a little of either of the salts hereafter named, in fine powder, or
strong solution. Then dip the wetted end of the thread into the cup of
a burning wax candle, and apply it to the exterior of the flame, not
quite touching the luminous part, but so as to be immersed in the cone
of invisible but intensely heated air which envelopes it. Immediately,
an irregular sputtering combustion of the wax on the thread will take
place, and the invisible cone of heat will be rendered luminous, with a
peculiarly coloured light, according to the salt employed.

Thus, common salt will give a bright yellow; muriate of potass will
give a beautiful pale violet; muriate of lime will give a brick red;
muriate of strontia will give a magnificent crimson; muriate of lithia
will give a red; muriate of baryta will give a fine pale apple green;
muriate of copper will give a beautiful bluish green; and green
copperas will give a white light.


Provide about a foot square of brass or iron wire gauze, of the
fineness of thirty meshes to the square inch: lower the gauze upon the
flame of a wax candle, which will not rise through the meshes, but in
its place will be the inflammable smoke of the flame; apply to this a
piece of lighted paper, and it will be kindled, and the candle will
burn with flame above and beneath the gauze. In this case, the gauze
so cools the flame, as to extinguish it; and upon this principle is
constructed the Davy Safety Lamp, in which the light is surrounded with

To vary this experiment, place a chip of camphor in the centre of a
piece of wire-gauze about a foot square, and hold it over the flame of
a candle or lamp; when the vapour of the camphor will burn brightly
upon the lower surface of the gauze, but cannot rise through it in
consequence of its cooling power. Thus, the camphor lies upon the gauze
in an uninflamed state, though it is sufficiently heated to yield
inflammable vapour to feed a flame beneath.


Cut a piece of cane about one inch long: set it upright in spirit of
wine, with a small portion just above the surface: the spirit will then
rise through the tube of the cane, which being lighted, will burn as a


Place a small piece of camphor, or a few fragments, upon the bottom
of a glass, and lay upon the camphor a piece of coiled or pressed up
platinum wire, heated in the flame of a lamp; when the platinum will
glow brilliantly as long as any camphor remains, and frequently light
up into flame.



Put into a small hyacinth-glass a teaspoonful of ether, and suspend in
it, by wire, a coil of fine platinum wire, first heated in the flame of
a spirit-lamp; the wire will then glow with a red heat, and some of it
may become white hot; in the latter case, flame will be produced by the
ether burning.


Cut a chip of camphor; light it, and set it on a basin of water, when
it will continue to burn and float, until it is consumed.


Steep a loosely twisted cotton skein in a solution of nitre; dry it,
and it will readily kindle by the sparks produced from the flint and
steel. If, however, the cotton be further prepared by coating portions
of it, at regular intervals, alternately with sulphur and white wax,
and the sparks be struck upon the sulphur, it will readily kindle, and
as readily light the wax; and the flame will endure long enough for
sealing a letter.


Place a very stale fish in a dark room, and it will give out a
strong light, because of the numerous animalculæ, whose growth the
putrefaction has promoted.


Phosphorus in its pure state should be very cautiously handled; as,
unless used very moderately, it will burn the skin. By adding to it,
however, six parts of olive oil, it may be employed with perfect
safety. If every part of the face, except the eyes and mouth, which
should be kept shut while applying it, be anointed with this mixture,
it will give the party a most frightful appearance in the dark. The
eyes and mouth will seem black, and all the other parts of the face
will appear lighted with a sickly, pale-bluish flame.


Strain a piece of paper or linen upon a wooden frame, and sponge it
over with a solution of nitrate of silver in water; place it behind
a painting upon glass, or a stained window-pane, and the light,
traversing the painting or figures, will produce a copy of it upon
the prepared paper or linen; those parts in which the rays were least
intercepted being the shadows of the picture.


Place a solution of nitre in a small basin of water, in a room which
has the light admitted only through a small hole in the window-shutter;
crystals will then form most abundantly upon the side of the basin
exposed to the aperture through which the light enters; and often the
whole mass of crystals will turn towards it. This peculiar effect may
also be seen in the crystals in camphor glasses in druggists’ windows,
which are always most copious upon the side exposed to the light.


Shut a plant up in a room into which light is only admitted through
a small hole in the window-shutter, and set the plant out of the
direction of this light; it will, in a short time, turn itself, and
even grow downwards, that it may expose its leaves to the light.

If plants be kept in darkness, they will soon become bleached; then, if
they be exposed to the sun for three, four, or five hours, the leaves
and stalks will become as intensely green as if the plants had been
reared in the sun. Again, if a lighted lamp be introduced into a dark
room, wherein a plant has been shut up and bleached, it will become
green, and direct itself towards the lamp. If such a plant be removed
from the room, exposed for some time to the sun, and then returned to
darkness, it will no longer support the privation of light, but will
fade and perish.


Throw upon ice a small piece of potassium, and it will burst into
flame. In one experiment, the operator pressed the potassium on the ice
with a penknife, when the whole length of the ice became ignited.


As a substance for light, zinc is far superior to any of the metals.
The light which it yields on burning is as bright as that of the sun,
and as white, so that the eye can scarcely endure it; and the effect is
much increased by the great quantity of silvery smoke which reflects
the fire, and thus widely increases the sphere of illumination. Zinc
may be used in thin sheets, or in filings.


Wrap a small piece of platinum in a piece of tin-foil of the same size,
and expose them upon charcoal to the action of the blow pipe; when the
union of the two metals will be accompanied by a rapid whirling, and by
a remarkably brilliant light. If the globule thus melted be allowed to
drop into a basin of water, it will remain for some time red hot at the
bottom of it.


Pour into a watch-glass a little sulphuret of carbon, and light it;
hold in the flame a brush of steel-wire, and it will burn beautifully.
A watch-spring may also be burnt in it.


Place upon a piece of tinfoil a few powdered crystals of nitrate of
copper; moisten it with water; fold up the foil gently, and wrap it in
paper so as to keep out the air: lay it upon a plate, and the tin will
soon inflame.


Provide a new and highly-polished gilt button, and hold it in a strong
light, closely but obliquely, over a sheet of white paper, when it
will present radiations exactly like the spokes of a carriage-wheel;
the radiations being sixteen in number, and a little contracted in the
centre opposite the eye of the button, and presenting altogether a
beautiful appearance.


Hold a lighted candle to the flower of the _fraxinella_, and it will
dart forth little flashes of light. This beautiful appearance is caused
by the essential and inflammable oil contained in small vessels at the
extremities of the flower, which vessels burn at the approach of any
inflamed body, setting at liberty the essential oil, as that contained
in orange-peel is discharged by pressure.


Simply break a bit of lump sugar between the fingers in the dark, and
light will be produced at the moment of fracture.

Or, if powdered loaf sugar be put into a spoon, fused, and kindled in
the flame of a lamp, it will exhibit a fine jet of flame.


Place a few potatoes in a dark cellar, and when they become in a state
of putrefaction, they will give out a vivid light sufficient to read
by. A few years since, an officer on guard at Strasbourg thought the
barracks were on fire, in consequence of the light thus emitted from a
cellar full of putrefying potatoes.


Open an oyster, retain the liquor in the lower or deep shell, and if
viewed through a microscope, it will be found to contain multitudes
of small oysters, covered with shells, and swimming nimbly about; one
hundred and twenty of which in a row would extend but one inch. Besides
these young oysters, the liquor contains a variety of animalculæ, and
myriads of three distinct species of worms, which shine in the dark
like glow-worms. Sometimes their light resembles a bluish star about
the centre of the shell, which will be beautifully luminous in a dark


Pound, coarsely, some of the dark blue or the fetid variety of
Derbyshire spar; heat it in a dark room, in a platinum spoon, over the
low flame of a spirit-lamp, and the spar will shine with a beautiful
purple tint.

Pounded swinestone, calcareous spar, and powdered quartz, will also
give out light, if strewn upon a fire-shovel which has been heated
red-hot, and has just ceased glowing.

A variety of fluor spar, found in granite in Siberia, will shine in
the dark when warmed, with a remarkably strong phosphorescent light,
increasing as the temperature is raised. The light augments when the
spar is plunged into water; and in boiling water, the spar becomes so
luminous that the letters of a printed book can be seen in a dark room
near the glass containing it.

Another variety of fluor spar, also found in Siberia, is of a pale
violet colour, and emits a white light merely by the heat of the hand;
and when put into boiling water, it will give out a green light.


Put oyster-shells into a common fire; burn them for about half an hour;
then remove them into a dark room, when many of the shells will exhibit
beautiful specimens of prismatic colours.


This is one of the most striking of optical exhibitions, and may be
thus simply produced. Provide a sheet of clear ice, about an inch
thick, frozen in still weather; let the light fall through the ice upon
a pane of window-glass, or a polished table, and by placing a fragment
of plate-glass near the eye as a reflector, the most beautiful rings of
light may be observed.


Strike a piece of rattan cane with a steel, and it contains so much
silex, or flint, that it will exhibit sparks of light in the dark.


Moisten a piece of paper, and it will appear more transparent than
when in its natural state; the cause of which is as follows: a piece
of dry paper has its pores obstructed with finely interwoven threads;
these are broken by the liquor, which also fills the pores as so many
small tubes, and permits the light to pass through it, whereas the dry
threads had hitherto prevented its passage.


All bodies are more or less transparent. Thus, though gold is one of
the densest metals, yet, if a piece of the thinnest gold-leaf be held
up to a candle, the light will pass through it; and, that it passes
through the substance of the metal, and not through cracks or holes
too small to be detected by the eye, is evident from the colour of the
transmitted light, which is green.


Provide a piece of plain and polished smalt-blue glass, such as
sugar-basins and finger glasses are made of. It should be of unequal
thickness. Look through this glass at a strong light, as that from the
crack of a window-shutter, in a darkened room, and, at the thinnest
part, the colour will be purely blue. As the thickness increases, a
purple tinge will come on, which will become more and more ruddy; and,
if the glass be very thick, the colour will pass to a deep red.


Hold a finger between a candle and the wall, and it will cast a
shadow of a certain darkness; then place another candle in the same
line with the other from the wall, and the shadow will appear doubly
dark, although there will be more light in the room than before. Then
separate the candles, and place them so as to produce two shadows of
the finger, one partly overlapping the other, and that part will be of
double darkness, as compared with the remainders.


To imitate thunder, provide a thin sheet of iron; hold it by one
corner between the finger and thumb, and allow it to hang freely by
its own weight. Then shake the hand horizontally, so as to agitate the
corner in a direction at right angles to the surface of the sheet.
Thus you may produce a great variety of sounds, from the deep growl of
distant thunder to those loud claps which rattle in rapid succession
immediately over our heads. The same effect may be produced by sheets
of tinned iron, or tin-plate, and by thin plates of mica; but the sound
is shorter and more acute.

Partial flashes of lightning, aurora borealis, &c., may be beautifully
imitated by taking in a spoon about a dram of the seeds of lycopodium,
and throwing them against a lighted candle, all other light being
excluded from the room.

A similar effect may be produced, by laying some powdered resin on a
piece of paper, and fillipping it with the finger against the flame of
a candle.


If, when the sun shines brightly, a piece of paper be held in the
focus of the rays drawn by the burning-glass, it will take fire. This
experiment succeeds best with brown or any dark-coloured paper: for,
though the glass will collect an equal number of rays upon white as
upon coloured paper, the white paper reflects the rays instead of
allowing them to enter it; hence, the white is not so soon burnt as
the coloured paper, which absorbing more light than it reflects, soon
becomes heated and takes fire.


Melt a small quantity of the sulphate of potass and copper in a spoon
over a spirit-lamp; it will be fused at a heat just below redness,
and produce a liquid of a dark green colour. Remove the spoon from the
flame, when the liquid will become a solid of a brilliant emerald-green
colour, and so remain till its heat sinks nearly to that of boiling
water, when suddenly a commotion will take place throughout the mass,
beginning from the surface, and each atom, as if animated, will start
up and separate itself from the rest, till, in a few moments, the whole
will become a heap of powder.


Provide two small pieces of glass; sprinkle a minute portion of
sulphur upon one piece, lay thin slips of wood around it, and place
upon it the other piece of glass. Move them slowly over the flame of
a lamp or candle, and the sulphur will become sublimed, and form grey
nebulous patches, which are very curious microscopic objects. Each
cluster consists of thousands of transparent globules, imitating, in
miniature, the nebulæ which we see figured in treatises on astronomy.
By observing the largest particles, we shall find them to be flattened
on one side. Being very transparent, each of them acts the part of
a little lens, and forms in its focus the image of a distant light,
which can be perceived even in the smaller globules, until it vanishes
from minuteness. If they are examined again after a certain number of
hours, the smaller globules will generally be found to have retained
their transparency, while the larger ones will have become opaque, in
consequence of the sulphur having undergone some internal spontaneous
change. But the most remarkable circumstance attending this experiment
is, that the globules are found adhering to the upper glass only;
the reason of which is, that the upper glass is somewhat cooler than
the lower one; by which means we see that the vapour of sulphur is
very powerfully repelled by heated glass. The flattened form of the
particles is owing to the force with which they endeavour to recede
from the lower glass, and their consequent pressure against the surface
of the upper one. This experiment is considered by its originator, Mr.
H. F. Talbot, F. R. S., to be a satisfactory argument in favour of the
repulsive power of heat.


The following experiment is also by Mr. Talbot:—Heat a poker bright-red
hot, and having opened a window, apply the poker quickly very near
to the outside of a pane, and the hand to the inside; a strong heat
will be felt at the instant, which will cease as soon as the poker is
withdrawn, and may be again renewed, and made to cease as quickly as
before. Now, it is well known, that if a piece of glass is so much
warmed as to convey the impression of heat to the hand, it will retain
some part of that heat for a minute or more; but, in this experiment,
the heat will vanish in a moment. It will not, therefore, be the heated
pane of glass that we shall feel, but heat which has come through the
glass, in a free or radiant state.


All metals do not conduct heat at the same rate, as may be proved by
holding in the flame of a candle at the same time, a piece of silver
wire, and a piece of platina wire, when the silver wire will become too
hot to hold, much sooner than the platina. Or, cut a cone of each wire,
tip it with wax, and place it upon a heated plate, as (a fire shovel,)
when the wax will melt at different periods.


Mix a little chlorate of potass with spirit of wine in a strong saucer;
add a little sulphuric acid, and an orange vapour will arise and burst
into flame.


Place before a brisk fire a set of polished fire-irons, and besides
them a rough unpolished poker, such as is used in a kitchen, or instead
of a bright poker. The polished irons will remain for a long time
without becoming warmer than the temperature of the room, because the
heat radiated from the fire is all reflected, or thrown off, by the
polished surface of the irons, and none of it is absorbed. The rough
poker will, however, become speedily hot, so as not to be used without
inconvenience. Hence, the polish of fire-irons is not merely ornamental
but useful.


Provide an iron rod, and fit it exactly into a metal ring; heat the rod
red-hot, and it will no longer enter the ring.

Observe an iron gate on a warm day, when it will shut with difficulty;
whereas, it will shut loosely and easily on a cold day.


Rub a globule of mercury upon a silver spoon, and the two metals will
combine with a white appearance; heat the spoon carefully in the flame
of a spirit-lamp, when the mercury will volatilize and disappear, and
the spoon may then be polished until it recovers its usual lustre:
if, however, the mercury be left for some time on the spoon, the solid
texture of the silver will be destroyed throughout, and then the silver
can only be recovered by heating it in a ladle.


Throw a small piece of that marvellous substance, potassium, into a
basin of water, and it will swim upon the surface, and burn with a
beautiful light, of a red colour mixed with violet. When moderately
heated in the air, potassium takes fire, and burns with a red light.


Put a piece of ice into a basin, which wrap up in many folds of
flannel, and the ice may be preserved for some time by the fireside.


If two pieces of ice be placed in a warm room, one of them may be made
to melt much sooner than the other, by blowing on it with a pair of


Be sure that the bottom of the kettle is well covered with soot; when
the water in it boils, remove it from the fire, and place it upon the
palm of the hand; no inconvenience will be felt, as the soot will
prevent the heat being transmitted, from the water within and the
heated metal, to the hand.


Make a strong solution of borax in water, and steep in it linen,
muslin, or any article of clothing; when dry, they cannot easily be


Light a stick, and whirl it round with a rapid motion, when its burning
end will produce a complete circle of light, although that end can only
be in one part of the circle at the same instant. This is caused by the
duration of the impression of light upon the retina. Another example
is, that during the twinkling of the eye we never lose sight of the
object we are viewing.


Of heat and cold, as of wit and madness, it may be said that “thin
partitions do their bounds divide.” Thus, paint one-half of the surface
of a tin-pot with a mixture of lamp-black and size, and leave the other
half, or side, bright; fill the vessel with boiling water, and by
dipping a thermometer, or even the finger, into it shortly after, it
will be found to cool much more rapidly upon the blackened than upon
the bright side of the pot.


Place upon the surface of snow, as upon the window-sill, in bright
daylight or sunshine, pieces of cloth of the same size and quality, but
of different colours, black, blue, green, yellow, and white: the black
cloth will soon melt the snow beneath it, and sink downwards; next the
blue, and then the green; the yellow but slightly; but the snow beneath
the white cloth will be as firm as at first.


Put into a cup a lump of quick-lime, fresh from the kiln, pour water
upon it, and the heat will be very great. A pailful of quick-lime,
if dipped in water, and shut closely into a box constructed for the
purpose, will give out sufficient heat to warm a room, even in very
cold weather.


[Illustration: GAS & STEAM.]




THE above fanciful appellation has been given to nitrous oxide, from
the very agreeable sensations excited by inhaling it. In its pure state
it destroys animal life, but loses this noxious quality when inhaled,
because it becomes blended with the atmospheric air which it meets in
the lungs. This gas is made by putting three or four drams of nitrate
of ammonia, in crystals, into a small glass retort, which being held
over a spirit lamp, the crystals will melt, and the gas be evolved.

Having thus produced the gas, it is to be passed into a large bladder
having a stop-cock; and when you are desirous of exhibiting its
effects, you cause the person who wishes to experience them, to first
exhale the atmospheric air from the lungs, and then quickly placing
the cock in his mouth, you turn it, and bid him inhale the gas.
Immediately, a sense of extraordinary cheerfulness, fanciful flights
of imagination, an uncontrollable propensity to laughter, and a
consciousness of being capable of great muscular exertion, supervene.
It does not operate in exactly the same manner on all persons; but
in most cases the sensations are agreeable, and have this important
difference from those produced by wine or spirituous liquors, that they
are not succeeded by any depression of mind.


Cover a long slip of wood, half-way, with sulphur, by immersion while
in a melted state. Having prepared a jar of nitrous oxide gas, as in
preceding experiments, light the sulphur, and plunge the wand into the
jar. The gas will extinguish the flame. Withdraw the wand, light it
again, and when the flame is very brilliant, immerse it again in the
jar. It will this time burn with great splendour, and of a beautiful
red colour.


Put about an ounce of marble in small lumps, into an eight ounce phial,
with about an equal quantity of water; pour in a little muriatic acid,
and carbonic acid gas will be evolved.


The apparently empty or upper part of vessels in which wine or beer
is working, is filled with this deleterious gas; for its great
weight prevents its ascent from the fermenting liquid. A variety
of striking but simple experiments may be made with the gas in
this condition. Lighted paper, or a candle dipped into it, will be
immediately extinguished; and the smoke remaining in the carbonic acid
gas will render its surface visible, which may be thrown into waves
by agitation, like water. In consequence of the great weight of the
carbonic acid gas, it may be taken from a vat of fermenting liquor, in
a jug or bottle, and in the latter, if well corked, it may be conveyed
to great distances; or the gas may be drawn out of a vessel by a cock,
like a liquid.


The effects produced by pouring carbonic acid gas from one vessel to
another, have a very singular appearance: if a lighted candle be placed
in a jar, and the gas be poured upon it, the flame will be extinguished
in a few seconds, though the eye is incapable of distinguishing that
anything is poured out.


Make a hole through a wine cork of sufficient size to admit a smaller
cork; through which make another hole, and fix it into the larger
one. Tie the corks thus fixed into the neck of a bullock’s bladder,
previously exhausted of air; let a tube from a bottle generating
hydrogen pass very tightly through the aperture in the small cork, and
the gas will distend and fill the bladder. The instant it is full,
withdraw the inner cork, and either prevent the escape of the gas by
means of the thumb, or cork it closely, till the operator is ready to
_breathe the gas_; to do which, he should put the open cork into his
mouth, and take _one_ inspiration, when, on immediately speaking, his
voice will be remarkably shrill. The effect will pass off in a few


Provide a piece of copper wire, about ten inches long, and fix at one
end of it a piece of wax taper: take a pint bottle of hydrogen, and
place the mouth downwards; light the taper, introduce it into the
bottle, and the gas will take fire, and burn slowly towards the mouth,
where it is in contact with the air. If, however, the taper be passed
up into the bottle, it will be extinguished; but, on gently withdrawing
it through the burning hydrogen, the wick will be rekindled. This may
be done several times in succession with the same portion of gas.


Provide a strong glass bottle which will contain about eight ounces,
or half a pint, into which put a few pieces of zinc; then mix half an
ounce of sulphuric acid with four ounces of water, and pour it into the
bottle upon the zinc; fit the mouth closely with a cork, through which
put a metal tube which ends upward in a fine opening: the mixture in
the bottle will soon effervesce, and hydrogen gas will rise through the
tube. When it has escaped for about a minute, apply a lighted paper to
the tube, and the gas will burn like a candle, but with a pale flame.
Its brightness may be increased to brilliance, by sifting over it a
small quantity of magnesia.



Provide a bladder, fill it with hydrogen gas, to be made as for the
last experiment, and fit the end of a tobacco-pipe closely into the
bladder; dip the bowl of the pipe into soap and water, and, by
pressing the bladder, soap-bubbles will be formed, filled with hydrogen
gas; which bubbles, or balloons, will rise in the air, and keep there
for some time.


Light a stream of hydrogen gas, and it will be scarcely visible in the
day-light; but place in it a small coil of platinum wire, or project
a little oxide of zinc through the flame, and it will become very


One of the simplest and most beautiful experiments in aërostation, is
to take a turkey’s maw, or stomach, properly prepared, and to fill it
either with pure hydrogen gas, or the carburetted hydrogen produced
from coal. If the balloon be then allowed to escape in the open air, it
will ascend rapidly in the atmosphere: but the best method of showing
the experiment, is to let the balloon off a high staircase, and observe
it ascend to the cupola or light, where it will remain near the highest
point till the escape of the gas allow it to descend. The prepared maw
for this balloon may be purchased of any optician.


Bicarburetted hydrogen is the principal constituent of the gas burned
in the streets: it is procured from coal, and the process may readily
be performed on a small scale. Put about two ounces of pounded coal
into an earthen retort, and fix a glass tube into the neck, terminating
in an aperture of one-fifth of an inch in diameter; heat the retort
red-hot, and apply the flame of a taper to the orifice of the tube,
when the gas will burn with a bright white light, very different from
that afforded by the combustion of hydrogen; a circumstance owing
to the presence of particles of carbon in the carburet, which being
intensely ignited, are highly luminous.

It is no less strange than true, that bicarburetted hydrogen, the
substance which we so largely consume to illuminate our towns, is ether
when united to water in one proportion, and spirit when combined with
it in another; a fluid which constitutes the strength of all wines,
beer, and fermented liquors.



Into a half-pint glass bottle, put some zinc, granulated by being
melted in a ladle, and then poured gradually into water. Add some
sulphuric acid, diluted with eight parts by weight of water. Then pass
a glass tube with a capillary bore, through a cork, which you have
previously made to closely fit the bottle, and cork the bottle well.
In a short time, the atmospheric air will be expelled, and hydrogen
gas will rise through the tube; you then apply a light, and the gas
will become ignited. If you now hold another glass tube, about eighteen
or twenty inches long over the flame sufficiently wide to enclose the
other tube very loosely (_see engraving_), the little speck of flame
will sport along the larger tube, and musical sounds will be produced,
which may be varied by using other tubes of different dimensions, and
made of different materials; the wide tubes forming the lower, and the
narrow tubes the upper notes.


Put a small piece or two of the phosphuret of lime into a saucer of
water, when bubbles of phosphuretted hydrogen gas will rise to the
surface, explode into flame, and cause a white smoke; representing, on
a small scale, the _ignis fatuus_, or will o’-the-wisp, as seen over
marshy ground, or stagnant pools of water.


A light so brilliant that the eye can scarcely bear to contemplate it,
is produced by the immersion of phosphorus in oxygen gas. To perform
this experiment, you place a piece of phosphorus in a copper cup, of
the circumference of a sixpence, which is fastened to a thick piece of
iron wire, attached to a cork which fits a bottle (as in the foregoing
experiment) filled with oxygen gas. Set fire to the phosphorous, and
quickly plunge it into the bottle; when the splendour of the combustion
will be surpassingly beautiful.

It is necessary to observe, that the heat is so excessive, that if the
piece of phosphorous in this experiment be larger than a small pea,
there will be great danger of breaking the bottle.


Twist a piece of fine iron wire, such as is used by piano-forte makers,
round a cylindrically-shaped piece of wood or metal, which will give
it a spiral form; or a broken watch-spring, which may be bought for a
trifle of the watch-makers, will answer the same purpose. Fasten round
one end of it some waxed cotton thread or twine, and attach the other
end to a cork, which fits a glass jar or bottle, that will hold a
quart, filled with oxygen gas. Having made the wire red-hot by setting
light to the thread, plunge it into the bottle. Do not cork the
bottle, but let the cork merely lay on the mouth, and to prevent its
being burned, a small a piece of lead should be fastened to the bottom
of it. The iron will instantly begin to burn with great brilliancy,
throwing out luminous scintillations.

To prevent the bottle from being broken by the sparks, a small quantity
of sand should be previously poured into it.


If a glow-worm be placed in a jar of oxygen gas, in a dark room, it
will shine with a far surpassing brilliancy to that which it exhibits
in atmospheric air.


Attach a small piece of charcoal to the end of a copper-wire; make it
red-hot, and immerse it in a jar of oxygen gas. The charcoal will burn
with great brilliance, throwing out splendid scintillations. The bark
of the wood converted into charcoal must be selected, otherwise there
will be no scintillations.


Place in a bottle of oxygen gas a lighted taper, and it will burn with
a flame of increased brilliancy.

Extinguish the taper immediately; put it into the same or another
bottle of oxygen, and it will be again lighted provided a spark remain
on the wick.

Bend a piece of iron wire in a spiral form, and tie on to one end some
cotton or flax; sprinkle some flour of sulphur on it, set it on fire,
dip it into a bottle of oxygen gas, and beautiful corruscations will be
thrown off the wire.


Provide a bottle of the gas chlorine, which may be purchased of
any operative chemist, and with it you may exhibit some brilliant

For example, reduce a small piece of the metal antimony to a very fine
power in a mortar; place some of this on a bent card, then loosen the
stopper of the bottle of chlorine, and throw in the antimony, it will
take fire spontaneously, and burn with much splendour; thus exhibiting
a cold metal spontaneously bursting into flame.

If, however, a _lump_ of antimony be dropped into the chlorine, there
will be no spontaneous combustion, nor immediate change: but, in the
course of time, the antimony will become incrusted with a white
powder, and no chlorine will be found in the bottle.

Or, provide copper in fine leaves, known as “Dutch metal;” slightly
breathe on one end of a glass rod, about ten inches long, and cause
one or two leaves of the metal to adhere to the damp end; then open
a bottle of chlorine, quickly plunge in the leaves, when they will
instantly take fire, and burn with a fine red light, leaving in the
bottle a greenish-yellow solid substance.

A small _lump_ of copper, or “Dutch metal,” will not burn as above, but
will be slowly acted upon, like the antimony.

Immerse gold leaf in a jar of chlorine gas, and combustion with a
beautiful green flame will take place.


Put into a deflagrating spoon about four grains of phosphorus, and let
it down into a bottle of chlorine, when the phosphorus will ignite

Or, fold a slip of blotting-paper into a match five inches long; dip
it into oil of turpentine, drain it an instant, drop it into another
bottle of chlorine, when it will burst into a flame, and deposit much


Put a little ether into a bottle of caoutchouc, close it tightly, soak
it in hot water, and it will become inflated to a considerable size.
These globes may be made so thin as to be transparent.

A piece of caoutchouc, the size of a walnut, has thus been extended to
a ball fifteen inches in diameter; and a few years since, a caoutchouc
balloon, thus made, escaped from Philadelphia, and was found 130 miles
from that city.


Lay a piece of wire-gauze upon the glass chimney of a common argand gas
burner, when the flame will be enlarged to twice its former dimensions,
and its light fully doubled. If the experiment be made with a common
argand oil-lamp, the flame will be often enlarged, but so discoloured
as to yield less light.


Put caoutchoucine, or the spirit distilled from caoutchouc, or Indian
rubber, into a phial, little more than sufficient to cover the bottom,
and the remainder of the phial will be filled with a heavy vapour; pour
this off the spirit into another phial, apply to it a piece of lighted
paper, and the vapour will burn with a brilliant flame.


Let fall a few drops of ether into a large drinking-glass, and cover
it with a plate for a few minutes; during this time the glass will be
filled with vapour from the ether, so that, on removing the plate,
and applying a piece of lighted paper at the mouth of the glass, the
invisible vapour will take fire; thus proving how readily a volatile
fluid, such as ether, combines with the air.


Provide a glass tube, about three feet long and half an inch in
diameter, nearly fill it with water, upon the surface of which pour a
little coloured ether; then close the open end of the tube carefully
with the palm of the hand, invert it in a basin of water, and rest
the tube against the wall: the ether will rise through the water to
the upper end of the tube; pour a little hot water over the tube, and
it will soon cause the ether to boil within, and its vapour may thus
be made to drive nearly all the water out of the tube into the basin;
if, however, you then cool the tube by pouring cold water over it, the
vaporized ether will again become a liquid, and float upon the water as


Nearly fill a wine-glass with diluted sulphuric acid, and place in it a
wire of silver and another of zinc, taking care that they do not touch
each other; when the zinc will be changed by the acid, but the silver
will remain inert. But, cause the upper ends of the wires to touch each
other, and a stream of gas will issue from them.


Pour a little sulphuric acid upon some common salt in a saucer. Into
another saucer put a mixture of about two parts of quick-lime and one
of sal ammoniac, both in powder, adding to these a very small quantity
of boiling water. Each saucer apart will yield an invisible gas: but
the moment they are brought closely together, very visible vapours will
be the result.


Put into an _eau de Cologne_ bottle two drams of chlorate of potass,
and upon that salt about a dozen chips of phosphorous, and fill up
the bottle with cold water: provide a glass tube which will reach to
the potass, through which pour half-an-ounce, by measure, of strong
sulphuric acid, when a gas will instantly rise, give to the liquid a
deep yellow colour, and inflame the phosphorous in a striking manner.


Add a tea-spoonful of fuming nitric acid to two tea-spoonfuls of spirit
of wine, in a cup, and the liquids will presently disappear in the form
of vapour.


Put three or four grains of iodine into a small clean Florence oil
flask, and close it with a cork. Warm the flask gently over a candle,
or before the fire, and the iodine will become converted into a
beautiful violet-coloured vapour, which condenses again into brilliant
metallic crystals, when the flask is suffered to become cold. The
experiment may be repeated with the same flask for any number of times.

Or, upon a small sheet of any metal, place a few grains of iodine, and
add a chip of dry phosphorous; when the latter will inflame, and the
iodine pass off in a violet vapour.


Provide a moistened bladder, tie a piece of tobacco-pipe firmly into
its neck, twisting it so as to expel the common air. This may be fitted
to any vessel by means of the pipe, which may be fixed in the cork
of a bottle containing gas, and closely luted with putty or clay, or
powdered lime and white of egg.


To introduce substances into gases, a deflagrating spoon is required.
It may be bought for half-a-crown; but an instrument equally useful
may be made as follows: cut a piece of sheet copper somewhat larger
than a sixpence, and bend it into a shallow, cup-like form; twist four
fine brass wires, each nine inches long, tightly together, leaving an
inch at the extremities, which must be spread to hold the copper, as
the strings or chains of a balance support the scale-pan. To complete
it, take a piece of sheet-lead, the size of a penny-piece; make a hole
through the centre large enough to admit the twisted wires, but, at the
same time, retaining them firmly in their position: then, if the wires
will not rest in the lead by adhesion, the hole may be enlarged, the
wire put in, and secured by a piece of solder. The spoon being then let
down through the mouth of a bottle, the circular piece of lead rests
upon and stops the mouth.


Invert a glass goblet over a cup of hot water, when the vapour or steam
will be seen to rise in it, to condense upon the cold glass, and then
to run down its inside; thus showing that steam is vaporized water, and
will, when the heat is abstracted from it, become water again.


The steam-engine is much more intelligible than its name first
suggests. That part by which the machinery is set in motion, may be
compared to a syringe, or squirt, the rod of which is driven up and
down by steam admitted above and below, one end of the rod being
connected with the machinery to be worked. Thus, the piston is made to
turn the wheels of a railway carriage, or the paddles of a steam-boat.

The elastic force of the steam, or vapour, by which the rod is driven
up and down, may be explained by this simple experiment. Provide a test
tube, put into it a little water, hold the thumb over the mouth, and
cause the water to boil by holding it over a spirit-lamp. There will
soon be felt a pressure against the thumb; when, if the tube be dipped
into cold water, the thumb being still held at the end, a kind of
suction will be felt against it. Now, the tube resembles the cylinder
of the steam-engine, in which the piston moves up and down; to imitate
which, wrap a little tow about the end of a piece of stick, grease it
with tallow, and fit it moderately tight into the tube; when the water
is made to boil, the stick will be raised, and when the end is dipped
into cold water, the stick will fall as the piston rises and falls in
the cylinder.


Nearly fill a retort with water, and boil it over a lamp; then immerse
the beak into a tumbler of cold water, and the disengaged steam will
raise the water to the boiling temperature, though it be at a distance
from the source of heat.


Fill a kettle with water, and set it on the fire; fix a long metal tube
to the spout, and as soon as the water boils, the steam will pass into
the tube, and being condensed into water, will drip at the other end
of the tube, which corresponds with the worm in the still; it soon,
however, becomes as hot as the water, and then the condensation will
cease: but, were the tube passed through cold water, as is the worm of
the still in a tub, the whole water in the kettle might be boiled away,
but reproduced in the tube, and collected from it without the loss of
a drop. This simple process resembles distillation, and the kettle and
tube the still.


Provide a number of little glass bulbs, put into each a drop of water,
and seal it up; if it be then put into the flame of a candle, or the
fire, the heat will soon convert the water into steam, and cause the
bulb to burst with a loud report.


Observe attentively the steam that escapes from the spout of a
tea-kettle, at the moment the water begins to boil, and you will
perceive the steam to be condensed in minute drops on the interior
edges of the spout. A few moments afterwards, provided the water
continue to boil, the spout of the kettle will become perfectly dry;
and, at the same time, close to it, there will be a certain space, say
from one-half to three-fourths of an inch, throughout which not a
particle of steam will be perceptible. This may be easily explained.
When the water in the kettle begins to boil, the spout being cooler
than the steam issuing from it, a portion of that steam is condensed.
As more steam escapes, the metal soon becomes as hot as the steam,
will no longer condense it, and the spout becomes dry. By this time
the steam will displace the air immediately opposite the orifice of
the spout, whence it will issue dry and invisible. As it is cooled
by mixing with the surrounding air, it assumes its well-known cloudy


[Illustration: FIRE, WATER, AND AIR.]




A VARIETY of rays of light is exhibited by coloured flames, which are
not to be seen in white light. Thus, pure hydrogen gas will burn with a
blue flame, in which many of the rays of light are wanting. The flame
of an oil-lamp contains most of the rays which are wanting in sunlight.
Alcohol, mixed with water, when heated or burned, affords a flame with
no other rays but yellow. The following salts, if finely powdered, and
introduced into the exterior flame of a candle, or into the wick of a
spirit-lamp will communicate to flame their peculiar colours:

    Muriate of Soda (common salt)     Yellow.
    Muriate of Potash                 Pale violet.
    Muriate of Lime                   Brick red.
    Muriate of Strontia               Bright crimson.
    Muriate of Lithia                 Red.
    Muriate of Baryta                 Pale _apple_-green.
    Muriate of Copper                 Bluish green.
    Borax                             Green.

Or, either of the above salts may be mixed with spirit of wine, as
directed for Red Fire.


Burn spirits of wine on common table salt or saltpetre.


Burn spirit of wine on chloride of calcium, a substance obtained by
evaporating muriate of lime to dryness.


Burn spirit of wine on a little powdered nitrate of copper.


Heat together potassium and sulphur, and they will instantly burn very

Heat a little nitre in a fire-shovel, sprinkle on it flour of sulphur,
and it will instantly burn. If iron filings be thrown upon red-hot
nitre, they will detonate and burn.

Pound, separately, equal parts of chlorate of potash and lump sugar;
mix them, and put upon a plate a small quantity; dip a thread into
sulphuric acid, touch the powder with it, and it will burst into a
brilliant flame.

Or, put a few grains of chlorate of potash into a table-spoonful of
spirit of wine; add one or two drops of sulphuric acid, and the whole
will burst into a beautiful flame.


Put a little newly calcined magnesia into a tea-cup upon the hearth or
hob, and suddenly pour in as much concentrated sulphuric acid as will
cover the magnesia; in an instant, sparks will be thrown out, and the
mixture will become completely ignited. To prevent accidents, the phial
containing the sulphuric acid should be tied to the end of a long stick.


Encircle the very small flame of a lamp with a cold iron wire, which
will instantly cause its extinction.


Pour some spirit of wine into a watch-glass, and inflame it; place a
straw across this flame, and it will only be ignited and charred at the
outer edge; the middle of the straw will be uninjured, for there is no
ignited matter in the centre of the flame.

Or, introduce into the middle of the flame one end of a glass tube,
when the vapour will rise through it, and may be lighted at the other
end of the tube.


Set a metallic plate over the flame of a spirit-lamp; place upon it a
small portion of camphor under a glass funnel; and the camphor will be
beautifully sublimed by the heat of the lamp, in an efflorescent crust
on the sides of the funnel.


A beautiful green fire may be thus made. Take of flour of sulphur,
thirteen parts; nitrate of baryta, seventy-seven; oxymuriate of
potassa, five; metallic arsenic, two; and charcoal, three. Let the
nitrate of baryta be well dried and powdered; then add to it the other
ingredients, all finely pulverized, and exceedingly well mixed and
rubbed together. Place a portion of the composition in a small tin
pan, having a polished reflector fitted to one side, and set light to
it; when a splendid green illumination will be the result. By adding a
little calamine, it will burn more slowly.


Weigh five ounces of dry nitrate of strontia, one ounce and a half of
finely-powdered sulphur, five drams of chlorate of potash, and four
drams of sulphuret of antimony. Powder the chlorate of potash and the
sulphuret of antimony separately in a mortar, and mix them on paper;
after which, add them to the other ingredients, previously powdered
and mixed. No other kind of mixture than rubbing together on paper is
required. For use, mix with a portion of the powder a small quantity
of spirit of wine, in a tin pan resembling a cheese-toaster, light
the mixture, and it will shed a rich crimson hue: when the fire burns
dim and badly, a very small quantity of finely-powdered charcoal or
lamp-black will revive it.


Dissolve chloride of lithium in spirit of wine; and when lighted, it
will burn with a purplish flame.


Place upon a piece of burning charcoal a morsel of the dried crystals
of nitrate of silver, (not the lunar caustic,) and it will immediately
throw out the most beautiful sparks that can be imagined, whilst the
surface of the charcoal will be coated with silver.


Put into a glass tumbler fifteen grains of finely granulated zinc, and
six grains of phosphorus cut into very small pieces, beneath water.
Mix in another glass, gradually, a dram of sulphuric acid with two
drams of water. Remove both glasses into a dark room, and there pour
the diluted acid over the zinc and phosphorus in the glass: in a short
time, beautiful jets of bluish flame will dart from all parts of the
surface of the mixture; it will become quite luminous, and beautiful
luminous smoke will rise in a column from the glass; thus representing
a fountain of fire.


Put into a small, narrow-necked earthen bottle, half an ounce of
muriate of ammonia, an ounce of camphor, and two ounces of highly
rectified spirit of wine; set fire to it, and the room will seem to be
in flames. This experiment should be performed in the dark.


Heat a small portion of the grey powder of aluminum, and it will
ignite, inflame, and burn with great rapidity. Or, blow a little of
this powder into the flame of a candle, and it will produce a small
shower of sparks, brilliant as those from iron filings.


Light a small _green_ wax-taper; in a minute or two, blow out the
flame, and the wick will continue red-hot for many hours; and, if the
taper were regularly and carefully uncoiled, and the room kept free
from currents of air, the wick would burn on in this manner until the
whole taper were consumed. The same effect is not produced when the
colour of the wax is red, on which account, red wax-tapers are safer
than green; for the latter, if left imperfectly extinguished, may set
fire to any object with which they are in contact.


Mix a grain or two of potassium with an equal quantity of sodium; add
a globule of quicksilver, and the three metals, when shaken, will take
fire, and burn vividly.


Take a smooth cylindrical piece of metal, about one inch and a half in
diameter, and eight inches long; wrap very closely round it a piece of
clean writing paper, then hold the paper in the flame of a spirit-lamp,
and it will not take fire; but it may be held there for a considerable
time, without being in the least affected by the flame.


A most remarkable phenomenon is produced in glass tubes, under certain
circumstances. When these are laid before a fire in a horizontal
position, having their extremities properly supported, they acquire
a rotatory motion round their axis, and also a progressive motion
towards the fire, even when their supports are declining from the fire,
so that the tubes will move a little way upwards to the fire. When the
progressive motion of the tubes towards the fire is stopped by any
obstacle, their rotation still continues. When the tubes are placed in
a nearly upright posture, leaning to the right hand, the motion will be
from east to west; but if they lean to the left hand, the motion will
be from west to east; and the nearer they are placed to the upright
posture, the less will the motion be either way. If the tube be placed
horizontally on a glass plane, the fragment, for instance, of coach
window glass, instead of moving towards the fire, it will move from it,
and about its axis in a contrary direction to what it had done before;
nay, it will recede from the fire, and move a little upwards, when the
plane inclines towards the fire. These experiments succeed best with
tubes about twenty or twenty-two inches long, which have in each end a
pretty strong pin fixed in cork for their axis.


Drop about two grains of potassium into a saucer of cold water. It
will instantly burst into flame, with a slight explosion, burn vividly
on the surface, and dart about with great violence in the form of a
red-hot fire ball.


Hold both hands in water which causes the thermometer to rise to ninety
degrees, and when the liquid has become still, you will be insensible
of the heat, and that the hand is touching any thing. Then remove one
hand to water that causes the thermometer to rise to 200 degrees, and
the other in water at thirty-two degrees. After holding the hands
thus for some time, remove them, and again immerse them in the water
at ninety degrees; when you will feel _warmth_ in one hand and _cold_
in the other. To the hand which had been immersed in the water at
thirty-two degrees, the water at ninety degrees will feel hot; and to
the hand which had been immersed in the water at 200 degrees, the water
at ninety degrees will feel cold. If, therefore, the touch in this case
be trusted, the same water will be judged to be hot and cold at the
_same_ time.


Fill a wine-glass with cold water, pour lightly upon its surface a
little ether; light it by a slip of paper, and it will burn for some


Drop a globule of potassium, about the size of a large pea, into a
small cup nearly full of water, containing a drop or two of strong
nitric acid; the moment that the metal touches the liquid, it will
float upon its surface, enveloped with a beautiful rose-coloured flame,
and entirely dissolve.


Pour into a saucer a little sulphuric acid, and place upon it a chip of
sodium, which will float and remain uninflamed; but the addition of a
drop of water will set it on fire.


On a lump of refined sugar let fall a few drops of phosphuretted ether,
and put the sugar into a glass of warm water, which will instantly
appear on fire at the surface, and in waves, if gently blown with the
breath. This experiment should be exhibited in the dark.


Throw very small pieces of phosphuret of potassium into a basin of
water, and they will produce separate explosions. The same substance
will also burn with great brilliancy, when exposed to air.


Hold a cold and dry bell-glass over a lighted candle, and watery
vapour will be directly condensed on the cold surface; then close the
mouth of the glass with a card or plate, and turn the mouth uppermost;
remove the card, quickly pour in a little lime-water, a perfectly clear
liquid, and it will instantly become turbid and milky, upon meeting
with the contents of the glass, just as lime-water changes when dropped
into a glass of water.


Put into a tea-cup a little spirit of wine, set it on fire, and invert
a large bell-glass over it. In a short time, a thick watery vapour will
be seen upon the inside of the bell, which may be collected by a dry


Provide a tall glass jar, filled with cold water, and place in it an
air thermometer, which will nearly reach the surface; upon the surface
place a small copper basin, into which put a little live charcoal: the
surface of the water will soon be made to boil, while the thermometer
will show that the water beneath is scarcely warmer than it was at


Fill a large glass tube with water, and throw into it a few particles
of bruised amber; then hold the tube, by a handle for the purpose,
upright in the flame of a lamp, and, as the water becomes warm, it will
be seen that currents, carrying with them the pieces of amber, will
begin to ascend in the centre, and to descend towards the circumference
of the tube. These currents will soon become rapid in their motions,
and continue till the water boils.


Pour into a glass tube, about ten inches long, and one inch in
diameter, a little water coloured with pink or other dye; then fill
it up gradually and carefully with colourless water, so as not to mix
them: apply heat at the bottom of the tube, and the coloured water will
ascend and be diffused throughout the whole.

The circulation of warm water may be very pleasingly shown, by heating
water in a tube similar to the foregoing; the water having diffused in
it some particles of amber, or other light substance not soluble in


All fluids, except water, diminish in bulk till they freeze. Thus,
fill a large thermometer tube with water, say of the temperature of
eighty degrees, and then plunge the bulb into pounded ice and salt,
or any other freezing mixture: the water will go on shrinking in the
tube till it has attained the temperature of about forty degrees; and
then, instead of continuing to contract till it freezes, (as is the
case with all other liquids,) it will be seen slowly to expand and
consequently to rise in the tube until it congeals. In this case, the
expansion below forty degrees, and above forty degrees, seems to be
equal: so that the water will be of the same bulk at thirty-two degrees
as at forty-eight degrees, that is, at eight degrees above or below
forty degrees.


This pretty toy may be purchased at any optician’s for two or three
shillings. It consists of a cup, in which is placed a standing human
figure, concealing a syphon, or bent tube, with one end longer than
the other. This rises in one leg of the figure to reach the chin,
and descends through the other leg through the bottom of the cup to
a reservoir beneath. If you pour water in the cup, it will rise in
the shorter leg by its upward pressure, driving out the air before it
through the longer leg; and when the cup is filled above the bend of
the syphon, (that is, level with the chin of the figure,) the pressure
of the water will force it over into the longer leg of the syphon, and
the cup will be emptied: the toy thus imitating Tantalus of mythology,
who is represented by the poets as punished in Erebus with an
insatiable thirst, and placed up to the chin in a pool of water, which,
however, flowed away as soon as he attempted to taste it.


Nearly fill a basin with water, and put upon its surface a floating
lighted wick or taper; over this place a glass goblet, mouth downwards,
and push it into the water, which will be kept out, whilst the wick
will continue to float and burn under the goblet; thus imitating the
living inmate of a diving bell, which is merely a larger goblet, with a
man instead of a candle within it.


Fill a very fine wire-gauze sieve with water, and it will not run
through the interstices, but be retained among them by capillary


Fill a glass to the brim with water, and you may add to it spirit of
wine without causing the water to overflow, as the spirit will enter
into the pores of the water.


Fill a small narrow-necked bulb with port wine, or with water and
coloured spirit of wine, and put the bulb into a tall, narrow glass
jar, which is then to be filled up with cold water: immediately,
the coloured fluid will issue from the bulb, and accumulate on the
surface of the water in the jar, while colourless water will be seen
accumulating at the bottom of the bulb. By close inspection, the
descending current of the water may also be observed, and the coloured
and the colourless liquids be seen to pass each other in the narrow
neck of the bulb without mixing.

The whole of the coloured fluid will shortly have ascended, and the
bulb will be entirely filled with clear water.


Put a lump of alum into a tumbler of water, and, as the alum dissolves,
it will assume the shape of a pyramid. The cause of the alum decreasing
in this peculiar form is briefly as follows: at first, the water
dissolves the alum very fast, but as the alum becomes united with the
water, the solvent power of the latter diminishes. The water, which
combines first with the alum, becomes heavier by the union, and falls
to the bottom of the glass; where it ceases to dissolve any more,
although the water which it has displaced from the bottom has risen
to the top of the glass, and is there acting upon the alum. When the
solution has nearly terminated, if you closely examine the lump, you
will find it covered with geometrical figures, cut out, as it were, in
relief, upon the mass; showing, not only that the cohesion of the atoms
of the alum resists the power of solution in the water, but that, in
the present instance, it resists it more in some directions than in
others. Indeed this experiment beautifully illustrates the opposite
action of cohesion and repulsion.


Provide a glass goblet about two-thirds filled with coloured water,
draw a fiddle-bow against its edge, and the surface of the water will
exhibit a pleasing figure, composed of fans, four, six, or eight in
number, dependent on the dimensions of the vessel, but chiefly on the
pitch of the note produced.


Or, nearly fill a glass with water, draw the bow strongly against its
edge, the water will be elevated and depressed; and, when the vibration
has ceased, and the surface of the water has become tranquil, these
elevations will be exhibited in the form of a curved line, passing
round the interior surface of the glass, and above the surface of
the water. If the action of the bow be strong, the water will be
sprinkled on the inside of the glass, above the liquid surface, and
this sprinkling will show the curved line very perfectly, as in the
engraving. The water should be carefully poured, so that the glass
above the liquid be preserved dry; the portion of the glass between
the edge and the curved line, will then be seen partially sprinkled;
but between the level of the water and the curved line, it will have
become wholly wetted, thereby indicating the height to which the fluid
has been thrown.


The elements of sugar are carbon and water, as may be proved by the
following experiment: Put into a glass a table-spoonful of powdered
sugar, and mix it into a thin paste with a little water, and rather
more than its bulk of sulphuric acid; stir the mixture together, the
sugar will soon blacken, froth up, and shoot like a cauliflower out of
the glass: and, during the separation of the charcoal, a large quantity
of steam will also be evolved.


Fill a cup with water, gently lay on its surface small fine needles,
and they will float.


Half fill a mug with water, place it in a sling, and you may whirl it
around you without spilling a drop; for the water tends more away from
the centre of motion towards the bottom of the mug, than towards the
earth by gravity.


Pour water into a glass tumbler, _perfectly dry_, and it may be raised
above the edge, in a convex form; because the particles of the water
have more attraction for each other than for the dry glass; wet the
edge, and they will be instantly attracted, and overflow, and the water
will sink into a concave form.


Place at the bottom of a vessel of water, a piece of cork, so smoothly
cut that no water gets between its lower surface and the surface of the
bottom, when it will not rise, but remain fixed there, because it is
pressed downward by the water from above, and there is no pressure from
below to counter-balance it.


During frosty weather, let a vessel be half filled with water, cover
it closely, and place it in the open air, in a situation where it will
not experience any commotion: it will thereby frequently acquire a
degree of cold more intense than that of ice, without being frozen.
If the vessel, however, be agitated ever so little, or receive even a
slight blow, the water will immediately freeze with singular rapidity.
The cause of this phenomenon is, that water does not congeal unless
its particles unite together, and assume among themselves a new
arrangement. The colder the water becomes, the nearer its particles
approach each other; and the fluid which keeps it in fusion gradually
escapes; but the shaking of the vessel destroys the equilibrium, and
the particles fall one upon another, uniting in a mass of ice.

Or, provide a glass full of cold water, and let fall on its surface a
few drops of sulphuret of carbon, which will instantly become covered
with icy network: feathery branches will then dart from the sulphuret,
the whole contents of the glass will become solidified, and the
globules will exhibit all the colours of the rainbow.


Fill a very thin glass tube with water. Close it at one end, and wrap
muslin round it: then frequently immerse the tube in strong ether,
allowing what the muslin soaks each time to evaporate, and in a short
time the water will be frozen.


Dip into the above solution a piece of paper: if its colour be changed
to brown, a drop or two more acid must be cautiously applied: if,
on the contrary, it reddens litmus paper, a small globule or two of
potassium will be required; the object being to obtain a neutral
solution: if it then be carefully evaporated to about half its bulk,
and set aside, beautiful crystals will begin to form, which will be
those of the nitrate of potash, commonly called nitre, or saltpetre.


Take a glass of jelly, and place it mouth downward, just under the
surface of warm water in a basin: the jelly will soon be dissolved by
the heat, and, being heavier than the water, it will sink, while the
glass will be filled with water in its stead.


Keep one or two leeches in a glass bottle nearly filled with water;
tie the mouth over the coarse linen, and change the water every two
or three days. The leech may then serve for a barometer, as it will
invariably ascend or descend in the water as the weather changes from
dry to wet; and it will generally come to the surface prior to a


Pour into a phial a small quantity of oil, with the same of water, and,
however violently you shake them, they cannot be mixed, for the water
and oil have no affinity for each other; but, if a little ammonia be
added, and the phial be then shaken, the whole will be mixed into a
liquid soap.


Tie up in a bladder of water, an egg and a piece of very soft wax,
and place it in a box, so as to touch its sides and bottom; then, lay
loosely upon the bladder a brass or other metal plate, upon which place
a hundred pounds weight, or more; when the egg and the wax, though
pressed by the water with all its weight, being equally pressed in all
directions, will not be in the least either crushed or altered in shape.


Fill a wine-glass with water, place over its mouth a card, so as to
prevent the water from escaping, and put the glass, mouth downwards,
into a basin of water. Next, remove the card, and raise the glass
partly above the surface, but keep its mouth below the surface, so that
the glass still remains completely filled with water. Then insert one
end of a quill or reed in the water below the mouth of the glass, and
blow gently at the other end, when air will ascend in bubbles to the
highest part of the glass, and expel the water from it; and, if you
continue to blow through the quill, all the water will be emptied from
the glass, which will be filled with air.


Hang over the edge of the glass a thick skein of cotton, and the water
will slowly be decreased till the glass is empty. A towel will empty a
basin of water in the same way.


The readiest means of decomposing water is as follows: take a
gun-barrel, the breech of which has been removed, and fill it with iron
wire, coiled up. Place it across a chafing-dish filled with lighted
charcoal, and connect to one end of the barrel a small glass retort
containing some water; and, to the other, a bent tube, opening under
the shelf of a water bath. Heat the barrel red hot, and apply a lamp
under the retort: the stream of water, in passing over the red-hot iron
of the barrel, will be decomposed, the oxygen will unite with the iron,
and the hydrogen may be collected in the form of gas at the end of the
tube over the water.


Let a tumbler be half-filled with water, and fit upon its surface a
piece of white paper, upon which pour wine; then carefully draw out
the paper, say with a knitting-needle, so as to disturb the liquids as
little as possible, and the water, being the heavier, will continue at
the lower part of the glass; whilst the wine, being the lighter, will
keep above it. But, if a glass be first half-filled with wine, and
water be poured over it, it will at once sink through the wine, and
both liquids will be mixed.


Put a tea-spoonful of ether into a moistened bladder, the neck of which
tie up tightly; pour hot water upon the bladder, and the ether, by
expanding, will fill it out.


Procure a small hollow glass vessel, the shape of a balloon, the
lower part of which is open, and place it in water, with the mouth
downwards, so that the air within prevents the water filling it. Then
fill a deep glass jar nearly to the top with water, and place the
balloon to float on its surface; tie over the jar with a bladder, so
as to confine the air between it and the surface of the water. Press
the hand on the bladder, when more water will enter the balloon, and it
will soon sink to the bottom of the jar; but, on removing your hand,
the balloon will again ascend slowly to the surface.


Make a balloon, by pasting together gores of bank post paper; paste
the lower ends round a slender hoop, from which proceed several wires,
terminating in a kind of basket, sufficiently strong to support a
sponge dipped in spirit of wine. When the spirit is set on fire, its
combustion will produce a much greater degree of heat than any ordinary
flame: and by thus rarefying the air within the balloon, will enable it
to rise with great rapidity, to a considerable height.


Provide a small stout brass tube, about six inches long, and half an
inch in diameter, closed at one end, and fitted with a hollow air-tight
piston, containing in its cavity a scrap of amadou, or German tinder.
Suddenly drive the piston into the tube by a strong jerk of the hands;
and the compression of the air in the tube will give out so much heat
as to light the tinder; and upon quickly drawing out the piston, the
glowing tinder will kindle a match.


This experiment, showing the elasticity of air, is performed with a
pleasing toy. It represents a figure of Bacchus sitting across a cask,
in which are two separate compartments. Put into one of them a portion
of wine or coloured liquid, and place the apparatus under the exhausted
receiver of an air-pump, when the elastic force of the confined air
will cause the liquid to ascend a transparent glass tube, (fitted on
purpose,) into the mouth of the Bacchanalian figure. To render the
experiment more striking, a bladder, with a small quantity of air
therein, is fastened around the figure, and covered with a loose silken
robe, when the air in the bladder will expand, and produce an apparent
increase in the bulk of the figure, as if occasioned by the excess of
liquor drunk.


Cut from a card two discs or circular pieces, about two inches in
diameter; in the centre of one of them make a hole, into which put the
tube of a common quill, one end being even with the surface of the
card. Make the other piece of card a little convex, and lay its centre
over the end of the quill, with the concave side of the card downward;
the centre of the upper card being from one-eighth to one-fourth of an
inch above the end of the quill. Attempt to blow off the upper card by
blowing through the quill, and _it will be found impossible_.

If, however, the edges of the two pieces of card be made to fit each
other very accurately, the upper card will be moved, and sometimes it
will be thrown off; but when the edges of the card are on two sides
sufficiently far apart to permit the air to escape, the loose card will
retain its position, even when the current of air sent against it be
strong. The experiment will succeed equally well, whether the current
of air be made from the mouth or from a pair of bellows. When the quill
fits the card rather loosely, a comparatively light puff of air will
throw both cards three or four feet in height. When, from the humidity
of the breath, the upper surface of the perforated card has a little
expanded, and the two opposite sides are somewhat depressed, these
depressed sides may be distinctly seen to rise and approach the upper
card, directly in proportion to the force of the current of air.

Another fact to be shown with this simple apparatus, appears equally
inexplicable with the former. Lay the loose card upon the hand with the
concave side up; blow forcibly through the tube, and, at the same time,
bring the two cards towards each other, when, within three-eighths of
an inch, if the current of air be strong, the loose card will suddenly
rise and adhere to the perforated card. If the card through which
the tube passes has several holes made in it, the loose card may be
instantly thrown off by a slight puff of air.

For the explanation of the above phenomenon, a gold medal and one
hundred guineas were offered, some years since, by the Royal Society.
Such explanation has been given by Dr. Robert Hare, of Philadelphia,
and is as follows:

Supposing the diameter of the discs of card to be to that of the hole
as 8 to 1, the area of the former to the latter, must be as 64 to 1.
Hence, if the discs were to be separated, (their surfaces remaining
parallel,) with a velocity as great as that of the air blast, a column
of air must meanwhile be interposed, sixty-four times greater than that
which would escape from the tube during the interim; consequently, if
all the air necessary to preserve the balance be supplied from the
tube, the discs must be separated with a velocity as much less than
that of the blast, as the column required between them is greater than
that yielded by the tube, and yet the air cannot be supplied from any
other source, unless a deficit of pressure be created between the
discs, unfavourable to their separation.

It follows, then, that, under the circumstances in question, the
discs cannot be made to move asunder with a velocity greater than
one-sixty-fourth of that of the blast. Of course, all the force of the
current of air through the tube will be expended on the moveable disc,
and the thin ring of air which exists around the orifice between the
discs: and, since the moveable disc can only move with one-sixty-fourth
of the velocity of the blast, the ring of air in the interstice
must experience nearly all the force of the jet, and must be driven
outwards, the blast following it in various currents, radiating from
the common centre of the tube and discs.


Let fall melted glass into cold water, and it will become suddenly
cooled and solidified on the outside before the internal part is
changed; then, as this part hardens, it is kept extended by the arch of
the outside crust: and, if the finely drawn-out point of the drop be
broken off, the cohesion of the atoms of the glass is destroyed, and
the whole crumbles to dust with a smart explosion.


The dampness of the air, and the consequent approach of rain, is
denoted by several simple means, which are termed hygrometers. Thus,
if an ear of the wild oat be hung up, its awn or bristly points will
be contracted by a rotatory motion in damp air, and relaxed by a
contrary motion when the air is dry. Similar effects are observable
on all cordage, string, and every description of twisted material; as
the moisture swells the threads, and increases their diameter, but
reduces their length; hence, catgut is used in the construction of a
weather-house, in which the man and woman foretel wet or dry weather,
moving as the catgut stretches or contracts, according as the air is
moist or dry.

To prove the moving power of the awn, separate one from the ear, and,
holding the base between the finger and thumb, moisten the awn with the
lips, when it will be seen to turn round for some time.



This amusing pneumatic toy consists of a figure made of glass or
enamel, and so constructed as to remain suspended in a glass jar of
water. An air-bubble, communicating with the water, is placed in some
part of the figure, shown at _m_, near the top of the jar, A, in the
engraving. At the bottom, B, of the vessel is a bladder, which can be
pressed upwards by applying the finger to the extremity of a lever, _e
o_, when the pressure will be communicated through the water to the
bubble of air, which is thus compressed. The figure will then sink to
the bottom; but, by removing the pressure, the figure will again rise,
so that it may be made to dance in the vessel, as if by magic. Fishes,
made of glass, are sometimes substituted for the human figure. A common
glass jar may be used for this experiment, in which case the pressure
should be applied to the upper surface, which should be a piece of
bladder, instead of being placed at the bottom, as shown in the figure


[Illustration: Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: Fig. 2.]

To construct this pretty little pneumatic toy, take a square piece of
stiff card, or sheet copper or brass, about two and a half or three
inches in diameter, and cut it out spirally, so as to resemble a snake,
as in the engraving (fig. 1.). Then paint the body on each side of the
card the colours of a snake; take it by the two ends, and draw out the
spiral till the distance from head to tail is six or seven inches, as
in fig. 2. Next, provide a slender piece of wood on a stand, and fix
a sharp needle at its summit; push the rod up through the spiral, and
let the end of the spiral rest upon the summit of the needle. Now place
the apparatus as nearly as possible to the edge of the mantel-shelf
above the fire, and the snake will begin to revolve in the direction
of its head; and, if the fire be strong, or the current of heated air
which ascends from it is made powerful, by two or three persons coming
near it, so as to concentrate the current, the snake will revolve
very rapidly. The rod _a_, _b_, should be painted, so as to resemble
a tree, which the snake will appear to climb; or, the snake may be
suspended by a thread from the ceiling, over the current of air from a
lamp. Two snakes may be made to turn round in opposite directions, by
merely drawing out the spiral of one from the upper side, and of the
other from the under side of the figure, and fixing them, of course, on
separate rods.


Provide a phial one-fourth filled with any coloured water, and with a
glass tube passing through the cork, or cemented into the neck of the
phial, so as to be air-tight; the tube may reach to within a quarter
of an inch of the bottom of the phial, so as to dip below the surface
of the liquid. Hold this little instrument before the fire, or plunge
it into hot water, when the air that is in the phial will expand, and
force up the coloured liquor into the tube.


Dip the bowl of a tobacco-pipe into melted resin, hold the pipe in a
vertical position, and blow through it; when bubbles of various sizes
will be formed, of a brilliant silvery hue, and in a variety of colours.


Moisture is always present in the air, even when it is driest. To prove
this, press a piece of sheet copper into the form of a cup; place on
it a piece of phosphorus, thoroughly dried between blotting-paper; put
the cup on a dry plate, and beside it a small piece of quick-lime; turn
over it a glass tumbler, and leave it for ten minutes, that the lime
may remove all moisture from the included air; take off the tumbler,
touch the phosphorus with a hot wire, and instantly replace the glass;
when a dry solid will be formed, resembling snow. As soon as the flame
is extinct, examine the plate; when the solid will, in a very short
time, attract so much water from the air, that it will pass into small
drops of liquid.


The air in a room may be said to resemble two climates: as it is
lighter than the external air, a current of colder or heavier air is
continually pouring in from the crevices of the windows and doors;
and the light air must find some vent, to make way for the heavy air.
If the door be set a-jar, and a candle held near the upper part of it,
the flame will be blown outwards, showing that there is a current of
air flowing out from the upper part of the room; and, if the candle be
placed on the floor, close by the door, the flame will bend inwards,
showing that there is also a current of air setting into the lower part
of the room. The upper current is the warm, light air, which is driven
out to make way for the stream of cold, dense air, which enters below.


Pour out a glass of champagne, or bottled ale, and wait till the
effervescence has ceased; you may then renew it by throwing into the
liquor a bit of paper, a crumb of bread, or even by violently shaking
the glass. The bubbles of carbonic acid chiefly rise from where the
liquor is in contact with the glass, and is in greatest abundance at
those parts where there are asperities. The bubbles setting out from
the surface of the glass are at first very small; but they enlarge
in passing through the liquor. It seems as if they proceeded more
abundantly from the bottom of the glass than from its sides; but this
is an ocular deception.


Expel the air out of a pair of bellows, then close the nozzle and
valve-hole beneath, and considerable force will be requisite to
separate the boards from each other. This is caused by the pressure
or weight of the atmosphere, which, acting equally upon the upper and
lower boards externally, without any air inside, operates like a dead
weight in keeping the boards together. In like manner, if you stop
the end of a syringe, after its piston-rod has been pressed down to
the bottom, and then attempt to draw it up again, considerable force
will be requisite to raise it, depending upon the size of the syringe,
being about fourteen or fifteen pounds to every square inch of the
piston-rod. When the rod is drawn up, unless it be held, it will fall
to the bottom, from the weight of the air pressing it in.

Or, fill a glass tumbler to the brim with water, cover it with a
piece of thin wet leather, invert it on a table, and try to pull it
straight up, when it will be found to require considerable force. In
this manner do snails, periwinkles, limpets, and other shells adhere
to rocks, &c. Flies are enabled to walk on the ceiling of a room, up a
looking-glass, or window-pane, by the air pressing on the outside of
their peculiarly-constructed feet, and thus supporting them.

To the same cause must be attributed the firmness with which the oyster
closes itself; for, if you grind off a part of the shell, so as to make
a hole in it, though without at all injuring the fish, it may be opened
with great ease.


This experiment may be dexterously performed by placing a pea upon a
quill, or the stem of a tobacco-pipe, and blowing upwards through it.


Mix three parts of alum with one of wheat flour, and put them into
a common phial; set it in a crucible, up to the neck in sand; then
surround the crucible with red-hot coals, when first a black smoke, and
next a blue sulphureous flame, will issue from the mouth of the phial;
when this flame disappears, remove the crucible from the fire, and when
cold, stop the phial with a good cork. If a portion of this powder be
exposed to the air, it will take fire.

Or, a very perfect and beautiful pyrophorus may be obtained by heating
tartrate of lead in a glass tube, over a lamp. When some of the dark
brown mass thus formed is shaken out in the air, it will immediately
inflame, and brilliant globules of lead cover the ignited surface.

Or, mix three parts of lamp-black, four of burnt alum, in powder, and
eight of pearl-ash, and heat them for an hour, to a bright cherry red,
in an iron tube. When well made, and poured out upon a glass plate or
tile, this pyrophorus will kindle, with a series of small explosions,
somewhat like those produced by throwing potassium upon water; but this
effect should be witnessed from a distance.

Put a small piece of grey cast-iron into strong nitric acid, when a
porous, spongy substance will be left untouched, and will be of a dark
grey colour, resembling plumbago. If some of this be put upon blotting
paper, in the course of a minute it will spontaneously heat and smoke;
and, if a considerable quantity be heaped together, it will ignite
and scorch the paper; nor will the properties of this pyrophorus be
destroyed by its being left for days and weeks in water.


Blow a soap bubble, cover it with a clean glass to protect it from the
air, and you may observe, after it has grown thin by standing a little,
several rings of different colours within each other round the top of
it. The colour in the centre of the rings will vary with the thickness;
but, as the bubble grows thinner, the rings will spread, the central
spot will become white, then bluish, and then black; after which the
bubble will burst, from its extreme tenuity at the black spot, where
the thickness has been proved not to exceed the 2,500,000th part of an


The resistance of the air to fallen bodies is not proportioned to the
weight, but depends on the surface which the body opposes to the air.
Now, the feather exposes, in proportion to its weight, a much greater
surface to the air than a piece of gold does, and therefore suffers
a much greater resistance to its descent. Were the guinea beaten to
the thinness of gold-leaf, it would be as long, or even longer in
falling than the feather; but, let both fall in a vacuum, or under the
receiver of an air-pump, from which the air has been pumped out, and
they will both reach the bottom at the same time; for gravity, acting
independently of other forces, causes all bodies to descend with the
same velocity.


An apparatus for performing this experiment is shown in the engraving:
the coin and the feather are to be laid together, on the brass flap, A
or B: this may be let down by turning the wire, C, which passes through
a collar of leather, D, placed in the head of the receiver.


Provide a glass tube, open at each end; close the upper end by the
finger, and immerse the lower one in a glass of water, when it will
be seen that the air is material, and occupies its own space in the
tube, for it will not permit the water to enter it until the finger is
removed, when the air will escape, and the water rise to the same level
in the inside as on the outside of the tube.


Hold the breath, and place the open neck of a phial, containing oil
of peppermint, or any other essential oil, in the mouth, and the
smell will not be perceived; but, after expiration, it will be easily





THE chief requisites for success in the performance of feats of
Magic are manual dexterity and self-possession. The former can only
be acquired by practice; the latter will be the natural result of
a well-grounded confidence. We subjoin a few preliminary hints, of
considerable importance to the amateur exhibiter.

1. Never acquaint the company before-hand with the particulars of the
feat you are about to perform, as it will give them time to discover
your mode of operation.

2. Endeavour, as much as possible, to acquire various methods of
performing the same feat, in order that if you should be likely
to fail in one, or have reason to believe that your operations are
suspected, you may be prepared with another.

3. Never venture on a feat requiring manual dexterity, till you have
previously practised it so often as to acquire the necessary expertness.

4. As diverting the attention of the company from too closely
inspecting your manœuvres is a most important object, you should
manage to talk to them during the whole course of your proceedings. It
is the plan of vulgar operators to gabble unintelligible jargon, and
attribute their feats to some extraordinary and mysterious influence.
There are few persons at the present day credulous enough to believe
such trash, even among the rustic and most ignorant; but as the youth
of maturer years might inadvertently be tempted to pursue this method,
while exhibiting his skill before his younger companions, it may not be
deemed superfluous to offer a caution against such a procedure. He may
state, and truly, that every thing he exhibits can be accounted for on
rational principles, and is only in obedience to the unerring laws of
Nature; and although we have just cautioned him against enabling the
company themselves to detect his operations, there can be no objection
(particularly when the party comprises many younger than himself) to
occasionally show by what simple means the most apparently marvellous
feats are accomplished.


This may be justly considered one of the most surprising sleights; and
yet it is so easy of performance, that any one may accomplish it after
a few minutes’ practice.

You previously provide yourself with a piece of brass wire, pointed
at both ends, and bent round so as to form a ring, about the size of
a wedding-ring. This you conceal in your hand. You then commence your
performance by borrowing a silk pocket handkerchief from a gentleman,
and a wedding-ring from a lady; and you request one person to hold two
of the corners of the handkerchief, and another to hold the other two,
and to keep them at full stretch. You next exhibit the wedding-ring to
the company, and announce that you will make it appear to pass through
the handkerchief. You then place your hand under the handkerchief, and
substituting the false ring, which you had previously concealed, press
it against the centre of the handkerchief, and desire a third person to
take hold of the ring through the handkerchief, and to close his finger
and thumb through the hollow of the ring. The handkerchief is held
in this manner for the purpose of showing that the ring has not been
placed within a fold. You now desire the persons holding the corners of
the handkerchief to let them drop; the person holding the ring (through
the handkerchief as already described) still retaining his hold.

Let another person now grasp the handkerchief as tight as he pleases,
three or four inches below the ring, and tell the person holding the
ring to let it go, when it will appear to the company that the ring
is secure within the centre of the handkerchief. You then tell the
person who grasps the handkerchief to hold a hat over it, and passing
your hand underneath, you open the false ring, by bending one of its
points a little aside, and bringing one point gently through the
handkerchief, you easily draw out the remainder; being careful to rub
the hole you have made in the handkerchief with your finger and thumb,
to conceal the fracture.

You then put the wedding-ring you borrowed over the outside of the
middle of the handkerchief, and desiring the person who holds the hat,
to take it away, you exhibit the ring (placed as described) to the


This feat consists in tying a number of hard knots in a pocket
handkerchief borrowed from one of the company, then letting any person
hold the knots, and by the operator merely shaking the handkerchief,
all the knots become unloosed, and the handkerchief is restored to its
original state.

To perform this excellent trick, get as soft a handkerchief as
possible, and taking the opposite ends, one in each hand, throw the
right hand over the left, and draw it through, as if you were going to
tie a knot in the usual way. Again throw the right-hand end over the
left, and give the left-hand end to some person to pull, you at the
same time pulling the right-hand end with your right hand, while your
left hand holds the handkerchief just behind the knot. Press the thumb
of your left hand against the knot to prevent its slipping, always
taking care to let the person to whom you gave one end pull first, so
that, in fact, he is only pulling against your _left hand_.

You now tie another knot exactly in the same way as the first, taking
care always to throw the right-hand end over the left. As you go on
tying the knots, you will find the right-hand end of the handkerchief
decreasing considerably in length, while the left-hand one remains
nearly as long as at first; because, in fact, you are merely tying the
right-hand end _round the left_. To prevent this from being noticed,
you should stoop down a little after each knot, and pretend to pull
the knots tighter; while, at the same time, you press the thumb of the
right hand against the knot, and with the fingers and palm of the same
hand, draw the handkerchief, so as to make the left-hand end shorter,
keeping it at each knot as nearly the length of the right-hand end as

When you have tied as many knots as the handkerchief will admit of,
hand them round for the company to feel that they are firm knots;
then hold the handkerchief in your right hand, just below the knots,
and with the left hand turn the loose part of the centre of the
handkerchief over them, desiring some person to hold them. Before
they take the handkerchief in hand, you draw out the right-hand end
of the handkerchief, which you have in the right hand, and which you
may easily do, and the knots being still held together by the loose
part of the handkerchief, the person who holds the handkerchief will
declare he feels them: you then take hold of one of the ends of
the handkerchief which hangs down, and desire him to repeat after
you, one—two—three,—then tell him to let go, when, by giving the
handkerchief a smart shake, the whole of the knots will become unloosed.

Should you, by accident, whilst tying the knots, give the wrong end
to be pulled, a hard knot will be the consequence, and you will know
when this has happened the instant you try to draw the left-hand end
of the handkerchief shorter. You must, therefore, turn this mistake to
the best advantage, by asking any one of the company to see how long
it will take him to untie one knot, you counting the seconds. When he
has untied the knot, your other knots will remain right as they were
before. Having finished tying the knots, let the same person hold them,
and tell him that as he took two minutes to untie one knot, he ought
to allow you fourteen minutes to untie the seven; but as you do not
wish to take any advantage, you will be satisfied with fourteen seconds.

You may excite some laughter during the performance of this trick, by
going to the owner of the handkerchief, and desiring him to assist you
in pulling a knot, saying, that if the handkerchief is to be torn, it
is only right that he should have a share of it; you may likewise say
that he does not pull very hard, which will cause a laugh against him.


Take two pieces of white cotton _cord_, precisely alike in length;
double each of them separately, so that their ends meet; then tie
them together very neatly, with a bit of fine cotton _thread_, at the
part where they double (_i. e._ the middle). This must all be done

When you are about to exhibit the sleight, hand round two other pieces
of cord, exactly similar in length and appearance to those which you
have prepared, but not tied, and desire your company to examine them.
You then return to your table, placing these cords at the edge, so that
they fall (apparently accidentally) to the ground behind the table;
stoop to pick them up, but take up the prepared ones instead, which you
have previously placed there, and lay _them_ on the table.

Having proceeded thus far, you take round for examination three ivory
rings; those given to children when teething, and which may be bought
at any of the toyshops, are the best for your purpose. When the rings
have undergone a sufficient scrutiny, pass the prepared double cords
through them, and give the two ends of one cord to one person to hold,
and the two ends of the other to another. Do not let them pull hard, or
the thread will break, and your trick be discovered. Request the two
persons to approach each other, and desire each to give you one end of
the cord which he holds, leaving to him the choice. You then say, that,
to make all fast, you will tie these two ends together, which you do,
bringing the knot down so as to touch the rings; and returning to each
person the end of the cord next to him, you state that this trick is
performed by the rule of contrary, and that when you desire them to
pull hard, they are to slacken, and _vice versâ_, which is likely to
create much laughter, as they are certain of making many mistakes at

During this time, you are holding the rings on the fore-finger of
each hand, and with the other fingers preventing your assistants from
separating the cords prematurely, during their mistakes; you at length
desire them, in a loud voice, to slacken, when they will pull hard,
which will break the thread, the rings remaining in your hands, whilst
the strings will remain unbroken: let them be again examined, and
desire them to look for the springs in the rings.


To divide an apple into several parts, without breaking the rind:—Pass
a needle and thread under the rind of the apple, which is easily done
by putting the needle in again at the same hole it came out of; and
so passing on till you have gone round the apple. Then take both ends
of the thread in your hands and draw it out; by which means the apple
will be divided into two parts. In the same manner, you may divide it
into as many parts as you please, and yet the rind will remain entire.
Present the apple to any one to peel, and it will immediately fall to


You lay a stick across the table, letting one-third of it project over
the edge; and you undertake to hang a pail of water on it, without
either fastening the stick on the table, or letting the pail rest on
any support; and this feat, the laws of gravitation will enable you
literally to accomplish.


You take the pail of water, and hang it by the handle upon the
projecting end of the stick, in such a manner that the handle may rest
on it in an inclined position, with the middle of the pail within
the edge of the table. That it may be fixed in this situation, place
another stick with one of its ends resting against the side at the
bottom of the pail, and its other end against the first stick, where
there should be a notch to retain it. By these means, the pail will
remain fixed in that situation, without being able to incline to either
side; nor can the stick slide along the table, or move along its edge,
without raising the centre of gravity of the pail, and the water it


This feat is performed by means of confederacy.—Having privately
apprised your confederate that when he hears you strike one blow, it
signifies the letter A; when you strike two, it means B; and so on for
the rest of the alphabet, you state to the company, that if any one
will walk into the adjoining room, and have the door locked upon him,
perhaps the animal may appear to him which another person may name.

In order to deter every one except your confederate from accepting the
offer, you announce at the same time, that the person who volunteers to
be shut up in the room must be possessed of considerable courage, or he
had better not undertake it. Having thus gained your end, you give your
confederate a lamp, which burns with a very dismal light; telling him,
in the hearing of the company, to place it on the middle of the floor,
and not to feel alarmed at what he may happen to see. You then usher
him into the room, and lock the door.

You next take a piece of black paper, and a bit of chalk, and giving
them to one of the party, you tell him to write the name of any animal
he wishes to appear to the person shut up in the room. This being done,
you receive back the paper, and after showing it round to the company,
you fold it up, burn it in the candle, or lamp, and throw the ashes
into a mortar; casting in at the same time a powder, which you state to
be possessed of valuable properties.

Having taken care to read what was written, you proceed to pound the
ashes in the mortar thus: Suppose the word written to be CAT, you
begin by stirring the pestle round the mortar several times, and then
strike three distinct blows, loud enough for the confederate to hear,
and by which he knows that the first letter of the word is C. You next
make some irregular evolutions of the pestle round the mortar, that
it may not appear to the company that you give nothing but blows, and
you then strike one blow to denote A. Work the pestle about again, and
then strike twenty blows, which he will know to mean T; finishing your
manœuvre by working the pestle about the mortar, the object being to
make the blows as little remarkable as possible. You then call aloud
to your confederate, and ask him what he sees. At first he is to make
no reply. At length, after being interrogated several times, he asks if
it be a CAT.

That no mistake may be made, each party should repeat to himself the
letters of the alphabet in the order of the blows.


Provide a round box, the size of a large snuff-box, and likewise eight
other boxes, which will go easily into each other, letting the least of
them be of the size to hold a shilling. Observe that all these boxes
must shut so freely that they may all be closed at once, by the covers
accurately fitting within each other.

Previously to commencing your performance, fit the boxes within each
other, and place them in a table drawer at another part of the room.
You also fit the covers in the same manner, and lay them by the side of
the boxes; you likewise provide a silk handkerchief, into one corner of
which a shilling is sewed.

You now commence your operations, by borrowing a shilling, desiring the
lender to mark it, that it may not be changed. Take this shilling in
your right hand, and the handkerchief in your left, pretending to place
the shilling in the centre of the handkerchief; instead of which, you
put the corner of the handkerchief in which a shilling was sewed, as
previously described, concealing the borrowed shilling in your right
hand. You then desire the person to feel that the shilling is there,
and tell him to hold it tight.

You now go to the drawer, and placing the borrowed shilling in the
smallest of the boxes, you put on all the covers, by taking them in the
centre between the fore-finger and thumb, to prevent their separation,
and fit them on, by carefully sliding them along, and then pressing
them down.

Having thus closed your boxes, you produce what appears to be a single
box, and lay it on the table. You now ask the person, who still retains
his hold of the shilling in the handkerchief, if he is sure that it is
there. He will reply in the affirmative; you then request him to allow
you to take the handkerchief, and having done so, you strike that part
of the handkerchief containing the shilling on the box, and immediately
shake out the handkerchief, holding it by two corners, and shifting it
round so as to get the shilling within your grasp: it will thus appear
that the shilling is no longer there. You desire the person to open the
box, and hand it round, till the shilling be found; and when the last
box is opened, and the shilling taken out, you ask the lender to state
whether it is the one which he marked; to which he must, of course,
reply in the affirmative.


Privately place a shilling, which you previously mark on the head side
with a cross, under a candlestick, or in any other out-of-the-way
situation, where it is not likely to be discovered. You next borrow a
shilling of one of the company, and say: “Now I am going to show you a
trick with this shilling, but that you may know it again, I will mark
it.” Then take your penknife, and cross it in the same manner as the
one you have concealed; show it to the person who lent it to you, and
ask him if he will know it again. He will reply: “Yes; it is marked
with a cross.” Knock under the table, and say “Presto! fly quickly!” at
the same time, adroitly conveying the shilling into your pocket. You
then tell the spectators that it is gone; but you have a strong notion
that if they look they will find it under the candlestick, (or whatever
other place you may have concealed it in,) where the first shilling
you marked will of course be found, and having the same marks as the
genuine one will be mistaken for it.


You profess that you will make a sixpence appear to pass through the
table. To perform this feat, you must have a handkerchief, in one
corner of which is sewed a sixpence.—Take it out of your pocket, and
ask one of the company to lend you a sixpence, which you must seem to
carefully wrap up in the middle of the handkerchief, but instead of
which, you keep it in the palm of your hand, and in its stead, wrap up
the corner in which the other sixpence is sewed, in the midst of the
handkerchief, and bid the person from whom you borrowed the sixpence,
feel that it is there. You then lay it under a hat upon the table, take
a glass in the hand in which you have concealed the sixpence, and hold
it under the table. Give three knocks upon the table, crying “Presto!
come quickly!” Then drop the sixpence into the glass; bring the glass
from under the table, and exhibit the sixpence to the spectators. You
lastly take the handkerchief from under the hat, and shake it, taking
care to hold it by the corner in which the sixpence was sewed.


Having previously stuck a small piece of white wax on the nail of your
middle finger, lay a sixpence on the palm of your hand, and addressing
the company, state that it will vanish at the word of command. “Many
persons,” you observe, “perform this feat, by letting the sixpence fall
into their sleeve; but to convince you that I shall not have recourse
to any such deception, I will turn up my cuffs.” You then close your
hand, and bringing the waxed nail in contact with the sixpence, it
will firmly adhere to it. You then blow your hand, and cry “Begone!”
and suddenly opening it, and exhibiting the palm, you show that the
sixpence has vanished. If you borrow the sixpence of any of the
company, take care to rub off the wax, before you restore it to the


Procure a common wine-bottle, two forks, two corks, a needle, a
sixpence, and a penknife. Having corked the bottle, force the eye of
the needle into the cork perpendicularly, leaving more than half the
needle sticking up. You next cut a small slit with the penknife in
the centre of the bottom of the second cork, into which you insert
the sixpence edgewise; then stick the forks into the upper cork, and,
with a steady hand, place the edge of the sixpence on the point of the
needle, and it will immediately find its balance. You may now take the
upper cork between the finger and thumb, and spin it round as fast as
you please, as the sixpence will not fall off. When it goes slow, hit
one of the forks with your finger as it goes round, to increase its


Let a tumbler be half-filled with water; put a sixpence in it; and
holding a plate over the top, turn the glass upside down. The sixpence
will fall down on the plate, and appear to be a shilling; while at
the same time a sixpence will seem to be swimming in the water. If a
shilling is put in the glass, it will have the appearance of a quarter
of a dollar and a shilling; and if a quarter of a dollar were put in,
it would seem to be half a dollar and a quarter of a dollar.


Prepare a pasteboard circle, upon one side of which draw a figure of a
cage, and on the other side that of a rat. Near the outer edge of the
circle fasten two strings opposite each other. So that they may be held
between the fore finger and thumb in such manner that the circle may be
made to revolve rapidly. When it is set in motion the transition is so
quick, that it presents the appearance of a rat in the cage.



Take a long hollow stalk or reed, suspend it horizontally by two
loops of single hairs; by striking it with a sharp quick stroke at a
point nearly in the centre, between the hairs, it may be cut through
without breaking either of them. The hairs in this case would have been
ruptured, if they had partaken of the force applied to the stalk; but
the division of the latter being affected before the impulse could be
propagated to the hairs, they must consequently remain unbroken.

A smart blow, with a slight wand or hollow reed on the edge of a glass
tumbler, would break the wand, without injury to the glass.

Lay a small piece of money upon a card placed over the mouth of a
glass tumbler, and resting upon the rim of the glass. The card may be
withdrawn with such speed and dexterity, that the piece of money will
not be removed laterally, but will drop into the glass.


If you take up a small quantity of melted glass with a tube, (the bowl
of a common tobacco pipe will do,) and let a drop fall into a vessel of
water, it will chill and condense with a fine spiral tail, which being
broken, the whole substance will burst with a loud explosion, without
injury either to the party that holds it, or him that breaks it; but if
the _thick_ end is struck even with a hammer, it will not break.


Take two level pieces of glass, (plate glass is the best,) about three
inches long and four wide, exactly of the same size; lay one on the
other, and manage to leave a space between them by pasting a piece of
card, or two or three small pieces of thick paper at each corner.

Join these glasses together at the edge by a composition of lime
slacked by exposure to the air, and white of an egg. Cover all the
edges of these glasses with parchment or bladder, except at one end,
which is to be left open to admit the following composition:

Dissolve by a slow fire six ounces of hog’s-lard, with half an ounce of
white wax; to which you may add an ounce of clear linseed oil.

This must be poured in its liquid state, and before a fire, between
the glasses, by the space left in the sides, and which you are then to
close up. Wipe the glasses clean, and hold them before the fire, to see
that the composition will not run out at any part.

Then fasten with gum a picture or print, painted on very thin paper,
with its face to one of the glasses, and if you like, you may fix the
whole in a frame.

While the mixture between the glasses is cold, the picture will be
quite concealed, but become transparent when held to the fire; and as
the composition cools, it will gradually disappear.


Provide a tin tube that is larger at one end than it is at the other,
and in which there are several holes. Fill this tube with powdered
resin; and when it is shook over the flame of a torch, the reflection
will produce the exact appearance of lightning.


If you fix three pieces of paper against the wall of a room at equal
distances, at the height of your eye, placing yourself directly before
them, at a few yards’ distance, and close your right eye, and look at
them with your left, you will see only two of them, suppose the first
and second; alter the position of your eye, and you will see the first
and third; alter your position a second time, you will see the second
and third, but never the whole three together; by which it appears,
that a person who has only one eye can never see three objects placed
in this position, nor all the parts of one object of the same extent,
without altering the situation of his eye.


The person is told to set the hand of his watch at any hour he pleases,
which hour he tells you; and you add in your own mind 12 to it. You
then desire him to count privately the number of that addition on the
dial, commencing at the next hour to that at which he intends to rise,
and including the hour at which he has placed the hand; which will give
the answer; for example,

A intends to rise at 6 (this he conceals to himself;) he places the
hand at 8, which he tells B, who, in his own mind, adds 12 to 8, which
make 20. B then tells A to count 20 on the dial, beginning at the
next hour to that at which he proposes to rise; which will be 7, and
counting backwards, reckoning each hour as 1, and including in his
addition the number of the hour the hand is placed at, the addition
will end at 6, which is the hour proposed; thus,

    The hour the hand is placed at is                                  8

    The next hour to that which A intends to rise at is 7,
    which counts for                                                   1

    Count back the hours from 6, and reckon them at 1 each,
    there will be 11 hours, viz. 4, 3, 2, 1, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6,  11
                                                    Making            20


Soak a piece of thread in urine, or common salt and water. Tie it to
a ring, not larger than a wedding ring. When you apply the flame of a
candle to it, it will burn to ashes, but yet sustain the ring.


Bend any thin coin, and put it into half a walnut-shell; place the
shell on a little sand, to keep it steady. Then fill the shell, with
a mixture made of three parts of very dry pounded nitre, one part of
flowers of sulphur, and a little saw-dust well sifted. If you then set
light to the mixture, you will find, when it is melted, that the metal
will also be melted in the bottom of the shell, in form of a button,
which will become hard when the burning matter round it is consumed;
the shell will have sustained very little injury.


Make two holes in the wainscot of a room, each a foot high and ten
inches wide, and about a foot distant from each other. Let these
apertures be about the height of a man’s head, and in each of them
place a transparent glass in a frame, like a common mirror.

Behind the partition, and directly facing each aperture, place
two mirrors, inclosed in the wainscot, in an angle of forty-five
degrees.[A] These mirrors are each to be eighteen inches square: and
all the space between them must be enclosed with pasteboard painted
black, and well closed, that no light can enter; let there be also two
curtains to cover them, which you may draw aside at pleasure.

When a person looks into one of these fictitious mirrors, instead
of seeing his own face, he will see the object that is in front of
the other; thus, if two persons stand at the same time before these
mirrors, instead of each seeing himself, they will reciprocally see
each other.

There should be a sconce with a lighted candle, placed on each side of
the two glasses in the wainscot, to enlighten the faces of the persons
who look in them, or the experiment will not have so remarkable an

[A] That is, half-way between a line drawn perpendicularly to the
ground and its surface.


Fill a glass bottle with water to the beginning of the neck; leave the
neck empty, and cork it. Suspend this bottle opposite a concave mirror,
and beyond its focus, that it may appear reversed. Place yourself still
further distant from the bottle; and instead of the water appearing, as
it really is, at the bottom of the bottle, the bottom will be empty,
and the water seen at the top.

If the bottle be suspended with the neck downwards, it will be
reflected in its natural position, and the water at the bottom,
although, in reality, it is inverted, and fills the neck, leaving the
bottom vacant. While the bottle is in this position, uncork it, and let
the water run gradually out: it will appear, that while the real bottle
is emptying, the reflected one is filling. Care must be taken that the
bottle is not more than half or three parts full, and that no other
liquid is used but water, as in either of these cases, the illusion


If a person with a drawn sword place himself before a large concave
mirror, but further from it than its focus, he will see an inverted
image of himself in the air, between him and the mirror, of a less
size than himself. If he steadily present the sword towards the centre
of the mirror, an image of the sword will come out from it, point to
point, as if to fence with him; and by his pushing the sword nearer,
the image will appear to come nearer to him and almost to touch his
breast. If the mirror be turned 45 degrees, or one-eighth round, the
reflected image will go out perpendicular to the direction of the
sword presented, and apparently come to another person placed in the
direction of the motion of the image, who, if he be unacquainted with
the experiment, and does not see the original sword, will be much
surprised and alarmed.


Take a silver ring that is thick gilded. Make a little hole through the
gold into the silver; then put the ring into aqua-fortis, in a warm
place: it will dissolve the silver, and the gold will remain whole.


Saturate a certain quantity of water in a moderate heat, with three
ounces of sugar; and when it will no longer receive that there is still
room in it for two ounces of salt of tartar, and after that for an
ounce and a drachm of green vitriol, nearly six drachms of nitre, the
same of salammoniac, two drachms and a scruple of alum, and a drachm
and a half of borax.


Throw a bit of phosphorous, of the size of a pea, into a long glass
phial, and pour boiling oil carefully over it, till the phial is
one-third filled. The phial must be carefully corked, and when used
should be unstopped, to admit the external air, and closed again. The
empty space of the phial will then appear luminous, and give as much
light as an ordinary lamp. Each time that the light disappears, on
removing the stopper it will instantly re-appear. In cold weather the
bottle should be warmed in the hands before the stopper is removed. A
phial thus prepared may be used every night for six months.



Place three pieces of bread, or other eatable, at a little distance
from each other on a table, and cover each with a hat; you then take
up the first hat, and removing the bread, put it into your mouth, and
let your company see that you swallow it; then raise the second hat,
and eat the bread which was under that, and do the same with the third.
Having eaten the three pieces, give any person in company liberty to
choose under which hat he would wish those three pieces of bread to be;
when he has made choice of one of the hats, put it on your head, and
ask him if he does not think that they are under it.


This is a practical pun:—You desire any one to stand on a chair or
table, and you tell him that, notwithstanding his weight, you will
bring him down upon a feather. You then leave the room, and procuring
a feather from a feather-bed, you give it to him, and tell him you
have performed your promise,—that you engaged to bring him _down_ upon
a feather, which you have done; for there is the feather, and, if he
looks, he’ll find _down_ upon it.


You profess yourself able to show any one what he never saw, what you
never saw, and what nobody else ever saw, and which, after you two have
seen, nobody else ever shall see.

After requesting the company to guess this riddle, and they have
professed themselves unable to do so, produce a nut, and having cracked
it, take out the kernel, and ask them if they have ever seen that
before; they will of course answer, No; you reply, neither have I, and
I think you will confess that nobody else has ever seen it, and now no
one shall ever see it again; saying which, you put the kernel into your
mouth and eat it.


You ask the company if they would like an omelet cooked; then you break
four eggs in a hat, place the hat for a short time over the flame of
a candle, and shortly after produce an omelet, completely cooked, and
quite hot.

Some persons would be credulous enough to believe that by the help
of certain ingredients you had been enabled to cook the omelet
without fire; but the secret of the trick is, that the omelet had
been previously cooked and placed in the hat, but could not be seen,
because the operator, when breaking the eggs, placed it too high for
the spectators to observe the contents. The eggs were empty ones, the
contents having been previously extracted, by being sucked through a
small aperture, but to prevent the company from suspecting this, the
operator manages, as if by accident, to let a full one fall on the
table, which breaking, induces a belief that the others are also full.


You produce some butter, eggs, and other ingredients for making an
omelet, together with a frying-pan, in a room where there is a fire,
and state, that the cleverest cook will not be able to make an omelet
with them. The wager is won by having previously caused the eggs to be
boiled very hard.


You tell a person that you will clasp his hands together in such a
manner, that he shall not be able to leave the room without unclasping
them, although you will not confine his feet, or bend his body, or in
any way oppose his exit.

The trick is performed by clasping the party’s hands round the pillar
of a large circular table or other bulky article of furniture, too
large for him to drag through the doorway.


You assert that you can prove the half of nine to be either four or
six; and the half of twelve to be seven. To make this manifest you have
only to draw a nine or a twelve in numerals, and fold the paper across
the middle, as in the margin.



You tell the company that you will place a candle in such a manner
that every person in the room, except one, shall see it; yet you will
not blindfold him, nor in any way restrain his person, or offer the
least impediment to his examining or going to any part of the room
he pleases. This trick is accomplished by placing the candle on the
party’s head; but it cannot be performed if a looking-glass is in the
room, as that will enable him to turn the laugh against you.


Place a glass of any liquid upon the table, put a hat over it, and say:
“I will engage to drink the liquid under that hat, and yet I’ll not
touch the hat.” You then get under the table, and after giving three
knocks, you make a noise with your mouth as if you were swallowing the
liquid. Then getting from under the table, you say: “Now, gentlemen, be
pleased to look.” Some one, eager to see if you have drunk the liquid,
will raise up the hat, when you instantly take the glass, and drink the
contents, saying: “Gentlemen, I have fulfilled my promise. You are all
witnesses that _I_ did not touch the hat.”


You undertake to make a person so tired, by attempting to carry a small
stick out of the room, as to be unable to accomplish it, although
you will add nothing to his burthen, nor lay any restraint upon his
personal liberty. To perform this manœuvre, you take up the stick, and
cutting off a very small sliver, you direct him to carry it out of the
room, and return for more; concluding by telling him, that you mean
him to perform as many similar journeys as you can cut pieces off the
stick. As this may be made to amount to many thousands, he will of
course gladly give up the undertaking.


Having picked a stick or stone off a common, you tell a person that you
are about to show him something which will surprise him,—something,
in fact, _quite out of the common_. Having thus excited his curiosity,
you produce the stick or stone, or whatever else you may have picked
up, which of course he will examine very intently, and at length
observe, that he sees nothing extraordinary in it. “That may be,” you
reply, “and yet, I assure you, that it is really something out of the
common.” This will, no doubt, set him upon a fresh examination, which
will naturally end in his asking for an explanation. This you give, by
telling him that “though not _uncommon_, it is _out of the common_,
for it is _out of —— Common_;” and no doubt, the company present will
indulge in a hearty laugh at the querist’s expense.


Previously wet a sixpence slightly, and stick it to the under edge of a
table, (without a cover,) at the place where you are sitting. You then
borrow a sixpence from one of the company, and tucking up your sleeves
very high, and opening your fingers, to show that you have not another
concealed, rub it quickly backwards and forwards on the table, with
your right hand, holding your left under the edge of the table to catch
it. After two or three feigned unsuccessful attempts to accomplish your
object, you loosen the concealed sixpence with the tips of the fingers
of the left hand, at the same time that you are sweeping the borrowed
sixpence into it; and rubbing them a little while together in your
hands, you throw them both on the table.


You tell a person you will place him in the centre of a room, and
draw a circle of chalk round him, which shall not exceed three feet
in diameter, yet out of which he shall not be able to leap, though
his legs shall be perfectly free. When the party has exhausted his
ingenuity in trying to discover by what means you can prevent his
accomplishing so seemingly easy a task, you ask him if he will try, and
on his assenting, you bring him into the middle of the room, and having
requested him to button his coat tightly, you draw with a piece of
chalk, a circle round his waist, outside his coat, and tell him to jump
out of it!

It will greatly improve this trick if the person be blindfolded, as
he will not be aware of the mode of performing it till the bandage is
removed, provided his attention be diverted while you are drawing the
line round him.


[Illustration: MELANGE.]

[Illustration: MELANGE.]


APPLY the points of a pair of compasses, distant from each other
one or two lines, to the cheek, just before the ear; then move them
successively to several other parts of the cheek, and you will find,
on approaching the mouth, that the points will appear to recede from
each other; this effect being produced by the great difference of the
sense of touch in these parts, It is a general law, that in the more
sensitive portions of the skin, any two points appear to be further
asunder from each other, than points of equal distance appear to be to
a less sensitive portion. The same experiments may be made by holding
together the extremities of the fore-finger and thumb, and then passing
the tips of both in a line from the ear to either the upper or the
under lip; as they approach the latter, they will feel to the cheek as
if they were becoming more and more distant from each other.

If the skin be touched with the points of a pair of compasses, one
inch asunder, the person so touched, while he shuts his eyes, will
instantly be aware that his skin is touched in two places; but by
continually drawing the two points closer, a degree of nearness may be
reached at which the person will imagine his skin to be touched by only
one body: he will, however, describe this body, or the compasses, to
be a little longer in one direction than another; and it appears that
this difference of length corresponds with the distance between the two
points of the compasses. When these points are brought still nearer
together, the inequality will no longer be felt, and the person will
fancy he is being touched by one body only.

Handle a pea: it is _one_—place it between the first and second fingers
of the right hand, in their natural position, and you will still feel
the pea but as _one_. Then cross the two fingers, bringing the second
over the first, and place the pea in the fork between them, so as to
feel the left side of the pea with the right side of the second finger,
and the right with the left of the first The impression will then be
that you have _two_ peas touching the fingers, especially if the eyes
be shut, and the fingers be placed by another person. The illusion will
be equally strong if the two fore-fingers of both hands be crossed, and
the pea placed between them.


If the nose be held tightly while you are eating cinnamon you will
perceive scarcely any difference between its flavour and that of a deal


Provide some strong chloride of lime, soak in it strips of printed
cotton; take them out, dry them, and you will find them very white,
but very rotten, slitting and dropping into holes upon the slightest

The dazzling whiteness of paper is caused by bleaching it with chloride
of lime. Thus, if you write on printing paper with common ink, it will
fade, because the chloride will destroy the colouring matter of writing
ink. It will not, however, change printing ink, as that owes its
blackness to charcoal, which is a singularly permanent substance. Blot
over a printed page with common writing ink, wash it with chloride of
lime, when the blots will disappear, and leave the printing unchanged.


Put a bulb, as a hyacinth, narcissus, &c., into a white glass, and
another into a purple glass: the latter will grow faster than the
former; and, if a pinch of salt, or a piece of nitre, be put into the
water whenever it is changed, the brightness of the colour of the
flower will be considerably heightened.


Spin a top, and it will for some time stand “asleep,” as it is called
in the parlance of the play-ground. The cause is thus explained by
Dr. Arnot, in his valuable _Elements of Physics_: “While the top is
perfectly upright, its point being directly under its centre, supports
it steadily, and although turning so rapidly, has no tendency to move
from the place; but, if the top incline at all, the _side_ of the peg,
instead of the very _point_, comes in contact with the floor, and the
peg then becomes a little wheel or roller, advancing quickly, and,
with its touching edge, describing a curve somewhat as a skater does,
until it becomes directly under the body of the top, as before. It thus
appears that the very fact of the top inclining causes the point to
shift its place, so that it cannot rest until it come again directly
under the centre of the top.”


Persons accustomed to estimate weights by poising them in their hands,
will distinguish perfectly between two, only differing by a thirtieth
part. In comparing two weights, poise one and then instantly the other,
_in the same hand_; the few seconds of time that pass between the
poising of the two weights will not prevent their accurate comparison.
The interval may amount to twenty seconds, yet a just estimate may
still be made; but when it amounts to forty seconds, all accuracy will
be lost.


Let fall a very small drop of oil upon a large drop of mercury, and
the latter will become enlarged. This phenomenon is attributed to a
combination of the oil with the mercury, which produces a compound, the
attraction of which is less strong than that of pure mercury.


Glass consists of sand, carbonate of soda, and red lead, heated
together. If water be poured into a glass vessel, neither of the
ingredients will be affected by it; but, if the glass be reduced to
a fine powder, and water be poured on it, the soda will instantly be

Or, moisten, with water a piece of tumeric, or test-paper, drop on it a
little powdered glass, and the soda in it will change the yellow paper
to brown.


Make a solution of caoutchouc in caoutchoucine, plunge into it, once or
twice, unsized paper, and dry it by a gentle heat. It may then be used
as writing paper, and will resist all humidity; and small vessels made
of it will even contain water.


Mix a little nitric acid with half the quantity of muriatic acid, into
which put the metal for solution.

Or, pour a little aqueous solution of chlorine into a small glass,
and put in a bit of pure gold leaf; stir it with a glass rod, and the
gold will dissolve. Thus gold, which cannot be dissolved in nitric,
sulphuric, or other strong acids, will quickly disappear in water, with
a little chlorine in solution.


Mix common salt with pounded ice or snow, and they will run into brine,
which will be much colder than the ice or snow.


Dissolve two ounces of nitre and three of Glauber salts in five ounces
of warm water; fill two bottles with the solution, into one of which
put a crystal of nitre, and into the other a crystal of Glauber salts;
place both bottles in ice-cold water, when nitre only will crystallize
in the one and Glauber salts in the other.


Mix a wine-glass full of sulphuric acid with a wine-glass full of
water, cautiously; and, on re-measuring the mixture, it will not be
found sufficient to re-fill both glasses.


Add a little sugar to ink, with which write the letter to be copied;
then lay a sheet of thin unsized paper, damped with a sponge, on the
writing; pass lightly over it a flat iron, very moderately heated, and
a reverse impression of the writing will be accurately taken off.


Fix two pendulum clocks to the same wall, or lay two watches upon the
same table, and they will take the same rate of going, though they
would vary in that rate if they were placed in separate apartments.
Indeed, it has been observed, that the pendulum of one clock will even
stop that of the other, and that the stopped pendulum will, after a
certain time, go again, and, in its turn stop the other pendulum.


Dissolve a small piece of Indian rubber in a little caoutchoucine, and
put a drop or two of the solution upon a looking-glass or window-pane;
touch it lightly with a dry piece of Indian rubber, quickly draw out a
fine thread, which attach to a card, and wind off as silk.


As the art of man can unmake whatever his ingenuity can make, we have
no right to expect an indelible ink; however, an approximation to it
may be made as follows: make a saturated solution of indigo and madder
in boiling water, in such proportions as to give a purple tint; add
to it from one-sixth to one-eighth of its weight of sulphuric acid,
according to the thickness and strength of the paper to be used. Write
with this ink, and expose the paper to a gradual heat from the fire,
when the characters will be completely black, the letters being burnt
in and charred by the sulphuric acid. If the acid has not been used in
sufficient quantity to destroy the texture of the paper, and reduce it
to the state of tinder, the colour may be discharged by washing it with
a strong solution of oxalic acid in water. When the full proportion
of acid has been employed, crumple and rub the paper, and the charred
letters will fall out; then by placing a black ground behind the
letters, they may be preserved, and thus a species of indelible writing
may be procured, the letters being, as it were, stamped out of the


Soak any part of a plant in nitric acid for a short space of time,
and all power of cohesion will be lost by the vessels, which will
become transparent, and be easily separable from each other by gentle
dissection. So complete will be the effect, that even the most
delicate cells of the cellular tissue will become disengaged from each
other, and may be examined singly with perfect ease. This discovery
will enable persons who have not compound microscopes, and delicate
directing instruments, to anatomize plants with facility.


This may be calculated by the shadow which the moon casts upon a
sun-dial, it being only necessary to know the moon’s age, which may be
found in an almanack. If the new moon happens in the morning, this day
is taken into the account; but if it happens after noon, the following
day is counted the first. The moon’s age is to be multiplied by four
and divided by five. The quotient must either be added to the hour,
which the shadow indicates on the sun-dial, and the sum will give the
time sought; or subtract from the quotient the hour shown by the moon
upon the dial, and the remainder will give the hour sought. The first
is to be done when the shadow falls on an hour of the afternoon, and
the latter when it falls upon an hour of the forenoon. The following
are examples:

1st. Suppose the moon to be ten days old, and the shade cast by the
moon upon the sun-dial to be at half-past two; or, that the shadow
cast by the moon falls on the place at which the shadow cast by the
sun stands at half-past two;—what o’clock was it then? The answer is
calculated as follows:—The moon’s age, 10 days × 4 = 40 40/5 = 8.
Eight, therefore, is the time when the moon was in the meridian, and 8
+ 2½ = 10½, or half-past ten, the hour sought.

2d. Suppose the moon to have been 18 days old, and the shadow cast by
it on the sun-dial to have marked eleven. This time is subtracted from
the hour when the moon was in the meridian on that day, and from which
the hour marked by the shadow must be deducted. The shadow shows here
11 o’clock in the forenoon, or one hour before noon, which, deducted
from 2h. 24m. gives 1h. 24m.; 2⅖ - 1 = 1⅖, or 24 minutes past one


This is a newly-invented instrument, by the aid of which a person may
have a plaster cast of his face taken without submitting to the usual
unpleasant process.

It consists of an assemblage of very fine moveable wires, confined
closely together within a broad hoop or band, after the manner of the
bristles in a telescope hearth-brush, but not closed at the back, in
order to allow to the wires a free passage. The wires slide in a metal
plate, perforated all over with holes, very fine and close together.
The apparatus is surrounded by an outer case which is filled with warm
water, in order to prevent any unpleasant sensation on the contact of
the instrument with the skin.


When it is desired to take a likeness, the instrument is applied to the
face with a gentle and gradual pressure, the wires easily yield and
slide back, conformably to the prominences of the countenance; they are
then fixed tightly in their position, and thus form a mould which will
yield a perfect and faithful cast of the face, in which even the most
minute line will appear with the strictest accuracy.


Dissolve a single grain of copper in about one dram of nitric acid,
and dilute the solution with about one ounce of water, when it will
be evident that a single drop of the mixture must contain an almost
immeasurably small portion of copper. Yet, if the blade of a knife
be dipped into it, it will become covered with a coat of copper;
thus showing that the copper can be infinitely divided without any
alteration in its properties.


If a person inspire deeply, he will be able, immediately after, to
hold breath for a time, varying with his health, state of exertion,
or repose. A man, during an active walk, may not be able to cease
breathing for more than half a minute; but, after resting on a chair or
bed, he may refrain from breathing for a minute and a half, or even two
minutes. But if he will prepare himself by breathing deeply, hardly,
and quickly (as he would naturally do after running), and ceasing
that operation with his lungs full of air, then hold his breath as
long as he is able, he will find that the time, during which he can
remain without breathing, will be double, or even more than double the
former. This effect may be rendered exceedingly serviceable, as on
many occasions a man who can hold breath for a minute, or two minutes,
may save the life of another; such as in entering a chamber on fire,
rescuing from drowning, &c.


It is a remarkable fact, that the flow of sand in the hour-glass is
perfectly equable, whatever may be the quantity in the glass; that is,
the sand runs no faster when the upper half of the glass is quite full
than when it is nearly empty. It would, however, be natural enough
to conclude that, when full of sand, it would be more swiftly urged
through the aperture, than when the glass was only a quarter full, and
near the close of the hour.

The fact of the even flow of sand may be proved by a very simple
experiment. Provide some silver sand, dry it over or before the fire,
and pass it through a tolerably fine sieve. Then take a tube, of any
length or diameter, closed at one end, in which make a small hole, say
the eighth of an inch; stop this with a peg, and fill up the tube with
the sifted sand. Hold the tube steadily, or fix it to a wall, or frame,
at any height from a table; remove the peg, and permit the sand to flow
in any measure for any given time, and note the quantity. Then, let the
tube be emptied, and only half or a quarter filled with sand, measure
again, for a like time, and the same quantity of sand will flow: even
if you press the sand in the tube with a ruler or stick, the flow of
the sand through the hole will not be increased.

The above is explained by the fact, that when the sand is poured into
the tube, it fills it with a succession of conical heaps, and that all
the weight which the bottom of the tube sustains, is only that of the
heap which _first_ falls upon it; as the succeeding heaps do not press
downward, but only against the sides or walls of the tube.


From the above experiment it may be concluded, that it is extremely
difficult to thrust sand out of a tube by means of a fitting plug or
piston; and this, upon trial, is found to be the case. Fit a piston to
a tube (exactly like a boy’s pop-gun), pour some sand in, and try with
the utmost strength of the arm to push out the sand. It will be found
impossible to do this: rather than the sand should be shot out, the
tube will burst at the sides.


If bullets be let fall on glass which has been cooled in the open air,
they will not break it; but, if a few grains of sand be let fall on the
same kind of glass, it will be broken into a thousand pieces! This is
explained by the lead not scratching the surface of the glass; whereas
the sand, being sharp and angular, scratches sufficiently to break it.


Place any piece of discoloured ivory beneath a glass, expose it to the
sun, and it will soon be restored to pure whiteness; whereas, if the
ivory be exposed to the sun without the glass covering, it will become
more discoloured.


Put into a little diluted muriatic acid, a common whelk-shell, when
it will be completely dissolved, and not a sensible trace of it left

If an oyster-shell, or land snail-shell be put into the acid, their
substances will disappear, but the form or skeleton of the shells will


Fill a basin with dilute muriatic acid, and put into it an egg, which
will sink; but, in a few seconds, the whole of the egg-shell being
covered with bubbles of carbonic acid gas, will rise to the surface,
a portion of the egg will be lifted above the surface, and the whole
egg will slowly rotate. This rotation is formed by the bubbles of
gas forming at the under part of the egg, and over all the submersed
portions, which render them lighter than the portions above the liquid
level, till the under portion ascends and the other descends.


Fill a glass tumbler with water, throw upon its surface a few fragments
or thin shavings of camphor, and they will instantly begin to move and
acquire a motion, both progressive and rotatory, which will continue
for a considerable time. During these rotations, if the water be
touched by any substance which is at all greasy, the floating particles
will quickly dart back, and, as if by a stroke of magic, be instantly
deprived of their motion and vivacity.

In like manner, if thin slices of cork be steeped in sulphuric ether
in a closed bottle, for two or three days, and then placed upon the
water, they will rotate for several minutes, like the camphor; until
the slices of cork having discharged all their ether, and become soaked
with water, they will keep at rest.

If the water be made hot, the motion of the camphor will be more rapid
than in cold water, but it will cease in proportionately less time.
Thus, provide two glasses, one containing water at 58 degrees, and the
other at 210 degrees; place raspings of camphor upon each at the same
time; the camphor in the first glass will rotate for about five hours,
until all but a very minute portion has evaporated, while the rotation
of the camphor in the hot water will last only nineteen minutes; about
half the camphor will pass off, and the remaining pieces, instead of
being dull, white, and opaque, will be vitreous and transparent, and
evidently soaked with water. The gyrations, too, which at first will be
very rapid, will gradually decline in velocity, until they become quite

The stilling influence of oil upon waves has become proverbial: the
extraordinary manner in which a small quantity of oil instantly spreads
over a very large surface of troubled water, and the stealthy manner
in which even a rough wind glides over it, must have excited the
admiration of all who have witnessed it.

By the same principle, a drop of oil may be made to stop the motion of
the camphor as follows: throw some camphor, both in slices and in small
particles, upon the surface of water, and while they are rotating, dip
a glass rod into oil of turpentine, and allow a single drop thereof to
trickle down the inner side of the glass to the surface of the water;
the camphor will instantly dart to the opposite point of the liquid
surface, and cease to rotate. If a piece of hard tallow or lard be
employed, the motion of the camphor will be more slowly stopped than
by oil or fluid grease, as the latter spreads over the surface of the
water with greater rapidity.

If a few drops of sulphuric or muriatic acid be let fall into the
water, they will gradually stop the motion of the camphor; but, if
camphor be dropped into nitric acid diluted with its own bulk of water,
it will rotate rapidly for a few seconds and then stop.

If a piece of the rotating camphor be attentively examined with a lens,
the currents of the water can be well distinguished, jetting out,
chiefly from the corners of the camphor, and bearing it round with
irregular force.

The currents, as given out by the camphor, may also be seen by means of
the microscope; a drop or two of pure water being placed upon a slip
of glass, with a particle of camphor floating upon it. By this means,
the currents may be detected, and it will be seen that they cause the

Or, a flat watch-glass, called a _lunar_, may be employed, raised a
few inches, and supported on a wire ring, kept steady by thrusting
one end into an upright piece of wood, like a retort stand. Then put
the camphor and water in the watch-glass, and place under the frame a
sheet of white paper, so that it may receive the shadow of the glass,
camphor, &c., to be cast by a steady light placed above, and somewhat
on one side of the watch-glass. On observing the shadow, which may
be considered a magnified representation of the object itself, the
rotations and currents can be distinguished.[B]

[B] Abridged from the Magazine of Popular Science, vol. iii.


A peculiar kind of porcelain was formerly manufactured in China,
which exhibited its colour and devices only when filled with water.
Though the art of manufacturing this porcelain has been lost, and the
mode cannot now be described with accuracy, the following has been
conjectured as not very remote from the truth. The first requisite was
that the vessel be extremely thin, so that the figures to be formed
might be sufficiently clear and perceptible. After the vessel has
been baked, the figures, which were mostly fish, (as those were most
appropriate with the water), were formed on the inside; and, after the
colour had dried, a second extremely thin coat, of the same substance
as that of which the vessel was constructed, was lain on the inside
and varnished. The fish, or other device, would then, it is evident,
be enclosed between the two coats of the ware of which the vessel was
made. All that remained to be done was to grind the outside of the
vessel as close to the figures as possible, to varnish it again, and
bake it a second time; and though, after this operation, the figures
and embellishments would not be at all perceptible, yet, so soon as
the vessel was filled with water, they would at once be rendered clear
and distinct to a degree scarcely credible. Attempts have been made to
revive this beautiful art, but hitherto without success.


Coat the point of the tongue with tin-foil, and its middle part with
gold or silver leaf; when a sourish taste will be produced, and the
tongue will be galvanised.


If porter be drunk out of a pewter pot, it will produce a more brisk
sensation than when it is taken out of a glass vessel, which is
ascribed to a galvanic effect. In this instance there is a combination
of one metal and two dissimilar fluids, which combination constitutes a
galvanic circle. In the act of drinking, one side of the pewter pot is
exposed to the action of the saliva, which moistens the lip, while the
other metallic side is in contact with the porter; the circuit being
thus completed, an agreeable relish is communicated to the beverage
when it comes in contact with the tongue.


Immerse a slip of copper in dilute nitric acid, and it will be soon
corroded and dissolved; but, if a slip of zinc be immersed with the
copper, the zinc will be dissolved, and the copper remain unaltered and


Expose a fine diamond to the sunbeams, and carry it into a dark room,
when it will exhibit phosphorescence: and it has been stated that such
diamonds as do not display this peculiarity, may be made to do so by
dipping them into melted borax.

The diamond becomes phosphorescent also when fixed to the prime
conductor of an electrical machine, and a few sparks may be taken from
it. It likewise becomes electric by friction; and the Hon. Mr. Boyle
obtained electric gleams by rubbing two diamonds together in the dark.


Select two stones from three to six inches long, and about half as
thick; lay one flat on the ground, on which place one end of the other,
raising the reverse end to an angle of forty-five degrees, and just
over the centre of the stone (with which it must form a T,) supporting
it in that position by a piece of thin twig or stick, one, or one and
a half inch long; if the raised stone be now smartly struck about the
centre, with the little finger side of the fist, the stick will give
way, and the stone will be broken to pieces: the stones must be laid so
as not to slip, otherwise the experiment will fail.


Fasten a sprig of fresh rosemary, or any similar shrub, to the inside
of a small bandbox, near the top; heat a thick tile, and sprinkle it
with gum benzoic, and immediately place the bandbox over it, when the
acid will be sublimed by the heat, and will condense in a white vapour
upon the green plant, giving it the appearance of being covered with


Wrap up a very smooth ball of lead in a piece of paper, taking care
that there be no wrinkles in it, and that it be everywhere in contact
with the ball; if it be held in this state, over the flame of a taper,
the lead will be melted without the paper being burnt. The lead,
indeed, when once fused, will not fail in a short time to pierce the
paper, and run through.


Provide a pair of scales, in one of which place a tumbler filled with
water, and poise it by placing weights in the opposite scale; then hold
in the tumbler a block of wood, or any substance nearly the size of
the tumbler, but so that it shall not touch the sides or bottom; when,
although nearly the whole of the water will have to run over the sides,
and only a spoonful may remain, the scales will continue balanced; and
all this without regard to the weight of the body you plunge into the
water, taking care to hold it entirely clear of the tumbler, so that it
touch it nowhere; for the effect will be the same if what you plunge in
be scooped hollow and made water-tight. A bladder blown up, tied fast,
and held down in the water, so as to leave only a spoonful of water
surrounding it, will keep the scales balanced just as well as a block
of lead of the same size.


Mix a little red lead with some powdered charcoal, and with the mixture
fill the bowl of a tobacco-pipe; set it over a common fire, and in
about twenty minutes the lead will be found reduced to its metallic



Rub a piece of amber, a stick of red sealing-wax, or a smooth glass
tube, smartly upon the sleeve of a coat, or any other dry woollen
substance, and it will attract to itself bits of straw, paper,
fragments of gold leaf, or any small and light bodies. The amber, wax,
or glass, is then said to be excited, and the attractive power thus
developed, is called electrical attraction.

Select a clean and dry downy feather, and suspend it from a beam by a
long thread of white silk; to be used in the following experiments:

Provide a glass tube, about three feet long and three quarters of
an inch diameter; wipe it dry, and rub it gently with a warm silk
handkerchief; then apply the tube to the feather, and it will _attract_
it; withdraw the tube gently, apply it again, and the feather will be
repelled for a time, but then attracted, and then again repelled. In
this case, the feather having received electricity from the glass, is
repelled by it; for bodies similarly electrified repel each other.

Fold a silk handkerchief, warm it, and with it rub the tube; apply it
to the feather, and it will first attract and then repel it; when the
feather has just been repelled by the silk, apply the tube, and the
feather will be attracted. The handkerchief must be folded so thickly
as to keep the hand as far as possible from the glass tube.

Roll up flannel thickly, rub it with sealing-wax, and the roll will
by turns attract and repel the feather; when thus repelled, apply the
excited wax, and it will instantly attract the feather.

When the atmosphere is dry, take in one hand a rod of glass and
in the other a stick of sealing-wax, and rub them against silk or
worsted; with one of them approach a bit of gold-leaf, floating in
the air, it will first attract and then repel it. When the gold has
just been repelled, approach it with the other rod, and it will be
immediately attracted; and this alternate attraction and repulsion may
be strikingly displayed by placing the two excited rods at a small
distance asunder, with the gold leaf between them.


Nearly fill a wine-glass with a weak solution of blue vitriol in water,
and place in it the blade of a knife and a small silver spoon; the
knife will soon acquire a copper coating, but the spoon will remain
bright until it is touched with the blade of the knife, when it will
also become plated with copper.


Provide two small balls of equal size; both made of gum-lac, and cover
one with gold leaf. Suspend these balls from a beam by fine white
silk threads, at a little distance from each other, so as to allow a
comparison of their motions. Then rub a stick of red sealing-wax upon
any woollen substance, or warm it at the fire, and present it to the
balls; when it will be at once seen that the gilt ball, which readily
admits of the transfer of electricity from one side to the other, will
be sooner and more powerfully attracted than the other ball, which
allows of no motion in its electricity. The latter ball will, however,
by slow degrees be feebly attracted, and may, at length, be made to
adhere for a considerable time to the sealing-wax.


Lay on a table small pieces of paper or cotton, feathers, or gold-leaf;
then rub with a silk handkerchief a glass tube, hold it parallel to
the table, and the several pieces will be alternately attracted and
repelled, and a kind of electrical dance will be kept up.

If to the further end of the tube you hang a brass ball, by a thread of
linen, hemp, or metallic wire, the ball will participate in the magic
power of the rubbed tube; but if the ball be suspended by a cord of
silk, worsted, or hair, or be attached by wax or pitch, the attractive
and repulsive properties of the rod will not pass into the ball.


Shake a barometer in a dark room, and light will be produced in the
empty part of it by the friction of the quicksilver electrifying
the glass tube. Even the friction of air upon glass is attended by
electricity, as has been found by blowing upon a dry plate of glass
with a pair of bellows.


Provide a piece of thick brown paper, thoroughly dry and warm; rub the
paper briskly in a dark room, and there will dart forth flashes of
electric light to the fingers, to a key, or to any other conductor that
may be presented to it.

Heat a small portion of sulphate of quinine in a spoon over the flame
of a lamp, and it will become luminous and highly electrical.


Take a piece of dry and warm wood into a dark room, suddenly rend
it asunder, and a flash of light will be perceived. The same effect
may likewise be produced by suddenly snapping asunder a stick of
sealing-wax in the dark.

Or, break a Prince Rupert’s drop, and electrical light will pervade the
whole, so that its form will be distinctly visible in the dark. The
light will appear, even if the experiment be made under water.


Place your left hand upon the throat of the cat, and, with the middle
finger and the thumb, press slightly the bones of the animal’s
shoulders; then, if the right hand be gently passed along the back,
perceptible shocks of electricity will be felt in the left hand. Shocks
may also be obtained by touching the tips of the ears after rubbing the
back. If the colour of the cat be black, and the experiment be made in
a dark room, the electric sparks may be very plainly seen.

Very distinct discharges of electricity may also be obtained by
touching the tips of the ears, after applying friction to the back; and
the same may be obtained from the foot. Placing the cat on your knees,
apply your right hand to the back; the left fore paw resting on the
palm of your left hand, apply the thumb to the upper side of the paw,
so as to extend the claws, and, by this means, bring your fore-finger
into contact with one of the bones of the leg, where it joins the paw;
when, from the knob or end of this bone, the finger slightly pressing
on it, you may feel distinctly successive shocks, similar to those
obtained from the ears.

It is, perhaps, unnecessary to add, that, in order to this experiment
being conveniently performed, the experimenter must be on good terms
with the cat.


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired. Varied hyphenation was retained.

Page x, “Phenakisticope” changed to “Phenakistiscope” and “Stoboscope”
changed to “Stroboscope” (The Phenakistiscope or Stroboscope) This same
change was also made on page 34 in all-capitals (THE PHENAKISTISCOPE,

Page xii, “110” changed to “112” for the entry of “The Mysterious
Circles” to match location in text.

Page 3, “loose” changed to “lose” (it will lose all)

Page 44, the original instructions for tuning a guitar, read (like an
inverted Λ) As this would just be a “v” and would not be like a saddle,
the instruction was changed to (like an inverted v, Λ)

Page 54, “versá” changed to “versâ” (red, and _vice versâ_)

Page 60, “widows” changed to “windows” (glasses in druggists’ windows)

Page 82, word “a” removed from text. Original read (small a piece of

Page 82, “cut” changed to “out” (throwing out luminous)

Page 83, word “be” removed from text. Original read (antimony will be

Page 83, “Duch” changed to “Dutch” (copper, or “Dutch metal,”)


Page 100, “fell” changed to “feel” (will feel _warmth_)

Page 100, “fully” changed to “full” (cup nearly full of water)

Page 111, word “a” added to text (jar with a bladder)

Page 111, “amadon” changed to “amadou” (a scrap of amadou)

Page 113, “have” changed to “has” (tube passes has)

Page 114, “smells” changed to “swells” (the moisture swells the)

Page 114, “increase” changed to “increases” (threads, and increases)

Page 116, “as so” changed to “so as” (so as to resemble)

Page 127, “befow” changed to “below” (below the ring)

Page 132, “pale” changed to “pail” (pail of water on)

Page 136, “hankerchief” changed to “handkerchief” (midst of the

Page 156, “skaiter” changed to “skater” (as a skater does)

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Parlour Magic" ***

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