The Gaming Table, Its Votaries and Victims Volume #2
Part 5 out of 5
imaginary rule. In April, 1772, he was so lucky at Newmarket as
to win nearly L16,000--the greater part of which he got by
betting against the celebrated Pincher, who lost the match by
only half a neck. The odds at STARTING were two to one on the
losing horse. At the spring meeting at Newmarket, in 1789, Fox
is said to have won not less than L50,000; and at the October
meeting, at the same place, the following year, he sold two of
his horses--Seagull and Chanticleer--for 4400 guineas. In the
course of 1788 Fox and the Duke of Bedford won 8000 guineas
between them at the Newmarket spring meeting, and during these
races Fox and Lord Barrymore had a heavy match, which was given
as a dead heat, and the bets were off.
 For some period previous to 1790, George IV. had patronized
horse-racing and pugilism; but in that year, having attended a
prize fight in which one of the boxers was killed, he ceased to
support the ring, declaring that he would never be present at
such a scene of murder again; and in 1791 he disposed of his
stud, on account of some apparently groundless suspicion being
attached to his conduct with regard to a race, in the event of
which he had little or no real interest.
On coming into office with Lord North, in 1783, Mr Fox sold his
horses, and erased his name from several of the clubs of which he
was a member. It was not long, however, before he again
purchased a stud, and in October he attended the Newmarket
meeting. The king's messenger was obliged to appear on the
course, to seek one of the ministers of England among the
sportsmen on the heath, in order to deliver despatches upon which
perhaps the fate of the country might have depended. The
messenger on these occasions had his badge of office, the
greyhound, not liking that the world should know that the king's
adviser was amusing himself at Newmarket, when he should have
been serving him in the metropolis. But Charles Fox preferred
the betting rooms to Downing Street.
Again, in the year 1790, his horse Seagull won the Oatlands
stakes at Ascot, of 100 guineas (19 subscribers), beating the
Prince of Wales's Escape, Serpent, and several of the very best
horses of that year--to the great mortification of His Royal
Highness, who immediately matched Magpie against him, to run four
days afterwards, two miles, for 500 guineas. This match, on
which immense sums were depending, was won with ease by Seagull.
At this period Lord Foley and Mr Fox were confederates. In those
days the plates averaged from L50 to L100.
Lord Foley, who died in 1793, entered upon the turf with a clear
estate of L1800 a year, and L100,000 ready money, which was
considerably diminished by his losses at Newmarket, Ascot, and
The race-horse of this country excels those of the whole world,
not only for speed, but bottom. There is a great difference,
however, between the present race and that of fifty or sixty
years ago; for in those days four-mile heats were the fashion.
The sporting records at the end of the last century give the
following exploits of horses of that and previous periods.
Childers, known by the name of Flying Childers, the property of
the Duke of Devonshire, was looked upon as the fleetest horse
that ever was bred. He was never beaten; the sire of this
celebrated horse was an Arabian.
Dorimont, belonging to Lord Ossory, won prizes to the amount of
Eclipse was allowed to be the fastest horse that ever ran in
England since the time of Childers. After winning largely for
his owner, he covered, by subscription, forty mares at 30 guineas
each, or 1200 guineas.
Highflyer, by King Herod, was the best horse of his day; was
never beaten, nor paid forfeit but once. His winnings amounted
to above L9000, although he only ran as a three, four, and five
Matchem stood high both as a racer and as the sire of many of our
most favourite horses. As a stallion he realized for his master
more than L12,000. He died in 1781, at the advanced age of
Shark won a cup value 120 guineas, eleven hogsheads of claret,
and above L16,000 in plates, matches, and forfeits.
 Lord William Lennox, Merrie England.
Among recent celebrities must be mentioned Lord Stamford, who is
said to have engaged Jemmy Grimshaw, a light-weighted jockey, at
a salary of L1000 a year.
The most astounding 'event' of late years was that of 1867, when
the horse Hermit--previously represented as being in an unfit
condition even to run, won the race--to the unspeakable ruin of
very many, and inflicting on the late Marquis of Hastings the
enormous loss of about L100,000, which, however, in spite of
unseemly rumours and, it is said, hopes of that nobleman's ruin,
was honourably paid, to the day and hour.
But if ruin did not immediately come upon the young marquis,
still the wound was deadly, inflicted as though with the ferocity
of a demon. In his broken health and rapid decay sympathy was
not withheld from him; and when a premature death put an end to
his sufferings, and was speedily followed by the breaking up of
his establishment and the dispersion of his ancestral effects,
most men felt that he had, perhaps, atoned for his errors and
indiscretions, whilst all united in considering him another
unfortunate victim added to the long list of those who have
sacrificed their fortune, health, and honour to the Gambling
Moloch presiding over the Turf of England.
 The 'Odds' or probabilities of horse racing are explained in
chapter VIII., in which the entire 'Doctrine of Chances' is
Such are the leading facts of horse-racing in England. One
cannot help observing that the sturdy strength and muscular
exertions of an Olympic charioteer of old exhibit a striking
contrast to the spider-like form and emaciated figure of a
Qui studet optatam cursu contingere metam,
Multa tulit, fecitque puer, SUDAVAT et alsit.
'Who in a race would reach the long'd-for goal,
Must suffer much, do much, in youth, indeed,
Must SWEAT and fag.'
This is literally true respecting the English jockey, whose
attenuated form is accounted for in the following dialogue in an
old work entitled 'Newmarket, or an Essay on the Turf,' 1771.
'Stop, stop, OLD GENTLEMAN! I desire to speak a word to you; pray
which is the way to----.'
'I beg, sir, you will not interrupt me. I am a Newmarket
jockey--am to ride in a few days a match, upon which there is a
great deal depending, and I am now PREPARING.'
'Oh, I see now, you are a YOUNG man, instead of that old one for
whom I mistook you by your wrappings; but pray, explain.'
'Why, your Honour must know that we jockeys, in order to bring
ourselves down to the weight required for the horses we are to
ride, sweat under a load of flannel wrapped about us beneath
coats and great coats, and walk two or three miles in the heat of
summer, till we are ready to faint under our burden.'
'Indeed! Why, you go through a deal!'
'Ah, sir, a great deal indeed! Why, we sometimes lie hours and
hours between two feather-beds--to melt away our extraordinary
'But will you give me leave to examine your present dress? Hum!
Two flannel waistcoats, a thick cloth coat, a Bath surtout! It
is a vast weight to carry this warm weather. I only hope you
won't sink under it.'
'Never fear, sir, I do not doubt but I shall do very well.'
The rewards of victory were as plain and simple in the Grecian
games as they were distinguishing and honourable. A garland of
palm, or laurel, or parsley, or pine leaves, served to adorn the
brow of the fortunate victor, whilst his name stood a chance of
being transmitted to posterity in the strains of some lofty
Pindar. The rewards of modern days are indeed more substantial
and solid, being paid in weighty gold or its equivalent, no
matter whether obtained by the ruin of others, while the fleet
coursers and their exulting proprietors stand conspicuous in the
list of the Racing Calendar. The ingenious and ironical author
of 'Newmarket, or an Essay on the Turf,' in the year 1771,
bestowed the following titles and honours on the most famous
horse of the day--Kelly's Eclipse:--'Duke of Newmarket, Marquis
of Barnet, Earl of Epsom and York, Viscount Canterbury, Baron
Eclipse of Mellay; Lord of Lewes, Salisbury, Ipswich, and
Northampton; Comptroller-General of the race-grounds, and Premier
Racer of All England.' To bear coat of arms--'A Pegasus argent
on a field verd;--the supporters--two Englishmen in ermined robes
and ducal coronets;--the crest--a purse, Or;--the motto--"Volat
ocior Euro." '
 'He flies swifter than the east wind.'
Again, in the exhibition of those useful and honourable Olympic
pastimes of old, the cause of morality was not overlooked:--there
was in them a happy union of utility, pleasure, and virtue. A
spotless life and unblameable manners, a purity of descent by
being born in wedlock through several generations, and a series
of creditable relations, were indispensable qualifications of a
candidate on the Olympic turf. It is true, there is at least as
much attention paid to purity and faultlessness on the plains of
Newmarket; but the application is to the blood and pedigree of
the horse, not of his rider.
Nay, it was, and is, notorious that the word 'jockey' has
acquired the meaning of 'to trick,' 'to cheat,' as appears in all
our dictionaries and in common parlance. What is the inference
from this but that the winning of races is no absolute proof of
the superiority of the horse--for whose improvement racing is
said to be encouraged; but rather the result of a secret
combination of expedients or arrangements--in a word, jockeying,
that is, cheating, tricking. The only 'moral' character required
in the jockey is the determination to do whatsoever may be agreed
upon or determined by those who are willing and able to give 'a
consideration' for the convenient accommodation.
But it is, or was, the associations, the inevitable concomitants,
of the turf and racing that stamp it, not only as something
questionable, but as a bane and infamy to the nation; and if
there is one spot more eminently distinguished for a general
rendezvous of fraud and gambling, that place is Newmarket.
The diversions of these plains have proved a decoy to many a
noble and ingenuous mind, caught in the snares laid to entrap
youth and inexperience. Newmarket was a wily labyrinth of loss
and gain, a fruitful field for the display of gambling abilities,
the school of the sharping crew, the academy of the Greeks, the
unfathomable gulf that absorbed princely fortunes.
The amusements of the turf were in all other places intermixed
with a variety of social diversions, which were calculated to
promote innocent mirth and gaiety. The breakfastings, the
concerts, the plays, the assemblies, attracted the circle of
female beauty, enlivened the scene, engaged the attention of
gentlemen, and thus prevented much of the evil contagion and
destruction of midnight play. But encouragement to the GAMBLER
of high and low degree was the very charter of Newmarket. Every
object that met the eye was encompassed with gambling--from the
aristocratic Rouge et Noir, Roulette, and Hazard, down to
Thimble-rig, Tossing, and Tommy Dodd. Every hour of the day and
night was beset with gambling diversified; in short, gambling
must occupy the whole man, or he was lost to the sport and spirit
of the place. The inhumanity of the cock-pit, the iniquitous
vortex of the Hazard table, employed each leisure moment from the
race, and either swallowed up the emoluments of the victorious
field, or sank the jockey still deeper in the gulf of ruin.
The common people of England have been stigmatized (and perhaps
too justly) for their love of bloody sports and cruel diversions;
cock-fighting, bull-baiting, boxing, and the crowded attendance
on executions, are but too many proofs of this sanguinary turn.
But why the imputation should lie at the door of the vulgar alone
may well be questioned; for while the star of nobility and
dignified distinction was seen to glitter at a cock-match or on a
boxing-stage, or near the 'Ring'--where its proprietor was liable
to be elbowed by their highnesses of grease and soot, and to be
hemmed in by knights of the post and canditates for Tyburn tree--
when this motley group alike were fixed in eager attention, alike
betted on and enjoyed each blood-drawing stroke of the artificial
spur, or blow of the fist well laid in--what distinction was to
be made between peer and plebeian, except in derogation of the
The race-course at Newmarket always presented a rare assemblage
of grooms, gamblers, and greatness.
'See, side by side, the jockey and Sir John
Discuss the important point of six to one;
For, O my Muse! the deep-felt bliss how dear--
How great the pride to gain a jockey's ear!'
 Wharton's Newmarket.
Newmarket fame was an object of ambition sought by the most
'Go on, brave youths, till in some future age
Whips shall become the senatorial badge;
Till England see her thronging senators
Meet all at Westminster in boots and spurs;
See the whole House with mutual phrensy mad,
Her patriots all in leathern breeches clad;
Of bets for taxes learnedly debate, And guide with equal reins
a steed or state.'
And then at the winning-post what motley confusion.
--------------------'A thousand tongues
Jabber harsh jargon from a thousand lungs.
Dire was the din--as when in caverns pent,
Hoarse Boreas storms and Eurus works for vent,
The aeolian brethren heave the labouring earth,
And roar with elemental strife for birth.'
 'The Gamblers.' Horace had said long before--Tanto cum
strepitu ludi spectantur, 'So great a noise attends the games!
The frauds and stratagems of wily craft which once passed current
at Newmarket, surpassed everything that can be imagined at the
present day. The intruding light of the morning was execrated by
the nightly gamblers. 'Grant us but to perish in the light,' was
the prayer of the warlike Ajax:--'Grant us black night for ever,'
exclaimed the gambler; and his wishes were consistent with the
place and the foul deeds perpetrated therein.
 The principal gambling-room at Newmarket was called the
Sit mihi fas audita loqui--sit numine vestro,
Pandere res alta terra et caligine mersas.
The turf-events of every succeeding year verify the lament of the
late Lord Derby:--
'The secession from the turf of men who have station and
character, and the accession of men who have neither, are signs
visible to the dullest apprehension. The once national sport of
horse-racing is being degraded to a trade in which it is
difficult to perceive anything either sportive or national. The
old pretence about the improvement of the breed of horses has
become a delusion, too stale for jesting.'
Nothing is more incontestable than the fact that the breed of
English horses has not been really improved, certainly not by
racing and its requirements. It has been truly observed that
'what is called the turf is merely a name for the worst kind of
gambling. The men who engage in it are as far as possible from
any ideal of sporting men. It is a grim joke, in fact, to speak
of "sport" at all in their connection. The turf to them is but a
wider and more vicious sort of tapis vert--the racing but the
rolling of the balls--the horses but animated dice. It is
difficult to name a single honest or manly instinct which is
propagated by the turf as it is, or which does not become debased
and vitiated by the association. From a public recreation the
thing has got to be a public scandal. Every year witnesses a
holocaust of great names sacrificed to the insatiable demon of
horse-racing--ancient families ruined, old historic memories
defiled at the shrine of this vulgarest and most vicious of
Among those who have sought to reform the turf is Sir Joseph
Hawley, who last year succeeded in procuring the abolition of
two-year-old races before the 1st of May. He is now
endeavouring, to go much further, and has given notice of a
motion for the appointment of a committee of the Jockey Club to
consider the question of the whole condition of the turf.
There can be no doubt, that, if Sir Joseph Hawley's propositions,
as announced, be adopted, even in a modified form, they would go
to the very root of the evil, and purify the turf of the worst of
the present scandals.
It would require a volume, or perhaps many volumes, to treat of
the subject of the present chapter--the Turf, Historical, Social,
Moral; but I must now leave this topic, of such terrible national
interest, to some other conscientious writer capable of 'doing
justice' to the theme, in all its requirements.
FORTUNE-TELLING BY CARDS (FOR LADIES).
It must be admitted that this practice--however absurd in its
object and application--does great credit to human ingenuity.
Once admitting the possibility of such conjuring, it is
impossible to deny the propriety of the reasonings deduced from
the turning up, the collocation, or the juxta-position of the
various cards, when the formalities of the peculiar shuffle and
cut required have been duly complied with by the consulter.
The cards are first shuffled ad libitum, then cut three different
times, and laid on a table, face upwards, one by one, in the form
of a circle, or more frequently nine in a row. If the conjurer
is a man he chooses one of the kings as his representative; if a
woman, she selects one of the queens. This is on the supposition
that persons are consulting for themselves; otherwise it is the
fortune-teller who selects the representative card. Then the
queen of the chosen king, or the king of the chosen queen, stands
for a husband or wife, mistress or lover, of the party whose
fortune is to be told. The knave of the suit represents the most
intimate person of their family.
The ninth card every way, that is, counted from the
representative, is of the greatest consequence, and that interval
comprises the 'circle' of the inquirer, for good or for evil.
Now, all the cards have had assigned to them arbitrary, but
plausible, characteristics. Thus, the ace of clubs (that suit
representing originally the 'fortunate husbandmen') promises
great wealth, much prosperity in life, and tranquillity of mind--
if it turns up within your circle, as before mentioned. King of
clubs announces a man of dark complexion who is humane, upright,
&c., in fact, just the man for a husband. Queen of clubs is
equally propitious as the emblem of a dark lady who would prove a
paragon wife. Knave of clubs, a jolly good friend in every way.
Ten of clubs always flurries the heart of the inquirer--
especially if 'hard up'--for it denotes riches speedily
forthcoming from an unexpected quarter--which is usually the case
in such circumstances; but then it also threatens the loss of
some dear friend--which, however, cannot signify much if you get
'the money.' Seven of clubs promises the most brilliant fortune,
and the most exquisite bliss this world can afford; but then you
are ungallantly warned that you must 'beware of the opposite
sex'--which seems a contradiction in terms--for how call 'the
most exquisite bliss this world can afford' be secured without
the aid of 'the opposite sex'? Five of clubs is the main point
of maid-servants, young girls from the country, governesses, in
short, of all the floating womanhood of the land--for 'it
declares that you will shortly be married to a person who
will--MEND your CIRCUMSTANCES.' The trey of clubs is scarcely
less exhilarating, for it promises that you will be married three
times, and each time to a wealthy person. On the whole the suit
of clubs is very lucky, but, very appropriately, the deuce
thereof portends some 'unfortunate opposition to your favourite
inclination, which will disturb you.'
 According to other authorities, the ace of clubs means a
letter; the nine, danger caused by drunkenness; the eight, danger
from covetousness; the seven, a prison, and danger from the
opposite sex; the six, competence by hard-working industry; the
five, a happy but NOT wealthy marriage; the four, danger of
misfortunes caused by inconstancy or capricious temper; the trey,
The suit of diamonds is by no means so satisfactory as the gem of
a name would seem to indicate; but perhaps we must remember that
this suit represented originally the COMMERCIAL CLASSES, and that
probably this divination by cards was invented by some proud
ARISTOCRAT in those times when tradesmen did not stand so high as
they now do in morality, uprightness, &c. The ace of diamonds
puts you on the qui vive for the postman; it means a LETTER. It
is only to be hoped that it is not one of those nasty things,
yellow outside and blue within--a dun from some importunate
butcher, baker, grocer, or--tailor. The king of diamonds shows a
revengeful, fiery, obstinate fellow of very fair complexion in
your circle; the queen of diamonds is nothing but a gay coquette,
of the same complexion as the king, and not 'over- virtuous'--a
very odd phrase in use for the absence of virtue altogether; the
knave of diamonds is a selfish, impracticable fellow; ten of
diamonds is one of the few exceptions to the evil omens of this
suit, it promises a country husband or a wife with great wealth
and many children--the number of the latter being indicated by
the next card to it; it also signifies a purse of gold--but
where? Oh, where? Nine of diamonds indicates simply a vagabond,
full of vexation and disappointment; eight of diamonds shows an
enemy to marriage, who may, however, 'marry late,' and find
himself in a terrible 'fix;' seven of diamonds is worse still,
portending all the horrors of the divorce court and the
bankruptcy court--conjugal profligacy and extravagance; six of
diamonds means early marriage and premature widowhood, and a
second marriage, which will probably be worse; five of diamonds
is the next exception to the misery of this suit, it promises
'good children, who will KEEP YOU FROM GRIEF'--at best, however,
only a makeshift; four of diamonds is as bad as seven of
diamonds--portending the same results; the trey of diamonds
threatens all manner of strife, law-suits, &c., promises a vixen
for a wife, to your great domestic misery; the deuce of diamonds
concludes the catalogue of wretchedness with the assurance that
you will fall in love early, that your parents will not approve
of your choice, and if you marry, notwithstanding, that they will
hardly ever forgive you.
 Otherwise the ace of diamonds means a wedding ring, the
king, a fiery but a placable person, of very fair complexion; the
ten, money, success in honourable business; the eight, a happy
prudent marriage, though late in life; the five, unexpected and
most likely good news; the four, a faithless friend, a betrayed
The suit of hearts, as previously explained, represented
originally the ecclesiastical order, the jolly monks, churchmen
of all degrees; how far the indications tally must be left to the
ingenious reader to determine. The ace of hearts means feasting
and pleasure; but if attended by spades, it foretells
quarrelling; if by hearts it shows affection and friendship; if
by diamonds, you will hear of some absent friend; if by clubs, of
merry-making: the king of hearts denotes a not VERY fair man,
good-natured, but hot and hasty individual, and very amorous; the
queen of hearts promises a lady of golden locks (not necessarily
'carrots'), faithful and affectionate; the knave of hearts is a
particular friend, and great attention must be paid to the card
that stands next to him, as from it alone you can judge whether
the person it represents will favour your inclination or not,
because he is always the dearest friend or nearest relation of
the consulting party; the ten of hearts shows good nature and
many children, and is a corrective of the bad tidings of the
cards that stand next to it; and if its neighbouring cards are of
good import, it ascertains and confirms their value: nine of
hearts promises wealth, grandeur, and high esteem; if cards that
are unfavourable stand near it, you may expect disappointments;
and the reverse, if favourable cards follow; if these last be at
a small distance, expect to retrieve your losses, whether of
peace or goods: eight of hearts signifies drinking and feasting;
seven of hearts shows a fickle and unfaithful person, vicious,
spiteful, malicious; six of hearts promises a generous, open,
credulous disposition, often a dupe; if this card comes before
your king or queen (as the case may be) YOU will be the dupe; if
after, you will get the upper hand: five of hearts portends a
wavering, unsteady, unreliable individual of either sex: four of
hearts indicates late marriage from 'delicacy in making a
choice:' trey of hearts is rather a 'poser;' 'it shows that your
own impudence will greatly contribute to your experiencing the
ill-will of others:' deuce of hearts promises extraordinary
success and good fortune, though, perhaps, you may have to wait
long for 'the good time coming.'
 Or,--the ace of hearts denotes the house of the consulter;
the queen, a lady not VERY fair; seven, many good friends; six,
honourable courtship; five, a present; four, domestic troubles
caused by jealousy.
The suit of spades originally represented the NOBILITY, and the
following are its significances in fortune-telling. The ace of
spades wholly relates to love-affairs, without specifying whether
lawful or unlawful--a pretty general occupation of the
'nobility,' of course; it also denotes death when the card is
upside down: the king of spades shows a man ambitious and
successful at court, or with some great man who will have it in
his power to advance him--but, let him beware of the reverse! the
queen of spades shows that a person will be corrupted by the rich
of both sexes; if she is handsome great attempts will be made on
her virtue: the knave of spades shows a fellow that requires much
rousing, although 'quite willing to serve you' with his influence
and patronage--like many a member in the case of his importunate
constituents: the ten of spades is a card of caution,
counteracting the good effect of the card near you: the nine of
spades is positively the worst card in the whole pack; it
portends dangerous sickness, total loss of fortune, cruel
calamities, endless dissension in your family, and death at
last--I hope you may never see it near you: the eight of spades
indicates much opposition from your FRIENDS, or those you imagine
to be such; if this card comes near you, leave your plan and
adopt another: seven of spades shows the loss of a most valuable,
influential friend, whose death will plunge you in very great
distress and poverty: the six of spades announces a mediocrity of
fortune, and great uncertainty in your undertakings: the five of
spades is rather doubtful as to success or a rise in life; but it
promises luck in the choice of your companion for life, although
it shows that your own temper is rather sullen--and so to get a
'fond creature' to take care of you, with such a temper, is a
mighty great blessing, and more than you deserve: the four of
spades shows sickness speedily, and injury of fortune by friends:
the trey of spades shows that you will be fortunate in marriage,
but that your inconstant temper will make you unhappy:
the deuce of spades is the UNDERTAKER, at last; it positively
shows a COFFIN, but who it is for must depend entirely on the
cards that are near it.
 Or,--the ace of spades denotes death, malice, a duel, a
general misfortune; the king, a man of very dark complexion,
ambitious, and unscrupulous; the queen, a very dark- complexioned
woman of malicious disposition, or a widow; the knave, a lawyer,
a person to be shunned; the ten, disgrace, crime, imprisonment,
death on the scaffold; the eight, great danger from imprudence;
the six, a child, to the unmarried a card of caution; the five,
great danger from giving way to bad temper; the trey, a journey
by land,--tears; the deuce, a removal.
'The nine of hearts is termed the wish card. After the general
fortune has been told, a separate and different manipulation is
performed, to learn if the pryer into futurity will obtain a
particular wish; and from the position of the wish card in the
pack the required answer is deduced.
'The foregoing is merely the alphabet of the art; the letters, as
it were, of the sentences formed by the various combinations of
the cards. A general idea only can be given here of the manner
in which those prophetic sentences are formed. As before stated,
if a married woman consults the cards, the king of her own suit,
or complexion, represents her husband; but with single women, the
lover, either in esse or posse, is represented by his own colour;
and all cards, when representing persons, lose their own normal
significations. There are exceptions, however, to these general
rules. A man, no matter what his complexion, if he wear uniform,
even if he be the negro cymbal-player in a regimental band, can
be represented by the king of diamonds:-- note, the dress of
policemen and volunteers is not considered as uniform. On the
other hand, a widow, even if she be an albiness, can be
represented only by the queen of spades.
'The ace of hearts always denoting the house of the person
consulting the decrees of fate, some general rules are applicable
to it. Thus the ace of clubs signifying a letter, its position,
either before or after the ace of hearts, shows whether the
letter is to be sent to or from the house. The ace of diamonds
when close to the ace of hearts foretells a wedding in the house;
but the ace of spades betokens sickness and death.
'The knaves represent the thoughts of their respective kings and
queens, and consequently the thoughts of the persons whom those
kings and queens represent, in accordance with their complexions.
For instance, a young lady of a rather but not decidedly dark
complexion, represented by the queen of clubs, when consulting
the cards, may be shocked to find her fair lover (the king of
diamonds) flirting with a wealthy widow (the queen of spades,
attended by the ten of diamonds), but she will be reassured
by finding his thoughts (the knave of diamonds) in combination
with a letter (ace of clubs), a wedding ring (ace of diamonds),
and her house (the ace of hearts); clearly signifying that,
though he is actually flirting with the rich widow, he is,
nevertheless, thinking of sending a letter, with an offer of
marriage, to the young lady herself. And look, where are her own
thoughts, represented by the knave of clubs; they are far away
with the old lover, that dark man (king of spades) who, as is
plainly shown by his being attended by the nine of diamonds, is
prospering at the Australian diggings or elsewhere. Let us
shuffle the cards once more, and see if the dark man, at the
distant diggings, ever thinks of his old flame, the club-
complexioned young lady in England. No! he does not. Here are
his thoughts (the knave of spades), directed to this fair, but
rather gay and coquettish, woman (the queen of diamonds); they
are separated but by a few hearts, one of them, the sixth
(honourable courtship), showing the excellent understanding that
exists between them. Count, now, from the six of hearts to the
ninth card from it, and lo! it is a wedding ring (the ace of
diamonds); they will be married before the expiration of a
Such is the scheme of fortune-telling by cards, as propounded in
the learned disquisitions of the adepts, and Betty, or Martha, or
her mistress can consult them by themselves according to the
established method--without exposing themselves to the
extortionate cunning of the wandering gipsies or the permanent
crone of the city or village. They may just as well believe what
comes out according to their own manipulation as by that of the
heartless cheats in question. Your ordinary fortune-tellers are
not over-particular, being only anxious to tell you exactly what
you want to know. So if a black court card gets in juxta-
position with and looking towards a red court card, the fair
consulter's representative, then it is evident that some 'dark
gentleman' is 'after her;' and vice versa; and if a wife,
suspecting her husband's fidelity, consults the cards, the
probability is that her SUSPICIONS will receive 'confirmation
strong' from the fact that 'some dark woman,' that is, a black
queen, 'is after her husband;' or vice versa, if a husband
consults the card-woman respecting the suspicions he may have
reason to entertain with regard to his 'weaker rib' or his
It need scarcely be observed that fortune-tellers in any place
are 'posted up' in all information or gossip in the
neighbourhood; and therefore they readily turn their knowledge to
account in the answers they give to anxious inquirers.
Apart from this, however, the interpretations are so elaborately
comprehensive that 'something' MUST come true in the revelations;
and we all know that in such matters that something coming to
pass will far outweigh the non-fulfilment of other fatal
ordinations. Of course no professional fortune-teller would
inform an old man that some dark or fair man was 'after' his old
woman; but nothing is more probable than the converse, and much
family distraction has frequently resulted from such perverse
revelation of 'the cards.' In like manner your clever
fortune-teller will never promise half-a-dozen children to 'an
old lady,' but she will very probably hold forth that pleasant
prospect--if such it be--to a buxom lass of seventeen or
eighteen--especially in those counties of England where the
ladies are remarkable for such profuse bounty to their husbands.
As a general proposition, it matters very little what may be the
means of vaticination or prediction--whether cards, the tea-
grounds in the cup, &c.,--all POSSIBLE events have a degree of
probability of coming to pass, which may vary from 20 to 1 down
to a perfect equality of chance; and the clever fortune-teller,
who may be mindful of her reputation, will take care to regulate
her promises or predictions according to that proposition.
Many educated ladies give their attention to the cards, and some
have acquired great proficiency in the art. On board a steamer
sailing for New York, on one occasion a French lady among the
saloon-passengers undertook to amuse the party by telling their
fortunes. A Scotch young gentleman, who was going out to try and
get a commission in the Federal army, had his fortune told.
Among the announcements, as interpreted by the lady, was the
rather unpleasant prospect that two constables would be 'after'
him! We all laughed heartily at the odd things that came out for
everybody, and then the thing was forgotten; the steamer reached
her destination; and all the companions of the pleasant voyage
separated and went their different ways.
Some months after, I met the young gentleman above alluded to,
and among the various adventures which he had had, he mentioned
the following. He said that shortly after his arrival in New
York he presented a ten-dollar note which he had received, at a
drinking-house, that it was declared a forged note, and that he
was given into custody; but that the magistrate, on being
conclusively convinced of his respectability, dismissed the
charge without even taking the trouble to establish the alleged
fact that the note was a forgery. So far so good; but on the
following morning, whilst at breakfast at his hotel, another
police-officer pounced upon him, and led him once more on the
same charge to another magistrate, who, however, dismissed the
case like the other.
 It appears that this is allowable in New York. The
explanation of the perverse prosecution was, that the young
gentleman did not 'fee' the worthy policemen, according to custom
in such cases.
Thereupon I said--'Why, the French lady's card-prediction on
board came to pass! Don't you remember what she said about two
constables being "after you"?'
'Now I remember it,' he said; 'but I had positively forgotten all
about it. Well, she was right there--but I am sorry to say that
nothing else she PROMISED has come to pass.'
Doubtless all other consulters of the cards and of astrologers
can say the same, although all would not wisely conclude that a
system must be erroneous which misleads human hope in the great
majority of cases. In fact, like the predictions in our weather-
almanacks, the fortune-teller's announcements are only right BY
CHANCE, and wrong ON PRINCIPLE.
FORTUNE-TELLING FORTY YEARS AGO, OR, THE STORY OF MARTHA CARNABY.
A certain Martha Carnaby, a tidy but rather 'unsettled' servant
girl, some forty years ago went to an old fortune-teller, to have
her fortune told, and the doings on both sides came out as
follows, before the magistrate at the Bow Street police-court.
The fortune-teller was 'had up,' as usual, 'for obtaining money
and other valuables' from the former.
Miss Martha Carnaby said that this celebrated old fortune-teller
had first gained her acquaintance by attending at her master's
house, before the family had risen, and urging her to have her
fortune told. At length, after much persuasion, she consented;
but the fortune-teller told her that before the secrets of her
future destiny were revealed, she must deposit in her hands some
little token, TO BIND THE CHARM, which the old lady said she
would invoke the same evening--'if I would call at her lodgings,
and also cast my nativity by her cards, and tell me every
particular of the future progress of my life. I accordingly gave
her what money I had; but that, she told me, was not enough to
buy the ingredients with which she was to compose the charm. I
at length gave her four silver teaspoons and two tablespoons,
which she put carefully in her pocket; and then asked me to let
her look at my hand, which I showed her. She told me there were
many lines in it which clearly indicated great wealth and
happiness; and, after telling her my name was Martha Carnaby, she
took her departure, and I agreed to meet her at her lodgings the
same evening. Agreeably to her directions, I dressed myself in
as fashionable a manner as I could, because I WAS TO SEE MY
SWEETHEART THROUGH A MIRROR, AND HE WAS TO SEE ME.'
The poor deluded creature then stated that she attended
punctually at the hour appointed, at the old lady's sanctum, and
seating herself upon an old chair, beheld with astonishment quite
as much as she bargained for. 'I felt myself,' said poor Martha,
'on entering the room, all of a twitter. The old woman was
seated in her chair of state, and, reaching down from the
mantel-piece a pack of cards, began, after muttering a few words
in a language I could not understand, to lay them very carefully
in her lap; she then foretold that I should get married, but not
to the person in our house, as I expected, but to another young
man, whom, if I could afford a trifle, she would show me through
her MATRIMONIAL MIRROR. To this I consented, and she desired me
to shut my eyes and keep my face covered while she made the
necessary preparations; and there she kept me, with my face hid
in her lap, until I was nearly smothered; when suddenly she told
me to turn round, and look through the mirror, which was seen
through a hole in a curtain, and I saw a young man pass quickly
before me, staring me in the face, at which I was much surprised,
she assuring me that he would be my husband. It was then agreed
that she was to call on me the next morning, and return the
silver spoons; but, your Worship,' said the poor girl, 'she never
came; and as I was afraid my mistress would soon want them, I
asked the advice of a woman in our neighbourhood, as to what I
had better do, and to whom I related all the circumstances I have
told your Worship; when the woman asked me how I could have been
such a fool as to be duped by that old cheat at the bar,--that
she was a notorious old woman, that she had in her employ some
young man, who was always hid in the room, to overhear the
conversation, and to run from out of the hiding-place before the
mirror; and that I ought to be thankful I came away as well as I
did, as many young girls had been ruined through going to this
old creature; that, from her acquaintance with so many servant
girls, she always contrived to get from them such intelligence as
enabled her to answer those questions that might be put to her,
as to the business, name, place of abode, country, and other
circumstances of the party applying, the answering of which
always convinced the credulous creatures who went to her, of her
great skill in the art of astrology; and when she was right in
her guessing, she always took care to have it well published.'
Of course, and again, as usual, the magistrate 'hoped it would be
a lesson to Martha, and to all other foolish girls, never to
hearken to those infernal, wicked old wretches, the
fortune-tellers--many a girl having lost her character and virtue
by listening to their nonsense;' but there have been hundreds and
thousands of such Marthas since then, and no doubt there will be
very many more in future--in spite of the ridiculous exposure of
such dupes ever and anon, in courts of justice and in the columns
of the daily papers.
'The art of cartomancy, or divination by playing-cards, dates
from an early period of their obscure history. In the museum of
Nantes there is a painting, said to be by Van Eyck, representing
Philippe le Bon, Archduke of Austria, and subsequently King of
Spain, consulting a fortune-teller by cards. This picture cannot
be of a later date than the fifteenth century. Then the art was
introduced into England is unknown; probably, however, the
earliest printed notice of it in this country is the following
curious story, extracted from Rowland's Judicial Astrology
Condemned:--"Cuffe, an excellent Grecian, and secretary to the
Earl of Essex, was told, twenty years before his death, that he
should come to an untimely end, at which Cuffe laughed, and in a
scornful manner entreated the soothsayer to show him in what
manner he should come to his end, who condescended to him, and
calling for cards, entreated Cuffe to draw out of the pack any
three which pleased him. He did so, and drew three knaves, and
laid them on the table by the wizard's direction, who then told
him, if he desired to see the sum of his bad fortune, to take up
those cards. Cuffe, as he was prescribed, took up the first
card, and looking on it, he saw the portraiture of himself
cap-a-pie, having men encompassing him with bills and halberds.
Then he took up the second, and there he saw the judge that sat
upon him; and taking up the last card, he saw Tyburn, the place
of his execution, and the hangman, at which he laughed heartily.
But many years after, being condemned, he remembered and declared
'The earliest work on cartomancy was written or compiled by one
Francesco Marcolini, and printed at Venice in 1540.'
 The Book of Days, Feb. 21. In this work there is a somewhat
different account of cartomancy to that which I have expounded
'on the best authorities' and from practical experience with the
adepts in the art; but, in a matter of such immense importance to
ladies of all degrees, I have thought proper to give, in
foot-notes, the differing interpretations of the writer in the
Book of Days, who professes to speak with some authority, not
however, I think, superior to mine, for I have investigated the
subject to the utmost.
AMUSING CARD TRICKS.
 These tricks appeared originally in Beeton's Christmas
Annual, and are here reproduced with permission.
Although my work is a history of gambling, in all its horrors,
and with all its terrible moral warnings, I gladly conclude it
'happily,' after the manner of the most pleasing novels and
romances,--namely, by a method of contriving innocent and
interesting amusement with cards, without the 'chance' of
encountering the risks, calamities, and disgrace of gambling.
I was led to the investigation of this branch of my subject by
the following incident. Being present at a party when a
gentleman performed one of the tricks described, No. 7, the rest
of the company and myself were all much surprised at the result,
and urgently requested him to explain the method of his
performance, which, however, he stoutly refused to do, averring
that he would not take L1000 for it. This was so ridiculously
provoking that I offered to bet him L5 that I would discover the
method within 24 hours. To my astonishment he declined the bet,
not, however, without a sort of compliment, admitting that I
MIGHT do so. He was right; for, as Edgar Poe averred, no man can
invent a puzzle which some other man cannot unravel. In effect,
I called upon him the following day, and performed the trick not
only according to his method, but also by another, equally
successful. I have reason to believe that most of the tricks of
my selection had not previously appeared in print; at any rate, I
have given to all of them an exposition which may entitle them to
some claim of originality.
I. Shuffling, in the simple and inoffensive sense of the
expression, is an important point in all tricks with cards. For
the most part, it is only a pretence or dexterous management--
keeping a card or cards in your command whilst seeming to shuffle
them into the pack.
Every performer has his method of such shuffling. Some hold the
pack perpendicularly with the left hand, then with the right take
a portion of the pack--about one half--and make a show of
shuffling the two parts together edgeways, but, in reality,
replace them as they were. With rapidity of execution every eye
is thus deceived.
If a single card is to be held in command, place it at the bottom
of the pack, which you hold in your left, and then, with your
right thumb and middle finger, raise and throw successively
portions of the pack, leaving the bottom card in contact with the
fingers of the left hand.
With dexterity, any portion of the pack may be shuffled, leaving
the remainder just as it was, by separating it during the process
by inserting one or more fingers of the left hand between it and
the portions shuffled.
II. Cutting--not in the sense of bolting at the sight of 'blue,'
though that is of consequence to card-sharpers--is of importance
in all card tricks. In many tricks cutting the cards is only a
pretence, as it is necessary for the success of the trick to
replace them as they were; in technical terms, we must 'blow up
 This is the sauter la coupe referred to in the chapter on
the Gaming Clubs, in the account of the trial of Lord de Ros.
See 'Graham's Club.'
There are several ways of performing this sleight-of-hand. The
cards being cut, and forming two lots on the table, smartly
snatch up the lot which should be placed on the other, with the
This lot being taken up and the hand being in the position shown
in the figure, snatch up in like manner the other lot, and, by a
movement of the palm of the hand and the tips of the fingers,
pass the second lot under the first.
The deception of the trick depends upon its dexterity, and this
can only be acquired by practice. But really it may be dispensed
with; for it is a curious fact that, in every case when the cards
are cut, you may actually replace them just as they were without
being observed by the spectators--for the simple reason that the
ruse is not suspected, especially if their attention is otherwise
engaged with your pointed observations.
The 'gift of the gab' is in this case, as in many others, a very
great resource. A striking remark or bon mot will easily mystify
the spectators, and attract their attention from what you are
DOING. Hence all prestidigitators are always well stocked with
anecdotes and funny observations; indeed, they talk incessantly:
they speak well, too, and they take care to time the word
accurately with the moment when their fingers act most
III. To slip a card.--To slip a card is to pretend to take the
bottom card of the pack, and in reality to take the card which
precedes it. To perform this feat without detection is a very
simple affair, but it requires practice.
The pack of cards being held in the right hand,
advance the left hand--palm upwards--just as if you were seizing
the last card with the middle finger; but, having slightly
moistened this finger with the lips, push back this card, and
make it slip under the palm of the right hand, whilst you seize
the preceding card with the thumb and forefinger.
In this manner you may successively draw out several cards
besides the last, and only draw the last as the sixth, seventh,
&c., which will serve to effect several interesting tricks to be
explained in the sequel.
IV. To file the card.--To file the card is, when a card has been
taken from the pack to pretend to place it about the middle of
the pack, whilst, in reality, you place it at the bottom.
The pack must be held in the left hand, between the thumb and
forefinger, so that the three other fingers be free. One of the
middle cards should project a little. Then take the card to be
filed between the forefinger and the middle finger of the right
hand; advance the right hand from the left, and whilst the three
disengaged fingers of the left hand seize and place the card
under the pack, the thumb and forefinger of the right seize the
projecting card before mentioned, so that it seems to be that
card which you have slipped into the middle of the pack. These
movements are very easy, and, when rapidly performed, the
illusion is complete.
1. To tell a card thought of by a party after three deals.
Take twenty-one cards of a pack, and deal them out one by one in
three lots, requesting the party to think of a card, and remember
in which lot it is.
Having dealt out the cards, ask the party in which lot the card
Take up the lots successively, and place the lot containing the
card in the MIDDLE.
Deal out the cards again, and ask the party to state in which lot
the card is; and proceed as before, placing the lot containing
the card in the middle.
Deal out the cards in like manner a third time, proceeding as
Then deal them out as usual, and the eleventh card will be the
one thought of, infallibly. This is the usual way of showing the
card thought of; but, as the trick may be partly discovered by
the counting, it is better to hold the cards in your hand, and
take out the eleventh card, counting to yourself, of course, from
the left hand, but pretending to be considering the guess.
This is apparently a most mysterious trick, although a necessary
consequence of the position of the lot containing the card in the
2. The four inseparable kings.
Take four kings. Beneath the last place any two cards, which you
take care to conceal. Then show the four kings and replace the
six cards under the pack.
Then take a king and place it in the top of the pack, place one
of the TWO OTHER CARDS in the middle, and the other about the
same place, and then, turning up the pack, show that one king is
still at the bottom. Then let the cards be cut, and as three
kings were left below, all must necessarily get together
somewhere about the middle of the pack. Of course in placing the
two other cards you pretend to be placing two kings.
3. The barmaid and the three victimizers.
For this amusing trick you arrange the cards thus: Holding the
pack in your hands, find all the knaves, place one of them next
to your left hand, and the other three on the table. Then find a
queen, which also place on the table. Then say:--
'Three scamps went into a tavern, and ordered drink. Here they
are--the three knaves. "Who's to pay? I can't," said the first.
"I won't," said the second. "I wish she may get it," said the
third. "I'll manage it," said the first, the greatest rogue of
the three. "I say, my pretty girl, haven't you some very old
wine in your cellar?" Here's the barmaid thus addressed by the
rogue in question (showing the queen), and she replied:--"Oh yes,
sir, prime old wine." "Let's have a bottle." [Off went the
barmaid. Put the queen in your pocket.] "Now for it, my lads,"
said the knave in question; " 'mizzle' is the word. Let's be off
in opposite directions, and meet to- night; you know where."
Hereupon they decamped, taking opposite directions, which I will
indicate by placing one on the top of the pack, one at the
bottom, and the other in the middle.
'When the poor barmaid returned [taking out the queen from your
pocket] with the wine, great was her astonishment to find the
room empty. "Lor!" she exclaimed, "why, I do declare--did you
ever!--Oh! but I'm not agoing to be sarved so. I'll catch the
rogues, all of them--that I will." And off she went after them,
as shown by placing her ON, or at any rate, AFTER the first.
'Now, to catch the three seemed impossible; but the ladies have
always smiled at impossibilities, and wonders never cease; for,
if you have the goodness to cut these cards, you will find that
she HAS caught the three rogues.'
When the cards are cut, proceed in the USUAL WAY after
cutting--NOT as required in the last trick; and taking up the
cards, you will find the queen and three knaves together, which
you take out and exhibit to the astonished audience.
Of course, one of these knaves is not one of the three first
exhibited, but the one which you slipped on your left hand at
first. There is no chance of detection, however; simply for the
reason before given--nobody suspects the trick.
4. How to name every card in a pack successively turned up by a
second party, and win every trick at a hand of Whist.
This is, perhaps, the most astonishing of all tricks with cards.
Although it may be true that whatever puzzle one man invents,
some other man may unravel, as before observed, I am decidedly of
opinion that this trick defies detection. At the first blush it
seems very difficult to learn; but it is simplicity itself in
Begin by laying out the cards in four rows according to the
suits, all of a suit in a row side by side.
The cards must now be arranged for the trick. Take up the six in
the top or bottom row, then the two in the next row, the ten in
the third, and the nine in the fourth, placing them one upon the
other in the left hand. Then begin again with the row from which
you took the six, and take up the three. From the next row take
the king. These numbers will be easily remembered with a little
practice, amounting altogether to 30, made up thus--6 and 2 are
8, 8 and 10 are 18, 18 and 9 are 27, 27 and 3 are 30--KING.
By repeating this addition a few times, it will be fixed in the
Proceed by next beginning with the row next to the one from which
you took the last card or the king, and take the eight; from the
next row take the four; from the next the ace; from the next the
knave. These cards make up 13. Therefore say, 8 and 4 are 12
and 1 are 13--knave.
From the next row to that whence you took the knave, take the
seven; from the next row take the five; from the next the queen.
These cards make up 12. Thus, 7 and 5 are 12--queen.
It thus appears that you have taken up thirteen cards consisting
of the four suits, successively taken and being arranged as
follows:--6, 2, 10, 9, 3, king; 8, 4, 1, knave; 7, 5, queen.
Proceed in like manner with the remainder of the cards, beginning
with the row next to that from which you took the queen, and take
the six, then from the next row the two, and so on as before,
making up another batch of 13 cards.
Repeat the process for a third batch, and finish with the
remainder for the fourth--always remembering to take the card
from the next row in succession continually; in other words, only
one card must be taken from each row at a time.
When the cards are thus arranged, request a party to cut them.
This is only pretence; for you must take care dexterously to
replace the cut just as it was before. Let them be cut again,
and replace them as before. Your ruse will not be detected,
simply because nobody suspects the possibility of the thing.
Now take up the pack, and from the BOTTOM take the first four
cards; handing the remainder to a party, sitting before you,
saying--'I shall now call every card in succession from the top
of the pack in your hand.'
To do this, two things must be remembered; and there is no
difficulty in it. First, the numbers 6, 2, 10, 9, 3, king, &c.,
before given; and next the SUIT of those cards.
Now you know the NUMBERS by heart, and the SUIT is shown by the
four cards which you hold in your hand, fan-like, in the usual
way. If the first of the four cards be a club, the first card
you call will be the six of clubs; if the next be a heart, the
next card called will be the two of hearts, and so on throughout
the thirteen made up from every row, as before given, and the
suits of each card will be indicated successively by the suit of
each of your four indicator cards, thus, as the case may be,
clubs, hearts, diamonds, spades; clubs, hearts, diamonds, spades,
and so on.
After a little private practice, you will readily and rapidly
call, as the case may be, from the four cards in your hand:--the
six of clubs, two of hearts, ten of diamonds, nine of spades,
three of clubs, king of hearts, eight of diamonds, four of
spades, ace of clubs, knave of hearts, seven of diamonds, five of
spades, queen of clubs--and so on to the last card in the pack.
In the midst of the astonishment produced by this seemingly
prodigious display of memory, say--'Now, if you like, we will
have a hand at Whist, and I undertake to win every trick if I be
allowed to deal.'
Let the Whist party be formed, and get the cards cut as usual--
only taking care to REPLACE them, as before enjoined, precisely
as they were. Deal the cards, and the result will be that your
thirteen cards will be ALL TRUMPS. Let the game proceed until
your opponents 'give it up' in utter bewilderment.
This splendid trick seems difficult in description, but it is one
of the easiest; and even were it ten times more difficult than it
is, the reader will perhaps admit that it is worth mastering.
Once committed to memory the figures are never forgotten, and a
few repetitions, with the cards before you, will suffice to
enable you to retain them.
5. Two persons having each drawn a card and replaced them in the
pack, to guess these cards.
Make a set of all the clubs and spades, and another set of hearts
and diamonds. Shuffle well each set, and even let them be
shuffled by the spectators. Then request a person to draw a card
from one of the sets, and another person to draw one from the
You now take a set in each hand, presenting them to the two
persons, requesting them to replace the drawn cards. You must
pretend to present to each person the set from which he drew his
card, but in reality you present the red set to the person who
drew the black card, and the black set to the person who drew the
Each person having replaced his card, you get each set shuffled.
Then you take them in hand, and by running them over you easily
find the red card amongst the black, and the black card amongst
Of course you will have prepared the sets beforehand, and take
care to alter the arrangement as soon as possible after the
trick. But you can prepare the pack in the presence of others
without their detecting it. Distribute the cards by dealing
according to the two colours; take them up, and having placed the
red set a little projecting over the black, set them down, and,
pretending to cut them, separate the sets.
6. Twenty cards being arranged upon a table, a person thinks of
two, and you undertake to guess them.
Lay out twenty cards of any kind, two by two,
| c | i | c | o | s |
| d | e | d | i | t |
| t | u | m | u | s |
| n | e | m | o | n |
and request a party to think of two in a line; that is, one of
the ten sets formed by the twenty cards. This done you take up
the sets in the order in which they lie, and place them in rows
according to the letters of the words. You may use a diagram
like the preceding, but as the words are easily retained it had
better be dispensed with, distributing the cards on the table
just as though upon the diagram, which will make the trick more
puzzling and extraordinary. Proceed as follows:-- Place the
cards two by two on similar letters: thus, place the two cards of
the first set on the two d's in dedit; the two cards of the
second set on the two i's of cicos and dedit; the two of the
third set on the two c's, and so on with the ten sets.
All the letters of the words being thus covered, ask the party
who has thought of the cards to tell you in which lines these
cards are. If both are in the first line (cicos), they must be
those on the two c's; if they are both in the second line, they
cover the d's in dedit; both in the third line, they cover the
u's in tumus; both in the fourth, they cover the n's in nemon.
If one be in the first line and the other in the second, they
cover the i's in cicos and dedit, and thus of the rest-- the two
cards thought of NECESSARILY covering two SIMILAR LETTERS, whilst
each of the letters occurs only TWICE in the diagram.
7. To tell a card thought of without even looking at the cards.
Take any number of cards,--say twenty. Pretend to shuffle them
with the faces towards you, and REMEMBER THE FIRST CARD as you
close the pack--suppose the ten of diamonds. Tell the party that
the only condition you require is to be told the ORDER in which
the card is dealt out by you; in other words, he must tell you
whether in dealing it comes out first, second, third, &c.
Remembering your first card, you may then turn your back to him,
and deal out the cards one by one, and one upon the top of the
other, requesting him to think of a card and its order as before
Then take up the cards, and shuffle them repeatedly, by throwing
a portion of them from the bottom to the top, taking care not to
mix the cards or let any drop, and then let the party cut them as
often as he pleases. Then, take the cards in hand. Pretend to
examine them mysteriously, but in reality only look for YOUR
card--the first dealt out--the ten of diamonds for instance.
Now, suppose he tells you that the card he thought of came out
FIFTH. Then, for a certainty, it is the fourth card on the RIGHT
of the ten of diamonds, in spite of all YOUR shuffling, and all
regular cutting, for such shuffling and regular cutting cannot
alter the order or sequence of the cards. Always remember to
count from your own card inclusive to the number of the card
thought of towards your right hand. But should your card happen
to be so near the right hand or the top as not to allow
sufficient counting, then count as far as it admits to the RIGHT
and then continue at the LEFT. Thus, suppose there are only two
cards above the ten of diamonds, then count two more on the left,
making the fifth. If the card you remember, or your first card,
is first, then count the requisite number on the left, always
beginning with YOUR card, however.
The REASON of this trick is simply that by merely cutting the
cards, and shuffling them in the way indicated, you do not alter
the SEQUENCE of the cards. With regard to this sort of
SHUFFLING, I may say that it is simply CUTTING the cards-- always
preserving their sequence--a most important fact for
card-players, since it may lead to a pretty accurate conjecture
of all the hands after a deal, from the study of the one in hand,
with reference to the tricks turned down after the previous deal,
as already suggested. Hence, in shuffling for whist or other
games, the cards should not be shuffled in this way, but more
thoroughly mixed by the edgewise shuffling of certain players.
This is the trick I alluded to at the commencement of the
chapter, the mode of performing which I succeeded in discovering.
Of course ANY NUMBER of persons may think of cards, remembering
their order, and the operator will tell them, in like manner.
8. A person having thought of one of fifteen cards presented to
him, to guess the card thought of.
Form three ranks of five cards each, and request a party to think
of one of these cards, and tell you in which rank it is. Take up
the cards of the three ranks, taking care to place the cards of
the ranks in which is the card thought of between those of the
two other ranks.
Make three more ranks as before. Ask the party again in which
rank the card is, and take them up, placing the rank in which the
card is between the two others. Operate in like manner a third
time, and the card thought of will infallibly be the THIRD of the
rank named by the party.
Observe, however, you must not form each rank with five
consecutive cards; but you must place the cards one by one,
placing one successively in each rank; thus, one at the top on
the left of the first rank, one below that first for the second
rank, one below the second for the third rank, then one in the
first, one in the second, one in the third, and so on.
This trick, which is very easy, always produces a great effect.
It only requires a little attention, and it can never fail unless
you make a mistake in arranging the cards, which, however, is too
simple to admit of error.
9. Two persons having each drawn a card from a pack, and having
replaced them, to tell these cards after the pack has been
shuffled and cut by the spectators as often as they like.
The cards may be easily divided into two numerical parts, even
and odd: by taking a king for four points, a queen for three, a
knave for two, and the other cards for their especial points, we
may make up two sets of sixteen cards each, the even composing
one, and the odd the other. These two sets being before the
performer, he takes one, shuffles it well, and lets a party take
a card. He then takes the other, shuffles it, and lets another
party take a card. Then, whilst each party is looking at his
card, which HE IS REQUESTED TO DO, the performer dexterously
changes the place of the two sets, and he requests the parties to
replace the cards in the set whence they took them. It follows
that the party who took a card from the EVEN set places it in the
ODD set, and he who took it from the ODD set places it in the
even set. Consequently, all the shuffling and cutting in the
world will be useless, for the performer has only to spread out
the cards of each set to point out the cards drawn.
10. Singular arrangement of sixteen cards.
Take the four kings, the four queens, the four knaves, and the
four tens of a pack, and ask if there be any one in the company
who can form a square with them in such a manner that, taken in
any direction, from right to left, from the top to the bottom, by
the diagonal--anyhow, in fact--there will always be in each line
a king, queen, knave, and a ten. Everybody will think the thing
easy, but it is certain that no one will succeed in doing it.
When they 'give it up,' take the sixteen cards and arrange them
as shown, when the king, queen, knave, and ten will stand as
11. The seven trick.
Make up the four sevens of a pack, and take seven other cards, no
matter which, for another lot, and, presenting both lots, you
say:--Here are two lots totally dissimilar; nevertheless, there
is one of seven, and I declare it will be the first touched by
any party present. Of course, when touched, you at once prove
your words by exhibiting either the sevens or the seven cards--
taking care to mix the cards into the pack immediately to prevent
12. Infallible method for guessing any number that a party has
Take the first ten cards of a pack of 52 cards. Set out these
ten cards as shown below, so that the point A should correspond
to the ace, and to 1--the point F to the card representing the
6--and E to the 10.
2 3 4
B C D
1 A--------E 5
10 K--------F 6
I H G
9 8 7
Thus prepared, you request a party to think of a card, and then
you tell him to touch any number he pleases, requesting him to
name it aloud. Then, adding the whole number of the cards to the
number touched, you tell him to count backwards to himself,
beginning with the card touched, and giving to that card the
number of the one thought of. By counting in this way, the party
will at length count the entire number on the card thought of,
which you will thus be able to designate with certainty.
Example:--Suppose the card thought of is G, marking 7; again,
supposing the one touched to be D, equal to 4; you add to this
number the entire number of cards, which is, in this case, 10,
which will make 14. Then, making the party count this sum, from
the number touched, D to C, B, A, and so on, backwards, so that
in commencing to count the number thought of, 7 on D, the party
will continue, saying, 8 on C, 9 on B, 10 on A, 11 on K, 12 on I,
13 on H, and end with counting 14 on G; and you will thus
discover that the number thought of is 7, which corresponds to G.
Of course the party counts TO himself, and only speaks to
designate the point on which he stops, namely, G in this example.
This trick may be performed with any number of cards-- as few as
six, or as many as fifteen. Then you must always add to the
number the total of the cards used. The trick will be much more
interesting and striking if you turn the cards face downwards,
only trusting to your memory to retain the order of the numbers.
Of course, the letters are only used to facilitate the
explanation. The cards really form a sort of circle, beginning
at 1 or the ace on the left, and then continuing with the 2, the
3, the 4, the 5, and so on, to the 10 below the ace; and, by
necessity, the party must end his counting with the very card he
thought of, beginning from the one he happens to point out.
13. The card that cannot be found.
Take any number of cards and spread them out fan-like in your
hand, faces fronting the spectators.
Ask one of them to select a card. You tell him to take it, and
then to place it at the bottom of the pack. You hold up the
pack, so that the spectators may see that the card is really at
the bottom. Suppose this card is the king of hearts.
Then, pretending to take that card, you take the card preceding
it, and place it at a point corresponding to A in the following
You then take the card drawn, namely, the king of hearts, and
place it at the point corresponding to B in the above figure.
Finally, you take any two other cards, and place them at C and D.
Of course, the cards are placed face downwards.
After this location of the cards, you tell the party who has
chosen the card that you will change the position of the cards,
by pushing alternately that at the point A to B, and that at D to
C, and vice versa; and you defy him to follow you in these
gyrations of the card, and to find it.
Of course, seeing no difficulty in the thing, and believing with
everybody that his card is placed at the point A, he will
undertake to follow and find his card. Then performing what you
undertake to do, you rapidly change the places of the cards, and
yet slowly enough to enable the party to keep in view the card
which he thinks his own, and so that you may not lose sight of
the one you placed at B.
Having thus arranged the cards for a few moments, you ask the
party to perform his promise by pointing out his card. Feeling
sure that he never lost sight of it, he instantly turns one of
the cards and is astonished to find that it is not his own. Then
you say:--'I told you you would not be able to follow your card
in its ramble. But I have done what you couldn't do: here is
The astonishment of the spectators is increased when you actually
show the card; for, having made them observe in the first
instance, that you did not even look at the drawn card, they are
utterly at a loss to discover the means you employed to find out
and produce the card in question.
14. Cards being drawn from a pack, to get them guessed by a
At all these performances there are always amongst the spectators
persons in league with the prestidigitator. In the present case
a woman is the assistant, with whom he has entered into an
arrangement by which each card is represented by a letter of the
alphabet; and the following are the cards selected for the trick
with their representative letters.
The performer takes a handkerchief and blindfolds the lady in
question, and places her in the centre of the circle of
spectators. Then spreading out the cards, he requests each of
the spectators to draw a card.
He requests the first to give him the card he has drawn; he looks
at it, and placing it on the table face downwards, he asks the
lady to name the card, which she does instantly and without
Of course this appears wonderful to the spectators, and their
astonishment goes on increasing whilst the lady names every card
in succession to the last.
It is, however, a very simple affair. Each card represents a
letter of the alphabet, as we see by the figure, and all the
performer has to do is to begin every question with the letter
corresponding to the card.
Suppose the party has drawn the king of hearts. Its letter is A.
The performer exclaims--'Ah! I'm sure you know this!' The A at
once suggests the card in question. Suppose it is the ace of
clubs. He says--'Jump at conclusions if you like, but be sure in
hitting this card on the nail.' J begins the phrase, and
represents the card in question. Suppose it is the ten of
spades, he cries out--'Zounds! if you mistake this you are not so
clever a medium as I took you for.' The ace of diamonds--'Quite
easy, my dear sir,' or 'my dear ma'am,' as the case may be. Q
represents the ace of diamonds. The queen of diamonds--'Oh, the
beauty!' The ace of hearts--'Dear me! what is this?' The ace of
spades--'You are always right, name it.' The nine of diamonds--
'So! so! well, I'm sure she knows it.'
Doubtless these specimens will suffice to suggest phrases for
every other card. Such phrases may be written out and got by
heart--only twenty-three being required; but this seems useless,
for it does not require much tact at improvisation to hit upon a
phrase commencing with any letter. However, it will be better to
take every precaution rather than run the risk of stopping in the
performance, whose success mainly depends upon the apparently
inspired rapidity of the answers. The performer might conceal in
the hollow of his hand a small table exactly like the figure, to
facilitate his questions. As for the medium, he, or she, must
rely entirely on memory. Of course the spectators may be allowed
to see that the medium is completely blindfolded. This modern
trick has always puzzled the keenest spectators
15. The mystery of double sight.
All the cards of a pack, or indeed any common object touched by a
spectator, may be named by an assistant in the following way--
whilst in another apartment, or blindfolded.
Take 32 cards and arrange them in four lines, one under the
other. You arrange with your assistant to name the first line
after the days of the week; the second will represent the weeks,
the third the months, the fourth the years. The assistant is
enjoined to count the days aloud, and the first card by the left.
The following is the entire scheme:--
Days 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8*
Weeks 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Months 1 2 3** 4 5 6 7 8
Years 1 2 3 4 5 6 7*** 8
The cards being thus arranged, the party who has to guess them
retires from the room. When he is recalled, whether blindfolded
or not, he pretends to count to himself for a considerable time,
so as to allow his associate time to say to him, without
affectation or exciting suspicion of collusion--'I give you,' or
'I give him SO MUCH TIME to guess what is required; 'for it is in
this phrase that the whole secret of the trick is contained, as I
shall proceed to demonstrate.
Suppose the card touched be one of those marked with the
asterisks * ** ***; if it be the first, the associate says,; I
give him eight days to guess it.' Then the medium, beginning
with the upper line, that of the days, will at once be able to
say that the card touched is the eighth of the first horizontal
line, or the first of the eighth vertical line.
If it be the card holding the place of the number marked with two
asterisks ** the associate says 'three months,' and 'seven years'
for the one marked with three asterisks ***.
Thus, whatever card is touched, it will be easy to indicate it,
by beginning with the line of days at the top, counting one from
the left of the associate and medium.
Such is the simple process; and the following is the conventional
catechism adopted by all theoperators in double sight, with a few
variations adapted to circumstances.
With this collection of words and phrases, every existing object
can be guessed, provided care be taken to classify them according
to the following indications.
To operate, two persons must establish a perfect understanding
between them. One undertakes the questions, the other the
answers, the latter having his eyes perfectly blindfolded. Both
of them must thoroughly know the following numbers with their
1. Now. 9. Quick.
2. Answer or reply. 10. Say.
3. Name. 20. Tell me.
4. What is the object, or thing. 30. I request you.
5. Try. 40. Will you.
6. Again. 50. Will you (to) me.
7. Instantly. 60. Will you (to) us.
Example:--Add the question of the simple number to the question
of the decade or ten. Thus, in pronouncing the words 'Say now,'
11--for say is 10, and now is 1, total 11. This, therefore,
forms question 11.
Again--'Tell me which number,' 28--for 'tell me' is 20, and
'which' is 8, total 28.
Thirdly:--'I request you instantly,' 37; for 'I request you' is
30, and 'instantly' is 7, total 37.
All the expressions or words that follow are totally independent
of the answer, and are only adapted to embellish or mystify the
question as far as the audience is concerned. For instance:
Question 7. Instantly, what I have in my hand? Answer, A watch.
Question 9. Quick, the hour? Answer, nine o'clock.
Question 30, I request you (2) reply--the minutes. Answer, 32
minutes, that is 30 and 2, equal to 32.
It would be useless to give the entire correspondence invented
for this apparently mysterious revelation, as a few specimens
will suffice to show the principle.
Say what I hold? A handkerchief.
Say now what I hold? A snuff-box.
Say, reply, what I hold? A pair of spectacles.
Say and name what I hold? A box.
Say and try to say what I hold? A hat.
Say quickly what I hold? An umbrella.
Tell me, reply, what I hold? A knife.
Tell me what I hold? A purse.
Tell me now what I hold? A pipe.
Tell me and try to say what I hold? A needle.
Tell me quickly what I hold? A cane.
I request you to say what I hold? A portfolio.
I request you to say now what I hold? Paper.
I request you to say, reply, what I hold? A book.
I request you to say quickly what I hold? A coin.
Will you say, reply, what I hold?--A cigar.
Will you say, name what I hold?--A cane.
Will you say, again, what I hold?--A newspaper.
Now, what I hold?--A bottle.
Reply, what I hold?--A jug.
Name what I hold?--A glass.
Again, what contains this vessel?--Wine.
Instantly, what this vessel contains?--Beer.
Now the form?--Triangular.
Reply, the form?--Round.
Name the form?--Square.
Try to indicate the form?--Pointed.
Again, indicate the form?--Flat.
Now, the colour?--White.
Reply, the colour?--Blue.
Name the colour?--Red.
The colour of this object?--Black.
Try to tell the colour?--Green.
Again, the colour?--Yellow.
Now, the metal?--Gold.
Reply, the metal?--Silver.
The metal of the thing?--Copper.
Again, the metal?--Iron.
Instantly, the metal?--Lead.
Ah! the figure or hour?--1.
Well?--2. 'Tis good?--3.
Now name the suit of this card?--Clubs.
Reply, the suit of this card?--Hearts.
Name the suit of this card?--Spades.
The suit of this card?--Diamonds.
It is obvious, from the preceding specimen, that a conventional
catechism involving every object can be contrived by two persons,
and adapted to every circumstance. The striking performances of
the most notorious mesmeric 'patients' in this line prove the
possibility of the achievement. The 'agent' who receives the
questions in writing or in a whisper thus communicates the answer
to the patient, who is laboriously trained in the entire
encyclopaedia of 'common things' and things generally known; but
it MAY happen that the question proposed by the spectator has
been omitted in the scheme.
On one occasion, when the famous Prudence was the 'patient,' and
was telling the taste of all manner of liquids from a glass of
water, I proposed 'Blood' to the 'agent.' He shook his head,
said he would try; but it was useless. She said she 'couldn't do
it,' and the agent frankly admitted that it was a failure.
Now, if the mesmeric consciousness were really, as pretended, the
result of mental intercommunication between the agent and
patient, it is obvious that the well-known taste of blood could
be communicated as well as any other taste. This experiment
suffices to prove that the revelations are communicated in the
matter-of-fact way which I have sufficiently described.
Should it happen that a spectator has discovered the method, the
performers easily turn the tables against him. They have always
ready a conventional list of common things; and the agent
undertakes that his mesmeric patient will indicate them without
hearing a word from him, even in another apartment. The agent
then merely touches the object, and the patient begins with the
first name in his list. The patient takes care to give the agent
sufficient time, lest he should name the object next to be
touched before the agent applies his finger, and thus, as it
were, call for it rather than name it when touched, as required
by the case.
Five persons having each thought of a different card, to guess
Take twenty-five cards, show five of them to a party, requesting
him to think of one, then place them one upon the other. Proceed
in like manner with five more to a second party, and so on, five
parties in all, placing the fives on the top of each other.
Then, beginning with the top cards, make five lots, placing one
card successively in each lot; and ask the five parties, one
after the other, in which lot their card is. As the first five
cards are the first of each lot, it is evident that the card
thought of by the first party is the first of the lot he points
to; that of the second, is the second of the lot he points to;
that of the third, the third of the third lot; that of the
fourth, the fourth of the fourth lot; that of the fifth, the
fifth of the fifth lot.
Of course five persons are not necessary. If there be but one
person, the card must be the first of the lot he points to.
It would be more artistic, perhaps, if you dispense with seeing
the cards, making the lots up with your eyes turned away from the
table. Then request the parties to observe in which lot their
respective card is, and, taking the lots successively in hand,
present to each the card thought of without looking at it
17. The Arithmetical Puzzle.
This card trick, to which I have alluded in a previous page,
cannot fail to produce astonishment; and it is one of the most
difficult to unravel.
Hand a pack of cards to a party, requesting him to make up
parcels of cards, in the following manner. He is to count the
number of pips on the first card that turns up, say a five, and
then add as many cards as are required to make up the number 12;
in the case here supposed, having a five before him, he will
place seven cards upon it, turning down the parcel. All the
court cards count as 10 pips; consequently, only two cards will
be placed on such to make up 12. The ace counts as only one pip.
He will then turn up another, count the pips upon it, adding
cards as before to make up the number 12; and so on, until no
more such parcels can be made, the remainder, if any, to be set
aside, all being turned down.
During this operation, the performer of the trick may be out of
the room, at any rate, at such a distance that it will be
impossible for him to see the first cards of the parcels which
have been turned down; and yet he is able to announce the number
of pips made up by all the first cards laid down, provided he is
only informed of the number of parcels made up and the number of
the remainder, if any.
The secret is very simple. It consists merely in multiplying the
number of parcels over four by 13 (or rather vice versa), and
adding the remaining cards, if any, to the product.
Thus, there have just been made up seven packets, with five cards
over. Deducting 4 from 7, 3 remain; and I say to myself 13 times
3 (or rather 3 times 13) are 39, and adding to this the five
cards over, I at once declare the number of pips made up by the
first cards turned down to be 44.
There is another way of performing this striking trick. Direct
six parcels of cards to be made up in the manner aforesaid, and
then, on being informed of the number of cards remaining over,
add that number to 26, and the sum will be the number of pips
made up by the first cards of the six parcels.
Such are the methods prescribed for performing this trick; but I
have discovered another, which although, perhaps, a little more
complicated, has the desirable advantage of explaining the
Find the number of cards in the parcels, by subtracting the
remainder, if any, from 52. Subtract the number of pip cards
therefrom, deduct this last from the number made up of the number
of parcels multiplied by 12, and the remainder will be the number
of pips on the first cards.
To demonstrate this take the case just given. There are seven
parcels and five cards over. First, this proves that there are
47 cards in the seven parcels made up of pips and cards.
Secondly, subtract the number of pip cards--seven from the number
of cards in the parcels; then, 7 from 47, 40 remain (cards).
Thirdly, now, as the seven parcels are made up both of the pip
cards and cards, it is evident that we have only to find the
number of cards got at as above, to get the number of pips
required. Thus, there being seven packets, 7 times 12 make 84;
take 40, as above found (the number of cards), and the remainder
is 44, the number of pips as found by the first method
explained,--the process being as follows:--
52 - 5 = 47 - 7 = 40.
Then, 7 X 12 = 84 - 40 = 44.
In general, however, the first method, being the easiest of
performance, should be adopted. The second is in many respects
18. To get a card into a pack firmly held by a party.
This trick strikingly shows how easily we may all be deceived by
Select the five or seven of any suit, say the seven of hearts,
and handing the remainder of the pack to a party, show him the
card, with your thumb on the seventh pip, so as to conceal it,
saying:--'Now, hold the pack as firmly as you can, and keep your
eye upon it to see that there is no trickery, and yet I undertake
to get into it this six of hearts.' This injunction rivets his
attention, and doubtless, like other wise people destined to be
deceived, he feels quite sure that nobody can 'take him in.' In
this satisfactory condition for the operation on both sides, you
flourish the card so as just to reach the level of the top of
your hat (if you wear an Alpine scolloped, so much the better),
and then, bringing down the card, rapidly strike it on the pack
twice, uttering the words one, two, at each stroke; but, on the
third raising of the card, leave it on the top of your hat,
striking the pack with your hand--with the word three. Then
request the party to look for the six of hearts in the pack, and
he will surely find it, to his amazement.
This trick may be performed in a drawing-room, if the operator be
seated, dropping the card behind his back, especially in an easy-
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