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ing in all his glory, and shedding the brightest refulgence on the scene of the approaching festivities. At this period hundreds of villagers, dressed in their holyday attire, were seen pouring along the high road, or winding their way through the verdant valleys. So admirable had been the arrangements for the admission of the populace into the park, that great as was the concourse of spectators, not the slightest impediment occurred during their entrance.
At half-past ten o'clock the whole population of the country had assembled ; the various performers were on their respective stages; and the arrival of Major Snapwell and his guests was eagerly expected, as a signal for the commencement of the festivities of the day.
At length a distant murmur was heard in the direction of the house, which gradually increased as it approached the meadow ; until it swelled into one grand and universal chorus. The vicar appeared with his wand of office, which he no sooner waved in the air than the murmur gradually subsided. Major Snapwell and his friends, Harry Beacham and his bride, and the Seymours with their children, followed. The several bands, stationed on the platforms
erected before the show-booths, simultaneously struck
the national anthem of God save the King, in which the whole multitude joined, and produced one of the most surprising and thrilling effects ever witnessed.
There were eight booths appropriated to the exhibitions; and it had been arranged that each should commence at the same time, and repeat its performances eight times during the day; so that by dividing the spectators into eight groups, and delivering to each person a ticket distinguished by a particular number, every spectator at once knew the booth into which he was to enter; and having witnessed the exhibition, he was directed to exchange his ticket; by which means every chance of confusion was avoided, and each person was enabled to witness, succescessively, every performance.
The vicar and the party entered the first booth, and were followed by all those whose ticket was distinguished by No. 1.; those of No. 2. at the same time entered the second booth, and
The first show was appropriated to the various exhibitions of vaulting, tumbling, balancing, and rope-dancing. During the performances
of the balancer, Tom Seymour's attention was riveted on the artist; he watched every movement, and examined its effect in preserving the centre of gravity within the base. Papa," cried the delighted boy, “ I never experienced so much interest in a performance of this kind, until I was capable of explaining the principles upon which it was conducted. I have attentively followed every change of position, and discovered the effect of such changes upon the line of direction.” * As to the wire-dancing, Tom observed that he saw very plainly the swinging of the wire backwards and forwards diminished the difficulty, and assisted the actor in keeping his equipoise.
Mr. Seymour was highly delighted with these remarks; and, casting an intelligible look at Mr. Twaddleton, who was seated near him, he exclaimed, “ Well, vicar, you will surely now admit that the pleasures which arise from sport are heightened by the admixture of science.”
“ My dear Mr. Seymour,” replied thevicar, you well know that I have long since become a convert to your principles ; I confess, however,
* See Vol. I. p. 245.
had that not been the case, the expressions of satisfaction and delight which have just fallen from my little playmate, Tom, would have removed all my prejudices."
See, see !” exclaimed Louisa, “how very extraordinary! I declare that the plate, sword, key, and tobacco-pipe, are all balanced as they revolve on the chin of the performer.”
66 And do not you know, Louisa,” replied Tom, “ that the revolution of the plate and sword, which appears to render the execution so much more astonishing, actually diminishes the difficulty of the performance?” *
Thus did Tom Seymour continue, during the whole of the exhibition, to point out successively the philosophical principles upon which each of the tricks might be supposed to depend.
The next booth into which our party entered was that of Crank Smirky, the celebrated conjuror, who invited the company to witness his wonderful display of the art of legerdemain; he was dressed as an astrologer, with a loose gown of green velvet, and a red cap; he had a long grey beard, and his nose was bestraddled by a pair of green spectacles.
* Vol. I. p. 257.
“ Ladies and gentlemen," said the mystic professor, “ I shall have the honour of convincing you this day, that my single hand is more than a match for all the sharp eyes of Overton. You will admit that a beautiful silence eloquent, a kind eye, contradiction an assent, and an enraged eye, beauty deformed; but my hand shall, by its magic influence, make eloquence dumb; assent a contradiction, and deformity beautiful.”
So saying, the professor beckoned a villager, who sat near the stage, to approach and assist him in the performance of his first grand trick.
Dobby,” exclaimed his terrified wife, “ sit thee still ; that man has dealings with the old one; I would not that he should touch your garment for all the gingerbread in the fair.”
This exclamation of the terrified wife set the whole audience in a roar, and produced a confusion which the skilful conjuror is always anxious to create, when any sly work is to be performed. In truth, this scene had been previously concerted by the renowned Crank Smirky, who had engaged this said Dobby, as his confederate. A series of very amusing tricks were then performed with cards and