Episode 122: Do You Believe in Magic?

Episode 122: Do You Believe in Magic?

Ep 122 Dolby

Robert-Houdin is the only man I know of who won a political victory through the use of magic. Napoleon III had sent him to Algeria after some Arabic religious leaders started impressing the public with various tricks and using that cred to foment rebellion. Napoleon figured that, if he could show the Algerians that French magic trumped local magic, that rebellion could be avoided.

So, Robert-Houdin went in and started doing tricks. My favorite is a box with a metal plate that he would place on a table. He would ask a child to come pick up the box, and the child would of course have no problem. He would then switch on an electromagnet under the table, effectively gluing the box to the table, and ask the strongest man in the audience to have a try. After the man failed, Robert-Houdin would explain how he had used French magic to rob the man of his strength. Talk of rebellion cooled noticeably thereafter.

- Count Dolby von Luckner

Ep 122 Geoff


One of these days I'll have Jasper Maskelyne and Carter the Great running around in here as well.

According to "The War Magician", Jasper Maskelyne pulled a similar stunt to Robert-Houdin's bullet catching while engaged in a magical duel with an Egyptian Imam.

I forget what the political significance of this duel was supposed to be. The account of Maskelyne's wartime career has been heavily disputed, but it is such a good story that whenever Japser shows up here it will be with a "Hey presto" right out of "The War Magician."


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