The Indian Rope Trick

FREDERIC CULPITTS TESTIMONY (Contributed by Victor Farelli)

The late Frederic Culpitt, whom I knew well, was the only magician I ever met who claimed to have seen an Indian conjurer present the famous rope trick. Exactly thirty-eight (38) years ago, he wrote.

"I was once present when the rope trick was performed, but I did not see it. Two of my friends saw it, and one of them can corroborate what I am about to say. (The other man was recently kiHed in action)."

"Everyone knows what apparently happens in the rope trick. The Indian conjurer throws a rope in the air. It remains rigid: a boy climbs up it and disappears into space. He afterwards reappears beside the conjurer. This is rhe bald outline of the trick, but it is occasionally filled in with other details".

"The performance at which I was present took • place in a large open space—a market square. The time was about haif-past two. The ground on which the conjurer stood was at least one hundred yards from any house. I mention this fact because it knocks over the theory, advanced by some conjurers, the rope is held up in the air by a thin line srretched between the roofs of two houses".

"The conjurer began with the performance of some little tricks which permitted him to approach his audience individually. He then took the rope from the basket and asked someone to examine it. The conjurer then told his audience what he was doing, and he emphasized each point. 'The rope I now throw into the air—it remains—the boy will now climb—there he goes—he reaches the top —the boy now screams—the boy now refuses to come down—something is the matter with the boy—curse him—the boy has gone—the rope falls to the ground . .

"Finally, the boy was discovered under a sheet on the ground".

"The magician spoke rapidly and in very good English I believe I was the only one present who did not look at the rope during the whole performance, and my explanation of the famous trick is that it is done by hypnotism and suggestion. The onfy thing that I

saw was this. I saw the conjurer throw the rope in the air : I saw it fall at once to the ground. But my friend is certain that he saw the whole trick as it is usually described".

"I am aware that the explanation— hypnotism—is not accepted by conjurers older and more experienced than I am, but to them I would reply, with all respect: I was there: I know what I saw: alf the doctors I have spoken to about the trick assure me that it could be performed by means of hypnotism. The reader will recall the fact that the performer did not begin with the rope trick. He began with a lot of little tricks, and at times the conjurer was practically performing to an audience of one. I am convinced that in this way he was able to hypnotize his audience.

The above is an extract from an article, entitled "Conjurers of all Countries", which appeared in the December (1915) issue of the "Strand Magazine". A copy of this article may be consulted at the Harry Prince Section of the University of London Library, Malet Street, London, W.C.I.

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