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Nicolas-Philippe Ledru

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Nicolas-Philippe Ledru
Paris, France

Nicolas-Philippe Ledru (1731, Paris – 1807), known as Comus, was a noted European physicist, prestidigitator and illusionist of the late 18th century.


Nicolas-Philippe Ledru styled himself Comus after the Greek god of mirth and revelry, and entertained royalty, aristocrats, and the general public with his scientific experiments. He traveled extensively throughout Europe demonstrating his tricks and acquired huge reputation. He had an office in Paris where he made various experiments in front of the public on sound, light, electricity, magnetism, in-compressibility of water and so on. Its office also introduced tricks of illusion, such as a woman robot getting dressed when asked, a small face with eyes taking the color of the pupil of the one who looked at it, an artificial hand writing thoughts of an audience, a "siren" answering questions and so on. Comus sometimes introduced his tricks at the court of Louis XVI, and once he gave a representation in front of Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor.

Apart from demonstrating magic acts he devised a new system for nautical maps and an application of electricity for therapeutic purposes for illness of the nervous system or, simply, epilepsy. Louis XV, who appointed him his physician, gave him the title Professeur de Physique des Enfants de France. Louis XVI authorized him to practice at his new hospice Médico-Électrique.

Comus was imprisoned during the Terror but survived the guillotine. He died in 1807 a wealthy man.

Philadelphus Philadelphia was a follower of Comus.[1]


  1. Devant, David. My Magic Life. (1931): 182
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