As, however, a friend is not always to be found who can perform the pass, I will endeavor to describe it.
The cards are held in both hands, right hand underneath and left above, as in the engraving, where, as the bottom card is to be raised to the top, the little finger is seen between that card and those above it.
By a quick movement of the right hand, the bottom card is slipped away towards the left, and is placed upon the top card, under shadow of the left hand, which is raised for the moment to allow of its passage.
This movement must be assiduously practiced before it is exhibited in public, as nothing looks more awkward than to see it clumsily performed, in which case two or three cards generally tumble on the floor.
From The Magicians Own Book by George Arnold (1862)
MAGICIAN'S OWN BOOK, OR THE WHOLE ART OF CONJURING. BEING A COMPLETE HAND-BOOK OF PARLOR MAGIC, AND CONTAINING OVER ONE THOUSAND OPTICAL, CHEMICAL, MECHANICAL, MAGNETICAL, AND MAGICAL EXPERIMENTS, AMUSING TRANSMUTATIONS, ASTONISHING SLEIGHTS AND SUBTLETIES, CELEBRATED CARD DECEPTIONS, INGENIOUS TRICKS WITH NUMBERS, CURIOUS AND ENTERTAINING PUZZLES, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE MOST NOTED TRICKS OF MODERN PERFORMERS.
THE WHOLE ILLUSTSTRATED WITH OVER 500 WOOD CUTS, AND INTENDED AS A SOURCE OF AMUSEMENT FOR ONE THOUSAND AND ONE EVENINGS. George Arnold (1862)
George Arnold seems to have been left-handed.
Nowadays the classic pass is used by card magicians normally to bring the spectators card which they placed into the middle of the deck to the top. It's a relatively fast move, which seems simple in principle, but takes some skill to perform properly and confidently. The classic pass involves basically cutting the deck in two, switching the packets under the partial cover of the right hand. It is best to practice in front of a mirror before performing for a live audience.
To see how it is performed and revealed about some 150 years after George Arnold's book was published, goto youtube (keyword: classic pass tutorial)
For more card magic and the awesome invisible deck card trick go here