The shortest way out of Manchester is notoriously a bottle of Gordon's gin; out of any businessman's life there is the mirage of Paris; out of Paris, or mediocrity of talent and imagination, there are all the drugs, from subtle, all-conquering opium to cheating, cozening cocaine.
The profession of magician, is one of the most perilous and arduous specializations of the imagination. On the one hand there is the hostility of God and the police to be guarded against; on the other it is as difficult as music, as deep as poetry, as ingenious as stage-craft, as nervous as the manufacture of high explosives, and as delicate as the trade in narcotics.
The mere idea of marriage, as a strong possibility, if not always nowadays a reasonable likelihood, existing to weaken the will by distracting its straight aim in the life of practically every young girl, is the simple secret of their confessed inferiority in men's pursuits and professions to-day.
Wilson adventured for the whole of the human race. Not as a servant, but as a champion. So pure was this motive, so unfrocked with anything that his worst enemies could find, except the mildest and most excusable, a personal vanity, practically the minimum to be human, that in a sense his adventure is that of humanity itself. In Wilson, the whole of mankind breaks camp, sets out from home and wrestles with the universe and its gods.