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.
An adventure differs from a mere feat in that it is tied to the externally unattainable. Only one end of the rope is in the hand, the other is not visible, and neither prayers, nor daring, nor reason can shake it free.
General jackdaw culture, very little more than a collection of charming miscomprehensions, untargeted enthusiasms, and a general habit of skimming.
It is when pirates count their booty that they become mere thieves.
Only the poet has any right to be sorry for the poor, if he has anything to spare when he has thought of the dull, commonplace rich.
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 today.
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 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 most important thing in life is not simply to capitalize on your gains. Any fool can do that. The most important thing is to profit from your losses. That requires intelligence and it marks the difference between a man of sense and a fool.