Dear Magic Sisters,
Last night I was reading David Devant's "Tricks For Everyone" (1910), and I wanted to share this passage from Chapter III, "Tricks At The Work-Table." Mr. Devant writes:
"I set out to write this chapter having in my mind the requirements of girls who want to be amateur conjurers. Conjuring is a capital hobby for ladies, and I have never been able to understand why it should not be as popular with them as it is with boys of all ages. I say "boys" designedly, because one of the advantages of conjuring is that it keeps you boyish; at least, I am told that it keeps me boyish, and therefore I see no reason why it should not keep a young lady girlish. A conjurer knows that in all his audiences there will be a good percentage of young people, and he has to endeavor to amuse and entertain them. The fact that he is going to do this helps him to look on conjuring from their point of view, and so helps him to preserve his youth.
"There is another good reason why young ladies should take to conjuring as a hobby; it is a most graceful accomplishment. I should not like to infer from this that I regard myself as being in the least degree graceful; but, then, it is not the business of any man to be graceful.
"However, I can promise any young lady who takes to conjuring that if she is at all inclined to be graceful the practice of a few tricks will make her quite as graceful as a swan. If she has pretty wrists and hands she will be able to show them off to the best possible advantage.
"There is still one more good reason why young ladies should make a hobby of conjuring; they will find audiences very appreciative. Amateur pianists, vocalists, and reciters are too numerous; the average drawing-room audience, being nice and polite, listens to all of them, but reserves its genuine appreciation for the youth who puzzles them with a few conjuring tricks. It is not difficult to learn enough about conjuring to do this, and it is not at all necessary to stay indoors to take all the lessons. You can learn part of them when you are on the tops of 'buses, or in trains, or are out walking.
"I have called this chapter 'Tricks at the Work-table' because the various articles used in the tricks are those which would naturally be in the possession of any young lady. There is no reason why the tricks should be performed while one is standing near the work-table. And now for the first of our tricks."
Four tricks follow, which require such things as yarn, scissors, paper, spools of thread, a handkerchief, and ribbon. Mr. Devant refers to the conjuror through this section as "she."
Now, I never had the least problem with the pronoun "he" to refer to the conjurer. I never gave it any thought it all - it was just a convenient shorthand meaning "the magician." So I was truly surprised to find out how pleasant and satisfying it was to read "she" to refer to the conjurer. I wouldn't have guessed that it mattered at all, yet every instance of "she" tickled me, and reading this chapter was an unexpected treat.
I always appreciated Mr. Devant's motto, "All Done by Kindness" - and I like it even more now!
Graceful as a swan (or nearly so),