Very well--it may surprise you to learn that that most simple & most natural & obvious thought would never occur to any intruder on this planet, whether he be fool, half-fool, or the most brilliant of thinkers. For he is always an automatic machine & has habits, & his habits will act before his thinking apparatus can get a chance to exert its powers. My scheme failed because every human being has the habit of picking up any apparently misplaced thing & placing it where it won't be stepped on.

My first intruder was George. He went and came without saying anything. Presently I found the letters neatly piled up on the billiard-table. I was astonished. I put them on the floor again. The next intruder piled them on the billiard-table without a word. I was profoundly moved, profoundly interested. So I set the trap again. Also again, & again, & yet again--all day long. I caught every member of the family, & every servant; also I caught the three finest intellects in the town. In every instance old, time-worn automatic habit got in its work so promptly that the thinking apparatus never got a chance.

I do not remember this particular discussion, but I do distinctly recall being one of those whose intelligence was not sufficient to prevent my picking up the letter he had thrown on the floor in front of his bed, and being properly classified for doing it.

Clemens no longer kept note-books, as in an earlier time, but set down innumerable memoranda-comments, stray reminders, and the like--on small pads, and bunches of these tiny sheets accumulated on his table and about his room. I gathered up many of them then and afterward, and a few of these characteristic bits may be offered here.


It is at our mother's knee that we acquire our noblest & truest & highest ideals, but there is seldom any money in them.


He is all-good. He made man for hell or hell for man, one or the other-- take your choice. He made it hard to get into heaven and easy to get into hell. He commended man to multiply & replenish-what? Hell.


& will be resumed when clothes are no more. [The latter part of this aphorism is erased and underneath it he adds:]


when clothes were born.

MODESTY DIED when false modesty was born.


A historian who would convey the truth has got to lie. Often he must enlarge the truth by diameters, otherwise his reader would not be able to see it.


are not the important thing--nor enlightenment--nor civilization. A man can do absolutely well without them, but he can't do without something to eat. The supremest thing is the needs of the body, not of the mind & spirit.


There is conscious suggestion & there is unconscious suggestion--both come from outside--whence all ideas come. DUELS

I think I could wipe out a dishonor by crippling the other man, but I don't see how I could do it by letting him cripple me.

I have no feeling of animosity toward people who do not believe as I do; I merely do not respect 'em. In some serious matters (relig.) I would have them burnt.

I am old now and once was a sinner. I often think of it with a kind of soft regret. I trust my days are numbered. I would not have that detail overlooked.

She was always a girl, she was always young because her heart was young; & I was young because she lived in my heart & preserved its youth from decay.

He often busied himself working out more extensively some of the ideas that came to him--moral ideas, he called them. One fancy which he followed in several forms (some of them not within the privilege of print) was that of an inquisitive little girl, Bessie, who pursues her mother with difficult questionings.--[Under Appendix w, at the end of this volume, the reader will find one of the "Bessie" dialogues.]--He read these aloud as he finished them, and it is certain that they lacked neither logic nor humor.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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