The brain never acts except from exterior impulse.
A man can satisfy himself of the truth of this by a single process,--let him examine every idea that occurs to him in an hour; a day; in a week --in a lifetime if he please. He will always find that an outside something suggested the thought, something which he saw with his eyes or heard with his ears or perceived by his touch--not necessarily to-day, nor yesterday, nor last year, nor twenty years ago, but sometime or other. Usually the source of the suggestion is immediately traceable, but sometimes it isn't.
However, if you will examine every thought that occurs to you for the next two days, you will find that in at least nine cases out of ten you can put your finger on the outside suggestion--And that ought to convince you that No. 10 had that source too, although you cannot at present hunt it down and find it.
The idea of writing to me would have had to wait a long time if it waited until your brain originated it. It was born of an outside suggestion-- Sir Thomas and my old Captain.
The hypnotist thinks he has invented a new thing--suggestion. This is very sad. I don't know where my captain got his kerosene idea. (It was forty-one years ago, and he is long ago dead.) But I know that it didn't originate in his head, but it was born from a suggestion from the outside.
Yesterday a guest said, "How did you come to think of writing 'The Prince and the Pauper?'" I didn't. The thought came to me from the outside-- suggested by that pleasant and picturesque little history-book, Charlotte M. Yonge's "Little Duke," I doubt if Mrs. Burnett knows whence came to her the suggestion to write "Little Lord Fauntleroy," but I know; it came to her from reading "The Prince and the Pauper." In all my life I have never originated an idea, and neither has she, nor anybody else.
Man's mind is a clever machine, and can work up materials into ingenious fancies and ideas, but it can't create the material; none but the gods can do that. In Sweden I saw a vast machine receive a block of wood, and turn it into marketable matches in two minutes. It could do everything but make the wood. That is the kind of machine the human mind is. Maybe this is not a large compliment, but it is all I can afford..... Your friend and well-wisher S. L. CLEMENS.
To Mrs. H. H. Rogers, in Fair Hawn, Mass.:
REDDING, CONN, Aug. 12, 1908. DEAR MRS. ROGERS, I believe I am the wellest man on the planet to-day, and good for a trip to Fair Haven (which I discussed with the Captain of the New Bedford boat, who pleasantly accosted me in the Grand Central August 5) but the doctor came up from New York day before yesterday, and gave positive orders that I must not stir from here before frost. It is because I was threatened with a swoon, 10 or 12 days ago, and went to New York a day or two later to attend my nephew's funeral and got horribly exhausted by the heat and came back here and had a bilious collapse. In 24 hours I was as sound as a nut again, but nobody believes it but me.
This is a prodigiously satisfactory place, and I am so glad I don't have to go back to the turmoil and rush of New York. The house stands high and the horizons are wide, yet the seclusion is perfect. The nearest public road is half a mile away, so there is nobody to look in, and I don't have to wear clothes if I don't want to. I have been down stairs in night-gown and slippers a couple of hours, and have been photographed in that costume; but I will dress, now, and behave myself.
That doctor had half an idea that there is something the matter with my brain. . . Doctors do know so little and they do charge so much for it. I wish Henry Rogers would come here, and I wish you would come with him. You can't rest in that crowded place, but you could rest here, for sure! I would learn bridge, and entertain you, and rob you. With love to you both, Ever yours, S.