from
Pudd’nhead Wilson
by
Mark Twain
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

Mark Twain

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Pudd’nhead Wilson

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Pudd’nhead Wilson

(1894)

Chapter 1 A home without a cat—and a well-fed, well-petted, and properly revered cat—may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?
Chapter 2 On frosty nights the humane negro prowler would warm the end of a plank and put it up under the cold claws of chickens roosting in a tree; a drowsy hen would step on to the comfortable board, softly clucking her gratitude, and the prowler would dump her into his bag, and later into his stomach, perfectly sure that in taking this trifle from the man who daily robbed him of an inestimable treasure—his liberty—he was not committing any sin that God would remember against him in the Last Great Day.

Topic:

Slavery

Chapter 6 [...] each was the constant centre of a group of breathless listeners; each recognized that she knew now for the first time the real meaning of that great word Glory, and perceived the stupendous value of it, and understood why men in all ages had been willing to throw away meaner happinesses, treasure, life itself, to get a taste of its sublime and supreme joy. Napoleon and all his kind stood accounted for—and justified.
Chapter 10

For as much as a week after this Tom imagined that his character had undergone a pretty radical change. But that was because he did not know himself.

In several ways his opinions were totally changed, and would never go back to what they were before, but the main structure of his character was not changed and could not be changed. One or two very important features of it were altered, and in time effects would result from this if opportunity offered—effects of a quite serious nature too. Under the influence of a great mental and moral upheaval his character and habits had taken on the appearance of complete change, but after a while, with the subsidence of the storm both began to settle toward their former places.

Topic:

Character

Chapter 11 [...] then the fireboys mounted to the hall and flooded it with water enough to annihilate forty times as much fire as there was there; for a village fire-company does not often get a chance to show off, and so when it does get a chance it makes the most of it. Such citizens of that village as were of a thoughtful and judicious temperament did not insure against fire; they insured against the fire-company.
Chapter 12 Those laws were his chart; his course was marked out on it; if he swerved from it by so much as half a point of the compass it meant shipwreck to his honour; that is to say, degradation from his rank as a gentleman. These laws required certain things of him which his religion might forbid: then his religion must yield—the laws could not be relaxed to accommodate religions or anything else. Honour stood first; and the laws defined what it was and wherein it differed in certain details from honour as defined by church creeds and by the social laws and customs of some of the minor divisions of the globe that had got crowded out when the sacred boundaries of Virginia were staked out.

Topic:

Custom

“He thought it expensive to have to pay two hundred dollars to them for me once. Expensive—that! Why, it cost me the whole of his fortune—but of course he never thought of that; some people can’t think of any but their own side of a case.”
Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar

Note (Hal’s):
Items from the title character’s Calendar appear in chapter headings throughout the book. To distinguish them from story matter, they are collected separately below.

— end note

Chapter 1 There is no character, howsoever good and fine, but it can be destroyed by ridicule, howsoever poor and witless. Observe the ass, for instance: his character is about perfect, he is the choicest spirit among all the humbler animals, yet see what ridicule has brought him to. Instead of feeling complimented when we are called an ass, we are left in doubt.

Topic:

Character

Chapter 2 Adam was but human—this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake; he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.

Topic:

The Garden of Eden

Chapter 3 Whoever has lived long enough to find out what life is, knows how deep a debt of gratitude we owe to Adam, the first great benefactor of our race. He brought death into the world.

Topic:

Death

Chapter 6 Let us endeavour so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.
Chapter 7 One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.
Chapter 8 The holy passion of Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money.

Topic:

Friendship

Chapter 9 Why is it that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? It is because we are not the person involved.
It is easy to find fault, if one has that disposition. There was once a man who, not being able to find any fault with his coal, complained that there were too many prehistoric toads in it.

Topic:

Pessimism

Chapter 10 All say, “How hard it is that we have to die”—a strange complaint to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
When angry, count four; when very angry, swear.
Chapter 11 There are three infallible ways of pleasing an author, and the three form a rising scale of compliment: 1, to tell him you have read one of his books; 2, to tell him you have read all of his books; 3, to ask him to let you read the manuscript of his forthcoming book. No. 1 admits you to his respect; No. 2 admits you to his admiration; No. 3 carries you clear into his heart.
As to the Adjective: when in doubt, strike it out.

Topic:

Adjectives

Chapter 13 When I reflect upon the number of disagreeable people who I know have gone to a better world, I am moved to lead a different life.

Topic:

Heaven and Hell

Chapter 15 Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.
Behold, the fool saith, “Put not all thine eggs in the one basket”—which is but a manner of saying, “Scatter your money and your attention”; but the wise man saith, “Put all your eggs in the one basket and—WATCH THAT BASKET.”
Chapter 16 If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
Chapter 17 July 4—Statistics show that we lose more fools on this day than in all the other days of the year put together. This proves, by the number left in stock, that one Fourth of July per year is now inadequate, the country has grown so.
Chapter 19 Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
It were not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion that makes horse-races.

Topic:

Opinions

text checked (see note) Feb 2005

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