|People pretend that the Bible means the same to them at 50 that it did
at all former milestones in their journey. I wonder how they can lie so.
It comes of practice, no doubt. They would not say that of Dickens' or Scott's
books. Nothing remains the same. When a man goes back to look at the house
of his childhood, it has always shrunk: there is no instance of such a house
being as big as the picture in memory and imagination call for. Shrunk how?
Why, to its correct dimensions: the house hasn't altered; this is the first
time it has been in focus.
Well, that's loss. To have house and Bible shrink so, under the disillusioning corrected angle, is loss--for a moment. But there are compensations. You tilt the tube skyward and bring planets and comets and corona flames a hundred and fifty thousand miles high into the field. Which I see you have done, and found Tolstoi. I haven't got him in focus yet, but I've got Browning...
- Letter to W. D. Howells, 8/22/1887
Centennial logo from Hannibal, Missouri. From the Dave Thomson collection.
photo of Clemens
We are chameleons, and our partialities and prejudices change places
with an easy and blessed facility, and we are soon wonted to the change
and happy in it. We do not regret our old, yellow fangs and tushes after
we have worn nice fresh uniform store teeth a while.
I am now about to bid farewell to San Francisco for a season, and to go back
to that common home we all tenderly remember in our waking hours and fondly
revisit in dreams of the night--a home which is familiar to my recollection,
but will be an unknown land to my unaccustomed eyes. I shall share the fate
of many another longing exile who wanders back to his early home to find gray
hairs where he expected youth, graves where he looked for firesides, grief where
he had pictured joy--everywhere change! remorseless change where he had heedlessly
dreamed that desolating Time had stood still!--to find his cherished anticipations
a mockery, and to drink the lees of disappointment instead of the beaded wine
of a hope that is crowned with its fruition!
- San Francisco Alta California, 12/15/1866
Change is the handmaiden Nature requires to do her miracles with.
- Roughing It
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