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Directory of Mark Twain's maxims, quotations, and various opinions:

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IMPULSE

We are all creatures of impulse. It's a great mistake to get everybody ready to give money and then not pass the hat. Some years ago in Hartford we all went to the church on a hot, sweltering night, to hear the annual report of Mr. Hawley, a city missionary, who went around finding the people who needed help and didn't want to ask for it. He told of the life in the cellars where poverty resided, he gave instances of the heroism and devotion of the poor. The poor are always good to each other. When a man with millions gives we make a great deal of noise. It's noise in the wrong place. For it's the widow's mite that counts. Well, Hawley worked me up to a great state. I couldn't wait for him to get through. I had four hundred dollars in my pocket. I wanted to give that and borrow more to give. You could see greenbacks in every eye. But he didn't pass the plate, and it grew hotter and we grew sleepier. My enthusiasm went down, down, down - $100 at a time, till finally when the plate came round I stole 10 cents out of it. So you see a neglect like that may lead to crime.
- speech January 20, 1901. Quoted in The New York Times, January 21, 1901
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