“The Mind that Becomes Soiled in Youth”

From Mark Twain’s Autobiography, Part 2 and by way of Letters of Notes, may I present to you this delightfully on the mark letter by Monsieur Twain?

The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean; I know this by my own experience, and to this day I cherish an unappeasable bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old. None can do that and ever draw a clean sweet breath again this side of the grave. Ask that young lady—she will tell you so.

Read the rest of that letter as well as the correspondence that precipitated it here.

As expectedly humorous and sarcastic was Twain’s letter, my most cherished quote from that pair of letters must be Dickinson’s “for I am loath for obvious reasons to bring the institution from which I draw my salary into ridicule, contempt or reproach”. Such an ingenious turn-of-phrase!

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