Unconscious Plagiarism by Mark Twain
Mr.Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: I would have traveled a much greater distance than I have come to witness the paying of honors to Dr. Holmes. For my feeling toward him has always been one of peculiar warmth.When one receives a letter from a great man for the first time in his life, it is a large event to him, as all of you know by your own experience. You never can receive letters enough from famous men afterward to obliterate that one,or dim the memory of the pleasant surprise it was, and the gratification it gave you. Lapse of time cannot make it commonplace or cheap.
Well, the first great man who ever wrote me a letter was our guest---Oliver Wendell Holmes. He was also the first great literary man I ever stole anything from (laughter), and that is how I came to write to him and and he to me. When my first book was new a friend of mine said to me, "The dedication is very neat." " Yes," I said, " I thought it was." My friend said:" I always admired it, even before I saw it in the 'Innocents Abroad.'" I naturally said, " What do you mean? Where did you ever see it before?" " Well, I saw it first some year ago as Dr. Holmes's dedication to his ' Songs in Many Keys." " Of course, my first impulse was to prepare this man's remains for burial (laughter),but upon reflection I said I would reprieve him for a moment or two, and give him a chance to prove his assertion if he could. We stepped into a bookstore, and he did prove it. I had really stolen that dedication, almost word for word. I could not imagine how this curious thing had happened; for I knew one thing, for a dead certainty,---that a certain amount of pride always goes along with a teaspoonful of brains, and that this pride protects a man from deliberately stealing other people's ideas.That is what a teaspoonful of brains will do for a man, ---and admirers had often told me I had nearly a basketful, though they were rather reserved as to the size of the basket.(Laughter)
However, I thought the thing out and solved the mystery. Two years before I have been laid up a couple of weeks in the Sandwich Isalands,and had read and reread Dr .Holmes's poems until my mental reservoir was filled up with them to the brim.The dedication lay on top and handy (laughter), so by and by I unconsciously stole it. Perhaps I unconsciously stole the rest of the volume, too, for many people have told me that my book was pretty poetical, in one way or another. Well, of course, I wrote Dr.Holmes and told him I hadn't meant to steal, and he wrote back and said in the kindest way that it was all right and no harm done; and added that he believed we all unconsciously worked over ideas gathered in reading and hearing, imagining they were original with ourselves. He stated a truth, and did it in such a pleasant way, and salved over my sore spot so gently and so healingly, that I was rather glad I had committed the crime, for the sake of the letter. I afterward called on him and told him to make perfectly free with any ideas of mine that struck him as being good protoplasm for poetry.(Laughter) He could see by that that there wasn't anything mean about me; so we got along right from the start.
I have met Dr. Holmes many times since; and lately he said, ---however, I am wandering wildly away from the one thing which I got on my feet to do: that is, to make my compliments to you, my fellow teachers of the great public , and likewise to say I am right glad to see that Dr.Holmes is still in his prime and full of generous life; and as age is not determined by years,but by trouble and infirmities of mind and body, I hope it may be a very long time yet before any can truthfully say, " He is growing old".(Applause)
He looked at me with a very peculiar expression.
This style is peculiar to him.
I have my own peculiar way of doing things.
It is a matter of peculiar interest.
I'm feeling a bit peculiar -- I think I'll go and lie down.
The heavy rain obliterated all footprints.
Anne was eager to obliterate her error.
The light is too dim for me to read.
A dim sound came from the next room.
Her eyesight grew dim with age.
He is a bit dim about her sarcastic remarks.
The new economic policy dimmed the popularity of the president.
Her eyes dimmed with tears.
To my immense gratification, he fell into the trap.
His son's success was a great gratification to him.
Her grief over her child's death was not at all relieved by the lapse of time.
I had a lapse of memory.
a lapse of confidence
He sometimes lapses from good behavior.
We talked nonstop at first, but soon lapsed into silence.
Several hours lapsed before he woke up.
The lease has lapsed.
Jet travel is now a commonplace.
The fashionable remarks of today often become the commonplace expressions of tomorrow.
The archbishop attended the dedication of the new church.
His dedication to teaching gained the respect of his colleagues.
We do not believe his assertion that he is innocent.
assertion of one's rights
I have a sore throat.
His origins were a sore subject with him.
She was sore at him for not inviting her to the party.
The suffering of the refugees makes her heart sore.
She lived in sore poverty.
Let's not reopen old sores.
The old woman was suffering from age and infirmity.
the infirmities of age