"After a man has become great and famous, his friends and biographers find, or fancy they find, all manner of wonderful things he said and did in his youth, indicating his early prescience of his future greatness." —Seward, June 27, 1872
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Most of the world would be surprised to know how few of our thoughts are really original with ourselves. What we write and say is, for the most part, a kind of mosaic interweaving of ideas and recollections gathered together out of other people’s talk or books. The combination and rearrangement of them is about all we can call our own. When a man does really evolve an original thought out of his own mind, it is the exception, rather than the rule. It is usually the fruit, either of patient study, or of fresh and vivid experience.