I have always enjoyed mark twain, his writings are excellent, but many do not know him as a lecturer. He was better as a lecturer than ever as a writer.
"I thought I would state a principle which I was going to teach. I have this theory for doing a great deal of good out there, everywhere in fact, that you should prize as a priceless thing every transgression, every crime that you commit -- the lesson of it, I mean.
Make it permanent; impress it so that you may never commit that same crime again as long as you live, then you will see yourself what the logical result of that will be -- that you get interested in committing crimes. You will lay up in that way, course by course, the edifice of a personally perfect moral character. You cannot afford to waste any crime, they are not given to you to be thrown away, but for a great purpose. There are 462 crimes possible and you cannot add anything to this, you cannot originate anything. These have been all thought out, all experimented on and have been thought out by the most capable men in the penitentiary.
Now, when you commit a transgression, lay it up in your memory, and without stopping, it will all lead toward moral perfection. When you have committed your 462 you are released of every possibility and have ascended the staircase of faultless creation and you finally stand with your 462 complete with absolute moral perfection, and I am more than two-thirds up there. It is immense inspiration to find yourself climbing that way and have not much further to go. I shall have then that moral perfection and shall then see my edifice of moral character standing far before the world all complete. I know that this should produce it. Why, the first time that 1 ever stole a watermelon -- I think it was the first time, but this is no matter, it was right along there somewhere -- I carried that watermelon to a secluded bower. You may call it a bower and I suppose you may not. I carried that watermelon to a secluded bower in the lumberyard, and broke it open, and it was green.
Now, then, I began to reflect; there is the virtual -- that is the beginning of reformation when you reflect. When you do not reflect that transgression is wasted on you. I began to reflect and I said to myself, I have done wrong; it was wrong in me to steal that watermelon -- that kind of a watermelon. And I said to myself: now what would a right-minded and right-intentioned boy do, who found that he had done wrong -- stolen a watermelon like this. What would he do, what must he do; do right; restitution; make restitution. He must restore that property to its owner, and I resolved to do that and the moment I made that good resolution I felt that electrical moral uplift which becomes a victory over wrong doing. I was spiritually strengthened and refreshed and carried that watermelon back to that wagon and gave it to that farmer -- restored it to him, and I told him he ought to be ashamed of himself going around working off green watermelons that way on people who had confidence in him; and I told him in my perfectly frank manner it was wrong. I said that if he did not stop he could not have my custom, and he was ashamed. He was ashamed; he said he would never do it again and I believe that I did that man a good thing, as well as one for myself. He did reform; I was severe with him a little, but that was all. I restored the watermelon and made him give me a ripe one. I morally helped him, and I have no doubt that I helped myself the same time, for that was a lesson which remained with me for my perfection. Ever since that day to this I never stole another one -- like that."
Mark Twain-Except from round the world lecture of morals.