The Devil's Dictionary

by Ambrose Bierce



A daily record of that part of one's life, which he can relate to himself without blushing.

 Hearst kept a diary wherein were writ
All that he had of wisdom and of wit.
So the Recording Angel, when Hearst died,
Erased all entries of his own and cried:
"I'll judge you by your diary" Said Hearst:
"Thank you; 'twill show you I am Saint the First" —
Straightway producing, jubilant and proud,
That record from a pocket in his shroud.
The Angel slowly turned the pages o'er,
Each stupid line of which he knew before,
Glooming and gleaming as by turns he hit
On Shallow sentiment and stolen wit;
Then gravely closed the book and gave it back.
"My friend, you've wandered from your proper track:
You'd never be content this side the tomb —
For big ideas Heaven has little room,
And Hell's no latitude for making mirth,"
He said, and kicked the fellow back to earth.

"The Mad Philosopher"