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THOUGHT. The operation of the mind. No one can be punished for his mere thoughts however wicked they may be. Human laws cannot reach them, first, because they are unknown; and, secondly, unless made manifest by some action, they are not injurious to any one; but when they manifest themselves, then the act, which is the consequence, may be punished. Dig. 50 16, 225.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in classic literature ?
Speaking in popular and unphilosophical terms, we may say that the content of a thought is supposed to be something in your head when you think the thought, while the object is usually something in the outer world.
As soon as I begin to plan, and think, and try, all my planning, thinking, and trying go in old directions, and I begin to feel careful again about the expenses of the day, and about my dear father, and about my work, and then I remember with a start that there are no such cares left, and that in itself is so new and improbable that it sets me wandering again.
I am sure I don't know what they will think of me when I get back.
"I wanted to ask you, Mary-- don't you think that Mr.
My concern for you was in the beginning a very fragile and even a selfish thing, yet not altogether selfish, for I think that what first stirred it was the joyous sway of the little nursery governess as she walked down Pall Mall to meet her lover.
"Oh, Philip!" said Maggie, "how can you think I have such feelings?
I'm so glad you think there is, Miss Barry." Miss Barry's house was furnished with "great magnificence," as Anne told Marilla afterward.
One would think then that good thought would be as familiar as air and water, and the gifts of each new hour would exclude the last.
All this was not an uplifting thing to recall, but as the train whirled him through mountain passes and golden plains the man who was "coming alive" began to think in a new way and he thought long and steadily and deeply.
"I don't think one can do much better than a cross.
'I think I'll go down the other way,' she said after a pause:
"Auntie, I wish I hadn't done it -- but I didn't think."