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quotes by Samuel Clemens (1835-1910)
(a.k.a. Mark Twain)

“... A solemn, unsmiling, sanctimonious old iceberg who looked like he was waiting for a vacancy in the Trinity.”

”... all the modern inconveniences ...”

”... an experienced, industrious, ambitious, and quite often picturesque liar.”

”A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining and wants it back the minute it begins to rain.”

”A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.”

”A good lie will have traveled half way around the world while the truth is putting on her boots.”

”A man never reaches that dizzy height of wisdom when he can no longer be led by the nose.”

”A powerful agent is the right word. Whenever we come upon one of those intensely right words in a book or a newspaper the resulting effect is physical as well as spiritual, and electrically prompt.”

”Adam was but human--this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple's sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent: then he would have eaten the serpent.”

”Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, ... it doesn't matter.”

”All our acts, reasoned and unreasoned, are selfish.”

”All say, 'how hard it is that we have to die'--a strange complaint to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.”

”All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.”

”Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”

”Always tell the truth; then you don't have to remember anything.”

”among all the humbler animals, yet see what ridicule has brought him to. Instead of feeling complimented when we are called an ass we are left in doubt.”

”Be careful of reading health books, you might die of a misprint.”

”Be careless in your dress if you must, but keep a tidy soul.”

”Be good + you will be lonesome.”

”Behold the fool saith, 'put not all thine eggs in one basket'--which is but a manner of saying, 'scatter your money and your attention'; but the wise man saith, 'put all your eggs in the one basket and--WATCH THAT BASKET.'”

”"Be Yourself" is about the worst advice you can give to people.”

”By temperament, which is the real law of God, many men are goats and can't help committing adultery when they get a chance; whereas there are numbers of men who, by temperament, can keep their purity and let an opportunity go by if the woman lacks in attractiveness.”

”By trying, we can easily learn to endure adversity -- another man's, I mean.”

”Civilization is a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.”

”Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.”

”Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”

”Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear.”

”Crank a man with a new idea until it succeeds.”

”Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”

”Don't go around saying the world owes you a living; the world owes you nothing; it was here first.”

”Don't let school interfere with your education”

”Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist but you have ceased to live.”

”Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing.”

”Duties are not performed for duties' sake, but because their neglect would make the man uncomfortable. A man performs but one duty- the duty of contenting his spirit, the duty of making himself agreeable to himself.”

”Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.”

”Everthing human is pathetic. The secret source of humor itself is not joy but sorrow.”

”Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”

”Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion.”

”Familiarity breeds contempt -- and children.”

”Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.”

”For in a Republic, who is "the country?" Is it the Government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the Government is merely a servant- merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them.”

”Forget and forgive. This is not difficult when properly understood. It means forget inconvenient duties, then forgive yourself for forgetting. By rigid practice and stern determination, it comes easy.”

”Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”

”Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.”

”God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board.”

”Golf is a good walk spoiled.”

”Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.”

”Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.”

”Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed down-stairs a step at a time.”

”Hain't we got all the fools in town on our side? And hain't that a big enough majority in any town?”

”He is now rising from affluence to poverty.”

”History may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme a lot.”

”I am opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position.”

”I believe that our Heavenly Father invented man because he was disappointed in the monkey.”

”I could never learn to like her, except on a raft at sea with no other provisions in sight.”

”I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”

”I don't give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way.”

”I find that the further I go back, the better things, whether they happened or not.”

”I have made it a rule never to smoke more than one cigar at a time.”

”I have never let my schooling stand in the way of my education.”

”I have no color prejudices nor caste prejudices nor creed prejudices. All I care to know is that a man is a human being, and that is enough for me; he can't be any worse.”

”I must have a prodigious quantity of mind; it takes me as much as a week sometimes to make it up.”

”I respect a man who knows how to spell a word more than one way.”

”I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn't know.”

”If a man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.”

”If God had meant for us to be naked, we'd have been born that way.”

”If there are no cigars in Heaven, I shall not go.”

”If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”

”I'm glad I did it, partly because it was worth it, but mostly because I shall never have to do it again.”

”In a museum in Havana, there are two skulls of Christopher Columbus, "one when he was a boy and one when he was a man."”

”In India, "cold weather" is merely a conventional phrase and has come into use through the necessity of having some way to distinguish between weather which will melt a brass door-knob and weather which will only make it mushy.”

”In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language.”

”In the real world, the right thing never happens in the right place and the right time. It is the job of journalists and historians to make it appear that it has.”

”In times of change, the Patriot is a scarce man; brave, hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a Patriot.”

”It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.”

”It is amazing what little harm doctors do when one considers all the opportunity they have.”

”It is best to keep your mouth shut and be presumed ignorant than to open it and remove all doubt.”

”It is best to read the weather forecasts before we pray for rain.”

”It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them.”

”It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.”

”It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.”

”It is nobler to be good, and it is nobler to teach others to be good -- and less trouble!”

”It is not best that we should all think alike; it is differences of opinion that make horse races.”

”It may be called the Master Passion, the hunger for self-approval.”

”It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”

”I've dealt with many crises in my life, but few will ever happen.”

”July 4: statistics show that we lose more fools on this day than all the other days of the year put together. This proves, by the number left in stock, that one Fourth of July per year is now inadequate, the country has grown so.”

”Just the omission of Jane Austen's books alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn't a book in it.”

”Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

”Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

”Let us be thankful for fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed.”

”Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”

”Let us not be too particular; it is better to have old secondhand diamonds than none at all.”

”Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thought that is forever flowing through one's head.”

”Love your enemy, it will scare the hell out of them.”

”Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.”

”Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion- several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight.”

”Man is kind enough when he is not excited by religion.”

”Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.”

”Man will do many things to get himself loved; he will do all things to get himself envied.”

”Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”

”My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.”

”No God and no religion can survive ridicule. No political church, no nobility, no royalty or other fraud, can face ridicule in a fair field, and live.”

”No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.”

”Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits.”

”Observe the ass, for instance: his character is about perfect, he is the choicest spirit”

”October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks in. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February.”

”Often it seems a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat.”

”One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity there ain't nothing can beat teamwork.”

”Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.”

”Put all your eggs in the one basket and- WATCH THAT BASKET.”

”Sacred cows make the best hamburger.”

”She is not refined. She is not unrefined. She keeps a parrot.”

”Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre, but they are more deadly in the long run.”

”Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very"; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

”Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

”The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”

”The Bible tells us to love our neighbors and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.”

”The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”

”The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot.”

”The first half of life consists of the capacity to enjoy without the chance; the last half consists of the chance without the capacity.”

”The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.”

”The history of the race, and each individual's experience, are thick with evidence that a truth is not hard to kill and that a lie told well is immortal.”

”The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.”

”The human race is a race of cowards; and I am not only marching in that procession but carrying a banner.”

”The institution of royalty in any form is an insult to the human race.”

”The jury system puts a ban upon intelligence and honesty and a premium upon ignorance, stupidity and perjury.”

”The man who does not read books has no advantage over the man that can not read them.”

”The man who sets out to carry a cat by its tail learns something that will always be useful and which never will grow dim or doubtful.”

”The miracle, or the power, that elevates the few is to be found in their industry, application, and perseverance under the prompting of a brave, determined spirit.”

”The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.”

”The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not.”

”The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.”

”The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out, the conservative adopts them.”

”The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”

”The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.”

”The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

”The secret of success is to make your vocation your vacation.”

”The vast majority of the race, whether savage or civilized, are secretly kind-hearted and shrink from inflicting pain, but in the presence of the aggressive and pitiless minority they don't dare to assert themselves.”

”The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice.”

”The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.”

”There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

”There are several good precautions against temptation, but the surest is cowardice.”

”There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

”There is no character, howsoever good and fine, but it can be destroyed by ridicule, howsoever poor and witless.”

”There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist, except an old optimist.”

”There is nothing training cannot do. Nothing is above its reach. It can turn bad morals to good; it can destroy bad principles and recreate good ones; it can lift men to angelship.”

”There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”

”They spell it "da Vinci" and pronounce it "da Vinchy". Foreigners always spell better than they pronounce.”

”Thunder is good, thunder is impressive, but it is lightning that does the work.”

”Tis better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.”

”Truth is more of a stranger than fiction.”

”Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream.”

”Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.”

”Virtue was never as respectable as money.”

”Wagner's music is better than it sounds.”

”We are always too busy for our children; we never give them the time or interest they deserve. We lavish gifts upon them; but the most precious gift, our personal association, which means so much to them, we give grudgingly.”

”We are discreet sheep; we wait to see how the drove is going, and then go with the drove.”

”We have a criminal jury system which is superior to any other in the world; and its efficiency is only marred by the difficulty of finding 12 everyday men who don't know anything and can't read.”

”We have the best government in the world... that money can buy.”

”We ought never do wrong when people are looking.”

”We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again, and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”

”What, sir, would the people of the earth be without woman? They would be scarce, sir, almighty scarce.”

”When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear.”

”When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

”When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all have to do it.”

”When in doubt, tell the truth.”

”When one has tasted watermelon he knows what the angels eat.”

”When people do not respect us we are sharply offended; yet deep down in his private heart no man much respects himself.”

”When we remember that we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”

”When whole races and peoples conspire to propagate gigantic mute lies in the interest of tyrannies and shams, why should we care anything about the trifling lies told by individuals?”

”When you cannot get a compliment any other way, pay yourself one.”

”Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform.”

”Whenever you find you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

”Whoever has lived long enough to find out what life is, knows how deep a debt of gratitude we owe to Adam, the first great benefactor of our race. He brought death into the world.”

”Why is it that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? Is it because we are not the person involved.”

”Why shouldn't truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction after all, has to make sense.”

”Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.”

”You can't depend on your judgment when your imagination is out of focus.”

”You take the lies out of him, and he'll shrink to the size of your hat; you take the malice out of him, and he'll disappear.”


Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne  Clemens) quotes
Mark Twain


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