Mark Twain

United States writer and humorist best known for his novels about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn (1835-1910)

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There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.
In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards
Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits.
A patriot is mocked, scorned and hated; yet when his cause succeeds, all men will join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.
Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.
If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
Man is the Only Animal that Blushes. Or needs to.
Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform.
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.
Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.
A classic is a book which people praise and don't read.
A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.
A house without a cat, and a well-fed, well-petted, and properly revered cat, may be a perfect house, perhaps, but how can it prove its title --from The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.
An enemy can partly ruin a man, but it takes a good-natured injudicious friend to complete the thing and make it perfect.
Barring that natural expression of villainy which we all have, the man looked honest enough.
Cauliflower is nothing but Cabbage with a College Education.
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear.
Describing her first day back in grade school after a long absence, a teacher said, It was like trying to hold 35 corks under water at the same time.
Drag your thoughts away from your troubles.. by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.
Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned. - Notebook, 1898
Everything has its limit--iron ore cannot be educated into gold. - 1906
Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.
Good breeding consists of concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.
He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it - namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to obtain.
He would come in and say he changed his mind -- which was a gilded figure of speech, because he didn't have any.
Honesty is the best policy - when there is money in it.
I can live two months on a good compliment.
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting.
If you take a dog which is starving and feed him and make him prosperous, that dog will not bite you. This is the primary difference between a dog and a man.
It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them.
Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear, and the blind can read.
Pessimism is only the name that men of weak nerve give to wisdom.
Sane and intelligent human beings are like all other human beings, and carefully and cautiously and diligently conceal their private real opinions from the world and give out fictitious ones in their stead for general consumption.
The history of our race, and each individual's experience, are sown thick with evidence that a truth is not hard to kill and that a lie told well is immortal.
There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.
There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist.
Virtue has never been as respectable as money.
We are always more anxious to be distinguished for a talent which we do not possess, than to be praised for the fifteen which we do possess.
We are chameleons, and our partialities and prejudices change place with an easy and blessed facility, and we are soon wonted to the change and happy in it.
When I was fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have him around. When I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.
A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
After all these years I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her.
It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.
Wagner's music is better than it sounds.
A man with a new idea is a crank -- until the idea succeeds.
Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.
Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed.
Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of congress but I repeat myself.
The billiard table is better than the doctor.
A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.
The best cure for Christianity is reading the Bible.
My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.
Quitting smoking is easy, I've done it hundreds of times.
Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
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.
Do something every day that you don't want to do this is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain.
I never let schooling interfere with my education.
If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be - a Christian.
If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be--a christian.
Lord save us all from old age and broken health and a hope tree that has lost the faculty of putting out blossoms.
The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
Necessity is the mother of taking chances.
It is noble to teach oneself, but still nobler to teach others--and less trouble. - speech, 1906
Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
Religion consists of a set of things which the average man thinks he believes and wishes he was certain.
I have spent most of my time worrying about thigs that have never happened.
The very ink with which history is written is merely fluid prejudice.
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.
Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its one sure defense.
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.
A human being has a natural desire to have more of a good thing than he needs.
A man is accepted into church for what he believes--and turned out for what he knows.
A man never reaches that dizzy height of wisdom that he can no longer be led by the nose.
A verb has a hard enough time of it in this world when it is all together. It's downright inhuman to split it up. But that's what those Germans do. They take part of a verb and put it down here, like a stake, and they take the other part of it and put it a way over yonder like another stake, and between these two limits they just shovel in German.
Adam and Eve had many advantages, but the principle one was that they escaped teething.
Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.
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 schools, all colleges have two great functions to confer, and to conceal valuable knowledge. - Notebook, 1908
All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence -- and then success is sure.
All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence then success is sure.
Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.
Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
An Englishman is a person who does things because they have been done before. An American is a person who does things because they haven't been done before.
At the beginning of a great national change, the patriot is a scarce man: scorned, ridiculed and forgotten. When his cause succeeds, however, all men will join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.
Be good and you will be lonesome.
Behold, the fool saith, Put not all thine eggs in the 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.
By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity. Another man's, I mean.
Carlyle said, "A lie cannot live"; it shows he did not know how to tell them.
Civilization is a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessaries.
Civilization is a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.
Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
Cold If the thermometer had been an inch longer we'd all have frozen to death
Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.
Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain.
Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.
Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge.
Eloquence is the essential thing in a speech, not information.
Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.
Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion.
Familiarity breeds contempt - and children.
Few sinners are saved after the fiirst twenty minutes of a sermon.
Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
Fleas can be taught nearly anything a congressman can.
Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds upon the heel that crushes it.
Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
Friendship is the marriage of the soul, and this marriage is liable to divorce.
George Washington as a boy was ignorant of the commonest accomplishments of youth - he could not even lie.
Get your facts first and then you can distort them as much as you wish.
Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. (Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.)
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please
Go and surprise the whole country by doing something right.
God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board
Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.
Great people are those who make others feel that they, too, can become great.
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 downstairs a step at a time.
Heaven goes by favour. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.
His ignorance covered the whole earth like a blanket, and there was hardly a hole in it anywhere.
History may not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme.
How come we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? It is because we are not the person involved.
How little a thing can make us happy when we feel that we have earned it.
Humor is mankind's greatest blessing.
Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritations and resentments slip away and a sunny spirit takes their place.
Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritations and resentments slip away, and a sunny spirit takes their place.
I admire the serene assurance of those who have religious faith. It is wonderful to observe the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces.
I am an old man and have a great many troubles, But most of them never happened.
I am not one of those who in expressing opinions confine themselves to facts.
I am opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position.
I am prepared to meet anyone, but whether anyone is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.
I cannot call to mind a single instance where I have ever been irreverent, except toward the things which were sacred to other people.
I cannot keep from talking, even at the risk of being instructive.
I did it partly because it was worth it, but mostly because I shall never have to do it again.
I did not attend his funeral, but I wrote a nice letter saying I approved it.
I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying that I approved of it.
I don't give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way.
I don't like to commit myself about heaven and hell you see, I have friends in both places.
I have a prejudice against people who print things in a foreign language and add no translation. When I am the reader, and the other considers me able to do the translating myself, he pays me the quite a nice compliment-- but if he would do the translating for me I would try to get along without the compliment. (A Tramp Abroad,1880)
I have never examined the subject of humor until now. I am surprised to find how much ground it covers. I have got its divisions and frontiers down on a piece of paper. I find it defined as a production of the brain, as the power of the brain to produce something humorous, and the capacity of percieving humor.
I must have a prodigious quantity of mind it takes me as much as a week, sometimes, to make it up.
I never could tell a lie that anybody would doubt, nor a truth that anybody would believe.
I never write Metropolis for seven cents because I can get the same price for city. I never write policeman because I can get the same money for cop.
I smoke in moderation, only one cigar at a time.
I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him.
I was born modest. Not all over, but in spots.
I was gratified to be able to answer promptly. I said I don't know.
I'm in favor of progress; it's change I don't like.
I've come loaded with statistics, for I've noticed that a man can't prove anything without statistics.
If the desire to kill and the opportunity to kill always came together, who would escape hanging?
If we had less statemanship we could get along with fewer battleships.
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.
If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
Imagination is always the fabric of social life and the dynamic of history. The influence of real needs and compulsions, of real interests and materials, is indirect because the crowd is never conscious of it.
In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied even to prayer.
In Marseilles they make half the toilet soap we consume in America, but the Marseillaise only have a vague theoretical idea of its use, which they have obtained from books of travel.
In our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either.
In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language.
In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language.
In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.
In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination.
In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.
It could probably be show by facts and figures that there is no distinctively native American criminal class except Congress.
It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress.
It has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep, and never to refrain when awake.
It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not to deserve them.
It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool 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 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.
It is discouraging to try and penetrate a mind like yours. You ought to get it out and dance on it. That would take some of the rigidity out of it.
It is easier to stay out than get out.
It is noble to teach oneself, it is still nobler to teach others.
It is the difference of opinion that makes horse races.
It takes your enemy and your friend, working together, to hurt you the one to slander you, and the other to get the news to you.
It takes your enemy and your friend, working together, to hurt you: the one to slander you, and the other to bring the news to you.
It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.
It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race.
It was wonderful to find America, but it would have been more wonderful to miss it.
It were not best that we should all think alike it is the difference of opinion that makes horse races. - from Pudd'nhead Wilson
It's not that I'm afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens.
It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.
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…
Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone.
Laws are sand, customs are rock. Laws can be evaded and punishment escaped but an openly transgressed custom brings sure punishment.
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.
Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.
Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.
Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.
lying to them is bad! i am a real person!
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.
Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.
Never tell the truth to those unworthy of it....
October is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. Others are July, January, April, September, November, May, March, June, December, August and February.
Of the delights of this world man cares most for sexual intercourse, yet he has left it out of his heaven.
Of the delights of this world, man cares most for sexual intercourse, yet he has left it out of his heaven.
Often it does seem a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat.
Often, the surest way to convey misinformation is to tell the strict truth.
On his deathbed Death, the only immortal who treats us all alike, whose pity and whose peace and whose refuse are for all -- the soiled and the pure, the rich and the poor, the loved and the unloved.
One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.
Our opinions do not really blossom into fruition until we have expressed them to someone else.
Principles have no real force except when one is well fed.
Providence protects children and idiots. I know because I have tested it.
Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
Religion consists in a set of things which the average man thinks he believes and wishes he was certain of.
Sacred cows make the best hamburger.
Sacred cows make the best hamburgers.
So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked.
Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre but they are more deadly in the long run.
Some men worship rank, some worship heroes, some worship power, some worship God, and over these ideals they dispute, but they all worship money.
Some people get an eduction without going to college the rest get it after they get out.
Somewhere between the Angels and the French lies the rest of humanity.
Statistics show that we lose more fools on this day than on all other days of the year put together. This proves, by the numbers left in stock, that one Fourth of July per year is now inadequate, the country has grown so.
Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.
The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.
The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.
The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a 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 of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.
The holy passion of Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money.
The holy passion of Friendship is so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money.
The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.
The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.
The man who is a pessimist before 48 knows too much if he is an optimist after it, he knows too little.
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 proper office of a friend is to side with you when you are wrong. Nearly anybody will side with you when you are right.
The report of my death was an exaggeration.
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 source of humour itself is not joy, but sorrow. There is no humour in heaven.
The trouble isn't that there are too many fools, but that the lightning isn't distributed right.
The universal brotherhood of man is our most precious possession.
The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.
There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable, and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get for it. How strange it is. It is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry.
There are several good protections against temptations, but the surest is cowardice.
There are some books that refuse to be written. They stand their ground year after year and will not be persuaded. It isn't because the book is not there and worth being written -- it is only because the right form of the story does not present itself. There is only one right form for a story and if you fail to find that form the story will not tell itself.
There are times when one would like to end the whole human race, and finish the farce.
There are times when one would like to hang the whole human race and finish the farce.
There are two times in a man's life when he should not speculate when he can't afford it, and when he can. - from Following the Equator
There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist, except an old optimist.
There is no such thing as the Queen's English. The property has gone into the hands of a joint stock company and we own the bulk of the shares
There is nothing so annoying as to have two people talking when you're busy interrupting.
There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
There ought to be a room in every house to swear in.
This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four.
Those that respect the law and love sausage should watch neither being made.
Those who say truth is stranger than fiction have wasted their time on poorly written fiction.
Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered - either by themselves or by others.
Time cools, time clarifies no mood can be maintained quite unaltered through the course of hours.
Time cools, time clarifies; no mood can be maintained quite unaltered through the course of hours.
To be good is noble, but to teach others how to be good is nobler--and less trouble.
To cease smoking is the easiset thing I ever did. I ought to know, I've done it a thousand times.
Tomorrow night I appear for the first time before a Boston audience of 4000 critics.
Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.
Truth is more of a stranger than fiction.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do…
Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.
Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody.
We all have thoughts that would shame the devil.
We all live in the protection of certain cowardices which we call our principles.
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 called the nation of inventors. And we are. We could still claim that title and wear its loftiest honors if we had stopped with the first thing we ever invented, which was human liberty.
We had the sky up there, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss whether they was made or just happened.
We have a criminal jury system which is superior to any in the world and its efficiency is only marred by the difficulty of finding twelve men every day who don't know anything and can't read.
We owe a deep debt of gratitude to Adam, the first great benefactor of the human race: he brought death into the world.
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.
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 on a hot stove lid again--and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.
What a good thing Adam had. When he said a good thing he knew nobody had said it before.
What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight, what counts is the size of the fight in the dog.
When a person cannot deceive himself the chances are against his being able to deceive other people.
When angry, count 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 a child people simply looked about them and were moderately happy today they peer beyond the seven seas, bury themselves waist deep in tidings, and by and large what they see and hear makes them unutterably sad.
When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not.
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 we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.
When you cannot get a compliment any other way pay yourself one.
Whenever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are going to see of him until he emerges on the other side of his atlantic with his verb in his mouth.
Why is it that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? It is because we are not the person involved.
Why shoudn't truth be stranger than fiction Fiction, after all, has to stick to the possibilities.
Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.
Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.
Work is a necessary evil to be avoided.
You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
Youth, large, lusty, loving- Youth, full of grace, force, fascination. Do you know that Old Age may come after you with equal grace, force, fascination
[He was] a solemn, unsmiling, sanctimonious old iceberg who looked like he was waiting for a vacancy in the Trinity.
…[I]n order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to obtain.

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