Mark Twain quotes and sayings
November 30, 1835
April 21, 1910
We have to be despised by somebody whom we regard as above us, or we are not happy; we have to have somebody to worship and envy,or we cannot be content. In America we manifest this in all the ancient and customary ways. In public we scoff at titles and hereditary privilege, but privately we hanker after them, and when we get a chance we buy them for cash and a daughter.
That optimist of yours is always ready to turn hell's backyard into a play-ground.
If you must be indiscrete, be discrete in your indiscretion.
Be respectful to your superiors, if you have any.
Satan hasn't a single salaried helper; the Opposition employs a million.
This is a Christian country. Why, so is hell. Inasmuch as Strait is the way and narrow is the gate, and few - few - are they that enter in thereat has had the natural effect of making hell the only really prominent Christian community in any of the worlds; but we don't brag of this and certainly it is not proper to brag and boast that America is a Christian country when we all know that certainly five-sixths of our population could not enter in at the narrow gate.
Those who do not read the news are uninformed. Those who do are misinformed.
My books are like water; those of the great geniuses are wine. everybody drinks water.
If the bubble reputation can be obtained only at the cannon's mouth, I am willing to go there for it, provided the cannon is empty. If it is loaded my immortal and inflexible purpose is to get over the fence and go home. My invariable practice in war has been to bring out of every fight two-thirds more men than when I went in. This seems to me Napoleonic in its grandeur.
We grant God the possession of all the qualities of mind except the one that keeps the others healthy; that watches over their dignity; that focuses their vision true--humor.
A distinguished man should be as particular about his last words as he is about his last breath. He should write them out on a slip of paper and take the judgment of his friends on them. He should never leave such a thing to the last hour of his life, and trust to an intellectual spurt at the last moment to enable him to say something smart with his latest gasp and launch into eternity with grandeur.
You cannot have all chiefs; you gotta have Indians too. Perfect love cannot be without equality. A friend to everybody and to nobody is the same thing. We are all alike, on the inside.
Independence-is loyalty to one's best self and principles, and this is often disloyalty to the general idols and fetishes.
I don't want my girl to be so skinny she can knife me with her knee.
If you will notice, there is seldom a telegram in a paper which fails to show up one or more members and beneficiaries of our Civilization as promenading with his shirt-tail up and the rest of his regalia in the wash.
You can't keep a juvenile moral institution alive on two displays of its sash per year.
I hate to hear people say this Judge will vote so and so, because he is a Democrat -- and this one so and so because he is a Republican. It is shameful. The Judges have the Constitution for their guidance; they have no right to any politics save the politics of rigid right and justice when they are sitting in judgment upon the great matters that come before them.
I do love compliments, yet I'm often embarrassed to say what I think to the person when I get a compliment. I so often feel that they have not gone far enough.
The people of those foreign countries are very, very ignorant. They looked curiously at the costumes we had brought from the wilds of America. They observed that we talked loudly at table sometimes. They noticed that we looked out for expenses and got what we conveniently could out of a franc, and wondered where in the mischief we came from. In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language.
What would men be without women? Scarce, sir, mighty scarce. Mark Twain Women are an alien race set down among us.
I went to the circus, and loafed around the back side till the watchman went by, and then dived in under the tent. I had my twenty-dollar gold piece and some other money, but I reckoned I better save it.... I ain't opposed to spending money on circuses, when there ain't no other way, but there ain't no use in wasting it on them.
Figures don't lie, but liars figure.
One gains at least two to three times more experience grabbing the tiger by the tail than reading about it in a book.
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.
All human rules are more or less idiotic.
It is difficult to be funny and great at the same time. Aristophanes and Moliere and Mark Twain must sit below Aristotle and Bossuet and Emerson.
For instance, take this sample: he has imagined a heaven, and has left entirely out of it the supremest of all his delights, the one ecstasy that stands first and foremost in the heart of every individual of his race - and of ours - sexual intercourse!It is as if a lost and perishing person in a roasting desert should be told by a rescuer he might choose and have all longed-for things but one, and he should elect to leave out water!
It makes one hope and believe that a day will come when, in the eye of the law, literary property will be as sacred as whiskey, or any other of the necessaries of life. It grieves me to think how far more profound and reverent a respect the law would have for literature if a body could only get drunk on it.
What a lumbering poor vehicle prose is for the conveying of a great thought! ... Prose wanders around with a lantern and laboriously schedules and verifies the details and particulars of a valley and its frame of crags and peaks, then Poetry comes, and lays bare the whole landscape with a single splendid flash.
Custom is, to think a handsome thing in private but tame it down in the utterance.
How unfortunate and how narrowing a thing it is for a man to have wealth who makes a god of it instead of a servant.
Duties are not performed for duty's 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.
All people have had ill luck, but Jairus's daughter and Lazarus had the worst.
Pity is for the living, envy is for the dead. Death, the refuge, the solace, the best and kindliest and most prized friend and benefactor of the erring, the forsaken, the old and weary and broken of heart.
A newspaper is not just for reporting the news as it is, but to make people mad enough to do something about it.
there isn't often anything in Wagner opera that one would call by such a violent name as acting.
Some people get an education without going to college. The rest get it after they get out.
Some things you can't find out; but you will never know you can't by guessing and supposing: no, you have to be patient and go on experimenting until you find out that you can't find out.
Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from making bad decisions.
His money is twice tainted: taint yours and taint mine.
Words are only painted fire, a look is the fire itself. She gave that look, and carried it away to the treasury of heaven, where all things that are divine belong.
I persuaded him to throw the dirk away; and it was as easy as persuading a child to give up some bright fresh new way of killing itself.
in order to make a man or boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain.
A man with a hump-backed uncle mustn't make fun of another man's cross-eyed aunt.
To do something, say something, see something, before anybody else -- these are things that confer a pleasure compared with which other pleasures are tame and commonplace, other ecstasies cheap and trivial.
If we could imagine such a man, that is a man who could invent the fly and send him out on his mission and furnish him with his orders: Depart into the uttermost corners of the earth and, diligently do your appointed work. Persecute the sick child, settle upon its eyes, its face, its hands, and gnaw and pester and sting, worry and fret and madden the worn and tried mother who watches by the child and humbly prays for mercy and relief with the pathetic faith of the deceived and the unteachable.
Don't live in the past, don't ponder about the future, stay at the PRESENT moment NOW...always.
Whatever a man's age, he can reduce it several years by putting a bright-colored flower in his button-hole.
I have done more for San Francisco than any of its old residents. Since I left there it has increased in population fully 300,000. I could have done more - I could have gone earlier - it was suggested.
When you cannot get a compliment any other way pay yourself one.
Every inventor is a crackpot until his idea succeeds.
Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog: Nobody really enjoys it, and the frog generally dies as a result.
But soft you, the fair Ophelia: Ope not thy ponderous and marble jaws, But get thee to a nunnery - go!
Great things can happen when you don't care who gets the credit.
I would not read the proof of one of my books for any fair and reasonable sum whatever, if I could get out of it. The proof-reading on the P and Pauper cost me the last rags of my religion.
Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.
The inability to forget is far more devastating than the inability to remember.
I should be sorry to think it was the publishers themselves they got up this entire little flutter to enable them to unload a book that was taking too much room in their cellars, but you can never tell what a publisher will do. I have been one myself.
I have no liking for novels or stories - none in the world; and so, whenever I read one - which is not oftener than once in two years, and even in these same cases I seldom read beyond the middle of the book - my distaste for the vehicle always taints my judgment of the literature itself, as a matter of course; and also of course makes my verdict valuless. Are you saying "You have written stories yourself." Quite true: but the fact that an Indian likes to scalp people is no evidence that he likes to be scalped.
To be, or not to be; that is the bare bodkin That makes calamity of so long life;
It is noble to teach oneself; it is still nobler to teach others.
The finest clothing made is a person's own skin, but, of course, society demands something more than this.
The Koran does not permit Mohammedans to drink. Their natural instincts do not permit them to be moral. They say the Sultan has eight hundred wives. This almost amounts to bigamy.
The secret source of humor is not joy but sorrow; there is no humor in Heaven.
The old saw says - 'Let a sleeping dog lie.' Experience knows better; experience says, If you want to convince do it yourself.
Behind every successful man, there is a woman - And behind every unsuccessful man, there are two.
Let us endeavor so to live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.
Kings cannot ennoble thee, thou good, great soul, for One who is higher than kings hath done that for thee; but a king can confirm thy nobility to men.
The proverb says, "Born lucky, always lucky," and I am very superstitious. As a small boy I was notoriously lucky. It was usual for one or two of our lads to get drowned in the Mississippi or in Bear Creek, but I was pulled out in a 2/3 drowned condition 9 times before I learned to swim, and was considered to be a cat in disguise.
We all belong to the nasty stinking little human race, and of course it is not nice for God's beloved vermin to scoff at each other... Oh, we are a nasty little lot-and to think there are people who would like to save us and continue us. It won't happen if I have any influence.
Courage is not the lack of fear. It is acting in spite of it.
The business aspects of the Fourth of July is not perfect as it stands. See what it costs us every year with loss of life, the crippling of thousands with its fireworks, and the burning down of property. It is not only sacred to patriotism and universal freedom, but to the surgeon, the undertaker, the insurance offices - and they are working it for all it is worth.
A half-truth is the most cowardly of lies.
And always we had wars, and more wars, and still other wars - all over Europe, all over the world. "Sometimes in the private interest of royal families," Satan said, "sometimes to crush a weak nation; but never a war started by the aggressor for any clean purpose - there is no such war in the history of the race.".
I am persuaded that the world has been tricked into adopting some false and most pernicious notions about consistency - and to such a degree that the average man has turned the rights and wrongs of things entirely around and is proud to be "consistent," unchanging, immovable, fossilized, where it should be his humiliation.
I could have become a soldier if I had waited; I knew more about retreating than the man who invented retreating.
The nation is divided, half patriots and half traitors, and no man can tell which from which.
Patriotism is usually the refuge of the scoundrel. He is the man who talks the loudest.
We all know about the habits of the ant, we know all about the habits of the bee, but we know nothing at all about the habits of the oyster. It seems almost certain that we have been choosing the wrong time for studying the oyster.
Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.
A person who has during all time maintained the imposing position of spiritual head of four-fifths of the human race, and political head of the whole of it, must be granted the possession of executive abilities of the loftiest order.
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.
True irreverence is disrespect for another man's god.
To get the full value of joy You must have someone to divide it with. 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.
The proverb says that Providence protects children and idiots. This is really true. I know because I have tested it.
Of all God's creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the leash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat.
Henry David Thoreau
C. S. Lewis
J. K. Rowling
George R. R. Martin
F. Scott Fitzgerald
John le Carre
James Howard Kunstler
John of Kronstadt
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