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Mark Twain

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

It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.


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.

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

A human being has a natural desire to have more of a good thing than he needs.

A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.

A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.

A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.

A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read.

A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.

A round man cannot be expected to fit in a square hole right away. He must have time to modify his shape.

Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.

Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.

Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.

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

All generalizations are false, including this one.

All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and 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.

An enemy can partly ruin a man, but it takes a good-natured injudicious friend to complete the thing and make it perfect.

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.

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.

Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today.

Barring that natural expression of villainy which we all have, the man looked honest enough.

Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.

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

Better a broken promise than none at all.

Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man. The biography of the man himself cannot be written.

By trying we can easily endure adversity. Another man's, I mean.

Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.

Civilization is the 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.

Deep down in me I knowed it was a lie, and He knowed it. You can't pray a lie - I found that out.

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.

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.

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

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 let schooling interfere with your education.

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

Don't tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don't tell them where they know the fish.

Drag your thoughts away from your troubles... by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.

Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.

Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge.

Everything has its limit - iron ore cannot be educated into gold.

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

There is no humor in heaven.

Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.

Familiarity breeds contempt - and children.

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

Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.

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

George Washington, as a boy, was ignorant of the commonest accomplishments of youth. He could not even lie.

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

Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I've done it thousands of times.

Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.

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

Going to law is losing a cow for the sake of a cat.

Golf is a good walk spoiled.

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

Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.

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.

Have a place for everything and keep the thing somewhere else; this is not advice, it is merely custom.

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 is now rising from affluence to poverty.

He is useless on top of the ground; he ought to be under it, inspiring the cabbages.

Honesty is the best policy - when there is money in it.

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.

I am an old man and have known 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 can live for two months on a good compliment.

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 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 don't like to commit myself about heaven and hell - you see, I have friends in both places.

I have a higher and grander standard of principle than George Washington. He could not lie; I can, but I won't.

I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel that they have not said enough.

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

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.

I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting.

I make it a rule never to smoke while I'm sleeping.

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

I never let schooling interfere with my education.

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

I've never let my school interfere with my education.

Ideally a book would have no order to it, and the reader would have to discover his own.

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

If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you cannot learn any other way.

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 tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

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.

In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.

In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.

It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

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

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 closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected.

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 curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.

It is easier to stay out than get out.

It is just like man's vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.

It is not best that we should all think alike; it is a 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 used to take me all vacation to grow a new hide in place of the one they flogged off me during school term.

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

It was wonderful to find America, but it would have been more wonderful to miss it.

It's good sportsmanship to not pick up lost golf balls while they are still rolling.

It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.

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. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

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

Laws are sand, customs are rock. Laws can be evaded and punishment escaped but an openly transgressed custom brings sure punishment.

Laws control the lesser man... Right conduct controls the greater one.

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

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

Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.

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.

Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.

Lord save us all from a hope tree that has lost the faculty of putting out blossoms.

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

Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it.

Man - a creature made at the end of the week's work when God was tired.

Man is the only animal that blushes - or needs to.

Man was made at the end of the week's work when God was tired.

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.

Martyrdom covers a multitude of sins.

Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.

My books are like water; those of the great geniuses are wine. (Fortunately) everybody drinks water.

My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.
Name the greatest of all inventors. Accident.

Necessity is the mother of taking chances.

Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.

No sinner is ever saved after the first twenty minutes of a sermon.

Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she laid an asteroid.

Not until you become a stranger to yourself will you be able to make acquaintance with the Friend.

Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits.

Often it does seem a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat.

One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.

Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we."

Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.

Our opinions do not really blossom into fruition until we have expressed them to someone else.

Part of the secret of a 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.

Prophesy is a good line of business, but it is full of risks.

Prosperity is the best protector of principle.

Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.

Repartee is something we think of twenty-four hours too late.

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.

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

Sometimes too much to drink is barely enough.

Such is the human race, often it seems a pity that Noah... didn't miss the boat.

The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.

The Christian's Bible is a drug store. Its contents remain the same, but the medical practice changes.

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

The educated Southerner has no use for an 'R', except at the beginning of a word.

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 fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.

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.

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 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 main difference between a cat and a lie is that a cat only has nine lives.

The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't 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 Public is merely a multiplied "me."

The public is the only critic whose opinion is worth anything at all.

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 reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

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 humor is not joy but sorrow; there is no humor in Heaven.

The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right.

The universal brotherhood of man is our most precious possession.

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

The wit knows that his place is at the tail of a procession.

The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.

There are lies, damned lies and statistics.

There are people who can do all fine and heroic things but one - keep from telling their happiness to the unhappy.

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 times when one would like to hang the whole human race, and finish the farce.

There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable.

There is no distinctly American criminal class - except Congress.

There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist.

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

Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered - either by themselves or by others.

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

Time cools, time clarifies; no mood can be maintained quite unaltered through the course of hours.

To be good is noble; but to show others how to be good is nobler and no trouble.

To refuse awards is another way of accepting them with more noise than is normal.

To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.

Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.

Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing wrong with this, except that it ain't so.

Truth is more of a stranger than fiction.

Truth is the most valuable thing we have. Let us economize it.

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.

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

Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody.

We Americans... bear the ark of liberties of the world.

We are all alike, on the inside.

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 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.

What a good thing Adam had. When he said a good thing he knew nobody had said it before.

What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin.

What would men be without women? Scarce, sir, mighty scarce.

When a person cannot deceive himself the chances are against his being able to deceive other people.

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

When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not.

When in doubt tell the truth.

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.

When your friends begin to flatter you on how young you look, it's a sure sign you're getting old.

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

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

Why shouldn't truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.
Wit is the sudden marriage of ideas which before their union were not perceived to have any relation.

Words are only painted fire; a book is the fire itself.

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.

Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.

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

Quotes by Mark Twain

Mark Twain

1835 to 1910

Humorist, novelist, writer

 
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