Mark Twain (1835-1910)

“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.”

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

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

“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.”

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

“I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.”

“The most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all they know and then stop.”

“Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.”

“A man’s character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation.”

“All generalizations are false, including this one.”

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”

“When red-haired people are above a certain social grade their hair is auburn.”

“The more things are forbidden, the more popular they become.”

“It is easier to stay out than get out.”

“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”

“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.”

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

“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.”

“When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain.”

“When angry, count to four. When very angry, swear.”

“But who prays for Satan? Who, in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most?”

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

“The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.”

“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.”

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

“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.”

“Any emotion, if it is sincere, is involuntary.”

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

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

“What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself.”

“Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.”

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

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

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

“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.”

“There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.”

“We have the best government that money can buy.”

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

“All right, then, I’ll go to hell.”

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

“Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered — either by themselves or by others.”

“Books are for people who wish they were somewhere else.”

“In the real world, nothing happens at the right place at the right time. It is the job of journalists and historians to correct that.”

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

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.”

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

“Man is the only creature who has a nasty mind.”

“A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time.”

“Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today.”

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

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

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

“Do not put off till tomorrow what can be put off till day-after-tomorrow just as well.”

“Really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

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

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

“Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”

“Conservatism is the blind and fear-filled worship of dead radicals.”

“It is curious – curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.”

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

“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.”

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.”

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

“If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be – a Christian.”

“Let us swear while we may, for in heaven it will not be allowed.”

“Heaven goes by favor; if it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”

“One of the proofs of the immortality of the soul is that myriads have believed it – they also believed the world was flat.”

“Always obey your parents – when they are present.”

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

“Broad, wholesome, charitable views … can not be acquired by vegetating in one’s little corner of the earth.”

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

“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.”

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

“We have not the reverent feeling for the rainbow that a savage has, because we know how it is made. We have lost as much as we gained by prying into that matter.”

“Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them.”

“Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.”

“A man’s private thought can never be a lie; what he thinks, is to him the truth, always.”

“There is a good side and a bad side to most people, and in accordance with your own character and disposition you will bring out one of them and the other will remain a sealed book to you.”

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

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

“On with dance, let joy be unconfined, is my motto; whether there’s any dance to dance or any joy to unconfined.”

“Adam was the luckiest man; he had no mother-in-law.”

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

“Never do wrong when people are looking.”

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

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

“I deal with temptation by yielding to it.”

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

“The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”

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

“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.”

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

“What is human life? The first third a good time; the rest remembering about it.”

“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”

“It is a mistake that there is no bath that will cure people’s manners, but drowning would help.”

“I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want.”

“There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist.”

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

“Be good and you will be lonesome.”

“To create man was a quaint and original idea, but to add the sheep was tautology.”

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

“I’ve come loaded with statistics, for I’ve noticed that a man can’t prove anything without statistics.”

“Spirit has fifty times the strength and staying-power of brawn and muscle.”

“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.”

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

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

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

“There is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a dream, a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but you. And you are but a thought — a vagrant thought, a useless thought, a homeless thought, wandering forlorn among the empty eternities!”

“Education is the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty.”

“If it is a miracle, any sort of evidence will answer, but if it is a Fact, proof is necessary.”

“Diligence is a good thing, but taking things easy is much more restful.”

“Man was made at the end of the week’s work, when God was tired.”

“I don’t like to commit myself about heaven and hell – you see, I have friends in both places.”

“The proper office of a friend is to side with you when you are in the wrong.”

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

“I can speak French but I cannot understand it.”

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

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

“Virtue has never been as respectable as money.”

“I am not the editor of a newspaper and shall always try to do right and be good so that God will not make me one.”

“Genius has no youth, but starts with the ripeness of age and old experience.”

“There are several good protections against temptations, but the surest is cowardice.”

“The older we grow the greater becomes our wonder at how much ignorance one can contain without bursting one’s clothes.”

“All good things arrive unto them that wait – and don’t die in the meantime.”

“We may not pay Satan reverence, for that would be indiscreet, but we can at least respect his talent.”

“It is wiser to find out than to suppose.”

“An inglorious peace is better than a dishonorable war.”

“Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination.”

“Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned.”

“There is nothing so annoying as to have two people talking when you’re busy interrupting.”

“One learns through the heart, not the eyes or the intellect.”

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

“History doesn’t repeat itself – at best it sometimes rhymes.”

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

“Everything has its limit – iron ore cannot be educated into gold.”

“It is no use to keep private information which you can’t show off.”

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

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

“Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.”

“The church is always trying to get other people to reform; it might not be a bad idea to reform itself a little, by way of example.”

“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.”

“Providence protects children and idiots. I know because I have tested it.”

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

“I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

“Religion consists of a set of things which the average man thinks he believes and wishes he was certain.”

“It takes your enemy and your friend, working together to hurt you to the heart; the one to slander you and the other to get the news to you.”

“One mustn’t criticize other people on grounds where he can’t stand perpendicular himself.”

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

“God has put something noble and good into every heart His hand created.”

“Accident is the name of the greatest of all inventors.”

“A thoroughly beautiful woman and a thoroughly homely woman are creations which I love to gaze upon, and which I cannot tire of gazing upon, for each is perfect in her own line.”

“A cat is more intelligent than people believe, and can be taught any crime.”

“The man who is a pessimist before forty-eight knows too much; if he is an optimist after it he knows too little.”

“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.”

“A classic is a book which people praise and don’t read.”

“Man is the only animal that blushes – or needs to.”

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

“Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.”

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

“To eat is human, to digest, divine.”

“God’s great cosmic joke on the human race was requiring that men and women live together in marriage.”

“The Bible is a mass of fables and traditions, mere mythology.”

“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.”

“In writing, I shall always confine myself strictly to the truth, except when it is attended with inconvenience.”

“Sacred cows make the best hamburger.”

“Be good and you will be lonely.”

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

“We are all alike on the inside.”

“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.”

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

“Do your duty today and repent tomorrow.”

“The first half of my life I went to school, the second half of my life I got an education.”

“Few sinners are saved after the first twenty minutes of a sermon.”

“It is strange the way the ignorant and inexperienced so often and undeservedly succeed when the informed and experienced fail.”

“A nation is only an individual multiplied.”

“A public library is the most enduring of memorials, the trustiest monument for the preservation of an event or a name or an affection; for it, and it only, is respected by wars and revolutions, and survives them.”

“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.”

“Man is the 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. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven.”

“Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody.”

“Golf is a good walk spoiled.”

“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.”

“Etiquette requires us to admire the human race.”

“God was left out of the Constitution but was furnished a front seat on the coins of the country.”

“Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of a man – the biography of the man himself cannot be written.”

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

“No real gentleman will tell the naked truth in the presence of ladies.”

“Peace by persuasion has a pleasant sound, but I think we should not be able to work it. We should have to tame the human race first, and history seems to show that that cannot be done.”

“Conscience, man’s moral medicine chest.”

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