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Mark Twain quotes

September 10, 2009

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain,
was an American humorist, novelist, writer, and lecturer.

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In 1909, Twain is quoted as saying:

I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.’

His prediction was accurate—Twain died of a heart attack on April 21, 1910 in Redding, Connecticut, one day after the comet’s closest approach to Earth.

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History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.

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

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

If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do 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.

If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.

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

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

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

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.

They did not know it was impossible, so they did it!

Never let your schoolin’ interfere with your education.

Whiskey is for drinking. Water is for fighting over.

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

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes time and annoys the pig.

I’ve never killed a man, but I’ve read many an obituary with a great deal of satisfaction.

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

The loud little handful will shout for war. The pulpit will warily and cautiously protest at first…The great mass of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes, and will try to make out why there should be a war, and they will say earnestly and indignantly: “It is unjust and dishonorable and there is no need for war.” Then the few will shout even louder…Before long you will see a curious thing: anti-war speakers will be stoned from the platform, and free speech will be strangled by hordes of furious men who still agree with the speakers but dare not admit it … Next, statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.

“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

There ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.

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

Truth is more often stranger than fiction.

Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it.

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.

Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.

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

A classic is something that everybody praises and nobody has read.

Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.

In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination.

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

Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear, and the blind can read.

France is miserable because it is filled with Frenchmen, and Frenchmen are miserable because they live in France.

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

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

The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail.
The trouble with most fiction is that you want them all to land in hell, together, as quickly as possible.

You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

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

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

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

I take my only exercise acting as a pallbearer at the funerals of my friends who exercise regularly.

I have found solace in profanity unexcelled even by prayer.

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

Golf is a good walk spoiled.

Every generalization is false, including this one.

What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.

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.

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.

America is built on a tilt and everything loose slides to California.

Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.

He is a stranger to me, but he is a most remarkable man — and I am the other one. Between us, we cover all knowledge;
he knows all that can be known, and I know the rest. On Kipling.

America is a nation without a distinct criminal class with the possible exception of Congress.

Cauliflower is nothing but Cabbage with a College Education.

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

Land of religions, cradle of human race, birthplace of human speech, grandmother of legend, great grandmother of tradition. The land that all men desire to see and having seen once even by a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of the rest of the globe combined. On India.

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.
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.

Tomorrow is the yesterday of two days from now.

There is something worse than ignorance, and that’s knowing what ain’t so.

A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.

I haven’t a particle of confidence in a man who has no redeeming petty vices.

It does look as if Massachusetts were in a fair way to embarrass me with kindnesses this year. In the first place, a Massachusetts judge has just decided in open court that a Boston publisher may sell, not only his own property in a free and unfettered way, but also may as freely sell property which does not belong to him but to me; property which he has not bought and which I have not sold. Under this ruling I am now advertising that
judge’s homestead for sale, and, if I make as good a sum out of it as I expect, I shall go on and sell out the rest of his property.

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

Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned.

If you would have your fiction live forever, you must neither overtly preach nor overtly teach; but you must *covertly* preach and *covertly* teach.

Some men worship rank, some worship heroes, some worship power, some worship God, and over these ideals they
dispute and cannot unite — but they all worship money.

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

In the beginning of a 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.

The citizen who sees his society’s democratic clothes being worn out and does not cry out is not a patriot but a traitor.

Be respectful to your superiors, if you have any.

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