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    Mark Twain Quotes

    American humorist, novelist, short story author, & wit
    170 Favorites on Read Print

    Quotes by Mark Twain

    • 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 man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity -- another man's I mean.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.
    • Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
    • Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.
    • 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.
    • Honesty is the best policy - when there is money in it.
    • 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 opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position.
    • 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 have a higher and grander standard of principle than George Washington. He could not lie; I can, but I won't.
    • I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.
    • I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
    • I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting.
    • 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. I said I don't know.
    • 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.
    • 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 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 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 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.
    • 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.
    • Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed.
    • Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.
    • 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 mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.
    • Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
    • Often it does seem a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat.
    • Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.
    • 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 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 human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.
    • The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.
    • The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.
    • 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 is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    • Time cools, time clarifies; no mood can be maintained quite unaltered through the course of hours.
    • Truth is more of a stranger than fiction.
    • Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.
    • Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody.
    • 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.
    • When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had 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.
    • Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform.
    • I cannot call to mind a single instance where I have ever been irreverent, except toward the things which were sacred to other people.
      "Is Shakespeare Dead?"
    • 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.
      "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", Chapter 2
    • 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 Lowest Animal"
    • A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.
    • Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.
      A Connecticult Yankee in King Arthur's Court
    • You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
      A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
    • 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.
      Advice to Youth
    • A human being has a natural desire to have more of a good thing than he needs.
      Following the Equator
    • The universal brotherhood of man is our most precious possession, what there is of it.
      Following the Equator
    • By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity. Another man's, I mean.
      Following the Equator (1897)
    • 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.
      Following the Equator (1897)
    • 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.
      Following the Equator (1897)
    • Man is the Only Animal that Blushes. Or needs to.
      Following the Equator (1897)
    • There are several good protections against temptations, but the surest is cowardice.
      Following the Equator (1897)
    • The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.
      in Christian Science
    • All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.
      Letter to Mrs Foote, Dec. 2, 1887
    • 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.
      Mark Twain In Eruption
    • Of all the creatures that were made, man is the most detestable. Of the entire brood he is the only one--the solitary one--that possesses malice. That is the basest of all instincts, passions, vices--the most hateful. He is the only creature that has pain for sport, knowing it to be pain. Also--in all the list he is the only creature that has a nasty mind.
      Mark Twain's Autobiography
    • 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.
      Mark Twain's Autobiography
    • When a person cannot deceive himself the chances are against his being able to deceive other people.
      Mark Twain's Autobiography
    • The report of my death was an exaggeration.
      New York Journal, June 2, 1897
    • 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.
      Notebook, 1935
    • Familiarity breeds contempt - and children.
      Notebooks (1935)
    • Good breeding consists of concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.
      Notebooks (1935)
    • What a good thing Adam had. When he said a good thing he knew nobody had said it before.
      Notebooks (1935)
    • An enemy can partly ruin a man, but it takes a good-natured injudicious friend to complete the thing and make it perfect.
      Pudd'nhead Wilson
    • 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.
      Pudd'nhead Wilson
    • Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
      Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894)
    • Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.
      Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894)
    • Our opinions do not really blossom into fruition until we have expressed them to someone else.
      quoted in Mark Twain and I, Opie Read, 1940
    • A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.
      Speech in New York, Nov. 20, 1900
    • It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race.
      The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
    • How little a thing can make us happy when we feel that we have earned it.
      The Diaries of Adam and Eve
    • Laws are sand, customs are rock. Laws can be evaded and punishment escaped but an openly transgressed custom brings sure punishment.
      The Gorky Incident
    • [Humanity] has unquestionably one really effective weapon -- laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution -- these can lift at a colossal humbug -- push it a little -- weaken it a little, century by century; but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.
      The Mysterious Stranger, chapter 10 (1916)
    • I am not one of those who in expressing opinions confine themselves to facts.
      Wearing White Clothes speech, 1907
    • 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.
      What Is Man? (1906)
    If we're missing any Mark Twain books or quotes, do email us.

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