Mark Twain Quotes

Most popular Mark Twain Quotes

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.

courage fear

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

cheer sadness wise

Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits.
— Mark Twain

criticism judging

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.
— Mark Twain


A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.

conscience self-acceptance self-esteem

Optimist: person who travels on nothing from nowhere to happiness.


I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
— Mark Twain

education funny school

The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
— Mark Twain

death famous

Few of us can stand prosperity. Another man's, I mean.

cynical envy human nature

Hunger is the handmaid of genius.


Virtue has never been as respectable as money.
— Mark Twain

cynical virtue

I can live for two months on a good compliment.

compliments funny praise

When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear.
— Mark Twain

anger funny

True irreverence is disrespect for another man's god.


It is my belief that nearly any invented quotation, played with confidence, stands a good chance to deceive.


A baby is an inestimable blessing and bother.
— Mark Twain


To eat is human, to digest, divine.
— Mark Twain

food funny

"Classic." A book which people praise and don't read.

classics funny reading

I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.
— Mark Twain

funny opportunity

Man is the only animal that blushes.  Or needs to.

mankind man the animal

In all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.

enemies opinions

Martyrdom covers a multitude of sins.


A man may have no bad habits and have worse.

character wordplay

I smoke in moderation. Only one cigar at a time.
— Mark Twain

Cigar cigars funny

Wagner's music is better than it sounds.
— Mark Twain

music musicians

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

adversity funny

You can't pray a lie.

lies prayer

All the modern inconveniences.
— Mark Twain
Necessity is the mother of taking chances.
— Mark Twain


When in doubt, tell the truth.


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


Prosperity is the best protector of principle.

principles wealth

Love is a madness; if thwarted it develops fast.
— Mark Twain


Pity is for the living, envy is for the dead.
Familiarity breeds contempt—and children.


Obscurity and a competence—that is the life that is best worth living.
— Mark Twain


My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.
— Mark Twain


All conversations are but debates.
— Mark Twain


All generalizations are false, including this one.
— Mark Twain
Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.


Principles have no real force except when one is well fed.
— Mark Twain


Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.


The man with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.
— Mark Twain


Golf is a good walk spoiled.


If heaven has no cigars, I shall not go there.
— Mark Twain

Cigar cigars

All worship money.
— Mark Twain

human nature money

Be good and you will be lonesome.
— Mark Twain

being good solitude

All in men is association and habit.
— Mark Twain

human nature

Humor is mankind's greatest blessing.
— Mark Twain


It is easier to stay out than get out.
It is wiser to find out than to suppose.
— Mark Twain
I like criticism, but it must be my way.
— Mark Twain


Truth is more of a stranger than fiction.


Use the right word, not its second cousin.

writing advice

Name the greatest of all inventors. Accident.
— Mark Twain


The altar of an eon is the doormat of the next.
— Mark Twain
It is your human environment that makes climate.
As to the Adjective: when in doubt, strike it out.

parts of speech writing advice

Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.


Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.
— Mark Twain


Few things are harder to put up with than a good example.
— Mark Twain


It is more trouble to make a maxim than it is to do right.


Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a Congressman can.
— Mark Twain


If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
— Mark Twain

lying truth

Be careless in your dress if you must, but keep a tidy soul.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
— Mark Twain


My memory was never loaded with anything but blank cartridges.


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

funny truth

We do not deal much in fact when we are contemplating ourselves.

facts self-deception

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

funny health

Nothing is so ignorant as man's left hand, except a lady's watch.
He was as shy as a newspaper is when referring to its own merits.
It may be called the Master Passion, the hunger for self-approval.
— Mark Twain


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


You can straighten a worm, but the crook is in him and only waiting.


There are no people who are quite so vulgar as the over-refined ones.
Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can read.
— Mark Twain


The human race consists of the dangerously insane and such as are not.
— Mark Twain

insanity mankind

An ecstasy is a thing that will not go into words; it feels like music.
— Mark Twain


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

character human nature

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

imagination judgment

There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist, except an old optimist.

optimism pessimism

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


There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable.
Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.
— Mark Twain

books conscience friendship happiness

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

example funny

A dozen direct censures are easier to bear than one morganatic compliment.
April 1 is the day upon which we are reminded what we are on the other 364.
— Mark Twain
Often, the surest way to convey misinformation is to tell the strict truth.


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

how to live life

In statesmanship get the formalities right, never mind about the moralities.


It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.
— Mark Twain


It is easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.
— Mark Twain


When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not.
— Mark Twain

childhood memory

It used to be a good hotel, but that proves nothing – I used to be a good boy.
— Mark Twain


Adam, the first great benefactor of our race. He brought death into the world.
— Mark Twain


Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.
— Mark Twain
There are several kinds of stories, but only one difficult kind — the humorous.
— Mark Twain
All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.
— Mark Twain

confidence ignorance success

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

foolishness Fools funny

The weakest of all weak things is a virtue that has not been tested in the fire.


There are no grades of vanity, there are only grades of ability in concealing it.


It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.
— Mark Twain


I am opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position.
— Mark Twain


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


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

cats experience

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

work & play

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
— Mark Twain


I've experienced many terrible things in my life, a few of which actually happened.
— Mark Twain


When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.
— Mark Twain


There are several good protections against temptation, but the surest is cowardice.

cowardice temptation

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


Unexpected money is a delight.  The same sum is a bitterness when you expected more.
— Mark Twain


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


He had only one vanity; he thought he could give advice better than any other person.
— Mark Twain


The principle difference between a cat and a lie is that the cat has only nine lives.


In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made School Boards.
There is nothing in the world like a persuasive speech to fuddle the mental apparatus.
— Mark Twain
The universal brotherhood of man is our most precious possession, what there is of it.

brotherhood of man

What are the proper proportions of a maxim?  A minimum of sound to a maximum of sense.


Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.
— Mark Twain

funny heaven

Wit, by itself, is of little account. It becomes a moment only when grounded on wisdom.
— Mark Twain
The man who is ostentatious of his modesty is twin to the statue that wears a fig-leaf.


It has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep, and never to refrain when awake.
— Mark Twain

Cigar cigars smoking

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
— Mark Twain

opinions public opinion witty

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

awards greatness

Each person is born with one possession which outvalues all his others — his last breath.
Man will do many things to get himself loved, he will do all things to get himself envied.

human nature

Only presidents, editors and people with tapeworm have the right to use the editorial 'we'.
— Mark Twain

editors funny

Names are not always what they seem. The common Welsh name Bzjxxllwcp is pronounced Jackson.
I would rather have my ignorance than another man's knowledge, because I have so much of it.
— Mark Twain

funny ignorance

The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.
— Mark Twain

communication silence

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


I will offer here, as a sound maxim, this: That we can't reach old age by another man's road.
— Mark Twain

old age

It is often the case that a man who can't tell a lie thinks that he is the best judge of one.


Let us not be too particular. It is better to have old second-hand diamonds than none at all.
Human nature is the same everywhere; it deifies success, it has nothing but scorn for defeat.

failure human nature success success & failure

A crowded police court docket is the surest of all signs that trade is brisk and money plenty.
— Mark Twain


I believe that our Heavenly Father invented mankind because he was disappointed in the monkey.
— Mark Twain
To succeed in the other trades, capacity must be shown; in the law, concealment of it will do.


My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions or its office-holders.

loyalty patriotism

The English are mentioned in the Bible: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

English people

They spell it Vinci and pronounce it Vinchy foreigners always spell better than they pronounce.
— Mark Twain


The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.
— Mark Twain

purpose of life

When a man's dog turns against him, it is time for a wife to pack her trunk and go home to mama.
— Mark Twain
God was left out of the Constitution but was furnished a front seat on the coins of the country.
— Mark Twain

America God

Intellectual "work" is misnamed; it is a pleasure, a dissipation, and is its own highest reward.

work work & play

None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain pen, or half its cussedness, but we can try.
If the desire to kill and the opportunity to kill came always together, who would escape hanging?

human nature

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

decision-making funny

Don't go around saying the world owes you a living; the world owes you nothing. It was here first.
— Mark Twain

the world

Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
— Mark Twain

the world

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


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


It were not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion that makes horse races.
— Mark Twain

funny opinions

Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she had laid an asteroid.
Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.
— Mark Twain


Let me make the superstititions of a nation and I do not care who makes its laws or its songs either.


Nature makes the locust with an appetite for crops; man would have made him with an appetite for sand.
The political and social morals of America are not only food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.


There isn't a Parallel of Latitude but thinks it would have been the Equator if it had had its rights.
The man who is a pessimist before 48 knows too much; if he is an optimist after it, he knows too little.
— Mark Twain

optimism pessimism

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


Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash.  That one is the cat.


Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession, and therefore are economical in its use.
— Mark Twain


Loyalty to petrified opinions never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world—and never will.
— Mark Twain

flexible thinking loyalty

The human race is a race of cowards; and I am not only marching in that procession but carrying a banner.


The person who has had a bull by the tail once has learned 60 or 70 times as much as a person who hasn't.
— Mark Twain


The Autocrat of Russia possesses more power than any other man in the earth; but he cannot stop a sneeze.
You can't reason with your heart; it has its own laws, and thumps about things which the intellect scorns.

head and heart

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


Grief can take care of itself; but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.


Consider well the proportions of things.  It is better to be a young June-bug than an old bird of paradise.
There are two times in a man's life when he should not speculate: when he can't afford it, and when he can.


Don't you know, there are some things that can beat smartness and foresight?  Awkwardness and stupidity can.


I have traveled more than anyone else, and I have noticed that even the angels speak English with an accent.
Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.


Gratitude is a debt which usually goes on accumulating like blackmail; the more you pay, the more is exacted.


Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.

play work

It isn't what a man has that constitutes wealth.  No—it is to be satisfied with what one has; that is wealth.

contentment wealth

On with dance, let joy be unconfined, is my motto; whether there's any dance to dance or any joy to unconfine.
— Mark Twain
To be vested with enormous authority is a fine thing; but to have the onlooking world consent to it is a finer.


My father and I were always on the most distant terms when I was a boy—a sort of armed neutrality, so to speak.

father personal

Eating and sleeping are the only activities that should be allowed to interrupt a man's enjoyment of his cigar.
— Mark Twain

Cigar cigars

Good breeding consists of concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person
— Mark Twain
He would come in and say he changed his mind — which was a gilded figure of speech, because he didn't have any.
— Mark Twain


It is just like man's vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.
— Mark Twain
What ought to be done to the man who invented the celebrating of anniversaries? Mere killing would be too light.
— Mark Twain

wedding anniversary

There are people who can do all fine and heroic things but one: keep from telling their happiness to the unhappy.
Whatever a man's age may be, he can reduce it several years by putting a bright-colored flower in his buttonhole.
— Mark Twain

age flowers

Lord save us all from old age and broken health and a hope tree that has lost the faculty of putting out blossoms.

health hope old age

There are some books that refuse to be written. They stand their ground year after year and will not be persuaded.


Everything human is pathetic. The secret source of Humor itself is not joy but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven.


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.


When we were finishing our house, we found we had a little cash left over, on account of the plumber not knowing it.
— Mark Twain


Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.

bigotry Travel

The timid man yearns for full value and demands a tenth. The bold man strikes for double value and compromises on par.


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

human nature respect

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.
— Mark Twain


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


I have found out that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.
— Mark Twain

relationships Travel

Morals are an acquirement — like music, like a foreign language, like piety, poker, paralysis — no man is born with them.
— Mark Twain

experience morals

It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.
The spirit of wrath — not the words — is the sin; and the spirit of wrath is cursing. We begin to swear before we can talk.


Let us be grateful to Adam our benefactor. He cut us out of the "blessing" of idleness and won for us the "curse" of labor.

hard work

Somebody has said, "Wit is the sudden marriage of ideas which, before their union, were not perceived to have any relation."


There is an old-time toast which is golden for its beauty. "When you ascend the hill of prosperity may you not meet a friend."


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


The old saw says, "Let a sleeping dog lie." Right. Still, when there is much at stake it is better to get a newspaper to do it.

fake news journalism

An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.

parts of speech

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

devil religion

Piloting on the Mississippi River was not work to me; it was play—delightful play, vigorous play, adventurous play—and I loved it.

work & play

The proper office of a friend is to side with you when you are in the wrong. Nearly anybody will side with you when you are right.
— Mark Twain


In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied even to prayer.

communication language

Perfect grammar—persistent, continuous, sustained—is the fourth dimension, so to speak; many have sought it, but none has found it.


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


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


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.


A home without a cat—and a well-fed, well-petted, and properly revered cat—may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?


Each man is afraid of his neighbor's disapproval — a thing which, to the general run of the race, is more dreaded than wounds and death.
— Mark Twain


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


Ignorant people think it's the noise which fighting cats make that is so aggravating, but it ain't so; it's the sickening grammar they use.
— Mark Twain


I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's.

religion and politics

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.

enemies friendship

She was not quite what you would call refined. She was not quite what you would call unrefined. She was the kind of person that keeps a parrot.
New Year's Day.  Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.

new year

True love is the only heart disease that is best left to "run on"--the only affection of the heart for which there is no help, and none desired.
— Mark Twain
There is no such thing as "the Queen's English." The property has gone into the hands of a joint stock company and we own the bulk of the shares!
Drag your thoughts away from your troubles—by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it. It's the healthiest thing a body can do.
— Mark Twain

problems worry

The efficiency of our criminal jury system is only marred by the difficulty of finding twelve men every day who don't know anything and can't read.
— Mark Twain


Adam and Eve were but human — this explains it all. They did not want the apple for the apple's sake, they wanted it only because it was forbidden.
— Mark Twain
Of the delights of this world man cares most for sexual intercourse.  He will go any length for it—risk fortune, character, reputation, life itself.


Make it a point to 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.

duty how to live life

We can secure other people's approval, if we do right and try hard; but our own is worth a hundred of it, and no way has been found out of securing that.


When your watch gets out of order you have a choice of two things to do: throw it in the fire or take it to the watch-tinker. The former is the quickest.
The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—'tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.

words writing

I am dead to adverbs; they cannot excite me. To misplace an adverb is a thing which I am able to do with frozen indifference; it can never give me a pang.

parts of speech

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.
— Mark Twain


There are those who would misteach us that to stick in a rut is consistency — and a virtue, and that to climb out of the rut is inconsistency — and a vice.
— Mark Twain


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.
— Mark Twain

America England

There are those who scoff at the schoolboy, calling him frivolous and shallow. Yet it was the schoolboy who said, "Faith is believing what you know ain't so."


Life does not consist mainly—or even largely—of facts and happenings.  It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever blowing through one's head.

life thinking

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.


Nothing that grieves us can be called little: by the eternal laws of proportion a child's loss of a doll and a king's loss of a crown are events of the same size.


SATAN (impatiently) to NEW-COMER. The trouble with you Chicago people is, that you think you are the best people down here; whereas you are merely the most numerous.
Another instance of unconscious humor was of the Sunday school boy who defined a lie as "An abomination before the Lord and an ever present help in time of trouble."
— Mark Twain

humor lies

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.
— Mark Twain


Do not undervalue the headache. While it is at its sharpest it seems a bad investment; but when relief begins, the inexpired remainder is worth four dollars a minute.
There are eight hundred and sixty-nine different forms of lying, but only one of them has been squarely forbidden. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.


Whenever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are going to see of him till he emerges on the other side of his Atlantic with his verb in his mouth.
— Mark Twain


He had had much experience of physicians, and said "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 druther not."

doctors health

There is nothing you can say in answer to a compliment. I have been complimented myself a great many times, and they always embarrass me. I always feel they have not said enough.
— Mark Twain

compliments funny

Indecency, vulgarity, obscenity — these are strictly confined to man; we invented them. Among the higher animals there is no trace of them. They hide nothing. They are not ashamed.
— Mark Twain
I ordinarily smoke fifteen cigars during my five hours' labours, and if my interest reaches the enthusiastic point, I smoke more. I smoke with all my might, and allow no intervals.
— Mark Twain

Cigar cigars

What is the most rigorous law of our being?  Growth.  No smallest atom of our moral, mental, or physical structure can stand still a year.  It grows—it must grow; nothing can prevent it.


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.

America freedom

A soiled baby, with a neglected nose, cannot be conscientiously regarded as a thing of beauty; and inasmuch as babyhood spans but three short years, no baby is competent to be a joy "forever."


The fact that man knows right from wrong proves our intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that we can do wrong proves our moral inferiority to any creatures that cannot.
— Mark Twain
Truth is stranger than fiction — to some people, but I am measurably familiar with it. Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.


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 he had learned in seven years.
— Mark Twain

adolescence parenting

Wit and Humor—if any difference it is in duration—lightning and electric light. Same material, apparently; but one is vivid, brief, and can do damage—the other fools along and enjoys the elaboration.

humor wit wit vs. humor

Forget and forgive. This is not difficult when properly understood. It means forget inconvenient duties, then forgive yourself for forgetting. By rigid practice and stern determination, it comes easy.
— Mark Twain


Simple rules for saving money: To save half, when you are fired by an eager impulse to contribute to a charity, wait, and count forty. To save three-quarters, count sixty. To save it all, count sixty-five.

charity funny

The pause—that impressive silence, that eloquent silence, that geometrically progressive silence which often achieves a desired effect where no combination of words, howsoever felicitous, could accomplish it.


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.
— Mark Twain


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.
— Mark Twain


But the truth is, that when a Library expels a book of mine and leaves an unexpurgated Bible lying around where unprotected youth and age can get hold of it, the deep unconscious irony of it delights me and does't anger me.
— Mark Twain


There is a Moral Sense, and there is an Immoral Sense. History shows us that the Moral Sense enables us to perceive morality and how to avoid it, and that the Immoral Sense enables us to perceive immorality and how to enjoy it.


Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things 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.
— Mark Twain


When I take up one of Jane Austen's books...I feel like a barkeep entering the kingdom of heaven.  I know what his sensation would be and his private comments.  He would not find the place to his taste, and he would probably say so.
I have made it a rule never to smoke more than one cigar at a time. I have no other restrictions as regards smoking.... As an example to others, and not that I care for moderation myself, it has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep, and never to refrain when awake.
— Mark Twain

cigars smoking

We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it — and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again — and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.

experience wisdom

I pledged myself to smoke but one cigar a day. I kept the cigar waiting until bedtime, then I had a luxurious time with it. But desire persecuted me every day and all day long. I found myself hunting for larger cigars... within the month my cigar had grown to such proportions I could have used it as a crutch.
— Mark Twain

Cigar cigars

In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.

religion and politics

What is it that confers the noblest delight? What is that which swells a man's breast with pride above that which any other experience can bring to him?  Discovery!  To know that you are walking where none others have walked; that you are beholding what human eye has not seen before; that you are breathing a virgin atmosphere.


Man is a 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 neighbour 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.
— Mark Twain

man the animal religion

There are three infallible ways of pleasing an author, and the three form a rising scale of compliment: 1, to tell him you have read one of his books; 2, to tell him you have read all of his books; 3, to ask him to let you read the manuscript of his forthcoming book.  No. 1 admits you to his respect; No. 2 admits you to his admiration; No. 3 carries you clear into his heart.

authors compliments

Strange ... a God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; mouths Golden Rules and forgiveness multiplied seventy times seven and invented Hell; who mouths morals to other people and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man's acts upon man, instead of honourably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally with altogether divine obtuseness, invites this poor, abused slave to worship him!
— Mark Twain


First catch your Boer, then kick him.