Quotes by Mark Twain

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

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That's what an army is -- a mob; they don't fight with courage that's born in them, but with courage that's borrowed from their mass, and from their officers.

There isn't a single human characteristic that can be safely labeled as American.
I am admonished in many ways that time is pushing me inexorably along. I am approaching the threshold of age; in 1977 I shall be 142. This is no time to be flitting about the earth. I must cease from the activities proper to youth and begin to take on the dignities and gravities and inertia proper to that season of honorable senility which is on its way.
The true charm of pedestrianism does not lie in the walking, or in the scenery, but in the talking. The walking is good to time the movement of the tongue by, and to keep the blood and the brain stirred up and active; the scenery and the woodsy smells are good to bear in upon a man an unconscious and unobtrusive charm and solace to eye and soul and sense; but the supreme pleasure comes from the talk.
Wit is the sudden marriage of ideas which, before their union, were not perceived to have any relation.
Wit and Humor -- if any difference, it is in duration -- lightning and electric light. Same material, apparently; but one is vivid, and can do damage -- the other fools along and enjoys elaboration.
An average English word is four letters and a half. By hard, honest labor I've dug all the large words out of my vocabulary and shaved it down till the average is three and a half... I never write metropolis for seven cents, because I can get the same money for city. I never write policeman, because I can get the same price for cop.... I never write valetudinarian at all, for not even hunger and wretchedness can humble me to the point where I will do a word like that for seven cents; I wouldn't do it for fifteen.
Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.
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.
The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large mattertis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.
Truth is neither alive nor dead; it just aggravates itself all the time.
You perceive I generalize with intrepidity from single instances. It is the tourist's custom.
A man can seldom -- very, very, seldom -- fight a winning fight against his training; the odds are too heavy.
Man is the only creature who has a nasty mind.
There was never a century nor a country that was short of experts who knew the Deity's mind and were willing to reveal it.
The highest perfection of politeness is only a beautiful edifice, built, from the base to the dome, of ungraceful and gilded forms of charitable and unselfish lying.
There are only two forces that can carry light to all the corners of the globe... the sun in the heavens and the Associated Press down here.
The man who is ostentatious of his modesty is twin to the statue that wears a fig-leaf.
I am opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position.
From his cradle to his grave a man never does a single thing which has any FIRST AND FOREMOST object but one -- to secure peace of mind, spiritual comfort, for HIMSELF.
There are German songs which can make a stranger to the language cry.
Nations do not think, they only feel. They get their feelings at second hand through their temperaments, not their brains. A nation can be brought -- by force of circumstances, not argument -- to reconcile itself to any kind of government or religion that can be devised; in time it will fit itself to the required conditions; later it will prefer them and will fiercely fight for them.
The banging and slamming and booming and crashing were something beyond belief. [On Lohengrin]
Hardly a man in the world has an opinion upon morals, politics or religion which he got otherwise than through his associations and sympathies. Broadly speaking, there are none but corn-pone opinions. And broadly speaking, Corn-Pone stands for Self-Approval. Self-approval is acquired mainly from the approval of other people. The result is Conformity.
It is difference of opinion that makes horse races.
Pessimism is only the name that men of weak nerve give to wisdom.
There is nothing sadder than a young pessimist.
If they had not landed there would be some reason for celebrating the fact.
Pity is for living, envy is for dead.
War talk by men who have been in a war is always interesting; whereas moon talk by a poet who has not been in the moon is likely to be dull.
In statesmanship get the formalities right, never mind about the moralities.
When the doctrine of allegiance to party can utterly up-end a man's moral constitution and make a temporary fool of him besides, what excuse are you going to offer for preaching it, teaching it, extending it, perpetuating it? Shall you say, the best good of the country demands allegiance to party? Shall you also say it demands that a man kick his truth and his conscience into the gutter, and become a mouthing lunatic, besides?
Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a Congressman can.
By common consent of all the nations and all the ages the most valuable thing in this world is the homage of men, whether deserved or undeserved.
Principles aren't of much account anyway, except at election time. After that you hang them up to let them season.
Prosperity is the best protector of principle.
When you ascend the hill of prosperity, may you not meet a friend.
Prosperity is the surest breeder of insolence I know.
There are many scapegoats for our sins, but the most popular is providence.
I cannot see how a man of any large degree of humorous perception can ever be religious -- except he purposely shut the eyes of his mind and keep them shut by force.
In his private heart no man much respects himself.
If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way …. Yet he has made a marvelous fight in the world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him.
No God and no religion can survive ridicule. No political church, no nobility, no royalty or other fraud, can face ridicule in a fair field, and live.
A monarch, when good, is entitled to the consideration which we accord to a pirate who keeps Sunday School between crimes; when bad, he is entitled to none at all.
Out of the unconscious lips of babes and sucklings are we satirized.
Scientists have odious manners, except when you prop up their theory; then you can borrow money of them.
What do we call love, hate, charity, revenge, humanity, forgiveness? Different results of the master impulse, the necessity of securing one's self-approval.
The most difficult We do not deal in facts when we are contemplating ourselves.
The law of God, as quite plainly expressed in woman's construction, is this: There shall be no limit put upon your intercourse with the other sex sexually, at any time of life. During twenty-three days in every month (in the absence of pregnancy) from the time a woman is seven years old till she dies of old age, she is ready for action, and competent. As competent as the candlestick is to receive the candle. Competent every day, competent every night. Also, she wants that candle -- yearns for it, longs for it, hankers after it, as commanded by the law of God in her heart.
I could have become a soldier if I had waited; I knew more about retreating than the man who invented retreating.
October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks in. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February.
There it is: it doesn't make any difference who we are or what we are, there's always somebody to look down on! somebody to hold in light esteem, somebody to be indifferent about.
Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.
I don't know of a single foreign product that enters this country untaxed, except the answer to prayer.
A wise man does not waste so good a commodity as lying for naught.
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.
To succeed in the other trades, capacity must be shown; in the law, concealment of it will do.
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!
All I say is, kings is kings, and you got to make allowances. Take them all around, they're a mighty ornery lot. It's the way they're raised.
As a thinker and planner the ant is the equal of any savage race of men; as a self-educated specialist in several arts she is the superior of any savage race of men; and in one or two high mental qualities she is above the reach of any man, savage or civilized!