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Quotations from Mark Twain

1835-1910

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.

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

Letter to Mrs. Foote (December 2, 1887)

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

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

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

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Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge.

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Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.

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Familiarity breeds contempt - and children.

Notebook (1935)

Give a man a reputation as an early riser, and that man can sleep till noon.

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History does not repeat itself. But it does rhyme.

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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?

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.

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I was gratified to be able to answer promptly. I said I don't know.

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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.

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If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything.

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

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In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, brave, hated, and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.

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

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

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

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

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

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My country, always. My government when it deserves it.

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

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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.

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Often it does seem a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat.

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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

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

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The altar cloth of one aeon is the doormat of the next.

Notebook (1935)

The best cure for Christianity is reading the Bible.

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

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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)

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

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 (1894)

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

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The only thing worse than not getting what you want is getting it.

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The power which a man's imagination has over his body to heal it or make it sick is a force which none of us is born without. The first man had it, the last one will possess it.

Christian Science (1903)

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)

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

Following the Equator (1897)

There are some natures which never grow large enough to speak out and say a bad act is a bad act, until they have inquired into the politics or the nationality of the man who did it.

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Time cools, time clarifies; no mood can be maintained quite unaltered through the course of hours.

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To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.

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

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)



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