Quotations by Twain, Mark


Happiness ain’t a thing in itself, it’s only a contrast with something that ain’t pleasant. That’s all it is. There ain’t a thing you can mention that is happiness in its own self — it’s only so by contrast with the other thing. And so, as soon as the novelty is over and the force of the contrast dulled, it ain’t happiness any longer, and you have to get something fresh.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven,” Harper’s Monthly Magazine (Dec 1907)
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I am quite sure that (bar one) I have no race prejudice, and I think I have no color prejudices, nor caste prejudices. Indeed, I know it. I can stand any society. All I care to know is that a man is a human being — that is enough for me; he can’t be any worse.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“Concerning the Jews,” Harper’s (Sep 1899)
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How little a thing can make us happy when we feel that we have earned it.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“Eve’s Diary” (1905)
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It was against my principles, but I find that principles have no real force except when one is well-fed.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“Extracts from Adam’s Diary” (1904)
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Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“New Year’s Day,” Virginia City Territorial Enterprise (Jan 1864)
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New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions, and we wish you to enjoy it with a looseness suited to the greatness of the occasion.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“New Year’s Day,” Virginia City Territorial Enterprise (Jan 1864)
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But banish care, it’s no time for it now — on with the dance, let joy be unconfined is my motto, whether there’s any dance to dance or any joy to unconfine ….

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“The American Claimant,” ch. 2 (1892)
    (Source)

See Byron.
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Look at the tyranny of party — at what is called party allegiance, party loyalty — a snare invented by designing men for selfish purposes — and which turns voters into chattels, slaves, rabbits, and all the while their masters, and they themselves are shouting rubbish about liberty, independence, freedom of opinion, freedom of speech, honestly unconscious of the fantastic contradiction; and forgetting or ignoring that their fathers and the churches shouted the same blasphemies a generation earlier when they were closing their doors against the hunted slave, beating his handful of humane defenders with Bible texts and billies, and pocketing the insults and licking the shoes of his Southern Master.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“The Character of Man” (23 Jan 1906), in The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 (2010)
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Your race, in its poverty, has unquestionably one really effective weapon — laughter. Power, Money, Persuasion, Supplication, Persecution — these can lift at a colossal humbug, — push it a little — crowd 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. You are always fussing and fighting with your other weapons. Do you ever use that one? No; you leave it lying rusting. As a race, do you ever use it at all? No; you lack sense and the courage.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“The Chronicle of Young Satan” (c.1897–1900, unfinished)
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Often paraphrased: "The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter." This is an (excised) passage from what was eventually posthumously published as No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger (1916).
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The modern patriotism, the true patriotism, the only rational patriotism is loyalty to the nation all the time, loyalty to the government when it deserves it.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“The Czar’s Soliloquy,” North American Review (Mar 1905)

Sometimes paraphrased: "Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it."
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Laws are sand, customs are rock. Laws can be evaded and punishment escaped, but an openly transgressed custom brings sure punishment.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“The Gorky Incident” (1906)
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When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory — must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

“O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle — be Thou near them! With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it — for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.”

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“The War Prayer” (1904–1905)
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Each nation knowing it has the only true religion and the only sane system of government, each despising all the others, each an ass and not suspecting it.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“What Is Man?” (1906)

Full text.

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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.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“What Is Man?” (1906)
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I have seen several entirely sincere people who thought they were (permanent) Seekers after Truth. They sought diligently, persistently, carefully, cautiously, profoundly, with perfect honesty and nicely adjusted judgment — until they believed that without doubt or question they had found the Truth.

That was the end of the search. The man spent the rest of his life hunting up shingles wherewith to protect his Truth from the weather. If he was seeking after political Truth he found it in one or another of the hundred political gospels which govern men in the earth; if he was seeking after the Only True Religion he found it in one or another of the three thousand that are on the market. In any case, when he found the Truth he sought no further; but from that day forth, with his soldering-iron in one hand and his bludgeon in the other he tinkered its leaks and reasoned with objectors.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“What is Man?” (1906)
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A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“What Is Man?” (1906)
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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.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us?” (1899)
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What, sir, would the people of this earth be without woman? They would be scarce, sir. Mighty scarce.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“Women, a Eulogy of the Fair Sex,” Speech at the Correspondents Club, Washington, DC (11 Jan 1868)
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The speech (responding to a toast) was printed on 13 January in the Washington Star. The last sentence (or, in some cases, "Almighty scarce") was apparently added later in Twain's published speeches.

Variant: "What would men be without women? Scarce, sir, mighty scarce."
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You can’t reason someone out of something they weren’t reasoned into.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
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The conviction of the rich that the poor are happier is no more foolish than the conviction of the poor that the rich are.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
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Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)

First found in Merle Johnson, More Maxims of Mark (1927), and generally considered authentic. More info here.
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Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
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Worrying about something is like paying interest on a debt you don’t even know if you owe.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
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Get the facts first. You can distort them later.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
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I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
Added on 9-Nov-06 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
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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.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
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The trouble ain’t that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain’t distributed right.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Found in Merle Johnson, More Maxims of Mark (1927), and generally considered authentic.
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It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
Added on 12-Nov-13 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
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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 (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)

Quoted in Gay MacLaren, Morally We Roll Along (1938). A recollection of something Twain said to the author when she was a child. More information here.
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If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
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The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Paraphrase)
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This was based on a statement Mark Twain made to a British correspondent of the New York Journal (in some incorrect versions the New York Evening Sun) who tracked him down in London upon reports in America that Twain was dying there. Twain wrote out a note saying, "James Ross Clemens, a cousin of mine, was seriously ill two or three weeks ago in London but is well now. The report of my illness grew out of his illness; the report of my death was an exaggeration." This response was published 2 June 1897, and the longhand note is still preserved.

In 1906, Twain recalled the incident for his memoir that he told the reporter, "Say the report is exaggerated." On retyping the manuscript some months later, he scribbled the word "greatly" in front of "exaggerated," and it was published that way in The North American Review.

In Albert B. Paine's Mark Twain, a Biography, Vol. 2, ch. 197 (1912), the story is that Twain told the correspondent, "Just say the report of my death has been grossly exaggerated."

Further discussion:
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The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)
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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 the old man had learned in seven years.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)

Not found in Twain's writing.  He was eleven when his father died.

Added on 18-Mar-10 | Last updated 31-Jan-22
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Censorship is telling a man he can’t eat steak because a baby can’t chew it.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)

Unsourced in Twain's writings. Likely derived from this Heinlein quotation.
Added on 28-Jan-11 | Last updated 14-Oct-21
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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.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)

A common "inspirational" quote, frequently attributed to Twain, but not found in writings. Earliest found is in H. Jackson Brown, P.S. I Love You (1990), attributed to Brown's mother. More info here.

Added on 13-Jun-11 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)

First attributed to Twain in 1945, but not found in his works. Earliest appearances of the quote date back to 1910, but are unattributed. It's often attributed to Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby), but she didn't say it until 1966. See here for more information. Variants:
  • "Who can see the barely perceptible line between the man who can not read at all and the man who does not read at all? The literate who can, but does not, read, and the illiterate who neither does nor can? [Original form.]
  • "The person who does not read has no advantage over the person who cannot read." ["Dear Abby", 19 Oct 1966]
  • "The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."
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The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)

Frequently attributed to Twain, but undocumented in any of his writings. The origin of the phrase seems to be in a letter from Horace Walpole to Mary Berry (29 Jul 1789), attributing a quip to the English actor James Quin:

Quin, being once asked if he had ever seen so bad a winter, replied, “Yes, just such an one last summer!” -- and here is its youngest brother!

Twain, in turn, mentioned the observation in a letter to Lucius Fairchild (28 Apr 1880), using it to denigrate Paris, France:

For this long time I have been intending to congratulate you fervently upon your translation to -- to -- anywhere -- for anywhere is better than Paris. Paris the cold, Paris the drizzly, Paris the rainy, Paris the Damnable. More than a hundred years ago, somebody asked Quin, "Did you ever see such a winter in all your life before?" "Yes," said he, "last summer." I judge he spent his summer in Paris.

When "coldest winter ... summer" phrase first achieved popularity in that form (around 1900 or earlier), the targeted city was Duluth, Minnesota, followed by other cities in Minnesota and Wisconsin, before being grafted onto San Francisco and, again, Mark Twain.

More discussion about this quotation:
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Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)

Frequently attributed to Twain and also to Immanuel Kant (but never, in either case, with any citation). The phrase first makes recognizable (if anonymous) appearance in the late 19th Century; attributions to Twain begin in the late 1990s. See also Proverbs 26:4. For more discussion (and a shout-out to WIST) see here.
Added on 5-Jun-14 | Last updated 25-Mar-19
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It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)

This quotation, and close variants, are frequently attributed to Twain or Abraham Lincoln, but appears to have first been phrased this way by Maurice Switzer, Mrs. Goose, Her Book (1906): "It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it." Another point of origin is in the Bible, Proverbs 17:28: "Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding." See here for more information.
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When the rich rob the poor it’s called business. When the poor fight back it’s called violence.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)

Frequently, but incorrectly attributed to Twain, no earlier than 2015. It appears to have been an anonymous phrase coined in the Occupy Movement in 2011. See here for more information.
Added on 16-Jan-17 | Last updated 16-Jan-17
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Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)

Frequently attributed to Twain, but not found in his writing or in any contemporary sources.
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It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)

This is not found in any of Twain's printed works, and the first version of it appeared in 1915, after Twain's death. The folksy use of "ain't" doesn't show up until the mid-1970s. For more discussion, see here.
Added on 1-Sep-20 | Last updated 1-Sep-20
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One mustn’t criticize other people on grounds where he can’t stand perpendicular himself.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, ch. 26 “The First Newspaper” (1889)
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To be vested with enormous authority is a fine thing; but to have the onlooking world consent to it is a finer.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, ch. 8 “The Boss” (1889)
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But don’t you know, there are some things that can beat smartness and foresight? Awkwardness and stupidity can. The best swordsman in the world doesn’t need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn’t do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn’t prepared for him; he does the thing he ought not to do: and often it catches the expert out and ends him on the spot.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, ch. 34 (1889)
    (Source)

Origin of more simplified versions of the phrase. More discussion: The Best Swordsman in the World Doesn’t Need To Fear the Second Best Swordsman – Quote Investigator.
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The church is always trying to get other people to reform; it might not be a bad idea to reform itself a little, by way of example.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
A Tramp Abroad (1880)
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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.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Autobiography, Part 1, sec. 28 “New York, January 10, 1906” (2003)

Full text.
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Let us consider that we are all partially insane. It will explain us to each other; it will unriddle many riddles; it will make clear and simple many things which are involved in haunting and harassing difficulties and obscurities now.

Those of us who are not in the asylum, and not demonstrably due there, are nevertheless, no doubt, insane in one or two particulars. I think we must admit this; but I think that we are otherwise healthy-minded. I think that when we all see one thing alike, it is evidence that, as regards that one thing, our minds are perfectly sound. Now there are really several things which we do all see alike; things which we all accept, and about which we do not dispute. For instance, we who are outside of the asylum all agree that water seeks its level; that the sun gives light and heat; that fire consumes; that fog is damp; that six times six are thirty-six, that two from ten leaves eight; that eight and seven are fifteen. These are, perhaps, the only things we are agreed about; but, although they are so few, they are of inestimable value, because they make an infallible standard of sanity. Whosoever accepts them him we know to be substantially sane; sufficiently sane; in the working essentials, sane. Whoever disputes a single one of them him we know to be wholly insane, and qualified for the asylum.

Very well, the man who disputes none of them we concede to be entitled to go at large. But that is concession enough. We cannot go any further than that; for we know that in all matters of mere opinion that same man is insane — just as insane as we are; just as insane as Shakespeare was. We know exactly where to put our finger upon his insanity: it is where his opinion differs from ours.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Christian Science, Book 1, ch. 5 (1907)
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Added on 26-Jun-13 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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When I, a thoughtful and unblessed Presbyterian, examine the Koran, I know that beyond any question every Mohammedan is insane; not in all things, but in religious matters. When a thoughtful and unblessed Mohammedan examines the Westminster Catechism, he knows that beyond any question I am spiritually insane. I cannot prove to him that he is insane, because you never can prove anything to a lunatic — for that is a part of his insanity and the evidence of it. He cannot prove to me that I am insane, for my mind has the same defect that afflicts his. All Democrats are insane, but not one of them knows it; none but the Republicans and Mugwumps know it. All the Republicans are insane, but only the Democrats and Mugwumps can perceive it. The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Christian Science, ch. 5 (1907)
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Often misattributed to Oscar Wilde.
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There’s no end to the list; there are millions of them! And all insane; each in his own way; insane as to his pet fad or opinion, but otherwise sane and rational. This should move us to be charitable towards one another’s lunacies. I recognize that in his special belief the Christian Scientist is insane, because he does not believe as I do; but I hail him as my mate and fellow, because I am as insane as he insane from his point of view, and his point of view is as authoritative as mine and worth as much. That is to say, worth a brass farthing. Upon a great religious or political question, the opinion of the dullest head in the world is worth the same as the opinion of the brightest head in the world — a brass farthing. How do we arrive at this? It is simple. The affirmative opinion of a stupid man is neutralized by the negative opinion of his stupid neighbor — no decision is reached; the affirmative opinion of the intellectual giant Gladstone is neutralized by the negative opinion of the intellectual giant Newman — no decision is reached. Opinions that prove nothing are, of course, without value any but a dead person knows that much. This obliges us to admit the truth of the unpalatable proposition just mentioned above — that, in disputed matters political and religious, one man’s opinion is worth no more than his peer’s, and hence it followers that no man’s opinion possesses any real value. It is a humbling thought, but there is no way to get around it: all opinions upon these great subjects are brass-farthing opinions.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Christian Science, ch. 5 (1907)
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We despise all reverences and all objects of reverence which are outside the pale of our list of sacred things. And yet, with strange inconsistency, we are shocked when other people despise and defile the things which are holy to us.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator (1897)
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There are many humorous things in the world, among them the white man’s notion that he is less savage than the other savages.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator (1897)
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There are several good protections against temptations, but the surest is cowardice.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator (1897)
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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.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 11 (1897)
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Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 15, epigraph, “Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar” (1897)
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Sometimes paraphrased, "Why shouldn't truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense." More on this quotation and its variants here.
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Man will do many things to get himself loved; he will do all things to get himself envied.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 21, epigraph (1897)
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In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 25 (1898)
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“Classic.” A book which people praise and don’t read.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 25, epigraph (1897)
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Man is the Only Animal that Blushes. Or needs to.

Twain - animal that blushes - wist_info quote

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 27, epigraph (1897)
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Let us be thankful for fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 28 (1897)
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A man with a new idea is a Crank until the idea succeeds.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 32, epigraph (1897)
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There are several good protections against temptations, but the surest is cowardice.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 36, epigraph (1897)
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By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity. Another man’s, I mean.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 39, epigraph (1897)
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Few of us can stand prosperity. Another man’s, I mean.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 40, epigraph (1897)
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Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 48 (Epigraph) (1897)
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Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she had laid an asteroid.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 5, Epigraph (1897)
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Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 52, epigraph (1897)
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If the man doesn’t believe as we do, we say he is a crank, and that settles it. I mean it does nowadays, because now we can’t burn him.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 53 (1897)
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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.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 58, epigraph (1897)

See here for more discussion about this (and related) quotations.
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Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 59, epigram (1897)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-May-22
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In the first place God made idiots. That was for practice. Then He made School Boards.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 61, epigraph (1897)
Added on 11-Dec-15 | Last updated 11-Dec-15
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In statesmanship get the formalities right, never mind about the moralities.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 65, Epigraph (1897)
Added on 30-Jul-14 | Last updated 30-Jul-14
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Everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 66, epigraph (1897)
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To be good is noble; but to show others how to be good is nobler and no trouble.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, Preface (1897)
Added on 21-Oct-11 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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No sinner is ever saved after the first twenty minutes of a sermon.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Hannibal Courier-Post (6 Mar 1835)
Added on 29-May-12 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Virtue has never been as respectable as money.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Innocents Abroad, ch. 55 (1869)
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To arrive at a just estimate of a renowned man’s character one must judge it by the standards of his time, not ours. Judged by the standards of one century, the noblest characters of an earlier one lose much of their luster; judged by the standards of today, there is probably no illustrious man of four or five centuries ago whose character could meet the test at all points.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Joan of Arc, “Translator’s Preface” (1860)
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Added on 25-Mar-22 | Last updated 25-Mar-22
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Man is the 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 neighbor 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 (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Letters from Earth (1939)
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I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn’t know.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Life on the Mississippi, ch. 6 (1883)
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Whoo-oop! I’m the old original iron-jawed, brass-mounted, copper-bellied corpse-maker from the wilds of Arkansaw. — Look at me! I’m the man they call Sudden Death & General Desolation! Sired by a hurricane, dam’d by an earthquake, half-brother to the cholera, nearly related to the small-pox on the mother’s side! Look at me! I take nineteen alligators and a bar’l of whiskey for breakfast when I’m in robust health, and a bushel of rattlesnakes and a dead body when I’m ailing! I split the everlasting rocks with my glance, and I squench the thunder when I speak! Whoo-oop! Stand back and give me room according to my strength! Blood’s my natural drink, and the wails of the dying is music to my ear! Cast your eye on me, gentlemen! — and lay low and hold your breath, for I’m bout to turn myself loose!

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Life on the Mississippi, ch. 3 (1883)
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We asked a passenger who belonged there what sort of place it was. “Well,” said he, after considering, and with the air of one who wishes to take time and be accurate, “It’s a hell of a place.” A description which was photographic for exactness.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Life on the Mississippi, ch. 30 (1883)
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Describing Arkansas City, Arkansas.
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After nine months of familiarity with this panorama, I still think, as I thought in the beginning, that this is the fairest picture on our planet, the most enchanting to look upon, the most satisfying to the eye and the spirit. To see the sun sink down, drowned on his pink and purple and golden floods, and overwhelm Florence with tides of color that make all the sharp lines dim and faint and turn the solid city to a city of dreams, is a sight to stir the coldest nature, and make a sympathetic one drunk with ecstasy.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Autobiography, “Chapters Added in Florence (1904)” (1924) [ed. Bigelow]
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Recounting his previous stay in, and view of, Florence, Italy, starting in 26 September 1892; written while again staying there in 1904.
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There has only been one Christian. They caught Him and crucified Him early.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook (1933) [ed. Paine]
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Added on 19-Mar-21 | Last updated 19-Mar-21
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Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing wrong with this, except that it ain’t so.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook (1935) [ed. Albert Bigelow Paine]
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With an entry for 4 Jul 1893. The core phrase, from the Latin "Magna est veritas et prævalebit," was first formulated in English by Thomas Brooks. An earlier variant can be found in Cicero, Pro Caelio Rufo (56 BC): "How great is the power of truth" [O magna vis veritas].
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Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook [ed. Paine (1935)]
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Each race determines for itself what indecencies are. Nature knows no indecencies; Man invents them.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook [ed. Paine (1935)]
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When one remembers that we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook [ed. Paine (1935)]
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See also this.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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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 (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook [ed. Paine (1935)]
Added on 30-Nov-07 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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The human race consists of the damned and the ought-to-be-damned.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook [ed. Paine (1935)]
Added on 1-Jun-09 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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The first thing I want to teach is disloyalty. … This will beget independence — which is loyalty to one’s best self and principles, and this is often disloyalty to the general idols and fetishes.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook [ed. Paine (1935)]
Added on 9-Oct-09 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook [ed. Paine (1935)]
Added on 13-Aug-13 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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