Mark Twain

I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable, and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get for it. How strange it is. It is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry.

It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress.

A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.

The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.

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

I am not one of those who in expressing opinions confine themselves to facts.

Those that respect the law and love sausage should watch neither being made.

Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.

The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.

Barring that natural expression of villainy which we all have, the man looked honest enough.

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

Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.

Quitting smoking is easy, I've done it thousands of times.

I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can't find anybody who can tell me what they want.

Somewhere between the Angels and the French lies the rest of humanity.

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

So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked.

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.

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.

Golf is a good walk spoiled.

Truth is more of a stranger than fiction.

Good breeding consists of concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.

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

The report of my death was an exaggeration.

Familiarity breeds contempt - and children.

Man is the Only Animal that Blushes. Or needs to.

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

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

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

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

Just the omission of Jane Austen's books alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn't a book in it.

I don't give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way.

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

Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.

It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.

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

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

Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.

In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language.

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

The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.

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

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

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

Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody.

The best coffee in Europe is Vienna coffee, compared to which all other coffee is fluid poverty.

Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.

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

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

Of the delights of this world man cares most for sexual intercourse, yet he has left it out of his heaven.

There is nothing so annoying as to have two people talking when you're busy interrupting.

Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.

I can live two months on a good compliment.

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.

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

Adam and Eve had many advantages, but the principle one was that they escaped teething.

Providence protects children and idiots. I know because I have tested it.

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

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

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

When in doubt, tell the truth.

I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying that I approved of it.

I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting.

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

Honesty is the best policy - when there is money in it.

Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.

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.

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

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.

Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform.

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.

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

Get your facts first and then you can distort them as much as you wish.

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

It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race.

I am prepared to meet anyone, but whether anyone is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.

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

Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas.

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

It is easier to stay out than get out.

How little a thing can make us happy when we feel that we have earned it.

I did it partly because it was worth it, but mostly because I shall never have to do it again.

You can't pray a lie.

In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.

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

I have spent most of my time worrying about things that have never happened.

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

I believe I have no prejudices whatsoever. All I need to know is that a man is a member of the human race. That's bad enough for me.

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

He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it - namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to obtain.

The best cure for Christianity is reading the Bible.

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

It was wonderful to find America, but it would have been more wonderful to miss it.

When you cannot get a compliment any other way pay yourself one.

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

Great people are those who make others feel that they, too, can become great.

[He was] a solemn, unsmiling, sanctimonious old iceberg who looked like he was waiting for a vacancy in the Trinity.

Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed.

It takes your enemy and your friend, working together, to hurt you: the one to slander you, and the other to get the news to you.

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

What a good thing Adam had. When he said a good thing he knew nobody had said it before.

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.

Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.

Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.

Never tell the truth to those unworthy of it....

I smoke in moderation, only one cigar at a time.

Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.

Let us not be too particular; it is better to have old secondhand diamonds than none at all.

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

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

The miracle, or the power, that elevates the few is to be found in their industry, application, and perseverance under the prompting of a brave, determined spirit.

I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.

We have not the reverent feeling for the rainbow that a savage has, because we know how it is made. We have lost as much as we gained by prying into that matter.

The universal brotherhood of man is our most precious possession.

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds upon the heel that crushes it.

Those who say truth is stranger than fiction have wasted their time on poorly written fiction.

I was born modest. Not all over, but in spots.

By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity -- another man's I mean.

To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did. I ought to know, I've done it a thousand times.

When I was fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have him around. When I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.

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.

When a person cannot deceive himself the chances are against his being able to deceive other people.

Golf is a good walk, ruined.

We all have thoughts that would shame the devil.

We are always more anxious to be distinguished for a talent which we do not possess, than to be praised for the fifteen which we do possess.

When a disciple from the wildcat religious asylum comes marching forth, get under the bed. It doesn't matter whether he's a Christian, Hindu, Jew or Muslim.

Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered - either by themselves or by others.

Our opinions do not really blossom into fruition until we have expressed them to someone else.

Why is it that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? It is because we are not the person involved.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"--a strange complaint to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.

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

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

At the beginning of a great national change, the patriot is a scarce man: scorned, ridiculed and forgotten. When his cause succeeds, however, all men will join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.

Fleas can be taught nearly anything a congressman can.

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

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

[Mankind] is governed by minorities, seldom or never by majorities. It suppresses its feelings and its beliefs and follows the handful that makes the most noise. Sometimes the noisy handful is right, sometimes wrong, but no matter, the crowd follows it.

There is nothing training cannot do. Nothing is above its reach. It can turn bad morals to good; it can destroy bad principles and recreate good ones; it can lift men to angelship.

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

Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it.

It is noble to teach oneself, it is still nobler to teach others.

The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.

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.

Sacred cows make the best hamburgers.

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

I have a higher and grander standard of principle than George Washington. He could not lie; I can, but I won't.

The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do then by the ones you did. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

I find that principles have no real force except when one is well fed.

In this world one must be like everybody else if he doesn't want to provoke scorn or envy or jealousy.

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

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.

Are you so unobservant that you do not yet realize that sanity and hapiness are an impossible combination?

An enemy can partly ruin a man, but it takes a good-natured injudicious friend to complete the thing and make it perfect.

The universal brotherhood of man is our most precious possession, what there is of it.

A human being has a natural desire to have more of a good thing than he needs.

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

I cannot call to mind a single instance where I have ever been irreverent, except toward the things which were sacred to other people.

Laws are sand, customs are rock. Laws can be evaded and punishment escaped but an openly transgressed custom brings sure punishment.

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

New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.

If there is a God, He is a malign thug.

To create man was a fine and original idea; but to add sheep was a tautology.

The idea that no gentleman ever swears is all wrong; he can swear and still be a gentleman if he does it in a nice and benevolent and affectionate way.

So much blood has been shed by the Church because of an omission from the Gospel: "Ye shall be indifferent as to what your neighbor's religion is." Not merely tolerant of it, but indifferent to it. Divinity is claimed for many religions; but no religion is great enough or divine enough to add that new law to its code.

October is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. Others are July, January, April, September, November, May, March, June, December, August and February.

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.

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

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

A patriot is mocked, scorned and hated; yet when his cause succeeds, all men will join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.

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.

I have never examined the subject of humor until now. I am surprised to find how much ground it covers. I have got its divisions and frontiers down on a piece of paper. I find it defined as a production of the brain, as the power of the brain to produce something humorous, and the capacity of percieving humor.

[Humanity] has unquestionably one really effective weapon—laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug—push it a little—weaken it a little, century by century; but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.

The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also. I would not interfere with any one's religion, either to strengthen it or to weaken it. I am not able to believe one's religion can affect his hereafter one way or the other, no matter what that religion may be. But it may easily be a great comfort to him in this life--hence it is a valuable possession to him.

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.

We are always too busy for our children; we never give them the time or interest they deserve. We lavish gifts upon them; but the most precious gift, our personal association, which means so much to them, we give grudgingly.

Of all the creatures that were made, man is the most detestable. Of the entire brood he is the only one--the solitary one--that possesses malice. That is the basest of all instincts, passions, vices--the most hateful. He is the only creature that has pain for sport, knowing it to be pain. Also--in all the list he is the only creature that has a nasty mind.

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.