Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) (1835-1910)
U.S. novelist and humorist
 

"Golf is a good walk spoiled."

"In all matters of opinion are adversaries are insane."

"I have never let schooling interfere with my education."

"A man with a new idea is a crank until he succeeds."

"There is no security in life, only opportunity."

"When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear."

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

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

"Truth is the most valuable thing we have -- so let us economize it."

"Civilization is a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessaries."

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

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

"I've seen many troubles in my time, only half of which ever came true."

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

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

"Let us be thankful for the fools; but for them the rest of us could not succeed."

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

"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."

"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. It is the principal difference between a dog and a man."

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

"It were not best that we should all think alike; it is the difference of opinion that makes horseraces."

"I am different from Washington; I have a higher, grander standard of principle. Washington could not lie. I can lie, but I won't."

"Broad, wholesome, charitable views ... can not be acquired by vegetating in one's little corner of the earth."

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

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

"Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul. Inscription beneath his bust in the Hall of Fame."

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

"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."

"The secret source of humour itself is not joy, but sorrow. There is no humour in heaven."

"I do not want Michaelangelo for breakfast--but for luncheon--for dinner--for tea--for supper--for between meals."

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

"The man who does not read good books is at no advantage over the man who can't read them."

"It is by the fortune of God that, in this country, we have three benefits: freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and the wisdom never to use either."

"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."

"[Man] has imagined a heaven, and has left entirely out of it the supremest of all his delights...sexual intercourse!...His heaven is like himself: strange, interesting, astonishing, grotesque. I give you my word, it has not a single feature in it that he *actually values*."

"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 she will also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore."

"In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. Therefore, in the Old Silurian Period the Mississippi River was upward of one million three hundred thousand miles long, seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesome returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact."

"That is the way with art, when it is not acquired but born to you: you start in to make some simple little thing, not suspecting that your geniusis beginning to work and swell and strain in secret, and all of a sudden there is a convulsion and you fetch out something astonishing.

This is called inspiration. It is an accident; you never know when it is coming. I might have tried as much as a year to think of such a... thing...and I could not have done it, for the more you try to think of an unthinkable thing the more it eludes you; but it can't elude inspiration."

"To give birth to an idea--to discover a great thought--an intellectual nugget, right under the dust of a field that many a brain plow has gone over before. To find a new planet, to invent a new hinge, to find the way to make the lightnings carry your messages. To be the _first_--that is the idea. To do something, say something, see something before_anybody_ else--these are the things that confer a pleasure compared with which all other pleasures are tame and commonplace, other ecstasies cheap and trivial."

Copyright: Kevin Harris 1995 (may be freely distributed with this acknowledgement)