Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Mark Twain, pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens

American Writer, Humorist

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

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

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

"The universal brotherhood of man is our most precious possession."

"The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself."

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

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

"A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."

"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."

"Words in haste do friendships waste."

"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."

"Few sinners are saved after the first twenty minutes of a sermon."

"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."

"We all live in the protection of certain cowardices which we call our principles."

"Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thought that is forever flowing through one's head."

"Education is the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty."

"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."

"What work I have done I have done because it has been play. If it had been work I shouldn't have done it. Who was it who said, "Blessed is the man who has found his work"? Whoever it was he had the right idea in his mind. Mark you, he says his work--not somebody else's work. The work that is really a man's own work is play and not work at all. Cursed is the man who has found some other man's work and cannot lose it. When we talk about the great workers of the world we really."

"Reputation is a hall-mark: it can remove doubt from pure silver, and it can also make the plated article pass for pure."

"To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence."

"Really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great."

"Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it."

"One can enjoy a rainbow without necessarily forgetting the forces that made it."

"We have the best government that money can buy."

"Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get."

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

"You are a coward when you even seem to have backed down from a thing you openly set out to do."

"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."

"Annihilation has no terrors for me, because I have already tried it before I was born /a hundred million years /and I have suffered more in an hour, in this life, than I remember to have suffered in the whole hundred million years put together. There was a peace, a serenity, an absence of all sense of responsibility, an absence of worry, an absence of care, grief, perplexity; and the presence of a deep content and unbroken satisfaction in that hundred million years of holiday which I look back upon with a tender longing and with a grateful desire to resume, when the opportunity comes."

"Humor is tragedy plus time."

"Each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility, must speak. And it is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government, or the empty catchphrases of politicians. Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let man label you as they may. If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country- hold up your head! You have nothing to be ashamed of."

"Troubles are only mental; it is the mind that manufactures them, and the mind can gorge them, banish them, abolish them."

"Laughter without a tinge of philosophy is but a sneeze of humor. Genuine humor is replete with wisdom."

"We are discreet sheep; we wait to see how the drove is going, and then go with the drove."

"A man's character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation."

"A great soul, with a great purpose, can make a weak body strong and keep it so."

"Custom is petrification; nothing but dynamite can dislodge it for a century."

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

"Civilization is a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities."

"Sacred cows make the best hamburger."

"Each man is afraid of his neighbor's disapproval - a thing which, to the general run of the human race, is more dreaded than wolves and death."

"There has never been a just one, never an honorable one — on the part of the instigator of the war."

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

"What is the most rigorous law of our being? Growth. No smallest atom of our moral, mental, or physical structure can stand still a year. It grows - it must grow; nothing can prevent it."

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

"Worrying about something is like paying interest on a debt you don't even know if you owe."

"If God had meant for us to be naked, we'd have been born that way."

"If I cannot smoke cigars in Heaven, I shall not go"

"If He Tom Sawyer had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do and Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do."

"If I were required to guess off-hand, and without collusion with higher minds, what is the bottom cause of the amazing material and intellectual advancement of the last fifty years, I should guess that it was the modern-born and previously non-existent disposition on the part of men to believe that a new idea can have value."