Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Mark Twain, pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens

American Writer, Humorist

"It's not what you don't know that kills you, it's what you know for sure that ain't true."

"It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!"

"I've come loaded with statistics, for I've noticed that a man can't prove anything without statistics."

"I've dealt with many crises in my life, but few will ever happen."

"I've experienced a great deal of pain and suffering in my life... most of which has never happened."

"I've never killed a man, but I've read many an obituary with a great deal of satisfaction."

"I've never let my school interfere with my education."

"I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure."

"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."

"Jane Austen's books, too, are absent from this library. Just that one omission alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn't a book in it."

"Jim he couldn't see no sense in the most of it, but he allowed we was white folks and knowed better than him."

"Josh Billings defined the difference between humor and wit as that between the lightning bug and the lightning."

"July 4. Statistics show that we lose more fools on this day than in all the other days of the year put together. This proves, by the number left in stock, that one fourth of July per year is now inadequate, the country has grown so."

"Just because you?re taught that something?s right and everyone believes it?s right, it don?t make it right."

"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."

"Just when I thought I was learning how to live, 'twas then I realized I was learning how to die."

"Kings cannot ennoble thee, thou good, great soul, for One who is higher than kings hath done that for thee; but a king can confirm thy nobility to men."

"Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone."

"Last week I stated that this woman was the ugliest woman I had ever seen. I have since been visited by her sister and now wish to withdraw that statement."

"Laughter is the greatest weapon we have and we, as humans, use it the least."

"Jim was most ruined for a servant, because he got stuck up on account of having seen the devil and been rode by witches."

"Jim said that bees won't sting idiots, but I didn't believe that, because I tried them lots of times myself and they wouldn't sting me."

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

"Laws control the lesser man... Right conduct controls the greater one."

"Learning softeneth the heart and breedeth gentleness and charity."

"Let all give humble, hearty, and sincere thanks, now, but the turkeys. In the island of Fiji they do not use turkeys, they use plumbers. It does not become you and me to sneer at Fiji."

"Let the child go, said he; ye heartless dogs, do ye not see how young and frail he is? Let him go?I will take his lashes."

"Let us be grateful to Adam, our benefactor. He cut us out of the blessing of idleness and won for us the curse of labor."

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

"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. That is a simple rule, and easy to remember. When I, a thoughtful and unbiased 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 unbiased 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 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. When I look around me I am often troubled to see how many people are mad. This should move us to be charitable toward one another?s lunacies."

"Let us draw the curtain of charity over the rest of this scene."

"Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation."

"Let us not be too particular. It is better to have old second-hand diamonds than none at all."

"Let us swear while we may, for in Heaven it will not be allowed."

"Let your secret sympathies and your compassion be always with the underdog in the fight - this is magnanimity; but bet on the other one - this is business."

"Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than 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."

"Life should begin with age and its privileges and accumulations, and end with youth and its capacity to splendidly enjoy such advantages."

"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 thier doors against the hunted slave, beating his handful of humane defenders with Bible-texts and billies, and pocketing the insults nad licking the shoes of his Southern master."

"Looking' his last' upon the scene of his former joys and his later sufferings, and wishing 'she' could see him now, abroad on the wild sea, facing peril and death with a dauntless heart, going to his doom with a grim smile on his lips."

"Loose and forbear!"

"Lord save us all from a hope tree that has lost the faculty of putting out blossoms."

"Lord, what an organ is human speech when it is played by a master!"

"Love is a madness; if thwarted it develops fast."

"Love is not a product of reasonings and statistics. It just comes-none knows whence-and cannot explain itself."

"Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired."

"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."

"Love your enemy, it'll scare the hell out of him."

"Love: The irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired."

"Loves 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."

"Low comedies are written for the drawing-room, the kitchen and the stable, and if you cut out the kitchen and the stable the drawing-room can't support the play by itself."