American Writer, Humorist
Mark Twain, pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens
American Writer, Humorist
I once sent a dozen of my friends a telegram saying 'flee at once - all is discovered.' They all left town immediately.
I think a compliment ought to always precede a complaint, where one is possible, because it softens resentment and insures for the complaint a courteous and gentle reception.
I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn?t know.
I?m opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position.
I know the look of an apple that is roasting and sizzling on the hearth on a winter's evening, and I know the comfort that comes of eating it hot, along with some sugar and a drench of cream... I know how the nuts taken in conjunction with winter apples, cider, and doughnuts, make old people's tales and old jokes sound fresh and crisp and enchanting.
I persuaded him to throw the dirk away; and it was as easy as persuading a child to give up some bright fresh new way of killing itself.
I think the Cincinnati Enquirer must be edited by children.
I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.
I?m so happy I could scalp somebody. (Said after he got married)
I know your race. It is made up of sheep. It 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. The vast majority of the race, whether savage or civilized, are secretly kind-hearted and shrink from inflicting pain, but in the presence of the aggressive and pitiless minority they don't dare to assert themselves. Think of it! One kind-hearted creature spies upon another, and sees to it that he loyally helps in iniquities which revolt both of them. Speaking as an expert, I know that ninety- nine out of a hundred of your race were strongly against the killing of witches when that foolishness was first agitated by a handful of pious lunatics in the long ago. And I know that even to-day, after ages of transmitted prejudice and silly teaching, only one person in twenty puts any real heart into the harrying of a witch. And yet apparently everybody hates witches and wants them killed. Someday a handful will rise up on the other side and make the most noise--perhaps even a single daring man with a big voice and a determined front will do it--and in a week all the sheep will wheel and follow him, and witch-hunting will come to a sudden end. Monarchies, aristocracies, and religions are all based upon that large defect in your race--the individual's distrust of his neighbor, and his desire, for safety's or comfort's sake, to stand well in his neighbor's eye. These institutions will always remain, and always flourish, and always oppress you, affront you, and degrade you, because you will always be and remain slaves of minorities. There was never a country where the majority of the people were in their secret hearts loyal to any of these institutions.
I pray thee of thy grace believe me, I did but speak the truth, most dread lord; for I am the meanest among thy subjects, being a pauper born, and 'tis by a sore mischance and accident I am here, albeit I was therein nothing blameful. I am but young to die, and thou canst save me with one little word. Oh speak it, sir!
I think we never become really and genuinely our entire and honest selves until we are dead--and not then until we have been dead years and years. People ought to start dead, and then they would be honest so much earlier.
I was sorry to have my name mentioned as one of the great authors, because they have a sad habit of dying off. Chaucer is dead, Spencer is dead, so is Milton, so is Shakespeare, and I?m not feeling so well myself.
Ideally a book would have no order to it, and the reader would have to discover his own.
I learned long ago never to say the obvious thing, but leave the obvious thing to commonplace and inexperienced people to say.
I prefer milk because I am a Prohibitionist, but I do not go to it for inspiration.
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.
I was standing in our dining-room thinking of nothing in particular, when a cablegram was put into my hand. It said, 'Susy was peacefully released today.'
I like a good story well told. That is the reason I am sometimes forced to tell them myself.
I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before.
I thought tamarinds were made to eat, but that was probably not the idea. I ate several, and it seemed to me that they were rather sour that year. They pursed up my lips, till they resembled the stem-end of a tomato, and I had to take my sustenance through a quill for twenty-four hours. They sharpened my teeth till I could have shaved with them, and gave them a 'wire edge' that I was afraid would stay; but a citizen said 'no, it will come off when the enamel does' ? which was comforting, at any rate. I found, afterward, that only strangers eat tamarinds ? but they only eat them once.
I was young and foolish then; now I am old and foolisher.
I like criticism, but it must be my way.
I reckon the widow or the parson or somebody prayed that this bread would find me, and here it have gone and done it. So there ain't no doubt but there is something in that thing. That is, there's something in it when a body like the widow or the parson prays, but it don't work for me, and I reckon it don't work for only just the right kind.
I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: 'All right, then, I'll go to Hell'--and tore it up - Huckleberry Finn.