Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Mark Twain, pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens

American Writer, Humorist

"A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval."

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

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear. Except a creature be part coward it is not a compliment to say it is brave."

"Each person is born to one possession which outvalues all the others - his last breath."

"Duties are not performed for duty’s sake, but because their neglect would make the man uncomfortable. A man performs but one duty - the duty of contenting his spirit, the duty of making himself agreeable with himself."

"Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned."

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

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

"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."

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

"I have known many troubles, but most of them never happened."

"It is not best that we use our morals week days; it gets them out of repair for Sundays."

"The first half of life consists of the capacity to enjoy without the chance; the last half consists of the chance without the capacity."

"The truth is always respectable."

"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."

"The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice."

"There are no grades of vanity, there are only grades of ability in concealing it."

"Obscurity and a competence - that is the life that is best worth living."

"Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits."

"One learns peoples through the heart, not the eyes or the intellect."

"The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot."

"Necessity is the mother of "taking chances.""

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

"There are two times in a man's life when he should not speculate; when he can't afford it and when he can."

"There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist."

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness."

"Truth is the most valuable thing we have. Let us economize it."

"We are offended and resent it when people do not respect us; and yet no man, deep down in the privacy of his heart, has any considerable respect for himself."

"We can't reach old age by another man's road."

"What do you call Love, Hate, Charity, Revenge, Humanity, Magnanimity, Forgiveness? Different results of the one Master Impulse: the necessity of securing one's self-approval."

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

"Be careless in your dress if you must, but keep a tidy soul."

"Children have but little charity for each other’s defects."

"Faith is believing what you know ain't so."

"Hunger is the handmaiden of genius."

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

"I have lived a long life and had many troubles, most of which never happened."

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

"Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that crushed it."

"Human nature is the same everywhere: it defies success, it has nothing but scorn for defeat."

"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."

"In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot."

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

"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."

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

"Its name is Public Opinion. It is held in reverence. It settles everything. Some think it is the voice of God. Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul."

"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."

"Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen."

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

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