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The Wisdom of Mark Twain

I am the entire human race compacted together. I have found that there is no ingredient of the race which I do not possess in either a small way or a large way.

It is agreed, in this country, that if a man can arrange his religion so that it perfectly satisfies his conscience, it is not incumbent on him to care whether the arrangement is satisfactory to anyone else or not.

All you need is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.

Often it does seem a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat.

Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug—push it a little—weaken it a little over the course of a century; but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.

The holy passion of Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money.

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.

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 of them.

Every one is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.

Man will do many things to get himself loved; he will do all things to get himself envied.

Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.

It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.

Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.

I thoroughly disapprove of duels. I consider them unwise and I know they are dangerous. Also, sinful. If a man should challenge me now I would go to that man and take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet retired spot and kill him.

When in doubt, tell the truth.

By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity. Another man’s, I mean.

We all do no end of feeling, and we mistake it for thinking.

I think a compliment ought always to precede a complaint, where one is possible, because it softens resentment and insures for the complaint a courteous and gentle reception.

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

Always do right. That will gratify some of the people, and astonish the rest.

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

It is not worth while to try to keep history from repeating itself, for man’s character will always make the preventing of the repetitions impossible.

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

It is noble to be good; it is still nobler to teach others to be good—and less trouble.

The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.

It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.

I have no color prejudices nor caste prejudices nor creed prejudices. All I care to know is that a man is a human being, and that is enough for me; he can’t be any worse.

The New York papers have long known that no large question is ever really settled until I have been consulted.

Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it.

In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination.

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.

There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy’s life that he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.

Let your secret sympathies and your compassion be always with the under dog in the fight—this is magnanimity; but bet on the other one—this is business.

Where prejudice exists it always discolors our thoughts.

If you invent two or three people and turn them loose in your manuscript, something is bound to happen to them—you can’t help it; and then it will take you the rest of the book to get them out of the natural consequences of that occurrence, and so, first thing you know, there’s your book all finished up and never cost you an idea.