Mark Twain Quotes on Life, Death, Travel, Politics, Truth & Love

“The human being is a machine. An automatic machine. It is composed of thousands of complex and delicate mechanisms, which perform their functions harmoniously and perfectly, in accordance with laws devised for their governance, and over which the man himself has no authority, no mastership, no control.”

“Providentially. That is the word. For the fly had not been left behind by accident. No, the hand of Providence was in it. There are no accidents. All things that happen, happen for a purpose. They are foreseen from the beginning of time, they are ordained from the beginning of time.

“What the insane Father required was blood and misery; he was indifferent as to who furnished it.”

“I have been studying the traits and dispositions of the “lower animals” (so called) and contrasting them with the traits and dispositions of man. I find the result humiliating to me.”

“Your country and mine is an interesting one, but there is nothing there that is half so interesting as the human mind.”

“The Bible has this advantage over all other books that teach refinement and good manners: that it goes to the child. It goes to the mind at its most impressible and receptive age -- the others have to wait. ”

″ Man is without any doubt the most interesting fool there is. Also the most eccentric. He hasn’t a single written law, in his Bible or out of it, which has any but just one purpose and intention -- to limit or defeat the law of God.”

“No. No creature can be honorably required to go counter to the law of his nature -- the Law of God.”

“As you perceive, the only person responsible for the couple’s offense escaped; and not only escaped but became the executioner of the innocent.”

“They said they would rather be outlaws a year in Sherwood Forest than President of the United States forever.”

“You only just tell a boy you won’t ever have anybody but him, ever ever ever, and then you kiss and that’s all. Anybody can do it.”

“The minister gave out his text and droned along monotonously through an argument that was so prosy that many a head by and by began to nod — and yet it was an argument that dealt in limitless fire and brimstone and thinned the predestined elect down to a company so small as to be hardly worth the saving.”

“Often, the less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it.”

“Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”

“Oh, they just have a bully time - take ships, and burn them, and get the money and bury it in awful places in their island where there’s ghosts and things to watch, it, and kill everybody in the ships - make ‘em walk a plank. they don’t kill the women - they’re too noble. And the women’s always beautiful, too.”

“He was not the Model Boy of the village. He knew the model boy very well though--and loathed him.”

“I could forgive the boy, now, if he’d committed a million sins!”

“There was no getting around the stubborn fact that taking sweetmeats was only “hooking,” while taking bacon and hams and such valuables was plain simple stealing — and there was a command against that in the Bible. So they inwardly resolved that so long as they remained in the business, their piracies should not again be sullied with the crime of stealing.”

“Tom was a glittering hero once more-the pet of the old, the envy of the young. His name even went into immortal print, for the village paper magnified him. There were some that believed he would be President, yet, if he escaped hanging.”

“Ah, if he could only die temporarily!”

“Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden.”

“I ain’t doing my duty by that boy, and that’s the Lord’s truth, goodness knows. Spare the rod and spile the child, as the Good Book says. I’m a-laying up sin and suffering for us both, I know. He’s full of the Old Scratch, but laws-a-me! he’s my own dead sister’s boy, poor thing, and I ain’t got the heart to lash him, somehow. Every time I let him off, my conscience does hurt me so, and every time I hit him my old heart most breaks.”

“The elastic heart of youth cannot be compressed into one constrained shape long at a time.”

“Huckleberry was cordially hated and dreaded by all the mothers of the town because he was idle, and lawless, and vulgar, and bad - and because all their children admired him so, and delighted in his forbidden society, and wished they dared to be like him.”

“Here was a gorgeous triumph; they were missed; they were mourned; hearts were breaking on their account; tears were being shed; accusing memories of unkindnesses to these poor lost lads were rising up, and unavailing regrets and remorse were being indulged: and best of all, the departed were the talk of the whole town, and the envy of all the boys, as far as this dazzling notoriety was concerned. This was fine. It was worth being a pirate, after all.”

“He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it — namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to obtain.”

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d druther not.”

“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”

“I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.”

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

“Be respectful to your superiors, if you have any.”

“Now we’ll start this band of robbers and call it Tom Sawyer’s gang. Everybody that wants to join has got to take an oath, and write his name in blood.”

“Stars and shadows ain’t good to see by.”

“Sometimes you gwyne to git hurt, en sometimes you gwyne to git sick; but every time you’s gwyne to git well agin.”

“What’s the use you learning to do right when it’s troublesome to do right and ain’t no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?”

“Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And hain’t that a big enough majority in any town?”

“Right is right, and wrong is wrong, and a body ain’t got no business doing wrong when he ain’t ignorant and knows better.”

“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.”

“Human beings can be awful cruel to one another.”

"The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time."

"Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been."

"I did not attend his funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it."

"The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why."

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

"A clear conscience is the sure sign of a bad memory."

"Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life."

"Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."

"It liberates the vandal to travel—you never saw a bigoted, opinionated, stubborn, narrow-minded, self-conceited, almighty mean man in your life but he had stuck in one place since he was born and thought God made the world and dyspepsia and bile for his especial comfort and satisfaction."

"To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with."

"It is noble to teach oneself, but still nobler to teach others—and less trouble."

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

"What would men be without women? Scarce, sir…mighty scarce."

"When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained."

"Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well."

"Loyalty to the nation all the time, loyalty to the government when it deserves it."

"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 man."

"The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become until he goes abroad."

"Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody."

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect)."

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

"What do we call love, hate, charity, revenge, humanity, forgiveness? Different results of the master impulse, the necessity of securing one’s self-approval."

"The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read."

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

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

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

"No real gentleman will tell the naked truth in the presence of ladies."

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

"The trouble is not in dying for a friend, but in finding a friend worth dying for."

"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."

"The secret of success is making your vocation your vacation."

"The only very marked difference between the average civilized man and the average savage is that the one is gilded and the other is painted."

"You can’t reason with your heart; it has its own laws, and thumps about things which the intellect scorns."

"If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed."

"It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog."

"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."

"Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life."

"Don’t wake up a woman in love. Let her dream, so that she does not weep when she returns to her bitter reality."

"Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured."

"Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience."

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

"When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain."

"There are no people who are quite so vulgar as the over-refined."

"The funniest things are forbidden."

"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn't."

"'Classic'–a book which people praise and don’t read."

"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."

“Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”

"There is nothing in the world like persuasive speech to fuddle the mental apparatus."

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

"When in doubt‚ tell the truth."

"An uneasy conscience is a hair in the mouth."

"Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it."

"Travel is fatal to prejudice."

All good things arrive unto them that wait and don’t die in the meantime."

"Prosperity is the best protector of principle."

"I was born modest‚ but it didn’t last."

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

"There is no sadder thing than a young pessimist‚ except an old optimist."

"Architects cannot teach nature anything."

"The lack of money is the root of all evil."

"A full belly is little worth where the mind is starved."

"The man with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds."

"Character is the architect of achievements."

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

"To eat is human…to digest‚ divine."

"A full belly is little worth where the mind is starved."

"Clothes do not merely make the man…clothes are the man."

"If books are not good company, where will I find it?"

"Books are the liberated spirits of men."

"Do your duty today and repent tomorrow."

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

"Honor is a harder master than law."

"Be good and you will be lonesome."

"We ought never to do wrong when people are looking."

"Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to."

"May you always keep your youth."

"There is no sadder thing than a young pessimist‚ except an old optimist."

"Always respect your superiors; if you have any."

"Always obey your parents when they are present."