“As I slowly grow wise I briskly grow cautious.” – Mark Twain

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The Genius of Mark Twain, for educational and social purposes:

  • “Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a Congressman can,”

  • Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.

    • Draft manuscript (c.1881), quoted by Albert Bigelow Paine in Mark Twain: A Biography (1912), p. 724
  • “Concerning the difference between man and the jackass: some observers hold that there isn’t any. But this wrongs the jackass.”

    • Notebook (1898)
  • “The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.”

    • Mark Twain in Eruption
  • “Be respectful to your superiors, if you have any.”

    • “Advice to Youth”, speech to The Saturday Morning Club, Boston, 15 April 1882. Mark Twain Speaking (1976), ed. Paul Fatout, p. 169
  • “As I slowly grow wise I briskly grow cautious.”

    • “English as She Is Taught”, The Century, Vol. 33, No. 6, April 1887.
  • “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.”

    • Notebook entry, January or February 1894, Mark Twain’s Notebook, ed. Albert Bigelow Paine (1935), p. 240
  • “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.”

    • From a note Twain wrote in London on May 31, 1897 to reporter Frank Marshall White.
  • “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.”

    • As quoted in “An Interview with Mark Twain”, From Sea to Sea: Letters of Travel (1899) by Rudyard Kipling, Ch. 37, p. 180
  • “There is nothing in the world like a persuasive speech to fuddle the mental apparatus and upset the convictions and debauch the emotions of an audience not practised in the tricks and delusions of oratory.”

    • “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg”, ch. III, in The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories and Essays (1900)
  • “Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest.”

    • To the Young People’s Society, Greenpoint Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn (16 February 1901)
  • “I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel that they have not said enough.”

    • Speech (23 September 1907)
  • “It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.”

    • Mark Twain in Eruption: Hitherto Unpublished Pages About Men and Events (1940) edited by Bernard DeVoto
  • “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.”

    • Tom Sawyer, Ch. 2
  • “Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our hardnesses yield, all our irritations and resentments flit away and a sunny spirit takes their place.”

    • “What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us?” (1897)
  • “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

    • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889), Ch. 43
  • “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”

    • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889), Ch. 22
  • “Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she had laid an asteroid.”

    • Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar, Ch. V
  • “Truth is the most valuable thing we have. Let us economize it.”

    • Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar, Ch. VII
  • “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.”

    • Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar, Ch. VIII
  • “Truth is stranger than fiction — to some people, but I am measurably familiar with it.”

    • Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar, Ch. XV
  • “When in doubt, tell the truth.”

    • Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar, Ch. II

For educational purposes and social benefit, not for profit.