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Mark Twain
Quotations



"God has put something noble and good into every heart His hand created."

"I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can't conceal my frenzy from the reader; & therefore I have to stop every time I begin."
 
"Circumstances make man, not man circumstances."
 
"Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life."
 
"It is not likely that any complete life has ever been lived which was not a failure in the secret judgment of the person that lived it."
 
"The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction."
 
"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"
 
"Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live."
 
"Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live."
 
"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."
 
"God has put something noble and good into every heart His hand created."
 
"Few things are harder to put up with than a good example."
 
"What a red rag is to a bull Turner's "Slave Ship" is to me. Mr. Ruskin is educated in art up to a point where that picture throws him into as mad an ecstasy of pleasure as it throws me into one of rage. His cultivation enables him to see water in that yellow mud; his cultivation reconciles the floating of unfloatable things to him--chains etc.; it reconciles him to fishes swimming on top of the water. The most of the picture is a manifest impossibility, that is to say, a lie; and only rigid cultivation can enable a man to find truth in a lie. A Boston critic said the "Slave Ship" reminded him of a cat having a fit in a platter of tomatoes. That went home to my non-cultivation, and I thought, here is a man with an unobstructed eye. "
 
"A simple citizen may express a desire, with all propriety, in the matter of recommendation to office, and so I beg permission to hope that you will retain Mr. Douglass in his present office of Marshal of the District of Columbia, if such a course will not clash with your own preferences or with the expediencies and interests of your Administration. I offer this petition with peculiar pleasure and strong desire, because I so honor this man's high and blemishless character, and so admire his brave, long crusade for the liberties and elevation of his race.

He is a personal friend of mine, but that is nothing to the point; his history would move me to say these things without that, and I feel them, too."
- Letter to President-elect Garfield regarding Frederick Douglass' position as Marshal of the District of Columbia
 
"I have been reading "The Bell Buoy" and "The Old Man" over and over again-my custom with Kipling's work--and saving up the rest for other leisurely and luxurious meals. A bell-buoy is a deeply impressive fellow-being. In these many recent trips up and down the Sound in the Kanawha he has talked to me nightly sometimes in his pathetic and melancholy way, sometimes with his strenuous and urgent note, and I got his meaning--now I have his words! No one but Kipling could do this strong and vivid thing. Some day I hope to hear the poem chanted or sung-with the bell-buoy breaking in out of the distance."
 
"Every time in twenty-five years that I have met Roosevelt the man a wave of welcome has streaked through me with the hand-grip; but whenever (as a rule) I meet Roosevelt the statesman & politician I find him destitute of morals & not respect-worthy. It is plain that where his political self & party self are concerned he has nothing resembling a conscience; that under those inspirations he is naively indifferent to the restraints of duty & even unaware of them; ready to kick the Constitution into the back yard whenever it gets in his way.... "
 
" I cannot see how a man of any large degree of humorous perception can ever be religious - unless he purposely shut the eyes of his mind & keep them shut by force. "
- Journal entry (Mark Twain's Notebooks and Journals, edited by Frederick Anderson, 1979, notebook 27, August 1887-July 1888)
 
"It would be hard indeed to better President Arthur's administration."
- Twain on President Arthur
 
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