Quotes / Mark Twain

Quotes by Mark Twain

"Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper. "
Samuel Langhorne Clemens a.k.a. Mark Twain.

"It is perhaps the poorest of all the inventions of all the gods but it has never suspected it once. There is nothing prettier than its naive and complacent appreciation of itself. It comes out frankly and proclaims without bashfulness or any sign of a blush that it is the noblest work of God. It has had a billion opportunities to know better, but all signs fail with this ass. I could say harsh things about it but I cannot bring myself to do it — it is like hitting a child."
Samuel Clemens on the human race

"If we really think about it, there were two Reigns of Terror; in one people were murdered in hot and passionate violence; in the other they died because people were heartless and did not care. One Reign of Terror lasted a few months; the other had lasted for a thousand years; one killed a thousand people, the other killed a hundred million people. However, we only feel horror at the French Revolution's Reign of Terror. But how bad is a quick execution, if you compare it to the slow misery of living and dying with hunger, cold, insult, cruelty and heartbreak? A city cemetery is big enough to contain all the bodies from that short Reign of Terror, but the whole country of France isn't big enough to hold the bodies from the other terror. We are taught to think of that short Terror as a truly dreadful thing that should never have happened: but none of us are taught to recognize the other terror as the real terror and to feel pity for those people."
Samuel Clemens on the Reign of Terror in the The French Revolution

"Often when we repent of a sin, we do it perfunctorily, from principle, coldly and from the head; but when we repent of a good deed the repentance comes hot and bitter and straight from the heart... I am quite certain that there are people who do not repent of their good deeds when the return they get for them is treachery and ingratitude. I think that these few ought to be in Heaven; they are in the way here."
Samuel Clemens, "Something About Repentance"

In a Republic, who is the country?
Is it the Goverment? Why the Government is merely a temporary servant; It cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn’t. Its function is to obey orders, not to originate them.
Who then is the country? Is it the newspaper? Is it the pulpit? Why these are mere parts of the country, not the whole of it; they have not command; they only have their little share in command.
In a monarchy, the king and his family are the country; in a Republic, it is the common voice of the people. Each of you, for himself or herself, by himself or herself, and on his or her own responsibility, must speak. It is a solemn and weighty responsibility and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government or politician. Each must decide for himself or herself alone what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man, to decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor. It is traitorous both against yourself and your country.
Let men label you as they may, if you alone of all the nation decide one way, and that way be the right way by your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country, hold up your head for you have nothing to be ashamed of.
It doesn’t matter what the press says. It doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. It doesnn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. Republics are founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe in. no matter the odds or consequences.
When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move. Your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth and tell the whole world:
“No, you move.”

Quotes by Others

"The prairie in its loneliness and peace; that was what came back to him towards the end of his life, after he had pulled the rug out from all the literary nabobs, and fired off all his nubs and snappers, and sashayed through all the nations, and collected all his ceremonial gowns and degrees, and tweaked all the grinning presidents, and schmoozed all the newspaper reporters, and stuck it to all his enemies, and shocked all the librarians, and cried out all his midnight blasphemies, and buried most of his family."
–- Ron Powers, Mark Twain: A Life