Famous Mark Twain Quotes


Appelles meets Zenobia, the helper of all who suffer, and tells her his
story, which moves her pity. By common report she is endowed with more
than earthly powers; and since he cannot have the boon of death, he
appeals to her to drown his memory in forgetfulness of his griefs–
forgetfulness ‘which is death’s equivalent’.

I do not remember my first lie, it is too far back; but I remember my
second one very well. I was nine days old at the time, and had noticed
that if a pin was sticking in me and I advertised it in the usual
fashion, I was lovingly petted and coddled and pitied in a most agreeable
way and got a ration between meals besides. It was human nature to want
to get these riches, and I fell. I lied about the pin–advertising one
when there wasn’t any. You would have done it; George Washington did it,
anybody would have done it. During the first half of my life I never
knew a child that was able to rise above that temptation and keep from
telling that lie.

This establishment’s name is Hochberghaus. It is in Bohemia, a short
day’s journey from Vienna, and being in the Austrian Empire is of course
a health resort. The empire is made up of health resorts; it distributes
health to the whole world. Its waters are all medicinal. They are
bottled and sent throughout the earth; the natives themselves drink beer.

But I think I have no such prejudice. A few years ago a Jew observed to
me that there was no uncourteous reference to his people in my books, and
asked how it happened. It happened because the disposition was lacking.
I am quite sure that (bar one) I have no race prejudices, and I think I
have no colour prejudices nor caste prejudices nor creed prejudices.
Indeed, I know it. I can stand any society. All that I care to know is
that a man is a human being–that is enough for me; he can’t be any


There are several kinds of stories, but only one difficult kind–the
humorous. I will talk mainly about that one. The humorous story is
American, the comic story is English, the witty story is French. The
humorous story depends for its effect upon the manner of the telling; the
comic story and the witty story upon the matter.

The humorous story is strictly a work of art–high and delicate art–and
only an artist can tell it; but no art is necessary in telling the comic
and the witty story; anybody can do it. The art of telling a humorous
story–understand, I mean by word of mouth, not print–was created in
America, and has remained at home.

DEFENCE OF HARRIET SHELLEY, by Mark Twain [MT#32][mtdhs10.txt]3171

I have committed sins, of course; but I have not committed enough of them
to entitle me to the punishment of reduction to the bread and water of
ordinary literature during six years when I might have been living on the
fat diet spread for the righteous in Professor Dowden’s Life of Shelley,
if I had been justly dealt with.

Yet he has been resting both for a month, with Italian, and tea, and
manna of sentiment, and late hours, and every restful thing a young
husband could need for the refreshment of weary limbs and a sore
conscience, and a nagging sense of shabbiness and treachery.

The biographer throws off that extraordinary remark without any
perceptible disturbance to his serenity; for he follows it with a
sentimental justification of Shelley’s conduct which has not a pang of
conscience in it, but is silky and smooth and undulating and pious–a
cake-walk with all the colored brethren at their best. There may be
people who can read that page and keep their temper, but it is doubtful.

FENIMORE COOPER OFFENCES, by Mark Twain [MT#33][mtfco10.txt]3172

It seems to me that it was far from right for the Professor of English
Literature in Yale, the Professor of English Literature in Columbia, and
Wilkie Collins to deliver opinions on Cooper’s literature without having
read some of it. It would have been much more decorous to keep silent
and let persons talk who have read Cooper.

Cooper’s art has some defects. In one place in ‘Deerslayer,’ and in the
restricted space of two-thirds of a page, Cooper has scored 114 offences
against literary art out of a possible 115. It breaks the record.

I may be mistaken, but it does seem to me that Deerslayer is not a work
of art in any sense; it does seem to me that it is destitute of every
detail that goes to the making of a work of art; in truth, it seems to me
that Deerslayer is just simply a literary delirium tremens.

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