170 Humors from One of History’s Most Interesting People

April 30, 2011 by
Filed under: Quotes and Sayings 

One of my favorite American authors is well known for not only the creation of two of the country’s best known fictional characters (Huckleberry “Huck” Finn and Tom Sawyer), but for his strong wit and whimsical wisdom that so embodied many of his words. Missouri born author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, more widely known by the name Mark Twain, was a person with many hardships and joys in his life. Father, family man, world traveler, lecturer, humorist are just a few of the words used to describe him. Regardless of how one describes Mr. Clemens, he will be remembered in United States (and world) history as a very colorful person who has influenced many people with his writings and sayings. Below are some of those quotes and sayings credited to him. My expectations are that you may enjoy but a small portion of a person who made many people “think” a little bit more as well as helped people enjoy life a little more:

  1. A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.
  2. A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.
  3. A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.
  4. A man’s character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation.
  5. A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.
  6. Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.
  7. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.
  8. Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
  9. All generalizations are false, including this one.
  10. All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure.
  11. Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
  12. 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.
  13. Any emotion, if it is sincere, is involuntary.
  14. Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
  15. Be careless in your dress if you will, but keep a tidy soul.
  16. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.
  17. Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man. The biography of the man himself cannot be written.
  18. But who prays for Satan? Who, in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most?
  19. Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.
  20. By trying we can easily endure adversity. Another man’s, I mean.
  21. ‘Classic.’ A book which people praise and don’t read.
  22. Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.
  23. Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
  24. Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.
  25. Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.
  26. Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain.
  27. Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
  28. Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.
  29. Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone, you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.
  30. Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.
  31. Don’t tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don’t tell them where they know the fish.
  32. Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.
  33. Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.
  34. Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
  35. Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn’t.
  36. Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
  37. George Washington, as a boy, was ignorant of the commonest accomplishments of youth. He could not even lie.
  38. Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
  39. Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.
  40. Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.
  41. God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board.
  42. Golf is a good walk spoiled.
  43. Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.
  44. Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.
  45. Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.
  46. Honesty is the best policy – when there is money in it.
  47. Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.
  48. Humor must not professedly teach and it must not professedly preach, but it must do both if it would live forever.
  49. I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.
  50. I can live for two months on a good compliment.
  51. I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.
  52. I don’t give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way.
  53. I don’t like to commit myself about heaven and hell – you see, I have friends in both places.
  54. I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel that they have not said enough.
  55. I have made it a rule never to smoke more than one cigar at a time.
  56. I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting.
  57. I must have a prodigious quantity of mind; it takes me as much as a week sometimes to make it up.
  58. I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn’t know.
  59. I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.
  60. Ideally a book would have no order to it, and the reader would have to discover his own.
  61. If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.
  62. If man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve man but deteriorate the cat.
  63. If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later.
  64. If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.
  65. It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.
  66. It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
  67. It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native criminal class except Congress.
  68. It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them.
  69. It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.
  70. It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.
  71. It is easier to stay out than get out.
  72. It is just like man’s vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.
  73. It is not best that we should all think alike; it is a difference of opinion that makes horse races.
  74. It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.
  75. It’s good sportsmanship to not pick up lost golf balls while they are still rolling.
  76. It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.
  77. It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.
  78. Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
  79. Laws control the lesser man… Right conduct controls the greater one.
  80. Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.
  81. Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.
  82. Let us not be too particular; it is better to have old secondhand diamonds than none at all.
  83. Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.
  84. Lord save us all from a hope tree that has lost the faculty of putting out blossoms.
  85. Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.
  86. Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it.
  87. Man – a creature made at the end of the week’s work when God was tired.
  88. Man is the only animal that blushes – or needs to.
  89. Man will do many things to get himself loved, he will do all things to get himself envied.
  90. Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.
  91. My books are like water; those of the great geniuses are wine. (Fortunately) everybody drinks water.
  92. My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.
  93. Name the greatest of all inventors: Accident.
  94. Necessity is the mother of taking chances.
  95. Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
  96. No sinner is ever saved after the first twenty minutes of a sermon.
  97. Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she laid an asteroid.
  98. Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.
  99. Often it does seem a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat.
  100. One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.
  101. Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial “we.”
  102. Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.
  103. Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.
  104. Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.
  105. Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed.
  106. Prophesy is a good line of business, but it is full of risks.
  107. Prosperity is the best protector of principle.
  108. Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
  109. Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre, but they are more deadly in the long run.
  110. Sometimes too much to drink is barely enough.
  111. 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.
  112. The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.
  113. The Christian’s Bible is a drug store. Its contents remain the same, but the medical practice changes.
  114. The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
  115. The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.
  116. The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.
  117. The human race is a race of cowards; and I am not only marching in that procession but carrying a banner.
  118. The lack of money is the root of all evil.
  119. The man who is a pessimist before 48 knows too much; if he is an optimist after it, he knows too little.
  120. The more things are forbidden, the more popular they become.
  121. The most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all they know and then stop.
  122. 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 rather not.
  123. The Public is merely a multiplied “me.”
  124. The public is the only critic whose opinion is worth anything at all.
  125. The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
  126. The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.
  127. The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.
  128. The trouble ain’t that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain’t distributed right.
  129. The very ink with which history is written is merely fluid prejudice.
  130. The wit knows that his place is at the tail of a procession.
  131. There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.
  132. There are lies, damned lies and statistics.
  133. There are people who can do all fine and heroic things but one – keep from telling their happiness to the unhappy.
  134. There are several good protections against temptation, but the surest is cowardice.
  135. There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable.
  136. There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist.
  137. Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered – either by themselves or by others.
  138. Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.
  139. To be good is noble; but to show others how to be good is nobler and no trouble.
  140. To refuse awards is another way of accepting them with more noise than is normal.
  141. To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.
  142. Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing wrong with this, except that it ain’t so.
  143. Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.
  144. Truth is the most valuable thing we have. Let us economize it.
  145. Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.
  146. Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody.
  147. We Americans… bear the ark of liberties of the world.
  148. We are all alike, on the inside.
  149. We have the best government that money can buy.
  150. What a good thing Adam had. When he said a good thing he knew nobody had said it before.
  151. What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself.
  152. What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin.
  153. What would men be without women? Scarce, sir, mighty scarce.
  154. When a person cannot deceive himself the chances are against his being able to deceive other people.
  155. When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear.
  156. When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not.
  157. When in doubt tell the truth.
  158. When people do not respect us we are sharply offended; yet in his private heart no man much respects himself.
  159. When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.
  160. When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain.
  161. When your friends begin to flatter you on how young you look, it’s a sure sign you’re getting old.
  162. Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
  163. Why is it that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? It is because we are not the person involved.
  164. Why shouldn’t truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.
  165. Wit is the sudden marriage of ideas which before their union were not perceived to have any relation.
  166. Words are only painted fire; a look is the fire itself.
  167. Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.
  168. Work is a necessary evil to be avoided.
  169. Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.
  170. You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

Have any comments? Share them below and be heard! Have a great day and enjoy life!!


6 Intelligent Opinions, Leave Yours on 170 Humors from One of History’s Most Interesting People

  1. Amit on Sat, 30th Apr 2011 10:31 pm
  2. Great humors,Thanks for sharing

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. Jamie Beckett on Sun, 1st May 2011 1:32 am
  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for a very entertaining post. I was lucky enough to grow up just across the Connecticut River from Mark Twain’s house in Hartford. I can still recall driving past it with my mother when I was a little boy, and visiting it when I got older.

    My father-in-law tells me that when he was a boy Twain’s house was a public library. Today it’s a tourist attraction. I suspect good ‘ol Sam would be satisfied with either use of his old house. But during my time there I couldn’t help but imagine the old guy sitting in his study, scribbling notes, and pouring out fiction that would outlive him by more than a century.

    That’s talent – when your words outlive you, and your offspring, and their offspring – you’ve really done something significant with your life. And Twain most certainly did that. I still read his work today and enjoy it as much as ever.

    Thanks for a great walk down memory lane. Timeless quotes from the master himself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. Gil Pizano on Sun, 1st May 2011 10:07 am
  6. Jamie, I’m glad you enjoyed the post! Yes it is talent to have your words outlive you (and your offspring and their offspring). Great to hear the memories of your childhood and its relationship to the home Sam Clemens lived in. Thanks for sharing!


    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Adrienne on Mon, 2nd May 2011 2:56 pm
  8. Hey Gil,

    That was definitely entertaining. Love reading that kind of humor and it makes for a nice break in the day from reading everything else. Really enjoyed it.

    I would love for my words to outlive me. Guess I better get to cracking on that one. 🙂

    Adrienne recently posted..How to Use Swipe Files for Creating HeadlinesMy Profile

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  9. Richard Thompson from Home Insurance Cincinnati on Mon, 10th Mar 2014 2:35 pm
  10. This is pretty awesome, and so many of them are spot on! I’ll have to remember some of these so that I can whip them out whenever I need them!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. adeel ahmed on Sun, 29th Jun 2014 6:27 pm
  12. wow loved that really enjoyed reading those points away some thoughts and genius
    adeel ahmed recently posted..kalajaduMy Profile

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