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.

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  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!


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  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!

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  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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