Mark Twain


Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live.

Taming the Bicycle

The steps of one’s progress are distinctly marked. At the end of each lesson he knows he has acquired something, and he also knows what that something is, and likewise that it will stay with him. It is not like studying German, where you mull along, in a groping, uncertain way, for thirty years; and at last, just as you think you’ve got it, they spring the subjunctive on you, and there you are. No — and I see now, plainly enough, that the great pity about the German language is, that you can’t fall off it and hurt yourself. There is nothing like that feature to make you attend strictly to business. But I also see, by what I have learned of bicycling, that the right and only sure way to learn German is by the bicycling method. That is to say, take a grip on one villainy of it at a time, and learn it — not ease up and shirk to the next, leaving that one half learned.

Taming the Bicycle

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

One thing I have learned in a long life: that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike – and yet it is the most precious thing we have.

Both marriage and death ought to be welcome: the one promises happiness, doubtless the other assures it.

When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition. I doubt if I could do it myself.

Is Shakespeare Dead? (1909)

What ought to be done to the man who invented the celebrating of anniversaries? Mere killing would be too light.

If the man doesn’t believe as we do, we say he is a crank, and that settles it. I mean, it does nowadays, because now we can’t burn him.

When angry, count four; when very angry, swear.

Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar (1894).

No man should [do that] unless he is the King of England — or has a tapeworm.

on whether people in public life should refer to themselves in the third-person

I refused to attend his funeral. But I wrote a very nice letter explaining that I approved of it.

This quote is attributed / unsourced.

The cat, having sat upon a hot stove lid, will not sit upon a hot stove lid again. But he won’t sit upon a cold stove lid, either.

Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

This quote has been attributed to Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain and Samuel Johnson, among others.

Never let your schooling interfere with your education.

This quote is attributed / unsourced.

The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug.

The proper office of a friend is to side with you when you are in the wrong. Nearly anybody will side with you when you are in the right.

Let us endeavour so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.

Golf is a good walk spoiled.


If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosper, he will not bite you……this is the principle difference between man and a dog.

God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board.

By his father he is English, by his mother he is American– to my mind the blend which makes the perfect man.

introducing Winston Churchill, New York City, December 12, 1900

We are chameleons, and our partialities and prejudices change place with an easy and blessed facility, and we are soon wonted to the change and happy in it.

Everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anyone.

Notebook (1935)

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.