Talk:Mark Twain

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This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the Mark Twain page.


a removal[edit]

I removed one quote from this page because it appeared here: http://www.snopes.com/quotes/twain.htm

--Furrykef 02:53, 6 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Another Twainism[edit]

One fairly attributed to Twain is :- "Some German words are so long that they have a perspective." It seems to be from Twain's 1880 book "A Tramp Abroad" Appendix D entitled "1 July - The Awful German Language"

He paid tribute to this in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, where the "magic words" are actually very long German compound words, spanning the entire width of the page, and, for proper effect, set in Gothic script. --QuicksilverT @ 22:54, 18 February 2006 (UTC)

Some new edits[edit]

I'm new here, but I changed some stuff around on the page anyway to source some of the quotes and move one to the incorrectly attributed section. Mark Twain is one of the most widely misquoted authors around. People attribute everything to him. --Revcbl 17:24, 18 August 2005 (UTC)

... remove all doubt[edit]

Can we get a better referral on the "better to be thought a fool ..." ? There is one similiar from Confucius "Listen widely to remove your doubts and be careful when speaking about the rest and your mistakes will be few. See much and get rid of what is dangerous and be careful in acting on the rest and your causes for regret will be few. Speaking without fault, acting without causing regret: 'upgrading' consists in this."

what about lincoln or emerson? http://www.princeton.edu/~ferguson/adw/humor/quotes.shtml

It's biblical. Proverbs 17:28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.

I moved it to "Incorrectly attributed". —207.237.32.233 23:04, 26 December 2005 (UTC)
The sentiment may have been phrased differently by past authors, but is there any earlier source for the exact quote in this case, which seems to me to be a particularly pithy formulation of the idea? BD2412 T 18:03, 11 July 2012 (UTC)
Although the moral is similar, I think the sentiment is distinctly different: "better to be thought a fool" is sharply poignant because it emphasizes a dilemma. This formulation is worthy of proverbial status separate from the biblical proverb. Alas, though several smart researchers have looked for it, we still do not know where it originated. ~ Ningauble (talk) 19:28, 12 July 2012 (UTC)

Lazarus' Epithaph[edit]

Does anyone have the text of the thing Twain wrote for Emperor Norton's dog Lazarus?

End of the world?[edit]

There is a quote often attributed to Twain that says something like, "If I knew the world was coming to an end, I would go to Cincinnati because everything happens ten years later in Cincinnati." Or something like that. Does anyone know if there is anything to actually back up this attribution? If not I suppose it could be added into the attributed section. Any thoughts? -Thebdj 05:04, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

It's more often attributed to Will Rogers, which seems more plausible to me: "If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later." --Dsmccoy 04:24, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

As I recall, it's in "Life on the Mississippi," but I don't have a copy handy, so I can't immediately verify that. He was poking fun at Cincinnatians for wearing an outmoded style of boots and goatees. He took particular glee from the goatees.

^ I googled up an online copy of Life on the Mississippi and searched for it, but haven't found anything. I've tried rewording it and whatnot. Still can't find it though.

^ Fascinating, as I'd always heard it with the place and time being Kentucky and twenty years.

The Mysterious Stranger[edit]

What's the point of pastingentire pages wholesale from the Gutenberg Project? To be effective, most quotes consist of only an isolated sentence or two. Unless someone can identify some pithy thoughts in this work and break them out as individual sentences, I think this entire section should be excised. —QuicksilverT @ 22:54, 18 February 2006 (UTC) sure and you will see why this is important.

Truth quote[edit]

I'm pretty sure it was from THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN: -> Nothing found in the full text online...

"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."

I love the double entendre; not only do you not have to cover your lies if you're honest, but on a deeper level, there's the implication that you don't have to remember things if you don't want to, for example, when the sheriff asks you, "Now Huckleberry, who stole that gold?", you can tell him that you don't know and even if you do know, you can get away with it.

Weather[edit]

The quote, "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it", should not be listed. Even if we had absolute proof that Charles Dudley Warner was refering to Mark Twain when he attributed a saying about weather to "A well known American writer", we don't know exactly what Mark Twain said. You can't reword the sentence to change the tense. A quote is EXACTLY what the person said word for word; there is no written record of this for Mark Twain.

It is frequently misattributed to Mark Twain and as such is should be listed in the misattributed section.

Proper sources[edit]

Many of the supposedly sourced quotes in this article don't actually provide a source that can be checked. The purpose of Citing sources is to make it reasonably easy for readers to verify quotes to improve the accuracy of Wikiquote, just as it is with Wikipedia. To that end, a source like that currently given for Twain's infamous "reports of my death" quote:

  • Cable from London to the Associated Press (1897)

is of little use. What is needed is a publication or other reliable source that cites (or even reprints) this cable. Similarly, anything from Twain's letters should have a citation of a publication that actually includes his letters, preferably with the page number, book edition, and other relevant information to identify the specific printing. I ask editors of this article to help gather this information. I'd be happy to give some pointers about finding it, and how to format it when you have it — just drop me a note on my talk page. ~ Jeff Q (talk) 04:05, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

Fake or not fake[edit]

I was presented with this Twainism at work today:

"Synergy - the bonus that is achieved when things work together harmoniously"

It doesn't feel like Twain to me. It feels like an anonymous corporate PR machine cog made it up and just said Twain said it. BUT! I can't prove that. I yield to the collective wiki wisdom to aid me in my quest to verify this quote as real, fake, or triple fake. Please help!

Will check back regularly logged in, appreciate any feedback possible. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 171.161.160.10 (talkcontribs) 20:50, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

It's much easier to prove someone did say something than it is to prove they never said it, but I would be extremely suspicious of that quote. Looking at the entry for the word "synergy" in the OED, the 19th century citations are all in scientific journals. Twain was known for using common American speech, which didn't (and still doesn't) include the word "synergy". That said, this so-called quote is all over the web now. --Dsmccoy 04:42, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

Quote from Twain's mother[edit]

I'm new here, also. I'm trying to find a quote that is attributed to Mark Twain's mother. She made some valid comments on keeping animals penned up or in captivity. Can anyone help me with this quote? Thanks for your help. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Infoplace (talkcontribs) 08:05, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

Not much to go on here. It might help to know that Twain's mother's name was Jane Lampton Clemens (misspelled "Lambton" in some references, apparently). I didn't find anything specific about Jane and animals, other than Samuel Clemens inherited from her a "tenderness toward all animals", which was part of her passionate support for the underdog (no pun intended).
There is a multi-volume set titled Mark Twain's Letters that includes correspondence with Twain's mother, but I'm not sure if it includes her letters to him (which would presumably include such a quote). The Singular Mark Twain, by Fred Kaplan, has some substantive info about her in chapter 1 at least, so that's another possibility. ~ Jeff Q (talk) 10:02, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

Porcine music lessons[edit]

Did Twain really say, "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes time and annoys the pig"? - and if so, where and when? I have seen that quote or variants of it attributed to a lot of different people. There's no doubt that a character in a Heinlein book said it. Was it not original there?

—Wasn't it, "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it?" Monado 03:34, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

If i believe correctly "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes time and annoys the pig" is from "The Adventures of Mark Twain" the 1985 movie.

No.

The correct source of the pig singing quote is actually Robert Heinlein's character Lazarus Long AKA Woodrow Wilson Smith, in "Time Enough for Love". Heinlein had an ascerbic sense of humor much like Twain's and this is not the only quote that has been popularly mis-attributed. It's likely that Heinlein intentionally contributed to this phenomenon by applying his own twists to popular quotes and sayings.

Storm of thoughts[edit]

I've seen this attributed to Twain: "Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever blowing through one's head." Does anyone know if it's really his and, if so, where it comes from in his works? Thanks, Monado 03:29, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

The quote is accurate. It is on page 256 of his long delayed autobiography.

Evidently Twain anticipated Louis B. Mayer who said, "I don't believe anyone should write their autobiography until after they are dead."

On going to hell[edit]

Can someone confirm if Twain said something along these lines: "All men have a right to go to hell in a manner of their own choosing." Koppe 17:00 21 February 2007 (CET)


What is this attribute thing with India related quotes??[edit]

Why you have not put them as sourced and pretend them to be attributed? Your quotes that you still keep as "attributed" are not as flattering as Mark Twain has said in reality. To check refer to the book below.

This is the reference to most of India related quotes:-

Let me know the quotes if you fail to "source" your quotes.

The book is "Following the Equator" http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2895/2895.txt Read paragraphs starting with "This is indeed India"


"This is indeed India! the land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendor and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of a hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of tradition, whose yesterdays bear date with the mouldering antiquities of the rest of the nations--the one sole country under the sun that is endowed with an imperishable interest for alien prince and alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor, bond and free, the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the globe combined. Even now, after the lapse of a year, the delirium of those days in Bombay has not left me, and I hope never will. It was all new, no detail of it hackneyed. And India did not wait for morning, it began at the hotel --straight away. The lobbies and halls were full of turbaned, and fez'd and embroidered, cap'd, and barefooted, and cotton-clad dark natives, some of them rushing about, others at rest squatting, or sitting on the ground; some of them chattering with energy, others still and dreamy; in the dining-room every man's own private native servant standing behind his chair, and dressed for a part in the Arabian Nights."



and check this para

"India had the start of the whole world in the beginning of things. She had the first civilization; she had the first accumulation of material wealth; she was populous with deep thinkers and subtle intellects; she had mines, and woods, and a fruitful soil. It would seem as if she should have kept the lead, and should be to-day not the meek dependent of an alien master, but mistress of the world, and delivering law and command to every tribe and nation in it. But, in truth, there was never any possibility of such supremacy for her. If there had been but one India and one language--but there were eighty of them! Where there are eighty nations and several hundred governments, fighting and quarreling must be the common business of life; unity of purpose and policy are impossible; out of such elements supremacy in the world cannot come. Even caste itself could have had the defeating effect of a multiplicity of tongues, no doubt; for it separates a people into layers, and layers, and still other layers, that have no community of feeling with each other; and in such a condition of things as that, patriotism can have no healthy growth. "

There is one more book on India travels by Mark Twain, you can "source" rest of your so called "attributed" quotes there.

Please change attributed to sourced.


While India had worst kind of problems you can imagine, but still Mark Twain was overwhelmed by its history's uniqueness and a lot many other people understand that India could have done a lot more in last 200 years than it did goind by what it did before that time.

thanks

You do realize that the beauty of Wikiquote is that anyone can edit it, don't you? So you don't need to post marching orders for work that others can do, you can actually do it yourself, and make sure it gets done correctly! Ed Fitzgerald 07:07, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

Incorrect Quote[edit]

I do not wish to edit this myself as I don't play around here very often & wouldn't want to make a mess of things...

The quote listed in the Sourced section as the epitath for his daughter's headstone is not of Twain's creation.

Warm summer sun, shine kindly here; Warm southern wind, blow softly here; Green sod above, lie light, lie light— Good-night, dear heart, good-night, good-night. Epitaph for his daughter, Olivia Susan Clemens (1896)


This is an excerpt from a poem by Robert Richardson, published 1893 & entitled "Annette". This stanza appears at the end. The last line is altered.

Details on this poem are located here:

http://www.twainquotes.com/headstone.html

Thanks for the information; this has now been corrected. ~ Kalki 12:58, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

Work like you don't need the money...[edit]

Anyone know about this one: Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody is watching. I find this frequently attributed to Mark Twain, but somehow I feel it doesn't sound like him. Any suggestions? ---Mermer 13:14, 18 July 2008 (UTC)

  • No source cites this quote prior to 1990s, impossible for a Twain quote. The earliest, and likely correct attribution is Susanna Clark, in the 1989 country song "Come From the Heart", a collaboration on the Guy Clark album, Old Friends. The correct quote is as follows:
    • You got to sing like you don't need the money
      Love like you'll never get hurt
      You got to dance like nobody's watchin'
      It's gotta come from the heart if you want it to work.
  • Here's a YouTube of Clarke singing the song. Cheers! BD2412 T 15:10, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
  • It is actually a quote from Negro League Legend Satchel Paige.—The preceding unsigned comment was added by 71.31.30.126 (talkcontribs) 15:48, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
  • I claim no expertise on this subject, but I seriously doubt it was said by Satchel Paige. "Avoid fried meats that angry up the blood," yes, but this seems highly unlikely. I am open to changing my mind if authoritative documentation can be provided. — Taylor Kingston, 28 September 2010.
Probably mostly from William Purkey (tinyurl.com/38po85o) with later additions from others[1]. I don't know of any definite verification for this, though. —KHirsch 02:39, 29 September 2010 (UTC)
  • A friend of mine posted FB attributing it to Saddam Hussein. hehehehe.... Anyway, seems like Satchel Paige is the most commonly cited source, but any proof of that appears to be lost to the sands of time. 13.12.254.95 20:38, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
  • "You've gotta' dance like there's nobody watching, Love like you'll never be hurt, Sing like there's nobody listening, And live like it's heaven on earth.(And speak from the heart to be heard.)” -William W. Purkey. Professor of Counseling Emeritus, UNC Greensboro (It's on his wikipedia page).
    • The Purkey attribution is probably bogus. Purkey has used the phrase in his speeches (and possible has claimed authorship), but it doesn't seem to show up in any of his books until after 1987, when Susanna Clark and Richard Leigh wrote the song. The Yale Book of Quotations credits Clark & Leigh. And Fred Shapiro, editor of the YBoQ, writes "I have corresponded with Mr. Purkey about this and he was unable to supply reliable documentation". ABehrens (talk) 01:41, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

Do something every day...[edit]

Do something every day that you don't want to do; this is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain.

- [2]

I like this quotation and when I came to source it found many pages like the one above attributing it to Twain. Could someone add it to the attributed quotations section please, or find a source for it?

Putting Us On[edit]

"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." I would love it if this were a real Twain quote but I am suspicious because of the phrase "putting us on" which seems too modern to me. Does anyone know what the source of this quote is?

This quote is from The Peter Principle (1969), p. 69, by Laurence F. Peter and Raymond Hull. Peter attributes the quote to a student of his named Innocente. — KHirsch 18:39, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

Eiffel Tower quote[edit]

This quote is real - It appears in the 1903 essay "Was the World Made for Man?" which was reprinted in Letters from the Earth (1939).

You may die of a misprint[edit]

  • Das sind jene kleinlichen Unglücklichen, von welchen ich in einem früheren Absatze sagte, daß sie der Arzt selbst verachten müsse, den sie ewig konsultieren; das sind jene freiwilligen Kandidaten der Medizin, die sich in die ganze Krankheitslehre hineinlesen, die sich aus Büchern Rezepte verschreiben, zu deren einem Markus Herz, der berühmt gewordene Feind alles Schwindels, einmal sagte: Lieber Freund! Sie werden noch einmal an einem Druckfehler sterben!
  • These are the weak-minded persons, of whom I remarked, in a former chapter, that even the physician whom, they constantly seek must despise them. These men become volunteers in the ranks of medicine; they overload their minds with whole courses of physic; they copy prescriptions from printed formulae; and it was to one of this class that Marcus Herz once wittily remarked, “My dear friend, an error of the press will assuredly, some day or other, be the death of you.
  • Does not the hypochondriac die daily from fear of death? Nothing is more pathetically ludicrous than to see these petty unfortunates who ransack medical books in order to copy prescriptions and rules for the preservation of health. To one of these Dr. Herz once said: “My dear fellow, you will some day die of a misprint.”
    • Gustav Pollak and Ernst von Feuchtersleben, The hygiene of the soul: memoir of a physician and philosopher (1910), p. 101
  • Dr. Marcus Herz, of Berlin, is credited with saying to a patient who read medical books diligently in order to prescribe for himself: “Be careful, my friend. Some fine day you'll die of a misprint.
    • Current Literature (April 1912), 52:486.


Few souls/sinners saved after the first ...[edit]

Here's a variant from 1864, quoted as if it's already a familiar saying:

  • The correct view of this subject is contained in the statement, that there should be no indecent haste in disposing of topics so dignified as those of the pulpit, but “few souls are saved after the first half hour.”
    • “Stray Hints to Parishes”, Monthly journal of the American Unitarian Association 5:219 (1864)

There's no good reason to think Twain ever said this.

Unsourced[edit]

Texts moved from main page pending sourcing / identification of attribution (or absence of). Gordonofcartoon 23:45, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

  • The best of all the lost arts is honesty.
  • Tomorrow is the yesterday of two days from now.
    • Actually by an unknown author which was started as an internet hoax because the quote was trite and obvious and sounds like something that Mark Twain would have said.
  • Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes time and annoys the pig.
  • A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.
  • What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so.
  • There is something worse than ignorance, and that's knowing what ain't so.
  • All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.
  • America is built on a tilt and everything loose slides to California.
  • But that is the way of the scientist. He will spend thirty years in building up a mountain range of facts with the intent to prove a certain theory; then he is so happy in his achievement that as a rule he overlooks the main chief fact of all - that his accumulation proves an entirely different thing. When you point out this miscarriage to him he does not answer your letters; when you call to convince him, the servant prevaricates and you do not get in. Scientists have odious manners, except when you prop up their theory; then you can borrow money of them. (the Bee; twainquotes[.]com/Bee-essay.html)
  • Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
  • Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
  • France is miserable because it is filled with Frenchmen, and Frenchmen are miserable because they live in France.
  • I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying that I approved of it.
  • I have found solace in profanity unexcelled even by prayer.
  • I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.
  • I take my only exercise acting as a pallbearer at the funerals of my friends who exercise regularly
  • It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not to deserve them.
    • This is a quote found in the early 19th century notebooks of Sir Humphry Davy along with other quotes about scientific honors. I've seen it sourced as coming from one of Twain's notebooks circa 1902, which may be true but probably just means he copied it from a book on Davy.
  • It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.
  • It was wonderful to find America, but it would have been more wonderful to miss it. (this comes from Twain's novel Pudd'nhead Wilson).
  • Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.
  • Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear, and the blind can read.
  • Love your enemy, it'll scare the hell out of him.
  • The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.
  • Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
  • Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.
  • 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.
  • The catfish is a plenty good enough fish for anyone.
  • The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.
  • There ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.
  • There are no dialogues, only intersecting monologues.
  • Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it.
  • They did not know it was impossible, so they did it!
  • The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right.
  • When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.
    • Alternate version: When I was sixteen, my father was the most ignorant man in the world. By the time I reached 21, I was surprised at how much he had learned in five years.
  • If you don't read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. (Sometimes quoted as newspapers.)
  • When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.
  • If you cannot get a compliment any other way, pay yourself one.
  • Actions speak louder than words, but not nearly as often.
  • Always tell the truth. That way, you don't have to remember what you said.
  • Denial ain't just a river in Egypt
  • It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Encountered one[edit]

Encountered this one in an e-mail forward:

"Whose property is my body? Probably mine. I so regard it. If I experiment with it, who must be answerable? I, not the State. If I choose injudiciously, does the state die? Oh, no."

If you Google it, there are sources, but I'm not sure any are reliable... I'm not super-familiar with WikiQuote policies. --13.12.254.95 16:14, 10 September 2010 (UTC)

I have found a reliable source and added it to the page. —KHirsch 17:48, 10 September 2010 (UTC)

Why are 99% of things false quotes ?[edit]

So many of things are wrongly-credited quotes. O_o --208.126.51.140 01:14, 14 November 2010 (UTC)

I found through Google Books[edit]

The following quote appears in "Wit and wisecracks" -- "I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one."

Would that be "sourced" enough to be integrated to the article? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 142.217.100.131 (talk) 01:34, 19 March 2011

Mark Twain: Wit and Wisecracks, ed. Doris Benardete (1961, Peter Pauper Press) is not a reliable collection. It does not cite sources and it includes known misquotes.

A better source sometimes cited for this quote is Charles Neider, ed., The Autobiography of Mark Twain (1959), p. 227. The best source is Bernard DeVoto, ed., Mark Twain in Eruption: Hitherto Unpublished Pages About Men and Events (2nd edition, 1940), p. 155. DeVoto was the curator for Twain's papers. ~ Ningauble 12:17, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

Truth & Fiction[edit]

This quote: "Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't." (which is currently found in 2 forms in 2 places on the unsourced quote section) is from Following the Equator, where, as an epigraph at the beginning of chapter 15. It is there attributed to Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar. 109.246.254.186 17:48, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Unsourced quote: "A Christian is a person who wants to give up great things in a real life, for mediocre things in an imaginary one. More importantly, they demand you do the same."[edit]

This quote seems to be going around the atheist blogosphere lately, but I can't find a source. So I thought I'd drop it here, so at least it's noted down, and people can at a minimum, try to find a source (or verify that it's very likely not correctly attributed). 63.251.123.2 19:06, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

That really sounds like something Twain would say....If I had to pick, it would be one of the blurbs from Pudd'nhead Wilson, or from Letters from Earth. On the other hand, that quote REALLY sounds like one of those pearls from Robert G. Ingersol. --Bill Abendroth (talk) 04:15, 15 May 2013 (UTC)

Authenticity of "Never argue with an idiot..." quote?[edit]

A quote I see often attributed to Mark Twain is "Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience". Some variations have "fool" in place of "idiot", etc., but the ending is the same. Does anybody know if this quote is really Twain's? And if so, where he said it? It's been also misattributed to George Carlin, but I'm almost certain he never said it. Geezerbill (talk) 01:37, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

O he might well have said it, but it is not his, as it is an old old saying in more than one tradition, globally. And no, I don't have a handy source for that. :) Unfriend13 (talk) 21:16, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

The quote most assuredly stems from Proverbs 26:4 "When arguing with fools, don't answer their foolish arguments, or you will become as foolish as they are." -Proverbs 26:4 (NLT)

"Fortune Knocks"?[edit]

I've seen this attributed to Twain. Is it misattributed?: "Fortune knocks at every man's door once in a life, but in a good many cases the man is in a neighboring saloon and does not hear her." 219.142.235.124 01:44, 17 September 2013 (UTC)

"The best cure for Christianity is reading the bible."[edit]

I have seen this quote attributed to Mark Twain but I have however not been able to find any source that this was originally said by Mark Twain. 212.116.75.225 20:11, 9 October 2013 (UTC)



Unsourced / possible fakes[edit]

Twain is one of those major iconic figures to whom many statements become attributed; unsourced attributions to him should usually be treated with some skepticism, and often a great deal of it.

Writing and speaking[edit]

  • Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing.
    • This quote, in both this and a slightly different form, is also attributed to Robert Benchley.
  • Few sinners are saved after the first twenty minutes of a sermon.
    • Commonly attributed, but not found in any collection of Twain's writings. The earliest known attribution is Caroline Thomas Harnsberger, Mark Twain at Your Fingertips (1948), which cites the Hannibal Courier-Post, 6 March 1935—twenty-five years after his death. Later sources cite the 1 March or 6 March 1835 editions of the Hannibal Courier-Post, which was nine months before his birth.
  • I don't give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way.
    • Although attributed to Twain as early as 1875, the earliest appearances of this joke, in 1855, are not from Twain. This quote does not appear in his writing and there is no specific evidence that Twain ever said it. For more information, see [quoteinvestigator.com/2010/06/25/spelling/ Quotation Investigator].
  • Only presidents, editors and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we".
    • Attributed to Twain as "only editors and people with tapeworms should say 'we' in writing" on p.247, Business Education World, Volume 24, 1944, Gregg Publ. Co., but predated by:
    • ...three orders of men, by right, speak of themselves as "we". These are editors, royal personages, and people with tapeworms.
    • "Mr Prentice", p.138, The Louisville Medical News, Volumes 15-16, 1883.
  • If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.
    • Commonly attributed to Twain, but no evidence so far.

Education[edit]

  • Never let your schooling interfere with your education.
  • I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is I can't find anybody who can tell me what they want.
    • First appears in post-2000 self-help and inspirational books such as Wake Up ... Live the Life You Love: Seizing Your Success, 2002, Steven E., Lee Beard, 58 Micro LLC, 2002.
  • I was born intelligent, education ruined me.
    • No known citation to Twain. Also quoted without attribution or to "a student", as in Architecture + Design, Volume 21, 2004, pub. S.K. Bhayana for Media Transasia (I) Pvt. Ltd.

Government and politics[edit]

  • God created war so that Americans would learn geography.
    • Frequently attributed to Twain; as yet unsourced.
  • Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.
    • Abridged modern version of "Remember this, take it to heart, live by it, die for it if necessary: that our patriotism is medieval, outworn, obsolete; that the modern patriotism, the true patriotism, the only rational patriotism, is loyalty to the Nation All the time, loyalty to the Government when it deserves it" - spoken by Tsar Nicholas II in Twain's The Czar's Soliloquy, 1905.
  • If voting made any difference they wouldn't let us do it.
    • No known attribution to Twain. This has also been attributed to Emma Goldman. “If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal.”
  • All you have to fear is your mother's cooking.
    • No known attribution to Twain.
  • Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.
    • This is never given with a source, and said source has not so far been located online, including in searches of his online works, for example [www.marktwainproject.org/xtf/search?keyword=%22imbeciles+who%22&x=0&y=0&fieldList=text+date+writer+addressee+place+collection+repository+publication+publisher+title-uniform+identifier+&style=mtp&brand=default&sort=date&category=letters here]. Evan Morris (the Word Detective) believes the quote is misattributed and the sub-phrase "putting on" is anachronistic. (Evan Morris (2008-04-11). [www.word-detective.com/2008/04/11/putting-on/ Putting on]. Retrieved on 2012-02-14.)
  • Politicians and diapers should both be changed regularly, and for the same reason.
    • No known attribution, cited only since 1992. (Barry Popik (2009-12-19). [www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/politicians_and_diapers_should_both_be_changed_regularly_and_for_the_same_r Politicians and diapers should both be changed regularly, and for the same reason]. Retrieved on 2013-10-15.)

History[edit]

  • The past does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.
    • Also quoted as "History does not repeat itself, It rhymes" and "History may not repeat itself, but it rhymes a lot."
    • According to this [volokh.com/archives/archive_2005_02_13-2005_02_19.shtml#1108756279 notes on sourcing], Twain scholars agree that it sounds like something he would say, but they have been unable to find the actual quote in his writing.
      • Twain did write: "It is not worth while to try to keep history from repeating itself, for man's character will always make the preventing of the repetitions impossible." (Mark Twain in Eruption: Hitherto Unpublished Pages About Men and Events (1940), ed. Bernard DeVoto, pp. 66–67).

Humor[edit]

  • To my embarrassment, I was born in bed with a lady.

Religion[edit]

  • It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.
    • Not attributed to Twain until the 1970s, as in p.214, Christ the liberator. 1971, John R. W. Stott, Inter Varsity Press.

Truth[edit]

  • A lie can make it half way around the world before the truth has time to put its boots on.
    • Attributed to Twain as "a lie will fly around the whole world while the truth is getting its boots on", Standard player monthly, 1918, Volumes 3-4, Standard Pneumatic Action Co. An uncredited variant, "A lie will cover leagues while truth is putting on its boots", appears in The Judge, Volume 67, 1914, Judge Publishing Company. The oldest known attribution (1831) is to Fisher Ames: “falsehood proceeds from Maine to Georgia, while truth is pulling on his boots.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon said similar, adding "if you want a lie to go round the world, it will fly: it is as light as a feather, and a breath will carry it", in 1855.
    • This has also been attributed to Winston Churchill.
  • I once sent a telegram to 12 of my friends saying ALL IS DISCOVERED - FLEE AT ONCE. They all left town immediately.
    • This has also been attributed to Arthur Conan Doyle, with the caveat that only one of his friends disappeared.
  • Often, the less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it.
    • [books.google.com/books?id=B0FTDIj0TM0C&pg=PA27&vq=%22Often,+the+less+there+is+to+justify+a+traditional+custom,+the+harder+it+is+to+get+rid+of+it.+%22&source=gbs_search_r&cad=1_1&sig=ACfU3U36xrtoBVuSvKcu1t941DOmwnrMkA The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Chap. V ] (1876).
  • A mine is a hole in the ground owned by a liar.
    • Alternatively, “with a liar on top”
    • Attributed to Twain in The Autobiography of John Hays Hammond (Farrar & Rinehart, 1935), p. 97, who knew Twain. Not recorded as actually having been said ([www.twainquotes.com/Miner.html Mark Twain quotations – Miner]). Also attributed to contemporaries Bill Nye and Eli Perkins ([www.miningswindles.com/html/a_hole_in_the_ground_.html A Hole in the Ground]).
  • Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth is not.
  • 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.
    • Frequently attributed to Twain, and often to Will Rogers, Satchel Paige, Artemus Ward, as well as others. ([wellnowbob.blogspot.com/2008/07/it-aint-what-you-dont-know.html])

Weather[edit]

  • If you don't like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.
    • According to the Yale Book of Quotations, ed. Fred R. Shapiro (2006), Yale University Press, attributed to Twain in Try and Stop Me (1944), Bennett Cerf.

Statistics[edit]

  • Figures don't lie, but liars figure.
    • Attributed to Twain by Yates, Department of the Interior and related agencies appropriations for 1984: hearings before a subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives, Ninety-eighth Congress, first session, Parts 9-10, 1983, U.S. G.P.O., 1983.

Miscellaneous[edit]

  • The difference between truth and fiction is that the latter must always be credible in order to work.
  • Irreverence is the champion of liberty, if not its only defender.
  • This is petrified truth.
    • [books.google.gr/books?id=kqMDAAAAQAAJ&dq= The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches]ː "A Complaint about Correspondents" (1867), p. 30.
  • Conductor, when you receive a fare,
    Punch in the presence of the passenjare:
    A blue trip slip for an eight-cent fare,
    A buff trip slip for a six-cent fare,
    A pink trip slip for a three-cent fare,
    Punch in the presence of the passenjare!

    Chorus: Punch, brothers, punch with care!
    Punch in the presence of the passenjare.
    • Jingle written in 1876 by Isaac Bromley and Noah Brooks of the New York Tribune. Twain quoted it in his 1876 A Literary Nightmare (a.k.a. Punch, Brothers, punch) describing the catchiness of the meme, and became mistakenly known as the author: see p.422, Mark Twain: the complete interviews (2006), Mark Twain, Gary Scharnhorst, University of Alabama Press.
  • Every generalization is false, including this one.
    • This has also been attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Winston Churchill, George Barnard Shaw and Douglas MacArthur.
  • I've never killed a man, but I've read many an obituary with a great deal of satisfaction.
    • Variant: I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.
  • I admire the serene assurance of those who have religious faith. It is wonderful to observe the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces.
  • I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.
    • Quoted in Dawkins, Richard (2006). "A Much Needed Gap?". The God Delusion. Bantam Press. p. 354. ISBN 0-618-68000-4. , but no source is given. Note that during Twain's life the Age of the Earth was thought to be measured in tens of millions not billions of years.
    • A [www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=_jEzJiErYCQ#t=203s video] of Dawkins crediting Twain for the quote.
    • May have originated as a paraphrase of the "Annihilation has no terrors for me, because I have already tried it before I was born ..." quote from Mark Twain#Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924).
  • The secret of success is making your vocation your vacation.
  • Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.
    • Originally appeared in MacLaren, Gay (1938). "I Meet Mark Twain". Morally We Roll Along. Little, Brown and Company. p. 66. ASIN B00085LQDW.  [books.google.com/books?id=JtSeAAAAMAAJ&q=belittle#search_anchor]
    • The book is a memoir and the quote is MacLaren recalling something Twain supposedly said to her when she was a little girl. There's no reason to doubt that this is an honest memoir, that MacLaren met Twain, and that he said something encouraging to her. It seems a stretch though to trust MacLaren's memory of something said to her decades earlier when she was just a girl enough to take her quotation marks literally. This quotation's status as an actual verbatim quote from Mark Twain seems dubious.
  • The more I know about people, the better I like my dog.
    • Many sites claim it is Mark Twain, but no source given.
  • The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you discover why you were born.
    • This quote started circulating around the year 2011 attributed to Mark Twain.
  • Banks will lend you money, if you can prove you don't need it.
    • Quoted without a reference in Swim against the current, by Jim Hightower, Wiley & Sons, 2008, p.58.
  • Buy land, they aren't making it anymore.
    • Quoted in The Ladies' Home Journal, Vol. 96 (1979), p. 10 [3]

Source for "It was wonderful to find America, but it would have been more wonderful to miss it."?[edit]

A quote commonly attributed to Twain is "It was wonderful to find America, but it would have been more wonderful to miss it", which I found in the "unsourced" section. From my research it comes from Twain's novel Pudd'nhead Wilson:

"OCTOBER 12, THE DISCOVERY. It was wonderful to find America, but it would have been more wonderful to miss it.

--Pudd`nhead Wilson`s Calendar"

Find the complete novel here.

Therefore, I am taking it off the "unsourced" list until somebody proves me wrong :) --Youcantbesyrian (talk) 09:20, 18 September 2014 (UTC)