Mark Twain Quotes

All Quotes taken from this site. Go and learn from a master.

ABSTINENCE

Total abstinence is so excellent a thing that it cannot be carried to too great an extent. In my passion for it I even carry it so far as to totally abstain from total abstinence itself.

– autograph inscription in album to Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes, reported in The Washington Post, June 11, 1881

SEX

When Adam ate the apple in the Garden and learned how to multiply and replenish, the other animals learned the Art, too, by watching Adam. It was cunning of them, it was neat; for they got all that was worth having out of the apple without tasting it and afflicting themselves with the disastrous Moral Sense, the parent of all the immoralities.
Letters from the Earth

Solomon, who was one of the Deity’s favorites, had a copulation cabinet composed of seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. To save his life he could not have kept two of these young creatures satisfactorily refreshed, even if he had fifteen experts to help him. Necessarily almost the entire thousand had to go hungry for years and years on a stretch. Conceive of a man hardhearted enough to look daily upon all that suffering and not be moved to mitigate it.
Letters from the Earth

SMOKING

twainbroadprintsAs an example to others, and not that I care for moderation myself, it has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep and never to refrain when awake.
– 70th birthday speech

…when they used to tell me I would shorten my life ten years by smoking, they little knew the devotee they were wasting their puerile word upon — they little knew how trivial and valueless I would regard a decade that had no smoking in it!
– letter to Joseph Twichell, 19 Dec 1870

BIBLE

It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.
Letters from the Earth

The Christian’s Bible is a drug store. Its contents remain the same; but the medical practice changes…The world prophecyhas corrected the Bible. The church never corrects it; and also never fails to drop in at the tail of the procession- and take the credit of the correction. During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. the Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after eight hundred years, gathered up its halters, thumb-screws, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood.
Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry…..There are no witches. The witch text remains; only the practice has changed. Hell fire is gone, but the text remains. Infant damnation is gone, but the text remains. More than two hundred death penalties are gone from the law books, but the texts that authorized them remain.
– “Bible Teaching and Religious Practice,” Europe and Elsewhere

When one reads Bibles, one is less surprised at what the Deity knows than at what He doesn’t know.
Mark Twain’s Notebook

But the truth is, that when a Library expels a book of mine and leaves an unexpurgated Bible lying around where unprotected youth and age can get hold of it, the deep unconscious irony of it delights me and doesn’t anger me.
– Letter to Mrs. F. G. Whitmore, 7 February 1907

BLASPHEMY

Blasphemy? No, it is not blasphemy. If God is as vast as that, he is above blasphemy; if He is as little as that, He is beneath it.
Mark Twain, a Biography

CHRISTIANITY

This is a Christian country. Why, so is hell. Inasmuch as “Strait is the way and narrow is the gate, and few-few-are they that enter in thereat” has had the natural effect of making hell the only really prominent Christian community in any of the worlds; but we don’t brag of this and certainly it is not proper to brag and boast that America is a Christian country when we all know that certainly five-sixths of our population could not enter in at the narrow gate.
Mark Twain in Eruption

If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be–a Christian.
Mark Twain’s Notebook

The so-called Christian nations are the most enlightened and progressive…but in spite of their religion, not because of it. The Church has opposed every innovation and discovery from the day of Galileo down to our own time, when the use of anesthetic in childbirth was regarded as a sin because it avoided the biblical curse pronounced against Eve. And every step in astronomy and geology ever taken has been opposed by bigotry and superstition. The Greeks surpassed us in artistic culture and in architecture five hundred years before Christian religion was born.
Mark Twain, a Biography

HISTORY

A historian who would convey the truth must lie. Often he must enlarge the truth by diameters, otherwise his reader would not be able to see it.
Mark Twain, a Biography

Herodotus says, “Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all: The conscientious historian will correct these defects.”
– Acknowledgments for A Horse’s Tale


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~ by herodotuswept on December 31, 2008.

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