(1835 - 1910) American Author, Humorist
- Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.
- Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.
- All schools, all colleges have two great functions: to confer, and to conceal valuable knowledge. [notebook, 1908]
- All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then Success is sure.
- An Englishman is a person who does things because they have been done before. An American is a person who does things because they haven't been done before.
- Be good and you will be lonesome.
- Cauliflower is nothing but Cabbage with a College Education.
- Civilization is a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessaries.
- A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.
- Cold! If the thermometer had been an inch longer we'd all have frozen to death!
- Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear -- not absence of fear. [from Pudd'nhead Wilson]
- Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain.
- Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned. [notebook, 1898]
- Eloquence is the essential thing in a speech, not information.
- Everything has its limit -- iron ore cannot be educated into gold. 
- Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.
- The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot.
- Few sinners are saved after the first twenty minutes of a sermon.
- Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. 
- Go and surprise the whole country by doing something right.
- Golf is a good walk spoiled.
- Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.
- Habit is habit and not to be flung out the window by any man but coaxed down-stairs a step at a time.
- His ignorance covered the whole earth like a blanket, and there was hardly a hole in it anywhere.
- A house without a cat, and a well-fed, well-petted, and properly revered cat, may be a perfect house, perhaps, but how can it prove its title? [from Pudd'nhead Wilson]
- I am not one of those who in expressing opinions confine themselves to facts.
- I cannot keep from talking, even at the risk of being instructive.
- If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. It is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
- I have a prejudice against people who print things in a foreign language and add no translation. When I am the reader, and the other considers me able to do the translating myself, he pays me the quite a nice compliment-- but if he would do the translating for me I would try to get along without the compliment. [from A Tramp Abroad, 1880]
- I have never let schooling interfere with my education.
- Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its one sure defense.
It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have these three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them. [from Following the Equator]
- It is easier to stay out than to get out.
- It is noble to teach oneself, but still nobler to teach others -- and less trouble. [speech, 1906]
- It is the difference of opinion that makes horse races.
- It were not best that we should all think alike; it is the difference of opinion that makes horse races. [from Pudd'nhead Wilson]
- I've come loaded with statistics, for I've noticed that a man can't prove anything without statistics.
- 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.
- Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone.
- Let us endeavor to live, so that when we die, even the undertaker will be sorry.
- A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.
- Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.
- The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.
- Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.
- Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
- Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits.
- Quitting smoking is easy, I've done it hundreds of times.
- Religion consists of a set of things which the average man thinks he believes and wishes he was certain.
- Some people get an eduction without going to college; the rest get it after they get out.
- Statistics show that we lose more fools on this day than on all other days of the year put together. This proves, by the numbers left in stock, that one Fourth of July per year is now inadequate, the country has grown so.
- There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.
- There are two times in a man's life when he should not speculate: when he can't afford it, and when he can. - from Following the Equator
- There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.
- There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist.
- Tomorrow night I appear for the first time before a Boston audience of 4000 critics.
- There is no such thing as the Queen's English. The property has gone into the hands of a joint stock company and we own the bulk of the shares!
- The trouble isn't that there are too many fools, but that the lightning isn't distributed right.
- Truth is more of a stranger than fiction.
- The very ink with which history is written is merely fluid prejudice.
- A verb has a hard enough time of it in this world when it is all together. It's downright inhuman to split it up. But that's what those Germans do. They take part of a verb and put it down here, like a stake, and they take the other part of it and put it a way over yonder like another stake, and between these two limits they just shovel in German.
- Wagner's music is better than it sounds.
- We are called the nation of inventors. And we are. We could still claim that title and wear its loftiest honors if we had stopped with the first thing we ever invented, which was human liberty.
- We have a criminal jury system which is superior to any in the world; and its efficiency is only marred by the difficulty of finding twelve men every day who don't know anything and can't read.
- We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it -- and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again -- and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.
- What a good thing Adam had - when he said a good thing he knew nobody had said it before.
- What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight, what counts is the size of the fight in the dog.
- Whenever you find you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
- 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.
- When one has tasted watermelon he knows what the angels eat.
- When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries of life disappear and life stands explained.
- Why shoudn't truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to stick to the possibilities.
- You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus.
Alexander Tyler (Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee)
(1747 - 1813) Scottish Lawyer and Historian
- A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury.
- It is not, perhaps, unreasonable to conclude, that a pure and perfect democracy is a thing not attainable by man. It may, indeed, be confidently asserted, that there never was that government called a republic, which was not ultimately ruled by a single will, and, therefore, (however bold may seem the paradox,) virtually and substantially a monarchy.
Lao Tze (Laozi)
(6th Century B.C.) Chinese Taoist Philosopher, "One of the Three Pure Ones"
- Wise men don't need to prove their point;
men who need to prove their point aren't wise.
- A journey of a thousand miles
started with a first step.
- The more laws and order are made prominent,
the more thieves and robbers there will be.
- Scholars of the highest class,
When they hear about the Tao,
take it and practice it earnestly.
Scholars of the middle class,
when they hear of it,
take it half earnestly.
Scholars of the lowest class,
when they hear of it,
laugh at it.
Without the laughter,
there would be no Tao.
Begin difficult things when they are easy.
Do great things when they are small.
The difficult things of the world must once have been easy.
The great things must once have been small.
A thousand mile journey begins with one step.
- A leader is best
When people hardly know he exists,
Not as good when people obey and acclaim him,
Worst when they despise him.
- The wicked leader is he whom the people despise.
The good leader is he whom the people revere.
The great leader is he whom the people say,
'We did it ourselves.'
- A fool will learn nothing from a wise man, but a wise man will learn much from a fool.
Sun Tzu (Sun Wu)
(544 - 496 BC) Chinese General, author of The Art of War
from The Art of War
- There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.
- Management of many is the same as management of few. It is a matter of organization.
- It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.
- If ten times the enemy's strength, surround them; if five times, attack them; if double, divide them; if equal, be able to fight them; if fewer, be able to evade them; if weaker, be able to avoid them.
- For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.
- The more you read and learn, the less your adversary will know.
- What is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations.
- Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness.
- A military operation involves deception. Even though you are competent, appear to be incompetent. Though effective, appear to be ineffective.
- Those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there by him.
- Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.
- All warfare is based on deception.
- If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
- Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.
- He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious.
- In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy's country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.
- Opportunities multiply as they are seized.
- Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
- The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.
- The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.
- To a surrounded enemy, you must leave a way of escape.
- You cannot stop innovation.
- Speed is the essence of war. Take advantage of the enemy's unpreparedness; travel by unexpected routes and strike him where he has taken no precautions.
- Bestow rewards without respect to customary practice; publish orders without respect to precedent. Thus you may employ the entire army as you would one man.
- If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame. But if his orders are clear, and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers.
- A leader leads by example not by force.