Samuel Langhorne Clemens
The perfection of wisdom, and the end of true
philosophy is to proportion our wants to
our possessions, our ambitions to our
capacities, we will then be a happy and a virtuous people.
Sometimes I feel like the sane person in a community
of the mad; sometimes I feel like the one
blind man where all others see;
the one groping savage in the college of the learned, and always, during
service, I feel like a
heretic in heaven.
Nature desire no
indecencies; man invents them.
We despise all
reverences and all the
reverence which are outside
the pale of our own list of sacred objects. And yet, with strange
inconsistency, we are shocked when
other people despise and defile the objects which are
holy to us.
thankful that the good God creates us all
ignorant. I am glad that when we change His plans in this regard, we have
to do it at our own risk. It is a gratification to me to know that I am
ignorant of art, and
ignorant also of surgery.
Because people who understand art find nothing in art but blemishes, and
surgeons and anatomists see no beautiful women in all their lives, but only a
ghastly stack of bones with Latin names to them, and a network of nerves and
muscles and tissues inflamed by disease. The very point in a image that
fascinates me with its beauty, is to the cultured artist a monstrous crime against the laws of
coloring; and the very flush that charms me in a lovely face, is, to the
critical surgeon, nothing but a sign hung out to advertise a decaying lung.
Accursed be all such knowledge. I want none of it.
My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country,
not to its institutions or its officeholders. The country is the real thing,
the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to
watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they
are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be
comfortable, cease to protect the body
from winter, disease, and death.
The political and commercial morals of
America are not merely food for laughter,
they are an entire banquet.
When the human race has once acquired a
superstition nothing short of
death is ever likely to remove it.
Monarchies, aristocracies, and religions ... there was
never a country where the majority of
the people were in their secret hearts
loyal to any of these institutions.
It is strange the way the
ignorant and inexperienced so
often and so undeservedly succeed when the informed and the experienced fail.
All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and
then success is sure.
Irreverence is the champion of
and its only sure
The inborn requirement of self-approval.
were not best that we should all think alike;
it is difference of opinion
that makes horse races.
Statesmen will invent cheap
lies, putting blame upon the nation
that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those
falsities, and will diligently study them, and
refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince
himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys
after this process of grotesque self-deception.
Civilization is a limitless
multiplication of unnecessary necessities.
Civilization largely consists in
hiding human nature.
When the barbarian learns to hide it we account him enlightened.
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the
majority, it is time to reform (or
pause and reflect).
It is our nature to
conform; it is a force which not
many humans can successfully resist.
"It was not altogether a matter of the lavender
trousers, nor yet the straw hat with its bright silk band. The change was
somewhere, far in the interior of Henry. But there was no cakewalk hyperbole in
it. He was simply a quiet, well-bred gentleman of position, wealth, and other
necessary achievements out for an evening stroll, and he had never washed a
wagon in his life." - Stephen CraneOur Negroes in
America have several ways of entertaining themselves
which are not found among the whites anywhere. Among these inventions of theirs
is one which is particularly popular with them. It is a
competition in elegant
They hire a hall and bank the spectators' seats in rising
tiers along the two sides, leaving all the middle stretch of the floor free. A
cake is provided as a prize for the winner in the
competition, and a bench of
experts in deportment is appointed to award it.
Sometimes there are as
many as fifty contestants, male and
female, and five hundred spectators.
One at a time the contestants enter, clothed regardless of expense in what each
considers the perfection of style and
taste, and walk down the vacant central
space and back again with that
multitude of critical eyes on them.
All that the
competitor desire of fine airs
and graces he throws into his carriage, all that he desire of seductive
expression he throws into his countenance.
He may use all the helps he
can devise: watch-chain to
twirl with his fingers, cane to do graceful things with, snowy handkerchief to
flourish and get artful effects out of, shiny new stovepipe hat to assist in
his courtly bows; and the colored lady may have a fan to work up her effects
with, and smile over and blush behind, and she may add other helps, according
to her judgement.
When the review
by individual detail is over, a grand
review of all the contestants in procession follows, with all the airs and
graces and all the bowings and smirkings on exhibition at once, and this
enables the bench of experts to make the necessary comparisons and arrive at a
The successful competitor gets the prize which I
have before mentioned, and an abundance of applause and
envy along with it. The Negroes have a name for
this grave deportment-tournament; a name taken from the prize contended for.
They call it a cakewalk.
"In the US cotton states, after
the war the Jew set up shop on the plantation, supplied all the Negroes' wants
on credit, and at the end of the season was
the proprietor of the Negro's share of the present crop and part of the next
The Jew is being legislated out of Russia.
is not concealed. The movement was instituted because the Christian peasant
stood no chance against his commercial abilities.
The Jew was always
ready to lend on a crop.
When settlement day came, the Jew owned the
crop; the next year he owned the farm.
In the England of John's
time everybody got into debt
to the Jews. He gathered all
lucrative enterprises into his hands.
The Jew was the King of
Commerce. He had to be banished from the realm.
For like reasons, Spain
had to banish the Jew 400 years ago, and Austria a couple of centuries
In all ages Christian Europe has been obliged to curtail his
activities. If he entered upon a trade, the Christian had to retire from it. If
he set up as a doctor, he took the business. If he exploited agriculture, the other farmers
had to get at something else. The law had to step in to save the Christian
from the poor-house.
Even bereft of employments the Jews found ways to
make money. Even to get rich. This history has a most sordid and practical
commercial look. Religious prejudices may account for one part of it, but not
for the other nine.
Protestants have persecuted
Catholics - but they did not take their livelihoods away from them.
Catholics have persecuted Protestants - but
they never closed agriculture and the
handicrafts against them.
I am convinced
that the persecution of the Jews is not in any large degree due to religious
prejudices. No, the Jew is a money-getter. He made it the end
and aim of his life. The Jew was at it in Rome. He has been at it ever since.
His success has made the whole human race his enemy.
You will say that
the Jew is everywhere numerically feeble. People told me that they had reasons
to suspect that for business reasons, many Jews did not report themselves as
Jews. I am strongly of the opinion that we have an immense Jew population in
America. I am assured by men competent to speak that the Jews are exceedingly
active in politics." - Mark Twain 1899
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