On last month's road trip, Ray and I spent a couple of days in Hannibal, Missouri, boyhood home of Mark Twain and inspiration for many of his stories. The visit not only got me thinking about hometowns, but also gave us a concentrated dose of Twainisms.
Since our return, I've unearthed a few more to share with you. (I also learned that many quotes attributed to Twain were actually spoken or written by someone else. I've tried my best to verify the ones I'm including here, relying on twainquotes.com‚ a site created by Twain House friend Barbara Schmidt. So I do hope they're all authentic.) As a bonus, I'll throw in some photos of Hannibal, MO at the end.
Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.
Always do right; this will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.
Grief can take care of itself, but to get full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.
The calamity that comes is never the one we had prepared ourselves for.
When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.
In America, we hurry--which is well; but when the day's work is done, we go on thinking of losses and gains, we plan for the morrow, we even carry our business cares to bed with us, and toss and worry over them when we ought to be restoring our racked bodies and brains with sleep. We burn up our energies with these excitements, and either die early or drop into a lean and mean old age at a time of life which they call a man's prime in Europe. When an acre of ground has produced long and well, we let it lie fallow and rest for a season; we take no man clear across the continent in the same coach he started in--the coach is stabled somewhere on the plains and its heated machinery allowed to cool for a few days; when a razor has seen long service and refuses to hold an edge, the barber lays it away for a few weeks, and the edge comes back of its own accord. We bestow thoughtful care upon inanimate objects, but none upon ourselves. What a robust people, what a nation of thinkers we might be, if we would only lay ourselves on the shelf occasionally and renew our edges!
Diligence is a good thing, but taking things easy is much more--restful.
Honor is a harder master than the law.
We do not deal much in facts when we are contemplating ourselves.
All good things arrive unto them that wait--and don’t die in the meantime.
When we think of friends, and call their faces out of the shadows, and their voices out of the echoes that faint along the corridors of memory, and do it without knowing why save that we love to do it, we content ourselves that that friendship is a Reality, and not a Fancy--that it is builded upon a rock, and not upon the sands that dissolve away with the ebbing tides and carry their monuments with them.
Written from the heart,
from the heart of the woods
Read the introduction to HeartWood here.
Nan Sanders Pokerwinski, a former journalist, writes memoir and personal essays, makes collages and likes to play outside. She lives in West Michigan with her husband, Ray.