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The Book > Mark Twain Quotations

"Mark Twain is my favorite author," Clausen explains, "He is also my most respected theologian, cutting through pretensions better than anyone else I know. Through characters like Huckleberry Finn, he invites us toward compassion.

Each Chapter of ONE WHEEL - MANY SPOKES begins with a quotation from Mark Twain. Twain is also referenced frequently within the text of the book.

Chapter One

"When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries of life disappear
and life stands explained."

"We never really and genuinely become our entire and honest selves," said Mark Twain, "until we are dead-and not then until we have been dead years and years." He recommended that, "People ought to start dead and then they would be honest so much sooner."

Chapter Two

"There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy's life
when he has a raging desire to go somewhere
and dig for hidden treasure."

Mark Twain provided the necessary encouragement for our family to make a move:
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

Chapter Three

"Custom is petrification; nothing but dynamite can dislodge it for a century."

Chapter Four

You can't reach old age by another man's road.

As Twain quipped, "Civilization is a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities."

Chapter Five

"Experience teaches us only one thing at a time-and hardly that, in my case."

Chapter Six

"The most permanent lessons in morals are those which come,
not of booky teaching, but of experience."

Chapter Seven

"It is the epitome of life.
"The first half of it consists of the capacity to enjoy without the chance;
the last half consists of the chance without the capacity."

Chapter Eight

"the citizen who thinks he sees that the commonwealth's political clothes are worn out, and yet holds his peace and does not agitate for a new suit, is disloyal; he is a traitor."

Chapter Nine

"Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live."

Chapter 10

"I am persuaded that the world has been tricked into adopting some false and most pernicious notions about consistency-and to such a degree that the average man has turned the rights and wrongs of things entirely around and is proud to be "consistent," unchanging, immovable, fossilized, where it should be his humiliation."

Chapter 11

"We can secure other people's approval if we do right and try hard;
but our own is worth a hundred of it, and no way has been found out of securing that."

Chapter 12

"There are no buffaloes in America now, except Buffalo Bill…
I can remember the time when I was a boy, when buffaloes were plentiful in America. …Great pity it is so."

Chapter 13

"There are those who would misteach us that to stick in a rut is consistency-and a virtue; and that to climb out of the rut is inconsistency-and a vice."

Chapter 14

"There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages."

Chapter 15

"Knowledge of Indians and humanity are seldom found in the same individual."

Chapter 16

"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen."

Chapter 17

"You can't depend on your judgment when your imagination is out of focus."

Chapter 18

"Man was made at the end of the week's work when God was tired."

Chapter 19

"The first thing I want to teach is disloyalty
till they get used to disusing that word loyalty
as representing a virtue."

Chapter 20

"What is it that confers the noblest delight? …Discovery!
To do something, say something, see something, before anybody else
…Lifetimes of ecstasy crowded into a single moment."

Chapter 21

"Where was the use, originally, in rushing this whole globe through in six days?
It is likely that if more time had been taken in the first place,
the world would have been made right,
and this ceaseless improving and repairing
would not be necessary now."

Chapter 22

"By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity-another man's I mean."

Chapter 23

"One must keep one's character.
Earn a character first if you can,
and if you can't, then assume one."

Chapter 24

"Distance lends enchantment to the view."

Chapter 25

"Habit is habit and not to be flung out of the window by any man,
but coaxed downstairs a step at a time."

Chapter 26

"Supposing is good, but finding out is better."

Chapter 27

"You see my kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions, or its office holders. 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."

Chapter 28

"The quality of independence was almost wholly left out of the human race.
The scattering exceptions to the rule only emphasize it, light it up, make it glare."

Chapter 29

"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."

Chapter 30

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority,
it is time to reform (or pause and reflect)"

Chapter 31

"For all the talk you hear about knowledge being such a wonderful thing,
instinct is worth forty of it for real unerringness."

Chapter 32

"Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail.
What you gain at one end you lose at the other.
It's like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won't fatten the dog."

Chapter 33

"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."

Chapter 34

"The calamity that comes is never the one we had prepared ourselves for."

Chapter 35

"Independence ... is loyalty to one's best self and principles,
and this is often disloyalty to the general idols and fetishes."

Chapter 36

"You can find in a text whatever you bring, if you will stand between it and the mirror of your imagination."

As Huck described the preaching, it was
"all about brotherly love, and such-like tiresomeness; but everybody said it was a good sermon, and they all talked it over going home, and had such a powerful lot to say about faith, and good works, and free grace, and preforeordestination, and I don't know what all, that it did seem to me to be one of the roughest Sundays I had run across yet."

"The human race is a race of cowards; and I am not only marching in that procession but carrying a banner."

Chapter 37

"All good things arrive unto them that wait-and don't die in the meantime."


"there ain't nothing more to write about, and I am rotten glad of it, because if I'd a knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn't a tackled it and ain't agoing to no more. But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can't stand it. I been there before."
Conclusion to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn




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