Marriage, they say, is very much like going to a continental restaurant with friends. You order what you want, then you wish you had ordered what the other fellow is having. In short, folks are never satisfied with what they've got. Don't ever marry, I keep on telling myself.

Despite that, however, in the deepest recesses of my heart, some matrimonial desires had furtively started sprouting when, without warning or presentiment, came this war of words on Ornet. My desires stopped dead in their tracks. Marry a girl from your own caste, I told myself, and you're as good as dead. The next time you're out on the street, old boy (I thought), the first Ornetter you come across will holler at you to to stop right there, and come and wallop your head with his umbrella, tennis racquet, portable cassette player, or any such handy item he might be carrying at the time.

Sorry for the digression. The wonderful article we have this time addresses such diverse issues as babies, mathematics, and asses (of the animal fame). The contributor is Ms Minoti Sahu from Austin, Texas, a young engineer with Advanced Micro Devices, a leading manufacturer of microprocessors. In the form of a neat list, she has compiled for us a collection of quotes and sayings of Mark Twain, probably the most scathingly satirical of modern American writers. What is probably to be appreciated the most is that Ms Sahu has not only categorized the quotes, but also, ordered alphabetically the categories themselves. "A random compilation of the wit and wisdom of those who have traversed life's path before us," in her own words.

Hope you enjoy the searing wit of Mark Twain.


Amitabh Mishra June 14, 1996

Contributor's Self-Introduction

Name: Minoti Sahu
Email: minoti@imes.com

I grew up in Kharagpur, finished my high school there. Got a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Regional Engineering College, Rourkela. Went on to get my Master's in Computer Engineering from Virgina Tech. Moved to Texas, and am now working as a Product Development Engineer at Advanced Micro Devices, in Austin.

Some Wit and Wisecracks of Mark Twain


There is no character, howsoever good and fine, but it can be destroyed by ridicule, howsoever poor and witless. Observe the ass, for instance: his character is about perfect, he is the choicest spirit among all the humbler animals, yet see what ridicule has brought him to. Instead of feeling complimented when we are called an ass, we are left in doubt.
- Pudd'nhead Wilson


What ought to be done to the man who invented the celebrating of anniversaries? Mere killing would be too light.
- Notebook, 1896


A baby is an inestimable blessing and bother.
- Mark Twain, 1876


Between believing a thing and thinking you know is only a small step and quickly taken.
- 3,000 Years Among the Microbes


You see, in a country where they have ranks and castes, a man isn't ever a man, he is only part of man, he can't ever get his full growth.
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court


Comedy keeps the heart sweet...
- About Play-Acting


Let us not be too particular. It is better to have old, second hand diamonds than none at all.
- Following the Equator, Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar


Never refuse to do a kindness unless the act would work great injury to yourself, and never refuse to take a drink- under any circumstances.
- Mark Twain's Notebook


When I'm playful I use the meridians of longitude and parallels of latitude for a seine, and drag the Atlantic Ocean for whales. I scratch my head with the lightning and purr myself to sleep with the thunder.
- Life on the Mississippi


If a spectacle is going to be particularly imposing I prefer to see it through somebody else's eyes, because that man will always exaggerate. Then I can exaggerate his exaggeration, and my account of the thing will be the most impressive.
- "O'Shah", Europe and Elsewhere


Ah, well, I am a great and sublime fool. But then I am God's fool, and all His work must be contemplated with respect.
- Mark Twain, a Biography


I'll forget the Lord's middle name sometime, right in the midst of a storm, when I need all the help I can get.
- Mark Twain, a Biography


..money and chips are flung upon the table, and the game seems to consist in the croupier's reaching for these things with a flexible oar, and raking them home. It appeared to be a rational enough game for him, and if I could have borrowed his oar I would have stayed, but I didn't see where the entertainment of the others came in. This was because I saw without perceiving, and observed without understanding.
- Aix, Paradixe of Rheumatics


It takes your enemy and your friend, working together,to hurt you to the heart; the one to slander you and the other to get the news to you.
- Following the Equator


It is a good and gentle religion, but inconvenient.
- Following the Equator


Humor is the good natured side of a truth.
- Mark Twain and I, Opie Read


Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live ..
- Following the Equator, Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar


India has two million gods, and worships them all. In religion all other countries are paupers; India is the only millionaire.
- Following the Equator


Why is it that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? It is because we are not the person involved.
- Pudd'nhead Wilson


I'd rather have a sound judgment than a talent.
- The American Vandal Abroad, speech


I don't see why a kaleidoscope shouldn't enjoy itself as much as a telescope nor a grindstone have as good a time as a whetstone, nor a barometer as good a time as a yardstick.
- unsent letter to Orion Clemens, 2/9/1879


I was gratified to be able to answer promptly and I did. I said I didn't know.
- Life on the Mississippi


After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her.
- Adam's Diary


The first thing I want to teach is disloyalty till they get used to disusing that word loyalty as representing a virtue. This will beget independence-which is loyalty to one's best self and principles, and this is often disloyalty to the general idols and fetishes.
- Mark Twain's Notebook


We could use up two Eternities in learning all that is to be learned about our own world and the thousands of nations that have arisen and flourished and vanished from it. Mathematics alone would occupy me eight million years.
- Mark Twain's Notebook


I like to see my mind perform according to the law which I have laid down in "What Is Man': the law that the mind works automatically, & plans & perfects many a project without its owner suspecting what it is about; the mind being merely a machine, & not in even the slightest degree under the control of its owner or subject to his influence.
- Letter to W. D. Howells, 4/17/1909


How blind and unreasoning and arbitrary are some of the laws of nature- most of them in fact!
- A Double-Barrelled Detective Story


Now is always the best time to do things.
- quoted in Isabel Lyon's Journal, 1/17/1906


I, like all other human beings, expose to the world only my trimmed and perfumed and carefully barbered public opinions and conceal carefully, cautiously, wisely, my private ones.
- Mark Twain in Eruption


Optimist: person who travels on nothing from nowhere to happiness.
- More Maxims of Mark, Johnson, 1927


Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.
- Following the Equator, Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar


Since England and America have been joined in Kipling, may they not be severed in Twain.
- Authors Club speech, London, 1899


I have been born more times than anybody except Krishna.
- Mark Twain's Autobiography


We despise all reverences and all the objects of reverence which are outside the pale of our own list of sacred things. And yet, with strange inconsistency, we are shocked when other people despise and defile the things which are holy to us.
- Following the Equator


Scientists have odious manners, except when you prop up their theory; then you can borrow money of them.
- As Concerns Interpreting the Deity


Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.
- Following the Equator, Pudd'nead Wilson's New Calendar


It is curious- the space-annihilating power of thought.
- Following the Equator


When in doubt, tell the truth. That maxim I did invent, but never expected it to be applied to me. I did say, "When you are in doubt," but when I am in doubt myself I use more sagacity.
- "When in Doubt, Tell the Truth" speech, 3/8/1906


There is no unhappiness like the misery of sighting land (and work) again after a cheerful, careless voyage.
- Letter to Will Bowen (prior to sailing on Quaker City)


Forty years ago I was not so good-looking. A looking glass then lasted me three months. Now I can wear it out in two days.
- Mark Twain's Autobiography


...virtue has never been as respectable as money.
- Innocents Abroad


Wit and Humor- if any difference it is in duration- lightning and electric light. Same material, apparently; but one is vivid, brief, and can do damage- the other fools along and enjoys the elaboration.
- Mark Twain's Notebook


The spirit of wrath and not the words-is the sin; and the spirit of wrath is cursing. We begin to swear before we can talk.
- Following the Equator


The elastic heart of youth cannot be compressed into one constrained shape long at a time.
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer


Zeal and sincerity can carry a new religion further than any other missionary except fire and sword ..
- Christian Science

Your comments are always welcome...

Minoti Sahu

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