A few nuggets of wisdom from the master

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

The great American author and humorist, Mark Twain, drew his last breath more than 90 years ago, but the wisdom of his words have lived far beyond his earthly years, which began with his birth in Florida, Mo., on Nov. 30, 1835, and ended with his death April 21, 1910, in Redding, Conn.

We still hear Twain's sayings repeated today, including one observation about death which preceded his own passing. Twain wrote, "Each person is born with one possession which outvalues all his other." Any guesses what that might be? We gave a hint in the first paragraph, because it was Twain who declared that the possession which outvalues all others for each person is " -- his last breath."

Twain, who was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, changed his name when he began writing for a living after moving to the Nevada Territory. In his career as a wordsmith, he coined many memorable phases. including the following:

"Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to."

"One of the striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat only has nine lives.'

"Always do right. That will gratify some people, and astonish the rest."

"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."

"Put all your eggs in one basket and -- WATCH THAT BASKET."

"Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits."

"When in doubt tell the truth."

"Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed."

"Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work."

There are more ... many more ... nuggets of wisdom where those came from, because Mark Twain was one of America's most prolific and profound writers. We remember Mark Twain today not because it is a special occasion -- or an anniversary of any kind. It's just good, every once in a while, to think back, and pay tribute to the men and women who helped shape the thoughts and values of America.

We don't know how the author would have taken this because, upon hearing an erroneous report of his passing in 1897, Twain sent a cable from London to the Associated Press, which stated: "Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: