Friday, March 28, 2008

Mark Twain’s Helpful Hints for Good Living: A Handbook for the Damned Human Race

This book was charming - it really gives you a sense of Mark Twain’s character and I recommend reading it! There’s whole chapters I could’ve typed but I chose not to - so you’ll have to go read the book for yourself.

Samuel Clemens
Mark Twain’s Helpful Hints for Good Living: A Handbook for the Damned Human Race

From Mark Twain’s Notebook 42 (1900), at the Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library
"The human race consists of the damned and the ought to be damned."

Notice About A Stolen Umbrella
(published by the Hartford Courant, 1875)
TWO HUNDRED AND FIVE DOLLARS REWARD - At the great baseball match on Tuesday, while I was engaged in hurrahing, a small boy walked off with an English made brown silk UMBRELLA belonging to me, and forgot to bring it back. I will $5 for the return of that umbrella in good condition to my house on Farmington avenue. I do not want the boy (in an active state) but will pay two hundred dollars for his remains.
Samuel L. Clemens

On Telephones and Swearing
(From a 1906 autobiographical dictation)
...I would dearly like to use the telephone myself, but didn’t dare to do it because when the connection was imperfect I was sure to lose my temper and swear - and while I would like to do that, and would get a good deal of satisfaction out of it, I couldn’t venture it because I was aware that by telephone law the Company can remove your telephone if you indulge yourself in that way...
...But the next moment I was comfortable again, because I remembered that blessed clause in the telephone law...
"In employing our telephones no subscriber shall be debarred from using his native tongue."

Suggestion to Persons Entering Heaven
"Leave your dog outside. Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and the dog would go in."

Smoking, Diet, and Health At Age Seventy
(from a 1905 speech)
"I will offer here, as a sound maxim, this: That we can’t reach old age by another man’s road."

"My habits protect my life, but they would assassinate you."

A Sampling of Childish Ethics
(Selections from a manuscript compiled between 1976 and 1885 about Clemen’s daughters, Susy, Clara [Bay], and Jean)
"October 1876 (age 4 and upwards) - Susie’s mother read to her the story of Joseph. The killing of the kid to stain the garment with blood was arrived at, in due course and made a deep impression. Susie’s comment, full of sympathy and compassion, was: "Poor little kid!" This is probably the only time in 4000 years, that any any human being has pitied the kid - everybody has been too much taken up with pitying Joseph, to remember that that innocent little animal suffered even more violently than he, and is fairly entitled to a word of compassion. I did not suppose that an unhackneyed (let alone original) thought could be started on an Old Bible subject, but plainly this is one."

"We require courteous speech from the children at all times and in all circumstances; we owe them the same courtesy in return; and when we fail of it we deserve correction."

From More Maxism of Mark
"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."

Clothes and Deception
(From Following the Equator, 1897)
"Yes, our clothes are a lie...They are insincere, they are ugly and appropriate outward exposure of an inward sham and a moral decay."

From autobiographic manuscript from 1900, "Scraps From My Autobiography" at the Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library
"The Proverb says that Providence protects children and idiots. This is really true. I know it because I have tested it."

Under a Policeman’s Eye
(From The Innocents Adrift, 1891-1900)
"It is inside the house, not outside, that one really finds the peasant life."

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