| How stunning are the changes which age makes
in a man while he sleeps!
- Letter to William Dean Howells, 22 August 1887
It was on the 10th day of May -- 1884 -- that I confessed to age by mounting
spectacles for the first time, and in the same hour I renewed my youth,
to outward appearance, by mounting a bicycle for the first time. The spectacles
Whatever a man's age, he can reduce it several years by putting a bright-colored
flower in his button-hole.
Age enlarges and enriches the powers of some musical instruments -- notably
those of the violin -- but it seems to set a piano's teeth on edge.
photo of Clemens
and childhood sweetheart
Life was a fairy-tale, then, it is a tragedy now. When I was 43 and John Hay 41 he said life was a tragedy after 40, and I disputed it. Three years ago he asked me to testify again: I counted my graves, and there was nothing for me to say. I am old; I recognize it but I don't realize it. I wonder if a person ever really ceases to feel young -- I mean, for a whole day at a time.
- Letter to Mr. and Mrs. William Gordon, 24 January 1906
I am aware that I am very old now; but I am also aware that I have never been
so young as I am now, in spirit, since I was fourteen and entertained Jim Wolf
with the wasps. I am only able to perceive that I am old by a mental process;
I am altogether unable to feel old in spirit. It is a pity, too, for my lapses
from gravity must surely often be a reproach to me. When I am in the company
of very young people I always feel that I am one of them, and they probably
privately resent it.
- Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 2 (2013), p. 266. Dictated 30 October 1906.
Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age
of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.
Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.
Illustration by "Dwig" from
Seventy is old enough. After that there is too much risk.
- Following the Equator
I was young and foolish then; now I am old and foolisher.
- Mark Twain, a Biography
Lord save us all from old age and broken health and a hope tree that has lost the faculty of putting out blossoms.
- Letter to Joe Goodman, April 1891
I saw men whom thirty years had changed but slightly; but their wives had grown old. These were good women; it is very wearing to be good.
- Life on the Mississippi
When a man stands on the verge of seventy-two you know perfectly well that he never reached that place without knowing what this life is -- heartbreaking bereavement.
- "Books, Authors, and Hats," Mark Twain's Speeches
As soon as a man recognizes that he has drifted into age, he gets reminiscent.
He wants to talk and talk; and not about the present or the future, but about
his old times. For there is where the pathos of his life lies -- and the charm
of it. The pathos of it is there because it was opulent with treasures that
are gone, and the charm of it is in casting them up from the musty ledgers and
remembering how rich and gracious they were.
- "Frank Fuller and My First New York Lecture," first published in 2009 in Who Is Mark Twain?
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