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Directory of Mark Twain's maxims, quotations, and various opinions:

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ARMAMENTS

In this game France puts up a battleship; England sees that battleship and goes it one battleship better; Russia comes in and raises it a battleship or two--did, before the untaught stranger entered the game and reduced her stately pile of chips to a damaged ferryboat and a cruiser that can't cruise. We are in it ourselves now. This game goes on and on and on. There is never a new shuffle; never a new deal. No player ever calls another's hand. It is merely an unending game of put up and put up and put up; and by the law of probabilities a day is coming when no Christians will be left on the land, except the women. The men will all be at sea, manning the fleets. This singular game, which is so costly and so ruinous and so silly, is called statesmanship--which is different from assmanship on account of the spelling. Anybody but a statesman could invent some way to reduce these vast armaments to rational and sensible and safe police proportions, with the result that thenceforth all Christians could sleep in their beds unafraid, and even the Savior could come down and walk on the seas, foreigner as He is, without dread of being chased by Christian battleships.
- Autobiographical dictation, June 22,1906 (reprinted in Hudson Review, Autumn 1963)

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Composite image of Clemens and steamboat whistles courtesy of Dave Thomson

By and by when each nation has 20,000 battleships and 5,000,000 soldiers we shall all be safe and the wisdom of statesmanship will stand confirmed.
- Notebook, 1902

...armaments were not created chiefly for the protection of the nations but for their enslavement.
- Letter to Baroness von Suttner, 2/17/1898 (quoted in Carl Dolmetsch, Our Famous Guest)

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