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

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BALBOA

 

We hear all our lives about the "gentle, stormless Pacific," and about the "smooth and delightful route to the Sandwich Islands," and about the "steady blowing trades" that never vary, never change, never ''chop around," and all the days of our boyhood we read how that infatuated old ass, Balboa, looked out from the top of a high rock upon a broad sea as calm and peaceful as a sylvan lake, and went into an ecstasy of delight, like any other Greaser over any other trifle, and shouted in his foreign tongue and waved his country's banner, and named his great discovery "Pacific" - thus uttering a lie which will go on deceiving generation after generation of students while the old ocean lasts. If I had been there, with my experience, I would have said to this man Balboa, "Now, if you think you have made a sufficient display of yourself, cavorting around on this conspicuous rock, you had better fold up your old rag and get back into the woods again, because you have jumped to a conclusion, and christened this sleeping boy-baby by a girl's name, without stopping to inquire into the sex of it."

In a word, the Pacific is "rough," for seven or eight months in the year - not stormy, understand me - not what one could justly call stormy, but contrary, baffling and very "rough". Therefore, if that Balboa-constrictor had constructed a name for it that had "Wild," or ''Untamed," to it, there would have been a majority of two months in the year in favor and in support of it.
- Letter to the Sacramento Daily Union, 4/17/1866

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