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

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CHARACTER

Larson portrait

Portrait by Frank Larson,
Smithsonian Institution

One must keep one's character. Earn a character first if you can, and if you can't, then assume one. From the code of moals I have been following and revising and revising for 72 years I remember one detail. All my life I have been honest--comparatively honest. I could never use money I had not made honestly--I could only lend it.
- Speech 12/22/1907

There is no character, howsoever good and fine, but it can be destroyed by ridicule, howsoever poor and witless. Observe the ass, for instance: his character is about perfect, he is the choicest spirit among all the humbler animals, yet see what ridicule has brought him to. Instead of feeling complimented when we are called an ass, we are left in doubt.
- Pudd'nhead Wilson


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