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



When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not; but my faculties are decaying, now, & soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the latter. It is sad to go to pieces like this, but we all have to do it.
- original manuscript in the Mark Twain Papers as reprinted in Quotable Mark Twain by R. Kent Rasmussen

When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened.
- Mark Twain's Autobiography

Twain photo by Underwood
Photo color tinting by R. Kent Rasmussen © 2007

When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not; but I am getting old, and soon I shall remember only the latter.
- Mark Twain, a Biography

The truth is, a person's memory has no more sense that his conscience, and no appreciation whatever of values and proportions.
- Mark Twain in Eruption

It isn't so astonishing, the number of things that I can remember, as the number of things I can remember that aren't so.
- Mark Twain, a Biography

...little threads that hold life's patches of meaning together.
- Morals and Memory speech

This memory of ours stores up a perfect record of the most useless facts and anecdotes and experiences. And all the things that we ought to know--that we need to know--that we'd profit by knowing--it casts aside with the careless indifference of a girl refusing her true lover.
- Morals and Memory speech

Well, certainly memory is a curious machine and strangely capricious. It has no order, it has no system, it has no notion of values, it is always throwing away gold and hoarding rubbish. Out of that dim old time I have recalled that swarm of wholly trifling facts with case and precision, yet to save my life I can't get back my mathematics. It vexes me, yet I am aware that everybody's memory is like that, and that therefore I have no right to complain.
- "Three Thousand Years among the Microbes"

I ought to be ashamed, but I never remember anything whatever except humiliation. If by some lucky chance there had been humiliation mixed in, I could remember every detail of that day for a thousand years.
- Letter to George W. Cable, Oct. 12, 1882 (reprinted in Twins of Genius, by Guy Cardwell)

When [you are to make] a speech...don't jot down notes to speak from, jot down pictures. It is awkward and embarrassing to have to keep referring to notes; and besides it breaks up your speech and makes it ragged and noncoherent; but you can tear up your pictures as soon as you have made them--they will stay fresh and strong in your memory in the order and sequence in which you scratched them down. And many will admire to see what a good memory you are furnished with, when perhaps your memory is not any better than mine.
- "How to Make History Dates Stick" (available online at this site)

Also see the related topic Mark Twain's Memory Builder Game.

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