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

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STEAMBOAT PILOT LICENSE


I wish I was back there piloting up & down the river again. Verily, all is vanity and little worth--save piloting.
- Letter to Jane Clemens, 10/1865

...all men--kings & serfs alike--are slaves to other men & to circumstance--save alone, the pilot--who comes at no man's back and call, obeys no man's orders & scorns all men's suggestions. The king would do this thing, & would do that: but a cramped treasury overmasters him in the one case & a seditious people in the other. The Senator must hob-nob with canaille whom he despises, & banker, priest & statesman trim their actions by the breeze of the world's will & the world's opinion. It is a strange study,--a singular phenomenon, if you please, that the only real, independent & genuine gentlemen in the world go quietly up and down the Mississippi river, asking no homage of any one, seeking no popularity, no notoriety, & not caring a damn whether school keeps or not.
- Letter to Will Bowen, 8/25/1866

A pilot, in those days, was the only unfettered and entirely independent human being that lived in the earth.
- Life on the Mississippi

Clemens circa 1860
Clemens portrait, circa 1860

Pilot's Certificate
Photo of Samuel Clemens' Pilot's Certificate
from the Dave Thomson collection

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