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



But we were good boys...we didn't break the Sabbath often enough to signify--once a week perhaps... Anyway, we were good Presbyterian boys when the weather was doubtful; when it was fair, we did wander a little from the fold.
- Mark Twain's "Sixty-Seventh Birthday" speech
Hannibal Presbyterian
Presbyterian Church, Hannibal, MO located N. 4th St.
between Hill and Bird
from The State Historical Society of Missouri
courtesy of Dave Thomson

Presbyterianism without infant damnation would be like the dog on the train that couldn't be identified because it had lost its tag.
- Mark Twain, a Biography

It has taken a weary long time to persuade American Presbyterians to give up infant damnation and try to bear it the best they can.
- "Is Shakespeare Dead?"

I was educated, I was trained, I was a Presbyterian and I knew how these things are done. I knew that in Biblical times if a man committed a sin the extermination of the whole surrounding nation--cattle and all--was likely to happen. I knew that Providence was not particular about the rest, so that He got somebody connected with the one He was after.
- Autobiography of Mark Twain

Mine was a trained Presbyterian conscience and knew but the one duty--to hunt and harry its slave upon all pretexts and on all occasions, particularly when there was no sense nor reason in it.
- Autobiography of Mark Twain

The heaven and hell of the wildcat religions are vague and ill-defined but there is nothing mixed about the Presbyterian heaven and hell. The Presbyterian hell is all misery; the heaven all happiness- nothing to do. But when a man dies on a wildcat basis, he will never rightly know hereafter which department he is in--but he will think he is in hell anyhow, no matter which place he goes to; because in the good place the pro-gress, pro-gress, pro-gress--study, study, study, all the time--and it this isn't hell I don't know what is; and in the bad place he will be worried by remorse of conscience. Their bad place is preferable, though, because eternity is long, and before a man got half through it he would forget what it was he had been so sorry about. Naturally he would then become cheerful again; but the party who went to heaven would go on progressing and progressing, and studying and studying until he would finally get discouraged and wish he were in hell, where wouldn't require such a splendid education.
- "Reflections on the Sabbath"

I do not take any credit to my better-balanced head because I never went crazy on Presbyterianism. We go too slow for that. You never see us ranting and shouting and tearing up the ground, You never heard of a Presbyterian going crazy on religion. Notice us, and you will see how we do. We get up of a Sunday morning and put on the best harness we have got and trip cheerfully down town; we subside into solemnity and enter the church; we stand up and duck our heads and bear down on a hymn book propped on the pew in front when the minister prays; we stand up again while our hired choir are singing, and look in the hymn book and check off the verses to see that they don't shirk any of the stanzas; we sit silent and grave while the minister is preaching, and count the waterfalls and bonnets furtively, and catch flies; we grab our hats and bonnets when the benediction is begun; when it is finished, we shove, so to speak. No frenzy, no fanaticism--no skirmishing; everything perfectly serene. You never see any of us Presbyterians getting in a sweat about religion and trying to massacre the neighbors. Let us all be content with the tried and safe old regular religions, and take no chances on wildcat.
- "The New Wildcat Religion"
Bible According to Mark Twain

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