Samuel Langhorne Clemens Quote of the Week from Greg Bover

I have a higher and grander standard of principle than George Washington. He could not lie. I can, but I won’t.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens,) 1835-1910

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Best known by his pen name, Mark Twain, Clemens was a giant of American humor and letters. A Missouri native, he had brief careers as a miner and a river boat pilot before his short stories began to receive widespread notice. He was the keenest wit of his age. He wrote what many call the greatest of American novels, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885).  Through a series of bad investments he lost all of the money he made from his books and a good deal of his wife’s substantial inheritance, which motivated him to begin many years of international speaking tours. The money from these performances eventually overcame his debt and added to his fame. He was a friend and advisor to presidents, scholars, and scientists, Nicola Tesla chief among them. Born when Halley’s Comet was in the sky, he died, as he predicted, when it returned.

Greg Bover

4 thoughts on “Samuel Langhorne Clemens Quote of the Week from Greg Bover

  1. I feel the need to throw in some Aristotelian thinking here: Aristotle said (“Nichomachaean Ethics”) that if one had no propensity to do bad (in this case, to lie), then one was more purely “good” than one who COULD lie but decides that he will not. I used to think Aristotle was wrong, that it took self-control not to do wrong if one could (do wrong), but being older now, I see that he was right – and Mark Twain (about himself), was not more principled.

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    1. Thank you for weighing in and for using the word “Aristotelian,” one of my favorites. For me there is a difference between being good and being principled. Given my background and experience, I have to say I admire more the person who can lie but doesn’t, the one who finds his or her better angels. Makes me think of the definition of a gentleman that he is one who knows how to play the accordion but doesn’t.

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  2. If someone asked me to play the accordion they would get the same answer I gave the doctor when he asked if I wanted to cut the umbilical cord, “Aren’t you more qualified?” And like Samuel Clemens often did, “I stole that.”

    I was hanging out in New Zealand these past few weeks with Mr Clemens swear to god I’ll post picks.

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  3. Excellent Quote and great follow-through and they also tend to start little like a spark – which that’s all it takes to end up with a forest fire a spark! Children learn this quick when mom brings them to the person they may have lied too in the first place :-O This is where “conscious and character come into play.”I like this one too: “Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.” – Mark Twain 🙂 Dave

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