It has been reported that I was seriously ill--it was another man; dying--it
was another man; dead--the other man again...As far as I can see, nothing
remains to be reported, except that I have become a foreigner. When you
hear it, don't you believe it. And don't take the trouble to deny it.
Merely just raise the American flag on our house in Hartford and let it
- Letter to Frank E. Bliss, 31 May 1897
Death is the starlit strip between the companionship of yesterday and
the reunion of tomorrow.
- on monument erected to Mark Twain & Ossip Gabrilowitsch
All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"-- a strange complaint
to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
- "Pudd'nead Wilson's Calendar"
Whoever has lived long enough to find out what life is, knows how deep
a debt of gratitude we owe to Adam, the first great benefactor of our
race. He brought death into the world.
- "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar"
The Impartial Friend: Death, the only immortal who treats us all alike,
whose pity and whose peace and whose refuge are for all--the soiled and
the pure, the rich and the poor, the loved and the unloved.
- Mark Twain, last written statement; Moments with Mark Twain,
Albert B. Paine
Pity is for the living, envy is for the dead.
- "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"
Death, the refuge, the solace, the best and kindliest and most prized
friend and benefactor of the erring, the forsaken, the old and weary and
broken of heart.
- "On Adam," speech, 1883
Life was not a valuable gift, but death was. Life was a fever-dream made
up of joys embittered by sorrows, pleasure poisoned by pain; a dream that
was a nightmare-confusion of spasmodic and fleeting delights, ecstasies,
exultations, happinesses, interspersed with long-drawn miseries, griefs,
perils, horrors, disappointments, defeats,humiliations, and despairs--the
heaviest curse devisable by divine ingenuity; but death was sweet, death
was gentle, death was kind; death healed the bruised spirit and the broken
heart, and gave them rest and forgetfulness; death was man's best friend;
when man could endure life no longer, death came and set him free.
- Letters from the Earth
Manifestly, dying is nothing to a really great and brave man.
- Letter to Olivia Clemens, 1 July 1885 (referring to General Grant)
How lovely is death; and how niggardly it is doled out.
- Letter to Olivia Clemens, 19 August 1896
It is a solemn thought: dead, the noblest man's meat is inferior to pork.
- More Maxims of Mark, Merle Johnson, 1927
[I am] not sorry for anybody who is granted the privilege of prying behind
the curtain to see if there is any contrivance that is half so shabby
and poor and foolish as the invention of mortal life.
- Letter to Mary Mason Fairbanks, 1894
I think we never become really and genuinely our entire and honest selves
until we are dead--and not then until we have been dead years and years.
People ought to start dead, and they would be honest so much earlier.
- Mark Twain in Eruption
To die one's self is a thing that must be easy, & light of consequence;
but to lose a part of one's self--well, we know how deep that pang goes,
we who have suffered that disaster, received that wound which cannot heal.
- Letter to Will Bowen, 4 November 1888
Favored above Kings and Emperors is the stillborn child.
- Notebook, #42 1898
All people have had ill luck, but Jairus's daughter & Lazarus the
- Notebook #42, 1898
No real estate is permanently valuable but the grave.
- Notebook #42, 1898
Death is so kind, so benignant, to whom he loves; but he goes by us others
& will not look our way.
- Letter to William D. Howells, 20 December 1898
A distinguished man should be as particular about his last words as he
is about his last breath. He should write them out on a slip of paper
and take the judgment of his friends on them. He should never leave such
a thing to the last hour of his life, and trust to an intellectual spurt
at the last moment to enable him to say something smart with his latest
gasp and launch into eternity with grandeur.
- "The Last Words of Great Men," 1869
Death....a great Leveler -- a king before whose tremendous majesty shades
& differences in littleness cannot be discerned -- an Alp from whose
summit all small things are the same size.
- Letter to Olivia Clemens, 15 October 1871