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



Titles and honor and dignity once acquired in a democracy, even by accident and properly usable for only forth-eight hours, are as permanent here as eternity is in heaven. You can never take away those titles. Once a justice of the peace for a week, always "judge" afterward. Once a major of militia for a campaign on the Fourth of July, always a major. To be called colonel, purely by mistake and without intention, confers that dignity on a man for the rest of his life. We adore titles and heredities in our hearts and ridicule them with our mouths. This is our democratic privilege.
- Autobiography of Mark Twain

Titles--another artificiality--are a part of clothing. They and the [clothes] conceal the wearer's inferiority and make him seem great and a wonder, when at bottom there is nothing remarkable about him.
- "The Czar's Soliloquy"
In high hat in London, 1900
London, 1900

I couldn't gird at the English love for titles while our own love for titles was still more open to sarcasm. Take our "Hon.," for instance. Unless my memory has gone wholly astray, no man in America has any right to stick that word before his name; to do it is a sham, and a very poor sham at that. At the beginning of this century members of the two houses of Congress were referred to simply as "Mr." So-and-So. But this sham "Hon." has since crept in, and now it is unlawfully conferred upon members of state legislatures and even upon the mayor and city councillors of the paltriest back settlements. Follow the thing a little further. In England temporary titles are dropped when their time is up. The Lord Mayor of London is addressed as "My Lord" all through his year of office, but the moment he is out he becomes plain "Mr." again. But with us, once "Hon. " always "Hon.; " once "Governor, " always "Governor." I know men who were members of legislatures, or mayors of villages, twenty years ago, and they are always mentioned in the papers as "the Hon." to this day. I knew people who were lieutenant-governors years ago and they are called "Governor" to this day-yet the highest title they have ever had any right to, in office or out of it, was plain "Mr." You see, yourself, it wouldn't quite answer for me to poke fun at title-loving Englishmen -- I should hear somebody squeal behind me and find I had stepped on the tail of some ex-official monkey of our own.
- "Mark Twain on England," New York World, N.D.; reprinted in Hartford Courant, 14 May 1879

An American girl would rather marry a title than an angel.
- Bishop Speech, written between 5 October and 17 October 1907. It is not known if the speech was ever delivered. Published in Mark Twain Speaking, edited by Paul Fatout.

We have a thoroughly human passion for titles; turning us into democrats doesn't dislodge that passion, nor even modify it. A title is a title, and we value it; if it chance to be pinchbeck, no matter, we are glad to have it anyway, and proud to wear it, and hear people utter it. It is music to us.
- "The Refuge of the Derelicts"

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