Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dawidziak, Mark Twain’s Guide to Diet, Exercise, Beauty, Fashion, Investment, Romance, Health and Happiness

Over the years Mark Twain (or in some cases the apocryphal Twain) has been a source of apt quotations on every conceivable subject. Mark Dawidziak’s wonderful collection—and no, I’m not going to repeat the book title (Prospect Park Books, 2015) organizes Twain’s biting “self-help” humor by category, including a chapter on finance and investment. Herewith four gems from that chapter. I’ve intentionally omitted Twain’s two most famous financial quotations—the one about the peculiarly dangerous months in which to speculate in stocks and the other about putting all your eggs in one basket—although the first piece of advice I share here probably runs a close third.

“There are two times in a man’s life when he should not speculate: when he can’t afford it, and when he can.”

“I find that, as a rule, when a thing is a wonder to us it is not because of what we see in it, but because of what others have seen in it. We get almost all our wonders at second hand … By and by you sober down, and then you perceive that you have been drunk on the smell of somebody else’s work.”

“Beautiful credit! The foundation of modern society. Who shall say that this is not the golden age of mutual trust, of unlimited reliance upon human promises? That is a peculiar condition of society which enables a whole nation to instantly recognize point and meaning in the familiar newspaper anecdote, which puts into the mouth of a distinguished speculator in lands and mines this remark: ‘I wasn’t worth a cent two years ago, and now I owe two millions of dollars.’”

“A dollar picked up in the road is more satisfaction to you than the ninety-and-nine which you had to work for, and money won at faro or in stock snuggles into your heart in the same way.”

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