“It’s easier to fool people
than to convince them
that they have been fooled.”

A possible quote of Mark Twain (but some contend the lack of evidence).

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)



“The glory which is built upon a lie soon becomes a most unpleasant incumbrance. …  How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and How hard it is to undo that work again!”

– Autobiographical dictation, 2 December 1906. Published in Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2 (University of California Press, 2013)


The full quote, which can be viewed via The Mark Twain Project, reads as follows (emphasis ours):

The truth is, I did not have to wait long to get tired of my triumphs. Not thirty days, I think. The glory which is built upon [a] lie soon becomes a most unpleasant incumbrance. No doubt for a while I enjoyed having my exploits told and retold and told again [in my presence] and wondered over and exclaimed about, but I quite distinctly remember that there presently came a time [when] the subject was wearisome [and odious] to me and I could not endure the disgusting discomfort of [it.] I am well aware that the world-glorified doer of a deed of great and real splendor has just my experience; I know that he deliciously enjoys hearing about it for three or four weeks, and that pretty soon after that he begins to dread the mention of it, and by and by wishes he had been with the damned before he ever thought of doing that deed; I remember how [General Sherman used to rage and swear [over] “When we were marching through Georgia,”] which was played at him and sung at him everywhere he went; still, I think I suffered a shade more than the legitimate hero does, he being privileged to soften his misery with the reflection that his glory was at any rate golden and reproachless in its origin, whereas I had no such privilege, there being no possible way to make mine respectable.

How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and [how] hard it is to undo that work again! [Thirty-five years after those evil exploits of mine I visited my old mother, whom I had not seen for ten years]; and being moved by what seemed to me a rather noble and perhaps [page 303] heroic impulse, I thought I would humble myself and confess my ancient fault. It cost me a great effort to make up my mind; I dreaded the sorrow that would rise in her face, and the shame that would look out of her eyes; but after long and troubled reflection, the sacrifice seemed due and right, and I gathered my resolution together and made the confession.


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