How Mark Twain Used Today’s Evocative Word – EMBARRASMENT – to get ’em evocating!
SOURCE: Mark Twain Speeches: An Undelivered Speech, March 25 1895 ( for more detail see What Mark Twain Learned Me ’bout Public Speakin’)
“People wonder why I go (across the Atlantic) so much. Well, I go partly for my health, partly to familiarize myself with the road. I have gone over the same road so many times now that I know all the whales that belong along the route, and latterly it is an EMBARRASSMENT to me to meet them, for they do not look glad to see me, but annoyed, and they seem to say: “Here is this old derelict again.”
Earlier in life this would have pained me and made me ashamed, but I am older now, and when I am behaving myself, and doing right, I do not care for a whale’s opinion about me. When we are young we generally estimate an opinion by the size of the person that holds it, but later we find that that is an uncertain rule, for we realize that there are times when a hornet’s opinion disturbs us more than an emperor’s.
I do not mean that I care nothing at all for a whale’s opinion, for that would be going to too great a length. Of course, it is better to have the good opinion of a whale than his disapproval; but my position is that if you cannot have a whale’s good opinion, except at some sacrifice of principle or personal dignity, it is better to try to live without it. That is my idea about whales.
Chicago motivational business speaker Conor Cunneen is author of What Mark Twain Learned Me ’bout Public Speakin’
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