Never the twain shall meet

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

This is attributed to Mark Twain. I’ve encountered it twice in as many days: once in an article on the recent spending cut in the UK by Johann Hari, then again while reading Search Patterns (p. 23).

According to Wikiquote, this quote doesn’t appear in any of Twain’s works. Apparently, it appeared in the 1960s and have been gaining currency since then. Although quotes usually attach themselves to famous people in order to survive, this one seemed weird to me. It doesn’t feel like Mark Twain at all. At best, it’s clever; at worst, bland. And Mark Twain is almost always several notches better than clever.

For the record, here’s something Mark Twain did say:

The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice.

Now, that sounds like Mark Twain.