"A great artist can paint a great picture on a small canvas.""Goodness comes out of people who bask in the sun, as it does out of a sweet apple roasted before the fire.""Happy is said to be the family which can eat onions together. They are, for the time being, separate, from the world, and have a harmony of aspiration.""How many wars have been caused by fits of indigestion, and how many more dynasties have been upset by the love of woman than by the hate of man.""I am convinced that the majority of people would be generous from selfish motives, if they had the opportunity.""It is fortunate that each generation does not comprehend its own ignorance. We are thus enabled to call our ancestors barbarous.""Lettuce is like conversation; it must be fresh and crisp, so sparkling that you scarcely notice the bitter in it.""Mud-pies gratify one of our first and best instincts. So long as we are dirty, we are pure.""No man but feels more of a man in the world if he have a bit of ground that he can call his own. However small it is on the surface, it is four thousand miles deep; and that is a very handsome property.""No one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.""One of the best things in the world to be is a boy; it requires no experience, but needs some practice to be a good one.""People always overdo the matter when they attempt deception.""Perhaps nobody ever accomplishes all that he feels lies in him to do; but nearly every one who tries his power touches the walls of his being.""Politics makes strange bedfellows.""Public opinion is stronger than the legislature, and nearly as strong as the ten commandments.""Regrets are idle; yet history is one long regret. Everything might have turned out so differently.""Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.""The boy who expects every morning to open into a new world finds that today is like yesterday, but he believes tomorrow will be different.""The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its value.""The thing generally raised on city land is taxes.""There is no such thing as absolute value in this world. You can only estimate what a thing is worth to you.""There is nothing that disgusts a man like getting beaten at chess by a woman.""There isn't a wife in the world who has not taken the exact measure of her husband, weighed him and settled him in her own mind, and knows him as well as if she had ordered him after designs and specifications of her own.""There was never a nation great until it came to the knowledge that it had nowhere in the world to go for help.""We are half ruined by conformity, but we should be wholly ruined without it.""What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it."
Warner was born of Puritan descent in Plainfield, Massachusetts. From age six to age fourteen, he lived in Charlemont, Massachusetts, the scene of the experiences pictured in his study of childhood, Being a Boy (1877). He then moved to Cazenovia, New York, and in 1851 graduated from Hamilton College, Clinton, NY.
He worked with a surveying party in Missouri; studied law at the University of Pennsylvania; practised in Chicago (1856–1860); was assistant editor (1860) and editor (1861–1867) of The Hartford Press, and after The Press was merged into The Hartford Courant, was co-editor with Joseph R Hawley; in 1884 he joined the editorial staff of Harper's Magazine, for which he conducted The Editors Drawer until 1892, when he took charge of The Editor's Study. He died in Hartford on October 20, 1900, and was interred at Cedar Hill Cemetery, with Mark Twain as a pall bearer and Joseph Twichell officiating.
He travelled widely, lectured frequently, and was actively interested in prison reform, city park supervision, and other movements for the public good. He was the first president of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and, at the time of his death, was president of the American Social Science Association. He first attracted attention by the reflective sketches entitled My Summer in a Garden (1870; first published in The Hartford Courant), popular for their abounding and refined humour and mellow personal charm, their wholesome love of outdoor things, their suggestive comment on life and affairs, and their delicately finished style, qualities that suggest the work of Washington Irving. He is now best known for making the remark "Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it". This was quoted by Mark Twain in a lecture, and is often attributed to him.