H. L. Mencken

#8121 H. L. Mencken

Quotes are listed in chronological order .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about logic
#8122 H. L. Mencken

School teachers, taking them by and large, are probably the most ignorant and stupid class of men in the whole group of mental workers. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about work
#8123 H. L. Mencken

It was morality that burned the books of the ancient sages, and morality that halted the free inquiry of the Golden Age and substituted for it the credulous imbecility of the Age of Faith. It was a fixed moral code and a fixed theology which robbed the human race of a thousand years by wasting them upon alchemy, heretic-burning, witchcraft and . .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about books
#8124 H. L. Mencken

Of all escape mechanisms, death is the most efficient. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about death
#8125 H. L. Mencken

Progress: The process whereby the human race has got rid of whiskers, theand God. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about man
#8126 H. L. Mencken

Truth would quickly cease to be stranger than fiction, once we got as used to it. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about fiction
#8127 H. L. Mencken

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about people
#8128 H. L. Mencken

Bachelors know more about women than married men. If they didn't they'd be married, too. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about women
#8129 H. L. Mencken

Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about time
#8130 H. L. Mencken

Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about politics
#8131 H. L. Mencken

The final test of truth is ridicule. Very few dogmas have ever faced it and survived.laughed the devils out of theswine. Not the laws of the United States but the mother-in-law joke brought the Mormons to surrender. Not the horror of it but the absurdity of it killed the doctrine of infant damnation. But the razor edge of ridicule is turned by the tough hide of truth. How loudly the barber-surgeons laughed at Huxley—and how vainly! What clown ever brought down the house like ? Or ? Or ? . . . They are laughing atyet . . . .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about truth
#8132 H. L. Mencken

No healthy man, in his secret heart, is content with his destiny. He is tortured by dreams and images as a child is tortured by the thought of a state of existence in which it would live in a candy store and have two stomachs. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about dreams
#8133 H. L. Mencken

Philadelphia is the mostof American cities, and thus probably leads the world. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about world
#8134 H. L. Mencken

The bitter, of course, goes with the sweet. To be an American is, unquestionably, to be the noblest, grandest, the proudest mammal that ever hoofed the verdure of God's green footstool. Often, in the black abysm of the night, the thought that I am one awakens me with a blast of trumpets, and I am thrown into a cold sweat by contemplation of the fact. I shall cherish it on the scaffold; it will console me in Hell. But there is no perfection under Heaven, so even an American has his small blemishes, his scarcely discernible weaknesses, his minute traces of vice and depravity. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about thought
#8136 H. L. Mencken

Off goes the head of the king, and tyranny gives way to freedom. The change seems abysmal. Then, bit by bit, the face of freedom hardens, and by and by it is the old face of tyranny. Then another cycle, and another. But under the play of all these opposites there is something fundamental and permanent — the basic delusion that men may be governed and yet be free. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about freedom
#8138 H. L. Mencken

It is the dull man who is always sure, and the sure man who is always dull. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about man
#8139 H. L. Mencken

How does so much [false news] get into the American newspapers, even the good ones? Is it because journalists, as a class, are habitual liars, and prefer what is not true to what is true? I don't think it is. Rather, it is because journalists are, in the main, extremely stupid, sentimental and credulous fellows -- because nothing is easier than to fool them -- because the majority of them lack the sharp intelligence that the proper discharge of their duties demands. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about intelligence
#8141 H. L. Mencken

The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it's good-bye to the Bill of Rights. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about good
#8142 H. L. Mencken

To sum up: 1. The cosmos is a gigantic fly-wheel making 10,000 revolutions a minute. 2. Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it. 3. Religion is the theory that the wheel was designed and set spinning to give him the ride. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about evolution
#8143 H. L. Mencken

If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about art
#8144 H. L. Mencken

To be happy one must be (a) well fed, unhounded by sordid cares, at ease in Zion, (b) full of a comfortable feeling of superiority to the masses of one's fellow men, and (c) delicately and unceasingly amused according to one's taste. It is my contention that, if this definition be accepted, there is no country in the world wherein a man constituted as I am — a man of my peculiar weakness, vanities, appetites, and aversions — can be so happy as he can be in the United States. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about men
#8145 H. L. Mencken

When I mount the scaffold at last these will be my farewell words to the sheriff: Say what you will against me when I am gone, but don’t forget to add, in common justice, that I was never converted to anything. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about words
#8146 H. L. Mencken

The fact is that the average man's love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth. He is not actually happy when free; he is uncomfortable, a bit alarmed, and intolerably lonely. Liberty is not a thing for the great masses of men. It is the exclusive possession of a small and disreputable minority, like knowledge, courage and honor. It takes a special sort of man to understand and enjoy liberty — and he is usually an outlaw in democratic societies. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about love
#8148 H. L. Mencken

The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about work
#8149 H. L. Mencken

What is any political campaign save a concerted effort to turn out a set of politicians who are admittedly bad and put in a set who are thought to be better. The former assumption, I believe is always sound; the latter is just as certainly false. For if experience teaches us anything at all it teaches us this: that a good politician, under democracy, is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about experience
#8150 H. L. Mencken

Suppose two-thirds of the members of the national House of Representatives were dumped into the Washington garbage incinerator tomorrow, what would we lose to offset our gain of their salaries and the salaries of their parasites? .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about age
#8151 H. L. Mencken

The strange American ardor for passing laws, the insane belief in regulation and punishment, plays into the hands of the reformers, most of them quacks themselves. Their efforts, even when honest, seldom accomplish any appreciable good. The , despite its cruel provisions, has not diminished drug addiction in the slightest. The Mormons, after years of persecution, are still Mormons, and one of them is now a power in the Senate. Socialism in the United States was not laid by the ; it was laid by the fact that the socialists, during the war, got their fair share of the loot. Nor was the stately progress of osteopathy and chiropractic halted by the early efforts to put them down. Oppressive laws do not destroy minorities; they simply make bootleggers. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about war
#8160 H. L. Mencken

It is the natural tendency of the ignorant to believe what is not true. In order to overcome that tendency it is not sufficient to exhibit the true; it is also necessary to expose and denounce the false. To admit that the false has any standing in court, that it ought to be handled gently because millions of morons cherish it and thousands of quacks make their livings propagating it—to admit this, as the more fatuous of the reconcilers of science and religion inevitably do, is to abandon a just cause to its enemies, cravenly and without excuse. It is, of course, quite true that there is a region in which science and religion do not conflict. That is the region of the unknowable. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about religion
#8161 H. L. Mencken

Here is tragedy—and here is America. For the curse of the country, as well of all democracies, is precisely the fact that it treats its best men as enemies. The aim of our society, if it may be said to have an aim, is to iron them out. The ideal American, in the public sense, is a respectable vacuum. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about society
#8162 H. L. Mencken

The truth, indeed, is something that mankind, for some mysterious reason, instinctively dislikes. Every man who tries to tell it is unpopular, and even when, by the sheer strength of his case, he prevails, he is put down as a scoundrel. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about truth
#8163 H. L. Mencken

The basic fact about human existence is not that it is a tragedy, but that it is a bore. It is not so much a war as an endless standing in line. The objection to it is not that it is predominantly painful, but that it is lacking in sense. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about war
#8164 H. L. Mencken

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about wisdom
#8165 H. L. Mencken

No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the record for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about intelligence
#8166 H. L. Mencken

It is [a politician's] business to get and hold his job at all costs. If he can hold it by lying, he will hold it by lying; if lying peters out, he will try to hold it by embracing new truths. His ear is ever close to the ground. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about truth
#8167 H. L. Mencken

Public opinion, in its raw state, gushes out in the immemorial form of the mob's fear. It is piped into central factories, and there it is flavoured and coloured and put into cans. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about fear
#8168 H. L. Mencken

I believe that liberty is the only genuinely valuable thing that men have invented, at least in the field of government, in a thousand years. I believe that it is better to be free than to be not free, even when the former is dangerous and the latter safe. I believe that the finest qualities of man can flourish only in free air – that progress made under the shadow of the policeman’s club is false progress, and of no permanent value. I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about men
#8169 H. L. Mencken

Shave a gorilla and it would be almost impossible, at twenty paces, to distinguish him from a heavyweight champion of the world. Skin a chimpanzee, and it would take an autopsy to prove he was not a theologian. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about world
#8173 H. L. Mencken

To a clergyman lying under a vow of chastity any act of sex is immoral, but hisof it naturally increases in proportion as it looks safe and is correspondingly tempting. As a prudent man, he is not much disturbed by incitations which carry their obvious and certain penalties; what shakes him is the enticement bare of any probable secular retribution. Ergo, the worst and damndest indulgence is that which goes unwhipped. So he teaches that it is no sin for a woman to bear a child to a drunken and worthless husband, even though she may believe with sound reason that it will be diseased and miserable all its life, but if she resorts to any mechanical or chemical device, however harmless, to prevent its birth, she is doomed by his penology to roast in Hell forever, along with the assassin of orphans and the scoundrel who forgets his Easter duty. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about life
#8174 H. L. Mencken

One hears murmurs againston the ground that he is a desperado: the real objection to him is that he is a politician. Indeed, he is probably the most perfect specimen of the genus politician on view in the world today. His career has been impeccably classical. Beginning life as a ranting Socialist of the worst type, he abjured Socialism the moment he saw better opportunities for himself on the other side, and ever since then he has devoted himself gaudily to clapping Socialists in jail, filling them with castor oil, sending blacklegs to burn down their houses, and otherwise roughing them. Modern politics has produced no more adept practitioner. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about life
#8175 H. L. Mencken

What are the hallmarks of a competent writer of fiction? The first, it seems to me, is that he should be immensely interested in human beings, and have an eye sharp enough to see into them, and a hand clever enough to draw them as they are. The second is that he should be able to set them in imaginary situations which display the contents of their psyches effectively, and so carry his reader swiftly and pleasantly from point to point of what is called a good story. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about fiction
#8176 H. L. Mencken

If he became convinced tomorrow that coming out for cannibalism would get him the votes he needs so sorely, he would begin fattening a missionary in the White House yard come Wednesday. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about ya
#8177 H. L. Mencken

When A annoys or injures B on the pretense of saving or improving X, A is a scoundrel. .

H. L. Mencken
#8178 H. L. Mencken

Having lived all my life in a country swarming with messiahs, I have been mistaken, perhaps quite naturally, for one myself, especially by the others. It would be hard to imagine anything more preposterous. I am, in fact, the complete anti-Messiah, and detest converts almost as much as I detest missionaries. My writings, such as they are, have had only one purpose: to attain for H. L. Mencken that feeling of tension relieved and function achieved which a cow enjoys on giving milk. Further than that, I have had no interest in the matter whatsoever. It has never given me any satisfaction to encounter one who said my notions had pleased him. My preference has always been for people with notions of their own. I have believed all my life in free thought and free speech—up to and including the utmost limits of the endurable. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about life
#8179 H. L. Mencken

In the present case it is a little inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible to any public office of trust or profit in the Republic. But I do not repine, for I am a subject of it only by force of arms. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about trust
#8180 H. L. Mencken

A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about man
#8181 H. L. Mencken

I believe in only one thing and that thing is human liberty. If ever a man is to achieve anything like dignity, it can happen only if superior men are given absolute freedom to think what they want to think and say what they want to say. I am against any man and any organization which seeks to limit or deny that freedom. . . [and] the superior man can be sure of freedom only if it is given to all men. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about freedom
#8182 H. L. Mencken

The virulence of the national appetite for bogus revelation. .

H. L. Mencken
#8183 H. L. Mencken

To the man with an ear for verbal delicacies — the man who searches painfully for the perfect word, and puts the way of saying a thing above the thing said — there is in writing the constant joy of sudden discovery, of happy accident. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about writing
#8184 H. L. Mencken

Poverty is a soft pedal upon the branches of human activity, not excepting the spiritual. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about spiritual
#8185 H. L. Mencken

Time is the great legalizer, even in the field of morals. .

H. L. Mencken Quotes about morals

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