H. L. Mencken, fully Henry Louis Mencken

H. L.
Mencken, fully Henry Louis Mencken

American Newspaperman, Editor, Writer, Critic, Iconoclast, Satirist, Acerbic Critic of American Life and Culture, American English Scholar

Author Quotes

What men value in this world is not rights but privileges.

Why assume so glibly that the God who presumably created the universe is still running it? It is certainly perfectly conceivable that He may have finished it and then turned it over to lesser gods to operate. In the same way many human institutions are turned over to grossly inferior men. This is true, for example, of most universities, and of all great newspapers.

What the meaning of human life may be I don't know: I incline to suspect that it has none.

Wife: a former sweetheart.

What the South really needs is fewer scrub bulls ? on the human level.

Wife: one who is sorry she did it, but would undoubtedly do it again.

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

Women always excel man in that sort of wisdom which comes from experience. To be a woman is in itself a terrible experience.

When a husband's story is believed, he begins to suspect his wife.

Women decide the larger questions of life correctly and quickly, not because they are lucky guessers, not because they are divinely inspired, not because they practice a magic inherited from savagery, but simply and solely because they have sense. They see at a glance why most men could not see with searchlights and telescopes... They are the supreme realists of the race.

When a man laughs at his troubles he loses a good many friends. They never forgive the loss of their prerogative.

Women do not like timid man. Cats do not like prudent rats.

When a new source of taxation is found it never means, in practice, that the old source is abandoned. It merely means that the politicians have two ways of milking the taxpayer where they had one before.

Women have simple tastes. They can get pleasure out of the conversation of children in arms and men in love.

When a woman says she won't, it is a good sign that she will. And when she says she will it is an even better sign.

Women usually enjoy annoying their husbands, but not when they annoy them by growing fat.

When difficulties confront him he no longer blames them upon the inscrutable enmity of remote and ineffable powers; he blames them upon his own ignorance and incompetence. And when he sets out to remedy that ignorance and to remove that incompetence he does not look to any such powers for light and leading; he puts his whole trust in his own enterprise and ingenuity. Not infrequently he overestimates his capacities and comes to grief, but his failures, at worst, are much fewer than the failures of his fathers. Does pestilence, on occasion, still baffle his medicine? Then it is surely less often than the pestilences of old baffled sacrifice and prayer. Does war remain to shame him before the bees, and wasteful and witless government to make him blush when he contemplates the ants? Then war at its most furious is still less cruel than Hell, and the harshest statutes ever devised by man have more equity and benevolence in them than the irrational and appalling jurisprudence of the Christian God.

Years ago I predicted that these suffragettes, tried out by victory, would turn out to be idiots. They are now hard at work proving it. Half of them devote themselves to advocating reforms, chiefly of a sexual character, so utterly preposterous that even male politicians and newspaper editors laugh at them; the other half succumb absurdly to the blandishments of the old-time male politicians, and so enroll themselves in the great political parties. A woman who joins one of these parties simply becomes an imitation man, which is to say, a donkey.

When I die I shall be content to vanish into nothingness... No show, however good, could conceivably be good forever... I do not believe in immortality, and have no desire for it.

Yet the same thing happens to the notions of morality. They are devised, at the start, as measures of expediency, and then given divine sanction in order to lend them authority.

When somebody says it?s not about the money, it?s about the money.

You can't do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth.

When the government is robbed, the worst that happens is that certain rogues and loafers have less money to play with than they had before.

You never push a noun against a verb without trying to blow up something.

When you sympathize with a married woman you either make two enemies or gain one for life and one friend.

Author Picture
First Name
H. L.
Last Name
Mencken, fully Henry Louis Mencken
Birth Date
Death Date

American Newspaperman, Editor, Writer, Critic, Iconoclast, Satirist, Acerbic Critic of American Life and Culture, American English Scholar