H. L. Mencken, fully Henry Louis Mencken

H. L.
Mencken, fully Henry Louis Mencken
1880
1956

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

Author Quotes

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.

To denounce moralizing out of hand is to pronounce a moral judgment.

We are, in fact, a nation of evangelists; every third American devotes himself to improving and lifting up his fellow-citizens, usually by force; the messianic delusion is our national disease.

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.

To fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence... Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim... is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States... and that is its aim everywhere else.

We must be willing to pay a price for freedom.

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.

To me the scientific point of view is completely satisfying, and it has been so as long as I can remember. Not once in this life have I ever been inclined to seek a rock and a refuge elsewhere. It leaves a good many dark spots in the universe, to be sure, but not a hundredth time as many as theology. We may trust it, soon or late, to throw light upon many of them, and those that remain dark will be beyond illumination by any other agency. It also fails on occasion to console, but so does theology...

We must respect the other fellow's religion but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.

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.

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.

Wealth: Any income that is at least $100 more a year than the income of one's wife's sister's husband.

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

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.

What I admire most in any man is a serene spirit, a steady freedom from moral indignation, an all-embracing tolerance... when he fights he fights in the manner of a gentleman fighting a duel, not in that of a longshoreman cleaning out a waterfront saloon. That is to say, he carefully guards his amour-prope by assuming that his opponent is as decent a man as he is, and just as honest - and perhaps, after all, right.

Whenever a husband and wife begin to discuss their marriage they are giving evidence at a coroner's inquest.

To wage a war for a purely moral reason is as absurd as to ravish a woman for a purely moral reason.

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.

Whenever a woman begins to talk of anything, she is talking to, of, or at a man.

Today every such man knows that the laws which prevail in the universe, whatever their origin in some remote and incomprehensible First Purpose, manifest themselves in complete impersonality, and that no representation to any superhuman Power, however imagined, can change their operation in the slightest. He knows that when they seem arbitrary and irrational it is not because omnipotent and inscrutable Presences are playing with them, as a child might play with building blocks; but because the human race is yet too ignorant to penetrate to their true workings. The whole history of progress, as the modern mind sees it, is a history of such penetrations. ... Each in its turn has narrowed the dominion and prerogative of the gods.

What makes philosophy so tedious is not the profundity of philosophers, but their lack of art; they are like physicians who sought to cure a slight hyperacidity by prescribing a carload of burned oyster-shells.

Whenever you hear a man speak of his love for his country it is a sign that he expects to be paid for it.

Author Picture
First Name
H. L.
Last Name
Mencken, fully Henry Louis Mencken
Birth Date
1880
Death Date
1956
Bio

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