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

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

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.

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.

The believing mind reaches its perihelion in the so-called liberals. They believe in each and every quack who sets up his booth on the fair-grounds, including the Communists. The Communists have some talents too, but they always fall short of believing in the liberals.

The effort to reconcile science and religion is almost always made, not by theologians, but by scientists unable to shake off altogether the piety absorbed with their mother's milk.

The inferior man's reasons for hating knowledge are not hard to discern. He hates it because it is complex - because it puts an unbearable burden upon his meager capacity for taking in ideas. Thus his search is always for short cuts. Their aim is to make the unintelligible simple, and even obvious.

The New Deal began, like the Salvation Army, by promising to save humanity. It ended, again like the Salvation Army, by running flop-houses and disturbing the peace.

The public, with its mob yearning to be instructed, edified and pulled by the nose, demands certainties?. but there are no certainties.

The virulence of the national appetite for bogus revelation.

There comes a time when a man must spit on his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats.

Tombstone: An ugly reminder of one who has been forgotten.

The best client is a scared millionaire.

The essence of science is that it is always willing to abandon a given idea for a better one; the essence of theology is that it holds its truths to be eternal and immutable. To be sure, theology is always yielding a little to the progress of knowledge, and only a Holy Roller in the mountains of Tennessee would dare to preach today what the popes preached in the thirteenth century.

The intellectual heritage of the race belongs to the minority and to the minority only. The majority has no more to do with it than it has to do with ecclesiastic politics on Mars.

The New Logic ? it would be nice if it worked. Ergo, it will work.

The real charm of the United States is that it is the only comic country ever heard of.

The war on privilege will never end. Its next great campaign will be against the special privileges of the underprivileged.

There is a saying in Baltimore that crabs may be prepared in fifty ways and that all of them are good.

True enough, even a superstitious man has certain inalienable rights. He has a right to harbor and indulge his imbecilities as long as he pleases, provided only he does not try to inflict them upon other men by force. He has a right to argue for them as eloquently as he can, in season and out of season. He has a right to teach them to his children. But certainly he has no right to be protected against the free criticism of those who do not hold them. He has no right to demand that they be treated as sacred. He has no right to preach them without challenge. Did Darrow, in the course of his dreadful bombardment of Bryan, drop a few shells, incidentally, into measurably cleaner camps? Then let the garrisons of those camps look to their defenses. They are free to shoot back. But they can't disarm their enemy.

The best teacher is not the one who knows most but the one who is most capable of reducing knowledge to that simple compound of the obvious and wonderful.

The essential dilemma of education is to be found in the fact that the sort of man (or woman) who knows a given subject sufficiently well to teach it is usually unwilling to do so.

The kind of man who demands that government enforce his ideas is always the kind whose ideas are idiotic.

The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is na‹ve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.

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