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

The worshiper is the father of the gods.

Time stays, we go.

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to prove that the other party is unfit to rule-- and both commonly succeed, and are right. The United States has never developed an aristocracy really disinterested or an intelligentsia really intelligent. Its history is simply a record of vacillations between two gangs of frauds.

The chief contribution of Protestantism to human thought is its massive proof that God is a bore.

The first kiss is stolen by the man; the last is begged by the woman.

The majority of men prefer delusion to truth. It soothes. It is easy to grasp. Above all, it fits more snugly than the truth into a universe of false appearances?of complex and irrational phenomena, defectively grasped. But though an idea that is true is thus not likely to prevail, an idea that is attacked enjoys a great advantage. The evidence behind it is now supported by sympathy, the sporting instinct, sentimentality?and sentimentality is as powerful as an army with banners. One never hears of a martyr in history whose notions are seriously disputed today. The forgotten ideas are those of the men who put them forward soberly and quietly, hoping fatuously that they would conquer by the force of their truth; these are the ideas that we now struggle to rediscover.

The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.

The theory seems to be that as long as a man is a failure he is one of God's children, but that as soon as he succeeds he is taken over by the Devil.

The worst government is often the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.

Tis more blessed to give than to receive; for example, wedding presents.

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right... The United States has never developed an aristocracy really disinterested or an intelligentsia really intelligent. Its history is simply a record of vacillations between two gangs of frauds.

The Christian always swears a bloody oath that he will never do it again. The civilized man simply resolves to be a bit more careful next time.

The first Rotarian was the first man to call John the Baptist Jack.

The man is a natural polygamist. He always has one woman leading him by the nose and another hanging onto his coat-tails.

The only cure for contempt is counter-contempt.

The trouble with Communism is the Communists, just as the trouble with Christianity is the Christians.

The worst man hesitates when choosing a mother for his children. And hesitating, he is lost.

To be a successful clergyman a man must be buttered on both sides.

Unquestionably, there is progress. The average American now pays out twice as much in taxes as he formerly got in wages.

The Christian church, in its attitude toward science, shows the mind of a more or less enlightened man of the Thirteenth Century. It no longer believes that the earth is flat, but it is still convinced that prayer can cure after medicine fails.

The fundamentalist mind, running in a single rut for fifty years, is now quite unable to comprehend dissent from its basic superstitions, or to grant any common honesty, or even any decency, to those who reject them.

The man who boasts of only telling the truth is just a man with no respect for her. Truth is not something that rolls around like loose change, is something to be cherished, accumulated and disbursed only when absolutely necessary. The smallest atom of truth represents the bitter toil and agony of a man, to every cell of it, there is the tomb of an angry owner of the truth about some ashes and a lonely soul frying in hell.

The only liberty an inferior man really cherishes is the liberty to quit work, stretch out in the sun, and scratch himself.

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.

The worst of marriage is that it makes a woman believe that all other men are just as easy to fool.

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