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

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.

Self-respect ? The secure feeling that no one, as yet, is suspicious.

The allurement that women hold out to men is precisely the allurement that Cape Hatteras holds out to sailors: they are enormously dangerous and hence enormously fascinating.

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.

Show me a Puritan and I'll show you a son-of-a-bitch.

The Americans are the illegitimate children of the English.

The common argument that crime is caused by poverty is a kind of slander on the poor.

The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office.

The man who marries for love alone is at least honest. But so was Czolgosz.

The only obligation I recognize in this world is my duty to my immediate family

The true function of art is to criticize, embellish and edit nature? the artist is a sort of impassioned proof-reader, blue penciling the bad spelling of God.

Theology: An effort to explain the unknowable by putting it into terms of the not worth knowing.

So long as there are men in the world, 99 percent of them will be idiots, and so long as 99 percent of them are idiots they will thirst for religion, and so long as they thirst for religion, it will remain a weapon over them. I see no way out. If you blow up one specific faith, they will embrace another.

The argument that capital punishment degrades the state is moonshine, for if that were true then it would degrade the state to send men to war... The state, in truth, is degraded in its very nature: a few butcheries cannot do it any further damage.

The cosmos is a gigantic flywheel making 10,000 revolutions per minute. Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it.

The great artists of the world are never Puritans, and seldom even ordinarily respectable. No virtuous man - that is, virtuous in the Y.M.C.A. sense - has ever painted a picture worth looking at, or written a symphony worth hearing, or a book worth reading.

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