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

Love is like a war. Easy to start, hard to end, and impossible to forget.

Monogamy, in brief, kills passion -- and passion is the most dangerous of all the surviving enemies to what we call civilization, which is based upon order, decorum, restraint, formality, industry, regimentation. The civilized man -- the ideal civilized man -- is simply one who never sacrifices the common security to his private passions. He reaches perfection when he even ceases to love passionately -- when he reduces the most profound of all his instinctive experiences from the level of an ecstasy to the level of a mere device for replenishing the armies and workshops of the world, keeping clothes in repair, reducing the infant death-rate, providing enough tenants for every landlord, and making it possible for the Polizei to know where every citizen is at any hour of the day or night. Monogamy accomplishes this, not by producing satiety, but by destroying appetite. It makes passion formal and uninspiring, and so gradually kills it.

No matter how long he lives, no man ever becomes as wise as the average woman of forty-eight.

On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

Platitude: an idea (a) that is admitted to be true by everyone, and (b) that is not true.

Remorse: Regret that one waited so long to do it.

Temptation is woman's weapon and man's excuse.

It is even harder for the average ape to believe that he has descended from man.

Judge: a law student who marks his own examination-papers.

Love is like war: easy to begin but very hard to stop.

Morality and honor are not to be confused. The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught.

No matter how much a woman loved a man, it would still give her a glow to see him commit suicide for her.

On William Shakespeare: After all, all he did was string together a lot of old, well-known quotations.

Poetry has done enough when it charms, but prose must also convince.

Say what you like about the Ten Commandments, you must always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them.

Thanksgiving Day: A day devoted by persons with inflammatory rheumatism to thanking a loving Father that is not hydrophobia.

It is hard for the ape to believe he descended from man.

Jury: A group of twelve man who, having lied to the judge about their hearing, health, and business engagements, have failed to fool him.

Love is the delusion that one woman differs from another.

Morality is the theory that every human act must be either right or wrong, and that 99 % of them are wrong.

No normal man ever fell in love after thirty when the kidneys begin to disintegrate.

One horse-laugh is worth ten-thousand syllogisms.

Politician: Any man with influence enough to get his old mother a job as charwoman in the City Hall.

School days, I believe, are the unhappiest in the whole span of human existence. They are full of dull, unintelligible tasks, new and unpleasant ordinances, brutal violations of common sense and common decency. It doesn't take a reasonably bright boy long to discover that most of what is rammed into him is nonsense, and that no one really cares very much whether he learns it or not.

That Americans, in the mass, have anything properly described as keen wits is surely far from self-evident. On the contrary, it seems likely that, if anything, they lie below the civilised norm.

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