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

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.

When a new source of taxation is found it never means, in practice, that the old source is abandoned. It merely means that the politicians have two ways of milking the taxpayer where they had one before.

Women have simple tastes. They can get pleasure out of the conversation of children in arms and men in love.

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.

When a woman says she won't, it is a good sign that she will. And when she says she will it is an even better sign.

Women usually enjoy annoying their husbands, but not when they annoy them by growing fat.

To believe that Russia has got rid of the evils of capitalism takes a special kind of mind. It is the same kind that believes that a Holy Roller has got rid of sin.

War will never cease until babies begin to come into the world with larger cerebrums and smaller adrenal glands.

When difficulties confront him he no longer blames them upon the inscrutable enmity of remote and ineffable powers; he blames them upon his own ignorance and incompetence. And when he sets out to remedy that ignorance and to remove that incompetence he does not look to any such powers for light and leading; he puts his whole trust in his own enterprise and ingenuity. Not infrequently he overestimates his capacities and comes to grief, but his failures, at worst, are much fewer than the failures of his fathers. Does pestilence, on occasion, still baffle his medicine? Then it is surely less often than the pestilences of old baffled sacrifice and prayer. Does war remain to shame him before the bees, and wasteful and witless government to make him blush when he contemplates the ants? Then war at its most furious is still less cruel than Hell, and the harshest statutes ever devised by man have more equity and benevolence in them than the irrational and appalling jurisprudence of the Christian God.

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.

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