H. L. Mencken

Born: September 12, 1880

Die: January 29, 1956

Occupation: Journalist

Quotes of H. L. Mencken

H. L. Mencken

There are two impossibilities in life: "just one drink" and "an honest politician."

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H. L. Mencken

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....

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H. L. Mencken

The world always makes the assumption that the exposure of an error is identical with the discovery of truth - that the error and truth are simply opposite. They are nothing of the sort. What the world...

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

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H. L. Mencken

Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.

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H. L. Mencken

In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.

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H. L. Mencken

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

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H. L. Mencken

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

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H. L. Mencken

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out... without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government...

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H. L. Mencken

I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.

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H. L. Mencken

Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.

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H. L. Mencken

Bachelors know more about women than married men; if they didn't they'd be married too.

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H. L. Mencken

No matter how happily a woman may be married, it always pleases her to discover that there is a nice man who wishes that she were not.

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H. L. Mencken

The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.

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H. L. Mencken

If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.

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H. L. Mencken

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.

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H. L. Mencken

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.

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H. L. Mencken

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.

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H. L. Mencken

Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

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H. L. Mencken

A judge is a law student who marks his own examination papers.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

A man may be a fool and not know it, but not if he is married.

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H. L. Mencken

If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl.

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H. L. Mencken

Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.

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H. L. Mencken

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.

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H. L. Mencken

A newspaper is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier.

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H. L. Mencken

It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.

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H. L. Mencken

The only really happy folk are married women and single men.

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H. L. Mencken

A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.

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H. L. Mencken

We must be willing to pay a price for freedom.

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H. L. Mencken

A national political campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in.

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H. L. Mencken

Love is the delusion that one woman differs from another.

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H. L. Mencken

It doesn't take a majority to make a rebellion; it takes only a few determined leaders and a sound cause.

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H. L. Mencken

Immorality: the morality of those who are having a better time.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

Honor is simply the morality of superior men.

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H. L. Mencken

Puritanism. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

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H. L. Mencken

It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry.

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H. L. Mencken

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

Before a man speaks it is always safe to assume that he is a fool. After he speaks, it is seldom necessary to assume it.

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H. L. Mencken

No married man is genuinely happy if he has to drink worse whisky than he used to drink when he was single.

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H. L. Mencken

Man is a beautiful machine that works very badly.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses.

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H. L. Mencken

I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.

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H. L. Mencken

The basic fact about human existence is not that it is a tragedy, but that it is a bore. It is not so much a war as an endless standing in line.

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H. L. Mencken

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.

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H. L. Mencken

A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.

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H. L. Mencken

Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.

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H. L. Mencken

A Sunday school is a prison in which children do penance for the evil conscience of their parents.

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H. L. Mencken

A church is a place in which gentlemen who have never been to heaven brag about it to persons who will never get there.

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H. L. Mencken

Every man sees in his relatives, and especially in his cousins, a series of grotesque caricatures of himself.

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H. L. Mencken

I hate all sports as rabidly as a person who likes sports hates common sense.

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H. L. Mencken

Criticism is prejudice made plausible.

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H. L. Mencken

To be in love is merely to be in a state of perceptual anesthesia - to mistake an ordinary young woman for a goddess.

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H. L. Mencken

I believe in only one thing: liberty; but I do not believe in liberty enough to want to force it upon anyone.

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H. L. Mencken

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.

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H. L. Mencken

Wealth - any income that is at least one hundred dollars more a year than the income of one's wife's sister's husband.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

A man always remembers his first love with special tenderness, but after that he begins to bunch them.

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H. L. Mencken

Conscience is a mother-in-law whose visit never ends.

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H. L. Mencken

Have you ever watched a crab on the shore crawling backward in search of the Atlantic Ocean, and missing? That's the way the mind of man operates.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

Let's not burn the universities yet. After all, the damage they do might be worse.

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H. L. Mencken

Most people want security in this world, not liberty.

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H. L. Mencken

The penalty for laughing in a courtroom is six months in jail; if it were not for this penalty, the jury would never hear the evidence.

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H. L. Mencken

Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and free than Christianity has made them good.

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H. L. Mencken

Democracy is only a dream: it should be put in the same category as Arcadia, Santa Claus, and Heaven.

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H. L. Mencken

It is impossible to imagine the universe run by a wise, just and omnipotent God, but it is quite easy to imagine it run by a board of gods.

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H. L. Mencken

A society made up of individuals who were all capable of original thought would probably be unendurable.

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H. L. Mencken

All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it.

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H. L. Mencken

Communism, like any other revealed religion, is largely made up of prophecies.

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H. L. Mencken

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.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

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.

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H. L. Mencken

Life is a constant oscillation between the sharp horns of dilemmas.

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H. L. Mencken

A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground.

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H. L. Mencken

Conscience is the inner voice that warns us that someone might be looking.

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H. L. Mencken

Historian: an unsuccessful novelist.

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H. L. Mencken

Strike an average between what a woman thinks of her husband a month before she marries him and what she thinks of him a year afterward, and you will have the truth about him.

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H. L. Mencken

Men have a much better time of it than women. For one thing, they marry later; for another thing, they die earlier.

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H. L. Mencken

Women always excel men in that sort of wisdom which comes from experience. To be a woman is in itself a terrible experience.

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H. L. Mencken

Temptation is an irresistible force at work on a movable body.

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H. L. Mencken

The capacity of human beings to bore one another seems to be vastly greater than that of any other animal.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

Adultery is the application of democracy to love.

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H. L. Mencken

I confess I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing.

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H. L. Mencken

Theology is the effort to explain the unknowable in terms of the not worth knowing.

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H. L. Mencken

What men value in this world is not rights but privileges.

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H. L. Mencken

Don't overestimate the decency of the human race.

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H. L. Mencken

In war the heroes always outnumber the soldiers ten to one.

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H. L. Mencken

Alimony - the ransom that the happy pay to the devil.

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H. L. Mencken

We are here and it is now. Further than that, all human knowledge is moonshine.

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H. L. Mencken

A prohibitionist is the sort of man one couldn't care to drink with, even if he drank.

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H. L. Mencken

Love is an emotion that is based on an opinion of women that is impossible for those who have had any experience with them.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

There is always an easy solution to every problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.

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H. L. Mencken

Whenever you hear a man speak of his love for his country, it is a sign that he expects to be paid for it.

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H. L. Mencken

The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear - fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable. What he wants above everything else is safety.

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H. L. Mencken

Life is a dead-end street.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

When women kiss it always reminds one of prize fighters shaking hands.

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H. L. Mencken

Each party steals so many articles of faith from the other, and the candidates spend so much time making each other's speeches, that by the time election day is past there is nothing much to do save turn...

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H. L. Mencken

It is impossible to imagine Goethe or Beethoven being good at billiards or golf.

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H. L. Mencken

I write in order to attain that feeling of tension relieved and function achieved which a cow enjoys on giving milk.

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H. L. Mencken

If women believed in their husbands they would be a good deal happier and also a good deal more foolish.

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H. L. Mencken

Opera in English is, in the main, just about as sensible as baseball in Italian.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

The chief value of money lies in the fact that one lives in a world in which it is overestimated.

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H. L. Mencken

The only cure for contempt is counter-contempt.

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H. L. Mencken

A bad man is the sort who weeps every time he speaks of a good woman.

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H. L. Mencken

I never smoked a cigarette until I was nine.

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H. L. Mencken

Nine times out of ten, in the arts as in life, there is actually no truth to be discovered; there is only error to be exposed.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

Self-respect: the secure feeling that no one, as yet, is suspicious.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

In the duel of sex woman fights from a dreadnought and man from an open raft.

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H. L. Mencken

Legend: A lie that has attained the dignity of age.

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H. L. Mencken

Man is always looking for someone to boast to; woman is always looking for a shoulder to put her head on.

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H. L. Mencken

One may no more live in the world without picking up the moral prejudices of the world than one will be able to go to hell without perspiring.

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H. L. Mencken

The cynics are right nine times out of ten.

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H. L. Mencken

The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.

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H. L. Mencken

A professor must have a theory as a dog must have fleas.

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H. L. Mencken

Archbishop - A Christian ecclesiastic of a rank superior to that attained by Christ.

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H. L. Mencken

Husbands never become good; they merely become proficient.

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H. L. Mencken

I go on working for the same reason that a hen goes on laying eggs.

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H. L. Mencken

Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what sting is justice.

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H. L. Mencken

To die for an idea; it is unquestionably noble. But how much nobler it would be if men died for ideas that were true!

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H. L. Mencken

As the arteries grow hard, the heart grows soft.

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H. L. Mencken

No man ever quite believes in any other man. One may believe in an idea absolutely, but not in a man.

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H. L. Mencken

The opera is to music what a bawdy house is to a cathedral.

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H. L. Mencken

It is not materialism that is the chief curse of the world, as pastors teach, but idealism. Men get into trouble by taking their visions and hallucinations too seriously.

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H. L. Mencken

There are men so philosophical that they can see humor in their own toothaches. But there has never lived a man so philosophical that he could see the toothache in his own humor.

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H. L. Mencken

For it is mutual trust, even more than mutual interest that holds human associations together. Our friends seldom profit us but they make us feel safe. Marriage is a scheme to accomplish exactly that same...

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H. L. Mencken

I never lecture, not because I am shy or a bad speaker, but simply because I detest the sort of people who go to lectures and don't want to meet them.

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H. L. Mencken

Most people are unable to write because they are unable to think, and they are unable to think because they congenitally lack the equipment to do so, just as they congenitally lack the equipment to fly...

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H. L. Mencken

No one in this world, so far as I know - and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me - has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain...

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H. L. Mencken

One of the most mawkish of human delusions is the notion that friendship should be eternal, or, at all events, life-long, and that any act which puts a term to it is somehow discreditable.

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H. L. Mencken

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.

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H. L. Mencken

Religion is a conceited effort to deny the most obvious realities.

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H. L. Mencken

Sin is a dangerous toy in the hands of the virtuous. It should be left to the congenitally sinful, who know when to play with it and when to let it alone.

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H. L. Mencken

Voting is simply a way of determining which side is the stronger without putting it to the test of fighting.

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H. L. Mencken

It is the dull man who is always sure, and the sure man who is always dull.

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H. L. Mencken

The objection to Puritans is not that they try to make us think as they do, but that they try to make us do as they think.

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H. L. Mencken

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.

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H. L. Mencken

The worshiper is the father of the gods.

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H. L. Mencken

Men are the only animals that devote themselves, day in and day out, to making one another unhappy. It is an art like any other. Its virtuosi are called altruists.

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H. L. Mencken

Without a doubt there are women who would vote intelligently. There are also men who knit socks beautifully.

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H. L. Mencken

Democracy the domination of unreflective and timorous men, moved in vast herds by mob conditions.

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H. L. Mencken

Lawyer: one who protects us against robbery by taking away the temptation.

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H. L. Mencken

Misogynist: A man who hates women as much as women hate one another.

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H. L. Mencken

The law is a sort of hocus-pocus science that smiles in your face while it picks your pocket.

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H. L. Mencken

Watching two women kiss is like watching two prizefighters shake hands.

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H. L. Mencken

There is, in fact, no reason to believe that any given natural phenomenon, however marvelous it may seem today, will remain forever inexplicable. Soon or late the laws governing the production of life...

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H. L. Mencken

As for Lindbergh, another eminent servant of science, all he proved by his gaudy flight across the Atlantic was that God takes care of those who have been so fortunate as to come into the world foolish....

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H. L. Mencken

Nothing can come out of an artist that is not in the man.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

It is impossible to believe that the same God who permitted His own son to die a bachelor regards celibacy as an actual sin.

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H. L. Mencken

The typical American of today has lost all the love of liberty, that his forefathers had, and all their disgust of emotion, and pride in self- reliance. He is led no longer by Davy Crocketts; he is led...

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H. L. Mencken

One horse-laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms. It is not only more effective; it is also vastly more intelligent.

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H. L. Mencken

It takes a long while for a naturally trustful person to reconcile himself to the idea that after all God will not help him

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H. L. Mencken

A man's women folk, whatever their outward show of respect for his merit and authority, always regard him secretly as an ass, and with something akin to pity. His most gaudy sayings and doings seldom deceive...

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H. L. Mencken

There are some people who read too much: the bibliobibuli. I know some who are constantly drunk on books, as other men are drunk on whiskey or religion. They wander through this most diverting and stimulating...

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H. L. Mencken

Sunday: A day given over by Americans to wishing that they themselves were dead and in Heaven, and that their neighbors were dead and in Hell.

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H. L. Mencken

Time is a great legalizer, even in the field of morals

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H. L. Mencken

Here is something that the psychologists have so far neglected: the love of ugliness for its own sake, the lust to make the world intolerable. Its habitat is the United States. Out of the melting pot emerges...

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H. L. Mencken

Liberty is not for these slaves; I do not advocate inflicting it against their conscience. On the contrary, I am strongly in favor of letting them crawl and grovel all they please before whatever fraud...

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H. L. Mencken

There is always a sheet of paper. There is always a pen. There is always a way out.

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H. L. Mencken

The average schoolmaster is and always must be essentially an ass, for how can one imagine an intelligent man engaging in so puerile an avocation.

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H. L. Mencken

Consider... the university professor. What is his function? Simply to pass on to fresh generations of numskulls a body of so-called knowledge that is fragmentary, unimportant, and, in large part, untrue....

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H. L. Mencken

My belief in free speech is so profound that I am seldom tempted to deny it to the other fellow. Nor do I make any effort to differentiate between the other fellow right and that other fellow wrong, for...

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H. L. Mencken

I am suspicious of all the things that the average people believes.

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H. L. Mencken

Every failure teaches a man something, to wit, that he will probably fail again.

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H. L. Mencken

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.

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H. L. Mencken

Government today is growing too strong to be safe. There are no longer any citizens in the world there are only subjects. They work day in and day out for their masters they are bound to die for their...

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H. L. Mencken

Freedom of press is limited to those who own one.

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H. L. Mencken

Imagine the Creator as a low comedian, and at once the world becomes explicable.

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H. L. Mencken

Of government, at least in democratic states, it may be said briefly that it is an agency engaged wholesale, and as a matter of solemn duty, in the performance of acts which all self-respecting individuals...

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H. L. Mencken

Hanging one scoundrel, it appears, does not deter the next. Well, what of it? The first one is at least disposed of.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

Liberals have many tails and chase them all.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

It is the fundamental theory of all the more recent American law...that the average citizen is half-witted, and hence not to be trusted to either his own devices or his own thoughts.

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H. L. Mencken

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...

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H. L. Mencken

A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable...

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H. L. Mencken

Firmness in decision is often merely a form of stupidity. It indicates an inability to think the same thing out twice.

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H. L. Mencken

Truth - Something somehow discreditable to someone.

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H. L. Mencken

I believe in only one thing and that thing is human liberty. If ever a man is to achieve anything like dignity, it can happen only if superior men are given absolute freedom to think what they want to...

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H. L. Mencken

The theatre, when all is said and done, is not life in miniature, but life enormously magnified, life hideously exaggerated.

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H. L. Mencken

All of the great patriots now engaged in edging and squirming their way toward the Presidency of the Republic run true to form. That is to say, they are all extremely wary, and all more or less palpable...

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H. L. Mencken

There is only one honest impulse at the bottom of Puritanism, and that is the impulse to punish the man with a superior capacity for happiness.

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H. L. Mencken

Philosophy consists very largely of one philosopher arguing that all others are jackasses. He usually proves it, and I should add that he also usually proves that he is one himself.

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H. L. Mencken

On one issue, at least, men and women agree. They both distrust women.

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H. L. Mencken

What restrains us from killing is partly fear of punishment, partly moral scruple, and partly what may be described as a sense of humor

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H. L. Mencken

Morality is nothing but a struggle for safety

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H. L. Mencken

Jealousy is a keen observer, but looks for all the wrong signs.

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H. L. Mencken

Confidence: The feeling that makes one believe a man, even when one knows that one would lie in his place

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H. L. Mencken

Equality before the law is probably forever unattainable. It is a noble ideal, but it can never be realized, for what men value in this world is not rights but privileges.

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H. L. Mencken

It is often argued that religion is valuable because it makes men good, but even if this were true it would not be a proof that religion is true. That would be an extension of pragmatism beyond endurance....

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H. L. Mencken

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.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

Free speech is too dangerous to a democracy to be permitted

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H. L. Mencken

A sense of humor always withers in the presence of the messianic delusion, like justice and truth in front of patriotic passion.

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H. L. Mencken

The longest sentence you can form with two words is: I do.

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H. L. Mencken

There's no underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

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H. L. Mencken

A great literature is chiefly the product of inquiring minds in revolt against the immovable certainties of the nation

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H. L. Mencken

Who ever heard, indeed, of an autobiography that was not (interesting)? I can recall none in all the literature of the world

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H. L. Mencken

The central difficulty lies in the fact that all of the sciences have made such great progress during the last century that they have got quite beyond the reach of man

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H. L. Mencken

Save among politicians it is no longer necessary for any educated American to profess belief in Thirteenth Century ideas

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H. L. Mencken

School days, I believe, are the unhappiest in the whole span of human existence.

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H. L. Mencken

The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and...

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H. L. Mencken

Whenever I write anything that sets up controversy its meaning is distorted almost instantly. Even the editorial writers of newspapers seem to be unable to understand the plainest sentence.

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H. L. Mencken

The only way for a reporter to look at a politician is down.

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H. L. Mencken

Good government is that which delivers the citizen from being done out of his life and property too arbitrarily and violently-one that relieves him sufficiently from the barbaric business of guarding them...

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H. L. Mencken

Law and its instrument, government, are necessary to the peace and safety of all of us, but all of us, unless we live the lives of mud turtles, frequently find them arrayed against us...

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H. L. Mencken

All government is, in its essence, organized exploitation, and in virtually all of its existing forms it is the implacable enemy of every industrious and well-disposed man.

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H. L. Mencken

The true bureaucrat is a man of really remarkable talents. He writes a kind of English that is unknown elsewhere in the world, and an almost infinite capacity for forming complicated and unworkable rules.

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H. L. Mencken

The natural tendency of every government is to grow steadily worse-that is, to grow more satisfactory to those who constitute it and less satisfactory to those who support it.

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H. L. Mencken

The great masses of men, though theoretically free, are seen to submit supinely to oppression and exploitation of a hundred abhorrent sorts. Have they no means of resistance? Obviously they have. The worst...

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H. L. Mencken

There's really no point to voting. If it made any difference, it would probably be illegal.

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H. L. Mencken

It is the invariable habit of bureaucracies, at all times and everywhere, to assume...that every citizen is a criminal. Their one apparent purpose, pursued with a relentless and furious diligence, is to...

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H. L. Mencken

The mistake that is made always runs the other way. Because the plain people are able to speak and understand, and even, in many cases, to read and write, it is assumed that they have ideas in their heads,...

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H. L. Mencken

Whenever A annoys or injures B on the pretense of saving or improving X, A is a scoundrel.

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H. L. Mencken

Women decide the larger questions of life correctly and quickly, not because they are lucky guessers, not because they are divinely inspired, not because they practise a magic inherited from savagery,...

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H. L. Mencken

The time must come inevitably when mankind shall surmount the imbecility of religion, as it has surmounted the imbecility of religion's ally, magic. It is impossible to imagine this world being really...

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H. L. Mencken

If x is the population of the United States and y is the degree of imbecility of the average American, then democracy is the theory that x times y is less than y

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H. L. Mencken

It [the State] has taken on a vast mass of new duties and responsibilities; it has spread out its powers until they penetrate to every act of the citizen, however secret; it has begun to throw around its...

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H. L. Mencken

The truth is that Christian theology, like every other theology, is not only opposed to the scientific spirit; it is also opposed to all other attempts at rational thinking.

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H. L. Mencken

Deep within the heart of every evangelist lies the wreck of a car salesman.

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H. L. Mencken

What is the function that a clergyman performs in the world? Answer: He gets his living by assuring idiots that he can save them from an imaginary hell.

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H. L. Mencken

Progress: The process whereby the human race has got rid of whiskers, the vermiform appendix, and God.

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H. L. Mencken

The way to deal with superstition is not to be polite to it, but to tackle it with all arms, and so rout it, cripple it, and make it forever infamous and ridiculous.

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H. L. Mencken

One seldom discovers a true believer that is worth knowing

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H. L. Mencken

The American people, taking one with another, constitute the most timorous, snivelling, poltroonish, ignominious mob of serfs and goosesteppers ever gathered under one flag in Christendom since the end...

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H. L. Mencken

As long as you represent me as praising alcohol I shall not complain,

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H. L. Mencken

I drink exactly as much as I want, and one drink more.

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H. L. Mencken

The Jews could be put down very plausibly as the most unpleasant race ever heard of. As commonly encountered they lack any of the qualities that mark the civilized man: courage, dignity, incorruptibility,...

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H. L. Mencken

It is impossible to think of a man of any actual force and originality, universally recognized as having those qualities, who spent his whole life appraising and describing the work of other men.

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H. L. Mencken

The way to deal with superstition is not to be polite to it, but to tackle it with all arms, and so rout it, cripple it, and make it forever infamous and ridiculous. Is it, perchance, cherished by persons...

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H. L. Mencken

the average man does not want to be free. he simply wants to be safe.

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H. L. Mencken

The scientist who yields anything to theology, however slight, is yielding to ignorance and false pretenses, and as certainly as if he granted that a horse-hair put into a bottle of water will turn into...

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H. L. Mencken

Wife: one who is sorry she did it, but would undoubtedly do it again.

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H. L. Mencken

He marries best who puts it off until it is too late.

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H. L. Mencken

You come into the world with nothing, and the purpose of your life is to make something out of nothing.

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H. L. Mencken

You can't do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

The more a man dreams, the less he believes.

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H. L. Mencken

A wealthy man is one who earns $100 a year more than his wife's sister's husband.

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H. L. Mencken

In the United States, doing good has come to be, like patriotism, a favorite device of persons with something to sell.

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H. L. Mencken

Whenever "A" attempts by law to impose his moral standards upon "B," "A" is most likely a scoundrel.

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H. L. Mencken

Dachshund: A half-a-dog high and a dog-and-a-half long.

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H. L. Mencken

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.

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H. L. Mencken

The music critic, Huneber, could never quite make up his mind about a new symphony until he had seen the composer's mistress.

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H. L. Mencken

Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration - courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth.

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H. L. Mencken

I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind.

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H. L. Mencken

Evangelical Christianity, as everyone knows, is founded upon hate, as the Christianity of Christ was founded upon love.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

I am a strict monogamist: it is twenty years since I last went to bed with two women at once, and then I was in my cups and not myself.

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H. L. Mencken

The only way to reconcile science and religion is to set up something which is not science and something that is not religion.

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H. L. Mencken

The central belief of every moron is that he is the victim of a mysterious conspiracy against his common rights and true deserts.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

Women have a hard enough time in this world: telling them the truth would be too cruel.

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H. L. Mencken

Only a jackass ever talks over his affairs with a woman, whether she be his sweetheart, wife, or sister, or mother.

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H. L. Mencken

Man makes love by braggadocio, and woman makes love by listening.

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H. L. Mencken

Man's objection to love is that it dies hard; woman's, that when it is dead, it stays dead.

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H. L. Mencken

The man who boasts that he habitually tells the truth is simply a man with no respect for it. It is not a thing to be thrown about loosely, like small change; it is something to be cherished and hoarded...

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H. L. Mencken

The smallest atom of truth represents some man's bitter toil and agony; for every ponderable chunk of it there is a brave truth-seeker's grave upon some lonely ash-dump and a soul roasting in hell.

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H. L. Mencken

Never let your inferiors do you a favor - it will be extremely costly.

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H. L. Mencken

A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin or when he sees silver he looks for the cloud it lines. A wise happy person does the exact opposite.

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H. L. Mencken

The essence of a sound style is that it cannot be reduced to rules-that it is a living and breathing thing with something of the devilish in it-that it fits its proprietor tightly yet ever so loosely,...

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H. L. Mencken

Off goes the head of the king, and tyranny gives way to freedom. The change seems abysmal. Then, bit by bit, the face of freedom hardens, and by and by it is the old face of tyranny. Then another cycle,...

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H. L. Mencken

Bridges would not be safer if only people who knew the proper definition of a real number were allowed to design them.

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H. L. Mencken

No one hates his job so heartily as a farmer.

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H. L. Mencken

Once a woman passes a certain point in intelligence, it is almost impossible to get a husband: she simply cannot go on listening [to men] without snickering.

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H. L. Mencken

There are two kinds of Europeans: The smart ones, and those who stayed behind.

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H. L. Mencken

For it is mutual trust, even more than mutual interest that holds human associations together.

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H. L. Mencken

There are no dull subjects. There are only dull writers.

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H. L. Mencken

An author, like any other so-called artist, is a man in whom the normal vanity of all men is so vastly exaggerated that he finds it a sheer impossibility to hold it in. His over-powering impulse is to...

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H. L. Mencken

It is only doubt that creates.

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H. L. Mencken

One of the main purposes of laws in a democratic society is to put burdens upon intelligence and reduce it to impotence. Ostensibly, their aim is to penalize anti-social acts; actually their aim is to...

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H. L. Mencken

When we appropriate money from the public funds to pay for vaccinating a horde of negroes, we do not do it because we have any sympathy for them or because we crave their blessings, but simply because...

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H. L. Mencken

The formula of the argument is simple and familiar: to dispose of a problem all that is necessary is to deny that it exists.

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H. L. Mencken

Youth, though it may lack knowledge, is certainly not devoid of intelligence; it sees through shams with sharp and terrible eyes.

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H. L. Mencken

Jealousy is the theory that some other fellow has just as little taste.

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H. L. Mencken

A man loses his sense of direction after four drinks; a woman loses hers after four kisses.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

The best teacher of children, in brief, is one who is essentially childlike.

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H. L. Mencken

Morality is doing what is right, no matter what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told, no matter what is right.

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H. L. Mencken

I know a good many men of great learning-that is, men born with an extraordinary eagerness and capacity to acquire knowledge. One and all, they tell me that they can't recall learning anything of any value...

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H. L. Mencken

The final test of truth is ridicule. Very few dogmas have ever faced it and survived.

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H. L. Mencken

The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.

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H. L. Mencken

The truth is that the scientific value of Polar exploration is greatly exaggerated. The thing that takes men on such hazardous trips is really not any thirst for knowledge, but simply a yearning for adventure....

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H. L. Mencken

How do they taste? They taste like more.

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H. L. Mencken

I never agree with Communists or any other kind of kept men.

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H. L. Mencken

Those who can -- do. Those who can't -- teach.

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H. L. Mencken

Jury - A group of 12 people, who, having lied to the judge about their health, hearing, and business engagements, have failed to fool him.

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H. L. Mencken

A man who knows a subject thoroughly, a man so soaked in it that he eats it, sleeps it and dreams it- this man can always teach it with success, no matter how little he knows of technical pedagogy.

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H. L. Mencken

If I had my way, any man guilty of golf would be barred from any public office in the United States and the families of the breed would be shipped off to the white slave corrals of Argentina.

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H. L. Mencken

The human race is divided into two sharply differentiated and mutually antagonistic classes: a smal l minority that plays with ideas and is capable of taking them in, and a vast majority that finds them...

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H. L. Mencken

In the long run all battles are lost, and so are all wars.

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H. L. Mencken

Metaphysics is almost always an attempt to prove the incredible by an appeal to the unintelligible.

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H. L. Mencken

A Galileo could no more be elected president of the United States than he could be elected Pope of Rome. Both high posts are reserved for men favored by God with an extraordinary genius for swathing the...

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H. L. Mencken

Sometimes the idiots outvote the sensible people.

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H. L. Mencken

It is the mission of the pedagogue, not to make his pupils think, but to make them think right, and the more nearly his own mind pulsates with the great ebbs and flows of popular delusion and emotion,...

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H. L. Mencken

American journalism (like the journalism of any other country) is predominantly paltry and worthless. Its pretensions are enormous, but its achievements are insignificant.

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H. L. Mencken

Life without sex might be safer but it would be unbearably dull. It is the sex instinct which makes women seem beautiful, which they are once in a blue moon, and men seem wise and brave, which they never...

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H. L. Mencken

It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so...

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H. L. Mencken

When I hear a man applauded by the mob I always feel a pang of pity for him. All he has to do to be hissed is to live long enough.

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H. L. Mencken

Science is unflinchingly deterministic, and it has begun to force its determinism into morals. On some shining tomorrow a psychoanalyst may be put into the box to prove that perjury is simply a compulsion...

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H. L. Mencken

The fact is that the average man's love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth.

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H. L. Mencken

Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood.

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H. L. Mencken

All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: it's one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him.... One of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to make...

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H. L. Mencken

A man full of faith is simply one who has lost the capacity for clear and realistic thought.

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H. L. Mencken

Religion deserves no more respect than a pile of garbage.

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H. L. Mencken

Public opinion, in its raw state, gushes out in the immemorial form of the mob's fear. It is piped into central factories, and there it is flavored and colored, and put into cans.

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H. L. Mencken

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.

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H. L. Mencken

People say we need religion when what they really mean is we need police.

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H. L. Mencken

The saddest life is that of a political aspirant under democracy. His failure is ignominious and his success is disgraceful.

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H. L. Mencken

Everyman is thoroughly happy twice in his life, just after he has met his first love, and just after he has left his last one.

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H. L. Mencken

Writing books is certainly a most unpleasant occupation. It is lonesome, unsanitary, and maddening. Many authors go crazy.

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H. L. Mencken

The most popular man under a democracy is not the most democratic man, but the most despotic man. The common folk delight in the exactions of such a man. They like him to boss them. Their natural gait...

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H. L. Mencken

Liberty and democracy are eternal enemies, and every one knows it who has ever given any sober reflection to the matter.

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H. L. Mencken

There is, it appears, a conspiracy of scientists afoot. Their purpose is to break down religion, propagate immorality, and so reduce mankind to the level of brutes. They are the sworn and sinister agents...

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H. L. Mencken

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...

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H. L. Mencken

Well, I tell you, if I have been wrong in my agnosticism, when I die I'll walk up to God in a manly way and say, Sir, I made an honest mistake.

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H. L. Mencken

The Old Testament, as everyone who has looked into it is aware, drips with blood; there is, indeed, no more bloody chronicle in all the literature of the world.

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H. L. Mencken

Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in their readiness to doubt.

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H. L. Mencken

To every complex question there is a simple answer and it is wrong...

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H. L. Mencken

The average man never really thinks from end to end of his life. The mental activity of such people is only a mouthing of clichés.

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H. L. Mencken

I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind - that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done...

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H. L. Mencken

The average man never really thinks from end to end of his life. The mental activity of such people is only a mouthing of cliches. What they mistake for thought is simply a repetition of what they have...

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H. L. Mencken

I give you Chicago. It is not London and Harvard. It is not Paris and buttermilk. It is American in every chitling and sparerib. It is alive from snout to tail.

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H. L. Mencken

Goverment is actually the worst failure of civilized man. There has never been a really good one, and even those that are the most tolerable are arbitary, cruel, grasping, and unintelligent.

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H. L. Mencken

A politician normally prospers under democracy in proportion ... as he excels in the invention of imaginary perils and imaginary defenses against them.

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H. L. Mencken

It is Hell, of course, that makes priests powerful, not Heaven, for after thousands of years of so-called civilization fear remains the one common denominator of mankind

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H. L. Mencken

The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.

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H. L. Mencken

Human life is basically a comedy. Even its tragedies often seem comic to the spectator, and not infrequently they actually have comic touches to the victim. Happiness probably consists largely in the capacity...

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H. L. Mencken

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself.

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H. L. Mencken

The older I get the more I admire and crave competence, just simple competence, in any field from adultery to zoology.

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H. L. Mencken

Laws are no longer made by a rational process of public discussion; they are made by a process of blackmail and intimidation, and they are executed in the same manner

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H. L. Mencken

The State doesn't just want you to obey, it wants to make you WANT to obey.

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H. L. Mencken

One smart reader is worth a thousand boneheads.

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H. L. Mencken

The objection of the scandalmonger is not that she tells of racy doings, but that she pretends to be indignant about them.

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H. L. Mencken

There is only one justification for having sinned, and that is to be glad of it.

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H. L. Mencken

There is something even more valuable to civilization than wisdom, and that is character.

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H. L. Mencken

One of the things that makes a Negro unpleasant to white folk is the fact that he suffers from their injustice. He is thus a standing rebuke to them.

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H. L. Mencken

The military caste did not originate as a party of patriots, but as a party of bandits

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H. L. Mencken

Living with a dog is easy- like living with an idealist.

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H. L. Mencken

The movies today are too rich to have any room for genuine artists. They produce a few passable craftsmen, but no artists. Can you imagine a Beethoven making $100, 000 a year?

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H. L. Mencken

A nun, at best, is only half a woman, just as a priest is only half a man.

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H. L. Mencken

Let no one mistake it for comedy, farcical though it may be in all its details. It serves notice on the country that Neanderthal man is organizing in these forlorn backwaters of the land, led by a fanatic,...

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H. L. Mencken

The way to hold a husband is to keep him a little jealous; the way to lose him is to keep him a little more jealous.

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H. L. Mencken

A living language is like a man suffering incessantly from small hemorrhages, and what it needs above all else is constant transactions of new blood from other tongues. The day the gates go up, that day...

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

If I ever mary, it will be on a suddn impulse - as aman shoots himself

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H. L. Mencken

A man is called a good fellow for doing things which, if done by a woman, would land her in a lunatic asylum.

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H. L. Mencken

The genuine music lover may accept the carnal husk of opera to get at the kernel of actual music within, but that is no sign that he approves the carnal husk or enjoys gnawing through it.

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H. L. Mencken

If I had my way, any man guilty of golf would be ineligible for any office of trust in the United States.

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H. L. Mencken

Unionism, seldom if ever, uses such powers as it has to ensure better work; almost always it devotes a large part of that power to safeguard bad work.

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H. L. Mencken

If we assume that man actually does resemble God, then we are forced into the impossible theory that God is a coward, an idiot and a bounder.

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H. L. Mencken

When somebody says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.

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H. L. Mencken

Genius: the ability to prolong one's childhood.

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H. L. Mencken

There is nothing worse than an idle hour, with no occupation offering. People who have many such hours are simply animals waiting docilely for death. We all come to that state soon or late. It is the curse...

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H. L. Mencken

The truth is . . . that the great artists of the world are never puritans, and seldom ever ordinarily respectable. No virtuous man - that is, virtuous in the YMCA sense - has ever painted a picture worth...

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H. L. Mencken

One horse-laugh is worth ten-thousand syllogisms.

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H. L. Mencken

And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is...

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H. L. Mencken

All [zoos] actually offer to the public in return for the taxes spent upon them is a form of idle and witless amusement, compared to which a visit to a penitentiary, or even to a State legislature in session,...

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H. L. Mencken

In the United States...politics is purged of all menace, all sinister quality, all genuine significance, and stuffed with such gorgeous humors, such inordinate farce that one comes to the end of a campaign...

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H. L. Mencken

A great nation is any mob of people which produces at least one honest man a century.

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H. L. Mencken

How little it takes to make life unbearable: a pebble in the shoe, a cockroach in the spaghetti, a woman's laugh.

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H. L. Mencken

When fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.

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H. L. Mencken

The truth that survives is simply the lie that is pleasantest to believe.

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H. L. Mencken

No professional politician is ever actually in favor of public economy. It is his implacable enemy, and he knows it. All professional politicians are dedicated wholeheartedly to waste and corruption. They...

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H. L. Mencken

Always remember this: If you don't attend the funerals of your friends, they will certainly not attend yours.

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H. L. Mencken

It is common to assume that human progress affects everyone - that even the dullest man, in these bright days, knows more than any man of, say, the Eighteenth Century, and is far more civilized. This assumption...

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H. L. Mencken

The most valuable of all human possessions, next to a superior and disdainful air, is the reputation of being well-to-do.

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H. L. Mencken

For it is the natural tendency of the ignorant to believe what is not true. In order to overcome that tendency it is not sufficient to exhibit the true; it is also necessary to expose and denounce the...

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H. L. Mencken

Science, at bottom, is really anti-intellectual. It always distrusts pure reason, and demands the production of objective fact.

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H. L. Mencken

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.

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H. L. Mencken

There is, in fact, nothing about religious opinions that entitles them to any more respect than other opinions get. On the contrary, they tend to be noticeably silly.

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H. L. Mencken

A gentlemen is one who never strikes a woman without provocation.

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H. L. Mencken

Probably the worst thing that has happened in America in my time is the decay of confidence in the courts. No one can be sure any more that in a given case they will uphold the plainest mandate of the...

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H. L. Mencken

The course of the United States in World War II, I said, was dishonest, dishonorable, and ignominious, and the Sunpapers, by supporting Roosevelt's foreign policy, shared in this disgrace.

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H. L. Mencken

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...

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H. L. Mencken

Human progress is furthered, not by conformity, but by aberration.

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H. L. Mencken

The two main ideas that run through all of my writing, whether it be literary criticism or political polemic are these: I am strong in favor of liberty and I hate fraud.

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H. L. Mencken

The only guarantee of the Bill of Rights which continues to have any force and effect is the one prohibiting quartering troops on citizens in time of peace. All the rest have been disposed of by judicial...

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H. L. Mencken

It was morality that burned the books of the ancient sages, and morality that halted the free inquiry of the Golden Age and substituted for it the credulous imbecility of the Age of Faith. It was a fixed...

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H. L. Mencken

As long as you represent me as praising alcohol I shall not complain. It is, I believe, the greatest of human inventions, and by far - much greater than Hell, the radio or the bichloride tablet.

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H. L. Mencken

All the charming and beautiful things, from the Song of Songs, to bouillabaisse, and from the nine Beethoven symphonies to the Martini cocktail, have been given to humanity by men who, when the hour came,...

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H. L. Mencken

The harsh, useful things of the world, from pulling teeth to digging potatoes, are best done by men who are as starkly sober as so many convicts in the death-house, but the lovely and useless things, the...

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H. L. Mencken

I've made it a rule never to drink by daylight and never to refuse a drink after dark.

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H. L. Mencken

It is not the drinker, but the man who has just stopped drinking, who thinks the world is going to the dogs.

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H. L. Mencken

The average man does not get pleasure out of an idea because he thinks it is true; he thinks it is true because he gets pleasure out of it.

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H. L. Mencken

The idea that leisure is of value in itself is only conditionally true. The average man simply spends his leisure as a dog spends it. His recreations are all puerile, and the time supposed to benefit...

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H. L. Mencken

The lunatic fringe wags the underdog.

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H. L. Mencken

The State is not force alone. It depends upon the credulity of man quite as much as upon his docility. Its aim is not merely to make him obey, but also to make him want to obey.

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H. L. Mencken

When I mount the scaffold at last these will be my farewell words to the sheriff: Say what you will against me when I am gone, but don't forget to add, in common justice, that I was never converted to...

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H. L. Mencken

The most satisfying and ecstatic faith is almost purely agnostic. It trusts absolutely without professing to know at all.

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H. L. Mencken

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.... A man full of faith is simply one who has lost (or never had) the capacity for clear and realistic thought. He...

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H. L. Mencken

God is the immemorial refuge of the incompetent, the helpless, and the miserable. They find not only sanctuary in his arms, but also a kind of superiority, soothing to their macerated egos; he will set...

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H. L. Mencken

New York is the place where all the aspirations of the western world meet to form one vast master aspiration, as powerful as the suction of a steam dredge. It is the icing on the pie called Christian civilization.

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H. L. Mencken

The most disgusting cad in the world is the man who on the grounds of decorum and morality avoids the game of love. He is one who puts his own ease and security above the most laudable of philanthropies.

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H. L. Mencken

No romantic novel ever written in America, by man or woman, is one half so beautiful as My Ántonia.

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H. L. Mencken

The fundamental trouble with marriage is that it shakes a man's confidence in himself, and so greatly diminishes his general competence and effectiveness. His habit of mind becomes that of a commander...

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H. L. Mencken

A man of active and resilient mind outwears his friendships just as certainly as he outwears his love affairs, his politics and his epistemology.

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H. L. Mencken

The wholly manly man lacks the wit necessary to give objective form to his soaring and secret dreams, and the wholly womanly woman is apt to be too cynical a creature to dream at all.

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H. L. Mencken

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.

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H. L. Mencken

A man always blames the woman who fools him. In the same way he blames the door he walks into in the dark.

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H. L. Mencken

There is no record in the history of a nation that ever gained anything valuable by being unable to defend itself.

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

The plain fact is that education is itself a form of propaganda - a deliberate scheme to outfit the pupil, not with the capacity to weigh ideas, but with a simple appetite for gulping ideas ready-made....

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H. L. Mencken

Truth would quickly cease to be stranger than fiction, once we got as used to it.

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H. L. Mencken

Man weeps to think that he will die so soon; woman, that she was born so long ago.

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H. L. Mencken

There are two kinds of music; German music and bad music.

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H. L. Mencken

Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there it sits nevertheless, calmly licking its chops

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H. L. Mencken

Civilization, in fact, grows more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed...

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H. L. Mencken

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...

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H. L. Mencken

People constantly speak of 'the government' doing this or that, as they might speak of God doing it. But the government is really nothing but a group of men, and usually they are very inferior men. They...

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H. L. Mencken

Looking for an honest politician is like looking for an ethical burglar.

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H. L. Mencken

To wage a war for a purely moral reason is as absurd as to ravish a woman for a purely moral reason

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H. L. Mencken

The sort of man who likes to spend his time watching a cage of monkeys chase one another, or a lion gnaw its tail, or a lizard catch flies, is precisely the sort of man whose mental weakness should be...

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H. L. Mencken

He who eats alone chokes alone.

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H. L. Mencken

After all, why be good? How many will actually believe it of us?

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H. L. Mencken

My guess is that well over eighty per cent. of the human race goes through life without having a single original thought..

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H. L. Mencken

The cure for the evils of democracy is more democracy.

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H. L. Mencken

Complete masculinity and stupidity are often indistinguishable.

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H. L. Mencken

The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to down dissent...

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H. L. Mencken

God is a Republican, and Santa Claus is a Democrat.

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H. L. Mencken

Courtroom : A place where Jesus Christ and Judas Iscariot would be equals, with the betting odds favoring Judas.

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H. L. Mencken

The fact that I have no remedy for all the sorrows of the world is no reason for my accepting yours. It simply supports the strong probability that yours is a fake.

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H. L. Mencken

Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has...

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H. L. Mencken

Creator: A comedian whose audience is afraid to laugh.

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H. L. Mencken

This passion, so unordered and yet so potent, explains the capacity for teaching that one frequently observes in scientific men of high attainments in their specialties-for example, Huxley, Ostwald, Karl...

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H. L. Mencken

All government, of course, is against liberty.

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H. L. Mencken

No form of liberty is worth a darn [sic] which doesn't give us the right to do wrong now and then.

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H. L. Mencken

The fact is that the average man's love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth. Liberty is not a thing for the great masses of men. It is the exclusive possession...

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H. L. Mencken

There is in writing the constant joy of sudden discovery, of happy accident.

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H. L. Mencken

Elections are futures markets in stolen property.

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H. L. Mencken

Happiness is the china shop; love is the bull.

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H. L. Mencken

I know of no American who starts from a higher level of aspiration than the journalist. . . . He plans to be both an artist and a moralist -- a master of lovely words and merchant of sound ideas. He ends,...

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H. L. Mencken

Perhaps the most revolting character that the United States ever produced was the Christian Businessman.

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H. L. Mencken

Democracy is grounded upon so childish a complex of fallacies that they must be protected by a rigid system of taboos, else even halfwits would argue it to pieces. Its first concern must be to penalize...

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H. L. Mencken

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.

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H. L. Mencken

Life may not be exactly pleasant, but it is at least not dull. Heave yourself into Hell today, and you may miss, tomorrow or next day, another Scopes trial, or another War to End War, or perchance a rich...

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H. L. Mencken

The chief knowledge that a man gets from reading books is the knowledge that very few of them are worth reading.

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H. L. Mencken

There are two kinds of books. Those that no one reads and those that no one ought to read.

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H. L. Mencken

The curse of man, and the cause of nearly all his woe, is his stupendous capacity for believing the incredible.

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H. L. Mencken

A government at bottom is nothing more than a group of men, and as a practical matter most of them are inferior men. ... Yet these nonentities, by the intellectual laziness of men in general ... are generally...

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

A home is not a mere transient shelter: its essence lies in the personalities of the people who live in it.

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H. L. Mencken

The Public ... demands certainties ... But there are not certainties

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H. L. Mencken

The whole drift of our law is toward the absolute prohibition of all ideas that diverge in the slightest form from the accepted platitudes, and behind that drift of law there is a far more potent force...

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

A man's women folk, whatever their outward show of respect for his merit and authority, always regard him secretly as an ass, and with something akin to pity.

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H. L. Mencken

I am against slavery simply because I dislike slaves.

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H. L. Mencken

They have taken the care and upbringing of children out of the hands of parents, where it belongs, and thrown it upon a gang of irresponsible and unintelligent quacks.

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H. L. Mencken

You never push a noun against a verb without trying to blow up something.

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H. L. Mencken

All of the American's foreign wars have been fought with foes either too weak to resist them or too heavily engaged elsewhere to make more than a half-hearted attempt. The combats with Mexico and Spain...

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H. L. Mencken

I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave.

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H. L. Mencken

We suffer most when the White House busts with ideas.

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H. L. Mencken

The average man gets his living by such depressing devices that boredom becomes a sort of natural state to him.

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H. L. Mencken

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.

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H. L. Mencken

The ideal Government of all reflective men, from Aristotle onward, is one which lets the individual alone - one which barely escapes being no government at all.

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H. L. Mencken

The American people, North and South, went into the [Civil] war as citizens of their respective states, they came out as subjects ... what they thus lost they have never got back.

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H. L. Mencken

To the man with an ear for verbal delicacies- the man who searches painfully for the perfect word, and puts the way of saying a thing above the thing said - there is in writing the constant joy of sudden...

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H. L. Mencken

The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it's good-by to the Bill of Rights.

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H. L. Mencken

Congress consists of one-third, more or less, scoundrels; two-thirds, more or less, idiots; and three-thirds, more or less, poltroons.

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H. L. Mencken

Economic independence is the foundation of the only sort of freedom worth a damn

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H. L. Mencken

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...

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H. L. Mencken

By profession a biologist, [Thomas Henry Huxley] covered in fact the whole field of the exact sciences, and then bulged through its four fences. Absolutely nothing was uninteresting to him. His curiosity...

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H. L. Mencken

A poet more than thirty years old is simply an overgrown child.

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H. L. Mencken

Only to often on meeting scientific men, even those of genuine distiction, one finds that they are dull fellows and very stupid. They know one thing to excess; they know nothing else. Pursuing facts too...

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H. L. Mencken

[The] erroneous assumption is to the effect that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties...

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H. L. Mencken

Hygiene is the corruption of medicine by morality. It is impossible to find a hygienist who does not debase his theory of the healthful with a theory of the virtuous. ... The aim of medicine is surely...

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H. L. Mencken

Evil: That which one believes of others. It is a sin to believe evil of others, but it is seldom a mistake

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H. L. Mencken

There is no record in history of a happy philosopher.

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H. L. Mencken

Suicide is a belated acquiescence in the opinion of one's wife's relatives.

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H. L. Mencken

The fact is that liberty, in any true sense, is a concept that lies quite beyond the reach of the inferior man's mind. And no wonder, for genuine liberty demands of its votaries a quality he lacks completely,...

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H. L. Mencken

It seems to me that you are better off, as a writer and as an American, in a small town than you'd be in New York. I thoroughly detest New York, though I have to go there very often.... Have you ever noticed...

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H. L. Mencken

Governments, whatever their pretensions otherwise, try to preserve themselves by holding the individual down ... Government itself, indeed, may be reasonably defined as a conspiracy against him. Its one...

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H. L. Mencken

It is the theory of all modern civilized governments that they protect and foster the liberty of the citizen; it is the practice of all of them to limit its exercise, and sometimes very narrowly.

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H. L. Mencken

[T]he only thing wrong with Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was that it was the South, not the North, that was fighting for a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

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H. L. Mencken

Lying is not only excusable; it is not only innocent; it is, above all, necessary and unavoidable. Without the ameliorations that it offers, life would become a mere syllogism and hence too metallic to...

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H. L. Mencken

The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve 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...

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H. L. Mencken

All great religions, in order to escape absurdity, have to admit a dilution of agnosticism. It is only the savage, whether of the African bush or the American gospel tent, who pretends to know the will...

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H. L. Mencken

The most curious social convention of the great age in which we live is the one to the effect that religious opinions should be respected.

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H. L. Mencken

A Puritan is someone who is desperately afraid that, somewhere, someone might be having a good time.

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H. L. Mencken

For every problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.

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H. L. Mencken

Religion is "so absurd that it comes close to imbecility."

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H. L. Mencken

If the average man is made in God's image, then such a man as Beethoven or Aristotle is plainly superior to God.

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H. L. Mencken

Not by accident, you may be sure, do the Christian Scriptures make the father of knowledge a serpent - slimy, sneaking and abominable.

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H. L. Mencken

I know some who are constantly drunk on books as other men are drunk on whiskey.

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H. L. Mencken

If there were only three women left in the world, two of them would immediately convene a court-martial to try the other one.

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H. L. Mencken

Wherever I sit is the head of the table.

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H. L. Mencken

Why do men delight in work? Fundamentally, I suppose, because there is a sense of relief and pleasure in getting something done - a kind of satisfaction not unlike that which a hen enjoys on laying an...

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H. L. Mencken

There comes a time in every man's life when he's consumed by the desire to spit on his palms, hoist the black flag and start cutting throats.

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H. L. Mencken

Is it hot in the rolling mill? Are the hours long? Is $15 a day not enough? Then escape is easy. Simply throw up your job, spit on your hands, and write another "Rosenkavailer."

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H. L. Mencken

Men always try to make virtues of their weaknesses. Fear of death and fear of life both become piety.

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H. L. Mencken

It is difficult to imagine anyone having any real hopes for the human race in the face of the fact that the great majority of men still believe that the universe is run by a gaseous vertebrate of astronomical...

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H. L. Mencken

A man who is an agnostic by inheritance, so that he doesn't remember any time that he wasn't, has almost no hatred for the religious.

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H. L. Mencken

The acting that one sees upon the stage does not show how human beings comport themselves in crises, but how actors think they ought to. It is thus, like poetry and religion, a device for gladdening the...

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H. L. Mencken

The liberation of the human mind has never been furthered by dunderheads; it has been furthered by gay fellows who heaved dead cats into sanctuaries and then went roistering down the highways of the world,...

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H. L. Mencken

There is no possibility whatsoever of reconciling science and theology, at least in Christendom. Either Jesus arose from the dead or He didn't. If he did, then Christianity becomes plausible; if He did...

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H. L. Mencken

Clergyman: A ticket speculator outside the gates of Heaven.

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H. L. Mencken

Pastor: One employed by the wicked to prove to them by his example that virtue doesn't pay.

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H. L. Mencken

I detest converts almost as much as I do missionaries.

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H. L. Mencken

What we need in this country is a general improvement in eating. We have the best raw materials in the world, both quantitatively and qualitatively, but most of them are ruined in the process of preparing...

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H. L. Mencken

A fool who, after plain warning, persists in dosing himself with dangerous drugs should be free to do so, for his death is a benefit to the race in general.

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H. L. Mencken

Of all the classes of men, I dislike the most those who make their livings by talking - actors, clergymen, politicians, pedagogues, and so on. .... It is almost impossible to imagine a talker who sticks...

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H. L. Mencken

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

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H. L. Mencken

I think the Negro people should feel secure enough by now to face a reasonable ridicule without terror. I am unalterably opposed to all efforts to put down free speech, whatever the excuse.

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H. L. Mencken

The great artists of the world are never Puritans, and seldom even ordinarily respectable.

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H. L. Mencken

The best client is a scared millionaire.

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H. L. Mencken

How to Drink Like a Gentleman: The Things to Do and the Things Not To, as Learned in 30 Years' Extensive Research.

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H. L. Mencken

Two simple principles lie at the bottom of the whole matter, and they may be precipitated into two rules. The first is that, when there is a choice, the milder drink is always the better-not merely the...

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H. L. Mencken

The martini: the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet.

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“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

― Dr. Seuss