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H. L. Mencken's Quotes

H. L. Mencken profile photo

Born: 1970-01-01
Profession: Writer
Nation: American
Biography of H. L. Mencken

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

Tags: Crazy, Ignorant, Making

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

Tags: Good, Honest, Quite

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

Tags: Few, Leaders, Takes

Love is the delusion that one woman differs from another.

Tags: Another, Love, Woman

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

Tags: Immorality, Morality, Time

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

Tags: Age, Older, Wisdom

Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who would want to live in an institution?

Tags: Funny, Marriage, Wonderful

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.

Tags: Hard, Lie, Truth

Man is a beautiful machine that works very badly.

Tags: Beautiful, Machine, Works

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

Tags: Happy, Men, Women

No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.

Tags: Great, Lost, Money

Honor is simply the morality of superior men.

Tags: Honor, Men, Simply

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.

Tags: Chemistry, She, Woman

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

Tags: Democracy, Worship

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.

Tags: Human, Life, War

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

Tags: Love, Men, Women

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

Tags: Roses, Smell, Soup

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

Tags: Happy, Single, Used

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

Tags: Himself, Relationship, Relatives

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

Tags: Evil, Government, Time

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

Tags: Decent, Government, Lives

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

Tags: Children, School, Sunday

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.

Tags: Between, Honor, Moral

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

Tags: Church, Heaven, Place

Criticism is prejudice made plausible.

Tags: Criticism, Plausible, Prejudice

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.

Tags: After, Fool, Necessary
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A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.

Tags: Cynic, Flowers, Looks

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

Tags: Matter, Wise, Woman

All government, of course, is against liberty.

Tags: Against, Government, Liberty

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

Tags: Love, Woman, Young

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

Tags: Anyone, Enough, Liberty

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

Tags: Fear, Happy, Someone

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

Tags: Husband, Wife, Year

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

Tags: American, Progress, Taxes

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.

Tags: Found, Means, Old

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.

Tags: Mind, Missing, Ocean

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

Tags: Hate, Sense, Sports

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

Tags: After, Love, Special

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

Tags: Between, Difference, Men

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.

Tags: Hear, Jail, Laughing

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

Tags: Conscience, Ends, Whose

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.

Tags: God, Imagination, Wise

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

Tags: Husband, Marriage, Wife

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

Tags: Both, Keep, Sit

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

Tags: Original, Society, Thought

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

Tags: Communism, Religion, Revealed

Historian: an unsuccessful novelist.

Tags: Historian, History, Novelist

Most people want security in this world, not liberty.

Tags: Liberty, Security

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.

Tags: Great, Heart, Last

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.

Tags: Anniversary, Husband, Truth

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

Tags: Another, Human, Seems

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

Tags: Common, Poor, Poverty

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.

Tags: Children, Failure, God

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

Tags: Peace, Until, War

Adultery is the application of democracy to love.

Tags: Adultery, Democracy, Love

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

Tags: Good, Men, Wise

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

Tags: Belief, Faith, May

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

Tags: Confess, Democracy, Enjoy

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

Tags: Easy, Problem, Wrong

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

Tags: Men, Rights, Value

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

Tags: Devil, Happy, Pay

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

Tags: Democracy, Dream, Put

Don't overestimate the decency of the human race.

Tags: Decency, Human, Race

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

Tags: After, Might, Worse

We must be willing to pay a price for freedom.

Tags: Freedom, Pay, Willing

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

Tags: Marriage, Time, Women

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

Tags: Effort, Knowing, Worth

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

Tags: Conscience, Looking, Someone

Life is a dead-end street.

Tags: Life, Street

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

Tags: Body, Temptation, Work

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

Tags: Here, Human, Knowledge

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

Tags: Between, Constant, Life

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

Tags: Experience, Love, Women

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

Tags: Fact, Pleasant, Ten

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

Tags: Experience, Men, Women

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.

Tags: Government, Moral, Often

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

Tags: Golf, Good, Impossible

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

Tags: Care, Drank, Drink

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

Tags: Done, Enough, Poetry

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

Tags: Fact, Lives, Money

The only cure for contempt is counter-contempt.

Tags: Contempt, Cure

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

Tags: Bad, Good, Time

Every man is his own hell.

Tags: Hell

I never smoked a cigarette until I was nine.

Tags: Cigarette, Nine, Until

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

Tags: Feeling, Giving, Write

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

Tags: Hands, Kiss, Women

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 the sitting rascals out and let a new gang in.

Tags: Faith, Past, Time

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

Tags: Act, Human, Wrong

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.

Tags: Able, Hell, May

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

Tags: Chief, Mankind, True

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.

Tags: Else, Fear, Wants

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

Tags: Dog, Professor, Theory

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

Tags: Christ, Christian, Superior

Husbands never become good; they merely become proficient.

Tags: Become, Good, Husbands

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

Tags: Goes, Reason, Working

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

Tags: Foolish, Good, Women

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

Tags: Easy, Injustice, Justice

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

Tags: Ape, Descended, Hard

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

Tags: Age, History, Lie

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.

Tags: Life, Times, Truth
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