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H. L. Mencken quotes page 1

September 12, 1880 – January 29, 1956; H. L. Mencken was best known as an American satirist that also worked as a journalist, magazine editor and published many prominent essays on American culture. Most of his well-known works focus on critiquing the American way of life or parts of the American culture. His style of writing is very distinct, reflecting the type of writing that was commonly used at the beginning of the 20th century. Despite this dated style most of his books still remain popular and in print today. One of Mencken's most popular works is "The American Language," a study regarding how individuals in the United States speak the English language. Much of the inspiration for this work was drawn from his experience as an English teacher. He also became known as "the Sage of Baltimore" for much of his satirical work where he would critique literature, local society politicians or experts, the temperance movement or popular music. He gained a great deal of popularity for covering the Scopes trial, which he would regularly refer to as "the Monkey trial," gaining popular attention for his satirical writing style which would eventually become his trademark. When he was not writing, Mencken was strongly involved in getting involved with philosophical or political work. He was criticized at the time for being sympathetic to the Germans during World War I, with an open distrust of the propaganda being published by the British. This was later forgiven when Mencken would openly speak out against Hitler and his "thugs" during World War II. He was also known to admire Nietzsche and would frequently speak out against representative democracy, quoting Nitzsche's teachings. His works are frequently used in writings from the American libertarian movement and those that lean toward left politically; particularly his works which criticize the functioning's of the government.

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

Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.
H. L. Mencken

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

Love is like war. Easy to begin but very hard to stop.
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.
H. L. Mencken

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A man may be a fool and not know it, but not if he is married.
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 masters at call. Out of this working and dying they tend to get less and
less.
H. L. Mencken

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

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

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

Alimony - the ransom that the happy pay to the devil.
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 turns to, when it is cured on one error, is usually simply another error, and
maybe one worse than the first one.
H. L. Mencken

The ideal government of reflective men, from Aristotle onward, is one which lets the individual
alone.
H. L. Mencken

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

When women kiss it always reminds me of prize-fighters shaking hands.
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.
H. L. Mencken

The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive 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 us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good
citizen driven to despair.
H. L. Mencken

Jealousy: The theory that some other fellow has just as little taste.
H. L. Mencken

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

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