H.L. Mencken H.L. Mencken > Quotes


H.L. Mencken quotes (showing 1-30 of 262)

“The older I grow, the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.”
H.L. Mencken
“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”
H.L. Mencken, Prejudices: First Series
“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.”
H.L. Mencken
“An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it makes a better soup.”
H.L. Mencken, A Book of Burlesques
“In the present case it is a little inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible to any public office of trust or profit in the Republic. But I do not repine, for I am a subject of it only by force of arms.”
H.L. Mencken
“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable...”
H.L. Mencken, Prejudices: Third Series
“On one issue, at least, men and women agree: they both distrust women.”
H.L. Mencken
“A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.”
H.L. Mencken
“A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.”
H.L. Mencken
“Truth would quickly cease to be stranger than fiction, once we got as used to it.”
H.L. Mencken, A Little Book in C Major
“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”
H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy
“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. 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.”
H.L. Mencken
“I know some who are constantly drunk on books as other men are drunk on whiskey.”
H.L. Mencken
“Happiness is the china shop; love is the bull.”
H.L. Mencken
“Where is the graveyard of dead gods? What lingering mourner waters their mounds? There was a time when Jupiter was the king of the gods, and any man who doubted his puissance was ipso facto a barbarian and an ignoramus. But where in all the world is there a man who worships Jupiter today? And who of Huitzilopochtli? In one year - and it is no more than five hundred years ago - 50,000 youths and maidens were slain in sacrifice to him. Today, if he is remembered at all, it is only by some vagrant savage in the depths of the Mexican forest. Huitzilopochtli, like many other gods, had no human father; his mother was a virtuous widow; he was born of an apparently innocent flirtation that she carried out with the sun.

When he frowned, his father, the sun, stood still. When he roared with rage, earthquakes engulfed whole cities. When he thirsted he was watered with 10,000 gallons of human blood. But today Huitzilopochtli is as magnificently forgotten as Allen G. Thurman. Once the peer of Allah, Buddha and Wotan, he is now the peer of Richmond P. Hobson, Alton B. Parker, Adelina Patti, General Weyler and Tom Sharkey.

Speaking of Huitzilopochtli recalls his brother Tezcatlipoca. Tezcatlipoca was almost as powerful; he consumed 25,000 virgins a year.

Lead me to his tomb: I would weep, and hang a couronne des perles. But who knows where it is? Or where the grave of Quetzalcoatl is? Or Xiuhtecuhtli? Or Centeotl, that sweet one? Or Tlazolteotl, the goddess of love? Of Mictlan? Or Xipe? Or all the host of Tzitzimitl? Where are their bones? Where is the willow on which they hung their harps? In what forlorn and unheard-of Hell do they await their resurrection morn? Who enjoys their residuary estates? Or that of Dis, whom Caesar found to be the chief god of the Celts? Of that of Tarves, the bull? Or that of Moccos, the pig? Or that of Epona, the mare? Or that of Mullo, the celestial jackass? There was a time when the Irish revered all these gods, but today even the drunkest Irishman laughs at them.

But they have company in oblivion: the Hell of dead gods is as crowded
as the Presbyterian Hell for babies. Damona is there, and Esus, and
Drunemeton, and Silvana, and Dervones, and Adsullata, and Deva, and
Bellisima, and Uxellimus, and Borvo, and Grannos, and Mogons. All mighty gods in their day, worshipped by millions, full of demands and impositions, able to bind and loose - all gods of the first class. Men labored for generations to build vast temples to them - temples with stones as large as hay-wagons.

The business of interpreting their whims occupied thousands of priests,
bishops, archbishops. To doubt them was to die, usually at the stake.
Armies took to the field to defend them against infidels; villages were burned, women and children butchered, cattle were driven off. Yet in the end they all withered and died, and today there is none so poor to do them reverence.

What has become of Sutekh, once the high god of the whole Nile Valley? What has become of:
Resheph
Anath
Ashtoreth
El
Nergal
Nebo
Ninib
Melek
Ahijah
Isis
Ptah
Anubis
Baal
Astarte
Hadad
Addu
Shalem
Dagon
Sharaab
Yau
Amon-Re
Osiris
Sebek
Molech?

All there were gods of the highest eminence. Many of them are mentioned with fear and trembling in the Old Testament. They ranked, five or six thousand years ago, with Yahweh Himself; the worst of them stood far higher than Thor. Yet they have all gone down the chute, and with them the following:
Bilé
Ler
Arianrhod
Morrigu
Govannon
Gunfled
Sokk-mimi
Nemetona
Dagda
Robigus
Pluto
Ops
Meditrina
Vesta

You may think I spoof. That I invent the names. I do not. Ask the rector to lend you any good treatise on comparative religion: You will find them all listed. They were gods of the highest standing and dignity-gods of civilized peoples-worshiped and believed in by millions. All were omnipotent, omniscient and immortal.

And all are dead.”
H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy
“Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking.”
H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy
“For every problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.”
H.L. Mencken, H.L. Mencken on Religion
Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched 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 people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”
H.L. Mencken, Notes on Democracy
“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, Minority Report
“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.”
H.L. Mencken
“All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him. If it be aristocratic in organization, then it seeks to protect the man who is superior only in law against the man who is superior in fact; if it be democratic, then it seeks to protect the man who is inferior in every way against both. One of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to make them as much alike as possible and as dependent upon one another as possible, to search out and combat originality among them. All it can see in an original idea is potential change, and hence an invasion of its prerogatives. The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.”
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 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
“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 been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant.”
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 (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary. Wars are no longer waged by the will of superior men, capable of judging dispassionately and intelligently the causes behind them and the effects flowing out of them. The are now begun by first throwing a mob into a panic; they are ended only when it has spent its ferine fury.”
H.L. Mencken, In Defense Of Women
“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. Santa Claus makes children good in precisely the same way, and yet no one would argue seriously that the fact proves his existence. The defense of religion is full of such logical imbecilities. The theologians, taking one with another, are adept logicians, but every now and then they have to resort to sophistries so obvious that their whole case takes on an air of the ridiculous. Even the most logical religion starts out with patently false assumptions. It is often argued in support of this or that one that men are so devoted to it that they are willing to die for it. That, of course, is as silly as the Santa Claus proof. Other men are just as devoted to manifestly false religions, and just as willing to die for them. Every theologian spends a large part of his time and energy trying to prove that religions for which multitudes of honest men have fought and died are false, wicked, and against God.”
H.L. Mencken, Minority Report
“Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.”
H.L. Mencken, Prejudices: Third Series
“You can't do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth.”
H.L. Mencken
“We are here and it is now. Further than that, all human knowledge is moonshine.”
H.L. Mencken
“I am suspicious of all the things that the average people believes.”
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, A Little Book in C Major

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