Quotes by H. L. Mencken

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

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

“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.”

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

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

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

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

“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.”

“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.”

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

“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.”

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

“We must be willing to pay a price for freedom.”

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

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

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

“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.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Husbands never become good they merely become proficient.”

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

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

“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 he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable.”

“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.”

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

“All government, of course, is against liberty.”

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

“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.”

“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.”

“Historian: an unsuccessful novelist.”

“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.”

“Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.”

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

“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.”

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

“Love is the delusion that one woman differs from another.”

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

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

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

“Adultery is the application of democracy to love.”

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

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

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

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

“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 end.”

“Honor is simply the morality of superior men.”

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

“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.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“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.”

“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.”

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

“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.”

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

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

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

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

“Time stays, we go.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

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

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

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

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

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