Quotes by H. L. Mencken

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Henry Louis Mencken (September 12, 1880 - January 29, 1956), better known as H. L. Mencken, was a twentieth-century journalist, satirist, social critic, cynic, and freethinker, known as the "Sage of Baltimore" and the "American Nietzsche". He is often regarded as one of the most influential American writers of the early 20th century.

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

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.
The only cure for contempt is counter-contempt.
Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.
A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.
Adultery is the application of democracy to love.
Remorse is regret that one waited so long to do it.
On one issue at least, men and women agree; they both distrust women.
If women believed in their husbands they would be a good deal happier and also a good deal more foolish.
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.
Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.
A judge is a law student who grades his own papers.
Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.
The lunatic fringe wags the underdog.
A church is a place in which gentlemen who have never been to heaven brag about it to persons who will never get there.
I write in order to attain that feeling of tension relieved and function achieved which a cow enjoys on giving milk.
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.
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 them; they see the actual man within, and know him for a shallow and pathetic fellow. In this fact, perhaps, lies one of the best proofs of feminine intelligence, or, as the common phrase makes it, feminine intuition.
Whenever you hear a man speak of his love for his country, it is a sign that he expects to be paid for it.
What men value in this world is not rights but privileges.
Before a man speaks, it is always safe to assume that he is a fool. After he speaks it is seldom necessary to assume.
How little it takes to make life unbearable: a pebble in the shoe, a cockroach in the spaghetti, a woman's laugh.
Legend : a lie that has attained the dignity of age.
Honor is simply the morality of superior men.
A gentlemen is one who never strikes a woman without provocation.
It is hard for the ape to believe he descended from man.
Don't overestimate the decency of the human race.
Life is a constant oscillation between the sharp horns of dilemmas.
It is the dull man who is always sure, and the sure man who is always dull.
There are two kinds of books. Those that no one reads and those that no one ought to read.
The chief knowledge that a man gets from reading books is the knowledge that very few of them are worth reading.
It is a sin to believe evil of others, but it is seldom a mistake.
Alimony--the ransom that the happy pay to the devil.
I go on working for the same reason that a hen goes on laying eggs.
Love is the delusion that one man or woman differs from another.
If I ever marry it will be on a sudden impulse, as a man shoots himself.
Whenever a husband and wife begin to discuss their marriage they are giving evidence at a coroner's inquest.
Morality is the theory that every human act must be either right or wrong, and that 99 % of them are wrong.
Opera in English, is about as sensible as baseball in Italian.
A society made up of individuals who were all capable of original thought would probably be unendurable.
There is no record in history of a happy philosopher.
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.
Women have simple tastes. They get pleasure out of the conversation of children in arms and men in love.
The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false face for the urge to rule it.
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
Most people want security in this world, not liberty.
Injustice is relatively easy to bear what stings is justice.
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.
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.
Government is actually the worst failure of civilized man. There has never been a really good one, and even those that are most tolerable are arbitrary, cruel, grasping and unintelligent.
The objection of the scandalmonger is not that she tells of racy doings, but that she pretends to be indignant about them.
God is the immemorial refuge of the incompetent, the helpless, the miserable. They find not only sanctuary in His arms, but also a kind of superiority, soothing to their macerated egos: He will set them above their betters.
Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt.
I confess I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing.
Democracy is also a form of religion. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses.
The cure for the evils of democracy is more democracy.
The cynics are right nine times out of ten.
Criticism is prejudice made plausible.
Conscience is the inner voice which warns us that someone may be looking.
A prohibitionist is the sort of man one couldn't care to drink with, even if he drank.