Henry Louis Mencken Quotes

Life without sex might be safer but it would be unbearably dull. It is the sex instinct which makes women seem beautiful, which they are once in a blue moon, and men seem wise and brave, which they never are at all. Throttle it, denaturalize it, take it away, and human existence would be reduced to the prosiac, laborious, boresome, imbecile level of life in an anthill.
Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and free than Christianity has made them good.
The fact that I have no remedy for the sorrows of the world is no reason for my accepting yours. It simply supports the strong possibility that yours is a fake.
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.
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.
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.
Love is like war easy to begin but very hard to stop.
A formula for answering controversial letters -- without even reading the letters Dear Sir (or Madame) You may be right.
The typical American of today has lost all the love of liberty, that his forefathers had, and all their disgust of emotion, and pride in self- reliance. He is led no longer by Davy Crocketts he is led by cheer leaders, press agents, word mongers, uplifters.
Whenever A annoys or injures B on the pretense of saving or improving X, A is a scoundrel.
The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.
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.
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 invariably 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 if he is not romantic personally, he is apt to spread discontent among those who are.
A sound American is simply one who has put out of his mind all doubts and questionings, and who accepts instantly, and as incontrovertible gospel, the whole body of official doctrine of his day, whatever it may be and no matter how often it may change. The instant he challenges it, no matter how timorously and academically, he ceases by that much to be a loyal and creditable citizen of the republic.
School days are the unhappiest in the whole span of human existence. They are full of dull, unintelligible tasks, new and unpleasant ordinances, with brutal violations of common sense and common decency.
But any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood, and that is what happened to Jesus.
The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.
Every man is his own hell.
Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.
No man ever quite believes in any other man.
For men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in their readiness to doubt.
There is always an easy solution to every human problem -- neat, plausible, and wrong.
To be in love is merely to be in a state of perceptual anesthesia--to mistake an ordinary young man for a Greek god or an ordinary young woman for a goddess.
The only cure for contempt is countercontempt.
Love is the triump of imagination over intelligence.
The cynics are right nine times out of ten.
Criticism is prejudice made plausible.
Life is a dead-end street.
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.
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.
Love is the mistaken belief that one woman differs from another.
A man always blames the woman who fooled him. In the same way he blames the door he walks into in the dark.
Legend a lie that has attained the dignity of age.
Time is the great legalizer, even in the field of morals.
Unquestionably, there is progress. The average American now pays out twice as much in taxes as he formerly got in wages.
For every problem, there is one solution which is simple, neat and wrong.
Conscience is the inner voice that warns us that someone might be looking.
A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground.
Bachelors know more about women than married men if they didn't they'd be married too.
...the basic delusion that men may be governed and yet be free.
We are here and it is now. Further than that, all human knowledge is moonshine.
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