H. L. Mencken
The capacity of human beings to bore one another seems to be vastly greater than that of any other animal.
It is impossible to imagine Goethe or Beethoven being good at billiards or golf.
Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.
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 of one error, is usually simply another error, and maybe one worse than the first one.
Whenever you hear a man speak of his love for his country, it is a sign that he expects to be paid for it.
A judge is a law student who marks his own examination papers.
The most common of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.
Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.
Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking.
There is always a well-known solution to every human problem--neat, plausible, and wrong.
An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
For every problem there is a solution which is simple, clean and wrong.
A celebrity is one who is known to many persons he is glad he doesn't know.
Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right.
The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office.
Never let your inferiors do you a favor - it will be extremely costly.
The chief value of money lies in the fact that one lives in a world in which it is overestimated.
It is even harder for the average ape to believe that he has descended from man.
The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught.
There is always an easy solution to every human problem -- neat, plausible, and wrong.
All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it.
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.
Unquestionably, there is progress. The average American now pays out twice as much in taxes as he formerly got in wages.
We are here and it is now. Further than that all human knowledge is moonshine.
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.
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.
The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.
Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.
It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.
I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.
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.
After all, all he did was string together a lot of old, well-known quotations.
In the United States, doing good has come to be, like patriotism, a favorite device of persons with something to sell.
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.
For centuries, theologians have been explaining the unknowable in terms of the-not-worth-knowing.
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.
Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood.
The men the American public admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.
The cure for the evils of democracy is more democracy!
Conscience is a mother-in-law whose visit never ends.
The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear - fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable. What he wants beyond everything else is safety.
Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.
Happiness is the china shop; love is the bull.
Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice.
It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry.
Man is never honestly the fatalist, nor even the stoic. He fights his fate, often desperately. He is forever entering bold exceptions to the rulings of the bench of gods. This fighting, no doubt, makes for human progress, for it favors the strong and the brave. It also makes for beauty, for lesser men try to escape from a hopeless and intolerable world by creating a more lovely one of their own.
Say what you will about the Ten Commandments, you must always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them.
Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and free than Christianity has made them good.
Platitude: an idea (a) that is admitted to be true by everyone, and (b) that is not true.
The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.
Men are the only animals that devote themselves, day in and day out, to making one another unhappy. It is an art like any other. Its virtuosi are called altruists.
There comes a time when a man must spit on his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats.
Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.
A poet more than thirty years old is simply an overgrown child.
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.
A home is not a mere transient shelter: its essence lies in the personalities of the people who live in it.
All [zoos] actually offer to the public in return for the taxes spent upon them is a form of idle and witless amusement, compared to which a visit to a penitentiary, or even to a State legislature in session, is informing, stimulating and ennobling.
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.
All successful newspapers are ceaselessly querulous and bellicose. They never defend anyone or anything if they can help it; if the job is forced on them, they tackle it by denouncing someone or something else.
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.