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H.L. Mencken

     "Freedom of pressMencken is limited to those who own one."
  H.L. Mencken


Walter Lippmann on Mencken
     "Mr. Mencken is so effective just because his appeal is not from mind to mind but from viscera to viscera. If Mencken toonyou analyze his arguments you destroy their effect. You cannot take them in detail and examine their implications. You have to judge him totally, roughly, approximately, without definition, as you would a barrage of artillery, for the general destruction rather than for the accuracy of the individual shots. He presents an experience, and if he gets you, he gets you not by reasoned conviction, but by a conversion which you may or may not be able to dress up later as a philosophy. If he succeeds with you, he implants in you a sense of sin, and then he revives you with grace, and disposes you to a new pride in excellence and in a non-gregarious excellence."


     "Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence."
      H.L. Mencken


The great bathtub hoax

   From "A Neglected Anniversary"
     Mencken commemorated the supposed introduction of the bathtub into the United States with this article in the New York Evening Mail, Dec. 28, 1917. It was taken seriously, but of course he made the whole thing up:

    "The thing, in fact, became a public matter, and before long there was bitter and double- headed opposition to the new invention, which had been promptly imitated by several other wealthy Cincinnatians. On the one hand it was denounced as an epicurean and obnoxious toy from England, designed to corrupt the democratic simplicity of the Republic, and on the other hand it was attacked by the medical faculty as dangerous to health and a certain inviter of "phthisic, rheumatic fevers, inflammation of the lungs and the whole category of zymotic diseases."
(From the Western Medical Repository, April 23, 1843.)

     "The noise of the controversy soon reached other cities, and in more than one place medical opposition reached such strength that it was reflected in legislation. Late in 1843, for example, the Philadelphia Common Council considered an ordinance prohibiting bathing between November 1 and March 15, and it failed of passage by but two votes. During the same year the legislature of Virginia laid a tax of $30 a year on all bathtubs that might be set up, and in Hartford, Providence, Charleston and Wilmington (Del.) special and very heavy water rates were levied upon those who had them. Boston, very early in 1845, made bathing unlawful except upon medical advice, but the ordinance was never enforced and in 1862 it was repealed."


"One seldom discovers a true
believer that is worth knowing."
                  H.L. Mencken


From "The Declaration of Independence in American"

     "When we complained to the English we didn't get no more satisfaction. Almost every day we give them plenty of warning that the politicians over there was doing things to us that they didn't have no right to do. We kept on reminding them who we was, and what we was doing here, and how we come to come here. We asked them to get us a square deal, and told them that if this thing kept on we'd have to do something about it and maybe they wouldn't like it. But the more we talked, the more they didn't pay no attention to us. Therefore, if they ain't for us they must be agin us, and we are ready to give them the fight of their lives, or to shake hands when it is over."


"There is only one justification
for having sinned, and that
is to be glad of it."
               H.L. Mencken


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