A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.
~ H. L. Mencken
Henry Louise Mencken was one of the most prominent newspaper men, book reviewers and political commentators of his time. He was known for his sharp wit and his acerbic tongue, which has made him a darling of quotations collections. His career as a newspaper man quickly launched him into the literary world as both a freelance writer and an editor of his own journal, The American Mercury. He is often remembered as "The Sage of Baltimore" and "The American Nietzsche."
Mencken is best remembered for The American Language, his exhaustive, multi-volume study of how the English language is spoken in the United States, and his scathingly satirical reporting on the prosecution, judge, jury, and venue of the Scopes trial, which he is credited for naming the "Monkey" trial.
He was born today in Baltimore in 1880. In honor of his birthday, here is Mencken's Creed:
I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind - that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.
I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious.
I believe that all government is evil, in that all government must necessarily make war upon liberty...
I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect.
I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech...
I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.
I believe in the reality of progress.
I - But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant.