Friday, February 18, 2011

H.L. Mencken

The Bard of Baltimore compared to Michel de Montaigne, the genteel sage of Bordeaux. In this particular pairing, an entertaining reminder of a devilish wordsmith, the former seems the clear winner. 'Mencken did not write, but rather hacked words from the cliff of the English language and set them on a column in his beloved paper, the Baltimore Sun. Each one was unveiled with the blast of an ecstatic trumpet and a puff from an enormous cigar. His political maxims became bywords: "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." "The worst government is the most moral … when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression." Most famous of all was: "No one has ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the masses."' More...

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