H.L. Mencken: Not Impressed with Lincoln (The Smart Set, 1920)
As far as culture critic and all-around nay-sayer H.L. Mencken was concerned, Abraham Lincoln was simply another opportunist who fed at the federal trough and he found himself at a loss when it came to understanding the American deification of the man. It seemed that even Jefferson Davis might have had an easier time uttering a few sweet words to describe Lincoln then did the "Bard of Baltimore". Yet, there was one contribution Lincoln made that Mencken applauded, the Gettysburg Address:
"It is eloquence brought to a pellucid and almost gem-like perfection --the highest emotion reduced to a few poetical phrases. Nothing else precisely like it is to be found in the whole range of oratory. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it [in other speeches]. It is genuinely stupendous."
(Although, like any unreconstructed Confederates, he thought the argument was all a bunch of rot.)
H.L. Mencken on American English (The Smart Set, 1921)
Culture critic H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956; author of The American Language reviewed American English by Gilbert M. Tucker.
"The fact is, of course, that American English is noticeably superior to British English in several important respects, and that not the least of these superiorities lies in the learned department of spelling. Here even the more intelligent Englishmen are against their own rules, and in favor of the American rules, and every year one notices a greater tendency among them to spell "wagon" with one "g" instead of two...The English "-our" ending, the main hallmark of English spelling, dies harder."
The Damage of Prohibition (The Smart Set, 1921)
Attached is an editorial that was co-authored by George Jean Nathan and H.L. Mencken from their reoccurring column in THE SMART SET: "Répétition Générale". This brief column sought to expose the damages inflicted upon the country by the "guardians of the national virtue" and their bastard children, Prohibition and the Volstead Act, which will primarily serve to promote the wide (though illegal) distribution of all the poorest distilled spirits concocted in the most "remote frontiers of civilization".
Lord, Deliver Us from Prohibition (The Smart Set, 1920)
For some unexplained reason, H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956) wrote this essay under the pseudonym "Major Owen Hatteras". The one page article is written in typical Menkenese and catalogs example after example of how prohibition is creating a worse society, not a better one; citizens of all stripes who would otherwise be judged as honest souls, are instead committing illegal acts and there seemed to be no end in sight to such behavior.
Moral Corruption in Hollywood (The Smart Set, 1922)
Appearing in their monthly column, "Repitition Generale", H.L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan briefly explored the reoccurring topic regarding Hollywood immorality:
"So long as the majority of figures in the field of movies are recruited from the social and aesthetic slums, so long will the smell of Lime house cling to the movie's scandals."
Speaking of moral corruption, read this article about the actor Errol Flynn...
Odd Post-War Thinking from H.L. Mencken (The Smart Set, 1920)
Perhaps in his haste to be the reliable cynic, H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956) decided to ignore the haphazard nature of industrial warfare and indulged in some Darwinian thinking. There is no doubt that this column must have infuriated the Gold Star Mothers of W.W. I, who were still very much a presence at the time this opinion piece appeared, and it can also be assumed that the veterans of The American Legion were also shocked to read Mencken's words declaring that:
"The American Army came home substantially as it went abroad. Some of the weaklings were left behind, true enough, but surely not all of them. But the French and German Armies probably left them all behind. The Frenchman who got through those bitter four years was certainly a Frenchman far above the average in vigor and intelligence..."
As Europe Saw America in the War's Aftermath (The Smart Set, 1921)
H.L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan, editors of The Smart Set, surmised that as the Europeans bury their many dead among the damp, depressing ruins of World War One Europe, America is neither admired or liked very much:
"...the English owe us money, the Germans smart under their defeat, the French lament that they are no longer able to rob and debauch our infantry."
On Believing in Equality (The Smart Set, 1921)
H.L. Mencken rarely passed up an opportunity to impugn the sincerity of his fellow Americans; in this small piece he expressed his doubt as to whether they really embraced the concept of full equality as it was written in the constitution.
H.L. Mencken Reviewed Two Novels Dealing the War and Disillusionment (The Smart Set, 1922)
"In Three Soldiers, John Dos Passos exhibited the disillusionment of the soldiers in the field; The Last Mile by Frank Macallister exposes the disillusionment of the soldier come home". The reviewer remarked that both men had been "bamboozled by Woodrow and company".
H.L. Mencken on Immigration (The Smart Set, 1921)
This article from THE SMART SET was published at a time when America was marking the three-hundredth anniversary of the Puritan arrival at Cape Cod and written by H.L. Mencken with his characteristic sense of hopelessness, this small piece remarks that (up to that point in time) immigrants to America were all cut from the same Puritan cloth. The Puritan has been a reoccurring figure in America
"and will not die out...until the delusion of moral perfection is lost and forgotten".
H.L. Mencken Admonishes Catholic Hierarchy (The Smart Set, 1921)
After the slaughter of the First World War, the Christian Churches were under heavy scrutiny for essentially serving as "enablers" in each of the individual combatant nations - failing utterly to bring an end to the violence. In their monthly collaboration, "Repition Generale", George Jean Nathan (1882 - 1958) and H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956) launched a broadside at the Christian Bishops for their elite, "bullet-proof" status in the world.
In 1900 people wanted to know why men didn't like going to church...
As Europe Sees Us (The Smart Set, 1921)
George Jean Nathan (1882 - 1958) and H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956) surmised that as the Europeans bury their many dead among the damp, depressing ruins of World War One, America is neither admired or liked very much: "the English owe us money", "the Germans smart under their defeat", "the French lament that they are no longer able to rob and debauch our infantry".
-Read an Article About the First World War and the Gratitude of France-
Conrad Reviewed by H.L. Mencken (The Smart Set, 1921)
H.L. Mencken's (1880 - 1956) short review of Joseph Conrad's (1882 - 1941) collection of essays, entitled Notes on Life and Letters
. The book contains Conrad's thoughts on such subjects as the sinking of 'Titanic' to the writings of Henry James, Guy de Maupassant, Daudet and Ivan Turgenev were all touched upon in this collection of essays.