Stephen Leacock quotes

  • I owe a lot to my teachers and mean to pay them back some day.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Teacher #Mean #Pay

  • Hockey captures the essence of Canadian experience in the New World. In a land so inescapably and inhospitably cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter we are alive.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Hockey #Winter #Land

  • Now, the essence, the very spirit of Christmas is that we first make believe a thing is so, and lo, it presently turns out to be so.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Christmas #Believe #Essence

  • It may be those who do most, dream most.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Dream #May #Human Nature

  • How strange it is, our little procession of life! The child says, "When I am a big boy." But what is that? The big boy says, "When I grow up." And then, grown up, he says, "When I get married." But to be married, what is that after all? The thought changes to "When I'm able to retire." And then, when retirement comes, he looks back over the landscape traversed; a cold wind seems to sweep over it; somehow he has missed it all, and it is gone.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Life #Retirement #Growing Up

  • It takes a good deal of physical courage to ride a horse. This, however, I have. I get it at about forty cents a flask, and take it as required.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Horse #Economy #Flasks

  • Many a man in love with a dimple makes the mistake of marrying the whole girl.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Love #Marriage #Girl

  • A half truth, like half a brick, is always more forcible as an argument than a whole one. It carries better.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Trust #Half #Bricks

  • In ancient times they had no statistics so they had to fall back on lies.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Lying #Fall #Statistics

  • Writing is not hard. Just get paper and pencil, sit down, and write as it occurs to you. The writing is easy-it's the occurring that's hard.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Writing #Paper #Down And

  • Writing is no trouble: you just jot down ideas as they occur to you. The jotting is simplicity itself - it is the occurring which is difficult.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Writing #Ideas #Simplicity

  • There are two things in ordinary conversation which ordinary people dislike - information and wit
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Two #People #Information

  • I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Inspirational #Motivational #Positive

  • Astronomy teaches the correct use of the sun and the planets.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Use #Sun #Astronomy

  • Advertising: the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Money #Fear #Long

  • Life, we learn too late, is in the living, the tissue of every day and hour.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Life #Learning #Too Late

  • Personally, I would sooner have written Alice in Wonderland than the whole Encyclopedia Britannica.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Ignorance #Carpe Diem #Imagination

  • He flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Horse #Rooms #Economy

  • Electricity is of two kinds, positive and negative. The difference is, I presume, that one comes a little more expensive, but is more durable; the other is a cheaper thing, but the moths get into it.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Science #Two #Differences

  • The great man... walks across his century and leaves the marks of his feet all over it, ripping out the dates on his goloshes as he passes.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Greatness #Men #Feet

  • Any two meals at a boarding-house are together less than two square meals.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Food #Two #Squares

  • When actors begin to think, it's time for a change. They are not fitted for it.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Work #Thinking #Actors

  • Being a specialist is one thing, getting a job is another.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Jobs #Work #Specialists

  • Most people can tire of a lecture in fifteen minutes, clever people can do it in five, and sensible people don't go to lectures at all.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Inspirational #Clever #Work

  • It was Einstein who made the real trouble. He announced in 1905 that there was no such thing as absolute rest. After that there never was.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Work #Real #Trouble

  • The English are terribly lazy about fighting. They like to get it over and done with and then set up a game of cricket.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Fighting #Lazy #Done

  • Presently I shall be introduced as 'this venerable old gentleman' and the axe will fall when they raise me to the degree of 'grand old man'. That means on our continent any one with snow-white hair who has kept out of jail till eighty.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Fall #Mean #Men

  • It is difficult to be funny and great at the same time. Aristophanes and Moliere and Mark Twain must sit below Aristotle and Bossuet and Emerson.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Mark #Difficult

  • The Victorians needed parody. Without it their literature would have been a rank and weedy growth, over-watered with tears.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Growth #Tears #Literature

  • It's a lie, but Heaven will forgive you for it.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Lying #Heaven #Forgiving

  • The road comes to an end just when it ought to be getting somewhere. The passengers alight, shaken and weary, to begin, all over again, something else.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Ends #Weary #Passengers

  • Men are able to trust one another, knowing the exact degree of dishonesty they are entitled to expect.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Trust #Honesty #Men

  • You frequently ask, where are the friends of your childhood, and urge that they shall be brought back to you. As far as I am able to learn, those of your friends who are not in jail are still right there in your native village. You point out that they were wont to share your gambols, If so, you are certainly entitled to have theirs now.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Jail #Childhood #Village

  • Humour is essentially a comforter, reconciling us to things as they are in contrast to things as they might be.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Might #Humour #Contrast

  • All Dickens's humour couldn't save Dickens, save him from his overcrowded life, its sordid and neurotic central tragedy and its premature collapse. But Dickens's humour, and all such humour, has saved or at least greatly served the world.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Tragedy #World #Humour

  • You know, many a man realizes late in life that if when he was a boy he had known what he knows now, instead of being what he is he might be what he won't; but how few boys stop to think that if they knew what they don't know instead of being what they will be, they wouldn't be?
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Men #Thinking #Boys

  • Golf may be played on Sunday, not being a game within the view of the law, but being a form of moral effort.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Sunday #Golf #Views

  • What we call creative work, ought not to be called work at all, because it isn't. I imagine that Thomas Edison never did a day's work in his last fifty years.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Motivational #Teamwork #Years

  • Each section of the British Isles has its own way of laughing, except Wales, which doesn't.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Laughing #Way #Economy

  • Humour in its highest reach mingles with pathos: it voices sorrow for our human lot and reconciliation with it.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Voice #Sorrow #Pathos

  • With the Great Detective, to think was to act, and to act was to think. Frequently he could do both together.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Thinking #Together #Detectives

  • You cannot depict love inside a frame of fact. It needs a mist to dissolve in.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Facts #Needs #Mist

  • Professors of theory merely hold post-mortems.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Professors #Theory

  • The tears of childhood fall fast and easily, and evil be to him who makes them flow.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Fall #Evil #Childhood

  • We can no longer communicate with the apes by direct language, nor can we understand, without special study, their modes of communication which we have long since replaced by more elaborate forms. But it is at least presumable that they could still detect in our speech, at least when it is public and elaborate, the underlying tone values with which it began. Thus if we could take a gibbon ape to a college public lecture, he would not understand it, but he would "get a good deal of it." This is all the students get anyway.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Communication #College #Long

  • Modern critics, who refuse to let a plain thing alone, have now started a theory that Cervantes's work is a vast piece of "symbolism." If so, Cervantes didn't know it himself and nobody thought of it for three hundred years. He meant it as a satire upon the silly romances of chivalry.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Silly #Years #Symbolism

  • All our yesterdays, it is true, have only lighted fools the way to dusty death. But we need at least the dates of the yesterdays and the list of the fools.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Education #Yesterday #Fool

  • A silk dress in four sections, and shoes with high heels that would have broken the heart of John Calvin.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Fashion #Heart #High Heels

  • About the only good thing you can say about old age is, it's better than being dead!
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Age #Aging #Good Things

  • Charles Dickens' creation of Mr. Pickwick did more for the elevation of the human race - I say it in all seriousness - than Cardinal Newman's Lead Kindly Light Amid the Encircling Gloom. Newman only cried out for light in the gloom of a sad world. Dickens gave it.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Race #Light #World

  • In Canada we have enough to do keeping up with two spoken languages ... so we just go right ahead and use English for literature, Scotch for sermons, and American for conversation.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Two #Scotch #Literature

  • How can you shorten the subject? That stern struggle with the multiplication table, for many people not yet ended in victory, how can you make it less? Square root, as obdurate as a hardwood stump in a pasturenothing but years of effort can extract it. You can't hurry the process. Or pass from arithmetic to algebra; you can't shoulder your way past quadratic equations or ripple through the binomial theorem. Instead, the other way; your feet are impeded in the tangled growth, your pace slackens, you sink and fall somewhere near the binomial theorem with the calculus in sight on the horizon.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Struggle #Fall #Math

  • Indeed I have always found that the only thing in regard to Toronto which faraway people know for certain is that McGill University is in it.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #People #Toronto #Found

  • My parents migrated to Canada in 1876, and I decided to go with them.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Parent #Canada

  • As for politics, well, it all seemed reasonable enough. When the Conservatives got in anywhere, [Judge] Pepperleigh laughed and enjoyed it, simply because it does one good to see a straight, fine, honest fight where the best man wins. When a Liberal got in, it made him mad, and he said so,-not, mind you; from any political bias, for his office forbid it,-but simply because one can't bear to see the country go absolutely to the devil.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Country #Fighting #Winning

  • I detest life-insurance agents: they always argue that I shall some day die, which is not so.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Life #Business #Agents

  • A barber is by nature and inclination a sport. He can tell you at what exact hour the ball game is to begin, can foretell its issue without losing a stroke of the razor, and can explain the points of inferiority of all the players, as compared with the better men that he has personally seen elsewhere, with the nicety of a professional.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Sports #Player #Men

  • You can never have international peace as long as you have national poverty.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Long #Poverty #International Peace

  • The classics are only primitive literature. They belong to the same class as primitive machinery and primitive music and primitive medicine.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Book #Reading #Class

  • The classical scholars have kept alive the tradition of the superiority of the ancient languages -- a kaleidoscopic mass of suffixes and prefixes, supposed to represent an infinite shading of meaning. It is a character they share with the Ojibway and the Zulu.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Character #Alive #Language

  • Anybody who has listened to certain kinds of music, or read certain kinds of poetry, or heard certain kinds of performances on the concertina, will admit that even suicide has its brighter aspects.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Suicide #Kind #Aspect

  • It is to be observed that 'angling' is the name given to fishing by people who can't fish.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Fishing #Names #People

  • In earlier times they had no statistics and so they had to fall back on lies. Hence the huge exaggerations of primitive literature, giants, miracles, wonders! It's the size that counts. They did it with lies and we do it with statistics: but it's all the same.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Lying #Fall #Miracle

  • A lone maple leaf resting on sand Have you ever been out for a late autumn walk in the closing part of the afternoon, and suddenly looked up to realize that the leaves have practically all gone? And the sun has set and the day gone before you knew it, and with that a cold wind blows across the landscape? That's retirement.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Retirement #Autumn #Blow

  • Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Inspiration #Perspiration

  • The writing of solid, instructive stuff fortified by facts and figures is easy enough. There is no trouble in writing a scientific treatise on the folk-lore of Central China, or a statistical enquiry into the declining population of Prince Edward Island. But to write something out of one's own mind, worth reading for its own sake, is an arduous contrivance only to be achieved in fortunate moments, few and far in between. Personally, I would sooner have written Alice in Wonderland than the whole Encyclopedia Britannica.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Reading #Writing #Islands

  • The sorrows and disasters of Europe always brought fortune to America.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #America #Europe #Sorrow

  • On the same bill and on the same side of it there should not be two charges for the same thing
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Two #Sides #Bills

  • A sportsman is a man who, every now and then, simply has to get out and kill something.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Men #Now And Then #Sportsman

  • The landlady of a boarding-house is a parallelogram - that is, an oblong angular figure, which cannot be described, but which is equal to anything
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Science #House #Figures

  • The Lord said 'let there be wheat' and Saskatchewan was born
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Wheat #Lord #Said

  • Chess is one long regret.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Regret #Long #Chess

  • Most people tire of a lecture in ten minutes; clever people can do it in five. Sensible people never go to lectures at all. But the people who do go to a lecture and who get tired of it, presently hold it as a sort of grudge against the lecturer personally. In reality his sufferings are worse than theirs.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Clever #Tired #Reality

  • Too much has been said of the heroes of history-the strong men, the troublesome men; too little of the amiable, the kindly, the tolerant.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Strong #Hero #Men

  • We think of the noble object for which the professor appears tonight, we may be assured that the Lord will forgive any one who will laugh at the professor.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Thinking #Laughing #Forgiving

  • The attempt to make the consumption of beer criminal is as silly and as futile as if you passed a law to send a man to jail for eating cucumber salad.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Silly #Beer #Men

  • Any man will admit if need be that his sight is not good, or that he cannot swim or shoots badly with a rifle, but to touch upon his sense of humour is to give him mortal affront.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Men #Sight #Giving

  • The parent who could see his boy as he really is, would shake his head and say: 'Willie is no good; I'll sell him.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Parenting #Boys #Parent

  • The Compleat Angler is acknowledged to be one of the world's books. Only the trouble is that the world doesn't read its books, it borrows a detective story instead.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Book #World #Detectives

  • The minute a man is convinced he is interesting, he isn't.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Wisdom #Men #Interesting

  • It's called political economy because it is has nothing to do with either politics or economy.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Political #Politics #Economy

  • If every day in the life of a school could be the last day but one, there would be little fault to find with it.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #School #Littles #Lasts

  • If I were founding a university I would begin with a smoking room; next a dormitory; and then a decent reading room and a library. After that, if I still had more money that I couldn't use, I would hire a professor and get some text books.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Book #Reading #Smoking

  • Humor may be defined as the kindly contemplation of the incongruities of life, and the artistic expression thereof.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Humor #Expression #May

  • In point of morals, the average woman is, even for business, too crooked.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Women #Average #Moral

  • I am what is called a professor emeritus—from the Latin e, 'out,' and meritus, 'so he ought to be.
    -- Stephen Leacock

    #Latin #Professors