Leacock 10

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.

Leacock 8

It is difficult to be funny and great at the same time. Aristophanes and Molière and Mark Twain must sit below Aristotle and Bossuet and Emerson.

 

Editor’s note: I would like to say that Emerson is greatly over-rated and that I translated a book by Bossuet for my Master’s thesis. He too is over-rated.

Leacock 6

I really believe there are many excellent writers who have never written because they never could begin. This is especially the case of people of great sensitiveness, or of people of advanced education. Professors suffer most of all from this inhibition. Many of them carry their unwritten books to the grave. They overestimate the magnitude of the task, they overestimate the greatness of the final result. A child in a prep school will write the History of Greece and fetch it home finished after school. “He wrote a fine History of Greece the other day,” says his fond father. Thirty years later the child, grown to be a professor, dreams of writing the History of Greece — the whole of it from the first Ionic invasion of the Aegean to the downfall of Alexandria. But he dreams. He never starts. He can’t. It’s too big. Anybody who has lived around a college knows the pathos of those unwritten books.