Stephen Leacock, fully Stephen Butler Leacock

Leacock, fully Stephen Butler Leacock

English-born Canadian Teacher, Political Scientist, Humorist and Author

Author Quotes

The sorrows and disasters of Europe always brought fortune to America.

The trouble with it is that it is becoming a mere mass of conversation and reflection: nothing happens in it; the action is all going out of it and there is nothing left but thought. When actors begin to think, it is time for a change. They are not fitted for it.

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.

There are two things in ordinary conversation which ordinary people dislike - information and wit.

There is a torture scene in it, a most gruesome thing. Harvey, as the hero, has to be tortured, not on the stage itself, but off the stage in a little room at the side. You can hear him howling as he is tortured. Well, it was I who was torturing him. We are so used to working together that Harvey didn’t want to let anybody do it but me.

There is something about a lighthouse—the way you see it in the earlier scenes—with the lantern shining out over the black waters that suggests security, fidelity, faithfulness, to a trust. The stage used generally to be dim in the first part of lighthouse play, and you could see the huddled figures of the fishermen and their wives on the foreshore pointing out to the sea (the back of the stage).

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.

There wasn’t really; it was me; but in the darkness it was all the same, and of course the heroine herself couldn’t be there yet because she had to be downstairs getting dressed to be drowned. Then they all cried out, “Poor soul! she’s doomed,” and all the fishermen ran up and down making a noise.

The best definition of humor I know is: humor may be defined as the kindly contemplation of the incongruities of life, and the artistic expression thereof. I think this is the best I know because I wrote it myself.

We think of the noble object for which the professor appears to-night, we may be assured that the Lord will forgive anyone who will laugh at the professor.

The British are terribly lazy about fighting. They like to get it over and done with and then set up a game of cricket.

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.

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

When actors begin to think, it is time for a change. They are not fitted for it.

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.

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.

The general idea, of course, in any first-class laundry is to see that no shirt or collar ever comes back twice.

You encourage a comic man too much, and he gets silly.

The girl? Oh, yes, certainly they saved the girl. That kind of thing was always taken care of. You see just as the lighthouse man said “God’s will be done,” his eye fell on a long coil of rope, hanging there. Providential, wasn’t it? But then we were not ashamed to use Providence in the Old Drama. So he made a noose in it and threw it over the balcony and hauled the girl up on it. I used to hook her on to it every night.

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.

The lighthouse keeper trims his lamps. How firm and quiet and rugged he looks. The snows of sixty winters are on his head, but his eye is clear and his grip strong. Hear the howl of the wind as he opens the door and steps forth upon the iron balcony, eighty feet above the water, and peers out upon the storm.

The Lord said 'let there be wheat' and Saskatchewan was born.

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

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.

In ancient times they had no statistics so they had to fall back on lies.

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Leacock, fully Stephen Butler Leacock
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English-born Canadian Teacher, Political Scientist, Humorist and Author