Born in Swanmore. England. Stephen Leacock was one of 11 kids of an unsuccessful husbandman and an ambitious female parent. a adult female to whom Leacock no uncertainty owed his energetic and status-conscious nature. In 1891. while learning at the esteemed Upper Canada College in Toronto. Leacock obtained a modern linguistic communication grade from the University of Toronto. In 1903. after having a Ph. D. in political economic system from the University of Chicago. he joined the staff of McGill University. Montreal. as professor of political relations and economic sciences. Leacock’s calling as a humourist began when he had some amusing pieces published as Literary Oversights in 1910. This successful book was followed by two more books of amusing studies. Nonsense Novels ( 1911 ) and Sunshine Sketches of a Small Town ( 1912 ) . which is now considered his best book. Leacock continued this frenetic literary end product for the balance of his calling. bring forthing more than 30 books of wit every bit good as lifes and societal commentaries. The Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour was established after his decease to honour yearly an outstanding Canadian humourist.
Old Proverbs Made New
The undermentioned article is an infusion of Winnowed Wisdom ( 1926 ) written by great humourist and pedagogue Stephen Leacock.
It has occurred to me that person in one of the English sections of our colleges ought to acquire busy and re-write our national Proverbs. They are all out of day of the month. They don’t fit any longer. Indeed. many of them are exactly the converse of bing facts. Our Proverbss have come down to us from the yearss of long ago ; yearss when the universe was really crude and really simple and really different ; when people ne’er moved more than a stat mi and a half from place and were all afraid of the dark ; and when wisdom was handed out by old work forces with white beards called Prophetss. every one of whom would be “retired” today by any first category board of legal guardians as past the age-limit of common sense. But in those yearss all the things that were said by these wise old work forces. who had ne’er seen a motor auto. were gathered up and called Proverbss and repeated by all the common people as the last words of wisdom. The consequence is that even today we still go on reiterating them. without recognizing how hopelessly they are off the path. Take as a first sample the adage that is possibly the best known in our linguistic communication:
Birds of a Feather Flock Together
But they don’t. Ask any first category naturalist. If the wise old work forces had taken another expression they would hold seen that the last thing birds of all time want to make is to flock together. In 99 instances out of a 100 they keep off from their ain species. and merely flock when it is perfectly necessary. So much for the birds. But the adage is truly supposed to mention to people and so it is incorrect once more. Peoples “of a feather” do non flock together. Tall work forces fall in love with small adult females. A miss with a beautiful just tegument and ruddy hair marries a adult male who looks like a Reformed orang-outang. A reverend makes a friend of an auctioneer and a banker would instead pass a twenty-four hours with an Adirondack fishing usher than with a whole vaultful of bankers. Burglars during the daylight travel and swim in the Y. M. C. A. pool. Forgers in their off clip sing in the choir. and precentors when they are non singing shoot snake eyess. In short. there is nil in the adage whatsoever. It ought to be revised under the modern conditions to read:
Birds of any peculiar plume and individuals of any peculiar character or business show upon the whole a temperament instead to seek out something dissimilar to their ain visual aspect and nature to associate with something homologous to their ain indispensable entity. In that form one has a neat feasible adage. Try another:
A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss
Wholly incorrect once more. This was supposed to demo that a immature adult male who wandered from place ne’er got on in the universe. In really ancient yearss it was true. The immature adult male who stayed at place and worked difficult and tilled the land and goaded cattle with a long stick like a spear found himself as he grew old a adult male of belongings. having four caprine animals and a sow. The boy who wandered Forth in the universe was either killed by the man-eaters or crawled place old ages afterwards doubled up with rheumatism. So the old work forces made the adage. But nowadays it is precisely incorrect. It is the turn overing rock that gathers the moss. It is the ambitious male child from Honkville. Indiana. who trudges off to the metropolis go forthing his senior brother in the barnyard and who subsequently makes a luck and founds a university. While his senior brother still has merely the old farm with three cattles and a twosome of hogs. he has a whole section of agribusiness with great sheds-full of Tamworth pigs and a professor to every six of them. In short. in modern life it is the turn overing rock that gathers the moss. And the geologists–outside of Tennessee–say that the moss on the existent rock was foremost started in precisely the same manner. It was the peal of the rock that smashed up the Earth and made the moss grow.
Take another adage:
All is non Gold that Glitters
How absolutely pathetic! Everybody in the yearss in which we live knows–even a kid knows–that all is gilded that glisters. Put on apparels plenty. visual aspect adequate and you will be accepted anyplace. Just make a small glittering and everybody will believe you are gilded. Make a show. be a baloney. and you will win so fast that soon. being really affluent and outstanding. you will truly believe yourself a individual of great virtue and mind. In other words. the glister makes the gold. That is all there is to it. Gold is truly one of the most useless of all material objects. Even now we have found no existent usage for it. except to make full our dentitions. Any other employment of it is merely glister. So the adage might be revised to read:
Every thing or individual may be said to stand in high regard and to go through at a high value provided that it or he makes a sufficient show. glister. or visual aspect. the appraisal being in opposite ratio to the true quantitative measuring of the world of it. them or her. That makes a orderly feasible adage. expressed with up-to-date truth.
Or here is another celebrated adage that is precisely the reverse of truth:
Peoples Who Live in Glass Houses Ought Not to Throw Rocks
Not at all. They are the really people who ought to throw rocks and to maintain on throwing them all the clip. They ought to maintain up such a salvo of rocks from their glass house that no 1 can acquire near it.
Or if the adage is taken to intend that people who have mistakes of their ain ought non to speak of other people’s mistakes. it is every bit mistaken. They ought to speak of other people’s mistakes all the clip so as to maintain attending off from their ain.
But the list of Proverbs is so long that it is impossible to make more than do a insouciant reference of a few others.
One Swallow Does Not Make a Summer
Possibly non. But there are of all time so many occasions when one swallow–just one individual swallow–is better than nil to imbibe at all. And if you get adequate of them they do do a summer.
Charity Begins at Home
Absolutely pathetic. Watch any modern metropolis homeowner when a mendicant comes to his door. Charity begins with the Federated Charities Office. or with the Out of Work Mission. or with the City Hall. or if need be. with the Police Court–in abruptly. anyplace but at place. Our whole attempt is now to maintain charity as far from place as possible.
It is a Wise Child that knows its Own Father
Not at all. Alter this and do it read: It is a really cockamamie male child who isn’t on to his old adult male.
Even a Worm Will Turn at Last
Incorrect. It turns at one time. instantly. It ne’er waits.
A Bird in the Hand is Deserving Two in the Bush
Yes. but a bird in a good eating house is deserving 10s of either of them.