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Stephen Leacock

1869 - 1944

Humourist, professor, writer, and economist. After teaching at Upper Canada College for ten years, then earning his graduate degree, Mr. Leacock taught at McGill University from 1908 to 1936 where he was head of the Department of Economics and Political Science. He wrote more than sixty books including works on political science and economics and biographies of Mark Twain (1932) and Charles Dickens (1933). He is best known for his essays, parodies, and short stories, including Literary Lapses (1910) and Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (1912).


Speech is not free now and never has been free and never will be free. Freedom of speech only exists in proportion to indifference to the thing spoken of.

quoted in Columbo's New Canadian Quotations by John Robert Columbo
I do not mean to say that private gain is never extreme, that all missionaries are angels. But I do say that they represent the only basis on which it has yet proved possible to develop the assets of a country. We must get rid of the incubus of government activity. It is a blight which is spreading all over the world.

Mar. 10, 1923 - from an address to the Canadian Club of New York, quoted in The Kinship of Two Countries by Hugh Anderson and in Famous Lasting Words by John Robert Columbo
We are moving towards socialism. We are moving through the mist; nearer and nearer with every bit of government regulation, nearer and nearer through the mist to the edge of the abyss over which civilization may be precipitated to its final catastrophe.

1924 - quoted by William Watson in "Canada's hidden history", The Next City Magazine, Summer 1999
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.

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