Portal Site for Russellian in Japan
* 右下画像出典： :
'Whatever may be said against me, no one can say that I haven't got a sense of humour.' This is a speech which one hears over and over again; indeed it might be made by almost any English-speaking person. You may question all sorts of things about a man without making him really angry. You may say that he is stupid, that he is ruthless, that he is not honest about money, that he allowed his aged mother to starve in a garret, and he will argue with you calmly and reasonably to prove that he is innocent of these various crimes. But if you say that he has no sense of humour you will invariably produce an explosion of fury. This is a peculiarity of our age. In the seventeenth century, men burned each other at the stake for minute points of theology and killed each other with rapiers to prove that they were men of honour. They prided themselves, not on humour but on common sense. Descartes, who lived in that age, remarks that no quality is so well distributed as common sense, for no man has so little but that he thinks he has enough. In our time one might say the same of the sense of humour.
In the early days of the nineteenth century, when railways were being substituted for stage coaches and factory chimneys for water mills, when the beauty of the countryside was being defaced and utilitarianism ruled the world, men prided themselves upon their exquisite sensibility. In those days the necessary equipment of a gentleman was Byronic despair, a tortured heart, a love of rocky solitudes and ruined temples. He was not expected to laugh, unless it were a hollow laugh wrung from the anguish of despair. Gradually, however, these heights of sentiment were found fatiguing, and in their place came the modern cult of humour. I am not sure that the change has made the world more amusing. Where formerly ladies learnt to play the harp, they now learn to say everything with a sprightly air, and an appearance of wit. When people say to me: 'I always think the autumn is so much cooler than the summer. Ho! Ho! Ho!' and expect me to behave as though I had heard an epigram worthy of Talleyrand, I find the appropriate behaviour somewhat difficult. Even at a slightly higher level, too much humour may become very tiresome. I was once in the company of a number of professors who were talking university politic and describing various people as respectively liberals and conservatives in economic matters. I inquired, with a real desire for knowledge, what were the differences between the two university parties. The professors, each in turn, fired off a witty remark, but from none of them could I obtain any information. If I had been adequately endowed with a sense of humour, I should not have minded this, but, alas, I am that extremely rare being, a man without a sense of humour. I had not suspected this painful fact until the middle of the War, when the British War Office sent for me and officially informed me of it. I gathered that if I had had my proper share of a sense of the ludicrous, I should have been highly diverted at the thought of several thousand men a day being blown to bits, which, I confess to my shame, never caused me even to smile.
There was once a Chinese emperor who constructed a lake full of wine and drove peasants into it to amuse his wife with the struggles of their drunken drownings. He had a sense of humour.