J. W. Gibbs gives a speech
I have absolutely no recollection from what source I have picked this story. I am as certain it was a book I read many years ago. I would sincerely appreciate any assistance in finding the missing reference.
Gibbs was notorious for his taciturn ways. Member of several public and scientific bodies, he was known to never have taken the podium or given a speech. That is, except for one time. The discussion was on about ways of improving education in american schools. Somebody suggested that more attention should be paid to the study of foreign languages. The idea met with general approval. This naturally led to the question of what subjects would have their time allocation reduced. Then, as would probably happen now, a suggestion was put forward to reduce the number of hours allocated to Mathematics. At which point, Gibbs, unable to contain himself, made his rare speech. He said Mathematics is a language.