Leslie Mitchell, Maurice Bowra: A Life
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 55:
In 1927, he told a close friend that he wondered whether he was a true
scholar at all, and feared that he had nothing new to contribute:
I have been trying to work and been signally unsuccessful. I should like
to be a very good man of letters and find myself only a parodist. It might
even be fun to be a very good scholar, but it is so damned difficult to say
what has been said many times before by good Germans, and the labour is
enormous for the smallest result.
Cf. Jerome, Commentary on Ecclesiastes
1.9.1 (tr. Robin McGregor, modified by me):
And the comic poet [Terence] said something similar to this: "Nothing has been said, which has not been said before" [Eunuch 41], whence my teacher Donatus, when he was lecturing about this verse, said: "Let them perish, who have said our words before us."
huic quid simile sententiae et comicus ait 'nihil est dictum , quod non sit dictum prius.' unde praeceptor meus Donatus, cum istum versiculum exponeret, 'pereant,' inquit, 'qui ante nos nostra dixerunt!'
See Fabio Gasti, "Fortuna e varia ricezione di un motto terenziano (Eun.
41)", in Silvia Condorelli and Marco Onorato, edd., Verborum violis multicoloribus. Studi in onore di Giovanni Cupaiuolo
(Naples: Paolo Loffredo Editore, 2019), pp. 363-378.