Winston Churchill

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Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill KG OM CH TD FRS PC (November 30, 1874January 24, 1965) was a British politician and statesman, best known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during World War II. He was Prime Minister of the UK from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.

See also: The Second World War (book series)
To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.


Early career years (1898–1929)[edit]

  • Every influence, every motive, that provokes the spirit of murder among men, impels these mountaineers to deeds of treachery and violence. The strong aboriginal propensity to kill, inherent in all human beings, has in these valleys been preserved in unexampled strength and vigour. That religion, which above all others was founded and propagated by the sword — the tenets and principles of which are instinct with incentives to slaughter and which in three continents has produced fighting breeds of men — stimulates a wild and merciless fanaticism. The love of plunder, always a characteristic of hill tribes, is fostered by the spectacle of opulence and luxury which, to their eyes, the cities and plains of the south display. A code of honour not less punctilious than that of old Spain, is supported by vendettas as implacable as those of Corsica.
  • It is, thank heaven, difficult if not impossible for the modern European to fully appreciate the force which fanaticism exercises among an ignorant, warlike and Oriental population. Several generations have elapsed since the nations of the West have drawn the sword in religious controversy, and the evil memories of the gloomy past have soon faded in the strong, clear light of Rationalism and human sympathy. Indeed it is evident that Christianity, however degraded and distorted by cruelty and intolerance, must always exert a modifying influence on men's passions, and protect them from the more violent forms of fanatical fever, as we are protected from smallpox by vaccination. But the Mahommedan religion increases, instead of lessening, the fury of intolerance. It was originally propagated by the sword, and ever since, its votaries have been subject, above the people of all other creeds, to this form of madness. In a moment the fruits of patient toil, the prospects of material prosperity, the fear of death itself, are flung aside. The more emotional Pathans are powerless to resist. All rational considerations are forgotten. Seizing their weapons, they become Ghazis—as dangerous and as sensible as mad dogs: fit only to be treated as such. While the more generous spirits among the tribesmen become convulsed in an ecstasy of religious bloodthirstiness, poorer and more material souls derive additional impulses from the influence of others, the hopes of plunder and the joy of fighting. Thus whole nations are roused to arms. Thus the Turks repel their enemies, the Arabs of the Soudan break the British squares, and the rising on the Indian frontier spreads far and wide. In each case civilisation is confronted with militant Mahommedanism. The forces of progress clash with those of reaction. The religion of blood and war is face to face with that of peace. Luckily the religion of peace is usually the better armed.
    • The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War (1898), Chapter III.
  • I pass with relief from the tossing sea of Cause and Theory to the firm ground of Result and Fact.
    • The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War (1898), Chapter III.
  • It is better to be making the news than taking it; to be an actor rather than a critic.
    • The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War (1898), Chapter VIII.
  • Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.
    • The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War (1898), Chapter X.
  • How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.
    Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; all know how to die; but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.
  • It is the habit of the boa constrictor to besmear the body of his victim with a foul slime before he devours it; and there are many people in England, and perhaps elsewhere, who seem to be unable to contemplate military operations for clear political objects, unless they can cajole themselves into the belief that their enemy are utterly and hopelessly vile. To this end the Dervishes, from the Mahdi and the Khalifa downwards, have been loaded with every variety of abuse and charged with all conceivable crimes. This may be very comforting to philanthropic persons at home; but when an army in the field becomes imbued with the idea that the enemy are vermin who cumber the earth, instances of barbarity may easily be the outcome. This unmeasured condemnation is moreover as unjust as it is dangerous and unnecessary.
    • The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan (1899), Volume II pp. 394–395
    • (This passage does not appear in the 1902 one-volume abridgment, the version posted by Project Gutenberg).
  • What is the true and original root of Dutch aversion to British rule? It is the abiding fear and hatred of the movement that seeks to place the native on a level with the white man … the Kaffir is to be declared the brother of the European, to be constituted his legal equal, to be armed with political rights.
  • There must be room in our army system for nearly everyone who is not grossly idle or grossly stupid. It is not a case of employing incompetent or worthless men, and such should, of course, be expelled from the army. It is a case of finding suitable employment for officers not fit for higher command.
    • Officers and Gentlemen, The Saturday Evening Post, 29 December 1900.
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 51. ISBN 0903988429
  • It may be said, therefore, that the military opinion of the world is opposed to those people who cry 'Democratize the army!' and it must be remembered that an army is not a field upon which persons with Utopian ideas may exercise their political theories, but a weapon for the defence of the State.
    • British Cavalry, The Anglo-Saxon Review, March 1901.
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 60. ISBN 0903988429
  • I think we shall have to take the Chinese in hand and regulate them. I believe that as civilized nations become more powerful they will get more ruthless, and the time will come when the world will impatiently bear the existence of great barbaric nations who may at any time arm themselves and menace civilized nations. I believe in the ultimate partition of China — I mean ultimate. I hope we shall not have to do it in our day. The Aryan stock is bound to triumph.
  • In former days, when wars arose from individual causes, from the policy of a Minister or the passion of a King, when they were fought by small regular armies of professional soldiers, and when their course was retarded by the difficulties of communication and supply, and often suspended by the winter season, it was possible to limit the liabilities of the combatants. But now, when mighty populations are impelled on each other, each individual severally embittered and inflamed—when the resources of science and civilisation sweep away everything that might mitigate their fury, a European war can only end in the ruin of the vanquished and the scarcely less fatal commercial dislocation and exhaustion of the conquerors. Democracy is more vindictive than Cabinets. The wars of peoples will be more terrible than those of kings.
  • The ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year – and to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.
    • Newspaper interview (1902), when asked what qualities a politician required, Halle, Kay, Irrepressible Churchill. Cleveland: World, 1966. cited in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 489 ISBN 1586486381
  • Governments create nothing and have nothing to give but what they have first taken away — you may put money in the pockets of one set of Englishmen, but it will be money taken from the pockets of another set of Englishmen, and the greater part will be spilled on the way. Every vote given for Protection is a vote to give Governments the right of robbing Peter to pay Paul and charging the public a handsome commission on the job.
    • “Why I am a Free Trader,” Chapter I in T.W. Stead’s journal Coming Men on Coming Questions (April 13, 1905), bottom p. 9.
  • The doc­trines that by keep­ing out for­eign goods more wealth, and con­se­quently more employ­ment, will be cre­ated at home, are either true or they are not true. We con­tend that they are not true. We con­tend that for a nation to try to tax itself into pros­per­ity is like a man stand­ing in a bucket and try­ing to lift him­self up by the han­dle.[1]:9
    • From "Why I am a Free Trader" (1905), Churchill revised this several times, the earliest recorded version coming from the speech "For Free Trade" at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, 19 Feb­ru­ary 1904:
      • It is the the­ory of the Pro­tec­tion­ist that imports are an evil. He thinks that if you shut out the for­eign imported man­u­fac­tured goods you will make these goods your­selves, in addi­tion to the goods which you make now, includ­ing those goods which we make to exchange for the for­eign goods that come in. If a man can believe that he can believe any­thing. (Laugh­ter.) We Free-traders say it is not true. To think you can make a man richer by putting on a tax is like a man think­ing that he can stand in a bucket and lift him­self up by the han­dle. (Laugh­ter and cheers.) [2]:Vol.I: 261
  • Politics are almost as exciting as war, and – quite as dangerous … [I]n war, you can only be killed once. But in politics many times.
    • From a conversational exchange with Harold Begbie, as cited in Master Workers, Begbie, Methuen & Co. (1906), p. 177.
  • For my own part I have always felt that a politician is to be judged by the animosities which he excites among his opponents. I have always set myself not merely to relish but to deserve thoroughly their censure.
    • November 17, 1906, Institute of Journalists Dinner, London; in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 392 ISBN 1586486381
  • The conditions of the Transvaal ordinance under which Chinese Labour is now being carried on do not, in my opinion, constitute a state of slavery. A labour contract into which men enter voluntarily for a limited and for a brief period, under which they are paid wages which they consider adequate, under which they are not bought or sold and from which they can obtain relief on payment of seventeen pounds ten shillings, the cost of their passage, may not be a healthy or proper contract, but it cannot in the opinion of His Majesty's Government be classified as slavery in the extreme acceptance of the word without some risk of terminological inexactitude.
  • I submit respectfully to the House as a general principle that our responsibility in this matter is directly proportionate to our power. Where there is great power there is great responsibility, where there is less power there is less responsibility, and where there is no power there can, I think, be no responsibility.
  • The Times is speechless, and takes three columns to express its speechlessness.
    • Speech at Kinnaird Hall, Dundee, Scotland ("The Dundee Election"), May 14, 1908, in Liberalism and the Social Problem (1909), Churchill, BiblioBazaar (Second Edition, 2006), p. 148 ISBN 1426451989
  • What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone? How else can we put ourselves in harmonious relation with the great verities and consolations of the infinite and the eternal? And I avow my faith that we are marching towards better days. Humanity will not be cast down. We are going on swinging bravely forward along the grand high road and already behind the distant mountains is the promise of the sun.
    • Speech at Kinnaird Hall, Dundee, Scotland ("Unemployment"), October 10, 1908, in Liberalism and the Social Problem (1909), Churchill, Echo Library (2007), p. 87 ISBN 1406845817
  • The unnatural and increasingly rapid growth of the feeble-minded and insane classes, coupled as it is with steady restriction among all the thrifty, energetic and superior stocks constitutes a national and race danger which is impossible to exaggerate. I feel that the source from which the stream of madness is fed should be cut off and sealed before another year has passed.
    • (Home Secretary) Churchill to Prime Minister Asquith on compulsory sterilization of ‘the feeble-minded and insane’; cited, as follows (excerpted from longer note) : It is worth noting that eugenics was not a fringe movement of obscure scientists but often led and supported, in Britain and America, by some of the most prominent public figures of the day, across the political divide, such as Julian Huxley, Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence, John Maynard Keynes and Theodore Roosevelt. Indeed, none other than Winston Churchill, whilst Home Secretary in 1910, made the following observation: [text of quote] (quoted in Jones, 1994: 9)., in ‘Race’, sport, and British society (2001), Carrington & McDonald, Routledge, Introduction, Note 4, p. 20 ISBN 0415246296
  • 'I propose that 100,000 degenerate Britons should be forcibly sterilized and others put in labour camps to halt the decline of the British race.'
    • As Home Secretary in a 1910 Departmental Paper. The original document is in the collection of Asquith's papers at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Also quoted in Clive Ponting, "Churchill" (Sinclair Stevenson 1994).
  • Everything tends towards catastrophe and collapse. I am interested, geared up and happy. Is it not horrible to be made like this?
    • In a letter to his wife Clemmie, during the build up to World War I.
  • Like chasing a quinine pill around a cow pasture.
    • On playing golf : as cited in The quote verifier: who said what, where, and when (2006), Keyes, Macmillan, p. 27 ISBN 0312340044
  • Sure I am of this, that you have only to endure to conquer. You have only to persevere to save yourselves, and to save all those who rely upon you. You have only to go right on, and at the end of the road, be it short or long, victory and honor will be found.
    • Remarks at the Guildhall, 4 September 1914, after the first British naval victory of World War I, the sinking of three German cruisers in the Battle of Heligoland Bight, as cited in Churchill: A Life, Martin Gilbert, Macmillan (1992), p. 279 : ISBN 0805023968
  • I am finished.
    • On losing his position at the Admiralty in 1915. Said to Lord Riddell, as cited in Maxims and Reflections, Chapter I (On Himself), Churchill, Houghton Mifflin Company (1947).
  • [The] truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is.
  • Only the final results can prove whether military autocracies or Parliamentary Governments are more likely — take them for all in all — to preserve the welfare and safety of great nations. If the result is inconclusive, the conflict will be renewed after an uneasy interval. But when an absolute decision is obtained the system of the victors — whoever they are — will probably be adopted to a very great extent by the vanquished.
    • On the Great War, The Sinister Hypothesis, The Sunday Pictorial, 9 July 1916.
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 91. ISBN 0903988429
  • The true characteristic of all British strategy lies in the use of amphibious power. Not the sea alone, but the land and the sea together: not the Fleet alone, but the Army in the hand of the Fleet.
    • The Great Amphibian, The Sunday Pictorial, 23 July 1916.
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 101. ISBN 0903988429
  • The German hope is that if the frontiers can be unshakeably maintained for another year, a peace can be obtained which will relieve Germany from the consequences of the hideous catastrophe in which she has plunged the world, and leave her free to scheme and prepare a decisive stroke in another generation. Unless Germany is beaten in a manner which leaves no room for doubt or dispute, unless she is convinced by the terrible logic of events that the glory of her people can never be achieved by violent means, unless her war-making capacity after the war is sensibly diminished, a renewal of the conflict, after an uneasy and malevolent truce, seems unavoidable.
    • The War by Land and Sea, Part IV, The London Magazine, January 1917.
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 147-8. ISBN 0903988429
  • I think a curse should rest on me — because I love this war. I know it's smashing and shattering the lives of thousands every moment — and yet — I can't help it — I enjoy every second of it.
    • A letter to a friend (1916).
  • No compromise on the main purpose; no peace till victory; no pact with unrepentant wrong -- that is the Declaration of July 4th, 1918.
    • At a joint Anglo-American rally in Westminster, July 4, 1918, speaking against calls for a negotiated truce with Germany. As printed in War aims & peace ideals: selections in prose & verse (1919), edited by Tucker Brooke & Henry Seidel Canby, Yale University Press, p. 138.
  • The Great War through which we have passed differed from all ancient wars in the immense power of the combatants and their fearful agencies of destruction, and from all modern wars in the utter ruthlessness with which it was fought. … Europe and large parts of Asia and Africa became one vast battlefield on which after years of struggle not armies but nations broke and ran. When all was over, Torture and Cannibalism were the only two expedients that the civilized, scientific, Christian States had been able to deny themselves: and these were of doubtful utility.
    • The World Crisis, 1911–1914 : Chapter I (The Vials of Wrath), Churchill, Butterworth (1923), pp. 10-11.
  • We may now picture this great Fleet, with its flotillas and cruisers, steaming slowly out of Portland Harbour, squadron by squadron, scores of gigantic castles of steel wending their way across the misty, shining sea, like giants bowed in anxious thought. We may picture them again as darkness fell, eighteen miles of warships running at high speed and in absolute blackness through the narrow Straits, bearing with them into the broad waters of the North the safeguard of considerable affairs….The king’s ships were at sea.
    • The World Crisis, 1911–1914 : Chapter IX (The Crisis), Churchill, Butterworth (1923), pp. 212-213.
  • There is always a strong case for doing nothing, especially for doing nothing yourself.
    • The World Crisis, 1911–1914 : Chapter XV (Antwerp), Churchill, Butterworth (1923), p. 340.
  • Eaten bread is soon forgotten. Dangers which are warded off by effective precautions and foresight are never even remembered.
    • The World Crisis, 1911–1914 : Chapter XVII (The Grand Fleet and the Submarine Alarm), Churchill, Butterworth (1923), p. 399.
  • Mechanical not less than strategic conditions had combined to produce at this early period in the war a deadlock both on sea and land. The strongest fleet was paralysed in its offensive by the menace of the mine and the torpedo. The strongest army was arrested in its advance by the machine gun......The mechanical danger must be overcome by a mechanical remedy.....Something must be discovered which would render ships immune from the torpedo, and make it unnecessary for soldiers to bare their breasts to the machine-gun hail.
    • The World Crisis, 1915 : Chapter I (The Deadlock in the West), Churchill, Butterworth (1923), pp. 22-23.
  • Jellicoe was the only man on either side who could lose the war in an afternoon.
    • The World Crisis, 1916-1918 Part I : Chapter V (Jutland: The Preliminaries), Churchill, Butterworth (1927), pp. 112.
  • Is this the end? Is it to be merely a chapter in a cruel and senseless story? Will a new generation in their turn be immolated to square the black accounts of the Teuton and Gaul? Will our children bleed and gasp again in devastated lands? Or will there spring from the very fires of conflict that reconciliation of the three giant combatants, which would unite their genius and secure to each in safety and freedom a share in rebuilding the glory of Europe.
    • The World Crisis, 1916-1918 Part II : Chapter XXIII (Victory), Churchill, Butterworth (1927), p. 544.
  • Great Britain could have no other object but to use her whole influence and resources consistently over a long period of years to weave France and Germany so closely together economically, socially and morally, as to prevent the occasion of quarrels and make their causes die in a realization of mutual prosperity and interdependence.
    • The World Crisis, The Aftermath : Chapter XX (The End of the World Crisis), Churchill, Butterworth (1929), p. 457.
  • One might as well legalise sodomy as recognise the Bolsheviks.
    • Paris, 24 January 1919. Churchill: A Life. Gilbert, Martin (1992). New York: Holt, p. 408. ISBN 9780805023961
  • I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. We have definitely adopted the position at the Peace Conference of arguing in favour of the retention of gas as a permanent method of warfare. It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gases: gases can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected … We cannot, in any circumstances acquiesce to the non-utilisation of any weapons which are available to procure a speedy termination of the disorder which prevails on the frontier.
    Many argue that quotes from this passage are often taken out of context, because Churchill is distinguishing between non-lethal agents and the deadly gasses used in World War I and emphasizing the use of non-lethal weapons; however Churchill is not clearly ruling out the use of lethal gases, simply stating that "it is not necessary to use only the most deadly". It is sometimes claimed that gas killed many young and elderly Kurds and Arabs when the RAF bombed rebelling villages in Iraq in 1920 during the British occupation. For more information on this matter, see Gas in Mesopotamia.
  • Lenin was sent into Russia by the Germans in the same way that you might send a phial containing a culture of typhoid or cholera to be poured into the water supply of a great city, and it worked with amazing accuracy.
  • First there are the Jews who, dwelling in every country throughout the world, identify themselves with that country, enter into its national life and, while adhering faithfully to their own religion, regard themselves as citizens in the fullest sense of the State which has received them. Such a Jew living in England would say, 'I am an English man practising the Jewish faith.' This is a worthy conception, and useful in the highest degree. We in Great Britain well know that during the great struggle the influence of what may be called the 'National Jews' in many lands was cast preponderatingly on the side of the Allies; and in our own Army Jewish soldiers have played a most distinguished part, some rising to the command of armies, others winning the Victoria Cross for valour. There is no need to exaggerate the part played in the creation of Bolshevism and in the actual bringing about of the Russian Revolution, by these international and for the most part atheistical Jews, it is certainly a very great one; it probably outweighs all others. With the notable exception of Lenin, the majority of the leading figures are Jews. Moreover, the principal inspiration and driving power comes from the Jewish leaders. Thus Tchitcherin, a pure Russian, is eclipsed by his nominal subordinate Litvinoff, and the influence of Russians like Bukharin or Lunacharski cannot be compared with the power of Trotsky, or of Zinovieff, the Dictator of the Red Citadel (Petrograd) or of Krassin or Radek -- all Jews. In the Soviet institutions the predominance of Jews is even more astonishing. And the prominent, if not indeed the principal, part in the system of terrorism applied by the Extraordinary Commissions for Combating Counter-Revolution has been taken by Jews, and in some notable cases by Jewesses. The same evil prominence was obtained by Jews in the brief period of terror during which Bela Kun ruled in Hungary. The same phenomenon has been presented in Germany (especially in Bavaria), so far as this madness has been allowed to prey upon the temporary prostration of the German people. Although in all these countries there are many non-Jews every whit as bad as the worst of the Jewish revolutionaries, the part played by the latter in proportion to their numbers in the population is astonishing.
    • "Zionism versus Bolshevism", Illustrated Sunday Herald (February 1920)
    (A note: Churchill viewed Bolshevism as a heavily Jewish phenomenon. He contrasted the Jewish role in the creation of Bolshevism with a more positive view of the role that Jews had played in England.[1]).
  • …the schemes of the International Jews. The adherents of this sinister confederacy are mostly men reared up among the unhappy populations of countries where Jews are persecuted on account of their race. Most, if not all of them, have forsaken the faith of their forefathers, and divorced from their minds all spiritual hopes of the next world. This movement among the Jews is not new. From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx, and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxemburg (Germany), and Emma Goldman (United States), this world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilisation and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing. It played, as a modern writer, Mrs. Webster, has so ably shown, a definitely recognisable part in the tragedy of the French Revolution. It has been the mainspring of every subversive movement during the Nineteenth Century; and now at last this band of extraordinary personalities from the underworld of the great cities of Europe and America have gripped the Russian people by the hair of their heads and have become practically the undisputed masters of that enormous empire.
    • Rt. Hon. Winston Churchill ‘Bolshevism versus Zionism; a struggle for the soul of the Jewish people’ in Illustrated Daily Herald, 8 February 1920.
  • However we may dwell upon the difficulties of General Dyer during the Amritsar riots, upon the anxious and critical situation in the Punjab, upon the danger to Europeans throughout that province, … one tremendous fact stands out – I mean the slaughter of nearly 400 persons and the wounding of probably three to four times as many, at the Jallian Wallah Bagh on 13th April. That is an episode which appears to me to be without precedent or parallel in the modern history of the British Empire. … It is an extraordinary event, a monstrous event, an event which stands in singular and sinister isolation.
  • Men who take up arms against the State must expect at any moment to be fired upon. Men who take up arms unlawfully cannot expect that the troops will wait until they are quite ready to begin the conflict.
  • I yield to no one in my detestation of Bolshevism, and of the revolutionary violence which precedes it. … But my hatred of Bolshevism and Bolsheviks is not founded on their silly system of economics, or their absurd doctrine of an impossible equality. It arises from the bloody and devastating terrorism which they practice in every land into which they have broken, and by which alone their criminal regime can be maintained. … Governments who have seized upon power by violence and by usurpation have often resorted to terrorism in their desperate efforts to keep what they have stolen, but the august and venerable structure of the British Empire … does not need such aid. Such ideas are absolutely foreign to the British way of doing things.
    • Speech in the House of Commons, July 8, 1920 "Amritsar"
  • Let me marshal the facts. The crowd was unarmed, except with bludgeons. It was not attacking anybody or anything. It was holding a seditious meeting. When fire had been opened upon it to disperse it, it tried to run away. Pinned up in a narrow place considerably smaller than Trafalgar Square, with hardly any exits, and packed together so that one bullet would drive through three or four bodies, the people ran madly this way and the other. When the fire was directed upon the centre, they ran to the sides. The fire was then directed to the sides. Many threw themselves down on the ground, and the fire was then directed on the ground. This was continued for 8 or 10 minutes ... [i]f the road had not been so narrow, the machine guns and the armoured cars would have joined in. Finally, when the ammunition had reached the point that only enough remained to allow for the safe return of the troops, and after 379 persons … had been killed, and when most certainly 1,200 or more had been wounded, the troops, at whom not even a stone had been thrown, swung round and marched away. … We have to make it absolutely clear … that this is not the British way of doing business. … Our reign, in India or anywhere else, has never stood on the basis of physical force alone, and it would be fatal to the British Empire if we were to try to base ourselves only upon it.
    • Speech in the House of Commons, July 8, 1920 "Amritsar"
  • I cannot pretend to feel impartial about the colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones, and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns.
    • In "Painting as a Pastime", first published in the Strand Magazine in two parts (December 1921/January 1922), cited in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 456 ISBN 1586486381
  • He ought to be lain bound hand and foot at the gates of Delhi, and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new Viceroy seated on its back.
    • Referring to Mahatma Gandhi in conversation with Edwin Montagu, Secretary of State for India, 1921.[3][4]
  • Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and the glory of the climb.
    • In "Painting as a Pastime", the Strand Magazine (December 1921/January 1922), cited in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 568 ISBN 1586486381
  • Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat.
    • Remark in 1923 after rejoining the Conservatives, having left them earlier to join the Liberals; reported in Kay Halle, Irrepressible Churchill (1966), p. 52–53. Other sources say this remark was made in 1924.
  • I am most anxious that in dealing with matters which every Member knows are extremely delicate matters, I should not use any phrase or expression which would cause offence to our friends and Allies on the Continent or across the Atlantic Ocean.
    • Speaking on inter-Allied debts in the House of Commons (December 10, 1924); reported in Parliamentary Debates (Commons) (1925), 5th series, vol. 179, col. 259.
  • The choice was clearly open: crush them with vain and unstinted force, or try to give them what they want. These were the only alternatives, and though each had ardent advocates, most people were unprepared for either. Here indeed was the Irish spectre — horrid and inexorcisable.
    • The World Crisis, Volume V : the Aftermath (1929), Churchill, Butterworth (London).
  • No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle.
    • My early life, 1874–1904 (1930), Churchill, Winston S., p. 45 (1996 Touchstone Edition), ISBN 0684823454
  • Might a bomb no bigger than an orange be found to possess a secret power to destroy a whole block of buildings — nay to concentrate the force of a thousand tons of cordite and blast a township at a stroke?.
    • Pall Mall Gazette (1924) on HG Wells' suggestion of an atomic bomb, in "BBC Article"
  • Too often the strong, silent man is silent only because he does not know what to say, and is reputed strong only because he has remained silent.
    • Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches (1974), Chelsea House, Volume IV: 1922–1928, p. 3462 ISBN 0835206939
  • I decline utterly to be impartial as between the fire brigade and the fire.
  • Make your minds perfectly clear that if ever you let loose upon us again a general strike, we will loose upon you — another "British Gazette."
    • Speech in the House of Commons, July 7, 1926 "Emergency Services" ; at this time, Churchill was serving as Chancellor of the Excheqer under Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin.
    • Threatening the Labour Party and trade union movement with a return of the Government-published newspaper he edited during that May's General Strike.
  • If I had been an Italian, I am sure I would have been entirely with you from the beginning to the end of your victorious struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism.
    • To Benito Mussolini in a press conference in Rome (January 1927), as quoted in Churchill : A Life (1992) by Martin Gilbert.
  • A sheep in sheep's clothing.
    • On Ramsay MacDonald. This is often taken as referring to Clement Attlee, but Scottish historian D. W. Brogan is cited in Safire’s Political Dictionary (2008), William Safire, Oxford University Press US, p. 352 ISBN 0195343344 as follows: ‘Sir Winston Churchill never said of Clement Attlee that he was a sheep in sheep’s clothing. I have this on the excellent authority of Sir Winston himself. The phrase was totally inapplicable to Mr. Attlee. It was applicable, and applied, to J. Ramsay MacDonald, a very different kind of Labour leader.’
  • To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.
    • Winston Churchill (June 23, 1925), His complete speeches, 1897–1963, edited by Robert Rhodes James, Chelsea House ed., vol. 4 (1922–1928), p. 3706. During a debate with Philip Snowden, 1st Viscount Snowden.
    • Often misquoted as: To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often.
  • An infected Russia, a plague-bearing Russia; a Russia of armed hordes not only smiting with bayonet and with cannon, but accompanied and preceded by swarms of typhus-bearing vermin which slew the bodies of men, and political doctrines which destroyed the health and even the souls of nations.
    • The Aftermath, by Winston Churchill (published 1929), p. 274

My Early Life: A Roving Commission (1930)[edit]

  • She shone for me like the Evening Star. I loved her dearly — but at a distance.
    • On his mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, Chapter 1 (Childhood).
  • Where my reason, imagination or interest were not engaged, I would not or I could not learn.
    • Chapter 1 (Childhood).
  • Thus I got into my bones the essential structure of the ordinary British sentence, which is a noble thing.
    • On studying English rather than Latin at school, Chapter 2 (Harrow).
  • Headmasters have powers at their disposal with which Prime Ministers have never yet been invested.
    • Chapter 2 (Harrow).
  • I then had one of the three or four long intimate conversations with him which are all I can boast.
    • On his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, Chapter 3 (Examinations).
  • In retrospect these years form not only the least agreeable, but the only barren and unhappy period of my life. I was happy as a child with my toys in my nursery. I have been happier every year since I became a man. But this interlude of school makes a sombre grey patch upon the chart of my journey. It was an unending spell of worries that did not then seem petty, of toil uncheered by fruition; a time of discomfort, restriction and purposeless monotony. This train of thought must not lead me to exaggerate the character of my school days … Harrow was a very good school … Most of the boys were very happy … I can only record the fact that, no doubt through my own shortcomings, I was an exception. … I was on the whole considerably discouraged … All my contemporaries and even younger boys seemed in every way better adapted to the conditions of our little world. They were far better both at the games and at the lessons. It is not pleasant to feel oneself so completely outclassed and left behind at the very beginning of the race.
    • Chapter 3 (Examinations).
  • Certainly the prolonged education indispensable to the progress of Society is not natural to mankind. It cuts against the grain. A boy would like to follow his father in pursuit of food or prey. He would like to be doing serviceable things so far as his utmost strength allowed. He would like to be earning wages however small to help to keep up the home. He would like to have some leisure of his own to use or misuse as he pleased. He would ask little more than the right to work or starve. And then perhaps in the evenings a real love of learning would come to those who are worthy — and why try to stuff in those who are not? — and knowledge and thought would open the ‘magic casements’ of the mind.
    • Chapter 3 (Examinations).
  • I had a feeling once about Mathematics, that I saw it all—Depth beyond depth was revealed to me—the Byss and the Abyss. I saw, as one might see the transit of Venus—or even the Lord Mayor's Show, a quantity passing through infinity and changing its sign from plus to minus. I saw exactly how it happened and why the tergiversation was inevitable: and how the one step involved all the others. It was like politics. But it was after dinner and I let it go!
    • Chapter 3 (Examinations), p. 27.
  • Although always prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it should be postponed.
    • Chapter 4 (Sandhurst), p. 72.
  • You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true, and also fierce, you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her.
    • Chapter 4 (Sandhurst).
  • Come on now all you young men, all over the world. You are needed more than ever now to fill the gap of a generation shorn by the war. You have not an hour to lose. You must take your places in Life’s fighting line. Twenty to twenty-five! These are the years! Don’t be content with things as they are. ‘The earth is yours and the fulness thereof.’ Enter upon your inheritance, accept your responsibilities. Raise the glorious flags again, advance them upon the new enemies, who constantly gather upon the front of the human army, and have only to be assaulted to be overthrown. Don’t take No for an answer. Never submit to failure. Do not be fobbed off with mere personal success or acceptance. You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true, and also fierce, you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her.
    • End of Chapter 4 (Sandhurst).
    • The Netflix movie series "The Crown" (2016) attributes the following, modified citation to this source: "Hear this, young men and women everywhere, and proclaim it far and wide. The earth is yours and the fullness thereof. Be kind but be fierce. You're needed now more than ever before. Take up the mantle of change for this is your time."
  • I wonder whether any other generation has seen such astounding revolutions of data and values as those through which we have lived. Scarcely anything material or established which I was brought up to believe was permanent and vital, has lasted. Everything I was sure or taught to be sure was impossible, has happened.
    • Chapter 5 (The Fourth Hussars).
  • I have no doubt that the Romans planned the time-table of their days far better than we do. They rose before the sun at all seasons. Except in wartime we never see the dawn. Sometimes we see sunset. The message of sunset is sadness; the message of dawn is hope. The rest and the spell of sleep in the middle of the day refresh the human frame far more than a long night. We were not made by Nature to work, or even play, from eight o’clock in the morning till midnight. We throw a strain upon our system which is unfair and improvident. For every purpose of business or pleasure, mental or physical, we ought to break our days and our marches into two.
    • Chapter 6 (Cuba).
  • I do think unpunctuality is a vile habit, and all my life I have tried to break myself of it.
    • Chapter 7 (Hounslow).
  • I now began for the first time to envy those young cubs at the university who had fine scholars to tell them what was what; professors who had devoted their lives to mastering and focusing ideas in every branch of learning; who were eager to distribute the treasures they had gathered before they were overtaken by the night. But now I pity undergraduates, when I see what frivolous lives many of them lead in the midst of precious fleeting opportunity. After all, a man’s Life must be nailed to a cross either of Thought or Action. Without work there is no play.
    • Chapter 9 (Education At Bangalore).
  • I accumulated in those years so fine a surplus in the Book of Observance that I have been drawing confidently upon it ever since.
    • Chapter 9 (Education At Bangalore).
  • It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations. Bartlett's Familiar Quotations is an admirable work, and I studied it intently. The quotations when engraved upon the memory give you good thoughts. They also make you anxious to read the authors and look for more.
    • Chapter 9 (Education At Bangalore).
  • I had been brought up and trained to have the utmost contempt for people who got drunk — and I would have liked to have the boozing scholars of the Universities wheeled into line and properly chastised for their squalid misuse of what I must ever regard as a gift of the gods.
    • Chapter 10 (The Malakand Field Force).
  • When we all got back to camp, our General communicated by heliograph through a distant mountain top with Sir Bindon Blood at Nawagai. Sir Bindon and our leading brigade had thenselves been heavily attacked the night before. They had lost hundreds of animals and twenty or thirty men, but otherwise were none the worse. Sir Bindon sent orders that we were to stay in the Mamund valley and lay it waste with fire and sword in vengeance. This accordingly we did, but with great precautions. We proceeded systematically, village by village, and we destroyed the houses, filled up the wells, blew down the towers, cut down the great shady trees, burned the crops and broke the reservoirs in punitive devastation. So long as the villages were in the plain, this was quite easy. The tribesmen sat on the mountains and sullen watched the destruction of their homes and means of livelihood. When however we had to attack the villas on the sides of the mountains they resisted fiercely, and we lost for every village two or three British officers and fifteen or twenty native soldiers. Whether it was worth it, I cannot tell. At any rate, at the end of a fortnight the valley was a desert, and honour was satisfied.
  • Chapter 11 (The Mamund Valley). [2]
  • Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realise that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events. Antiquated War Offices, weak, incompetent, or arrogant Commanders, untrustworthy allies, hostile neutrals, malignant Fortune, ugly surprises, awful miscalculations — all take their seats at the Council Board on the morrow of a declaration of war. Always remember, however sure you are that you could easily win, that there would not be a war if the other man did not think he also had a chance.

The 1930s[edit]

  • We see nothing but good and hope in a richer, freer, more contented European commonalty. But we have our own dream and our own task. We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked, but not comprised. We are interested and associated, but not absorbed.
    • "The United States of Europe", The Saturday Evening Post (15 February 1930)
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol II, Churchill and Politics, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 184. ISBN 0903988437
  • I remember, when I was a child, being taken to the celebrated Barnum's circus, which contained an exhibition of freaks and monstrosities. But the exhibit on the programme which I most desired to see was the one described as "The Boneless Wonder." My parents judged that that spectacle would be too revolting and demoralising for my youthful eyes, and I have waited 50 years to see the boneless wonder sitting on the Treasury Bench.
  • India is a geographical term. It is no more a united nation than the equator.
    • Speech at Royal Albert Hall, London (18 March 1931).
  • It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer of the type well-known in the East, now posing as a fakir, striding half naked up the steps of the Viceregal palace to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King-Emperor.
    • Comment on Gandhi's meeting with the Viceroy of India, addressing the Council of the West Essex Unionist Association (23 February 1931); as quoted in "Mr Churchill on India" in The Times (24 February 1931).
  • We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.
    • "Fifty Years Hence", The Strand Magazine (December 1931).
  • dangerously; take things as they come; dread naught, all will be well.
    • My New York Misadventure, The Daily Mail, 4 and 5 January 1932
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol IV, Churchill at Large, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 94. ISBN 0903988453
  • We are stripped bare by the curse of plenty.
    • Lecture at Cleveland, Ohio (February 3, 1932), reported in Robert Rhodes James, ed., Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963 (1974), vol. 5, p. 5130; referring to the theory that over-production caused the Depression.
  • We know that he has, more than any other man, the gift of compressing the largest number of words into the smallest amount of thought.
    • A jibe directed at Ramsay MacDonald, during a speech in the House of Commons, March 23, 1933 "European Situation". This quote is similar to a remark (“He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met”) made by Abraham Lincoln. [Frederick Trevor Hill credits Lincoln with this remark in Lincoln the Lawyer (1906), adding that ‘History has considerately sheltered the identity of the victim’.]
  • Broadly speaking, human beings may be divided into three classes: those who are toiled to death, those who are worried to death, and those who are bored to death.
    • Have You a Hobby?, Answers, 21 April 1934
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol IV, Churchill at Large, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 288. ISBN 0903988453
  • Everyone can see the arguements against the English-speaking peoples becoming the policemen of the world.
    • To End War, Collier's, 29 June 1935
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 351-2. ISBN 0903988429
  • One may dislike Hitler's system and yet admire his patriotic achievement. If our country were defeated, I hope we should find a champion as indomitable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations.
    • "Hitler and His Choice", The Strand Magazine (November 1935).
  • We cannot tell whether Hitler will be the man who will once again let loose upon the world another war in which civilisation will irretrievably succumb, or whether he will go down in history as the man who restored honour and peace of mind to the Great Germanic nation.
    • "Hitler and His Choice", The Strand Magazine (November 1935).
  • A free Press is the unsleeping guardian of every other right that freemen prize; it is the most dangerous foe of tyranny.
    • You Get It In Black And White, Collier's, 28 December 1935
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol IV, Churchill at Large, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 323. ISBN 0903988453
  • Mr. Gandhi has gone very high in my esteem since he stood up for the untouchables … I do not care whether you are more or less loyal to Great Britain … Tell Mr. Gandhi to use the powers that are offered and make the thing a success.
    • Letter to G.D. Birla (1935); published in Winston S. Churchill, Volume Five: The Coming of War 1922–1939 (1979) by Sir Martin Gilbert
  • It must be very painful to a man of Lord Hugh Cecil's natural benevolence and human charity to find so many of God's children wandering simultaneously so far astray ... In these circumstances I would venture to suggest to my noble friend, whose gifts and virtues I have all my life admired, that some further refinement is needed in the catholicity of his condemnations.
    • Letter to The Times on 12 May 1936, responding to Lord Cecil equally denouncing Italy, France, Japan, the USSR, and Germany; Churchill said that the French did not deserve as much criticism as the others. Quoted by John Gunther in Inside Europe (1940), p. 329.
  • We have pushed taxation of wealth to a point in Great Britain where in many cases the yield would be greater if the rate were less. The idea that prosperity can be wooed by chasing millionaires is one of the most common and most foolish of modern popular delusions.
    • Soapbox Messiahs, Collier's, 20 June 1936
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol IV, Churchill at Large, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 335. ISBN 0903988453
  • We must recognise that we have a great treasure to guard; that the inheritance in our possession represents the prolonged achievement of the centuries; that there is not one of our simple uncounted rights today for which better men than we are have not died on the scaffold or the battlefield. We have not only a great treasure; we have a great cause. Are we taking every measure within our power to defend that cause?
  • The world looks with some awe upon a man who appears unconcernedly indifferent to home, money, comfort, rank, or even power and fame. The world feels not without a certain apprehension, that here is some one outside its jurisdiction; someone before whom its allurements may be spread in vain; some one strangely enfranchised, untamed, untrammelled by convention, moving independent of the ordinary currents of human action.
    • At an unveiling of a memorial to T. E. Lawrence at the Oxford High School for Boys (3 October 1936); as quoted in Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorized Biography of T.E. Lawrence (1989) by Jeremy M Wilson.
  • We live in a country where the people own the Government and not in a country where the Government owns the people. Thought is free, speech is free, religion is free, no one can say that the Press is not free. In short, we live in a liberal society, the direct product of the great advances in human dignity, stature and well-being which will ever be the glory of the nineteenth century.
    • I Ask You—What Price Freedom? Answers, 24 October 1936.
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 360. ISBN 0903988429
  • It will not benefit the world if we succeed in banishing the old-fashioned wars of nations only to clear the board for social and doctrinal wars of even greater ferocity and destructiveness. This, indeed, is a growing danger. We were told that the old wars of religion had ended, but that is not much comfort if the wars of various kinds of secular religions or non-God religions are to begin and are to make Europe the arena of their hideous conflict, and if all that makes life worth living to the mass of the people is to be destroyed in the process.
    • I Ask You—What Price Freedom? Answers, 24 October 1936.
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 364. ISBN 0903988429
  • Occasionally he stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.
  • Anyone can see what the position is. The Government simply cannot make up their mind, or they cannot get the Prime Minister to make up his mind. So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent. So we go on preparing more months and years — precious, perhaps vital to the greatness of Britain — for the locusts to eat.
  • The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.
  • Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because, as has been said, 'it is the quality which guarantees all others.'
  • The essence and foundation of House of Commons debating is formal conversation. The set speech, the harangue addressed to constituents, or to the wider public out of doors, has never succeeded much in our small wisely-built chamber. To do any good you have got to get down to grips with the subject and in human touch with the audience.
    • In Great Contemporaries, "Clemenceau" (1937).
  • Whatever one may think about democratic government, it is just as well to have practical experience of its rough and slatternly foundations. No part of the education of a politician is more indispensable than the fighting of elections.
    • In Great Contemporaries, "Lord Rosebery" (1937).
  • I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.
  • Many Japanese speak English. But they do not think our thoughts. They worship at other shrines; profess another creed; observe a different code. They can no more be moved by Christian pacifism than wolves by the bleating of sheep. We have to deal with a people whose values are in many respects altogether different from our own.
    • The Mission of Japan, Collier's, 20 February 1937.
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 365. ISBN 0903988429
  • The wars fanned the wings of science, and science brought to mankind a thousand blessings, a thousand problems and a thousand perils.
    • This Age of Government by Great Dictators, News of the World, 10 October 1937
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol IV, Churchill at Large, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 395. ISBN 0903988453
  • Three hundred years ago it would have seemed absurd to say that this black mineral, this sea-coal, which could be used as a substitute for wood to burn in one's grate, could be applied to revolutionize human affairs. Today we know that there is another source of energy a million times greater. We have not yet learned how to harness it or apply it, but it is there. Occasionally in complicated processes in the laboratory a scientist observes transmutations, re-arrangements in the core of the atom, which is known as the nucleus, which generate power at a rate hundreds of thousands of times greater than is produced when coal is burned and when, as the scientists put it, a carbon atom satisfied its affinity for an oxygen molecule. It can scarcely be doubted that a way to induce and control these effects can be found. The new fire is laid, but the particular kind of match is missing.
    • Vision of the Future Through Eyes of Science, News of the World, 31 October 1937
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol IV, Churchill at Large, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 414. ISBN 0903988453
  • Dictators ride to and fro on tigers from which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.
    • "Armistice - or Peace?", published in The Evening Standard (11 November 1937).
  • The story of the human race is war. Except for brief and precarious interludes, there has never been peace in the world; and before history began, murderous strife was universal and unending.
    • Mankind is Confronted by One Supreme Task, News of the World, 14 November 1937
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol IV, Churchill at Large, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 421. ISBN 0903988453
  • For five years I have talked to the House on these matters – not with very great success. I have watched this famous island descending incontinently, fecklessly, the stairway which leads to a dark gulf. It is a fine broad stairway at the beginning, but after a bit the carpet ends. A little farther on there are only flagstones, and a little farther on still these break beneath your feet. [ … ] Look back upon the last five years – since, that is to say, Germany began to rearm in earnest and openly to seek revenge … historians a thousand years hence will still be baffled by the mystery of our affairs. They will never understand how it was that a victorious nation, with everything in hand, suffered themselves to be brought low, and to cast away all that they had gained by measureless sacrifice and absolute victory – gone with the wind! Now the victors are the vanquished, and those who threw down their arms in the field and sued for an armistice are striding on to world mastery. That is the position – that is the terrible transformation that has taken place bit by bit.
  • The shores of History are strewn with the wrecks of Empires.
    • Peopling the Wide, Open Spaces of Empire, News of the World, 22 May 1938
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol IV, Churchill at Large, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 444. ISBN 0903988453
  • [O]ur loyal, brave people … should know the truth. … they should know that we have sustained a defeat without a war, … and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies; ‘Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.’ And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proferred to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.
  • People say we ought not to allow ourselves to be drawn into a theoretical antagonism between Nazidom and democracy; but the antagonism is here now. It is this very conflict of spiritual and moral ideas which gives the free countries a great part of their strength. You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. On all sides they are guarded by masses of armed men, cannons, aeroplanes, fortifications, and the like — they boast and vaunt themselves before the world, yet in their hearts there is unspoken fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts; words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home — all the more powerful because forbidden — terrify them. A little mouse of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic. They make frantic efforts to bar our thoughts and words; they are afraid of the workings of the human mind. Cannons, airplanes, they can manufacture in large quantities; but how are they to quell the natural promptings of human nature, which after all these centuries of trial and progress has inherited a whole armoury of potent and indestructible knowledge?
    • Winston Churchill, in "The Defence of Freedom and Peace (The Lights are Going Out)", radio broadcast to the United States and to London (16 October 1938).
  • I have always said that if Great Britain were defeated in war I hoped we should find a Hitler to lead us back to our rightful position among the nations. I am sorry, however, that he has not been mellowed by the great success that has attended him. The whole world would rejoice to see the Hitler of peace and tolerance, and nothing would adorn his name in world history so much as acts of magnanimity and of mercy and of pity to the forlorn and friendless, to the weak and poor. … Let this great man search his own heart and conscience before he accuses anyone of being a warmonger.
    • "Mr. Churchill's Reply" in The Times (7 November 1938).
  • Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonour. They chose dishonour. They will have war.

The Second World War (1939–1945)[edit]

Winston Churchill addressing a joint session of the United States Congress, May 1943.
  • Everyone can see how communism rots the soul of a nation. How it makes it abject in peace and proves it abominable in war.
    • Part of a speech played on the documentary Timewatch - Russia: A Century of Suspicion.
  • First, Poland has been again overrun by two of the great powers which held her in bondage for 150 years but were unable to quench the spirit of the Polish nation. The heroic defense of Warsaw shows that the soul of Poland is indestructible, and that she will rise again like a rock which may for a spell be submerged by a tidal wave but which remains a rock.
  • The traditional British view is that character is what matters in a general. They like a solid, simple man, with no newfangled nonesense about him. He should be preternaturally silent. If by chance he thinks at all he should not let this leak out, otherwise confidence would be destroyed.
    • Today's Battles. Collier's, 7 October 1939.
    • Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 487. ISBN 0903988429
  • I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this Government: 'I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.' We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.
    • Speech in the House of Commons, after taking office as Prime Minister (13 May 1940) This has often been misquoted in the form: "I have nothing to offer but blood, sweat and tears ..."
    • The Official Report, House of Commons (5th Series), 13 May 1940, vol. 360, c. 1502. Audio records of the speech do spare out the "It is" before the in the beginning of the "Victory"-Part.
  • Side by side … the British and French peoples have advanced to rescue … mankind from the foulest and most soul-destroying tyranny which has ever darkened and stained the pages of history. Behind them … gather a group of shattered States and bludgeoned races: the Czechs, the Poles, the Norwegians, the Danes, the Dutch, the Belgians -- upon all of whom the long night of barbarism will descend, unbroken even by a star of hope, unless we conquer, as conquer we must; as conquer we shall.
  • Every morn brought forth a noble chance, and every chance brought forth a noble knight.
  • We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the Old.
  • Enterprises must be prepared, with specially-trained troops of the hunter class, who can develop a reign of terror down these coasts, first of all on the "butcher and bolt" policy; but later on, or perhaps as soon as we are organised, we could surprise Calais or Boulogne, kill and capture the Hun garrison, and hold the place until all preparations to reduce it by siege or heavy storm have been made, and then away. The passive resistance war, in which we have acquitted ourselves so well, must come to an end. I look to the Joint Chiefs of the Staff to propose me measures for a vigorous, enterprising and ceaseless offensive against the whole German-occupied coastline.
  • Of this I am quite sure, that if we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future.
  • Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us now. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'
  • Bearing ourselves humbly before God … we await undismayed the impending assault … be the ordeal sharp or long, or both, we shall seek no terms, we shall tolerate no parlay; we may show mercy – we shall ask for none.
  • The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day; but we must never forget that all the time, night after night, month after month, our bomber squadrons travel far into Germany, find their targets in the darkness by the highest navigational skill, aim their attacks, often under the heaviest fire, often with serious loss, with deliberate careful discrimination, and inflict shattering blows upon the whole of the technical and war-making structure of the Nazi power.
    • Speech in the House of Commons, also known as "The Few", made on 20 August 1940. However Churchill first made his comment, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few" to General Hastings Ismay as they got into their car to leave RAF Uxbridge on 16 August 1940 after monitoring the battle from the Operations Room.. Farewell to RAF Uxbridge. Global Aviation Resource (6 April 2010). Retrieved on 12 September 2010. Crozier, Hazel. RAF Uxbridge 90th Anniversary 1917–2007. RAF High Wycombe: Air Command Media Services.  Churchill repeated the quote in a speech to Parliament four days later complimenting the pilots in the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain. The speech in the House of Commons is often incorrectly cited as the origin of the popular phrase "never was so much owed by so many to so few". Queen Elizabeth II during her speech in Polish Parliament 26.03.1996 said that Churchill said "so few" about unforgettable and brave Polish pilots from Battle of Britain.
  • We are waiting for the long-promised invasion. So are the fishes.
    • Radio broadcast, London, Dieu Protège La France [God protect France], October 21, 1940 (partial text).
  • Goodnight then: sleep to gather strength for the morning. For the morning will come. Brightly will it shine on the brave and true, kindly upon all who suffer for the cause, glorious upon the tombs of heroes. Thus will shine the dawn. Vive la France! Long live also the forward march of the common people in all the lands towards their just and true inheritance, and towards the broader and fuller age.
    • Radio broadcast, London, Dieu Protège La France [God protect France], October 21, 1940 (partial text).
  • These cruel, wanton, indiscriminate bombings of London are, of course, a part of Hitler’s invasion plans. He hopes, by killing large numbers of civilians, and women and children, that he will terrorise and cow the people of this mighty imperial city … Little does he know the spirit of the British nation, or the tough fibre of the Londoners.
    • Radio broadcast during the London Blitz, September 11, 1940. Quoted by Martin Gilbert in Churchill: A Life, Macmillan (1992), p. 675 ISBN 0805023968
  • The hour has come; kill the Hun.
    • How Churchill said he would end his speech if Germany invaded Britain (John Colville's diary entry for January 25, 1941). In The Churchill War Papers : 1941 (1993), ed. Gilbert, W.W. Norton, pp. 132–133 ISBN 0393019594
  • Here is the answer which I will give to President Roosevelt: Put your confidence in us. … We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle, nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. Give us the tools and we will finish the job.
    • BBC radio broadcast, February 9, 1941. In The Churchill War Papers : 1941 (1993), ed. Gilbert, W.W. Norton, pp. 199–200 ISBN 0393019594
  • I must point out … that the British nation is unique in this respect. They are the only people who like to be told how bad things are, who like to be told the worst, and like to be told that they are very likely to get much worse in the future and must prepare themselves for further reverses.
  • If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.
  • Hitler is a monster of wickedness, insatiable in his lust for blood and plunder. Not content with having all Europe under his heel, or else terrorised into various forms of abject submission, he must now carry his work of butchery and desolation among the vast multitudes of Russia and of Asia. The terrible military machine — which we and the rest of the civilised world so foolishly, so supinely, so insensately allowed the Nazi gangsters to build up year by year from almost nothing — cannot stand idle lest it rust or fall to pieces. … So now this bloodthirsty guttersnipe must launch his mechanized armies upon new fields of slaughter, pillage and devastation.
    • Radio broadcast on the German invasion of Russia, June 22, 1941. In The Churchill War Papers : 1941 (1993), W.W. Norton, pp. 835–836 ISBN 0393019594
  • We ask no favours of the enemy. We seek from them no compunction. On the contrary, if tonight the people of London were asked to cast their votes as to whether a convention should be entered into to stop the bombing of all cities, an overwhelming majority would cry, "No, we will mete out to the Germans the measure, and more than the measure, they have meted out to us." {applause} The people of London with one voice would say to Hitler: "You have committed every crime under the sun. Where you have been the least resisted there you have been the most brutal. It was you who began the indiscriminate bombing. We remember Warsaw! In the first few days of the war. We remember Rotterdam. We have been newly reminded of your habits by the hideous massacre in Belgrade. We know too well the bestial assaults you're making upon the Russian people, to whom our hearts go out in their valiant struggle! {cheers} We will have no truce or parley with you, or the grisly gang who work your wicked will! You do your worst! — and we will do our best! {sustained cheering} Perhaps it may be our turn soon. Perhaps it may be our turn now."
    • July 14, 1941, in a speech before the London County Council. The original can be found in Churchill's The Unrelenting Struggle (English edition 187; American edition 182) or in the Complete Speeches VI:6448.
  • Never give in — never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
    • Speech given at Harrow School, Harrow, England, October 29, 1941. Quoted in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, 2008, p. 23 ISBN 1586486381
  • We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy.
    • Speech before Joint Session of the Canadian Parliament, Ottawa (December 30, 1941)
    • The Yale Book of Quotations, ed. Fred R. Shapiro, Yale University Press (2006), p. 153 ISBN 0300107986
  • When we consider the resources of the United States and the British Empire compared to those of Japan, when we remember those of China, which has so long and valiantly withstood invasion and when also we observe the Russian menace which hangs over Japan, it becomes still more difficult to reconcile Japanese action with prudence or even with sanity. What kind of a people do they think we are? Is it possible they do not realise that we shall never cease to persevere against them until they have been taught a lesson which they and the world will never forget?
    Members of the Senate and members of the House of Representatives, I turn for one moment more from the turmoil and convulsions of the present to the broader basis of the future. Here we are together facing a group of mighty foes who seek our ruin; here we are together defending all that to free men is dear. Twice in a single generation the catastrophe of world war has fallen upon us; twice in our lifetime has the long arm of fate reached across the ocean to bring the United States into the forefront of the battle. If we had kept together after the last War, if we had taken common measures for our safety, this renewal of the curse need never have fallen upon us.
    Do we not owe it to ourselves, to our children, to mankind tormented, to make sure that these catastrophes shall not engulf us for the third time?
  • 'It is not given to us to peer into the mysteries of the future. Still, I avow my hope and faith, sure and inviolate, that in the days to come the British and American peoples will for their own safety and for the good of all walk together side by side in majesty, in justice, and in peace.
    • Ending of the Speech to a joint session of the United States Congress, Washington, D.C. (26 December 1941); reported in Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963, ed. Robert Rhodes James (1974), vol. 6, p. 6541. The Congressional Record reports that this speech was followed by "Prolonged applause, the Members of the Senate and their guests rising"; Congressional Record, vol. 87, p. 10119.
  • The most dangerous moment of the War, and the one which caused me the greatest alarm, was when the Japanese Fleet was heading for Ceylon and the naval base there. The capture of Ceylon, the consequent control of the Indian Ocean, and the possibility at the same time of a German conquest of Egypt would have closed the ring and the future would have been black.
    • Quote about the (April 5, 1942) Easter Sunday Raid on Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka). From a conversation at the British Embassy, Washington D.C., as described by Leonard Birchall, RCAF, in Battle for the Skies (2004), Michael Paterson, David & Charles, ISBN 0715318152
  • It was an experience of great interest to me to meet Premier Stalin … It is very fortunate for Russia in her agony to have this great rugged war chief at her head. He is a man of massive outstanding personality, suited to the sombre and stormy times in which his life has been cast; a man of inexhaustible courage and will-power and a man direct and even blunt in speech, which, having been brought up in the House of Commons, I do not mind at all, especially when I have something to say of my own. Above all, he is a man with that saving sense of humour which is of high importance to all men and all nations, but particularly to great men and great nations. Stalin also left upon me the impression of a deep, cool wisdom and a complete absence of illusions of any kind. I believe I made him feel that we were good and faithful comrades in this war – but that, after all, is a matter which deeds not words will prove.
  • I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.
    • In conversation to Leo Amery, Secretary of State for India. This quotation is widely cited as written in "a letter to Leo Amery" (e.g., in "Jolly Good Fellows and Their Nasty Ways" by Vinay Lal in Times of India (15 January 2007)) but it is actually attributed to Churchill as a remark, in an entry for September 1942 in Leo Amery : Diaries (1988), edited John Barnes and David Nicholson, p. 832 : "During my talk with Winston he burst out with: 'I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion'."
  • I have not become the King’s First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire.
    • speech at Lord Mayor’s Luncheon, Mansion House, London, November 10, 1942
    • The Yale Book of Quotations, ed. Fred R. Shapiro, Yale University Press (2006), p. 153 ISBN 0300107986
  • Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein, we never had a defeat.
    • The Second World War, Volume IV : The Hinge of Fate (1951) Chapter 33 (The Battle of Alamein)
    • BBC News story on the 60th anniversary of Alamein.
  • The maxim ‘Nothing avails but perfection’ may be spelt shorter: ‘Paralysis.’
    • Minute [brief note] to General Ismay, December 6, 1942, on proposed improvements to landing-craft.
    • In The Second World War, Volume IV : The Hinge of Fate (1951), Appendix C.
  • I am sure it would be sensible to restrict as much as possible the work of these gentlemen, who are capable of doing an immense amount of harm with what may very easily degenerate into charlatanry. The tightest hand should be kept over them, and they should not be allowed to quarter themselves in large numbers among Fighting Services at the public expense.
    • On psychiatrists, in a letter to John Anderson, Lord President of the Council (December 19, 1942)
    • In The Second World War, Volume IV : The Hinge of Fate (1951), Appendix C.
  • There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies.
    • Radio broadcast (March 21, 1943), cited in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 21 ISBN 1586486381
  • By its sudden collapse, … the proud German army has once again proved the truth of the saying, 'The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet'.
    • Speech before a Joint Session of Congress (May 19, 1943), Washington, D.C., in Never Give In! : The best of Winston Churchill’s Speeches (2003), Hyperion, p. 352 ISBN 1401300561
  • The price of greatness is responsibility.
  • The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.
  • To achieve the extirpation of Nazi tyranny there are no lengths of violence to which we will not go.
    • Speech to Parliament, September 21, 1943. Quoted in Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War (2008) by Patrick J Buchanan, p. 396.
  • I have nothing to add to the reply which has already been sent.
  • I hate nobody except Hitler — and that is professional.
  • Everyone is in favour of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people's idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage
    • "The Coalmining Situation", Speech to the House of Commons (October 13, 1943)[5]
  • We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.
    • Speech to the House of Commons (October 28, 1943), on plans for the rebuilding of the Chamber (destroyed by an enemy bomb May 10, 1941), in Never Give In! : The best of Winston Churchill’s Speeches (2003), Hyperion, p. 358 ISBN 1401300561
  • The essence of good House of Commons speaking is the conversational style, the facility for quick, informal interruptions and interchanges. Harangues from a rostrum would be a bad substitute for the conversational style in which so much of our business is done. But the conversational style requires a fairly small space, and there should be on great occasions a sense of crowd and urgency. There should be a sense of the importance of much that is said and a sense that great matters are being decided, there and then, by the House. … It has a collective personality which enjoys the regard of the public, and which imposes itself upon the conduct not only of individual Members but of parties.
  • The House of Commons has lifted our affairs above the mechanical sphere into the human sphere. It thrives on criticism, it is perfectly impervious to newspaper abuse or taunts from any quarter, and it is capable of digesting almost anything or almost any body of gentlemen, whatever be the views with which they arrive. There is no situation to which it cannot address itself with vigour and ingenuity. It is the citadel of British liberty; it is the foundation of our laws; its traditions and its privileges are as lively today it broke the arbitrary power of the Crown and substituted that Constitutional Monarchy under which we have enjoyed so many blessings.
  • You might however consider whether you should not unfold as a background the great privilege of habeas corpus and trial by jury, which are the supreme protection invented by the English people for ordinary individuals against the state. The power of the Executive to cast a man in prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government, whether Nazi or Communist.
    • In a telegram (November 21, 1942) by Churchill from Cairo, Egypt to Home Secretary Herbert Morrison; cited in In the Highest Degree Odious (1992), Simpson, Clarendon Press, p. 391 ISBN 0198257759
  • When I make a statement of facts within my knowledge I expect it to be accepted.
    • To Joseph Stalin in 1944, on the fact that there had been no plot between Britain and Germany to invade the Soviet Union. The Grand Alliance, Winston S. Churchill.
  • The object of presenting medals, stars, and ribbons is to give pride and pleasure to those who have deserved them. At the same time a distinction is something which everybody does not possess. If all have it it is of less value … A medal glitters, but it also casts a shadow.
  • I have left the obvious, essential fact to this point, namely, that it is the Russian Armies who have done the main work in tearing the guts out of the German army. In the air and on the oceans we could maintain our place, but there was no force in the world which could have been called into being, except after several more years, that would have been able to maul and break the German army unless it had been subjected to the terrible slaughter and manhandling that has fallen to it through the strength of the Russian Soviet Armies.
  • The Russians will sweep through your country and your people will be liquidated. You are on the verge of annihiliation.
  • A love of tradition has never weakened a nation, indeed it has strengthened nations in their hour of peril; but the new view must come, the world must roll forward … Let us have no fear of the future.
  • It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed.
  • It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.
    • Speech in the House of Commons, February 27, 1945 "Crimea Conference"; in The Second World War, Volume VI: Triumph and Tragedy (1954), Chapter XXIII – Yalta: Finale.
  • I am going to tell you something you must not tell to any human being. We have split the atom. The report of the great experiment has just come in. A bomb was let off in some wild spot in New Mexico. It was only a thirteen-pound bomb, but it made a crater half a mile across. People ten miles away lay with their feet towards the bomb; when it went off they rolled over and tried to look at the sky. But even with the darkest glasses it was impossible. It was the middle of the night, but it was as if seven suns had lit the earth; two hundred miles away the light could be seen. The bomb sent up smoke into the stratosphere...It is the Second Coming. The secret has been wrested from nature...Fire was the first discovery; this is the second.
    • Churchill on the atom bomb in conversation with his doctor, Lord Moran, on 23 July 1945 (Lord Moran, Winston Churchill: The Struggle for Survival, 1940-1965 (London: Sphere, 1968), p. 305).

Post-war years (1945–1955)[edit]

We must all turn our backs upon the horrors of the past. We must look to the future. We cannot afford to drag forward across the years that are to come the hatreds and revenges which have sprung from the injuries of the past.
The salvation of the common people of every race and of every land from war or servitude must be guarded by the readiness of all men and women to die rather than submit to tyranny.
In War: Resolution. In Defeat: Defiance. In Victory: Magnanimity. In Peace: Good Will.
When you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite.
How many wars have been averted by patience and persisting good will! … How many wars have been precipitated by firebrands! How many misunderstandings which led to wars could have been removed by temporizing!
  • Fascism was the shadow or ugly child of communism… As Fascism sprang from Communism, so Nazism developed from Fascism. Thus were set on foot those kindred movements which were destined soon to plunge the world into more hideous strife, which none can say has ended with their destruction.
    • The Second World War, Volume 1, The Gathering Storm, Mariner Books (1985), pp. 13-14. First published in 1948.
  • The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
  • [Christopher Soames, Churchill's future son-in-law, remembered] Churchill showing him around Chartwell Farm [around 1946]. When they came to the piggery Churchill scratched one of the pigs and said: I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
    • Christopher Soames, speech at the Reform Club given on 1981-04-28, reported in Martin S. Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill. Volume Eight: Never Despair: 1945–1965. p. 304
  • Meeting Roosevelt was like uncorking your first bottle of champagne.
    • Winston Churchill's visit to FDR's grave site at Hyde Park, NY, reflecting on his past and the relationship he had with FDR, as quoted in PBS series, American Experience [The Presidents: FDR]
  • I think 'No Comment' is a splendid expression. I am using it again and again.
    • After using the phrase when interviewed by reporters in Miami on 12 February, 1946; quoted in Churchill's "Iron Curtain" Speech Fifty Years Later by James W. Muller, University of Missouri Press (1999), p. 20 ISBN 0826261221
  • The very first thing the President did was to show me the new Presidential Seal, which he had just redesigned. He explained, 'The seal has to go everywhere the President goes. It must be displayed upon the lectern when he speaks. The eagle used to face the arrows but I have re-designed it so that it now faces the olive branches … what do you think?' I said, 'Mr. President, with the greatest respect, I would prefer the American eagle's neck to be on a swivel so that it could face the olive branches or the arrows, as the occasion might demand.'
  • When I was a young subaltern in the South African War, the water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable we had to put a bit of whiskey in it. By diligent effort I learned to like it.
    • Aboard the Presidential train during the journey to Fulton, Missouri (March 4, 1946); quoted in Conflict and Crisis by Robert Donovan, University of Missouri Press (1996), p. 190 ISBN 082621066X
  • A shadow has fallen upon the scenes so lately lighted by the Allied victory…. From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.
    • On Soviet communism and the Cold War, in a speech at Fulton, Missouri on March 5, 1946 (complete text). Churchill did not coin the phrase "iron curtain", however; the 1920 book Through Bolshevik Russia by English suffragette Ethel Snowden contained the line "We were behind the ‘iron curtain’ at last!" (This fact is mentioned in the article 'Anonymous was a Woman', Yale Alumni Magazine Jan/Feb 2011).
  • We must all turn our backs upon the horrors of the past. We must look to the future. We cannot afford to drag forward cross the years that are to come the hatreds and revenges which have sprung from the injuries of the past.
  • Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.
    • As quoted in The Economist (6 July 2012)
  • Is there any need for further floods of agony? Is the only lesson of history to be that mankind is unteachable? Let there be justice, mercy and freedom. The people have only to will it, and all will achieve their hearts' desire.
  • The salvation of the common people of every race and of every land from war or servitude must be established on solid foundations and must be guarded by the readiness of all men and women to die rather than submit to tyranny.
  • There is less there than meets the eye.
    • On Prime Minister Clement Attlee, to President Truman, in 1946. When Truman defended Attlee (‘He seems a modest sort of fellow’), Churchill replied ‘He’s got a lot to be modest about.’ As cited in The Origins of the Cold War in Europe (1994), Reynolds, Yale University Press, p. 93 ISBN 0300105622
  • I gather, young man, that you wish to be a Member of Parliament. The first lesson that you must learn is that, when I call for statistics about the rate of infant mortality, what I want is proof that fewer babies died when I was Prime Minister than when anyone else was Prime Minister. That is a political statistic.
    • When Churchill was in opposition after 1945, he led the Conservative Party in a debate about the Health Service. As he listened to Aneurin Bevan’s opening speech, he called for some statistics about infant mortality … [which were] supplied, copiously and accurately, by Iain Macleod, then working in the back rooms of the Conservative Research Department. But, in his speech, Churchill made only one bold and sweeping use … [of Macleod’s detailed research]. Encountering MacLeod afterward, Churchill made the above statement. As cited in The Life of Politics (1968), Henry Fairlie, Methuen, pp. 203-204.
  • When I am abroad I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the Government of my country. I make up for lost time when I am at home.
    • In the House of Commons (April 18, 1947), cited in The Oxford Dictionary of Political Quotations (1996), Jay, Oxford University Press, p. 93.
  • When I was younger I made it a rule never to take strong drink before lunch. It is now my rule never to do so before breakfast.
    • Reply to King George VI, on a cold morning at the airport. The King had asked if Churchill would take something to warm himself. As cited in Man of the Century (2002), Ramsden, Columbia University Press, p. 134 ISBN 0231131062
  • All the greatest things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: Freedom; Justice; Honour; Duty; Mercy; Hope.
    • United Europe Meeting, Albert Hall, London (May 14, 1947). Cited in Churchill by Himself, ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs (2008), p. 26 ISBN 1586486381
  • Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy.
    • Speech (May 28, 1948) at the Scottish Unionist Conference, Perth, Scotland, in Never Give In! : The best of Winston Churchill’s Speeches (2003), Hyperion, p. 446 ISBN 1401300561
  • For my part, I consider that it will be found much better by all Parties to leave the past to history, especially as I propose to write that history myself.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (January 23, 1948), cited in The Yale Book of Quotations (2006), Fred R. Shapiro, Yale University Press, p. 154 ISBN 0300107986
    • This quote may be the basis for a statement often attributed to Churchill : History will be kind to me. For I intend to write it.
  • In War: Resolution. In Defeat: Defiance. In Victory: Magnanimity. In Peace: Good Will.
  • One day President Roosevelt told me that he was asking publicly for suggestions about what the war should be called. I said at once 'The Unnecessary War'.
    • The Second World War, Volume I : The Gathering Storm (1948).
  • Their horse cavalry, of which they had twelve brigades, charged valiantly against the swarming tanks and armoured cars but could not harm them with their swords and lances.
    • On the Polish defense against Germany, in The Second World War, Volume I : The Gathering Storm (1948).
  • I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial.
    • On his appointment as Prime Minister, May 10, 1940; The Second World War, Volume I : The Gathering Storm (1948).
  • Those who are prone, by temperament and character, to seek sharp and clear-cut solutions of difficult and obscure problems, who are ready to fight whenever some challenge comes from a foreign power, have not always been right. On the other hand, those whose inclination is to bow their heads, to seek patiently and faithfully for peaceful compromise, are not always wrong. On the contrary, in the majority of instances they may be right, not only morally, but from a practical standpoint. How many wars have been averted by patience and persisting good will! Religion and virtue alike lend their sanctions to meekness and humility, not only between men but between nations. How many wars have been precipitated by firebrands! How many misunderstandings which led to wars could have been removed by temporizing! How often have countries fought cruel wars and then after a few years found themselves not only friends but allies!
    • The Second World War, Volume I : The Gathering Storm (1948) Chapter 17 (The Tragedy of Munich), p .287
  • Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.
    • The Second World War, Volume I : The Gathering Storm (1948) Chapter 19 (Prague, Albania, and the Polish Guarantee).
  • Baldwin, Stanley … confesses putting party before country, 169-70; ...
    • Index entry, The Second World War, Volume I : The Gathering Storm (1948).

  • Broadly speaking, short words are best, and the old words, when short, are best of all.
    • Speech on receiving the London Times Literary Award November 2, 1949
    • Never Give In! The Best of Winston Churchill’s Speeches, Hyperion (2003), p. 453 ISBN ISBN 1401300561
  • We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out.
    • Quoted in Words of Wisdom: Winston Churchill, Students’ Academy, Lulu Press (2014), Section Three : ISBN 1312396598
  • If you make 10,000 regulations you destroy all respect for the law.
    • In the House of Commons (3 February 1949), as quoted in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 17 ISBN 1586486381
  • The reason for having diplomatic relations is not to confer a compliment, but to secure a convenience.
    • In the House of Commons (17 November 1949) "Foreign Affairs", on diplomatic recognition of the People’s Republic of China, as cited in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 16 ISBN 1586486381
  • When I look back on all these worries I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.
    • The Second World War, Volume II : Their Finest Hour (1949) Chapter 8 (September Tensions).
  • War is mainly a catalogue of blunders.
    • On the Soviet Union’s failure to form a united Balkan front against Hitler ; in The Second World War, Volume III : The Grand Alliance (1950) Chapter 20 (The Soviet Nemesis).
  • No American will think it wrong of me if I proclaim that to have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy. I could not foretell the course of events. I do not pretend to have measured accurately the martial might of Japan, but now at this very moment I knew the United States was in the war, up to the neck and in to the death. So we had won after all! … Hitler's fate was sealed. Mussolini's fate was sealed. As for the Japanese, they would be ground to powder.
    • The Second World War, Volume III : The Grand Alliance (1950) Chapter 32 (Pearl Harbor).
  • Some people did not like this ceremonious style. But after all when you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite.
    • Churchill ended his December 8, 1941 letter to the Japanese Ambassador, declaring that a state of war now existed between the United Kingdom and Japan, with the courtly flourish "I have the honour to be, with high consideration, Sir, Your obedient servant".
    • The Second World War, Volume III : The Grand Alliance (1950) Chapter 32 (Pearl Harbor).
  • It excites world wonder in the Parliamentary countries that we should build a Chamber, starting afresh, which can only seat two-thirds of its Members. It is difficult to explain this to those who do not know our ways. They cannot easily be made to understand why we consider that the intensity, passion, intimacy, informality and spontaneity of our Debates constitute the personality of the House of Commons and endow it at once with its focus and its strength.
  • I am reminded of the professor who, in his declining hours, was asked by his devoted pupils for his final counsel. He replied, "Verify your quotations."
    • The Second World War, Volume IV : The Hinge of Fate (1951).
  • Let me have the best solution worked out. Don’t argue the matter. The difficulties will argue for themselves.
    • Memo (May 30, 1942) to the Chief of Combined Operations on the design of floating piers (which later became Mulberry Harbours) for use on landing beaches; in The Second World War, Volume V : Closing the Ring (1952) Chapter 4 (Westward Ho! Synthetic Harbours).
  • There are two main characteristics of the House of Commons which will command the approval and the support of reflective and experienced Members. The first is that its shape should be oblong and not semicircular. Here is a very potent factor in our political life. The semicircular assembly, which appeals to political theorists, enables every individual or every group to move round the centre, adopting various shades of pink according as the weather changes. I am a convinced supporter of the party system in preference to the group system. I have seen many earnest and ardent Parliaments destroyed by the group system. The party system is much favoured by the oblong form of chamber. It is easy for an individual to move through those insensible gradations from left to right, but the act of crossing the Floor is one which requires serious attention. I am well informed on this matter for I have accomplished that difficult process, not only once, but twice.
    • On the rebuilding of the House of Commons after a bomb blast. The Second World War, Volume V : Closing the Ring (1952) Chapter 9.
  • Of course, when you are winning a war almost everything that happens can be claimed to be right and wise.
    • In The Second World War, Volume V : Closing the Ring (1952) Chapter 12 (Island Prizes Lost).
  • ‘In war-time,’ I said, ‘truth is so precious she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.’
    • Discussion of Operation Overlord with Stalin at the Teheran Conference (November 30, 1943); in The Second World War, Volume V : Closing the Ring (1952), Chapter 21 (Teheran: The Crux), p. 338.
  • Personally, I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught, but I shall not attempt to foreshadow the proposals which will be brought before the House tomorrow. Today it will be sufficient and appropriate to deal with the obvious difficulties and confusion of the situation as we found it on taking office.
    • In debate in the House of Commons, 4 Nov 1952
  • A number of social problems arose. I had been told that neither smoking nor alcoholic beverages were allowed in the [Saudi] Royal Presence. As I was the host at luncheon I raised the matter at once, and said to the interpreter that if it was the religion of His Majesty [Ibn Saud] to deprive himself of smoking and alcohol I must point out that my rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after, and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them. The King graciously accepted the position. His own cup-bearer from Mecca offered me a glass of water from its sacred well, the most delicious I had ever tasted.
    • Discussion of an audience with Saudi King Ibn Saud at the Fayoum oasis, Egypt, on February 17, 1945; in The Second World War, Volume VI : Triumph and Tragedy (1953), Chapter 23 (Yalta: Finale), pp. 348-349.
  • By noon it was clear that the Socialists would have a majority. At luncheon my wife said to me, 'It may well be a blessing in disguise.' I replied, 'At the moment it seems quite effectively disguised.'
    • On the (July 26, 1945) landslide electoral defeat that turned him out of office near the end of WWII, in The Second World War, Volume VI : Triumph and Tragedy (1953), Chapter 40 (The End of My Account), p. 583.
  • The Chinese said of themselves several thousand years ago: “China is a sea that salts all the waters that flow into it.” There’s another Chinese saying about their country which is much more modern—it dates only from the fourth century. This is the saying: “The tail of China is large and will not be wagged.” I like that one. The British democracy approves the principles of movable party heads and unwaggable national tails. It is due to the working of these important forces that I have the honour to be addressing you at this moment.
    • Address to a joint session of Congress, Washington, D.C. (January 17, 1952); reported in Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963, ed. Robert Rhodes James (1974), vol. 8, p. 8326.
  • The object of Parliament is to substitute argument for fisticuffs.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (June 6, 1951) ; in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 22 ISBN 1586486381
  • But now let me return to my theme of the many changes that have taken place since I was last here. There is a jocular saying: ‘To improve is to change; to be perfect is to have changed often.’ I had to use that once or twice in my long career.
    • Address to a joint session of Congress, Washington, D.C., January 17, 1952 "We Must Not Lose Hope", in The Great Republic : A History of America (2000), Churchill, Random House, p. 399 ISBN 0375764407 Invalid ISBN
  • Dogs look up to you, cats look down on you. Give me a pig! He looks you in the eye and treats you as an equal.
    • As cited in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 535 ISBN 1586486381
    • Churchill's black cat, Nelson, is reputed to have had a chair at Cabinet.
  • Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.
  • For myself, I am an optimist — it does not seem to be much use being anything else.
    • Speech at the Lord Mayor's banquet in London (1954-11-09).
  • An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile — hoping it will eat him last.
    • In Reader's Digest (December 1954).
  • I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.
    • As cited in The Forbes Book of Business Quotations (2007), Ed. Goodwin, Black Dog Publishing, p. 49, ISBN 1579127215
  • It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required.
    • As cited in The Forbes Book of Business Quotations (2007), Ed. Goodwin, Black Dog Publishing, p. 168, ISBN 1579127215
  • I am a sporting man. I always give them a fair chance to get away.
    • Asked why he missed so many trains and aeroplanes, as cited in My Darling Clementine (1963), Fishman, W.H. Allen : Star Books edition (1974), p. 218 ISBN 0352300191
  • "Keep England White" is a good slogan.
    • On Commonwealth immigration, recorded in Harold Macmillan's diary entry for 1955-01-20 (Peter Catterall (ed.), The Macmillan Diaries: The Cabinet Years, 1950-57 (Macmillan, 2003), p. 382).
  • This Treasury paper, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read.
    • As cited in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 50, ISBN 1586486389
  • I want no criticism of America at my table. The Americans criticize themselves more than enough.
    • As cited in Churchill By Himself (2008), Ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 128 ISBN 1586486381
  • My ability to persuade my wife to marry me [was] quite my most brilliant achievement … Of course, it would have been impossible for any ordinary man to have got through what I had to go through in peace and war without the devoted aid of what we call, in England, one’s better half.
    • As cited in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 511, ISBN 1586489577
  • We have surmounted all the perils and endured all the agonies of the past. We shall provide against and thus prevail over the dangers and problems of the future, withhold no sacrifice, grudge no toil, seek no sordid gain, fear no foe. All will be well. We have, I believe, within us the life-strength and guiding light by which the tormented world around us may find the harbour of safety, after a storm-beaten voyage.
  • The day may dawn when fair play, love for one's fellow men, respect for justice and freedom, will enable tormented generations to march forth triumphant from the hideous epoch in which we have to dwell. Meanwhile, never flinch, never weary, never despair.
    • From the ending of Churchill's last major speech in the House of Commons on (1955-03-01).
  • I think it is the most important subject facing this country, but I cannot get any of my ministers to take any notice.
    • To Sir Ian Gilmour on Commonwealth immigration to England in 1955 (Gilmour, Inside Right (Hutchinson, 1977), p. 134).
  • I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.
    • On his 75th birthday, in reply to a question on whether he was afraid of death, quoted in the N. Y. Times Magazine on November 1, 1964, p. 40 according to Quote It Completely! (1998), Gerhart, Wm. S. Hein Publishing, p. 262 ISBN 1575884003
  • We are all worms. But I do believe I am a glow-worm.
    • As quoted by Violet Bonham-Carter in Winston Churchill as I Knew Him (1965), according to The Yale Book of Quotations (2006), Fred R. Shapiro, Yale University Press, p. 155 ISBN 0300107986
  • I have worked very hard with Nehru. I told him he should be the light of Asia, to show all those mil­lions how they can shine out, instead of accept­ing the dark­ness of Com­mu­nism.
    • 18 Feb­ru­ary 1955, WSC to Eden’s pri­vate sec­re­tary Eve­lyn Shuckburgh.
  • Historians are apt to judge war ministers less by the victories achieved under their direction than by the political results which flowed from them. Judged by that standard, I am not sure that I shall be held to have done very well.
    • Quoted by Robert Boothby in Robert Boothy, Recollections of a Rebel (London: Hutchison, 1978), pp. 183–84.
  • Take away that pudding – it has no theme.
    • As cited in Oxford Dictionary of Quotations by Subject (2010), ed. Susan Ratcliffe, Oxford University Press, p. 193 : ISBN 0199567069 ; reported in The Way the Wind Blows (1976), Lord Home, Quadrangle, p. 217.

A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (1956–58)[edit]

A History of the English Speaking Peoples, in four volumes, much of which had been written in the 1930s. ISBN 0-88029-423-X

  • Thus ended the great American Civil War, which upon the whole must be considered the noblest and least avoidable of all the great mass conflicts of which till then there was record.
  • No one can understand history without continually relating the long periods which are constantly mentioned to the experiences of our own short lives. Five years is a lot. Twenty years is the horizon to most people. Fifty years is antiquity. To understand how the impact of destiny fell upon any generation of men one must first imagine their position and then apply the time-scale of our own lives.
    • Vol I; The Birth of Britain
  • At this point the march of invention brought a new factor upon the scene. Iron was dug and forged. Men armed with iron entered Britain from the Continent and killed the men of bronze. At this point we can plainly recognise across the vanished millenniums a fellow-being. A biped capable of slaying another with iron is evidently to modern eyes a man and a brother.
  • We see the crude and corrupt beginnings of a higher civilisation blotted out by the ferocious uprising of the native tribes. Still, it is the primary right of men to die and kill for the land they live in, and to punish with exceptional severity all members of their own race who have warmed their hands at the invaders' hearth.
  • Apparently, as in so many ancient battles, the beaten side were the victims of misunderstanding and the fate of the day was decided against them before the bulk of the forces realised that a serious engagement had begun. Reserves descended from the hills too late to achieve victory, but in good time to be massacred in the rout.
  • Like other systems in decay, the Roman Empire continued to function for several generations after its vitality was sapped. For nearly a hundred years our Island was one of the scenes of conflict between a dying civilisation and lusty, famishing barbarism.
  • The cities are everywhere in decline. Trade, industry and agriculture bend under the weight of taxation.
  • The contrast between the morals at the centre of power and those practiced by wide communities in many subject lands presented problems of ever growing unrest.
    • On the last years of Rome and Roman Britain; Vol I; The Birth of Britain.
  • And wherever men are fighting against barbarism, tyranny, and massacre, for freedom, law, and honour, let them remember that the fame of their deeds, even though they themselves be exterminated, may perhaps be celebrated as long as the world rolls round. Let us then declare that King Arthur and his noble knights, guarding the Sacred Flame of Christianity and the theme of a world order, sustained by valour, physical strength, and good horses and armour, slaughtered innumerable hosts of foul barbarians and set decent folk an example for all time.
  • The picture rises before us vivid and bright: the finely carved, dragon-shaped prow; the high, curving stern; the long row of shields, black and yellow alternately, ranged along the sides; the gleam of steel; the scent of murder.
  • When we reflect upon the brutal vices of these salt-water bandits, pirates as shameful as any whom the sea has borne, or recoil from their villainous destruction and cruel deeds, we must also remember the discipline, the fortitude, the comradeship and martial virtues which made them at this period beyond all challenge the most formidable and daring race in the world.
  • When the next year the raiders returned and landed near Jarrow they were stoutly attacked while harassed by bad weather. Many were killed. Their "king" was captured and put to a cruel death, and the fugitives carried so grim a tale back to Denmark that for forty years the English coasts were unravaged.
    • On a Viking Raid in 794 A.D.; Vol I; The Birth of Britain.
  • "872, Ivar, King of the Northmen of all Ireland and Britain, ended his life." He had conquered Mercia and East Anglia. He had captured the major stronghold of the kingdom of Strathclyde, Dumbarton. Laden with loot and seemingly invincible, he settled in Dublin and died there peacefully two years later. The pious chroniclers report that he "slept in Christ." Thus it may be that he had the best of both worlds.
    • On Ivar, a Viking King (c. 872); Vol I; The Birth of Britain.
  • A group of pagan ruffians and pirates had gained possession of an effective military and naval machine, but they faced a mass of formidable veterans whom they had to feed and manage, and for whom they must provide killings. Such men make plans, and certainly their descent upon England was one of the most carefully considered and elaborately prepared villainies of that dark time.
    • On the Danish invasion of England in 892; Vol I; The Birth of Britain.
  • Without any coherent national organisation to repel from the land on which they had settled the ever-unknowable descents from the seas, the Saxons, now for four centuries entitled to be deemed the owners of the soil, very nearly succumbed completely to the Danish inroads. That they did not was due--as almost every critical turn of historic fortune has been due--to the sudden apparition in an era of confusion and decay of one of the great figures of history.
  • It was Twelfth Night, and the Saxons, who in these days of torment refreshed and fortified themselves by celebrating the feasts of the Church, were off their guard, engaged in pious exercises, or perhaps even drunk. Down swept the ravaging foe. The whole army of Wessex, sole guarantee of England south of the Thames, was dashed into confusion. Many were killed.
  • Civilisation had been restored to the Island. But now the political fabric which nurtured it was about to be overthrown. Hitherto strong men armed had kept the house. Now a child, a weakling, a vacillator, a faithless, feckless creature, succeeded to the warrior throne.
  • We have seen that Alfred in his day had never hesitated to use money as well as arms. Ethelred used money instead of arms. He used it in ever-increasing quantities, with ever-diminishing returns … There is the record of a final payment to the Vikings in 1012. This time forty-eight thousand pounds' weight of silver was extracted, and the oppressors enforce the collection by the sack of Canterbury, holding Archbishop Alphege to ransom, and finally killing him at Greenwich because he refused to coerce his flock to raise the money. The Chronicle states: "All these calamities fell upon us through evil counsel, because tribute was not offered to them at the right time, nor yet were they resisted; but, when they had done the most evil, then was peace made with them. And notwithstanding all this peace and tribute they went everywhere in companies, harried our wretched people, and slew them"
  • It is vain to recount further the catalogue of miseries. In earlier ages such horrors remain unknown because unrecorded. Just enough flickering light plays upon this infernal scene to give us the sense of its utter desolation and hopeless wretchedness and cruelty.
    • On a series of Viking raids; Vol I; The Birth of Britain.
  • The lights of Saxon England were going out, and in the gathering darkness a gentle, grey-beard prophet foretold the end. When on his death-bed Edward spoke of a time of evil that was coming upon the land his inspired mutterings struck terror into the hearers.
  • On September 28 the fleet hove in sight, and all came safely to anchor in Pevensey Bay. There was no opposition to the landing. The local "fyrd" had been called out this year four times already to watch the coast, and having, in true English style, come to the conclusion that the danger was past because it had not yet arrived had gone back to their homes.
  • Someone once said that history is written by the victors. He probably was not the greatest of all victors, if only because his name has been utterly forgotten.
  • William now directed his archers to shoot high into the air, so that the arrows would fall behind the shield-wall, and one of these pierced Harold in the right-eye, inflicting a mortal wound. He fell at the foot of the royal standard, unconquerable except by death, which does not count in honour. The hard-fought battle was now decided.
  • Joan was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years. She embodied the natural goodness and valour of the human race in unexampled perfection. Unconquerable courage, infinite compassion, the virtue of the simple, the wisdom of the just, shone forth in her. She glorifies as she freed the soil from which she sprang.
  • Time after time, history ran over the luddites and romanticists, those who sought to restore the old and delay the new. And every time, history did it with faster, more reliable and more advanced vehicles.
    • On the w:Luddites ; Vol II: The New World, p. 121
  • By an uncompleted process of terror, by an iniquitous land settlement, by the virtual proscription of the Catholic religion, by the bloody deeds already described, he cut new gulfs between the nations and the creeds. 'Hell or Connaught' were the terms he thrust upon the native inhabitants, and they for their part, across three hundred years, have used as their keenest expression of hatred 'The Curse of Cromwell on you.' … Upon all of us there still lies 'the curse of Cromwell'.


  • America should have minded her own business and stayed out of the World War. If you hadn't entered the war the Allies would have made peace with Germany in the Spring of 1917. Had we made peace then there would have been no collapse in Russia followed by Communism, no breakdown in Italy followed by Fascism, and Germany would not have signed the Versailles Treaty, which has enthroned Nazism in Germany. If America had stayed out of the war, all these 'isms' wouldn't today be sweeping the continent of Europe and breaking down parliamentary government — and if England had made peace early in 1917, it would have saved over one million British, French, American, and other lives.
    • Published as having been made in an (August 1936) interview with William Griffin, editor of the New York Enquirer, who was indicted for sedition by F.D.R.'s Attorney General Francis Biddle in 1942. In a sworn statement before Congress in 1939 Griffin affirmed Churchill had said this; Congressional Record (1939-10-21), vol. 84, p. 686. In 1942, Churchill admitted having had the 1936 interview but disavowed having made the statement (The New York Times, 1942-10-22, p. 13).
    • In his article "The Hidden Tyranny," Benjamin Freedman attributed this quotation to an article in the isolationist publication Scribner's Commentator in 1936. However, that magazine did not exist until 1939. He may have gotten the date wrong or might have been referring to one of its predecessors, Scribner's Monthly or Payson Publishing's The Commentator.
The earliest known version makes no mention of Churchill, and appeared in the Strand Magazine, later quoted in the "Pepper and Salt" section of the Wall Street Journal on 1942-09-30:
When a memorandum passed round a certain Government department, one young pedant scribbled a postscript drawing attention to the fact that the sentence ended with a preposition, which caused the original writer to circulate another memorandum complaining that the anonymous postscript was "offensive impertinence, up with which I will not put."
The earliest known attribution of this to Churchill appears to be in Plain Words (1948) by Sir Ernest Gowers, who writes:
It is said that Mr. Winston Churchill once made this marginal comment against a sentence that clumsily avoided a prepositional ending: "This is the sort of English up with which I will not put".
A far more elaborate version also appeared in the Wall Street Journal on the December 9 that same year:
The carping critic who can criticize the inartistic angle of the firemen's hose while they are attempting to put out the fire, has his counterpart in a nameless individual in the British Foreign Office who once found fault with a projected speech by Winston Churchill. It was in the most tragic days of World War II, when the life of Britain, nay, of all Europe, hung in the balance. Churchill prepared a highly important speech to deliver in Parliament, and, as a matter of custom, submitted an advanced draft to the Foreign Office for comment. Back came the speech with no word save a notation that one of the sentences ended with a preposition, and an indication where the error should be eliminated. To this suggestion, the Prime Minister replied with the following note: "This is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put."
Over the years many variants that seem to have been based on informal anecdotes have arisen including:
"This is the type of pedantry up with which I will not put."
"This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put."
  • The substance of the eminent Socialist gentleman’s speech is that making a profit is a sin, but it is my belief that the real sin is taking a loss.
    • Reported in James C. Humes, Speaker's Treasury of Anecdotes About the Famous (1978), p. 45, as a remark made in the House of Commons responding to a Laborite speech on the evils of free enterprise; reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).
  • It is always wise to look ahead – but difficult to look further than you can see.
    • Appears in Churchill By Himself, ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs , p. 576 (“Appendix I : Red Herrings”) : ISBN 158648577 Invalid ISBN , with the following explanatory note ; "Reported by the usually reliable Graham Cawthorne, but not in Hansard; possibly an aside to a colleague, however"
  • You are a small exclamation mark at the end of a very long and insignificant sentence in the book of history.
    • a remark made in the House of Commons responding to a Laborite speech; reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).
  • Bessie Braddock: Winston, you are drunk, and what's more you are disgustingly drunk.
    Churchill: Bessie, my dear, you are ugly, and, what's more, you are disgustingly ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be disgustingly ugly.
    • Churchill's bodyguard Ronald Golding claims that he witnessed Churchill say this in 1946 to Labour MP w:Bessie Braddock. Golding's claim, made to Churchill expert Richard Langworth, was reported in Langworth's collection Churchill by himself. Langworth adds that Churchill's daughter Lady Soames doubted the story.
    • The basic idea of this joke was published as early as 1882, although it was used to ridicule the critic's foolishness rather than ugliness: " ... are you Mr. —-, the greatest fool in the House of Commons?" "You are drunk," exclaimed the M.P. "Even if I am,” replied the man, "I have the advantage over you – I shall be sober to-morrow, whereas you will remain the fool you are to-day." (1882 August 05, The Daily Republican-Sentinel, His Advantage, p. 5, col. 2, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, cited by Quote Investigator).
    • Reported as false by George Thayer, The Washington Post (April 27, 1971), p. B6.
    • Often given in a shorter form, e.g " Winston, you are drunk." "Indeed, Madam, and you are ugly—but tomorrow I'll be sober."
    • Churchill's interlocutor may be given as Lady Astor rather than Braddock.
  • Democracy means that if the doorbell rings in the early hours, it is likely to be the milkman.
    • Widely quoted and attributed, but without a documented source.


  • The Balkans produce more history than they can consume (also reported in the form: The peoples of the Balkans produce more history than they can consume, and the weight of their past lies oppressively on their present.)
    • Although widely attributed to Winston Churchill (e.g. by the President of the British Academy, Professor Sir Adam Roberts[6]), the quote is spurious.
    • The remark was quoted - although without attribution, and concerning East Central Europe instead - by Margaret Thatcher in her speech, "New Threats for Old," in Westminster College, Fulton, Mo., at a joint commemoration with the Churchill Centre of the "Iron Curtain" speech's 50th anniversary, on 9 March 1996: "It is, of course, often the case in foreign affairs that statesmen are dealing with problems for which there is no ready solution. They must manage them as best they can. That might be true of nuclear proliferation, but no such excuses can be made for the European Union's activities at the end of the Cold War. It faced a task so obvious and achievable as to count as an almost explicit duty laid down by History: namely, the speedy incorporation of the new Central European democracies--Poland, Hungary and what was then Czechoslovakia--within the EU's economic and political structures. Early entry into Europe was the wish of the new democracies; it would help to stabilize them politically and smooth their transition to market economies; and it would ratify the post-Cold War settlement in Europe. Given the stormy past of that region--the inhabitants are said to produce more history than they can consume locally--everyone should have wished to see it settled economically."[7]
    • The sources of Thatcher's quote is likely a passage in the 1911 "Chronicles of Clovis", by Hector Hugh Munro (Saki), referring actually to Crete: "It was during the debate on the Foreign Office vote that Stringham made his great remark that "the people of Crete unfortunately make more history than they can consume locally." It was not brilliant, but it came in the middle of a dull speech, and the House was quite pleased with it. Old gentlemen with bad memories said it reminded them of Disraeli."[8]
  • Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues and freebooters. All Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles.
    • Often cited as from a speech "on the eve of Indian Independence in 1947", e.g. "Anything multiplied by zero is zero indeed!" in Rediff India Abroad (11 April 2007), or even from a speech in the house of Commons, but it does not appear to have any credible source. May have first appeared in the Annual Report of P. N. Oak's discredited "Institute for Rewriting Indian History" in 1979, and is now quoted in at least three books, as well as countless media and websites.
  • There is no such thing as a good tax.
    • The correct attribution is Oklahoma Senator Thomas Gore, in his speech to the National Tax Association in 1935.[9][10]. Though it is often attributed to Churchill, there is no evidence he ever said it.
  • If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain.
    • The earliest example of this quotation is found in Jules Claretie's Portraits Contemporains (1875), where the following remark is ascribed to lawyer and academic Anselme Polycarpe Batbie: "Celui qui n’est pas républicain à vingt ans fait douter de la générosité de son âme; mais celui qui, après trente ans, persévère, fait douter de la rectitude de son esprit" (English: "He who is not a republican at twenty compels one to doubt the generosity of his heart; but he who, after thirty, persists, compels one to doubt the soundness of his mind").[11][12]
    • According to research by Mark T. Shirey, citing Nice Guys Finish Seventh: False Phrases, Spurious Sayings, and Familiar Misquotations by Ralph Keyes, 1992, this quote was first uttered by mid-nineteenth century French historian and statesman François Guizot when he observed, Not to be a republican at 20 is proof of want of heart; to be one at 30 is proof of want of head. (N'être pas républicain à vingt ans est preuve d'un manque de cœur ; l'être après trente ans est preuve d'un manque de tête.) However, this ascription is based in an entry in Benham’s Book of Quotations Proverbs and Household Words (1936): the original place where Guizot said this has not been located. This quote has been attributed variously to George Bernard Shaw, Benjamin Disraeli, Otto von Bismarck, and others.
    • Furthermore, the Churchill Centre, on its Falsely Attributed Quotations page, states "there is no record of anyone hearing Churchill say this." Paul Addison of Edinburgh University is quoted as stating: "Surely Churchill can't have used the words attributed to him. He'd been a Conservative at 15 and a Liberal at 35! And would he have talked so disrespectfully of Clemmie, who is generally thought to have been a lifelong Liberal?"
    • Variants: Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.
      Show me a young conservative and I'll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old liberal and I'll show you someone with no brains.
      If you are not a socialist by the time you are 25, you have no heart. If you are still a socialist by the time you are 35, you have no head
  • The fascists of the future will be called anti-fascists.
    • According to research[13], it has been attributed to Churchill since the 21st century. A similar variation has been attributed to Huey Long a year after he expired, but it’s unclear if he said it either.[14]
    • Variants: The Fascists of the future will be the anti-fascists.
  • There is nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse.
  • An empty taxi arrived and out of it stepped Attlee.
    • A joke about Clement Attlee doing the rounds after World War II, often wrongly attributed to Churchill. When he heard about that misattribution he said:
      • Mr Attlee is an honourable and gallant gentleman, and a faithful colleague who served his country well at the time of her greatest need. I should be obliged if you would make it clear whenever an occasion arises that I would never make such a remark about him, and that I strongly disapprove of anybody who does.
  • All this contains much that is obviously true, and much that is relevant; unfortunately, what is obviously true is not relevant, and what is relevant is not obviously true.
    • This is not by Churchill, but a paraphrase of Churchill quoting Arthur James Balfour in Great Contemporaries (1937): 'there were some things that were true, and some things that were trite; but what was true was trite, and what was not trite was not true' .
  • You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.
    • Variant: We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.
    • Extensive research of writings by and about Churchill at the Churchill Centre fails to indicate that Churchill ever spoke or wrote those words.
  • The further backward you look, the further forward you can see.
    • In Churchill by Himself (2008), Appendix I: Red Herrings, ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 577 ISBN 1586486381; “Commonly ascribed to WSC, even by The Queen (Christmas Message, 1999). What Churchill actually said was ‘The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward’”.
    • The attribution of the mistaken form of the quote to Churchill dates from at least 1959.
  • Don't talk to me about naval tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy, and the lash.
    • According to Churchill's assistant, Anthony Montague-Browne, Churchill had not coined this phrase, but wished he had.
    • Resembles an ironic aphorism cited by Langworth from the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations as 19th-century English naval tradition, “Ashore it’s wine, women and song; aboard it’s rum, bum and concertina” or variously “... rum, bum and bacca [tobacco]”.[15][16]
  • The heaviest cross I have to bear is the Cross of Lorraine.
    • This remark referring to Charles de Gaulle was actually made by General Edward Louis Spears, Churchill's personal representative to the Free French.
    • Film producer Alexander Korda asked Churchill in 1948 if he had made the remark, he replied
      • No, I didn't say it; but I'm sorry I didn't, because it was quite witty … and so true!
        • Quoted in Nigel Rees, Sayings of the Century p. 105.
  • Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.
    • This military aphorism has been attributed to both von Moltke and Clausewitz, as well as Churchill. It was familiar to President and former Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe Dwight D. Eisenhower: I tell this story to illustrate the truth of the statement I heard long ago in the Army: Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. There is a very great distinction because when you are planning for an emergency you must start with this one thing: the very definition of 'emergency' is that it is unexpected, therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.
      • Speech to the National Defense Executive Reserve Conference in Washington, D.C. (November 14, 1957) ; from Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957, National Archives and Records Service, Government Printing Office, p. 818 : ISBN 0160588510, 9780160588518
  • A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
    • This quote is commonly attributed to Churchill, but appears in the "Red Herrings: False Attributions" appendix of Churchill by Himself : The Definitive Collection of Quotations (2008) by Richard Langworth, without citation as to where it originates.
    • In American Character, a 1905 address by Brander Matthews, a similar quotation is attributed to L. P. Jacks (link).
      • ""Our civilization is a perilous adventure for an uncertain prize... Human society is not a constructed thing but a human organization... We are adopting a false method of reform when we begin by operations that weaken society, either morally or materially, by lower its vitality, by plunging it into gloom and despair about itself, by inducing the atmosphere of the sick-room, and then when its courage and resources are at a low ebb, expecting it to perform some mighty feat of self-reformation... Social despair or bitterness does not get us anywhere... Low spirits are an intellectual luxury. An optimist is one who sees an opportunity in every difficulty. A pessimist is one who sees a difficulty in every opportunity... The conquest of great difficulties is the glory of human nature." L. P. Jacks, quoted in American character, by Brander Matthews, 1906
  • You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.
    • Often attributed to Churchill, this thought was originally expressed by the French author Victor Hugo in Villemain (1845), as follows: You have enemies? Why, it is the story of every man who has done a great deed or created a new idea. It is the cloud which thunders around everything that shines. Fame must have enemies, as light must have gnats. Do not bother yourself about it; disdain. Keep your mind serene as you keep your life clear.
      • Villemain is a brief segment taken from Hugo’s Choses Vues (Things Seen), a running journal Hugo kept of events he witnessed. The original French versions of these journals were published after Hugo's death.
  • I only believe in statistics that I doctored myself.
    • This slanderous remark was attributed to Churchill, possibly by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels to depict him as a liar.
    • In German: »Ich glaube nur der Statistik, die ich selbst gefälscht habe«
  • A joke is a very serious thing.
    • Sometimes attributed to Winston Churchill, it is in fact a slight misquote of "A joke's a very serious thing" from the 1763 poem "The Ghost" by Charles Churchill.
  • The idea that a nation can tax itself into prosperity is one of the cruelest delusions which has befuddled the human mind.
    • A misquotation by Ronald Reagan in a 9 March 1982 speech, reported in Paul F. Boller, Jr., and John George, They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, & Misleading Attributions (1989), p. 13-14. In fact, Churchill used a very similar line ("To think you can make a man richer by putting on a tax is like a man think­ing that he can stand in a bucket and lift him­self up by the han­dle.") several times beginning with a speech at Free Trade Hall, Man­ches­ter, 19 Feb­ru­ary 1904.
  • Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
    • Attributed to Winston Churchill in The Prodigal Project : Book I : Genesis (2003) by Ken Abraham and Daniel Hart, p. 224 and other places, though no source attribution is given. It actually derives from an advertising campaign for Budweiser beer in the late 1930s.[17]
  • Lady Nancy Astor: If I were your wife I'd put poison in your coffee.
    Churchill: If I were your husband I'd drink it.
    • Dates to 1899, American humor origin, originally featuring a woman upset by a man's cigar smoking. Cigar often removed in later versions, coffee added in 1900. Incorrectly attributed in Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, Glitter and Gold (1952).
    • See various early citations and references to refutations at “If you were my husband, I’d poison your coffee” (Nancy Astor to Churchill?), Barry Popik, The Big Apple,' February 09, 2009
    • Early examples include 19 November 1899, Gazette-Telegraph (CO), "Tales of the Town," p. 7, and early attributions are to American humorists Marshall P. Wilder and De Wolf Hopper.
    • Churchill by Himself: The Definitive Collection of Quotations, by Richard Langworth, PublicAffairs, 2008, p. 578.
    • The Yale Book of Quotations, edited by Fred R. Shapiro, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 2006, p. 155.
    • George Thayer, The Washington Post (April 27, 1971), p. B6.
  • George Bernard Shaw is said to have told W.S.C.:
    Am reserving two tickets for you for my premiere. Come and bring a friend—if you have one.
    W.S.C. to G.B.S.:
    Impossible to be present for the first performance. Will attend the second—if there is one.
    • (Version given in Irrepressible Churchill: A Treasury of Winston Churchill’s Wit by Kay Halle, 1966)
    • Apocryphal, originally featured Noël Coward and Randolph Churchill (Winston’s son); attested 1946 (columnist Walter Winchell, attributed to anonymous United Press journalist in London). Originally only featured first half about lack of friend; second half (retort about lack of second performance) attested 1948, as was replacement of personages by George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill. Specific plays added in later variants, ranging from Man and Superman (1903) to Saint Joan (1923), and appeared in biographies and quote collections from the 1960s.
    • The quote is presumably apocryphal due to earliest attestations being too different, less famous personages (easily replaced by more famous ones), the quotation becoming more elaborate in later versions, the 20+ year gap between putative utterance and first attestation, and the approximately 50 year gap between putative utterance and appearance in reference works, all as undocumented hearsay.
    • Detailed discussion at “Here are Two Tickets for the Opening of My Play. Bring a Friend—If You Have One”, Garson O’Toole, Quote Investigator, March 25, 2012.
  • If you're going through hell, keep going.
  • Americans Will Always Do the Right Thing — After Exhausting All the Alternatives.
    • This is a modification of a March 1967 quote by Israeli politician Abba Eban who said, "Men and nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other resources." Eban used various versions of this quote over the years. In 1979 he said, "My experience teaches me this: Men and nations do act wisely when they have exhausted all the other possibilities."[8]
    • In a 1970 Congressional hearing, a version of the quote first referenced Americans. It was attributed to an unnamed Irishman. "And indeed, we often know how to do things by the philosophy that was expounded by another Irishman I know. He said that you can depend on Americans to do the right thing when they have exhausted every other possibility."[9]
    • The earliest known attribution of the quote to Churchill occurred in 1980.[10]
  • Gentlemen, We Have Run Out Of Money; Now We Have to Think
    • This quote, or a minor variation of it ("Gentlemen, we have run out of money. It is time to start thinking.") is also attributed to (Sir) Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937), the famed New Zealand chemist and physicist. [11]
  • Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions
    • This appears to be a variation of a quote often attributed to Caskie Stinnett in 1960, "A a person who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip" [12] but which appears to have been in common use in the 1950s and is first recorded in the Seattle Daily Times in 1953 as "Diplomat—one who can tell you to go to hades and make you look forward to the trip".[13]
  • The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter
    • Attribution debunked in Langworth's Churchill by Himself.[19] First known appearance is in a 1992 usenet post.
  • Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm
    • Attribution debunked in Langworth's Churchill by Himself. The earliest close match located by the Quote Investigator is from the 1953 book How to Say a Few Words by David Guy Powers.[20]
  • However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results
    • Attribution debunked by Langworth. [21]

Quotes about Churchill[edit]

  • I wish I knew as much about anything as that young man knows about everything.
    • H. H. Asquith, in response to Churchill's questioning him in the House of Commons (c.a. 1910) as quoted by Freeman Dyson, The Scientist As Rebel (2006).
    • Compare the remark attributed (1870) to the Marquis of Landsdowne after reading Thomas Macaulay's History of England: "I wish I could be as certain about anything as Tom Macaulay is about everything".[22]
  • In the late 1930s, as Britain refused to adapt to the new realities of war, Winston Churchill observed, "The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences."
    • George W. Bush, in his speech "A Period of Consequences" at The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, on September 23, 1999
  • I decided to keep the Rembrandt Peale portrait of George Washington that Dad and Bill Clinton had placed over the mantel. I added busts of Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower, and Winston Churchill- a gift on loan from the British government courtesy of Prime Minister Tony Blair. I had told Tony that I admired Churchill's courage, principle, and sense of humor- all of which I thought were necessary for leadership.
    • George W. Bush, Decision Points (2010), p. 108
  • You had Mr. Churchill on the radio explaining that we'd never surrender, and above you had the Spitfire, and you couldn't help thinking: Yes, we can win this thing.
    • Jeremy Clarkson, I Know You Got Soul (2004), p. 276
  • Unlike modern military operations, whose names are chosen for their public relations value, operations in World War II were christened on the governing principle that the name should give no hint of the objective. To this, Winston Churchill added a second requirement: operations should not be given boastful or frivolous monikers. As he told Pug Ismay, "Intelligent thought will already supply an unlimited number of well-sounding names that do not suggest the character of the operation or disparage it in any way and do not enable some widow or mother to say that her son was killed in an operation called 'BUNNYHUG' or 'BALLYHOO'.
    • Johnathan W. Jordan, in his book American Warlords: How Roosevelt's High Command Led America To Victory In World War II (2016), p. 475.
  • Perhaps if the British people could speak, they would ask for peace. But since the official voice of England asks not for peace but for destruction, it is destruction we must provide.
    • William Joyce, telling to the listeners in 1939, that "England is ripe for invasion", and England expects the United States for help, in speech, Joyce criticized Churchill. Real-Time Diplomacy: Politics and Power in the Social Media Era, p. 113.
  • In the dark days and darker nights when England stood alone--and most men save Englishmen despaired of England's life--he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.
    • John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, made this remark as he signed a proclamation conferring honorary status as a United States citizen upon Winston Churchill, on April 9, 1963. Churchill is one of only eight people to be made an honorary citizen of the United States of America, and the first to receive it in history.
  • It will take a great deal of patience to undo the harm that Churchill has done.
    • David L. Lawrence, Don't Call Me Boss: David L. Lawrence, Pittsburgh's Renaissance Mayor, p. 168.
  • War not only has its own weapons, it has its own ethic, its own standard of right and wrong. ...Do whatever is necessary to win. This fact was emphasized in a recent statement by Winston S. Churchill, former first lord of the British admiralty: "When all is over, torture and cannibalism were the only two expedients that the civilized, scientific, Christian states had been able to deny themselves: and these were of doubtful utility."
    • Kirby Page, "What is War?" Christian Century 41 (May 15, 1924).
  • It is fun to be in the same decade with you.
    • U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945), in response to 60th-birthday greetings from Churchill, as quoted in The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations (1993), p. 148.
  • The great aristocrat, the beloved leader, the profound historian, the gifted painter, the superb politician, the lord of language, the orator, the wit—yes, and the dedicated bricklayer—behind all of them was a simple man of faith, steadfast in defeat, generous in victory, resigned in age, trusting in a loving providence, and committing his achievements and his triumphs to a higher power.
  • ... He is a great man. He is, of course, our enemy and has always been the enemy of Communism, but he is an enemy one must respect, an enemy one likes to have.
    • Tito, as quoted in Jasper Ridley, Tito: A Biography (Constable and Company Ltd., 1994), p. 323.
  • In contrast to the ultimate realization that he was dealing with a formidable enemy in the east, Hitler clung to the end to his preconceived opinion that the troops of the Western countries were poor fighting material. Even the Allied successes in Africa and Italy could not shake his belief that these soldiers would run away at the first serious onslaught. He was convinced that these soldiers would run away from the first serious onslaught. He was convinced that democracy enfeebled a nation. As late as the summer of 1944 he held to his theory that all the ground that had been lost in the West would be quickly reconquered. His opinions on the Western statesmen had a similar bias. He considered Churchill, as he often stated during the situation conferences, an incompetent, alcoholic demagogue. And he asserted in all seriousness that Roosevelt was not a victim of infantile paralysis but of syphilitic paralysis and was therefore mentally unsound. These opinions, too, were indications, of his flight from reality in the last years of his life.
    • Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs (1970), p. 306-307
  • Remember him, for he saved all of you: pudgy and not very large but somehow massive and indomitable; baby-faced, with snub nose, square chin, rheumy eyes on occasion given to tears; a thwarted actor's taste for clothes that would have looked ridiculous on a less splendid man. He worse the quaintest hats of anyone: tinted square bowlers; great flat sombreros squashed down on his head; naval officer's caps rendered just slightly comic by the huge cigar protruding beneath the peak. On grave and critical occasions he sported highly practical Teddy-bear suits few grown men would dare to wear in public. He fancied oil painting, at which he was good, writing, at which he was excellent, and oratory, at which he was magnificent.
    • C.L. Sulzberger, in his book The American Heritage Picture History of World War II (1966), p. 97
  • Among a stream of visitors to the 9th Division in England, while it was preparing for D-Day in the early months of 1944, was Prime Minister Winston Churchill. When he arrived to address the assembled troops, he went at first not to the speaker's stand but behind a small outbuilding. He reappeared minutes later buttoning his fly, making sure no one missed the reason for the delay. The troops loved it.
  • Winston sent me a peevish telegram to ask why Gandhi hadn't died yet! He has never answered my telegram about food.
    • Archibald Percival Wavell, 1st Earl Wavell, in his diary entry for 4 July 1944 (published in Wavell: the Viceroy's Journal, ed. Penderel Moon, 1973). Wavell was the Viceroy of India from 1943 to 1947, when the Japanese invasion of Burma, combined with colonial mismanagement, had caused a famine in Bengal. Often misquoted as "If food is so scarce, why hasn't Gandhi died yet?"

Churchill's Finest Hour (November 27, 2009)[edit]

Mark Riebling, "Churchill's Finest Hour," City Journal (November 27, 2009). Full essay online

  • Winston Churchill led the life that many men would love to live. He survived 50 gunfights and drank 20,000 bottles of champagne. [...] And of course, by resisting Hitler, he saved Europe and perhaps the world.
  • Following the pattern set by Julius Caesar in The Gallic War, Churchill wrote books to vindicate policy; but he may also have made policy with an eye toward writing books. If so, the implications are alarming. Did Churchill conceive bold operations, such as the disastrous 1915 Dardanelles offensive, because these would make exciting episodes in the text of his life? A. J. Balfour once joked that Winston had written an enormous book about himself and called it The World Crisis. Was there more truth in that joke than we have so far known?
  • He was the outlier of a new type: the first twentieth-century personality to be famous for being famous. If he toured Africa with 17 pieces of matched luggage, or got hit by a car crossing Fifth Avenue in New York, he wrote about it. His life became a forerunner of reality TV; in today’s terms, he did everything to seek celebrity but release a sex tape. A great question of Churchill biography, therefore, is how this Paris Hilton of British politics became the second coming of King Arthur.
  • What then is the moral of Churchill’s life? He was the twentieth century’s great man, but we must sharply circumscribe his greatness. Because he drew the sword from the stone in 1940, what he did before and after seems admirable. Through his steadfast stance, Churchill rallied the English to die with honor—therefore they deserved to win. Whoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whoever shall lose his life shall preserve it (Luke 17:33). Yet were it not for this one courageous triumph, we might now say of him: Never had one man done so little with so much.


  1. Churchill, Winston (13 April 1905). "Chapter 1: Why I am a Free Trader". in Stead, W.T.. Coming Men on Coming Questions. 
  2. Churchill, Winston (1974). Rhodes James, Robert. ed. Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches 1897-1963. Chelsea House Publishers / R.R. Bowker Company. ISBN 0835206939. 
  3. Barczewsk, Stephanie, John Eglin, Stephen Heathorn, Michael Silvestri, and Michelle Tusan. Britain Since 1688: A Nation in the World, p. 301
  4. Toye, Richard. Churchill's Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made, p. 172
  5. Google books link
  6. Reinventing the Wheel. Footnote #5
  7. The speech is in James W. Muller, ed., Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" Speech Fifty Years Later (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1999), which collects the papers from that occasion. A readable .pdf is on the Churchill Centre website (scroll to pages 18-24):
  8. Full text available here:
  15. Robert Deis. Churchill’s alleged quip about British naval tradition. This Day in Quotes.
  16. Richard Langworth. Churchill by Himself: The Definitive Collection of Quotations. p. 577. ISBN 1586489577. "In dinner conversation ca. 1955, private secretary Anthony Montague Browne confronted WSC with this quotation. 'I never said it. I wish I had,' responded Churchill. (AMB to the editor.) 'Compare “Rum, bum, and bacca” and “Ashore it's wine women and song, aboard it's rum, bum and concertina”, naval catchphrases dating from the nineteenth century' -- Oxford Dictionary of Quotations" 
  19. Google books link
  20. 1953, How to Say a Few Words by David Guy Powers, Quote p. 109, Doubleday & Company, Garden City, New York. Referenced by Quote Investigator
  21. Published by Richard Langworth online:
  22. link

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