No, I didn't say
it; but I'm sorry I didn't, because it was quite witty ... and so true!
This paper by its
very length defends itself against the risk of being read.
- (A letter to a friend in 1916): 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.
- (About Clement Attlee): There's less to him than meets
- (After being told his room was possibly bugged): This is
Winston Churchill speaking. If you have a microphone in my room it is a
waste of time. I do not talk in my sleep.
- (Index entry, The Second World War, Volume I: The
Gathering Storm): Baldwin, Stanley ... confesses putting party before
country, 169-70; ...
- (On Arthur Balfour): If you wanted nothing done at all,
Balfour was the man for the job.
- (On Clement Attlee): A modest man, who has much to be
- (Proposed end of speech in the event of German invasion): The
hour has come; kill the Hun.
- (The qualities you need to survive in politics): The
ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next
month, next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it
- (To Neville Chamberlain about the Munich Accords of 1938):
Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonour. They chose
dishonour. They will have war.
- 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.
- A nation trying to tax itself into prosperity is like a
man standing in a bucket and trying to pull himself up by the handles.
- Don't argue about the difficulties. The difficulties will
argue for themselves.
- Elizabeth Braddock: Sir, you are drunk.
Churchill: And you, madam, are ugly. But in the morning, I shall be sober.
- For myself, I am an optimist it does not seem to be much
use being anything else.
- From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron
curtain has descended across the Continent.
- Golf is like chasing a quinine pill around a cow pasture.
- Headmasters have powers at their disposal with which Prime
Ministers have never been invested.
- Here is the answer which I will give to President
Roosevelt: 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
- History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.
- 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 terrorized 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.
- I am prepared to meet my maker; whether my maker is
prepared to meet me is entirely another matter.
- I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a
riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma: but perhaps there is a key.
That key is Russian national interest.
- I do think unpunctuality is a vile habit, and all my life
I have tried to break myself of it.
- I gather, young man, that you wish to be a Member of
Parliament. The first lesson that you must learn is, 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.
- 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
- I hate nobody except Hitler and that is professional.
- I have always felt that a politician is to be judged by
the animosities he excites among his opponents.
- I have nothing to add to the reply which has already been
- I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us.
Pigs treat us as equals.
- I pass with relief from the tossing sea of Cause and
Theory to the firm ground of Result and Fact.
- I think I can save the British Empire from anything
except the British.
- I think it is the most important subject facing this
country, but I cannot get any of my ministers to take any notice.
- 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 suffering. You
ask, what is our policy? I can 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.
- If Hitler invaded Hell I would make at least a
favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.
- If you are going through hell, keep going.
- In War: Resolution. In Defeat: Defiance. In Victory:
Magnanimity. In Peace: Good Will.
- In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be
attended by a bodyguard of lies.
- 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 strength.
- 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
- It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of
destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.
- It is better to be making the news than taking it; to be
an actor rather than a critic.
- 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.
- Lady Nancy Astor: Winston, if you were my husband, I'd
poison your tea.
Churchill: Nancy, if I were your husband, I'd drink it.
- 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 civilization and lusty, famishing barbarism.
- Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be
tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is
perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst
form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from
time to time.
- Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them
pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 fortell 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.
- No, I didn't say it; but I'm sorry I didn't, because it
was quite witty ... and so true!
- Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of
the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
- 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'.
- One ought never to turn one's back on a threatened danger
and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger.
But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the
danger by half.
- Personally I'm always ready to learn, although I do not
always like being taught.
- So little time, so much to do.
- Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of
- The biggest argument against democracy is a five minute
discussion with the average voter.
- 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 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.
- The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.
- The further back I look, the further forward I can see.
- 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.
- The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of
blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of
- The maxim 'nothing avails but perfection' may be spelt
- The object of Parliament is to substitute argument for
- The object of presenting medals, stars, and ribbons is to
give pride and pleasure to those who have deserved them.
- The price of greatness is responsibility.
- The reason for having diplomatic relations is not to
confer a compliment, but to secure a convenience.
- The reserve of modern assertions is sometimes pushed to extremes,
in which the fear of being contradicted leads the writer to strip himself
of almost all sense and meaning.
- The Times is speechless and takes three columns to
express its speechlessness.
- The truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it,
ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is.
- The United States invariably does the right thing, after
having exhausted every other alternative.
- 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.'
- The water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable, we
had to add whisky. By diligent effort, I learnt to like it.
- There are a terrible lot of lies going around the world,
and the worst of it is half of them are true.
- 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.
- There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at
- This paper by its very length defends itself against the
risk of being read.
- 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.
- To improve is to change. To be perfect is to change often.
- To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.
- Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and
ignorance may deride it; but, in the end; there it is.
- Unless some effective world supergovernment for the
purpose of preventing war can be set up ... the prospects for peace and
human progress are dark ....If .... it is found possible to build a world
organization of irresistible force and inviolable authority for the
purpose of securing peace, there are no limits to the blessings which all
men enjoy and share.
- 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.'
- War is mainly a catalogue of blunders.
- We are waiting for the long-promised invasion. So are the
- We ask no favours of the enemy. We seek from them no
compunction. On the contrary, if tonight our people were asked to cast
their vote whether a convention should be entered into to stop the bombing
of cities, the overwhelming majority would cry, "No, we will mete out
to them the measure, and more than the measure, that they have meted out
to us." The people with one voice would say: "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 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."
- We didn't come this far because we are made of sugar
- We see the crude and corrupt beginnings of a higher
civilization 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.
- 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.
- We shall show mercy, but we shall not ask for it.
- We will not say thereafter that the Greeks fight like
heroes, but heroes fight like the Greeks!
- 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.
- When I am abroad, I always make it a rule never to
criticise or attack the government of my own country. I make up for lost
time when I come home.
- When I warned them that Britain would fight on alone
whatever they did, their generals told their Prime Minister and his
divided Cabinet, "In three weeks England will have her neck wrung
like a chicken..." Some chicken; some neck.
- You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for
something, sometime in your life.
- 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.