Churchill Quotes


Laurel King, Contributor

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quotes by churchillOne of the most outspoken leaders of the 20th century, it is not hard to find quotes by Churchill. In fact, Winston Churchill quotes are some of the most memorable, witty, and amusing of modern time. From his birth in 1874 until his death in 1965, Churchill quotations are plentiful – especially his time in Parliament, and as the Prime Minister of Britain (in 1940-45 and 1951-55).

Known for his biting sarcasm, and his insightful observations about his take on the 'faults' of others, an oft-quoted saying by Churchill about Sir Stafford Cripps is, "He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."

One of his most admittedly contentious relationships was with Lady Nancy Astor, a wealthy lady in high class society, who he was frequently forced to see and relate to, at dinners and political or fundraising functions. Unable to avoid her, yet still thoroughly irritated by her, he enjoyed insulting her. However, she was never one to give in easily. An infamous exchange between the two:

"Mr. Prime Minister, you are drunk. You are very, very drunk."

"Lady Astor, you are ugly. You are very, very ugly. But tomorrow, I shall be sober."

And yet another verbal sparring match between Lady Astor and Churchill:

"Sir, if you were my husband, I would poison your tea."

"Madam, if you were my wife, I would drink it."

He also took issue with dishonesty, "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." And, as a lifelong pessimist – with overwhelming bouts of optimism – he said, "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

Some of his most inspiring quotes came just before the beginning of World War II. In the final speech of a series of three designed to gain the support of his colleagues in Parliament, Churchill – newly appointed as Prime Minister – delivered his "finest hour" speech on June 18, 1940. This speech included the famous closing line, "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."

During a commencement address at his alma mater (Harrow School) in 1941, he instructed the young men at military boarding school to "never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."

Churchill was also very well known for his criticism of politics, as a whole:

"Politics is 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."

"Politics are almost as exciting as war and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics, many times."

"Their insatiable lust for power is only equaled by their incurable impotence in exercising it."