Winston Churchill
Quotations


The English never draw a line without blurring it.

The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see.

The first quality that is needed is audacity.

The great defense against the air menace is to attack the enemy's aircraft as near as possible to their point of departure.

The problems of victory are more agreeable than those of defeat, but they are no less difficult.

The reason for having diplomatic relations is not to confer a compliment, but to secure a convenience. [On diplomatic recognition of the People’s Republic of China]

The United States is like giant boiler. Once the fire is lighted under it, there is no limit to the power it can generate.

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.” [An exchange on March 4, 1946 with Harry S. Truman aboard the Presidential train]

The whole history of the world is summed up in the fact that, when nations are strong, they are not always just, and when they wish to be just, they are no longer strong.

There is no merit in putting off a war for a year if, when it comes, it is far worse or much harder to win.

There is no such thing as a good tax.

Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

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!

Those who can win a war well can rarely make a good peace and those who could make a good peace would never have won the war.

Thus, be every device from the stick to the carrot, the emaciated Austrian donkey is made to pull the Nazi barrow up an ever-steepening hill.

To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.

To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.

To meet Roosevelt with all his buoyant sparkle, his iridescence, was like opening a bottle of champagne.

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.

We are asking the nations of Europe between whom rivers of blood have flowed to forget the feuds of a thousand years.

We are happier in many ways when we are old than when we were young. The young sow wild oats. The old grow sage.

We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out.

We are stripped bare by the curse of plenty. [Referring to the theory that over-production caused the Depression]

We are waiting for the long-promised invasion. So are the fishes. [Radio broadcast to the French people]

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.

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

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. [September 19, 1946]

We must beware of needless innovations, especially when guided by logic.

We must beware of trying to build a society in which nobody counts for anything except a politician or an official, a society where enterprise gains no reward and thrift no privileges.

When I am abroad, I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the government of my own country. I make up for lost time when I come home.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future.

If you are going through hell, keep going.

If you go on with this nuclear arms race, all you are going to do is make the rubble bounce.

If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time -- a tremendous whack.

In time of war, when truth is so precious, it must be attended by a bodyguard of lies.

In war as in life, it is often necessary when some cherished scheme has failed, to take up the best alternative open, and if so, it is folly not to work for it with all your might.

In war, you can only be killed once, but in politics, many times.

In War: Resolution. In Defeat: Defiance. In Victory: Magnanimity. In Peace: Good Will.

It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.

It is a fine thing to be honest, but it is also very important to be right.

It is a gaping wound, whenever one touches it and removes the bandages and plasters of daily life.

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.

It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link of the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.

It is impossible to obtain a conviction for sodomy from an English jury. Half of them don't believe that it can physically be done, and the other half are doing it.

Like chasing a quinine pill around a cow pasture. [On playing golf]

Logic is a poor guide compared with custom.

MacDonald has the gift of compressing the largest amount of words into the smallest amount of thought.

My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.

My wife and I tried two or three times in the last 40 years to have breakfast together, but it was so disagreeable we had to stop.

No compromise with the main purpose, no peace till victory, no pact with unrepentant wrong.

No crime is so great as daring to excel.

No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism.

Experts should be on tap but never on top.

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.

For good or for ill, air mastery is today the supreme expression of military power and fleets and armies, however vital and important, must accept a subordinate rank.

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.

For myself, I am an optimist -- it does not seem to be much use being anything else.

Give us the tools, and we will finish the job. [Referring to Lend-Lease which was being legislated in the United States]

History is written by the victors.

History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.

Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party.

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".]

Sure I am this day we are masters of our fate, that the task which has been set before us is not above our strength; that its pangs and toils are not beyond our endurance. As long as we have faith in our own cause and an unconquerable will to win, victory will not be denied us.



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