Quotes by Winston Churchill

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Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill KG OM CH TD FRS PC PC (Can) (30 November 1874 - 24 January 1965) was an English statesman and author, best known as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. Well-known ... more

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A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.

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.
Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.
To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.
The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.
The price of greatness is responsibility.
Always remember, a cat looks down on man, a dog looks up to man, but a pig will look man right in the eye and see his equal.
Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.
The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
It is a fine thing to be honest, but it is also very important to be right.
Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.
Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on.
If you have knowledge, let others light their candles with it.
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 in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.
Never, never, never, never give up.
Personally, I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.
Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.
The nose of the bulldog has been slanted backwards so that he can breathe without letting go.
There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true.
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.
This is no time for ease and comfort. It is the time to dare and endure.
We are happier in many ways when we are old than when we were young. The young sow wild oats. The old grow sage.
It's no use saying, We are doing our best. You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.
If we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find we have lost the future.
Sure I am of this, that you have only to endure to conquer. You have only to persevere to save yourselves.
No comment is a splendid expression. I am using it again and again.
In those days he was wiser than he is now -- he used frequently to take my advice.
I was not the lion, but it fell to me to give the lion's roar.
True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information.
The problems of victory are more agreeable than those of defeat, but they are no less difficult.
Nothing is more costly, nothing is more sterile, than vengeance.
Any 20 year-old who isn't a liberal doesn't have a heart, and any 40 year-old who isn't a conservative doesn't have a brain.
Responsibility is the price of greatness.
The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent vice of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.
The empires of the futures are the empires of the mind.
There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion.
I am easily satisfied with the very best.
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.
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.
My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.
War is a game that is played with a smile. If you can't smile, grin. If you can't grin, keep out of the way till you can.
I have never developed indigestion from eating my words.
I'm just preparing my impromptu remarks.
Politicians have the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterward to explain why it didn't happen.
No crime is so great as daring to excel.
When the eagles are silent the parrots begin to jabber.
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 others that have been tried from time to time.
Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose.
It is better to be frightened now than killed hereafter
I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.
It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.
Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party.
Play the game for more than you can afford to lose... only then will you learn the game.
No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism.
Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty, 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.
They are decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.
We have a lot of anxieties, and one cancels out another very often.
This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read.
All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.
If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use the pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time; a tremendous whack.
The nation will find it very hard to look up to the leaders who are keeping their ears to the ground.
Moral of the Work. In war: resolution. In defeat: defiance. In victory: magnanimity. In peace: goodwill.
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.
Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount.
Nothing can be more abhorrent to democracy than to imprison a person or keep him in prison because he is unpopular. This is really the test of civilization.
I am ready to meet my maker, but whether my maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.
Nothing is so exhilarating in life as to be shot at with no result.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile -- hoping it will eat him last.
Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.
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.
I never worry about action, but only inaction.
Short words are the best and old words when short are best of all.
He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.
If I was your wife Sir, I'd poison you! Madam, if you were my wife, I'd let you!
Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.
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.
The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.
There are few virtues that the Poles do not possess and there are few errors they have ever avoided.
In war you can be killed only once. In politics, many times.
Out of intense complexities intense simplicities emerge.
If the human race wishes to have a prolonged and indefinite period of material prosperity, they have only got to behave in a peaceful and helpful way toward one another
Danger -- if you meet it promptly and without flinching -- you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never!
Courage is rightly considered the foremost of the virtues, for upon it, all others depend.
Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.
If you are going through hell, keep going.
Once upon a time all the animals in the zoo decided that they would disarm, and they arranged to have a conference to arrange the matter. So the Rhinoceros said when he opened the proceedings that the use of teeth was barbarous and horrible and ought to be strictly prohibited by general consent. Horns, which were mainly defensive weapons, would, of course, have to be allowed. The Buffalo, the Stag, the Porcupine, and even the little Hedgehog all said they would vote with the Rhino, but the Lion and the Tiger took a different view. They defended teeth and even claws, which they described as honourable weapons of immemorial antiquity. The Panther, the Leopard, the Puma, and the whole tribe of small cats all supported the Lion and the Tiger. Then the Bear spoke. He proposed that both teeth and horns should be banned and never used again for fighting by any animal. It would be quite enough if animals were allowed to give each other a good hug when they quarreled. No one could object to that. It was so fraternal, and that would be a great step towards peace. However, all the other animals were very offended with the Bear, and the Turkey fell into a perfect panic. The discussion got so hot and angry, and all those animals began thinking so much about horns and teeth and hugging when they argued about the peaceful intentions that had brought them together that they began to look at one another in a very nasty way. Luckily the keepers were able to calm them down and persuade them to go back quietly to their cages, and they began to feel quite friendly with one another again.
Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.
Although personally I am quite content with existing explosives, I feel we must not stand in the path of improvement.
These are not dark days: these are great days -- the greatest days our country has ever lived.
Without a measureless and perpetual uncertainty, the drama of human life would be destroyed.
We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us.
No two on earth in all things can agree. All have some daring singularity.
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 Gods good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.
Twenty to twenty-five! These are the years! Dont be content with things as they are. Dont 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. She was made to be wooed and won by youth. She has lived and thrived only by repeated subjugations.
Logic is a poor guide compared with custom.
Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. [About Russia]
The maxim of the British people is Business as usual.
There is in the act of preparing, the moment you start caring.
Politics are almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times.
The latest refinements of science are linked with the cruelties of the Stone Age.
From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.
If the Almighty were to rebuild the world and asked me for advice, I would have English Channels round every country. And the atmosphere would be such that anything which attempted to fly would be set on fire.
I have never accepted what many people have kindly said-namely that I inspired the nation. Their will was resolute and remorseless, and as it proved, unconquerable. It fell to me to express it.
There is only one duty, only one safe course, and that is to try to be right.
Socialism is like a dream. Sooner or later you wake up to reality.
There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies.
In War: Resolution. In Defeat: Defiance. In Victory: Magnanimity. In Peace: Goodwill.
I have been brought up and trained to have the utmost contempt for people who get drunk.
We are stripped bare by the curse of plenty.
Eating words has never given me indigestion.
When I look back on all the worries I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which never happened.
If you hadnt entered the World War we would have made peace with Germany early in 1917. Had we made peace then there would have been no collapse in Russia followed by communism, no break-down in Italy followed by fascism, and Germany would not have signed the Versailles Treaty, which has enthroned nazi-ism in Germany. In other words, if America had stayed out of the war all of these isms wouldnt 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 1,000,000 British, French, American, and other lives.
we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give".
He is a modest little man who has a good deal to be modest about.
It is a socialist idea that making profits is a vice; I consider the real vice is making losses.
The substance of the eminent Socialist gentlemen's speech is that making a profit is a sin. It is my belief that the real sin is taking a loss!
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.
The only traditions of the Royal Navy are rum, sodomy and the lash.
Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.
If we win, nobody will care. If we lose, there will be nobody to care.
Meeting Franklin Roosevelt was like opening your first bottle of champagne; knowing him was like drinking it.
Say what you have to say and first time you come to a sentence with a grammatical ending; sit down.
When I am abroad, I always make it a rule to never criticize or attack the government of my own country. I make up for lost time when I come home.
Socialists think profits are a vice; I consider losses the real vice.
I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colors. I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns.
It is more agreeable to have the power to give than to receive.
We are all worms, but I do believe I am a glowworm.
One woman who managed to corner him, the story runs, said in a treacly gushing voice:Doesnt it thrill you, Mr. Churchill, to know that every time you make a speech the hall is packed to overflowing?It is quite flattering, Mr. Churchill replied, but whenever I feel this way I always remember that if instead of making a political speech I was being hanged, the crowd would be twice as big.
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. 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.
Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.
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.
We must never cease to proclaim in fearless tones the great principles of freedom and the rights of man which are the joint inheritance of the English-speaking world and which through Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and the English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.
I do not hold that we should rearm in order to fight. I hold that we should rearm in order to parley.
Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gongthese are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.
Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.
Do not let spacious plans for a new world divert your energies from saving what is left of the old.
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.
Opening amenities are often opening inanities.
Here is the answer which I will give to President Roosevelt. Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.
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 English never draw a line without blurring it.
It is all right to rat, but you can't re-rat.
I have nothing to give but blood, sweat, and tears. But I say this to you: Never, never, never give up.
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.
I was very glad that Mr. Attlee described my speeches in the war as expressing the will not only of Parliament but of the whole nation. Their will was resolute and remorseless and, as it proved, unconquerable. It fell to me to express it, and if I found the right words you must remember that I have always earned my living by my pen and by my tongue. It was a nation and race dwelling all round the globe that had the lion heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.
There must be what Mr. Gladstone many years ago called a blessed act of oblivion. 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.
I am a child of the House of Commons. I was brought up in my fathers house to believe in democracy. Trust the peoplethat was his message.
Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, neverin nothing, great or small, large or pettynever give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.
Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat.
The substance of the eminent Socialist gentlemans speech is that making a profit is a sin, but it is my belief that the real sin is taking a loss.
Thus, then, on the night of the tenth of May, at the outset of this mighty battle, I acquired the chief power in the State, which henceforth I wielded in ever-growing measure for five years and three months of world war, at the end of which time, all our enemies having surrendered unconditionally or being about to do so, I was immediately dismissed by the British electorate from all further conduct of their affairs.
For myself I am an optimistit does not seem to be much use being anything else.
Nothing can be more abhorrent to democracy than to imprison a person or keep him in prison because he is unpopular. This is really the test of civilisation.
Nothing is more dangerous in wartime than to live in the temperamental atmosphere of a Gallup Poll, always feeling ones pulse and taking ones temperature. I see that a speaker at the week-end said that this was a time when leaders should keep their ears to the ground. All I can say is that the British nation will find it very hard to look up to leaders who are detected in that somewhat ungainly posture.
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 live as slaves.
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.
Judged by every standard which history has applied to Governments, the Soviet Government of Russia is one of the worst tyrannies that has ever existed in the world. It accords no political rights. It rules by terror. It punishes political opinions. It suppresses free speech. It tolerates no newspapers but its own. It persecutes Christianity with a zeal and a cunning never equalled since the times of the Roman Emperors. It is engaged at this moment in trampling down the peoples of Georgia and executing their leaders by hundreds.
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.
Civilisation will not last, freedom will not survive, peace will not be kept, unless a very large majority of mankind unite together to defend them and show themselves possessed of a constabulary power before which barbaric and atavistic forces will stand in awe.
The eagle has ceased to scream, but the parrots will now begin to chatter. The war of the giants is over and the pigmies will now start to squabble.
To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.
In War: ResolutionIn Defeat: DefianceIn Victory: MagnanimityIn Peace: Good Will
The Chinese said of themselves several thousand years ago: China is a sea that salts all the waters that flow into it. Theres another Chinese saying about their country which is much more modernit 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.
Nothing will bring American sympathy along with us so much as American blood shed in the field.
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.
There is a hush over all Europe, nay, over all the world. Alas! it is the hush of suspense, and in many lands it is the hush of fear. Listen! No, listen carefully, I think I hear somethingyes, there it was quite clear. Dont you hear it? It is the tramp of armies crunching the gravel of the paradegrounds, splashing through rain-soaked fields, the tramp of two million German soldiers and more than a million Italiansgoing on maneuversyes, only on maneuvers!
Thus, by every device from the stick to the carrot, the emaciated Austrian donkey is made to pull the Nazi barrow up an ever-steepening hill.
What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. 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. 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.
When I warned them [the French] 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!
We have all seen with a sense of nausea the abject, squalid, shameless avowal made in the Oxford Union. We are told that we ought not to treat it seriously. The Times talked of the childrens hour. I disagree. It is a very disquieting and disgusting symptom. One can almost feel the curl of contempt upon the lips of the manhood of Germany, Italy, and France when they read the message sent out by Oxford University in the name of Young England. Let them be assured that it is not the last word. But before they blame, as blame they should, these callow ill-tutored youths, they must be sure that they have not been set a bad example by people much older and much higher up.
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 temporising! How often have countries fought cruel wars and then after a few years of peace found themselves not only friends but allies!But the safety of the State, the lives and freedom of their own fellow countrymen, to whom they owe their position, make it right and imperative in the last resort, or when a final and definite conviction has been reached, that the use of force should not be excluded. If the circumstances are such as to warrant it, force may be used. And if this be so, it should be used under the conditions which are most favourable. There is no merit in putting off a war for a year if, when it comes, it is a far worse war or one much harder to win. These are tormenting dilemmas upon which mankind has throughout its history been so frequently impaled. Final judgment upon them can only be recorded by history in relation to the facts of the case as known to the parties at the time, and also as subsequently proved.
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.
Today is Trinity Sunday. Centuries ago words were written to be a call and a spur to the faithful servants of Truth and Justice: Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valor, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar. As the Will of God is in Heaven, even so let it be.
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.
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.
I have not become the Kings First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire.
The late M. Venizelos observed that in all her wars Englandhe should have said Britain, of coursealways wins one battlethe last.
The gift of a common tongue is a priceless inheritance and it may well some day become the foundation of a common citizenship.
This is the sort of pedantry up with which I will not put.
We make a living bh what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
Certainly the prolonged education indispensable to the progress of Society is not natural to mankind.