The English-Speaking Union posed a question which illustrates the problem of secondhand quotes. That is, something Churchill said which is not in his published canon. The quote is: “If you can speak in this country [Britain], you can do anything.” It was a concise celebration of the British right to free speech. The ESU has it on their website. But is it verifiable?
In 1966, the ESU Philadelphia Branch hosted an exhibit of my Churchill biographical stamp collection at the Philadelphia National Bank. It was the first public appearance of whatever limited Churchill knowledge I then had, my “awakening” as a Churchillian.…
29 October 1994
A fond and funny memory of Paul Addison is one which few know about. It came during a Washington symposium on “Churchill as Peacemaker,” later published as an outstanding book. During a break, we walked over to the White House, which Paul wanted to see. We stood at the iron fence, gazing at the seat of power across the lawn.
As we chatted, Paul remarked on how close we were to the building itself. “The security seems pretty light,” he said. “It’s not hard to visualize some stray lunatic standing here and spraying the walls with bullets.”
A German correspondent writes: “Churchill is misquoted as saying—with reference to the Nazis versus the Soviets—‘We butchered [or slaughtered] the wrong pig.’ The implication: he should have fought Stalin, not Hitler.
“This seems to me revisionist wishful thinking. He could never have said that, since there is no such idiom in English. He would have had to say, ‘We fought the wrong enemy.’ Can you reveal some authentic information as to the origin of this misquotation?”