Optimist and Pessimist: Fifteen minutes of fame! David Davis MP, Secretary of State for Brexit, boots one in his recent speech and I’m finally in The Guardian. Probably the first and last time, given my opinions. **
Question: Referring to your posts of quotations Churchill never said, do you know who actually did say “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”? I find no attribution other than to Churchill.
Pessimist: Not Churchill’s Quip
Answer: Sorry. I can’t track it; nor can my colleague Ralph Keyes, editor of The Quote Verifier.
Like many “red herrings,” the optimist/pessimist quote is all over the web ascribed to Churchill–and not one of those appearances offers a source (speech, book or whatever). If he said it, no one has produced the source.
Churchill did say some amusing and thoughtful things about optimists and pessimists:
We remember the sardonic war-time joke about the optimist and the pessimist. The optimist was the man who did not mind what happened so long as it did not happen to him. The pessimist was the man who lived with the optimist. (1 December, 1938, “How Stand Britain and France Since Munich?” Daily Telegraph; reprinted in Step by Step, first edition, page 293.)
For myself I am an optimist—it does not seem to be much use being anything else…. (9 November 1954, Lord Mayor’s Banquet, Guildhall, London; The Unwritten Alliance, page 195.)
** Optimist: Nice lines about Europe?
In reporting this misquote in The Guardian, 19 June 2017, Mr. David Henley kindly links to this post, while adding:
The great man did, however, come up with a few nice lines about Europe. The “sovereign remedy” to the tragedy of postwar Europe, he said in 1946, was to “re-create the European family … and provide it with a structure under which it can dwell in peace, in safety and in freedom. We must build a kind of United States of Europe.” (Zurich University, 19 September 1946)
A little more digging would produce a couple of other Churchill lines, from a time when Europe had begun indeed to unite:
It is only when plans for uniting Europe take a federal form that we ourselves cannot take part, because we cannot subordinate ourselves or the control of British policy to federal authorities. (House of Commons, 29 November 1951)
We are not members of the European Defence Community, nor do we intend to be merged in a federal European system. We feel we have a special relationship to both. (House of Commons, 11 May, 1953)