All the “Quotes” Winston Churchill Never Said (2)

All the “Quotes” Winston Churchill Never Said (2)

“Red Her­rings”: Fake Churchill Quotes (or things he said quot­ing some­one else), con­tin­ued from Part 1.…  Com­piled for the next expand­ed edi­tion of Churchill by Him­self. 

“If you’re going through hell, keep going” is the most com­mon coun­ter­feit. Heard by every­one from pres­i­dents to comics, it is sheer fantasy—Churchill wasn’t giv­en to such redun­dan­cy. What’s your favorite among these Red Her­rings? Mine is the one about golf, which I expe­ri­enced per­son­al­ly before I wise­ly gave it up.

Fanatic – Free Lunch

Fanat­ic: A fanat­ic is some­one who won’t change his mind, and won’t change the sub­ject.

  • Often attrib­uted to Churchill or Pres­i­dent Tru­man. “Among quotes I see often, but with­out a source. I doubt that it’s Tru­man, or, if he ever said it, that the quo­ta­tion orig­i­nat­ed with him.” – Ralph Keyes, edi­tor, The Quote Ver­i­fi­er.

Fear and Courage: Fear is a reac­tion. Courage is a deci­sion.No attri­bu­tion.

Feet first: Not feet-first, please!

  • Sup­pos­ed­ly said in 1962 to the stretch­er-bear­er after break­ing his leg at Monte Car­lo, but no attri­bu­tion can be tracked.

First Thoughts: Dis­trust first thoughts—they are usu­al­ly hon­est.

  • Churchill uttered these words in Par­lia­ment, 15 July 1948, but he put quote marks around them, and pre­ced­ed them by say­ing, “As the cyn­ic has said…”

France: The des­tiny of a great nation has nev­er yet been set­tled by the tem­po­rary con­di­tion of its tech­ni­cal appa­ra­tus.

  • Not one of Churchill’s quotes but said by him in the Com­mons, 2 August 1944. Churchill attrib­uted it to Leon Trot­sky.

France: God cre­at­ed France for its beau­ty and French­men to bal­ance it. • No attri­bu­tion.

Free Lunch: There ain’t no free lunch.

  • WSC is alleged to have said only these five words at a com­mence­ment cer­e­mo­ny, and then resumed his seat. The Quote Ver­i­fi­er tracks them to var­i­ous peo­ple from Mil­ton Fried­man to Mer­rill Rukeyser. It can also be found in Rud­yard Kipling’s Amer­i­can Notes (1891). Kipling report­ed that San Fran­cis­co bars offered food to cus­tomers who ordered at least one drink.

Friendship – Genius

Friend­ship: We [or “He and I”] have been out togeth­er in all weath­ers.

  • Alleged­ly 1906. Said by Louis Botha about Churchill to WSC’s moth­er.  At an impe­r­i­al con­fer­ence, hav­ing become prime min­is­ter of the Trans­vaal, Botha “so recent­ly our ene­my, passed up the hall to his place, he paused to say to my moth­er, who stood by my side, ‘He and I have been out in all weath­ers.’ It was sure­ly true.” See My Ear­ly Life, 1930, 268.

Gand­hi ought to be laid, bound hand and foot, at the gates of Del­hi and then tram­pled on by an enor­mous ele­phant with the new Viceroy seat­ed on its back.

  • Alleged­ly 4 Novem­ber 1920, an exam­ple of how hearsay becomes a quo­ta­tion. The usu­al­ly reli­able Duff Coop­er report­ed it (Old Men For­get, 133), and it could be Churchill in one of his “Gand­hi moods.” But with­out cor­rob­o­ra­tion, it appears with quotemarks in an unread­able attack biog­ra­phy; and by an accom­plished his­to­ri­an, Sarvepal­li Gopal, in “Churchill and India” (Blake & Louis, Major New Assess­ment, 459). For gen­uine Gand­hi quotes see Chap­ter 20, Peo­ple, Gand­hi.

Genius: True genius resides in the capac­i­ty for eval­u­a­tion of uncer­tain, haz­ardous, and con­flict­ing infor­ma­tion. • No attri­bu­tion.

German Resistance – Golf

Ger­man Resis­tance: In Ger­many there lived an oppo­si­tion which was weak­ened by their loss­es and an ener­vat­ing inter­na­tion­al pol­i­cy, but which belongs to the noblest and great­est that the polit­i­cal his­to­ry of any nation has ever pro­duced. These men fought with­out help from with­in or from abroad—driven for­ward only by the rest­less­ness of their con­science. As long as they lived they were invis­i­ble and unrecog­nis­able to us, because they had to cam­ou­flage them­selves. But their death made the resis­tance vis­i­ble.

  • Sup­pos­ed­ly 1946. Richard Lamb, Churchill as War Leader, 292, 363, con­tains the only appear­ances in Eng­lish of this pas­sage, repeat­ed in Ger­man by Rudolf Pechel (Deutsch­er Wilder­strand, 1947). In a foot­note, Lamb says there is doubt that Churchill said the words, but did hold the sen­ti­ments, quot­ing WSC to Wal­ter Ham­mer of Ham­burg, 19 Novem­ber 1946: “I have had a search made through my speeches…but so far no record can be found of any such pro­nounce­ment by me. But I might quite well have used the words you quote as they rep­re­sent my feel­ings on this aspect of Ger­man affairs.”

Giv­ing Up: Nev­er give up on some­thing that you can’t go a day with­out think­ing about. • No attri­bu­tion.

Golf: A curi­ous sport whose object is to put a very small ball in a very small hole with imple­ments ill-designed for the pur­pose.

  • Alleged­ly 1915. Man­ches­ter, Last Lion I, 213, car­ries this remark, but the foot­note is not dis­pos­i­tive. It does not, con­trary to the foot­note, appear in the Offi­cial Biography’s Com­pan­ion Vol­umes. Ver­dict: Like­ly to have been uttered by almost any golfer at one time or anoth­er.

Government Secrets – Hell

Gov­ern­ment Secrets: There is a dif­fer­ence between what endan­gers the nation and what mere­ly embar­rass­es the gov­ern­ment.

  • No attri­bu­tion. See “What was then in egg is now afoot” in Chap­ter 12, “Warm Secre­cy.”

Greeks Fight Like Heroes: Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks.

  • Alleged­ly over Greece’s resis­tance to Ger­man inva­sion in April 1941. No attri­bu­tion.

 Harlot’s pre­rog­a­tive: Pow­er with­out responsibility…the pre­rog­a­tive of the har­lot through the ages.

  • Not Churchill but Rud­yard Kipling. Sub­se­quent­ly used by Bald­win in 1931 with­out ref­er­ence to Kipling (his cousin).

Health: Half the world’s work is done by peo­ple who don’t feel well. • No attri­bu­tion.

Hebrew Blood­suck­ers: The cen­tral fact which dom­i­nates the rela­tions of Jew and non-Jew is that the Jew is “dif­fer­ent.” He looks dif­fer­ent. He thinks dif­fer­ent­ly. He has a dif­fer­ent tra­di­tion and background….Every Jew­ish money­len­der recalls Shy­lock and the idea of the Jews as usurers. And you can­not rea­son­ably expect a strug­gling clerk or shop­keep­er, pay­ing 40 or 50 per­cent inter­est on bor­rowed mon­ey to a “Hebrew Blood­suck­er,” to reflect that almost every oth­er way of life was closed to the Jew­ish peo­ple.

  • A 1937 draft for a pro­posed Churchill arti­cle by Mar­shall Dis­ton, a hack writer who wrote draft pro­pos­als for Churchill peri­od­i­cal arti­cles. Mar­tin Gilbert repro­duced the draft years ago (OB, CV5 Part 5, 670). He showed that Churchill scarce­ly glanced at it and twice dis­ap­proved its pub­li­ca­tion. The orig­i­nal bore none of his usu­al copi­ous edits. This did not pre­vent scan­dalous claims that these were Churchill’s words.

Hell: If you’re going through hell, keep going. •No attri­bu­tion.

Heroes – Idiots

Heroes: A nation that fails to hon­or its heroes soon will have no heroes to hon­or.

No attri­bu­tion. Pos­si­bly derived from Allan Bloom’s The Clos­ing of the Amer­i­can Mind: In mod­ern soci­ety “they have no heroes to emu­late.”

Hor­ri­ble Cow: How shall I deal with this hor­ri­ble cow? I will sit on the stile, And con­tin­ue to smile, Which may soft­en the heart of the cow.

  • (Liv­er­pool, 7 May 1924). Not Churchill, since he pre­ced­ed this by say­ing, “You all know the famous rhyme about the old man….” WSC was blam­ing the Lib­er­als for keep­ing the minor­i­ty Labour gov­ern­ment in pow­er.

Hors­es: The out­side of a horse is good for the inside of a man.

  • Repeat­ed­ly attrib­uted to every­one from Woodrow Wilson’s physi­cian to Ronald Rea­gan. “Cler­gy­man Hen­ry Ward Beech­er is one per­son to whom the thought was attrib­uted in his time. Oliv­er Wen­dell Holmes is another…Verdict: Long-time male eques­tri­an wis­dom.” –The Quote Ver­i­fi­er, 91. What Churchill did say about hors­es is an amus­ing sub­sti­tute. (See Chap­ter 32, Tastes and Favourites, Hors­es.) 

Huns: The Hun is always at your throat or at your feet.

  • WSC did say this (to Con­gress, 19 May 1943) but pre­ced­ed it by say­ing, “The proud Ger­man Army has once again proved the truth of the say­ing…” 

Idiots: I’d rather argue against a hun­dred idiots than have one agree with me.No attri­bu­tion.

Indians – Italians

Indi­an Ras­cals, Rogues and Free­boot­ers: Pow­er will go to the hands of ras­cals, rogues, free­boot­ers; all Indi­an lead­ers will be of low cal­i­bre and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and sil­ly hearts. They will fight amongst them­selves for pow­er and India will be lost in polit­i­cal squab­bles.

  • Among fake quotes this has the dis­tinc­tion of the most com­ment among 500 posts on my web­site, I searched dili­gent­ly for it, and iso­lat­ed key word com­bi­na­tions (ras­cals, etc.), with­out suc­cess. It sounds like his ear­ly sen­ti­ments toward the Con­gress Par­ty, but I can­not find attri­bu­tion. His views on India were far more nuanced. (See Chap­ter 11, Nations…India.)

Ingrat­i­tude towards their great men is the mark of strong peo­ples.

  • Pub­lished 1949 in WW2 I, 10, but Churchill him­self cred­it­ed Plutarch with this remark. He was com­men­tat­ing on the dis­card­ing of the French war leader Georges Clemenceau after the vic­to­ry of World War I. See Chap­ter 20, Peo­ple, Clemenceau.

Islam: When Mus­lims are in the minor­i­ty they are very con­cerned with minor­i­ty rights, when they are in the major­i­ty there are no minor­i­ty rights. • No attri­bu­tion.

Ital­ians: [Ger­man Ambas­sador von Ribben­trop:] “Don’t for­get, Mr. Churchill, if there is a war, we will have the Ital­ians on our side this time.”] My dear Ambas­sador, it’s only fair. We had them last time.

  • Alleged aside dur­ing WSC’s famous 1937 meet­ing with the “Lon­don­der­ry Herr” (see Chap­ter 20, Peo­ple, Ribben­trop). A very droll line among fic­ti­tious quotes. Sad­ly, no attri­bu­tion exists.

Jaw, Jaw – Lies

Jaw, Jaw and War, War: Jaw, jaw is bet­ter than war, war.

  • Sup­pos­ed­ly Wash­ing­ton, 1954. Sir Mar­tin Gilbert, speak­ing of this remark, report­ed that Churchill actu­al­ly said, “Meet­ing jaw to jaw is bet­ter than war.” Four years lat­er, dur­ing a vis­it to Aus­tralia, Harold Macmil­lan said the words usually—and wrongly—attributed to Churchill: “Jaw, jaw is bet­ter than war, war.” Cred­it: Harold Macmil­lan.

Keep your Mouth Shut: Life is fraught with oppor­tu­ni­ties to keep your mouth shut. • No attri­bu­tion.

Kiss a Girl, Climb a Wall: The most dif­fi­cult things for a man to do are to climb a wall lean­ing towards you, and to kiss a girl lean­ing away from you. [Some­times quot­ed with an addi­tion: “…and to make an after-din­ner speech.”]

  • Com­mon­ly ascribed, but nowhere in the canon. Recent­ly claimed by reli­gion colum­nist Mar­i­on de Velder, but prob­a­bly a much old­er expres­sion.

Lib­er­al and Con­ser­v­a­tive: If a man is not lib­er­al in youth he has no heart. If he is not con­ser­v­a­tive when old­er he has no brain. [Or: When I was a young lib­er­al I thought with my heart; when I grew wis­er and con­ser­v­a­tive I thought with my brain.]

  • Among pop­u­lar quotes on the Web, but not by Churchill. 

Lib­er­ty: They who can give up essen­tial lib­er­ty to obtain a lit­tle tem­po­rary safe­ty deserve nei­ther lib­er­ty nor safe­ty.

  • Cir­ca 1940. Often attrib­uted to Churchill, this remark orig­i­nat­ed at least as ear­ly as 1776 with Ben­jamin Franklin, though it may date back two decades ear­li­er, to 1755. If Churchill used it, he was quot­ing Franklin.

More fake quotes coming up!

…con­tin­ued in Part 3.

2 thoughts on “All the “Quotes” Winston Churchill Never Said (2)

  1. Thanks! I can say with cer­tain­ty that the only occur­rence of “camel dung” among Churchill’s 20 mil­lion known words is his 23Oct43 ques­tion to Eden’s Under­sec­re­tary, Alexan­der Cado­gan, as to whether the Turk­ish word AMGOT “means camel dung or some­thing equal­ly unpleas­ant?” Cado­gan replied: “Prime Min­is­ter, I have estab­lished, on high author­i­ty, that AMGOT does not, in Turk­ish, sig­ni­fy camel dung. It does not cor­re­spond to any sin­gle Turk­ish word. There are, how­ev­er, two Turk­ish words, ‘Ahm’ and ‘Kot,’ which an Eng­lish schol­ar would, not incor­rect­ly, trans­late as ‘Cunt’ and ‘Arse’…. The Turk­ish term for camel’s dung is deve gübre­si.” (Cado­gan to his Diary: “My task is com­pli­cat­ed by the PM suggesting—or sending—spasmodic replies to [Eden’s] telegrams which real­ly require some mod­i­fi­ca­tion.”)

    Sor­ry, couldn’t resist.

    There is one hearsay report that he said some­thing sim­i­lar to the words you quote, but the evi­dence is not strong, in fact con­tra­dic­to­ry. The con­text was Churchill’s crit­i­cism of the 1939 Pales­tine White Paper, which he regard­ed as anti-Semit­ic. It’s in Michael Makovsky’s excel­lent book, Churchill’s Promised Land, pp. 168-69: but you need to read it in full:

    As much as Churchill’s respect and sym­pa­thy for the Jews had strength­ened, his opin­ion of the Pales­tin­ian Arabs and their cause had wors­ened. He could not under­stand why the Arabs were indulged when they, in con­trast to the Jews, reaped more than his­to­ry owed. He argued that “else­where over vast regions inhab­it­ed by the Arabs inde­pen­dent Arab King­doms and prin­ci­pal­i­ties have come into being such as had nev­er been known in Arab his­to­ry before.” More specif­i­cal­ly, he did not under­stand why the gov­ern­ment favored the Pales­tin­ian Arabs who his­tor­i­cal­ly had been hos­tile to Britain and its inter­ests (:fight­ing for the Ottomans in the First World War, for instance), and still were. He expressed great frus­tra­tion with the per­verse strate­gic choic­es made by the gov­ern­ment of favor­ing ene­mies over allies. He exclaimed, “We are now asked to submit—and this is what ran­kles most with me—to an agi­ta­tion which is fed with for­eign mon­ey and cease­less­ly inflamed by Nazi and by Fas­cist pro­pa­gan­da.” Per­haps reflect­ing his com­plete exas­per­a­tion with the Pales­tin­ian Arabs, in 1938 he got into a big argu­ment with Mal­colm Mac­Don­ald, the new colo­nial sec­re­tary, in the lob­by of the House of Com­mons. Mac­Don­ald recalled the argu­ment sev­er­al decades lat­er: “He told me I was crazy to help the Arabs, because they were a back­ward peo­ple who ate noth­ing but camel dung.” While these might not have been Churchill’s exact words, the gist of the com­ment jibed with what he had thought of the Pales­tin­ian Arabs at least since encoun­ter­ing them in the ear­ly 1920s.

  2. Great work Mr Lang­worth, your web­site and your works have aid­ed me in my argu­ments both against the liars who indulge in calum­ny against Sir Win­ston. How­ev­er, I do have one ques­tion. Did he ever say “Pales­tini­ans are bar­bar­ic hordes who ate lit­tle but camel dung?

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