“Rough Men Stand Ready…”
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” Is this something Churchill said? I see it frequently credited to him: “We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” —L.K., Dallas
He did not. From Churchill by Himself, Red Herrings Appendix, 572-73:
Defenders of the peace
”People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” [Alternative: ”We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.”]
We may be fairly confident that Churchill would approve of the sentiment, having argued for a lifetime that liberty and peace can best be maintained by military preparedness, but I have been unable to track this phrase to him. Though it is attributed to Churchill, it is more often assigned to George Orwell. But Wikiquotes suggests it might not be Orwell either: “There is no evidence that Orwell ever wrote or uttered either of these versions of this idea. They do bear some similarity to comments made in an essay that Orwell wrote on Rudyard Kipling.”
4 thoughts on ““Rough Men Stand Ready…””
The “rough men stand ready” quote is a reporter’s paraphrase of something that George Orwell had written. I do not remember the reporter’s name nor the circumstances.
Thanks for putting me onto this. Quote Investigator, which does yeoman work tracking quotes and exposing fake attributions, has concluded the reporter was Richard Grenier. I will update this post with their findings in a few weeks. —RML
It seems to have been coined by the great essayist Richard Grenier in 1993 as his synopsis of Orwell’s position.
Binary. Ones and zeros. They will always be good people. There will always be bad people. To insure our species survives, good protectors must halt bad people.
In his 1945 “Notes on Nationalism”, Orwell wrote that pacifists cannot accept the statement “Those who ‘abjure’ violence can do so only because others are committing violence on their behalf.”, despite it being “grossly obvious.”