After reading two large biographies of Winston Churchill -- "The Last Lion: Alone, 1932-1940" by William Manchester and "The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965" by William Manchester and Paul Reid, I may recall this summer most as my summer with Winston. He was such a vivid, fascinating speaker that his biographers are spoiled for choice when they can quote him. (There's an earlier part of "The Last Lion" up to which I must catch.)
Bartlett's Familiar Quotations uses the better part of five pages for his wonderful quotations. In this case, I will trust that my Serious readers know about the great "blood, toil, tears and sweat" speech and the "finest hour" speech, and present some of the other marvelous, yet less famous, ways that Churchill used the English language.
I began to write "I must catch up" as I ended the first paragraph, but I edited that in light of a quotation that Bartlett's simply marks "Attributed" --
"This is the sort of impertinence up with which I will not put."
Other quotations by Winston, as everybody in the biographies seems to have called him, have much better attribution -- sometimes longer than the quotations themselves. To wit:
-- Speech, House of Commons, Feb. 22, 1906
Others are more prophetic:
"That long (Canadian) frontier from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans, guarded only by neighborly respect and honorable obligations, is an example to every country and a pattern for the future of the world."
-- Speech in honor of R.B. Bennett, Canada Club, London, April 20, 1939
As World War II went on, when few might have used the word "progressed," Winston spoke in a way I miss now that I'm not reading about him regularly. He was not blustering; he was not insulting; the language was his weapon, and he used it to inspire.
"Do not let us speak of darker days; let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days: these are great days -- the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race."
-- Address to the Boys of Harrow School, Oct. 29, 1941
This is not the end of quotes by Winston Churchill. As he said at a turning point in the war, "It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
-- Speech at the Lord Mayor's Day Luncheon, London, Nov. 10, 1942
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Filed under: Browsing through Bartlett's