Quotes Falsely Attributed
These quotes make for good story-telling but popular myth has falsely attributed them to Churchill.
"Conservative by the time you're 35"
"If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain." There is no record of anyone hearing Churchill say this. Paul Addison of Edinburgh University makes this comment: "Surely Churchill can't have used the words attributed to him. He'd been a Conservative at 15 and a Liberal at 35! And would he have talked so disrespectfully of Clemmie, who is generally thought to have been a lifelong Liberal?"
"Cross of Lorraine"
"The hardest cross I have to bear is the Cross of Lorraine." -- This remark about the intractable Charles de Gaulle was actually made by General Spears, Churchill's envoy to France.
"Rum, sodomy and the lash"
The only traditions of the Royal Navy are rum, sodomy and the lash. - -- Churchill's assistant, Anthony Montague-Browne said that although Churchill had not uttered these words, he wished he had.
"What is relevant is obviously not true"
"All this contains much that is obviously true, and much that is relevant; unfortunately, what is obviously true is not relevant, and what is relevant is not obviously true." This is not by Churchill, but Churchill quoting his colleague Arthur J. Balfour (Prime Minister, July 1902 to December 1905) in his book Great Contemporaries (London & New York, 1937, last reprinted 1990). The citation is on page 250 of the first edition, in the chapter entitled "Arthur James Balfour": "...'there were some things that were true, and some things that were trite; but what was true was trite, and what was not trite was not true'..."
"You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give."
While often attributed to Churchill, a search of over 2.5 million words by and about Churchill in The Churchill Centre's research database fails to show that Churchill ever spoke or wrote those words. Equally encouraging, perhaps, are words he DID utter in Dundee, Scotland, on 10 October 1908:
"What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone? How else can we put ourselves in harmonious relation with the great verities and consolations of the infinite and the eternal? And I avow my faith that we are marching towards better days. Humanity will not be cast down. We are going on swinging bravely forward along the grand high road and already behind the distant mountains is the promise of the sun."
"War and Shame"
"The government had to choose between war and shame. They chose shame. They will get war too."
William Manchester's The Last Lion, vol. 2, quotes this remark as written from Churchill to Lord Moyne on page 334. It appears to be not so.
It is often believed that Churchill addressed a similar remark to Neville Chamberlain directly after Munich, however, "in almost any gathering [after Munich] it would have been indiscreet to remark..." according to Manchester.
There are two likely quotations from where this was derived. The first was Churchill in a letter to Lloyd George on 13 August 1938, just before the Munich Conference:
I think we shall have to choose in the next few weeks between war and shame, and I have very little doubt what the decision will be.
Reference is Churchill by Himself, page 256, quoting Martin Gilbert, ed., Winston S. Churchill, Companion Volume V Part 3, The Coming of War 1936-1939 (London: Heinemann 1982), page 1117.
A month later, Churchill wrote to his friend Lord Moyne, explaining why a proposed visit to Moyne in Antigua might be problematic. From Churchill by Himself, page 257, Gilbert page 1155:
We seem to be very near the bleak choice between War and Shame. My feeling is that we shall choose Shame, and then have War thrown in a little later on even more adverse terms than at present.
“With integrity, nothing else counts. Without integrity, nothing else counts.”
This "integrity" quote has recently been making its way around the Internet. A search by Finest Hour editor Richard Langworth of his digital archive of Churchill's 15 million published words, plus 35 million words about him by colleagues, biographers and historians, produced no hits on this phrase. This includes all of his published books, articles, speeches and letters.
Last Updated on Monday, 23 April 2012 18:53