One of Churchill's better known quotes is, in response to a disapproving lady, "I may be drunk Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly." (I had always thought this incident actually happened, but as it turns out, it's something Churchill claimed that he said, which means it may have just been a line he came up with after the opportunity passed.)
Another famous Churchill saying which I've heard any number of times was one which I mistakenly thought was from Mark Twain: "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."
Churchill was always known for his wit, but if you look up his quotations, they seem to fall into three fairly distinct categories.
The first category are those that sound like something that might be uttered by a football coach -- or maybe Tony Robbins, or Joel Osteen. That Churchill said them in reference to war, rather than a sport, gives these quotes a little more gravitas, however:
Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.
Never, never, never give up.
Continuous effort -- not strength or intelligence -- is the key to unlocking our potential.
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
Kites rise highest against the wind -- not with it.
Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.
We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means inspiration and survival.
A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
I never worry about action, but only inaction.
The second category have the sort of punny, take-a-common-expression-and-reverse-it quality that makes them sound as if they might have come from Oscar Wilde:
We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English.
"No comment" is a splendid expression. I am using it again and again.
I am easily satisfied with the very best.
He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.
In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet.
I always avoid prophesying beforehand, because it is a much better policy to prophesy after the event has taken place.
Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on.
There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true.
I'm just preparing my impromptu remarks.
But his best quotes are unmistakably Churchillian, and those are the ones with which he leaves the football coaches and Oscar Wilde in the dust:
The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing -- after they've tried everything else.
I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.
History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.
If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time -- a tremendous whack.
I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.
The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.
A state of society where men may not speak their minds cannot long endure.
(Boy, is that one ever topical.)
An appeaser is one who will feed a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion.
This report, by its very length, defends against the risk of being read.
Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.
A fanatic is one who won't change his mind and won't change the subject.
War is mainly a catalogue of blunders.
If you go on with this nuclear arms race, all you are going to do is make the rubble bounce.
It was the nation and the race dwelling around the globe that had the lion's heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.
I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.
My wife and I tried two or three times in the past 40 years to have breakfast together, but it was so disagreeable we had to stop.
Baldwin thought Europe was a bore, and Chamberlain thought it was only a greater Birmingham.
A prisoner of war is a man who tries to kill you and fails, and then asks you not to kill him.
When I am abroad, I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the government of my own country. I make up for lost time when I come home.
A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen.
Those who can win a war well can rarely make a good peace and those who make a good peace would never have won the war.
Battles are won by slaughter and maneuver. The greater the general, the more he contributes in maneuver, the less he demands in slaughter.
Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed.
If the Almighty were to rebuild the world and asked me for advice, I would have English Channels round every country. And the atmosphere would be such that anything which attempted to fly would be set on fire.
The best Churchill quotes combine a wry worldliness, occasional self-mockery, and a little bit of acid.
And here's what Churchill had to say on the subject of Muslims:
How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the faith: all know how to die but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.
Kudos to Mark Caplan, who recently pointed out (after "Rhodes must fall") that Churchill was right about Muslims. I had never thought of women in Islamic society as slaves before, but that's not an entirely inaccurate description. That concept ought to get more airtime in the current discussion of immigration.