Friday, February 25, 2011

More Winston...



Byter Charles mentioned to me during the week that has a fascination with Winston Churchill and that he has particularly enjoyed those Bytes which have featured him. I promised Charles that I would post something about Churchill this weekend and that it would be interesting.

Following are quotations by Churchill which show some lesser known aspects of the man, his personality and his character. 
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.

Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; 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.

The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan (1899), Volume II pp. 248-250

What is the true and original root of Dutch aversion to British rule? It is the abiding fear and hatred of the movement that seeks to place the native on a level with the white man ... the Kaffir is to be declared the brother of the European, to be constituted his legal equal, to be armed with political rights.

On the Boer War, in London to Ladysmith via Pretoria (1900)

The unnatural and increasingly rapid growth of the feeble-minded and insane classes, coupled as it is with steady restriction among all the thrifty, energetic and superior stocks constitutes a national and race danger which is impossible to exaggerate. I feel that the source from which the stream of madness is fed should be cut off and sealed before another year has passed.

(Home Secretary) Churchill to Prime Minister Asquith on compulsory sterilisation of ‘the feeble-minded and insane’.

I think a curse should rest on me — because I love this war. I know it's smashing and shattering the lives of thousands every moment — and yet — I can't help it — I enjoy every second of it.

A letter to a friend (1916)

I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. We have definitely adopted the position at the Peace Conference of arguing in favour of the retention of gas as a permanent method of warfare. It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gases: gases can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected ... We cannot, in any circumstances acquiesce to the non-utilisation of any weapons which are available to procure a speedy termination of the disorder which prevails on the frontier.

Statement as president of the Air Council, War Office Departmental

I remember, when I was a child, being taken to the celebrated Barnum's circus, which contained an exhibition of freaks and monstrosities. but the exhibit on the programme which I most desired to see was the one described as "The Boneless Wonder." My parents judged that that spectacle would be too revolting and demoralising for my youthful eyes, and I have waited 50 years to see the boneless wonder sitting on the Treasury Bench.

A jibe at Prime Minister ( and First Lord of the Treasury ) Ramsay MacDonald during a speech in the House of Commons, January 28, 1931 "Trade Disputes and Trade Unions (Amendment) Bill".

One may dislike Hitler's system and yet admire his patriotic achievement. If our country were defeated, I hope we should find a champion as indomitable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations.

"Hitler and His Choice", The Strand Magazine (November 1935)

I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.

To the Peel Commission (1937)

It was an experience of great interest to me to meet Premier Stalin ... It is very fortunate for Russia in her agony to have this great rugged war chief at her head. He is a man of massive outstanding personality, suited to the sombre and stormy times in which his life has been cast; a man of inexhaustible courage and will-power and a man direct and even blunt in speech, which, having been brought up in the House of Commons, I do not mind at all, especially when I have something to say of my own. Above all, he is a man with that saving sense of humour which is of high importance to all men and all nations, but particularly to great men and great nations. Stalin also left upon me the impression of a deep, cool wisdom and a complete absence of illusions of any kind. I believe I made him feel that we were good and faithful comrades in this war – but that, after all, is a matter which deeds not words will prove.

Speech in the House of Commons, September 8, 1942 "War Situation".

I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.

In conversation to Leo Amery, Secretary of State for India. This quotation is widely cited as written in "a letter to Leo Amery" (e.g., in "Jolly Good Fellows and Their Nasty Ways" by Vinay Lal in Times of India (15 January 2007)) but it is actually attributed to Churchill as a remark, in an entry for September 1942 in Leo Amery : Diaries (1988), edited John Barnes and David Nicholson, p. 832:

During my talk with Winston he burst out with: "I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion."

The very first thing the President did was to show me the new Presidential Seal, which he had just redesigned. He explained, 'The seal has to go everywhere the President goes. It must be displayed upon the lectern when he speaks. The eagle used to face the arrows but I have re-designed it so that it now faces the olive branches ... what do you think?' I said, 'Mr. President, with the greatest respect, I would prefer the American eagle's neck to be on a swivel so that it could face the olive branches or the arrows, as the occasion might demand.'

An exchange (March 4, 1946) with Harry S. Truman aboard the Presidential train in Washington, D.C.'s Union Station before journeying to Fulton, Missouri; as quoted in "The Genius and Wit of Winston Churchill" by Robin Lawson







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