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Wit& Wisdom

Finest Hour 100, Autumn 1998

Page 50

By Karl-Georg Schon


“FOUL WEATHER FRIEND”… “TATTERED LACKEY”

Browsing our exchanges on the “Winston” listserv, I found a couple of unanswered questions and unattributed quotes. As nearly all requests are answered (and most of those which aren’t are likely to refer to rather dubious or spurious attributions) I thought I might as well try to complete the record:

• On 20 January 1997 Chuck Maegher asked where James Humes had produced his quote of Beaverbrook’s being Churchill’s “foul weather friend.” Lord Moran’s Churchill: The Struggle for Survival, quotes Churchill as saying on 22 September 1944: “Max is a good friend in foul weather. Then, when things are going well, he will have a bloody row with you over nothing.” Moran is, of course, as Martin Gilbert has noted, not a source beyond doubt. But there it is.

• On 30 June 1997 Jim Downs asked Jonah Triebwasser about a Churchill quote “tattered lackeys.” The quote stems from Churchill’s speech on 12 June 1941 and reads in full: “It is upon this foundation that Hitler, with his tattered lackey Mussolini at his tail and Admiral Darlan frisking by his side, pretends to build out of hatred, appetite, and racial assertion a new order for Europe.” (Churchill, The Unrelenting Struggle, 162 ff.)

“NOTHING WRONG IN CHANGE”…”DOING WHAT’S NECESSARY”

• On 22 August 1997 R. Trimmer asked about the origin of the Churchill quote, “There is nothing wrong in change, if it is in the right direction. To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.” The quote was traced by Jonah Triebwasser to The Wit and Wisdom of Winston Churchill, by James C. Humes, but no further. It appears to be part of an exchange in the House of Commons with Philip Snowden when Churchill defended his first budget in 1924, cf. “Ephesian” [Bechover Roberts], Winston Churchill, second edition, p. 288.

• On 24 September 1997 Kirk Rostron asked about the following phrase: “It’s no use saying ‘we’re doing our best.’ You have to succeed in doing what’s necessary.” This is from Churchill’s speech on 7 March 1916 in the House of Commons, cf. Gilbert, Official Biography, Winston S. Churchill, Vol. 3, The Challenge of War (London and Boston: 1971, page 719).

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