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"MAKE HELL WHILE THE SUN SHINES": Proverbial Rhetoric in Winston Churchill's 'The Second World War'


Proverbial Rhetoric in Winston Churchill's The Second World War

For my British friend Venetia J. Newall

While literary historians have investigated the use and function of proverbial speech in the works of such major English authors as Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie, and many others,[1] relatively little attention has been paid to the rhetorical employment of proverbs and proverbial phrases in political speeches and writings. A few more recent studies on proverbs as effective verbal strategies during election campaigns,[2] as formulaic arguments during political discussions on television,[3] as part of the political diplomacy of the United Nations,[4] and as captions of political cartoons and caricatures[5] exist, but Joseph Raymond's general article on "Tensions in Proverbs: More Light on International Understanding"[6] from 1956 still serves as an informative introduction to the political use of proverbs as ready-made slogans and verbal weapons.

Not much is known about utilization of proverbial language by individual politicians. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Hugo Blümmer looked at the metaphorical style of Otto von Bismarck's (1815-1898) speeches and letters, showing that this important statesman used German proverbs as well as literary quotations effectively to argue a point, to disarm his opponents, and to add folkloric spice to his political rhetoric.[7] There are also five short essays on Vladimir Ilich Lenin's (1870-1924) and Nikita Khrushchev's (1894-1971) rhetorical use of proverbs for propaganda, agitation, and manipulation.[8] An article by Wolfgang Mieder has shown that proverbs became dangerous tools in the hands of many National Socialists, not only of Adolf Hitler or Joseph Goebbels, who misused them as anti-Semitic folk wisdom to discredit the Jewish population.[9] There is also Mieder's detailed study on "Proverbial Manipulation in Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf"[10] which shows how this demagogue made frequent use of German proverbs and proverbial phrases to explain his ill-conceived racial and political ambitions in his massive "manifesto".

Scholars thus far have paid particular attention to the proverbial rhetoric of such folk deceivers as Lenin and Hitler. Where, one might well ask, are the studies on politicians and statesmen like Theodore Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Willy Brandt, Ronald Reagan, and Ross Perrot, who all included proverbial wisdom in their political speeches? Several systematic investigations of such public figures of the twentieth century (or earlier times) are necessary to ascertain the permeating presence of proverbs in political rhetoric. Speeches, essays, letters, diaries, memoranda, autobiographies, etc. need to be studied to gain a complete picture of the role that folk speech plays in the verbal communication on the highest political level. There is no immediate need to investigate yet another literary author for the inclusion of proverbial materials. Paremiologists would indeed do well to cast their nets over the use and function of proverbs in the public life of major and minor politicians.

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Proverbs, Sayings and Popular Wisdom - Audio Proverbs in English and Romance Languages, Proverb Studies, Proverb Collections, International Proverb Bibliographies


De Proverbio – Latin for ‘About the Proverb’ – is a website devoted to proverbs in several languages. It was founded in January 1995 at the University of Tasmania, Australia. De Proverbio was the world’s first refereed electronic journal of international proverb studies. It’s inspiration was Proverbium: Yearbook of International Proverb Scholarship edited by Prof. Wolfgang Mieder at the University of Vermont. The Yearbook continued the tradition of Proverbium: Bulletin d’Information sur les Recherches Parémiologiques, published occasionally from 1965 to 1975 by the Society for Finnish Literature, Helsinki.

Recently, the website has added audio proverbs in six languages, read by native speakers.  Also available for the lovers of languages and their proverbial richess is a page of multilingual proverb crosswords.

Proverbs and Their Definition

From time immemorial proverbs have fascinated people of all ages and from all walks of life. As it happened throughout centuries, common people today still avail themselves of the proverb’s rich oral tradition to convey their culture and values, while scholars collect and study them from a wide range of angles: linguistic, social, psychological, political, historical and so on.

Proverbs by James Chapman - cat
A cat in mittens won’t catch mice

The problem of proverb definition is still open. However, it is broadly accepted that proverbs were born from man’s experience. And that they generally express, in a very succinct way, common-sense truths. They give sound advice and reflect the human condition. But, as we know, human nature is both good and bad and the latter is often mirrored by discriminatory proverbs, be they against women, different nationalities or particular social groups. For a thorough discussion of proverb definition, see Popular Views of the Proverb by Prof. Wolfgang Mieder. Another article which sheds some light on the proverb definition is The Wisdom of Many and the Wit of One by Archer Taylor.

Proverbs and Their Origin

As to the origin of proverbs we tend to assume that they were born in times when human society began to self-impose rules and embrace principles necessary for communal living. Research can trace them back only to the time when language was recorded by means of some type of writing. The Sumerian civilisation of more than five thousand years ago is the oldest known civilisation to have made use of proverbs, some of which have been passed on through its cuneiform inscriptions.

One such proverb, in its Latin version, is Canis festinans caecos parit catulos. It spread to other languages. The English translation is The hasty bitch brings forth blind whelps. In French, it became La chienne dans sa hâte a mis bas des chiots aveugles. In the Italian La gatta frettolosa fece i gattini ciechi, the bitch has been replaced by the cat. The Portuguese version is Cadelas apressadas parem cães tortos, and the Romanian, Căţeaua de pripă îşi naşte căţeii fără ochi.

Proverbs and Their Use

Apart from use on a wide scale in day-to-day speech, there is ample evidence that proverbs were essential tools in teaching and learning. The pedagogical use of proverbs was encountered first in Sumerian society and subsequently this use became widespread throughout Medieval Europe.

Proverbs by James Chapman - book
A book is like a garden carried in the pocket

Proverbs and proverbial expressions are found in religious manuscripts of the first half of the eighth century. The aim of introducing proverbs into religious texts was to help novices to learn Latin, and this practice became widespread by the tenth century.

The use of proverbs in teaching and learning was not circumscribed to England. Relatively new research attests to the use of proverbs in teaching in the eleventh century in Liège, France. In Italy the famous medical School of Salerno of the eleventh century formulated medical precepts which later became proverbs adopted by different cultures. Post prandium stabis, post coenam ambulabis was translated After dinner sit awhile, after supper walk a mile in English. In French became Après dîner repose un peu, après souper promène une mille, while in Italian Dopo pranzo riposar un poco, dopo cena passeggiar un miglio. The Spanish version is Después de yantar reposad un poco, después de cenar pasead una milla and the Portuguese Depois de jantar, dormir; depois de cear, passos mil.

Proverbs and Their Abuse

But from use comes abuse, as a Spanish proverb says.  There is no doubt that the capacity of the proverb to convey universal truths concisely led to their abuse and manipulation.

Hitler and his Nazi regime employed proverbs as emotional slogans for propaganda purposes and encouraged the publication of anti-semitic proverb collections. For a thorough analysis of this phenomenon, please read the fascinating article “ … as if I were the master of situation.” Proverbial Manipulation in Adolf Hitler by Prof. Wolfgang Mieder.

At the opposite end of the political spectrum, communist regimes of the past have not only manipulated proverbs, but also purged popular collections of features which did not reflect their political ends. The former Soviet regime is at the forefront of such actions. One type of manipulation described by Jean Breuillard in Proverbes et pouvoir politique: Le cas de l’U.R.S.S.  (published in “Richesse du proverbe”, Eds. François Suard and Claude Buridant. Lille: Université de Lille, 1984. II, 155-166). It consisted in modifying ancient proverbs like La vérité parcourt le monde (Truth spreads all over the world) into La vérité de Lénine parcourt le monde (Lenin’s truth spreads all over the world). As a result the new creation is unequivocably charged with a specific ideological message.

Manipulation did not stop at individual proverbs, it extended to entire collections. Vladimir Dal’s mid-nineteen century collection of Russian proverbs is such an example. Its first Soviet edition (1957) reduces the proverbs containing the word God from 283 to 7 only. Instead, those which express compassion for human weaknesses, such as alcoholism, disappear altogether. In more recent years, in Ceauşescu’s Romania, Proverbele românilor (published in 1877 by I. C. Hinţescu) suffered the same treatment. More than 150 proverbs were eliminated or changed in order to respond rigidly to the communist ideology.

Proverbs Across Time and Space

The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs states that foreign proverbs’ contribution to the English proverbial stock has enriched our language. Many proverbs of foreign origin were quickly absorbed into English life and have a rightful place in an English dictionary. Indeed, a close scrutiny of that dictionary reveals that more than two hundred and fifty proverbs are listed as first existing in Italian.

This is also true for other modern languages, particularly French and Spanish. The translation is not always literal. At times it is adapted to the new language and the resulting proverb is often enriched in its expression. For instance the Latin Homo sine pecunia est imago mortis (A man without money is the image of death) is rather closely translated in Italian as Uomo senza quattrini è un morto che cammina (A man without money is a dead man walking).

However, in other languages the metaphor changes, but not the meaning. In English the proverb becomes A man without money is a bow without an arrow, while in French Un homme sans argent / Est un loup sans dents (A man without money is a wolf without teeth) and an element of rhyme is introduced. The Romanian adaptation is a real poetic gem Omul fără bani e ca pasărea fără aripi; Când dă să zboare / Cade jos şi moare (A man without money is like a bird without wings; When he tries to fly / He falls down and dies). The concept is essentially the same: the man without money lacks something important…

Proverbs Today

Proverbs by James Chapman - egg and hen
The egg thinks it’s smarter than the hen

While proverbs are still used today in a traditional way, that is in speech, literature and teaching, they have found a new ever expanding use in the advertising industry and in the mass media. One example is Here today, gone tomorrow, which became Hair today, gone tomorrow in the hair-removal industry. In the mass media it has a variety of paraphrases such as Hear today, gone tomorrow or Heir today, gone tomorrow. Before the Barcelona Olympic Games the old proverb All roads lead to Rome became All roads lead to… Barcelona in many English language newspapers and magazines. A new phenomenon encountered in many languages nowadays and is undoubtedly a sign of the proverb’s resilience and vitality.

Important writers of the past, among them Goethe and Voltaire, have questioned the traditional wisdom of proverbs. That led to some proverb transformations. Prof. Wolfgang Mieder coined the term anti-proverb for all forms of creative proverb changes. They can be deliberate innovations, alterations, variations, parodies. Anti-proverbs are widely spread today, some living a short time, some even making their way into recent proverb collections. A new broom sweeps clean, but the old one knows the corners and Absence makes the heart grow fonder – for somebody else are considered anti-proverbs.

Proverbs and Their Collection

Apart from studies on individual and multilingual proverbs and proverbial expressions, you will find a few e-books on our website. I will mention a Brazilian collection and a dictionary of equivalent English and Romanian proverbs. Prof. Wolfgang Mieder’s yearly bibliographies are an invaluable tool for students and researchers. Given their widespread use over the millennia, it is no wonder that scholars of the past started assembling proverbs in collections. Aristotle is believed to be among the first paremiographers (collectors of proverbs), but, unfortunately, his collection was lost. In more recent times a great impetus to the collection of proverbs was given by Erasmus. His fame spread from Venice throughout Europe after the publication in 1508 of his Adagiorum Chiliades. This collection contained 3,260 proverbs drawn from classical authors.

The success of the book led to several augmented editions culminating with that of 1536, which contains 4,151 proverbs. Erasmus’ work was translated into several European languages. While it became the model for future proverb collections in those languages, they were widely copied and translated.

One good example of such a practice is the 1591 Italian collection Giardino di Ricreatione, nel quale crescono fronde, fiori e frutti, vaghe, leggiadri e soavi, sotto nome di sei miglia proverbii, e piacevoli riboboli Italiani, colti e scelti da Giovanni Florio. And two decades later appeared in French as Le Jardin de Récréation, au quel croissent rameaux, fleurs et fruits très-beaux, gentils et souefs, soubz le nom de Six mille proverbes et plaisantes rencontres françoises, recueillis et triéez par GOMÈS DE TRIER, non seulement utiles mais délectables pour tous espritz désireux de la très-noble et copieuse langue françoise, nouvellement mis en lumière, à Amsterdam, par PAUL DE RAVESTEYN.

Proverbs and Fun

Proverbs by James Chapman - duck
If the world flooded, it wouldn’t matter to the duck

On the less academic side, you can test your knowledge of languages by solving our bilingual or multilingual crosswords. Or, you can listen to our featured proverbs in 6 languages – English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish. Also, enjoy sharing them with your friends. Some were posted on Twitter as comments to political events of the day.

Painters in Renaissance time, from Hieronymus Bosch to Pieter Bruegel, with his famous Netherlandish Proverbs, were attracted by the subject.

Modern artists like James Chapman illustrated recently proverbs from other world languages with hilarious cartoons. See some of his images on this page.

The full text of this article is published in De Proverbio - Issue 2:1995, an electronic book, available from amazon.com and other leading Internet booksellers.

Also relating to Soviet Russia is another use of this twin formula in a letter by Churchill to President Roosevelt on 8 October 1941. This reference clearly shows Churchill's understanding of the dangerous situation in which Stalin and his Russian people found themselves in view of the German military aggression:

As things are now, it appears to us virtually out of the question either to conclude an agreement [concerning the sale of wheat] which may seriously affect her [Russia's] interests without consulting her, or to approach her on such a matter at a time when she is engaged in a life-and-death struggle, and when her richest wheatfields are in the battle area (III,739-740).

In a final use of this leitmotif, Churchill refers to the British intervention in Greece in a letter of 5 December 1944 as "the matter is one of life and death" (VI,253), once again alluding to the urgency of the situation. Churchill also made use of the somewhat related somatic binary formula "body and soul" in a statement which he wrote on 17 November 1938 regarding Nerville Chamberlain's controversial policy of appeasement:

By this time next year we shall know whether the Prime Minister's view of Herr Hitler and the German Nazi party is right or wrong. By this time next year we shall know whether the policy of appeasement has appeased, or whether it has only stimulated a more ferocious appetite [Churchill's emphasis]. All we can do in the meanwhile is to gather forces of resistance and defence, so that if the Prime Minister should unhappily be wrong, or misled, or deceived, we can at the worst keep body and soul together (I,261).

Churchill had a definite predilection towards the use of such twin formulas, most likely because their reduplicative nature helped to increase the strength of a particular statement. What follows is a list of some of these proverbial formulas in chronological order of their appearance in the six volumes of The Second World War:

The wholesale massacre [...] in the German execution camps exceeds in horror the rough and ready butcheries of Ghengis Khan, and in scale reduces them to pygmy proportions (I,14).
[...] the Fleet [...] would have to go on playing hide-and-seek (I,344).
[...] he [Chamberlain] was never more spick and span or cool and determined than at the last Cabinets which he attended (II,305).
[...] we should do everything possible, by hook or by crook, to send at once to Greece the fullest support (III,14).
[...] they [German troops and tanks] badly needed rest and overhaul after their mechanical wear and tear in the Balkans (III,323).
It is now or never with the Vichy French (III,507).
Please remember how much they [German troops] got by brass and bluff at the time of the French collapse (III,508).
This was no time for a constitutional experiment with a "period of trial and error" to determine the "future relationship" of India to the British Empire (IV,194).
[...] action will emerge from what will otherwise be almost unending hummings and hawings (IV,473).
The pros and cons of this have to be very carefully weighed (IV,759).
I [Churchill] have the greatest confidence in you [General Alexander] and will back you up through thick and thin (V,448).
This [the friendly relationship between Churchill and Roosevelt] continued through all the ups and downs of the world struggle (VI,414).

It is interesting to note that Churchill also uses twin formulas to describe Hitler's grasp of power and Germany's move under him towards military power: "Thus did Hitler obtain by hook and crook a majority vote from the German people" (I,55) and "[...] the German might grew by leaps and bounds, and the time for overt action approached" (I,66). He also refers to the assassination of Röhm and other early party members during the night of 30 June 1934, employing the phrase of "the night of the long knives"[32] which has become an internationally disseminated proverbial expression: "In that 'Night of the Long Knives', as it was called, the unit of National Socialist Germany had been preserved to carry its curse throughout the world" (I,79). A dozen pages later, Churchill observes with the accuracy of hindsight that "If Great Britain and France had each maintained quantitative parity with Germany [in military rearmament] they would together have been double as strong, and Hitler's career of violence might have been nipped in the bud without the loss of a single life. Thereafter it was too late" (I,91).

One senses a certain feeling of fatalism not only in many incidents in which Churchill employs proverbial language but also throughout many of these over four thousand pages of war history. Once the free democracies of the world permitted Hitler to gain ultimate power, Churchill resigned himself to the fact that this foe had to be fought on his terms, i.e., through the resolve of the British people and the strongest military alliance that could possibly be assembled. There was no way to escape the fate of a major war, and a number of proverbial leitmotifs underscore this determined viewpoint in these volumes.[33] The proverb that by its nature expresses the inescapable course of events that would occur once all attempts at preventing it had been exhausted is the classical "The die is cast," used by Julius Caesar on crossing the Rubicon after coming from Gaul and advancing into Italy against Pompey (49 B.C.). Churchill in a similar vein plunged himself into desperate and daring action when he accepted the position of Prime Minister during the Second World War. Being a man of action and deeds who worked best in crisis situations, he made use of this fatalistic proverb three times in short and decisive statements before the war:

However, the die was now cast. (1929)
Accordingly the die was cast. (1935)
But now the die was cast to fight it out. (1938)[34]

The proverb appears seven times in The Second World War, unmistakably indicating Churchill's unshakable resolve to bring Hitler and his allies to their knees:

The die was cast. (I,305)
Anyhow, the die is cast. (II,431)
The Die is Cast (III,514 [part of chapter headnote])
I did not know that the die had already been cast by Japan or how far the President's [Roosevelt's] resolves had gone. (III,532)
But the die was cast. (III,627)
The die was cast, and the [British] fleet dispersed before dark to their several destinations (IV,555)
At 4 a.m. on June 5 the die was irrevocably cast: the invasion would be launched on June 6. (V,556)

The full text of this article is published in De Proverbio - Issue 2:1995, an electronic book, available from amazon.com and other leading Internet booksellers.

Despite his erudition and vast knowledge that could lead Churchill to very sophisticated heights of the English language, he was always ready "to speak in plain English" and to voice his opinion without fear of the consequences. Speaking plainly and proverbially certainly helped in arousing the peoples of the free world against the tyranny of dictators. There definitely is proverbial truth in the claim that Winston S. Churchill "mobilized the English language and sent it into battle."



  1. See Wolfgang Mieder, Proverbs in Literature: An International Bibliography (Bern: Peter Lang, 1978); and W. Mieder, International Proverb Scholarship: An Annotated Bibliography, 3 vols. (New York: Garland Publishing, 1982, 1990, and 1993).
  1. See Werner Koller, Redensarten: Linguistische Aspekte, Vorkommensanalysen, Sprachspiel (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1977), esp. pp. 122-174; Theres Gautschi, Bildhafte Phraseologismen in der Nationalratswahlpropaganda (Bern: Peter Lang, 1982); Edmund Kammerer, Sprichwort und Politik: Sprachliche Schematismen in Politikerreden, politischem Journalismus und Graffiti (M.A. Thesis University of Freiburg, 1983); Shirley L. Arora, "On the Importance of Rotting Fish: A Proverb and Its Audience [during the Michael Dukakis presidential campaign]," Western Folklore, 48 (1989), 271-288; and Karen E. Richman, "'With Many Hands, the Burden Isn't Heavy': Creole Proverbs and Political Rhetoric in Haiti's Presidential Elections," Folklore Forum, 23 (1990), 115-123.

  2. See Démétrios Loukatos, "Proverbes et commentaires politiques: Le public devant les télé-communications actuelles," Proverbium, 1 (1984), 119-126; and Peter Kühn, "Routine-Joker in politischen Fernsehdiskussionen. Plädoyer für eine textsortenabhängige Beschreibung von Phraseologismen," Beiträge zur Phraseologie des Ungarischen und des Deutschen, ed. Regina Hessky (Budapest: Loránd-Eötvös-Universität, 1988), pp. 155-176.

  3. See R.D. Hoggs, "Proverbs," Secretariat News, 14 (1960), 5-7; and Victor S.M. de Guinzbourg, Wit and Wisdom of the United Nations: Proverbs and Apothegms on Diplomacy (New York: privately printed, 1961; supplement 1965).

  4. See Lutz Röhrich, "Die Bildwelt von Sprichwort und Redensart in der Sprache der politischen Karikatur," Kontakte und Grenzen: Probleme der Volks-, Kultur- und Sozialforschung. Festschrift für Gerhard Heilfurth, ed. Hans Friedrich Foltin (Göttingen: Otto Schwarz, 1969), pp. 175-207; Wolfgang Mieder, "'It's Five Minutes to Twelve': Folklore and Saving Life on Earth," International Folklore Review, 7 (1989), 10-21; and Fionnuala Williams, "'To Kill Two Birds with One Stone': Variants in a War of Words," Proverbium, 8 (1991), 199-201.

  5. Published in Western Folklore, 15 (1956), 153-158; and reprinted in The Wisdom of Many: Essays on the Proverb, eds. Wolfgang Mieder and Alan Dundes (New York: Garland Publishing, 1981), pp. 300-308.

  6. See Hugo Blümmer, Der bildliche Ausdruck in den Reden des Fürsten Bismarck (Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1891), esp. pp. 182-186; and H. Blümmer, "Der bildliche Ausdruck in den Briefen des Fürsten Bismarck," Euphorion, 1 (1894), 590-603 and 771-787.

  7. See Günter Wein, "Die Rolle der Sprichwörter und Redensarten in der Agitation und Propaganda," Sprachpflege, 12 (1963), 51-52; Aleksandr M. Zhigulev, "Poslovitsy i pogovorki v bol'shevitskikh listovkakh," Sovetskaia Etnografia, 5 (1970), 124-131; L.A. Morozova, "Upotreblenie V.I. Leninym poslovits," Russkaia Rech', no volume given, no. 2 (1979), 10-14; N.A. Meshcherskii, "Traditsionno-knizhnye vyrazheniia v sovremennom russkom literaturnom iazyke (na materiale proizvedenii V.I. Lenina)," Voprosy frazeologii, 9 (1975), 110-121; and Jean Breuillard, "Proverbes et pouvoir politique: Le cas de l'U.R.S.S.," Richesse du proverbe, eds. François Suard and Claude Buridant (Lille: Université de Lille, 1984), vol. 2, pp. 155-166.

  8. See "Proverbs in Nazi Germany: The Promulgation of Anti-Semitism and Stereotypes Through Folklore," in Wolfgang Mieder, Proverbs Are Never Out of Season: Popular Wisdom in the Modern Age (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 225-255.

  9. See Wolfgang Mieder, "'... as if I were the master of the situation': Proverbial Manipulation in Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf," De Proverbio: An Electronic Journal of International Proverb Studies, Volume 1, Number 1, 1995; International Folklore Review (in press).

  10. 1 Manfred Weidhorn, "'Always the Same Set of Songs': Topoi," in M. Weidhorn, Sir Winston Churchill (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1979), pp. 34-45.

  11. Ibid., p. 162.

  12. See for example Robert Rhodes James, Churchill: A Study in Failure, 1900-1939 (New York: The World Publishing Company, 1970); and Maurice Ashley, Churchill as Historian (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1968).

  13. Cited from Reed Whittemore, "Churchill and the Limitation of Myth," Yale Review, 44 (1954-1955), 248 (entire article on pp. 248-262); rpt. as "Churchill as a Mythmaker" in Language and Politics, ed. Thomas P. Brockway (Boston: D.C. Heath, 1965), p. 56 (entire article on pp. 56-68). See also Keith Alldritt, Churchill the Writer: His Life as a Man of Letters (London: Hutchinson, 1992).

  14. A.G. Gardiner, "Genius Without Judgment: Churchill at Fifty," in G. Gardiner, Portraits and Portents (New York: Harper & Row, 1926), p. 63 (entire article pp. 58-64); rpt. in Churchill: A Profile, ed. Peter Stansky (New York: Hill and Wang, 1973), p. 52 (entire article pp. 48-53.

  15. Ibid., p. 58 (rpt., pp. 48-49).

  16. James (see note 13), p. 29.

  17. David Cannadine (ed.), Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: The Speeches of Winston Churchill (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1989), p. 1 (introduction).

  18. Regarding these six volumes as "history" see Ashley (note 13), pp. 159-209; Keith Niles Hull, The Literary Art of Winston Churchill's "The Second World War" (Diss. University of Washington, 1969); and Manfred Weidhorn, Sword and Pen: A Survey of the Writings of Sir Winston Churchill (Albuquerque, New Mexico: University of New Mexico Press, 1974), pp. 139-177.

  19. Joseph W. Miller, "Winston Churchill, Spokesman for Democracy," Quarterly Journal of Speech, 28 (1942), 137 (the entire essay on pp. 131-138.

  20. Weidhorn (see note 11), p. 133 (the entire chapter on pp. 130-150). On Churchill's use of imagery see also Joaquim Paço d'Arcos, Churchill: The Statesman and Writer (London: The Caravel Press, 1957), p. 25.

  21. Ibid., p. 134. See also Gwendoline Lilian Reid, Winston S. Churchill's Theory of Public Speaking as Compared to His Practice (Diss. University of Minnesota, 1987), pp. 149-163.

  22. Ibid., p. 136 and p. 137. On Churchill's frequent use of colloquialisms see also Manfred Weidhorn, Churchill's Rhetoric and Political Discourse (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1987), pp. 31-32. See also the comment that Churchill "often rounded off [a discussion] by a sudden colloquialism that from most other people would be an anticlimax" by Collin Brooks, "Churchill the Conversationalist," in Churchill by His Contemporaries, ed. Charles Eade (London: The Reprint Society, 1953), p. 248 (the entire essay on pp. 240-248).

  23. Cited from Randolph S. Churchill, Winston S. Churchill. Companion volume I, part 2, 1896-1900 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1967), pp. 819-820 (the entire essay on pp. 816-821).

  24. See Wolfgang Mieder and George B. Bryan, The Proverbial Winston S. Churchill: An Index to Proverbs in the Works of Sir Winston Churchill (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1994).

  25. In addition to the references already cited, see the lack of comments on Churchill's use of proverbs in the following three essays included in Charles Eade (ed.), Churchill by His Contemporaries (London: The Reprint Society, 1953): Colin Coote, "Churchill the Journalist" (pp. 114-121); Norman Birkett, "Churchill the Orator" (pp. 223-233); and Ivor Brown, "Churchill the Master of Words" (pp. 312-317). The following two studies are also void of any comments regarding proverbs: Herbert Leslie Stewart, Sir Winston Churchill as Writer and Speaker (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1954); and Charles W. Lomas, "Winston Churchill: Orator-Historian," Quarterly Journal of Speech, 44 (1958), 153-160. A special disappointment in this regard is the study by Edd Miller and Jesse J. Villarreal, "The Use of Clichés by Four Contemporary Speakers [Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Henry Wallace]," Quarterly Journal of Speech, 31 (1945), 151-155.

  26. For bibliographical references concerning these nine citations see Mieder and Bryan (note 25). For the Maori proverb cited by Churchill see Raymond Firth, "Proverbs in Native Life, with Special Reference to Those of the Maori," Folk-Lore (London), 38 (1927), 153.

  27. Herbert Howarth, "Behind Winston Churchill's Grand Style," Commentary, 11 (1951), 551 (the entire article on pp. 549-557).

  28. It should be noted that the following "popular" collections of Churchill's wit and wisdom do not contain any scholarly annotations and are, of course, limited to Churchill's own quotable statements (often in the form of entire paragraphs): Colin Coote (ed.), Maxims and Reflections of the Rt. Hon. Winston S. Churchill (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1947); Bill Adler, The Churchill Wit (New York: Coward McCann, 1965); Adam Sykes and Iain Sproat, The Wit of Sir Winston (London: Leslie Frewin, 1965); Jack House, Winston Churchill: His Wit and Wisdom (London: Hyperion Books, 19?); and James C. Humes, The Wit and Wisdom of Winston Churchill (New York: HarperCollins, 1994). See also James C. Humes' earlier collection of "Wit and Wisdom" in his book Churchill: Speaker of the Century (New York: Stein and Day, 1980), pp. 261-279, with the following comment: "The titanic output of his work is staggering to those editors and anthologists who try to select for readers the choicest of his wit and wisdom. Among writers in the English language, perhaps only Shakespeare offers more quotable lines. [...] There are more gems to be gleaned in the writings and speeches of Churchill than in the sayings of Mao or the observations of Machiavelli" (p. 263).

  29. See Mieder (note 10).

  30. All citations are taken from the following standard edition: Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War (London: Cassell & Co., 1948-1954). The two numbers in parentheses refer to the volume and page.

  31. For a short study of this proverbial expression see Wolfgang Mieder and David Pilachowski, "Die 'Nacht der langen Messer'," Der Sprachdienst, 19 (1975), 149-152.

  32. For proverbs expressing a fatalistic worldview see Matti Kuusi, "Fatalistic Traits in Finnish Proverbs," in Fatalistic Beliefs in Religion, Folklore and Literature, ed. Helmer Ringgren (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1967), pp. 89-96; rpt. in Mieder and Dundes (note 6), pp. 275-283.

  33. See Mieder and Bryan (note 25) for precise references.

  34. For two representative collections see Robert Hendrickson, Salty Words (New York: Hearst Marine Books, 1984); and Wolfgang Mieder, Salty Wisdom: Proverbs of the Sea (Shelburne, Vermont: The New England Press, 1990).

  35. For a history of this proverbial phrase see Dietmar Peil, "'Im selben Boot': Variationen über ein metaphorisches Argument," Archiv für Kulturgeschichte, 68 (1986), 269-293; and Wolfgang Mieder, "'Wir sitzen alle in einem Boot': Herkunft, Geschichte und Verwendung einer neueren deutschen Redensart," Muttersprache, 100 (1990), 18-37. See also the more general study by Irene Meichsner, Die Logik von Gemeinplätzen. Vorgeführt an Steuermannstopos und Schiffsmetapher (Bonn: Bouvier, 1983).

  36. See Brown (note 26), p. 312.

  37. Winston S. Churchill, My Early Life: A Roving Commission (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1958 [1930]), p. 23.

  38. Ibid., p. 116. See also Darrell Holley, Churchill's Literary Allusions: An Index to the Education of a Soldier, Statesman and Litterateur (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, 1987); Reid (note 22), pp. 284-290; and more generally Paul F. Boller, Quotesmanship: The Use and Abuse of Quotations for Polemical and Other Purposes (Dallas, Texas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1967).

  39. See Victor L. Albjerg, Winston Churchill (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1973), p. 46. See also Ashley (note 13), p. 23; and Weidhorn (note 11), p. 30.

  40. For a history of this Latin proverb see Anette Erler, "Zur Geschichte des Spruches 'Bis dat, qui cito dat' [He gives twice who gives quickly]," Philologus, 13 (1986), 210-220.

  41. Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Wander, Deutsches Sprichwörter-Lexikon, 5 vols. (Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus, 1867-1880; rpt. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1964), vol. 1 (1867), col. 278 (no. 112).

  42. Ibid., vol. 2 (1870), col. 45 (no. 1024).

  43. See Mieder and Bryan (note 25) for precise references.

  44. Cited from Robert Rhodes James (ed.), Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897-1963 (London: Chelsea House Publishers, 1974), vol. 8, p. 8507.

  45. See J. Alan Pfeffer, The Proverb in Goethe (New York: King's Crown Press, 1948), p. 24 (no. 56).

  46. The only reference work in which it is registered with a reference to Goethe is Lilian Dalbiac, Dictionary of Quotations (German) (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1958 [1st ed. 1909]), p. 155.

  47. James (note 45), vol. 6, p. 6220.

  48. Winston S. Churchill, The World Crisis (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1931 [1959]), vol. 6, p. 1. See Manfred Weidhorn, "Churchill the Phrase Forger," Quarterly Journal of Speech, 58 (1972), 170 (the entire essay on pp. 161-174).

  49. See John Bartlett, Familiar Quotations, ed. Justin Kaplan, 16th ed. (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1992), p. 620:5 (note 1).

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  50. For additional references see Mieder and Bryan (note 25).

  51. Churchill delighted in using this quotation as can be seen from the citations in Mieder and Bryan (note 25). It should be noted, however, that he sometimes cites its source incorrectly as coming from the Constitution of the United States.

  52. A page later Churchill returns again to this special relationship: "Thus began a friendship which across all the ups and downs of war I have preserved with deep satisfaction to this day" (IV,345).

  53. Cited from James (note 45), vol. 6, p. 6266. See also Birkett (note 26), p. 226; Weidhorn (note 49), pp. 168-169; and Bartlett (note 50), p. 620 (no. 10).

  54. Ibid., vol. 7, p. 7158.

  55. Ibid., vol. 8, p. 8243.

  56. Ibid., vol. 6, p. 6238. See also Bartlett (note 50), p. 620 (no. 8).

  57. See Weidhorn (note 49), p. 174.

  58. For this type of political use of proverbs see Charles H. Titus, "Political Maxims," California Folklore Quarterly, 4 (1945), 377-389; Wolfgang Mieder, Das Sprichwort in unserer Zeit (Frauenfeld: Huber, 1975), pp. 14-22; and W. Mieder, Deutsche Sprichwörter in Literatur, Politik, Presse und Werbung (Hamburg: Helmut Buske, 1983), pp. 11-41.

  59. Cited from Mieder and Bryan (note 25).

  60. Albjerg (note 40), p. 51. Albjerg continues: "If he was not preparing a speech, organizing a report, planning a campaign, painting a mural, writing a book, building a wall, digging a ditch, he was off in the Enchantress inspecting dockyards or observing naval maneuvers. Each enterprise, whatever it was, constituted an entrancing experience which, in its performance, held him spellbound."

  61. See also the interesting rephrasing of this proverb as "The iron stands hot for the striking" (VI,190), cited by Churchill from a communication to him by Sir A. Clark Kerr, British Ambassador in Moscow, concerning Churchill's upcoming trip to Russia to meet Stalin in October 1944.

  62. The term was coined by Wolfgang Mieder, who also collected 4,500 German anti-proverbs in his Antisprichwörter, 3 vols. (Wiesbaden: Verlag für deutsche Sprache, 1982 and 1985; Wiesbaden: Quelle & Meyer, 1989).

  63. See Richard Jente, "Make Hay While the Sun Shines," Southern Folklore Quarterly, 1 (1937), 63-68.

  64. It might be of interest to note here that Churchill describes Stalin's pragmatism through a proverb as well, stating that "Marshall Stalin followed the Russian maxim , 'You may always walk with the Devil [in this case the Italian fascists] till you get to the end of the bridge'" (V,167).

  65. For the five references of Churchill's use of this proverb see Mieder and Bryan (note 25).

  66. Quoted in The Churchill Years 1874-1965, intro. Lord Butler of Saffron Walden (New York: The Viking Press, 1965), p. 231.

Wolfgang Mieder
Department of German and Russian
Waterman Building
University of Vermont
Burlington, Vermont 05405

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