Proverbial Rhetoric in Winston Churchill’s The Second World War

ISSN 1323-4633
Volume 1 – Number 2 – 1995

“MAKE HELL WHILE THE SUN SHINES” – 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.

The full text of this article is published in De Proverbio – Issue 2:1995, an electronic book, available from 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 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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).
  11. 1 Manfred Weidhorn, “‘Always the Same Set of Songs’: Topoi,” in M. Weidhorn, Sir Winston Churchill (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1979), pp. 34-45.
  12. Ibid., p. 162.
  13. 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).
  14. 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).
  15. 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.
  16. Ibid., p. 58 (rpt., pp. 48-49).
  17. James (see note 13), p. 29.
  18. David Cannadine (ed.), Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: The Speeches of Winston Churchill (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1989), p. 1 (introduction).
  19. 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.
  20. Joseph W. Miller, “Winston Churchill, Spokesman for Democracy,” Quarterly Journal of Speech, 28 (1942), 137 (the entire essay on pp. 131-138.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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).
  24. 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).
  25. 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).
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. Herbert Howarth, “Behind Winston Churchill’s Grand Style,” Commentary, 11 (1951), 551 (the entire article on pp. 549-557).
  29. 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).
  30. See Mieder (note 10).
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. See Mieder and Bryan (note 25) for precise references.
  35. 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).
  36. 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).
  37. See Brown (note 26), p. 312.
  38. Winston S. Churchill, My Early Life: A Roving Commission (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1958 [1930]), p. 23.
  39. 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).
  40. 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.
  41. 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.
  42. 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).
  43. Ibid., vol. 2 (1870), col. 45 (no. 1024).
  44. See Mieder and Bryan (note 25) for precise references.
  45. Cited from Robert Rhodes James (ed.), Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897-1963 (London: Chelsea House Publishers, 1974), vol. 8, p. 8507.
  46. See J. Alan Pfeffer, The Proverb in Goethe (New York: King’s Crown Press, 1948), p. 24 (no. 56).
  47. 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.
  48. James (note 45), vol. 6, p. 6220.
  49. 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).
  50. See John Bartlett, Familiar Quotations, ed. Justin Kaplan, 16th ed. (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1992), p. 620:5 (note 1).
    The full text of this article is published in De Proverbio – Issue 2:1995, an electronic book, available from and other leading Internet booksellers.
  51. For additional references see Mieder and Bryan (note 25).
  52. 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.
  53. 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).
  54. 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).
  55. Ibid., vol. 7, p. 7158.
  56. Ibid., vol. 8, p. 8243.
  57. Ibid., vol. 6, p. 6238. See also Bartlett (note 50), p. 620 (no. 8).
  58. See Weidhorn (note 49), p. 174.
  59. 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.
  60. Cited from Mieder and Bryan (note 25).
  61. 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.”
  62. 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.
  63. 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).
  64. See Richard Jente, “Make Hay While the Sun Shines,” Southern Folklore Quarterly, 1 (1937), 63-68.
  65. 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).
  66. For the five references of Churchill’s use of this proverb see Mieder and Bryan (note 25).
  67. 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