Study Guide

Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat Quotes

By Winston Churchill

  • Warfare

    A War Cabinet has been formed of five Members, representing, with the Opposition Liberals, the unity of the nation. The three party Leaders have agreed to serve, either in the War Cabinet or in high executive office. The three Fighting Services have been filled. (5-6)

    Not the most exciting text in the world, but it shows us how this government dealt efficiently with their own transition while totally fighting the Nazis. The emphasis on unity is particularly relevant.

    […] it must be remembered that we are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history, that we are in action at many other points in Norway and in Holland, that we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean, that the air battle is continuous and that many preparations have to be made here at home. (17)

    It's interesting to see how aware they were about the enormity of what was ahead. Also, how unprepared Britain was.

    I hope that any of my friends and colleagues, or former colleagues, who are affected by the political reconstruction, will make allowance, all allowance, for any lack of ceremony with which it has been necessary to act. (19)

    The British government likes its traditions. It's a sign of the urgency of the situation (i.e., war) that the transition happened quickly and without opposition. The possibility of annihilation sure concentrates the mind.

    You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. (23-24)

    This will be an all-out effort, and the stakes couldn't be higher.

    You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. (26-27)

    Nobody could match Churchill in his ability to project confidence and strength in the face of very long odds against a better-equipped and more ruthless enemy. As things looked more and more bleak, he somehow managed to keep this up during the darkest days of the war.

  • Fear

    A War Cabinet has been formed of five Members, representing, with the Opposition Liberals, the unity of the nation […] It was necessary that this should be done in one single day, on account of the extreme urgency and rigor of events. (4, 7)

    Churchill explains why the change in leadership was necessary and how it's proceeding, so that Parliament can be reassured that there's a grownup in charge and they understand why he's doing what he's doing. He knew the first thing on his agenda had to be stabilizing the political situation.

    Sir to form an Administration of this scale and complexity is a serious undertaking in itself, but it must be remembered that we are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history, that we are in action at many other points in Norway and in Holland, that we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean, that the air battle is continuous and that many preparations have to be made here at home. (17)

    Churchill's basically scaring his audience so they'll take the situation seriously, and focus on the war rather than their anger about losing Neville Chamberlain as prime minister.

    In this crisis I hope I may be pardoned if I do not address the House at any length today. I hope that any of my friends and colleagues, or former colleagues, who are affected by the political reconstruction, will make allowance, all allowance, for any lack of ceremony with which it has been necessary to act. I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat." (18-20)

    Again, Churchill invokes the urgency of the war to excuse changes in parliamentary procedure. He knows people will be worried about the abruptness of the change. He follows with the reassurance that he'll give everything he has to win this thing.

    You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. (23-25)

    That description of the Axis powers would strike fear into pretty much anyone. The MPs listening were aware of the "monstrous tyranny," but for the past decade Parliament had been trying to appease them.

    […]without victory, there is no survival. Let that be realized; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal. (27-28)

    This is a popular justification for war: to protect our way of life. Churchill's upping the ante here—the future of humanity is at stake. The speech was genius in pointing out the dangers facing civilization while projecting a reassuring confidence of victory.

  • Good vs. Evil

    […] it must be remembered that we are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history, that we are in action at many other points in Norway and in Holland, that we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean, that the air battle is continuous and that many preparations have to be made here at home. (17)

    Churchill has to set the scene for this struggle between good and evil, which he does by reiterating the existing conflict and the seriousness of the coming war. The war is on England's doorstep at this point.

    We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. (21-22)

    Part of characterizing yourself as the good guy is a sense of victimization. You're suffering either because of unfair persecution, or, in this case, in order to protect the free world from fascism. Churchill wasn't wrong; the British (and everyone else) endured a lot of suffering at the hands of the Nazis.

    You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war […] to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. (23-24)

    Churchill's description of Nazi Germany (really the other Axis powers weren't the focus) illustrates how the British saw their enemy as truly evil. It goes way beyond a difference in political opinion or a territorial dispute.

    […] without victory, there is no survival. Let that be realized; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal. (27-28)

    Churchill believes that the British Empire stands for all that's good in the world.

    I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, "come then, let us go forward together with our united strength." (30-31)

    Another classic theme of the good vs. evil confrontation is the conviction by the good guys that their side will eventually triumph. It's an idea you see a lot in literature and pop culture, especially in science fiction and fantasy—like the fight against Voldemort, or the valiant battle of the Ewoks against the evil Galactic Empire.

  • Change

    On Friday evening last I received His Majesty's commission to form a new Administration […]A War Cabinet has been formed of five Members, representing, with the Opposition Liberals, the unity of the nation. (2, 5)

    Here's a nice summation of the political change that has just occurred in the British government. It's pretty straight-the-point: new Prime Minister, new cabinet, new mission.

    It was necessary that this should be done in one single day, on account of the extreme urgency and rigor of events. A number of other positions, key positions, were filled yesterday, and I am submitting a further list to His Majesty to-night. (8-9)

    Churchill knows all this change could be pretty jarring for the government, so he takes pains to describe exactly what was happening.

    Sir, to form an Administration of this scale and complexity is a serious undertaking in itself, but it must be remembered that we are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history, that we are in action at many other points in Norway and in Holland, that we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean, that the air battle is continuous and that many preparations have to be made here at home. (17)

    Here's the justification for these sudden changes: war is imminent and Great Britain isn't ready. Yet.

    You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us […] That is our policy. (23-25)

    This was definitely not the policy under Neville Chamberlain and his predecessors. Chamberlain did declare war on Germany, but was stood by when the Nazis started invading other countries. Huge change in policy here.

    […] without victory, there is no survival. Let that be realized; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal. (27-28)

    Churchill lays out the catastrophic consequences of a German victory. He's kind of saying, "hey, you might be freaked out by the sudden changes in government now, but think about what'll happen if a fascist dictator takes over the world. Now that's the change you should be worried about."

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...