Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Some of my Favourite Historical Quotations

By "historical quotation", I don't mean a quotation that is taken from history, since that would encompass everything. I don't even mean a quotation about history.

What I mean are those quotations that are made at the time but that capture the drama of a historical moment.

Of course, I am only hailing these as great quotations, not endorsing the sentiments. Nor do I know (or much care) whether any of them are apocryphal or not.

"We will now proceed to construct the socialist order." Vladimir Lenin, Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets, 1917.

"Early this morning I signed my death warrant". Michael Collins, on the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, 1921

"The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our life-time." Lord Edward Grey, English Foreign Secretary, at the outbreak of war in 1914. Said while looking at the street lamps being lit in the street outside as dusk fell.

"I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." Robert Oppenheimer, on the detonation of the first nuclear explosion.

"May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here." William Lenthall, speaker of the House of Commons, to King Charles I, 1662

"There's an end of an old song." the Earl of Seafield, signing the Act of Union between Scotland and England, 1707

"The Pope? How many regiments has he got?." Stalin, 1935

"We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is unsufferable." Emperor Hirohito, 1945

"We are all socialists now." William Harcourt, British MP, 1888


  1. Like your blog. An interesting quote you might like: 'without the help of Christian teaching the law will fail'. It is attributed to Baron Patrick Devlin, an English judge.

  2. Thank you! That is an interesting quotation.