Listed by John Ray

(Last updated 6th. September, 2001: With particular thanks to Jill Hillman-Marks, Michael Darby , Lewis Hoffman and various internet authors.)

If you were asked what words you can remember that were spoken by some prominent person, it is likely that the only words you could bring to mind would be something silly or trivial. What, for instance, did Queen Victoria say? .........

You see what I mean. It is a sad thing that many public figures spend much of their lives saying things in speeches and elsewhere that they deem to be deep and meaningful and yet they are often remembered chiefly for just one or two trivial or silly things that they said. To be remembered at all, however, is no mean achievement -- one that eludes most -- so the sayings concerned are in fact memorials to the speaker. I have tried below to collect such "memorials".

The list is nonetheless merely for fun. It is meant to be the OPPOSITE of a book of quotations. Instead of your looking up a book of quotations to find out what someone said, it is hoped that the quotations below are largely ones that you will already know. They should at least be ones that people interested in history should know. If there is any point in the list it is simply to show the folly of ego: If you are remembered at all after your death it will most likely be for something silly or trivial that you said or did.

Firstly, some sayings that many Australians would remember:

"Life wasn't meant to be easy" -- Former Australian Prime Minister John Malcolm Fraser

"By the year 1990, no Australian child will live in poverty" -- Former Australian Prime Minister Robert James Lee Hawke

"All the way with LBJ" -- Former Australian Prime Minister Harold Edward Holt

"Kerr's cur"
"Well may we say: 'God save the Queen', for nothing will save the Governor General" -- Former Australian Prime Minister Edward Gough Whitlam

"Two Wongs don't make a white" -- Arthur Augustus Calwell, Former Leader of the Australian Federal Parliamentary Labor Party

"The recession we had to have" -- Former Australian Prime Minister Paul John Keating

"The lucky country" -- Donald Horne. (Poor old Donald meant his book of that title to be a condemnation of Australia but most people took it as a celebration of Australia. It was such a miserable and carping book that very few people actually read it).

In reply to a woman heckler who cried out: "I would not vote for you if you were the Archangel Gabriel", Bob Menzies replied: "Madam, if I were the Archangel Gabriel, you would not be in my constituency"
"I did but see her passing by and yet I love her 'til I die" (Of the young Queen Elizabeth II). -- Sir Robert Gordon Menzies (Former Australian Prime Minister)

"We'll keep the bastards honest" -- Donald Leslie Chipp (Founder of the Australian Democrats Party)

"I am a media tart" -- Peter Douglas Beattie, Premier of Queensland

"Why are people so unkind?" -- Kamahl (Sri-Lankan origin Australian singer)

"Don't you worry about that" -- Former Queensland Premier Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen

"Run over the bastards" (Said to his driver when demonstrators were blocking his car). -- Former N.S.W. Premier Sir Robert Askin

"This is a good place for a village" (often quoted by residents of Sydney) -- John Batman, founder of Melbourne

And now for the British contribution to wit and wisdom:

"We are not amused" -- Victoria, Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland and Empress of India

"In the name of God, go" -- Oliver Cromwell in a speech at the House of Commons, 20 April, 1653

"A week is a long time in politics" -- Former U.K. Prime Minister Harold Wilson

"Peace in our time" (Said on his return from Muenchen waving a piece of paper after "appeasing" Hitler) -- Former U.K. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (but it was he, not Churchill, who finally declared war on Hitler)

"I have nothing to declare but my genius"
"It is very rude to read other people's cigarette cases" -- Oscar Wilde (Anglo-Irish author)

"Get the finger out" -- His Royal Highness Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh

"You never had it so good" -- Former U.K. Prime Minister Sir Harold Macmillan

"Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach" -- G.B. Shaw (Anglo-Irish playwright). An extension of the saying to university professors is also sometimes heard: "And those who can't teach, teach the teachers"

"Dr. Livingstone, I presume" -- Henry Morton Stanley, with typical British reserve, even in darkest Africa and even though he was an American.

"Shaken, not stirred" -- James Bond character in spy stories by Ian Fleming

"All you need is love" -- The Beatles, English popular music stars

The lady's not for turning" -- Baroness Margaret Hilda Thatcher

"Elementary, my dear Watson" -- Basil Rathbone (In early Sherlock Holmes films. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never once wrote that phrase in any of the original Sherlock Holmes stories).

In reply to a woman heckler who cried out "Winston! You are drunk", Churchill replied: "And you, madam are ugly. But I shall be sober in the morning" -- Former U.K. Prime Minister Sir Winston Spencer Churchill

"All pigs are equal but some are more equal than others" -- English novelist George Orwell in "Animal Farm"

"Your country needs you" -- Field Marshall Herbert Lord Kitchener, inventor of the concentration camp and lifelong bachelor

"To be or not to be?" -- English playwright presumed to be William Shakespeare

"Bugger Bognor" -- George V, King of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Emperor of India

And now for the U.S. contribution to wit and wisdom:

"Read my lips: No new taxes" (But he put up existing ones)
"I'm the President of the United States and I don't have to eat broccoli" -- Former U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush, hero of small boys

"But I didn't inhale"
"The era of big government is over" -- U.S. President Bill Clinton, speaking of his marijuana experiences and ignoring the "elephant in the bedroom".

"Where's the rest of me?" -- Former U.S. President and movie actor Ronald Reagan as Drake McHugh in the 1942 film "King's Row" where the diabolical Dr. Henry Gordon, played by Charles Coburn, went around punishing people for perceived misdemeanors and thus sawed of Drake McHugh's legs.

"I shall return" (This was really just wartime propaganda, probably first said at a news conference after his defeat by the Japanese) -- U.S. General Douglas MacArthur

"That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth" -- Former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln in his famous "Gettysburg Address" (Explaining why he sent hundreds of thousands of young Americans to their deaths in order to DENY self-government to the people of the Southern States! That Lincoln is generally praised for such transparent hypocrisy suggests that he was well before Dr. Goebbels in finding the "big lie" technique successful).

{But "When it comes to Abraham Lincoln, some of the people are fooled all of the time": Apparently Abe Lincoln never said one of his most famous quotes: "You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time."}

"Come up and see me some time"
"Is that a pistol in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?" -- Mae West, early U.S. film star

"You can have any colour you like as long as it is black" -- Henry Ford, U.S. Industrialist (of the T-model car)

"A girl cannot be too rich or too thin" -- American divorcee Wallis Simpson a.k.a. The Duchess of Windsor

"I cried all the way to the bank" -- High camp U.S. pianist, Wladziu Valentine Liberace

"Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated" -- Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens, novelist)

"Anyone who hates children and dogs can't be all bad" -- W.C. Fields (U.S. Comedian)

And now for the international contribution to wit and wisdom:

"England is a nation of shopkeepers" -- Corsican dictator Napoleon Bonaparte

"Mussolini ha sempre ragione" (Mussolini is always right) -- Benito Mussolini (Late Marxist theorist, founder of Fascism and Italian Dictator)

"Et tu Brute" Though Suetonius tells us his words were actually the Greek 'Kai su, teknon?' (You too, my son?)? -- Roman Dictator, the divine Caius Julius Caesar

"Lord, make me holy -- But not yet" -- St Augustine of Hippo (not to be confused with the later St. Augustine who helped to convert the English).

"We will bury you" -- Nikita Khrushchev (Former General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union)

"Cogito ergo sum (I think therefore I am)" -- Renee Descartes (French philosopher. Being French he was not even sure he existed!)

"When I hear the word 'Culture' I reach for my Browning" (Browning is of course a well-known English poet but also a well-known firearm manufacturer) -- Reichsmarschal Hermann Goering

L'etat c'est moi (The State is me) -- Louis XIV of France, the "Sun King"

"Power grows out of the barrel of a gun" -- Mao Tse Tung (Chinese Communist Leader)

"Tell a big enough lie often enough and people will believe you" -- Dr Paul Josef Goebbels, Nazi Minister for Propaganda

"The war is proceeding in a way not necessarily to Japan's advantage" -- Showa Emperor Hirohito (After the dropping of Atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

"Religion is the opium of the people"
"I am not a Marxist" -- Karl Marx (obsolete German economist)

"Vanity of vanity. All is vanity" "Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we may die" -- King Solomon of Israel

"Esto peccator, et pecca fortiter" (If you are going to be a sinner, sin strongly) -- Augustinian monk Martin Luther. (The rest of this quote is interesting and somewhat more reasonable. It is: "sed fortius crede et gaude in Christo, qui victor est peccati, mortis et mundi. Peccandum est quam diu sic sumus; vita haec non est habitatio justitiae")

"Let them eat cake" -- Austrian Marie Antoinette Hapsburg, Queen of France

"Don't let them eat cake" -- The universal advice to mothers these days

"After us, the deluge" -- Miss Fish, later known as Madame De Pompadour, Mistress of French King Louis XV

"Das tausend Jahr Reich" (The State that will last a thousand years. It lasted 12). -- Reichskanzler Adolf Hitler

"In 50 years' time there will be only five kings left in the world: The King of Hearts, the King of Diamonds, the King of Clubs, the King of Spades and the King of England" -- King Faroukh of Egypt



Occasionally, however, people are remembered for more inspiring or even wise and heroic utterances, though the first Kennedy quote below was pinched from the great Athenian patriot, Pericles:

"Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country"
"Ich bin ein Berliner (I am a Berliner)" -- U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. (This quote has a double meaning as there is also a pastry sold in Berlin that is known as a "Berliner". Some say this made Kennedy sound ridiculous but the cheers of the crowd that he was addressing make clear that his intended meaning was immediately understood).

"If the British Empire and its Commonwealth shall last for a thousand years, people will still say: This was their finest hour"
"We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender"
"I have nothing to offer but blood, sweat, toil and tears"
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few"
-- Sir Winston Spencer Churchill, Former U.K. Prime Minister

"Veni, vidi, vici" -- Roman dictator, the divine Caius Julius Caesar

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try and try again" -- Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever" -- English poet John Keats

"In the long run we are all dead" -- Lord Keynes (An economist's comment on the "long run" projections often used in economic theory).

"If a man is not a socialist in his youth, he has no heart. If he is not a conservative by the time he is 30 he has no head" -- Georges Clemenceau, Former French Prime Minister and one-time radical. (There are many versions of this saying and many attributions of it but the original utterance seems to have been by mid-nineteenth century French historian and politician Francois Guizot, who said: "Not to be a republican at 20 is proof of want of heart; to be one at 30 is proof of want of head". He was referring to the controversy over whether France should be a republic or a monarchy. France did of course have various experiments with monarchy even after the decapitation of Louis XVI. So foolish young people want Presidents and wiser old people want Kings? Maybe. As a monarchist happily living in a monarchy, I think Guizot had a point.)

"I have a dream that one day a man will be judged not for the colour of his skin but by the content of his character" -- Martin Luther King (As King appears to have been a plagiarist and serial adulterer, that "character" criterion might perhaps have been better chosen)

"They also serve who only stand and wait" -- John Milton, English poet (From: "On his blindness")

"The unexamined life is not worth living" -- Socrates (Ancient Athenian philosopher)

"I may be gone for some time" -- L.E.G. Oates (stepping out into the Antarctic blizzard)

"England expects that every man will do his duty" -- Horatio Nelson (One-eyed English Admiral)

"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men" -- Cambridge Don and Lord in Waiting at the court of Queen Victoria, Lord Acton

"They shall not pass" -- Said of the Germans by French Marechal Philippe Petain at Verdun in World War I. (Later, however, he became chief collaborator with the Germans under Hitler).

"The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley And leave us nought but grief and pain for promised joy" -- Robert Burns, Scottish poet (From his poem "To a mouse")

"To understand is to forgive"
"I disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it" -- "Voltaire" (Francois-Marie Arouet)

"What does it matter if it is a black cat or a white cat, as long as it catches mice?"
"To get rich is glorious" -- Deng Xiaoping (Chinese Communist leader)



Sayings are not of course all that people are remembered by. Sometimes their deeds prove memorable too. Again, however, it often surprising what people are remembered by. Both follies and trivia can be amazingly memorable.

For a start, let us survey some deeds that many Australians would remember:

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser is remembered for losing his trousers in Memphis, Tennessee.

Former Australian Prime Minister Sir William McMahon is remembered for the slit up the side of his wife's dress when he visited the United States.

Former Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies is remembered for doing nothing (which is in fact no mean feat for a politician) during his long postwar stint as Australian Prime Minister but Leftists always remember that he authorized the sale of pig-iron to the Japanese before the second world war.

Former Speaker in the lower house of Austalia's Parliament and later leader of the Australian Federal Opposition Billy Snedden is remembered for dying on top of a Kings Cross prostitute. {Michael Darby adds the following pertinent information: "I note your mention of Snedden. After his death the Liberal Party looked after the lady in question, by arranging employment for her at Australian Electrical Industries. She still has a job there, screwing the nuts off old speakers"}

Former Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt is remembered for being eaten by a shark.

Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke is remembered for crying all the time.

Australian Prime Minister John Winston Howard is known for his hats and winning an election despite promising new taxes

Former Queensland Premier Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen is remembered for feeding the chooks (his name for journalists), permitting the tearing down of old buildings, sooling his police onto demonstrators and being a "Bible-bashing bastard", in Gough Whitlam's phrase.

And someone virtually nobody seems to remember, even though he was not so long ago Premier of Australia's most populous State (NSW): Those who do remember Barrie Unsworth, however, remember him as being prone to wearing cardigans!

And some things that many Americans would remember:

U.S. President William Jefferson Clinton is remembered for not screwing Monica Lewinski.

U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is known for introducing socialism ("the New Deal") to the United States of America and curing the Great Depression (though he in fact created it rather than cured it. His anti-business policies turned a normal cyclic depression into the Great Depression. Under conservative management, Britain came out of the depression much sooner )

U.S. President Ronald Reagan is remembered for not getting the girl in films, for his amiability (he even put up with Nancy!) and for his much scorned "Star Wars" proposal (He actually thought that people should be able to shoot down missiles aimed at them. Obviously a fool! Funny, though, that Clinton's proposal of the same thing did not earn such scorn!)

U.S. President Theodore ("Teddy") Roosevelt is known as the man who invented the Teddy bear (after he had shot a bear and had it stuffed).

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson is remembered as the man who persuaded many countries to form the League of Nations after the first world war but could not persuade the country of which he was President to join.

U.S. President Thomas Jefferson is known for reducing the number of government employees. (He really did!)

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is known for starting a civil war in defence of central government ("the union") and getting shot. (It is often claimed that the civil war was fought over slavery but Lincoln always said it was for "the union". He does not mention slavery in his Gettysburg address when he gives his version of why the war was fought)

U.S. scientist Benjamin Franklin is remembered for flying kites.

And, as many British would remember:

Former First Lord of the Admiralty and later U.K. Prime Minister, Sir Winston Spencer Churchill is remembered for his cigar, for popularizing a rude gesture and losing Gallipoli (even though he was not even in the war cabinet by the time the decision to invade Gallipoli was taken).

Former U.K. Prime Minister Lloyd George is remembered for knowing everyone's father.

Former British General Douglas Haig is remembered as the "Butcher of the Somme" for sending tens of thousands of his own troops to rapid and certain death during the First World War. (But he won!)

Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, is remembered for ordering the beheading of King Charles I. (Even though he was only with difficulty persuaded to be one of the 135 commissioners of justice who signed the death warrant).

And some memorable deeds from other lands:

Alcibiades is remembered for leading the Athenian empire into wars that destroyed it.

Indian pacifist and Nationalist agitator Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is remembered for fasting.

Hanslick is remembered as the music critic who scorned John Mozart (Although now generally referred to as "Wolfgang Amadeus" Mozart, he was in fact christened "Johannes Chrysostomas Wolfgang Theophilus Mozart" -- which translates to mean: "Gift of God of the Golden Mouth, Wolf's Walk, Lover of God" Mozart).

Former Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte is loved in France as the foreigner who killed more Frenchmen than anyone else before or since has ever managed. (Almost every family in France lost a son in the Corsican's many wars).

Reichskanzler Adolf Hitler is remembered for bringing German thoroughness to traditional European antisemitism.

Joseph Vissarionovich Djugashvili (a.k.a. Stalin), General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, is remembered for killing tens of millions of people for the good of "The people".

Ancient Israel's King Solomon is remembered for wisely ordering the dismemberment of a baby.

Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin is remembered for overthrowing the Russian Tsar when in fact it was the democratic government of the Mensheviks that he overthrew. It was the Mensheviks who overthrew the Tsar.



My above collection of the sayings and deeds by which we remember people contains quite a collection of follies but, as Australia's Demtel man (Tim Shaw of steak-knife fame) would say: "But wait, there's more"


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