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In Our Lovely Deseret: Mark Twain and Winston Churchill: When great men meet

Published: Monday, Dec. 9 2013 8:53 a.m. MST

"Mr. Churchill will tell you about the war in South Africa, and he is competent — he fought and wrote through it himself. And he made a record there which would be a proud one for a man twice his age. By his father, he is English; by his mother, he is American. To my mind the blend which makes the perfect man. We are now on the friendliest terms with England. Mainly through my missionary efforts I suppose; and I am glad. We have always been kin: kin in blood, kin in religion, kin in representative government, kin in ideals, kin in just and lofty purposes; and now we are kin in sin(referring to the political scene), the harmony is complete, the blend is perfect, like Mr. Churchill himself ... "

Twain was warmly impressed, but Churchill was elated. Thirty years later he wrote: "Throughout my journeyings, I received the help of eminent Americans, and my opening lecture in New York was under the auspices of no less a personage than Mark Twain himself. I was thrilled by this famous companion of my youth. He was now very old and snow-white, and combined with a noble air a most delightful style of conversation ... He was good enough at my request to sign every one of 30 volumes of his works for my benefit; and in the first volume he inscribed the following maxim intended, I daresay, to convey a gentle admonition: ‘To do good is noble; to teach others to do good is nobler, and no trouble’" (see The Claremont Institute's "When Winston Churchill Met Mark Twain").

Churchill was named the greatest Briton of all time in a 2002 poll. He was the only British prime minister to receive the Nobel prize.

And of his own hero, Ernest Hemingway wrote of Twain in "The Green Hills of Africa": "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called '(Adventures of) Huckleberry Finn.'"

We merely touch here upon the overwhelming, really priceless, contributions of these two men. Let us honor, remember — and increase our best efforts to emulate what they have given us — and all that they represent.

And as an extra bit more to charm and delight us, here are a few quotations from each:

Mark Twain

"A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval."

"Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn’t."

"Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first."

"Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest."

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear."

Winston Churchill

"The price of greatness is responsibility."

"We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give."

"For myself, I am an optimist — it does not seem to be much use to be anything else."

"History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it."

"Continuous effort — not strength or intelligence — is the key to unlocking our potential."

"To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often."

"Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense."

"We are all worms — but I do believe I am a glow-worm!" 

Sources: www.winstonchurchill.org, www.marktwainhouse.org Goodreads.com, The Quotations Page

Susan Evans McCloud is author of more than 40 books and has published screenplays, a book of poetry and lyrics, including two songs in the LDS hymnbook. She has six children. She blogs at susanevansmccloud.blogspot.com. Email: susasays@broadweave.net

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