Student or Learner
"But we must learn to be equally good at what is short and sharp and what is long and tough. It is generally said that the British are often better at the last. They do not expect to move from crisis to crisis; they do not always expect that each day will bring up some noble chance of war; but when they very slowly make up their minds that the thing has to be done and the job put through and finished, then, even if it takes months - if it takes years - they do it."
This is from Churchill's speech"never give in". What puzzles me is "It is generally said that the British are often better at the last." what does this sentence mean and what does "the last" refer to? If "the last" refers to "what is long and tough", it doesn't make sense because of what follows "they do not expect to move from crisis to crisis...", which shows that the British are not good at long and tough struggles. Then, what can "the last" refer to? What does Churchill mean?
I will appreciate any help from you.
WWII began as a series of crises to be dealt with one after the other; Chamberlain resigned, not up to the task; Churchill took over.
He is reminding the British public that their nation had always overcome hardship slowly and with great patience (as in the Napoleonic Wars), and that WWII would be won not by a single coup de grace but -- "at the last" -- by the same "bulldog tenacity".
There's a Scottish proverb: "Spit on the Stane [Stone] and it will be wet at the last." If you spit once on a big stone, it will not really be wet; spitting is such a small thing to do; but keep spitting at it, and it will become wet.
Last edited by abaka; 15-Jan-2009 at 17:19.