Probably not totally apocryphal.
Chou En Lai was reportedly once asked what he thought
was the historic impact of the French Revolution. After considering the question
for a moment he replied:
It's too soon to tell. This
story shows up in a few different versions. Sometimes it's reported as being told
to Kissinger himself, sometimes, as in the version quoted below, to Nixon, and
sometimes a full twenty years earlier to someone else. It's a good guess that
Chou En Lai actually said this, though precisely when, or to whom, isn't clear.
This particular example is taken from one
of the various web reports of the event - as usual, used by someone for his
or her own reasons:
Legend has it that, while preparing
Richard Nixon for his historic visit to China in 1972, Henry Kissinger mentioned
that Chinese Prime Minister Chou En-Lai was an avid student of French history.
During his trip, Nixon met with Chou En-Lai in the walled garden of the Forbidden
City. As they walked slowly around the lily ponds, Nixon remembered Kissinger's
comment. To break the ice, he asked Chou what he thought had been the impact of
the French revolution on western civilization. Chou En-Lai considered the question
for a few moments. Finally, he turned to Nixon and replied, "The impact of the
French revolution on western civilization -- too early to tell." And
of course in that respect the jury is still out on many historic events.
Go to: Are
crowds really that smart?