Originally Posted by Lambert
That's almost a George Bernard Shaw quote. He was in a carriage in London with a high-society lady. As they passed Soho and saw prostitutes soliciting customers, the woman was digusted and asked George how could these women debase themselves to this level? George asked the woman, "Suppose you had no money and your child was ill with an illness that only an expensive operation could cure. Would you do it?" The woman said, "Well perhaps under those circumstances." George then said, " Well, we already have established what you are, and now are just dickering about the price."
Almost but not quite:
Quote Investigator: The role of the character initiating the proposal in this anecdote has been assigned to George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill, Groucho Marx, Mark Twain, W.C. Fields, Bertrand Russell, H.G. Wells, Woodrow Wilson and others. However, the earliest example of this basic story found by QI did not spotlight any of the persons just listed. In addition, the punch line was phrased differently.
In January 1937 the syndicated newspaper columnist O. O. McIntyre printed a version of the anecdote that he says was sent to him as a newspaper clipping. This tale featured a powerful Canadian-British media magnate and politician named Max Aitken who was also referred to as Lord Beaverbrook [MJLB]:
Here are many funny quotes by comedienne W C Fields for those interested.