First of a brilliant series of articles narrating the life story of the man called by Britain to be "master of the dyke against world chaos"
FROM the birth notices of the London Times, issue of December 3, 1874:
"On the 30th November at Blenheim Palace, the Lady Randolph Churchill, prematurely, of a son.”
A seven-months child had started on the Road to Downing Street.
NEAR THE centre of the famous Phoenix Park in Dublin is a statue of that fabled bird rising again from the ashes of the fire which had consumed it. Dubliners call it the Eagle, pronouncing “eagle” with a powerful Dublin brogue. Near the Eagle, and behind a dry and grass-grown moat, is a low brick wall enclosing the grounds of the viceregal lodge; and round a corner of the plantation is a snug little house in the woods called the Little Lodge. In days of peace, that is one of the quietest, loveliest little houses in Ireland. There is a green lawn in front of it, stretching out to the double row of big horse-chestnut trees which line the public drive through the park. That lodge, that lawn, a donkey on which a chubby, rather cheeky little freckled and reddish-haired boy goes riding with his nurse, Mrs. Everest, in attendance . . . These are the earliest recollections of the man who is now Prime Minister of embattled Britain.
His paternal grandpapa, the Duke of Marlborough, was Irish Viceroy, and lived in the viceregal lodge. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was secretary to the Duke, and lived in the Little Lodge. The Irish Chief Secretary, Mr. Burke, lived not far away in another pleasant house among the trees. One day Mr. Burke brought Winston a present. It was a drum. Winston marched up and down the lawn playing his martial drum.
The Churchills returned to England. One day the people in the viceregal lodge heard the sound of shooting. In alarm they looked out and saw, through the avenue of dark cypress, some men scurrying away into the park. They were Fenian assassins. Mr. Burke lay where they had shot him down, dead.
For Winston, the drumming and the shooting had begun.
OVERNESS days had begun too, and the horrid task 'v-ïr of alphabet-learning. But Prep School was worse.
It is a dark November day. A little boy, sad at heart, has just had tea with the headmaster and said good-by to his mother, and with three half-crowns for his pocket and fourteen pairs of socks for his feet, has started his first gloomy day at school. He hears the carriage wheels bearing his mother away, and could weep at the thought of the seven dismal weeks which must elapse before the Christmas holidays, and home again, and the back-of-your-hand to grim M.A.’s in gowns and mortarboards! Now, in a classroom by himself, he has been left by the Latin master to 'earn the First Declension. He stares at it: Mensa, a table; Mensa, O table; Mensam, a table; Mensae, of a
table, etc. How silly it seemed ! Rigmarole. But at least it could be learned off by heart.
The master returned. The little boy rhymed off the rigmarole. “But what does it mean, sir?” he added.
“What does it mean, boy? It means what it says. Mensa means a table.”
“They why does it also mean O table, sir? And what does O table mean?”
“O table is the vocative case. You should use O table in addressing a table, in speaking to a table.”
“But I never do speak to a table, sir !”
The master was a little surprised and annoyed. He thought this new boy Churchill an impudent, upsetting young puppy. He should need punishment, and plenty of it.
Winston was unhappy at St. James’ School.
AT A SCHOOL in Brighton, run by two sagacious ladies, ^ *• the birchings and bickerings of St. James’ and the consequent breakdown in Winston’s health, were followed by soft words and gentle suasions which, of course, the recuperated and obstreperous boy exploited to the top of his mischievous bent. But he learned to swim on that famous beach, facing out toward the coasts of France. And of course he did some fighting. “We shall fight on the beaches.” In a comic juvenile sense, be sure Winston was doing it even then.
From his earliest youth, he now confesses, he had dreamed of war and wounds. The thought of soldiering excited his imagination. He had an army of toy soldiers 1,500 strong, and was more skilful in deploying them than in disposing of ranks of figures in that strange and meaningless puzzle known as lessons in arithmetic.
A model theatre was another of his fascinating toys, with a colossal production of “Alladin” in preparation; but in spite of this, and of having made his debut as an actor at the age of eight in “Heir at Law,” not the theatre, but theatres of war were in Winston’s destiny. Till training for that destiny should begin in earnest, his education could not begin, for his spirit lacked the kindling spark, his mental powers languished for want of that one ambition which could have challenged and drawn them out; and so, at Latin, mathematics, and almost all the other subjects on a school curriculum, Churchill remained—till Sandhurst days—a troublesome, rebellious dunce.
AND SO at Harrow, too, as at St. James’ and the Brighton Prep, the son of a brilliant father had to be recorded as mentally unawake, except when up to mischief. During his first months there he caused a stir among the small boys of the Fourth Form. On the edge of the big swimming pool a little fellow was standing, and Winston, indulging a favorite diversion, slipped up behind him and shoved him in. But it was a very angry and very strong boy who bobbed up from the ducking, struck out powerfully for the edge, grabbed the astonished Winston and flung him into the deepest part of the pool. Winston’s
small companions of the Fourth Form were aghast, knowing what Churchill had dared to do. He had pushed in the great Amery! Amery of the Sixth Form. Head of the House. “Gym” champion. Colors for football. Churchill was in for trouble.
When Winston heard all this he, too, was aghast. He made a quick summing-up of the situation; then, instead of running off, pluckily faced the worst by going straight up to the great Amery and saying how sorry he was and explaining that he had mistaken Amery for a Fourth-Form boy, he was so small! What! Insult added to affront! Winston read in Amery’s face how great was this his second blunder and how terrible the wrath about to be visited upon him in consequence. He recovered all by setting Amery to laugh at his adroit addition, “You see. my father, who is a great man, is also small !”
Churchill and Amery have been much together since, as tear correspondents and Cabinet colleagues. Mr. Amery today is Secretary for India, helping Fourth-form Churchill to win the tear.
TET EVERYONE master English; a few with special aptitude might read Latin as a privilege or Greek for fun. So said Winston, though perhaps not quite seriously. Besides, he was himself good at English and very far from good at Latin. At Harrow he found a sixth-form boy who was good at Latin and very far from good at English. They struck a bargain. It must have been a comic sight, little Winston striding to and fro while the sixth-form boy sat scribbling down his essay as Winston dictated it.
But Winston contributed to the school magazine, Harrovian, edited by Amery. And when his mind was interested it could swiftly grasp and firmly hold. Churchill won the prize for saying without a mistake twelve hundred lines of Macaulay’s, “Lays of Ancient Rome.” And in the —ostensible-—interest of scholarship he led a small revolt, of himself and his friend Jack Milbanke, against the denial to them of the traditional right to study instead of playing compulsory football during the examination trials week. The revolt was daring, but successful, and democratic rights had been maintained. It does not follow, however, that Churchill studied any more; only that he played less football.
He was little good at the less warlike games, but he won the Public Schools Fencing Championship. And he was a swimmer.
TT WAS a beautiful day on Lake Lucerne when Master
Winston and a friend lowed far out from shore in a little boat with a red awning over the stern. A warm lovely day of bright sun sparkling through clear air on the blue water. The two boys stripped and plunged in. It was glorious. But Winston was suddenly aware that a freshening breeze had carried their boat a hundred yards away and was still whisking it along, dangerously fast and far. He struck out after it. He almost reached it. But just as he was about to
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Winston Churchill, age 26, through the hero ©! his novel, n Savrola", 1900.* I discharge a duty to the human species in breaking down a military despotism» I do not like to see a government supported ©nfy by bayonets/ it is an anachronism^
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grasp the gunwale the wind whipped it of reach. Twice this happened. Suddenly the imminent danger of death fell bleakly through the bright day. Winston braced himself for a supreme effort. The spirit which inspired the phrase “we shall never surrender,” at the crisis of Dunkirk, was alive in him then. He overtook and grasped the boat and soon was rowing himself and his nearly exhausted friend back to safety.
C AFETY. What and where is safety? ^ What meaning has the word for one without the instinct to be safe? Then, in every crisis of the days since then, Churchill has lacked the instinct to safe, yet has been safe. Some call it charmed life.” Others call it simply foolhardiness that, so far, always has happened to come off. But at what a cost to other people’s peace of mind ! The war of nerves—on the family.
From crisis to crisis—the pattern of life—the Winston Churchill pattern.
Lady Wimborne, Winston’s aunt, had place of forty or fifty acres of pine forest sloping down to the white chalk cliffs and the sea at Bournemouth. A deep gully, chine, cleft through the trees and over it was a rustic bridge, fifty feet long. Winston, then eighteen, was there on holiday with his younger brother Jack, and young cousin. Jack and the cousin were chasing Winston, and manoeuvred so skilfully that they got Winston on the bridge with Jack guarding one end of it and the cousin the other. They began to close in. Winston, at bay in the middle of the bridge, looked over. The tops of the young pines almost touched the bridge. But that was the one way of escape. He thought a moment. He began to climb over. Jack and the cousin stopped in their tracks, aghast. Winston, poised, leaped.
He did catch the top of a tree as he had planned. Maybe, too, some of the tender branches helped to check his fall, as he had planned. But he fell, twenty-nine feet onto the hard ground.
Three days he was unconscious. Three months he was in bed. Among other injuries he had ruptured a kidney. Distinguished surgeons examined, consulted, gravely wondered if he could live. “We shall never surrender.” So, he lived. But for a year, as he has said, he looked at life round a comer. So easily as that there might have been, all these years later, a different nomination for Britain’s AntiNazi Number One.
, Lieutenant Churchill
AFTER the accident at Bournemouth, Winston, the invalid, had to be a studious invalid. In convalescence part his studies—an exciting and deeply important part, though one which did not count as study at all—was watching from the Distinguished Stranger’s Gallery, the debates and party manoeuvrings in the House of Commons, and listening, in his father’s house, to the talk of the men who were the country’s representatives and rulers of that time. It was a sort of political Prep School for a future premier.
But years of soldiering were to precede years of statesmanship, and to soldiering the Royal Military College at Sandhurst was the gate. Twice Churchill had tried to pass from Harrow through that gate, and twice he had failed. Now he made a last and desperate assault. He got through. He was a cavalry cadet.
To have been apprenticed as a bricklayer’s mate, or have had a job as an errand boy, or the fun of helping his father dress the front window of a grocer’s shop, any of these, said Winston, should have been preferable to the years spent at Harrow; they would have been more “real,” have taught him more. Let boys,
all boys, work, work with their hands, use their bodies, and let only the true students among them go on to universities to work exclusively with their heads, if they chose. So thought young Churchill, Sandhurst was “real” enough—riding, drill, gymnastics; studies in the operations of war, tactics, fortification, map-making; military law and administration. The soldier was in the making, eagerly and happily. So, for a lark, was the man
public affairs and public speeches, betimes.
TT IS the summer of 1894. A Mrs.
Ormiston Chant has organized what called, by her, a Purity Campaign; but her campaign is described by the London Daily Telegraph as, “Prudes on the Prowl.” In particular, she wants to suppress the Saturday-night fun, which she alleges immoral fun, on the famous Promenade of the Empire Musical Hall in Leicester Square. Winston sometimes promenades there, on week-end holidays, and sees nothing immoral going on except, perhaps, the decisiveness with which the powerful chucker-out performs his duty on any deemed by him to misbehave. The traditional Saturday-night diversions of decent British folk are threatened by kill-joy fanatics. So Winston judges, and he takes sides at once against the fanatics. He attends a meeting called to form an Entertainments Protection League. In his pocket he has a speech, prepared, revised, re-revised, rehearsed and re-rehearsed. Shaking with nervous excitement at the prospect of making this, his first, public address to a large gathering of militant citizens, he drives to the meetingplace in a London hotel. It turns out to be a rather dingy hotel. And nobody attends but Winston himself and the curious gentleman who had called the meeting. Winston, chagrined, walks out,
pawns the gold watch his father had given him on his birthday, and makes a jolly night of it:
But on the next Saturday when he and his brother-cadets are on the Promenade, the Prudes on the Prowl are winning. They have caused a canvas barrier to be raised between the Promenade and the bar. Humbug! Hypocrisy! Winston, cadets, some gamey undergraduates down from the varsities, together rush the barrier, tear it down, and on the heap of ruins Winston mounts and makes his first public speech. “I am against humbug! I am for democratic freedom! You have seen us tear down these barricades tonight, see that you pull down those who are responsible for them, at the coming elections !”
They are thrown out in Leicester Square, carrying with them, as souvenirs, bits of the barricade.
But at the London County Council elections, the kill-joys win. The barrier goes up again, this time in solid brick and mortar.
ViTINSTON passed out of Sandhurst v * with honors, eighth in his lot of one hundred and fifty, and was ready for the Queen’s commission. He was gazetted to the 4th Hussars. Like all young cavalry officers he was put through a terrific grind riding-school, stables, barrack square; but he bit the tan with the rest, endured with them and, after the grind and sweat, counted it all “a gay and lordly life.” He savored all the spirited joy of riding in the jingle and glitter of a crack cavalrysquadron manoeuvring at the trot. There were brilliant reviews. Before Queen Victoria he proudly rode in parade.
Those were the last years of the great period which ended with the Diamond Jubilee. Churchill’s regiment was in town, and he was just in time to know, before it vanished, the pomps and grandeurs of the Victorian prime; the social
round, of racing, Newmarket, the Derby; the grand political parties at Lansdowne House, Stafford House, Devonshire House, with people gathered in the summer dusk out in Green Park, watching the coming and going of the guests and listening to the waltzes played by the band.
Griefs were only the grief of some unwitting solecism, as when Winston, being asked to dine with the Prince, found himself twenty minutes late. The Prince had been punctually on time. It was a party of fourteen. To go in without young Churchill was to sit down thirteen at a table. The Prince preferred to wait. It was a terrible moment for Winston when he arrived at last. “Don’t they teach you to be punctual in your regiment, Winston?’ asked the Prince. And Colonel Brabazon, of Winston’s regiment, was present and heard it! Appalling! Enough, surely, to cure a young man of unpunctuality for life. Winston’s distress was evident, and when dinner had started the Prince, being a kindly man, said some word to put him at ease and help him forget. Winston did forget, and remained apt to unpunctuality.
Y^NE grief there was, for Winston, and its shadow fell desolatingly upon him. To Amery he had described his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, as a great man. That was uncharacteristic, for it was understatement. To Winston, Lord Randolph was an incomparable hero. But he was a hero to be worshipped only at a distance. A few long conversations between them were all that Winston was ever privileged to enjoy. Lord Randolph’s independent, proud, impulsive nature had led him to commit political suicide when still in his thirties. He was already Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House, and had proposed certain economies in the estimates for the fighting services. When he could not have his way in this, he flung his resignation in Lord Salisbury’s face. For years afterward he regarded himself as a man slandered and boycotted by his party. Then as always, and as in Winston’s own case later, genius and unconventional ways generated distrust and made every mediocrity a mocker and an enemy. And as Lord Randolph, like Winston later, was no appeaser of enemies, the legend written on cartoons was of the order: “Yahoo Churchill!”
In the family little was said before the children of these indignities and besmirchings. But Winston knew. He had seen with sinking heart the gradual decline of public interest in Lord Randolph’s speeches, as plainly shown when even the Times kept on curtailing the space given to reporting them. He longed, above all else, to stand beside his father and fight for him, as young Austen Chamberlain fought for his famous father, Joe, and Herbert Gladstone for the Grand Old Man. But Lord Randolph was not encouraging. Even when Winston became a gentleman cadet at Sandhurst and hoped he might attain this standing of ardent and faithful ally, he found that the mere notion of filial comradeship was repugnant to his father, and knew that to suggest it would be to risk a snubbing for his pains. He had to be satisfied with the privilege of going with him to some political parties, or to the races, or to the Empire Theatre, for Lord Randolph loved the antics of acrobats and clowns and elephants. Perhaps, given time, this privilege might have been extended to what Winston called “an Entente, or at least a military agreement.” But they were not given time.
Early in 1894 Lord Randolph became seriously ill. Through the year his health still ebbed away. One January morning in the following year Winston was staying at a neighboring house; at dawn he was awakened and ran across Grosvenor Square to his father's deathbed. It was a painless passing, the unconscious lapse into the final unconsciousness. The pathos of deep, frustrated longing is in Winston’s words, “Had he lived he could not have
done without me.” And we get a clue to much of his later work, as writer and as politician, when bitter regret becomes dedicated resolve—“All my dreams of comradeship with him, of entering Parliament at his side and in his support, were ended. There remained for me only to pursue his aims and vindicate his memory.” When “The Life of Lord Randolph Churchill” teas written by Winston and published, it became a best-seller, and was praised by Lord Rosebery, whose opinion has authority, as, “one of the first dozen, perhaps the first half-dozen, biographies in the language.” Incidentally, it .earned for Winston £8,000.
* * *
TN THESE days of perverse examination of all secret and obvious springs of conduct, such a description of Winston’s fond attachment to his parent might be interpreted, and appropriately expressed in the jagged words of psycho-analytic jargon, as an incipient father fixation. But his affections were with equal firmness rooted in the other parent, also. Between Lady Randolph and himself there was an entente indeed. To him she was then, at forty, the same beautiful and fascinating creature whose appearance at the viceregal lodge in Dublin has been described by Viscount D’Abernon in his book “An Ambassador of Peace” as:
... a dark, lithe figure . . . ardent, translucent, intent. A diamond star in her hair ... its lustre dimmed by the flashing glory of her eyes. . . . Her courage not less great than that of her husband ... fit mother for descendants of the great Duke. With all these attributes of brilliancy, such kindness and high spirits that she was universally popular.”
That was Jennie Jerome, of Rochester and New York City, daughter of a onetime co-publisher of the New York Times with whom Lord Randolph fell in love at first blush and married in Paris in April, 1874. That was the mother whom Winston adored till the end of her life, and who, as he said, “became an ardent ally, furthering my plans and guarding my interests with all her influence and boundless energy.” Powerfully persuasive influence it was, for Lady Randolph knew everybody in society, and in politics and the services, who could be of any help in furthering Winston’s audacious and ambitious schemes. Like the lady whom he afterward married and who now is faithfully at his side in every contest and crisis, his mother then stood by him and was his most staunch support and a dynamic inspiration in all he did. She secured places for him in every new campaign where the Imperial forces were engaged, she acted as literary agent for his work as war correspondent and novelist and historian; she stumped constituencies with him in his earlier electioneering days, and with such a stir in this that she achieved celebration, surest of all signs of British popular esteem, in a jocular music-hall song:
“Bless my soul, that Yankee lady, Whether day was bright or shady Dashed about that district like an oriflamme of war.
When the voters saw her bonnet With the bright pink roses on it They followed as the soldiers did the helmet of Navarre.”
T) UT WE are not yet come to Winston’s ■*-' electioneering days. We are still with the sparky subaltern, Lieutenant Churchill of the 4th Hussars, who, with the other youngsters of the mess listened enviously to the after-dinner tales of be-medalled senior officers; tales of active services in the days before the glorious arts of war had been abolished or made obsolete, forever—as it actually seemed to them— alas, alas ! by the reign of peace and plenty and the ignoble architects of peace and plenty, the scheming, crafty, diplomats
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and politicians. Churchill and his brother subalterns listened, and felt like unblooded youngsters at a meet of hounds, and for a chance themselves to get the blessed baptism of fire, actual shooting, not at targets but at an enemy apt to return the fire and with intent to kill, for this, and for the medals to proclaim the valorous doings from their as yet unribboned breasts, they were prepared gladly to sacrifice their winter leave, their money, and—but it would not be really necessary of course— their lives.
nPWO EXCITED young officers sat on -*• the deck of a steamer approaching Havana in November, 1895. They had heard of a war in Cuba, had plotted and contrived to reach it, and with the help of the British Ambassador at Madrid, an old friend of Winston Churchill’s father, here they were. The famous Spanish CaptainGeneral Martinez Campos, with 80,000 men, was quelling a guerrilla rising of the islanders. "Here,” thought Lieutenant Churchill, "is a scene of vital action. Here is a place where something certainly will happen. Here I may leave my bones!”
In the dusk of dawn he had first seen the Cuban shore dimly emerging from the dark blue horizon and had felt as though he sailed with Captain Silver and his men when first they gazed at Treasure Island.
He and Lieutenant Barnes were received by General Campos and treated as honored representatives of an important friendly power. On that ragged half-moon of an island, six hundred miles of beauty that the Spaniards call "The Pearl of the Antilles,” what fun they had! Eating oranges and smoking cigars in waterfront hotels. Marching through humid swamps and sweltering woods. Halting in jungle towns and marking time in taverns loud with tipsy squabblings and festering in filth. Always in danger, from smallpox and yellow fever which were rife, or from the ambushed islanders who at any time might shoot from anywhere at anyone in sight.
When Winston found a quiet spot and slipped in bathing, they shot at him. When he swung into his hammock for the midday rest, they shot at him. When after marching eight miles since the dawn, he sat down with the troops for picnic breakfast and cocktails of rum, they shot at him. And they shot at him when, on his twenty-first birthday, he went into action for the first time in his life. Beside the Spanish Captain-General, Churchill and Barnes rode forward on their horses, cool and slow—or such was the effect intended—and sat with the General, quite exposed, within five hundred yards of the crest from which the enemy was sending bullets whistling and ripping and smacking round them in wild fusilades.
The enemy was routed. Honor, and the General, were satisfied. So were Winston and Barnes, who thereupon sailed for home in England, where jealous subalterns and eager debutantes listened with flattering attention to the thrilling tale, and admired the decoration which General Campos had bestowed—the Spanish Order of Military Merit of the First Class !
WITH that auspicious award for his first campaign, Winston sailed with his regiment for India. In landing he had a near escape from falling into the dock, but saved himself by grasping a mooring ring. The jerk cost him a dislocation of the shoulder which has been a recurring nuisance ever since. It has prevented him from playing tennis. It caused him to play in the blue-ribbon Inter-regimental Polo Tournament, which his side won, in 1899, with his upper right arm strapped to his side. But, as he says, it may have saved his life a year earlier when, at the charge of Omdurman, it had obliged him to use his pistol instead of his sword.
AFTER Omdurman, a lot of ugly AÍ casualties! One of Winston’s friends I has a badly gashed wrist. The Irish
doctor in attendance thinks it necessary to graft onto the wound a piece of living skin and flesh. Winston is standing near. “I’ll have to take it off you,” says the doctor in his most winning brogue. Winston cannot escape. He rolls up his sleeve. He somehow screws his courage to the sticking point and does not fail, nor scream, nor jerk away his arm, nor faint, till the little disc of living skin and flesh is sawed from his arm and grafted on the patient’s wound. Now, in recalling it, Winston is sure that piece has done his friend "lasting good in many ways.” And for himself, he has the scar for souvenir.
TI) UT that was an incident of the Sudan campaign, and Winston’s Sudan adventures followed those in India. What a life it was, at Bangalore! A dinner at Government House with the Governor, Lord Sandhurst; the glitter, the pomp, the iced champagne ! And every day the quiet, efficient Indian servants taking charge of everything—your person, your purse, your ponies, your food, your home.
Lieutenant Churchill’s day, as he has told it: A dusky hand started to shave his chin before he was quite awake in the still dusk of dawn. At six o’clock he was off to the plains, for drill. Before eleven o’clock, forenoon, all white men were in shelter from the sun, which burned with torrid power on the bungalows and blazing banks of gorgeous flowering shrubs, and on the fragrant roses and the flittering gaudy butterflies. Luncheon at half-past one. Sleep till five. And then—the day’s great moment, life’s serious purpose—off to polo! Winston played every chukker he could get into, played till the shadows fell. Then, the hot bath, eight-thirty dinner, the regimental band, glasses brimmed with iced drinks, and, till ten-thirty or eleven, a game of whist, or a talk and smoke as the moon went up in solemn stillness over the trees and cantonment.
Yet this paradise was eagerly exchanged by Winston for another bout of war, this time against a rebellious border tribe more than two thousand miles away in the hills. With leave from his regiment, and a commission to write on the campaign for the Allahabad Pioneer and the London Daily Telegraph (at £5 a column, as arranged for him by his mother) Winston left for the Malakand Pass. The fierce warriors against whom he fought were understood, and their way of living was praised, by Churchill. But he came very close to death when he turned back to rescue a comrade from mutilation by them. He was critical of much that he saw in the conduct of the campaign, and said so in his letters.
When he rejoined his regiment in Bangalore he began, during the long, glittering afternoons till polo time, a sustained assault on his own humiliating ignorance of history, philosophy, economics and the like. For four hours a day he strove to educate himself in these subjects by reading Gibbon, Lecky, Macaulay, Plato, Aristotle, Malthus, Darwin. And after that, he began to write. Those letters on the Malakand campaign were the basis of his first book, "The Story of the Malakand Field Force.” His mother arranged for its publication by Longmans. Reviewers praised it. Winston was elated. This was the dunce’s vengeance!
Yet there was adverse criticism too. A junior officer had ventured openly to speak his mind on various aspects of a campaign. What! The thing was unheard of! From subaltern to critic of headquarters staff in one impertinent volume!
It was not long before the Chief of Staff was seeking young Churchill’s advice on a literary indiscretion of his own. And it was not long before the mess at Bangalore was discussing Lieutenant Churchill’s work, and offering hints and suggestions on the development of plot in his second book, this time a novel, Winston’s only novel, “Savrola.”
These books and his newspaper correspondence—at a time when his thoughts were turning from soldiering to politics—
earned good and much-needed money to supplement Winston’s allowance of £500 a year and the Queen-Empress’ fourteen shillings a day. It was the beginning of literary earnings which afterward were “in the money” and in the twenty years from 1899 to 1919 made him self-supporting. He has always counted that selfsupport a thing of which to be proud.
In the novel, “Savrola,” which Churchill advises people not to read, are many passages which seem now like a prevision
of what he became and the policies for which he strives. Here is one:
“I discharge a duty to the human species,” said Savrola, “in breaking down a military despotism. I do not like to see a government supported only by bayonets; it is an anachronism.”
What was fiction nearly half a century ago, is stern reality today.
To be Continued