BEHIND many of the discreet club windows in St. James's and Pall Mall old gentlemen drank brandy and soda, and young bloods drank whisky and soda, talk-talk-talked.
“Who is this fellow Churchill?” said the red-faced and
white-mustached General (retired).
The bald and red-faced Admiral (retired),knew the right answer, “Medal-snatcher! Self-advertiser
“Most conceited, pushful, self-opinionated yoi^^ipstart in town !”
“Why should he be permitted to write for the papers and hold the Queen’s commission at the same time !”
“Gad, the thing’s a scandal !”
“What are the Services coming to!”
Laughter ripples across from the young bloods, chattering at the other end of the room. The furious old gentlemen glance in that direction but quickly avert their eyes, for young Churchill is the centre of that group, and the fellow, in Mr. Wilde’s phrase, has absolutely no respect for dyed hair.
But the young bloods are showing absolutely no respect for Winston. They are baiting him unmercifully. For they are the bright Oxford and Cambridge intellectuals, in thorough mental training and proud of their lately acquired prowess at dialectical sparring. To them, Lieutenant Churchill is fair game. He may have fought in lots of campaigns and played polo with the best. But he is envious of intellectual élan, and shows it by the cocky young subaltern’s John Bullish bluster: “If we haven’t struggled with irregular Greek verbs at least we have commanded regular troops and defended the Empire.” Utterly naive! And yet. with this so painfully obvious lack of any technique of thought whatever, he will persist in arguing, oh so earnestly!—what no one of course denies except for fun—that slavery is immoral, that good government is no acceptable substitute for self-government, that —his face blazing and clenched fists emphasizing it— “There shall be no slavery under the Union Jack !”
Simply immense! A demagogue, a Member of Parliament in the making.
Winston is so worked up he feels like rushing out into Pall Mall or Piccadilly and rousing the citizens to get behind the barricades at once to fight for freedom, justice and democracy !
Yet mark that phrase, “that good government is no acceptable substitute for self-government.” It is the case against totalitarianism in a word.
Stephen’s Chambers sits the Skipper, Mr. Middleton, who steers the electioneering ship of the Tory Party.
“A'ÜSfistituency for Mr. Churchill? Yes. yes, it probably fe managed.”
"Of course seats are not offered for sale, but if they were the price list would catalogue parliamentary vacancies under the headings: Safe seats—the candidate will contribute handsomely to party funds and all sorts of local charities, perhaps some thousands of pounds a year but no obligatory upper limit. Risky seats—contributions of from five hundred to a thousand pounds confidently expected. Forlorn hopes—well, what’s the bidding?
Not in such bald words, indeed, but to that discouraging end did the Skipper enlighten the green and youthful applicant Churchill. The would-be Member of Parliament knew that he must be content to stand for a constituency in the category of Forlorn Hope. That constituency was in Lancashire; the cotton town, Oldham.
Winston liked the vivid, vulgar, loud-laughing and warm-hearted mill girls and mill mechanics. Beclogged and beshawled, and smelling of cotton dust and mill machinery they might be. but they were forthright folk, real folk. He liked them. He even dared to hope that they might like and admire him, as they had liked and admired his father, Randy, the founder of Tory Democracy. But at first bid they rejected him. He was 1.300 votes behind the chosen candidate when the poll was counted. He returned to London, feeling, he says, like a half-emptied bottle of
Soldier, war correspondent, prisoner of war, author, platform prodigy and member of parliament, all before he was twenty-six — Small wonder Churchill says: 771 never had time to turn around77
champagne which has been left uncorked for a night. But Mr. Balfour assured him that this discouraging result need not affect his political future. After all he was still only twenty-five.
That war of words and blandishments w'as over. Another war, and not of words or blandishments alone, was imminent.
TN THE October of that year, 1899, the liner Dunotter Castle sailed from Southampton for Cape Town. It was the day on which the British ultimatum to the Boers should expire. Before Cherbourg was passed and the ship’s course set, w'ar might have broken out. Yet on board were the British Commander in Chief, Sir Redvers Buller, and his Headquarters Staff. On board also was Winston Churchill, travelling as war correspondent for the Morning Post at a salary of £250 a month and all expenses paid.
A comic thought for these our times: The Dunotter
Castle took eighteen days to make the voyage. Whatever might happen at the seat of war during that time, no rumor of it was likely to reach the ship and disturb the Commander in Chief and his Headquarters Staff, enjoying deck chairs and deck games and the sea breezes and the sun.
No radio. No planes. No blitz.
For Winston, in the expectant restlessness of eager youth, it w'as a wearying suspense; but Table Bay was reached, and soon he was journeying to Estcourt, a railway station not far from the Boer lines. In a bell tent he and two other newspapermen made themselves comfortable and talked of bygone days, for one of the two w'as Leo Amery, whom Winston had pushed into the pool at Harrow, and who now' was correspondent for the London Times, and the third was J. B. Atkins of the Manchester Guardian, with whom Winston had already been through a terrible night of w'hat he called “the most appalling paroxysm of seasickness which it has ever been my lot to survive.”
One November day, as dawn began to break, an armored train puffed and ground laboriously out of the station.
Young Churchill was aboard. But the wisdom of this reconnaissance he gravely questioned. Still, there might be a story for his paper !
There was. The train was ambushed. Field guns opened fire. Churchill stuck up his head from his truck to see. Shrapnel, the first and but for luck the last of shrapnel for him. dinged and clanged on the metal plates round his inquisitive peeping head. The train went forward, rushed
down a gradient, round a curve and crashed into some shattering obstruction on the line, a tremendous rending and grinding crash that flung everyone headlong, shook and battered them, killed and terribly injured those who had travelled in some of the trucks thrown from the rails and overturned. The engine was jammed; could not be moved. The Boers were quickly closing in and firing all the time. On and around the half-wrecked train all was confusion. In this chaos near disaster Winston conferred with Captain Haldane, officer in command. A typical Churchill moment, one of those moments of crisis in which his ardent venturesome spirit makes of imminent danger a spur to resolute action. J. B. Atkins, Manchester Guardian, afterward reported:
“We heard how Churchill had walked round and round the wreckage while the bullets were spitting against the iron walls, and had called for volunteers to free the engine; how he had said, ‘Keep cool, men!’; and again how, when the engine driver was grazed on the head and was about to escape, he had jumped in to help him and had said, ‘No man is hit twice on the same day.’ ”
The driver, who was bleeding and badly shaken, was coaxed and helped back to his cab by Churchill, who stood with him and aided him, and promised that, as a civilian working the engine while wounded and under fire he was certain to be rewarded for distinguished gallantry and might never have this chance again. The engine driver wiped the blood from his face and stuck to his post.
And Churchill stuck to his word. The promised reward was not made by the military authorities. It was ten years before Winston had authority himself to redeem the promise. Then, as Home Secretary, on whose advice the King awards the Albert Medal, he saw that the driver and his fireman both received that “highest reward for gallantry open to civilians.'’ A clue to character.
Churchill himself confessed, “I was very lucky in the hour that followed not to be hit.” Some of the men confessed, “If it hadn’t been for Churchill, not one of us would have escaped.”
Captain Haldane and part of the troops tried to hold off the enemy, while Churchill directed others in an effort to get the wreckage shifted and the train once more under way. He partly succeeded in the er.d, after a fantastically frenzied and dangerous struggle of which lie says. "It was like working in front of an iron target at a rifle range at which men were continually firing.” The engine moved off. leaving Captain Haldane and his men fighting the rearguard action. Churchill halted the train and hurried back to them along the line, alone, on foot. 1 íe rounded a cutting and there was the enemy who opened fire and peppered the embankment with bullets as Churchill dodged and clambered up and over the fence on top. He saw a hut and started to run for it. He ran into the levelled rifle of a rangy Boer horseman and there was no escape. Churchill was taken prisoner of war.
One day in London, when the tear was over and Britain and the Boers ivere at peace, Churchill was telling this story at a luncheon party. A dark-complexioned man listened in silence. Then he said, “Recognize me?’’—Churchill looked at the white shirt and frock coal—“ƒ was that man.’’ He ivas Louis Botha, afterward General Botha and first Prime Minister of the Transvaal. Churchill and his captor became friends and allies in many contentious affairs of state.
THE PRISON camp was in Pretoria. Winston, had he not been active in helping to move the armored train, should have been set free as a war correspondent and noncombatant. But he was imprisoned with sixty officers under a guard of armed police. A mile and a half away a couple of thousand Tommies were imprisoned. The officer captives talked over various schemes for contriving their escape, and the escape of the Tommies, with a possible seizure of Pretoria. But in the end, one wilful young man escaped: with thudding heart and constant rallying of courage and resolve, Winston managed to climb out of the prison and walk away almost under the nose of the guard, and off into Pretoria’s crowded streets. His one chance to escape detection was to be casual and brazen, and he was. An hour later he was clear of the town, alone or. the dark illimitable veldt, three hundred miles from Delagoa Bay and safety. In his pocket were some slabs of chocolate and a sum of money.
I íe jumped a goods train and rode through the night, at first on the couplings and then in a wagon under grimy coal sacks—empty sacks. Before the dawn he leaped from the train and stumbled through the unknown hazardous darle, seeking a place where he might lie all day in hiding. He found a place, and through the dragging endless hours of the long day squatted down in the grass under the blazing sun. A Boer came close by, shooting. A shadow moved across the grass, and Winston, gazing into the sun, saw an enormous vulture hovering, watchful, surmising. He heard its ghastly gurglings, emblem and herald of death.
How such an apparition, in a moment of physical weakness and nervous stress, can leave its somber shadow darkening the mind and dwelling there a lifetime!
When Hitler was secretly mustering his formidable forces for treacherous mass attack, and England, soul sick of war and doped by illusory dreams of peace, would think only of England and would not listen to Churcliili's warning voice, Winston cried out: "/ personally, have never been able to forget Europe. It hangs over my mind like a vulture."
That night he walked along the railway, making detours at all the guarded points, bridges and little wayside halts. These detours led him into swamps and streams and drenching dew-wet grass; he was worn and weary, and before the night was past he knew he must face all risks and ask for succor. Then, by some strange impulse which in a bird or animal should be called instinct, he turned aside to one of the tiny points of light that glimmered distantly. Perhaps a kaffir kraal. But it was not a kaffir kraal. To Winston’s dismay, it was the shadowy buildings and works at the shaft-head of a mine. I íe hesitated. He turned back. He stopped again, uncertain. Then turned once more and stole up to a darkened house, and knocked.
Someone came downstairs, asked in Dutch who was there, then cautiously opened the door. Winston lied about himself, was not believed; then frankly told who he was.
Almost miraculous luck ! This was John Howard, manager of the colleries. an Englishman. 1 íe beckoned Winston in. quietly closed the door, tiptoed into a room, and soon whisky and soda and cold leg of mutton were on the table and Winston was eating hungrily and telling his story, in the one house within twenty miles where he would not have been handed over at once for the reward then offered for his capture, dead or alive !
(five and twenty pounds stg.)
REWARD is offered by the Sub-Commissioner of Division Y on behalf of the Special Constable of the Division, to anyone who brings the escaped prisoner of war Churchill to this office, dead or alive.
Signed for the Sub-Comm. District Y.
Lodk. de Haas.
Mr. Howard knew that this was indeed the young man for the forfeit of whose life or freedom the Government fixed twenty-five pounds as a fit and fetching price. There,
Continued on page 37
Continued from page 13—Starts on page 12
before him, sat the dead spit of the man described in the public hue and cry as:
“An Englishman, of indifferent build walking with a forward stoop, pale appearance, reddish-brown hair, small and hardly noticeable mustache, talks through his nose and cannot pronounce the letter S properly.”
And Howard was afraid that others would see resemblance. There were two Dutch maids asleep—he hoped—upstairs. Should they get an inkling of what was afoot downstairs, should they suspect something of the truth from the master’s midnight raid upon the larder and the havoc wrought ujxjn the leg of mutton, tomorrow might bring serious trouble for himself and Churchill. So. while it was still dark, he qiñetly left the house and led Winston to the shaft-head.
The engineer wás there—Mr. Dewsnap, a Lancashire man. And from Oldham ! Mr. Dewsnap shook Winston’s hand, “Eh, lad, they’ll all vote for you next time in Oldham!” Howard, Dewsnap, and a couple of Scots who joined the conspiracy, lowered W’inston down the shaft and guided him to a disused working; and there, safe for the present, they left him, with candles, cold chicken, whisky, some books, and the furtive squeakings and scamperings of hungry hordes of rats.
Three days and nights he languished there. The hue and cry passed over. Then, with careful and ingenious planning, Mr. Howard managed to smuggle his hunted fugitive into a covered railway truck at dead of night, and in a space left vacant under bales of wool, Winston crossed the border and reached the safety of the British Consulate at Lourenço Marques. Soon he was back in Durban, which was beflagged to welcome him. He was a popular hero, greeted by gaping cheering crowds, and bands, and civic honors. By Christmas Eve he was back near the fighting line, celebrating escape with the best that camp commissariat, with extras, could provide.
Ar HOME in England the story of Winston Churchill’s escape was the topic of the time. The clubs, the pubs, the pulpits even, and the newspapers bandied it about. There was fatuous praise of a young Briton’s romantic and adventurous exploit. But there was equally fatuous derision. That gurgling vulture, poor melodramatic bird, was worked to skin and bone. The long and earnest prayers which W’inston had offered up for guidance and the Power which led his darkling feet to the one house of safety, these were the timely, thrilling, inspiring subjects of prayer-meeting homilies and Sunday sermons. And as for secular appraisal, the London Daily Mail, which had “discovered” Winston, if a write-up is discovery, felt the professional’s joy in this example of publicity sense seizing its chance and brilliantly exploiting it. Winston, it thought, even had it in him to found a prosperous advertising business! And no sarcasm intended.
The opposition was pretty snooty. Said the London Daily Nation: “Mr. Chur-
chill’s escape is not regarded in military circles as either a brilliant or honorable
exploit.” And the Westminster Gazette:
“. . . Wfe hardly understood the application which Mr. Churchill is reported to have made to General Joubert asking to be released on the ground that he was a newspaper correspondent and had taken ‘no part in the fighting.’ We rubbed our eyes when we read this—have we not read glowing (and apparently authentic) accounts of Mr. Churchill’s heroic exploits in the armored train affair? . . . I lis letter to General Joubert absolutely disposes of that probable V.C. with which numerous correspondents have decorated him.”
AATINSTON himself, far from being !
W stupefied by réclame into caring only ! to play the part of romantic hero, had very serious and unpopular things to din into the public ear. He shocked the sentimental and flag-wagging laymen and the jingo ¡ Generals of the Buck and Dodder Club by fearlessly telling the truth of what he j saw at the front. He bluntly said that the individual mounted Boer, fighting the war , on his own ground in his own way, was worth from three to five regular soldiers. He advised that the enemy must be met by men of equal intelligence and character. I or else by overwhelming masses of trœps; and advised masses of troops. “There is l plenty of work here for a quarter of a I million men . . . Are the gentlemen of England all fox hunting?”
This estimate of what was needed was derided by the professional but fossilized military prognosticators of the day as infantile and absurd. But before the war was finished, ten thousand gentlemen volunteers and more than the quarter of a million men mentioned by Churchill—five times the enemy forces—had to be sent to the front! A shattering vindication of the military prescience of a young soldier and war correspondent !
This ridicule and subsequent vindication was repeated in 1916; but that's a later story.
The London Morning Leader in sneering irony referred to the appointment of “Mr. Winston Churchill to command the troops in South Africa, with Sir Redvers Buller, V.C. as Chief of Staff.”
Winston’s laconic comment, “Unfortunately this was sarcasm.”
This wounding sarcasm was repealed in 1916 ■ but that, too, is a later story.
* * *
TO BE spectator and war correspondent soon ceased to satisfy Churchill, so the High Command was badgered into reluctantly giving him a place with the fighting men once more, and he stitched the badges of rank into his coat and was happy again as lieutenant in the South African Light Horse. He came safely through the terrible butchery of Spion Kop. With his staff-officer cousin, the Duke of Marlborough, he inspanned a four-horse wagon and started on what he calls “a jolly march” of four or five hundred miles on Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Wonderful air. Magnificent scenery. “Every day we saw new country . . . j Every evening we bivouacked ... by the side of some new stream.” And under the *
floor of the wagon he had “two feet of the best tinned provisions and alcoholic stimulants which London could supply!"
Churchill’s comment: “I have always
practiced true temperance ”
Nearing Johannesburg, the commander of the column to which Winston was attached wished to make contact with a parallel column led by the Commander in Chief, Lord Roberts. A short cut, and useful reconnaissance, through Johannesburg itself, were thought by Churchill to be feasible, if somewhat dangerous. He took the dispatch, borrowed a bicycle, disguised himself in civilian clothes and, toward nightfall, rode into the city. It was still occupied by armed forces of the enemy. An officer, in plain clothes, secretly within the enemy lines! If caught —well, he knew the penalty. “Here I may leave my bones." He was noticed, followed, scrutinized, but once more with thumping heart and brazen front he passed, unhalted and unharmed.
Lord Roberts, his father’s old friend but for a while estranged from Winston, was amazed when the cyclist walked into the tent and handed over the dispatch with which his own Commander, and friend, Sir Ian Hamilton had entrusted him.
Johannesburg was taken. Pretoria surrendered. Early in June, Churchill and cousin Marlborough were the first to ride up to Pretoria’s prison camp. The guard of fifty-two, with rifles at the ready, were uncertain how to act, and Marlborough, seeing this, and with red-tabs authority, called on them sternly to surrender. There ensued a dangerous moment. Anything might have happened. Then the sentries dropped their rifles, the gates were opened and the fellow prisoners whom Winston had left behind on his escape seven months before, rushed out to cheer and shout and dance for freedom.
The war seemed over, yet in fact had two more years to drag along before South Africa, with General Smuts to lead the way in far-sighted statesmanship, became a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
But, for the time being, Winston had done with soldiering.
Churchill, on the conduct of wars, and the treatment oj vanquished enemies: “/ have always urged fighting tears and other contentions with might and main till overwhelming victory, and then offering the hand of friendship to the vanquished.” Ilis policy: Anti-pacifist during wars, anti-jingo after wars.
An inscription written by Churchill for a memorial in France: “In war, Resolution. In defeat, Defiance. In victory, Magnanimity. In peace, Goodwill.” The inscription was rejected.
"\yfR. DEWSNAP had been right. After the war, Oldham voted for Winston. When, in the autumn of 1900. he arrived for the Khaki Election, all parties joined to give him a hero’s welcome. In a grand procession of carriages the smiling young man was driven through cheering throngs of mill girls and loom-tenters and mechanics. and in the Theatre Royal he told the thrilling story of his adventures in South Africa. Mrs. Dewsnap was in the gallery. When Winston told of Dewsnap’s part in the great escape the Lancashire crowd took that action as its own and went jubilant and brought the house down.
On polling day there emerged triumphant from the count: Mr. Winston Churchill M.P., aged 26.
The long career of parliamentary campaigning had begun in earnest, for since this was one of the first returns of that election, the youthful soldier, polo champion, war correspondent, novelist, historian, lecturer and now Member of Parliament, was kept busy, stumping the country, speech making on behalf of other
candidates everywhere, and at the end the great Joe Chamberlain asked him to Highgate and cracked for him a bottle of his famous ’34 port.
NT’OUNG Churchill is a ready speaker. -*• Most impressive! So easy and fluent!”
So said the gentlemen in the County Club. And in pubs and mill eating houses the workers said, “Eh, but our Winnie ’as the gift o’ the gab !”
Winston knew better. At what pains of drafting, writing, careful revision and laborious memorizing and rehearsing had he achieved the illusion of ease and spontaneity ! Without this arduous preparation he hardly trusted himself to make even a snap riposte. But it was labor with a rich reward—applause, and contracts for a top-fee lecture tour. At that moment he was world celebrity number one, and everywhere people wanted to look at him and listen to him and would gladly pay well for the privilege. And that was fortunate, since Winston now had responsibilities to his constituents and knew that even a “forlorn hope” seat in Parliament cost money to maintain loyalty and good heart.
So the six weeks bout of election speechifying was followed by two and a half months of lecturing. Town after town in England turned out its thousands to hear the young M.P. and national hero tell of his exploits. The most distinguished personages in politics acted as chairmen on his platforms, and at £100 to £300 a night, when little more than half the ground was covered in Britain, Churchill had banked over £4.(XX).
He skipped the opening of the House of Commons in December, and crossed the ocean to resume the lecture series in the United States and Canada. To his New York audience he was introduced by Mark Twain. The master humorist, though old, had not lost his twinkling shrewdness and the teasing touch: “I
introduce to you the son of an English father and an American mother—the Perfect Man !” And he autographed thirty volumes of his works and, as Winston has told, wrote in the first of them, “To do good is noble; to teach others to do good is nobler, and no trouble.”
American audiences varied in their reception of Churchill. Chicago booed and shouted opposition. Boston put on regalia for demonstrative welcome. But on the whole, helped by Winston’s instinct to gain sympathetic hearing by making a joke against himself, Americans, though critical, were friendly.
In Canada there was a change. Canadians made their allotted ten days of the lecture tour a progress from throngs and triumph to ever greater throngs and triumph. But some in Canada remember thinking him, then, a brazen, bumptious, self-assured and very rude young man. In that, he was only being forty years before his time.
In January he was back in London. A few more weeks of lecturing brought the five and a half months tour de force of daily and nightly talk and nightly travel to an end, and the youthful member for Oldham was ready to take his seat in Parliament, armed for the fray by all this preliminary practice in the aits and tricks of public speaking—and by his record earnings of £10,000, an enormous sum now expertly invested by a family friend, the financier, Sir Ernest Cassel.
AMONG American publicity agents -Lx some are not slow to tell the world the truth, the half-truth, or anything but the truth about the celebrity for whom they beat the loud inciting drum and blow provocative trumpets in advance. Perhaps they have a principle: that the brazenest boost may turn out to be simple truth in the end. for all anyone knows to the contrary; all turning on whether the gordarned client is or is not in fact the one in a million who has the goods—the genius— thus confidently, or speculatively, adver-
tised. Anyway, whether irresponsibly rash or simply prescient, Churchill’s American advance man invited audiences to come and hear the twenty-six-year-old “future Prime Minister of England.”
UXTINSTON took his seat in the House VV 0f Commons in January, 1901, the opening year of this fateful century. Four days passed before he delivered his maiden speech, four days in which he braced himself for what he regarded as an awful and supreme ordeal. A young Welsh firebrand named David Lloyd George was to move an amendment, after which the youthful Member for Oldham proposed to speak. Mr. George, when on his feet and cheered by the Welsh and Irish, dropped the moderately phrased amendment and spoke to the original motion in terms of some violence. Churchill was sitting there in a desperate dither trying to shajje some opening remark which might seem to hook on his own extra-carefully prepared speech to the Welshman’s whirling words. In his state of dither he could shape nothing apt or neatly turned. He records how his neighbor, Mr. Thomas Gibson Bowles, an old hand at the parliamentary game, provided the needed opening sentence. He whispered. “You might say, that instead of making his violent speech without moving his moderate amendment, he had better have moved his moderate amendment without making his violent speech.” Winston snatched at it. He was saved. And that borrowed phrase launched him on his career as a shaker in the House.
His speech drew general cheers. But it contained some remarks of such audacity and independence that Joe Chamberlain, on the Treasury Bench, frowned and shook his head, and wondered how far this forthright young recruit could really be counted on as a loyal party man. “What is the use of supporting your own government only when it is right?” In that aggrieved protest Joe summed up the theory of twoparty government—a gentlemanly British game fairly played to the rules by two political teams, with Mr. Speaker as referee. But young Churchill seemed to be. like his father, one of those odd cusses who think the. goal of more imjjortance than the game and would play on his own, if necessary, and let the rest of the team go hang, lie actually would put his own notion of political principle before the team’s idea of party loyalty !
Churchill, much later, confessed to the crime: “All through my life I have found myself in disagreement alternately with both historic English parties.” There, even in his maiden speech, the unashamed political turncoat was finding his personal style a little cramped by the straightness of the Tory jacket.
LIKE father, like son. It was as though 1 Lord Randolph were back in the House.
The generals and admirals in the clubs had not forgotten the great “political suicide.” Nor the occasion of the suicide; Randy’s audacious will to save on the fighting services. And now Master Winston, opposing such expenditure on the Army as might lead to European war, must try it all over again !
The old gentlemen were wroth. “Impudent puppy! He calls it a grave mistake spending so much on the Army. We must put up with the affront of the young renegade publicly jeering at professional soldiers as—artificial luxuries, so have as few of them as possible!”
“Gad!” spluttered the indignant general. “Do I look like an artificial luxury, pray?”
“Of course not ! Of course not !”
“Of course not. But one would think from this impertinent faggot’s remarks that the whole of the Services are no more than a lot of decorative Ghelsea pensioners or dressed-up beefeaters!”
Neither of them seemed to suspect, as a possible rejoinder, that it was at least unprejudiced and courageous of Winston
to be able to take that view and say so publicly, he being himself also a professional soldier.
The cause of the furore was Winston’s third speech in the House. He had spent six weeks preparing and rehearsing it. It was the beginning of the end of his first allegiance to the Conservative party.
Before a crowded House the youngster, who even then carried his head with a studious forward droop till the moment for action when he jerked himself sharply erect and alert, stood up and spoke with what was clearly the knowledge of an expert, but also with such power and passion that the House followed his words with deep attention. Was it a conscious, planned attack in vindication of his father? He mentioned Lord Randolph’s name, and spoke of ‘‘picking up the tattered flag found on a stricken field.” The pathos of that staunch loyalty was not lost on the listening House.
In the speech were some passages which now, forty years later, have a familiar sound:
‘‘A European war cannot be anything but a cruel heartrending struggle which, if we are ever to enjoy the bitter fruits of victory, must demand, perhaps for several years, the whole manhood of the nation, the entire suspension of peaceful industries, and the concentration to one end of every vital energy in the community. I have frequently been astonished since I have been in this House to hear with what com insure and how glibly members, and even Ministers, talk of a European war . . . Now, when mighty populations are impelled on each other, each individual severally embittered and inflamed, when the resources of science and civilization sweep away everything that might mitigate their fury, a European war can only end in the ruin of the vanquished and the scarcely less fatal commercial dislocation and exhaustion of the conquerors.”
TN THE London Daily Chronicle the famous Liberal editor and publicist, H. W. Massingham, said of the speech: ‘‘It’s author will be Prime Minister—I hepe Liberal Prime Minister—of England. ” It took the author some weeks to become a Liberal. It took him forty years to become Prime Minister. Not, Liberal Prime Minister. Simply, Prime Minister.
ON CHURCHILL, and Life and Destiny: Said Mr. McCallum Scott, M.P., in a biographical sketch published in 1905:
‘‘Churchill . . a fatalist . . . feels
upon himself the hand of Destiny. He is the instrument of some great purpose of Nature, only half disclosed as yet—a soul charged with a tremendous voltage of elemental energy. In the miraculous nature of some of his escapes, in the strange sequence of chances and accidents he seemed to trace a design . . . there must be some averting hand . . . an inward voice bidding him risk all and dare everything for the ideals which were part of his being.”
Said Churchill himself, of himself and Life and Destiny: ‘‘/ have never had
time to turn round. (Life has been) an endless moving picture in which one was an actor: on the whole Great Funl”
The most exciting part of that picture was still to come, for thenceforward, in its successive crowded episodes, what was at stake was not the personal life and fortunes of its star performer but the lives and fortunes of many people, eventually of all the masses of democratic peoples for whom Churchill at last, as mouthpiece and champion, was called to lead the mortal fight against enslavement by fiercely militant and mightily armed dictators. To be Continued