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Churchill, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer (1874-1965), knight, Prime Minister
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Telegram from Edwin Montagu to Lord Reading

Is going on holiday. Kenya continues to be troublesome. Is eager to discuss the proposed statement of policy at the opening of the Legislative Assembly. The decision whether to prosecute those who spoke at the Karachi conference should be made promptly. The Government’s decision to substitute a treaty with King Feisul of Mesopotamia for a mandate may improve relations with Mohammedans. It is rumoured that Gandhi intends to proclaim an Indian republic. Some, including Churchill, are optimistic about Irish peace; others, including the Prime Minister, are not.

(Typed. Used for transmission.)

Letter from Lord Baldwin to Lady Frazer

Astley Hall, Stourport on Severn - Explains that if she sent the book [the Downie biography] to the House of Lords, it would have been addressed to his house in Eaton Square, where his daughter is driving an ambulance and a friend who is working in a canteen are living; he has forwarded her letter to the Prime Minister with an accompanying note from himself.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Admiralty, Whitehall.—(11th.) Reproaches him for being ‘bloody’ to her, but (12th) urges him to come and see her before dinner.

(Dated Sunday. The postscript was written the following morning.)

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Transcript

Admiralty, Whitehall
Sunday.

How can you be so bloody, & why? Is it merely horror at the old generation when compared with the young. Even Raymond wondered what was the matter.

This is I suppose almost worthy of Margot.

Anyhow one mustnt quarrel, but you were bloody to me.

Venetia

This was the vituperative Margot line I wrote you last night! I still repeat you were bloody, but do dine at Winstons & anyhow come & see me before dinner, anytime after 6.

Venetia

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Written in red pencil. The postscript is on a separate sheet.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

In the train (from London to Alderley).—Is travelling with the Prime Minister, who is more cheerful now, but she does not think the party will be a success. Discusses Montagu’s behaviour and feelings towards her, and reflects on the prospects of their future together. Discusses arrangements for meeting.

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Transcript

April 30th 1915. In train {1}.

Darling I wish I felt the faintest inspiration, but this infernal train shakes so that I find it impossible to concentrate either my mind or my pen. Opposite me sits the P.M in a more cheerful frame of mind I think, but I’ve a feeling in my bones that this party isnt going to be a success, I feel I shall quarrel with Bongie, be odious to the P.M, & have to avoid Violets questions, if she bothers to ask them. Why were you so transparent? Diana & I settled last night that “if & when” we were ever engaged we would never, once it was announced, go out together, because one can so easily see how supremely ridiculous it makes people. I dont know what is the right attitude to adopt. What do you think? I saw Katharine this morning & she asked me if we’d had a good drive as she thought you were preparing to be rather crusty to me. So you were werent you, but we had great fun in spite of it. I think she was quite right to tell you that I was “queer”. I’m sure I am! & if we keep our minds fixed on that we shall be quite all right. But please darling dont be too ready at once to think that because I dont see you every day, & can contemplate going to Boulogne, that I dont any longer like you. I’ve told you over & over again that I’m no fun to be in love with, that my supply of emotion is a thin & meagre one, but such as it is, had in quantity & quality its yours.

And you mustnt always be examining it under a microscope or subjecting it to severe tests because it wont stand it!

We can have such fun together and are & I’m sure could be so really happy, & if that cant be made a good basis for marriage I dont know that I shall ever find a better. We’ve both I’m bound to say always put ourselves before the other in the most unprepossessing terms. You take every opportunity of telling me that nothing that I want will ever make you alter your mode of life, & I am always impressing on you the fact that I’m completely & cold bloodedly detached from all interest in my own life. It doesnt sound good on paper. And yet I’m simply longing for you to be here, & miss you horribly. Its again such a lovely day & we should have been so happy. I was an idiot not to make you come, & to risk you being cross with me because I talked too much to the P.M, & his thinking I was spending more time than I need with you.

Winston was much touched at yr letter, I’m glad you wrote. God how bored I feel, how glorious one’s life ought to be & how bloody it is. But I was happy yesterday thank you so much.

Lets have a Diana Raymond party on Friday {2}, arrange this with Diana, & I’ll dine with you Tuesday either alone or go to the Tree play {3}. But Friday we’ll have a buffy. I hope this isnt a horrible letter. I’m never sure.

Love
Venetia

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Letter-head of 8 Little College Street, Westminster, the home of Francis and Barbara McLaren, where Venetia had been staying.

{1} Venetia and the Prime Minister were travelling from London to Alderley for the weekend. Cf. H. H. Asquith: Letters to Venetia Stanley, p. 562.

{2} 7 May.

{3} The Right to Kill, a melodrama adapted from the French by Gilbert Cannan and Frances Keyzer, produced by Sir Herbert Tree at His Majesty’s Theatre on 4 May. Tree also took one of the leading parts. There appears to have only been one performance.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire.—His communications have been arriving at odd intervals. She will see him in London tomorrow, and has fixed to go to Boulogne on Monday week (10th). Suggests they come up together from Winston’s next Sunday and have a last talk. Has said nothing to her mother yet. Is miserable today, in spite of Birrell.

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Transcripts

Alderley Park, Chelford, Cheshire
Sunday May 2nd 1915

My darling you must have thought it very strange of me never to send you any word, but the letters came very oddly.

I got nothing from you in the morning, then by the second post a very short letter with two enclosures, then at about 7.30 suddenly from nowhere your real long divine letter, which I hadnt time to read properly till after dinner, and of course in the meanwhile I’d got your telegram.

Tomorrow I see you, I might lunch with you if you were back, perhaps you’d telephone to me to Mansfield St. Boulogne, darling, is clinched, I go on Monday week {1}. Dont be {2} angry with me for settling this, I know it must seem to you to show lamentable lukewarmness, but it isnt that I want to post from things but that I do want to have a slight first hand experience of what the conditions are like not 60 miles away from a vast war.

It seems so unadventurous to go on just as one has done & will do without making an attempt to get any new sensation.

But after this I’ll promise (& it will be very easy to keep because I shall want to keep it) always to consult you in everything.

My dearest you have been an angel to me all this time, your patience & generosity to me have been wonderful.

I think we’ll come up from Winstons Sunday after dinner & have a last long glorious talk

I’ve not said anything to mother yet, I find it impossible to talk of my affairs.
I’ve loathed this Sunday, in spite of Birrell, & felt quite miserable. No one seems to be leaving till 1 so I cant lunch I suppose but I shall see you anytime after 6. I wish I could dine with you but I must get this infernal inoculation over.

I hope for a letter tomorrow.

I’ve such masses I want to talk to you about.

Goodbye darling.
Venetia

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Partly written in pencil (see below).

{1} 10th.

{2} The writing changes from pencil to ink here.

Letter from Venetia Stanley to Edwin Montagu

The British Hospital, Hôtel Bellevue, Wimereux.—(24th.) Describes her journey to Wimereux, her impressions of the hospital, and her timetable of work. There is much discussion of the crisis, and she nearly quarrelled with a doctor who questioned Winston’s sense of decency.—(25th.) The railway and the ambulances are noisy. She has been to Boulogne to see Frances, and has tried to read ‘Joseph’. Is bored by the prospect in front of her, but will soon settle in. Urges him to pass on political gossip and war news.

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Transcript

The British Hospital, Hotel Bellevue, Wimereux
(Not my address | I gave you that didnt I?) {1}
Monday evening May 24th 1915

My darlingest not a vestige of a submarine disturbed our crossing and we arrived safely to find Sir Henry awaiting us on the platform. I couldnt telegraph as it takes hours. We came straight out here. The hospital is a rather squalid hotel in a street facing onto a small river, but one sees the sea not 300 yards away. I’ve not looked into the wards yet, but start tomorrow. Its much less arduous than the London breakfast at 7.30 instead of 6.30 and supper 8.15 instead of 9.30, so you see we are in clover. I’ve a reasonably nice room in which I’ve stowed myself and belongings with difficulty. After today I shant see much of the Normans, which I dont regret. They talk about the crisis a good deal, & I’m sorry to say I’ve nearly had a quarrel with a foul little doctor about whether Winston had any sense of decency or not. {2} I feel resigned and detached about the prospect of these next few weeks, but I miss you horribly. I’ll finish tomorrow. Goodnight, I hope you are dining somewhere and having fun. {3}

The noise is awful in this place, I hadnt realised that apparently the most vital railway from the whole world to the front passes within 20 yards of us, also ambulances drive up from time to time. I’m just going to have breakfast. Sir Heinrich has to pass all my letters so I shall feel a certain reluctance to write every day to you, but I daresay I shall become quite brazen about this. {4}

I’ve been into Boulogne and seen Frances, who has again been very anxious about Edward who has had a temp of 104, he’s better to-day.

My darling: Joseph is one of the most tedious writers I’ve ever come across. I tried him last night and found it anything but stimulating, or is it that all forms of religion, and the observances which accompany them & to which the religious attach so much importance, are bound to appear very foolish to someone like me. Still it doesnt matter as its not going to affect you or me afterwards.

I’ve just got your telegram {5} (11·30) thank you so much, I wonder when I shall get a letter from you. I’ll confess to you at once that I feel very much bored at the prospect in front of me, but then one always feels like that for the first few days, I shall soon become thoroughly happy in my new surroundings.

Write me every scrap of political gossip you can find, also any war news, as you know I never read the papers so I rely on you.

The doctors are mostly half casts† and very squalid looking.

This is worthy of your collection of letters at Cambridge its every bit as boring. What fun we had then. I wish I was back in England.

My love to you always

Venetia

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Partly written in pencil (see below).

{1} ‘Not … didnt I?’ is written below the printed address in pencil. The brackets have been supplied.

{2} The allusion is to Churchill’s handling of the Dardanelles campaign.

{3} The writing changes from ink to pencil here.

{4} A new sheet begins here. What follows was written slightly later.

{5} This does not survive.

† Sic.

Letter from Caroline Trevelyan to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Wallington, Cambo, Northumberland. - Hopes Elizabeth is not over-burdened with 'guests & small worries', and that she might be able to do some good for her cousin [one of the Hubrechts?] and his wife; always difficult, but 'the mere fact of his relations being kind to her' may help; it is all very sad and unfortunate for their child. Is glad Julian 'flourishes'; expects it will be good for him to be in the nursery with the other children [Mary and Humphry], who will be there throughout Elizabeth's visit. G[eorge] and J[anet] will come for a week, and Aunt Annie [Philips] will also be visiting then. Hopes to hear about Robert's plans for travel abroad in the winter. Hopes the game arrived; will send some grapes on Monday. Thoughts on the strikes: sympathises with the men, and there is 'something fine in them acting together', but the violence has been very unfortunate, and the economic impact great. Churchill 'seems to have made mistakes' but it was hard 'in such a storm' to see clearly; Sir George thinks he was 'not strong enough at first'. Amusing that the House of Lords has been so entirely forgotten. The [tenants'] party was on Thursday, and went well except for a little rain; Sir George and Charles made speeches, and Geordie said afterwards 'That was nice poetry'. He, Pauline and Kitty gave their grandparents a concert the other day; their governess is 'clever at getting up little entertainments' and they sing 'very prettily' now. Audrey Trevelyan has been to visit, and they like her a lot. Sends love to Bob; hopes Mr [Donald] Tovey will have done much work on the opera ["The Bride of Dionysus"] before he goes.

Draft [?] letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Winston Churchill

The Shiffolds. - Is sending the Prime Minister a report of a speech given by his father at the Whitefriars Club dinner, about forty years ago, which he recently found amongst his papers. If Churchill has not seen it before, thinks he will be interested in what Sir George Trevelyan said about his father Randolph, for whom Trevelyan thinks his father 'had a real affection as well as admiration'. Sir George once told him how, just after Gladstone brought in his first Home-Rule Bill, he walked away from the House with Lord Randolph; they had to part ways at the bottom of St James's Street but stood there for some time while Lord Randolph gave him a forecast of what would happen. Robert supposes 'his prophecy did not include the Parnell divorce case', but Sir George said practically everything else came true. The Prime Minister knows Robert's brothers, but he expects he will not remember him, though they must have been at Harrow together for some years.

Copy letter from J. G. Frazer to John Roscoe

1 Brick Court, Temple, London, E.C.4. Dated 31 January 1921 - The Royal Society will ask him to give a report on his expedition; Abbé Breuil will give an illustrated lecture on prehistoric caves; is pleased to hear the King has asked the Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill to consult him; asks for a list of those he wishes invited to hear the lecture, suggests Churchill and Sir Herbert Read.

Notebook with drafts of "Sulla", "Fand", translations from Lucretius, and other works by R. C. Trevelyan

Part draft of Trevelyan's play "Sulla". Prose piece describing a dream conversation with Thersites and Cressida [an early version of "Thersites"?]. Short extract from a verse play [?] about Iphigeneia in the underworld, searching for her father Agamemnon. Draft of "Fand".

Notebook also used from other end in: on inside cover, list of names ('Parents, E[lizabeth] T[revelyan], Bertie [Russell], B[ernard] B[erenson]' etc), perhaps a distribution list; second list ('Belisarius, Manzoni, Jiaffer and Haroum' etc), perhaps a list of possible topics; diagram of chess board [?]. Review of book by 'Prof. S.' about Italian Fascism [Gaetano Salvemini's "The Fascist Dictatorship in Italy", published in 1927?]; Trevelyan criticises "English admirers of Mussolini such as Mr Bernard Shaw and Mr Churchill" for misleading public opinion with 'ignorant and irresponsible laudation of Fascism'. Translation of extracts from Lucretius's "De Rerum Natura"; beginning of these marked with slip, 'II 478 [corrected from 473]-990, IV 1-270'.

Letter from George Macaulay Trevelyan to R. C. Trevelyan

Garden Corner, West Road, Cambridge. - Marked 'Private'. Wants to tell Bob and Bessie before they see it in the press that he is to be Master of Trinity: the Prime Minister's letter came today and he will reply with his acceptance on Sunday. The Fellows are anxious for him to accept, particularly as it is not clear 'whom Winston would appoint' if George refused and there are some plausible candidates they do not want. 'Everybody concerned has been so kind' that George 'cannot leave them in the lurch'; Janet insists he must accept, though he knows she 'will be the loser'. He 'did not want to be Master', and doubts he would ever have accepted if peace had continued, but he feels that he has 'no other war work... of any real importance', and Hallington has been taken over by the R.A.F.; feels he must try. Finds it a 'tragi-comic irony' that the 'crash of civilization' has put him in the Lodge of 'Montagu Butler and Whewell and Bentley''; though they will not move in until January 'and meanwhile it may be destroyed by a bomb!'.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu

Pixton Park, Dulverton.—Has arrived to find Mary alone with her children. Praises the estate, and discusses arrangements for a dinner next week. Asks for news of the strike and Montagu’s fight with the M.P.B. [Man-Power Board]. Is planning to go to Knole, via London, on Saturday, and encourages Montagu to combine a visit there with his visit to Maythorn. Is working on her counterpane. Suggests shopping for some cocks.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu

24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.—Has just recovered from a cold. Duff came to dinner on Friday, and he and Katharine last night. After lunch at Lower Berkeley Street she went with Olga to a concert organised by Bruce Ottley at the A.S.C. camp at Blackheath. Describes the concert and the entertainment in the mess afterwards.—(24 Dec.) Is going to Alderley on Friday. Has bought some presents for her dinner guests tonight. They are going to a party at Nancy’s afterwards.—(25 Dec.) Her party was a success; Hugo’s stunts were marvellous and Birrell was divine. After a little chemin-de-fer some of them went on to Nancy’s for more cards. Is dining with Diana and Duff, then going to the Baroness’s.—(26 Dec.) She had Christmas dinner with Duff and Diana in Diana’s bedroom, and discussed whether a dirty intellectual like McEvoy would be preferable as a lover to a clean ‘turnip-top’ like Lord Derby. Then she and Duffy went to 139 [Piccadilly, the Baroness’s home]. Freyburg says that Winston is becoming unpopular again on account of his rather dogmatic Cabinet memorandum; Haig is said to be furious. [27 Dec?] She gave a dinner-party today, and some other guests joined them later. Constance danced ‘in a state of almost complete nudity’, Hugo almost died doing a Spanish dance, Miss Lillie sang, and the men gambled. Diana has given her a cushion for Breccles, and the Aga a pendant worth about £150.—[28 Dec.?] Is dining with Adèle.

[Alderley.]—Lady Essex’s party was fun. Duff, who was in uniform for the first time, is looking out for a rich mistress but is not inclined to spare much time for one. Has arrived at Alderley. This afternoon the children performed ‘She Stoops to Conquer’ very well. Oliver is expected home on leave soon, Anthony in about three weeks. Lutyens says work has begun on the plumbing at Breccles, and she hopes to have the house furnished in time for an Easter party.—(31 Dec.) Describes her usual daily activities at Alderley. Is working on the curtain for Montagu’s bed. Oliver is expected on Wednesday. The past year has been fun, and she hopes that the next will bring ‘a great Indian success’. Asks when he is due back.—(3 Jan.) Oliver, who has arrived, has been awarded the DSO. ‘He’s been at Passchendael since Oct. which I believe is hell for the Artillery, so I expect he deserves it.’ Has bought a looking-glass.

[24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.]—(4 Jan.) Has heard that Patrick has been killed. Wonders how many other young men will be killed, and reflects on the effect on Diana, who is away. Cardie, Rawle, Freyberg, and Goonie dined with her. Rawle is in love with Miss Bagnold. Goonie told her of the invention of ‘a form of explosive bullet’. Has received Montagu’s telegram from Bombay.—(5 Jan.) Has started working at the hospital again. She lunched with Dombie[?] and Heseltine. Sylvia’s baby, Juliet, is ill; fortunately, Anthony is expected home soon. Heseltine has offered to do jobs for her while Freeth is away, and she may get him to write to the ‘Coal Controller’, as she is short of coal. Food is also difficult to obtain. Is dining with Katharine.—(6 Jan.) Juliet is out of danger. She lunched today with Frances, then visited Phyllis, who is miserable about Patrick. Cardie, Goonie, and Lionel Cohen came to dinner. She has not had a letter from him for three weeks. Lloyd George seemed significant, and she wonders if there is hope of peace.—(8 Jan.) She lunched at Anne’s yesterday with Juliet, Adèle, and Goonie, and they went to the cinema. She dined with the Burns, and sat next to Reggie, who is more hopeful about peace after Lloyd George’s speech, though he thinks it was intended to cause problems for the Labour Party. Beatrice G. is over from Ireland, where she has put Alice [Lady Wimborne] into the shade by her entertainments. Afterwards she played bridge. Today she lunched with Anne, went to the South Kensington Museum, and dined with Duff, who left early for his duties as a picket officer.—(10 Jan.) Lutyens has sent the altered plans for Breccles. She encloses letters from Surtees on financing them. Diana, Claude Russell, Lord and Lady Islington, Gilbert Russell and his wife [Maud], and Goonie dined with her last night. Diana looked ill, and has taken to bed ill today. Hugo came afterwards, and they discussed his idea for decorating the gallery at Breccles. Today she lunched with Freyling, who leaves tomorrow. Has received Montagu’s letter, and is sad he that he does not expect to be back till April. Stuart has gone to France; ‘I never see Gladys thank God’.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu

In the train to Brighton.—(20th.) Her good habit of writing daily has broken down. Has received his telegram, and discusses the carpet offered to him. She dined on the day after she last wrote [11th] with Frances and Haldane, who is surprisingly ‘anti-Rufus [Lord Reading]’, cares little for Addison, and thinks Bongie ‘worse than useless’. On the Saturday [12th] she dined at Clemmie and Winston’s. Winston is eager for Montagu to return home, as he thinks he would be an ally in the Government. At the time he was worried about the threatened strike by the ASE [Amalgamated Society of Engineers]. On Sunday [13th] she played bridge at Adèle’s and dined with Duff, who had been staying with Diana Wyndham and Rosemary, with whom he is a little in love. Duff is angry with Bettine for making Eddie Grant [her husband] wait in vain for her in Paris for over two weeks. On Monday [14th] she dined at home with guests, then they went to a party at Adèle’s. Duff is no longer in love with Goonie. On Tuesday [15th] she dined with Arkers, then went to a party at Frankie de Tuyll’s. Diana has tonsillitis and has gone to Brighton. On Wednesday [16th] she dined at Cardie’s and lunched with Viola. On Thursday [17th] she dined at Lionel Earle’s, and Earle talked about his work at Windsor and in the Parks. On Friday [19th] she went to a party for Puffin at 20 Cavendish Square, and sat next to the ‘old boy’ [Asquith], who inquired kindly after Montagu. Yesterday [19th] she dined with K[atharine], and today [20th] she is going to Brighton to join Diana, Michael, Duff, Rosemary, and Diana Wyndham. She is worried the Duchess will spoil things. Olga is also on the train.

24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.—(23rd.) At Brighton they all lunched at Sweetings and then went, without the Duchess, to the Aquarium. On Monday [21st] she lunched with Montagu’s mother, and ‘that foul woman’ Miss Lewis (Lily’s friend) was there. She dined at Cardie's, where it was suggested that William should go to Ireland as Ivor’s military secretary. Afterwards they went to a party at Olga’s, where Miss Barnes and Miss James sang, Hugo did stunts, and Duff ‘got off with an American pol & left the house very obviously bound for a crack’. Last night [2nd] she had a dinner-party at home, followed by stunts. Winston, who was there, seemed to enjoy himself. ‘I’m sure he yearns for fun, and Clemmie gives him none.’ Today [23rd] she went again to the VAD. Has received his telegram and replied with the measurements. Has ordered some plain carpets for the bedrooms. Is planning to furnish the hall before anything else. Oc’s leg has been amputated, and the PM has gone over to see him. This is probably the last leter she will write to India.—(24th.) Last night she dined at the de Forests', and she spent today at Taplow. Ettie is very unhappy about Patrick. Bluey has come back from America but is very ill with blood-poisoning. K has gone to visit him at Liverpool. Has bought a chest of drawers and given the housemaid notice.—(27th.) Has received his letter; he seems to have got off well with Lady Ronaldshay. Bluey has recovered slightly. Yesterday she bought some furniture, and Duffy and Diana came to dinner.

Letter from Venetia Montagu to Edwin Montagu

[24 Queen Anne’s Gate, S.W.]——Has lost the long letter she was writing to him. Last Saturday she went to Breccles. Discusses the progress of the work there, which is proving expensive. Last night she dined with Winston. Reggie says that Geddes is not coming back from Italy and that Dalziel is to take his place at the Admiralty. Reggie and Winston are on very good terms now. On Friday [8th] she went to a party at Cardie’s given by Bouch, who is home on leave, and on Thursday she gave a dinner-party and they had stunts. Afterwards Ralph [Peto] took some of them on to a party at Ruby’s. Discusses the air-raids, in response to his telegram about the bombs in Queen Anne’s Gate. Has just come back from a day with Dolly and Jimmy. K is dining with her tonight; Bluey is much better. Is eager for Montagu’s return. Is planning to go to Breccles for a holiday. She has been busier than usual this month at Charing Cross and Arlington Street as the sister has been ill. Discusses plans for furnishing the rooms [at Breccles]. Next week Bouch will probably give a farewell party, and the Jimmys may dine on Wednesday.

Letter from Edward Marsh to R. C. Trevelyan

St Fagan's Castle, Cardiff. - Cannot put off thanks Bob for the "Georgics": was 'wandering about a good deal' over Christmas, but came here last week 'equipped with a Latin text ' hoping to read Bob's translation 'at leisure'; however, he has had to proof-read Peter Quennell's "Four Portraits: Studies of the Eighteenth Century" and Winston [Churchill]'s volume of speeches made in 1944, so will not be able to settle down to Bob's book for some days. The parts he has read are 'very attractive', though he admits that the blank verse is 'here & there a little to free' for him and he 'must try to supple [his] ear'. Will be here until mid-January, then plans to settle for a while at the Goring Hotel in Grosvenor Square.

Carbon copy of a letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to the editor of The Spectator (Wilson Harris)

The circumstances under which Churchill became Prime Minister were not as L. S. Amery represents them in his review of Churchill’s book (The Gathering Storm).

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Transcript

11th. October, 1948.
To the Editor of “The Spectator”

Sir,—

The Churchillian Epic

In the interests of Historical accuracy I must express my dissent from the impression conveyed by the conculding† paragraph of Mr. Amery’s review of Mr. Churchill’s book {1}.

No doubt it is true that it was the decision of the three men on May 10, 1940 that made Mr. Churchill Prime Minister. But this decision was based on the political situation in the House of Commons.

It was generally recognised that in the national emergency there must be a Coalition Government. The Labour Party had refused to serve under Mr. Chamberlain. The question of serving under Lord Halifax never arose, but it is inconceivable that they would have agreed, first, because he was in the upper House and secondly, because he had been an active supporter of Mr. Chamberlain’s “appeasement” of Hitler. They were prepared to serve under Mr. Churchill. No other possible choice presented itself.

These facts may not have been positively known at the time by all the three men. But there was the strongest presumptive evidence that they were true.

Yours etc.,
[blank]

The Editor,
The Spectator,
99, Gower Street,
London, W.C.1.

—————

{1} The Second World War, Vol. 1: The Gathering Storm.

† Sic.

Letter from George Macaulay Trevelyan to R. C. Trevelyan

The Master's Lodge, Trinity College, Cambridge. - Thanks Bob for [his translation of Vergil's] "Eclogues and Georgics"; had already 'seen and admired the introductions' which Bob had read him, and is now 'browsing with great pleasure' through the translations; thinks Bob is 'certainly at the head of translators of the Classics now', and the 'general recognition' of the 'excellence' of all of Bob's work gives him great pleasure. Sends Bessie his 'dearest love'; he is especially grieved by two things in 'all this bitter scene - the Netherlands and Greece. The 'plight of Holland' is not particularly the fault of the British 'except for our share in the whole business', but he believes 'Greece has ben badly muddled by Churchill, whose obstinacy is sometimes a blessing but sometimes the reverse'. Feels that 'hope is better than prophecy' for the future, since 'even the best informed [prophets] seem usually to be wrong'. Very glad about Leith Hill Place: Bob will find [Ralph] Wedgwood a 'delightful neighbour'.

Letter from Lascelles Abercrombie to R. C. Trevelyan

47 Greenbank Road, Birkenhead. - Will be pleased to see Trevelyan when he journeys north. Gives directions for finding his home, commenting disparagingly on Birkenhead. Has been very satisfied by the reception of his book [“Interludes and Poems”]. Churchill’s rejection in the polls at Manchester [North West] is discomforting.

Letter from L. S. Amery to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

112 Eaton Square, S.W.1.—His own view of the circumstances under which Churchill became Prime Minister has been corroborated by Brendan Bracken.

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Transcript

112 Eaton Square, S.W.1.
12th October, 1948.

My dear Pethick,

I shall be interested to see your letter in The Spectator. Curiously enough I had information directly contrary to your conclusion only three days ago. Brendan Bracken told a friend of mine that on the evening of May 9th 1940 Attlee told him that he would be willing to serve under Halifax but not under Winston. Bracken vigorously argued about this and ended by shaking Attlee considerably. In any case the decision, if it had been subjected to a Parliamentary vote, would certainly have gone to Halifax as the overwhelming majority of the Conservatives would have preferred him, as a safer man. Don’t forget that up to the last Winston was widely distrusted on all sides.

Yours sincerely,
L S Amery

The Rt. Hon. Lord Pethick-Lawrence of Peaslake.

I fear the above is confidential so I cannot use it to reply to your letter!

Letter from E. M. Luce to R. C. Trevelyan

Railroad Mills Road, R. D. 1, Pittsford, New York. - Thanks Trevelyan for his lovely Christmas cards: has sent Salvemini his, and quotes from his reply, deleting something about Churchill. Salvemini has not been well, but now seems to be recovered; she wrote to him yesterday quoting Shakespeare about the mortality of kings, to cheer him after what he had said of the 'great man mentality'. Has a lovely edition of Shakespeare, by Bruce Rogers, and has been reading the plays lately. It is worse winter in living memory; she and Sam were snowed in for six days, and they have been feeding the birds. Liked Richard Church's review of "Windfalls". Asks for news of Gordon.

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