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Churchill, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer (1874-1965), knight, Prime Minister
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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).



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


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.,

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


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

† Sic.

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.

Copy of a letter from Edwin Montagu to Austen Chamberlain, also sent, mutatis mutandis, to Lord Curzon, H. A. L. Fisher, Winston Churchill, and Sir Laming Worthington-Evans

Summarises the contents of A3/22/2. He does not know why A3/21/2 did not reach Reading before he made his speech, as it was despatched with every arrangement for priority.

(Typed. Headed in error ‘Telegram from Secretary of State to Viceroy’.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

(Official.) In the Legislative Assembly today Jamnadas Dwarkadas sought to move an adjournment in order to bring before the house the subject of tomorrow’s debate in the Commons on Joynson-Hicks’s motion, which he described as a vote of censure on the Secretary of State. He said that any attempt to pass such a vote on Montagu would be strongly opposed in India, where it is considered that Montagu has proved the greatest Secretary of State and has drawn England and India closer. He then drew attention to Churchill’s speech on Kenya and Montagu’s statement that he would support the view of the Government of India. Dwarkadas’s comments were supported by Sir D. P. Sarvadhicary and Dr Gour. The Home Member said that a communiqué should be sent to Montagu expressing the Assembly’s full confidence in him.

(Carbon copy.)

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.

Letter from Caroline Trevelyan to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Welcombe, Stratford on Avon. - They 'can think of nothing but the elections here': it is 'more wonderful than one could have imagined'. Apart from [Joseph] Chamberlain holding Birmingham [West], it is 'an absolute débacle' for the Tories; expects Elizabeth and Robert have read the news in the "Man[chester] Guardian". They have been very anxious about the Stratford seat, but it was won by Kincaid-Smith; she did not believe it possible but Sir George always said he was a good candidate for the place. Glad to have come here as they were 'able to do a great deal in a quiet way' and no help is needed in Northumberland. Charlie's majority [at Elland] is 'magnificent'; he is now helping Geoffrey Howard [at Eskdale], and George is helping F[rancis] Acland [at Richmond], both of whom may win. Delighted that [Henry] Chaplin is defeated [at Sleaford]. Elizabeth will 'rejoice at Broderick's defeat' [St John Brodrick, Conservative MP for Guildford, lost his seat]. Remarkable how the last government is being rejected everywhere; hopes the new government can 'rise to the occasion'. Sir George has been 'almost too much excited' but she thinks all the results with personal significance are now in. [Charles] Fenwick is of course safe; thinks Northumberland will be 'entirely Liberal & Labour'. The festivities prepared by the Stratford Tories, who did not think they could lose, have inspired much ridicule. Glad that Elizabeth continues to like Aulla [home of Aubrey and Lina Waterfield] and that Robert is happy. They have several new books: Holman Hunt; [Herbert] Paul's life of Froude; [Winston Churchill's life of] Randolph Churchill; 'Charles Lamb' [either his letters, or E.V. Lucas's biography]; they are also reading Keats's letters aloud. Asks if Elizabeth will visit Holland on the way home.

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.

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.

Letter from Edward Marsh to R. C. Trevelyan

5 Raymond Buildings, Grays Inn. - Supposes it is Bob who has sent him the "Bride of D[ionysus]", and thanks him if so; had already got it and read it yesterday. Hopes he will 'live to see the opera'; thinks Bob has given Donald [Tovey] 'splendid chances'. Likes it a lot as a play, especially the last act, especially Ariadne's dream. Does not 'always follow [Bob's] vers libres', but blames his 'own stupidity'. Saw Bob the other day at D[onald]'s concert, but was in the middle of a row so couldn't get to him. They might meet at one of the other concerts, but the dates are not good for him; thinks he will be 'away with Winston [Churchill] in the yacht for most of them'. Asks Bob if he will write his poem 'Proud mayst though be...' ["For a Fan"] in the book which Marsh has started a collection of autograph poems. Hopes they will meet soon for a talk; has 'got lots of new pictures' since Bob was last here.,

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.

Letter from Edward Marsh to R. C. Trevelyan

Greenway, Ledbury. - Had dinner with [Harold] Monro last night [corrected to 'week', with initials 'R.C.T.' who urged him to bring out a "Georgian Poetry" at Christmas as 'the market is quite healthy' and it should do well. His own circumstances having changed a great deal [a reference to Winston Churchill, whose Private Secretary he had been, leaving Government?], and he had practically decided what would go in a second anthology last year; is 'greatly inclined to do it'. Fears this would 'interfere badly' with Bob's "Annual [of New Poetry" as he would 'have to have Gordon [Bottomley]'s play ["King Lear's Wife"]'; Gordon wrote last week of his own accord saying that his offer held good, his letter the day after the dinner with Monro. Asks Bob if it would be a 'smashing blow' if he kept the play. Has not finally made up his mind, as he needs to look again at his planned list of contents, which is at home; returns there tomorrow. Has been staying a few days with Wilfrid Gibson, who is 'strongly in favour' of there being another "Georgian Poetry". Tells Bob in a postscript to reply to Raymond B[uilding]s.

Letter from Edwin Montagu to Venetia Stanley

Maid’s Head Hotel, Norwich.—Beb and Bongie have arrived. Refers to the the news from Belfast [of Churchill’s speech there], and reflects on his own oratorical skills. Praises Churchill’s demeanour. The Home Rule Bill will, he thinks, be ‘all right’, but it may cause trouble in Ulster. He enjoyed their lunch together yesterday.

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 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 H. Yule Oldham to Lady Frazer

King's College, Cambridge - Congratulates Frazer on his honour: 'A government that includes my old schoolfriend Chamberlain, & my old pupil Churchill, should do well, but I am sure will do nothing better, or at any rate more appropriate'.

Letter from Jean Marchand to R. C. Trevelyan

Is 'very culpable and negligent' towards Trevelyan, but he is 'always so indulgent' that Marchand hopes he will be pardoned again; he is obviously an 'almost disgustingly lazy being'. Begins by thanking Trevelyan as well as 'the young artist' [Julian]: asks if Julian still likes Corot, and if so to continue his appreciation of that artist, whom Marchand himself loves more and more. As Trevelyan thought, they are at Vence; he had a hard job 'detaching Sonia [Lewitska] from the hill' where she 'incrusts herself every winter like a crab on a rock'. Hasn't seen Trevelyan for a long time; has a fond memory of the first time he met Madame Trevelyan, for whom he feels much affinity; his regret for not visiting her at 'Gluffolds' [an error for Shiffolds?] is greater, and he regrets that he no longer knows when he will be in London again, since the exchange rate is 'ruinous' and the future 'quite sombre'. Wonders what has become of everyone who was gathered then: has not seen [Francis] Birrell or [Arthur?] Waley since then, though he thinks often of them. Waley sent him a book which he read slowly and has re-read continuously about the works of Lao-tse and other Chinese writers, translated by Vignier: it is both full of old experience and new goodness, and some phrases apply perfectly to the current situation. Is only returning to Paris in the last week of April; Trevelyan will give him great pleasure if they can meet then. Adds a postscript as Sonia sends best regards to both Trevelyans. Marchand asks if Trevelyan is still working on his translation of Aeschylus and Sophocles. Has seen that in the last election 'notre ami' Winston Churchill was beaten again: he can then leave it all for his 'mad passion - that of painting'. Asks Trevelyan to send him Waley's address if he has a chance.

Letter from John Haynes Holmes to F. W. Pethick-Lawrence

The Community Church, Park Avenue and Thirty-Fourth Street, New York City.—Congratulates him on his election victory over Winston Churchill.



The Community Church, Park Avenue and Thirty-Fourth Street, New York City
December 7th, 1923

Dear Mr. Pethick-Lawrence:

Hurrah! I am overjoyed at the great news this morning of your election to Parliament. And over Winston Churchill! What a smashing victory! That son of Marlborough must wish that he was back in the days of his great ancestor, when the laboring people had better manners.

Reports indicate that Baldwin and his cohorts got a defeat that they will not soon forget. I wonder what the future holds?

With congratulations and all best wishes, I remain

Very sincerely yours,
John Haynes Holmes

Mrs.† F. W. Pethick-Lawrence,
11 Old Square,
Lincoln’s Inn,
London, W.C.2, England


† Sic.

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