Monday, July 09, 2007

The Churchill Series - July 9, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

On July 8, 1902 Winston Churchill, then twenty-seven and sitting as a Member for Oldham in his first Parliament, attended a dinner party. One of the other guest was the Socialist and author Beatrice Webb. In Ted Morgan's Churchill: Young Man in a Hurry,1974-1915 (Simon & Schuster, 1982), he shares the impressions Webb formed that night of Churchill:

Restless – almost intolerably so , without capacity for sustained and unexciting labor – egotistical, bumptious, shallow-minded and reactionary, but with a certain personal magnetism, great pluck and some originality – not of intellect, but of character. More of the American speculator than the English aristocrat.

Talked exclusively about himself and his electioneering plans – wanted me to tell him of someone who would get up statistics for him. “I never do any brainwork that anyone else can do for me.” – An axiom which shows organizing but not thinking capacity.

Replete with dodges for winning Oldham against Labor and Liberal candidates. But I daresay he has a better side – which the ordinary cheap cynicism of his position and career covers up to a casual dinner acquaintance.

Bound to be unpopular – too unpleasant a flavor with his restless, self-regarding personality, and lack of moral or intellectual refinement . . . But his pluck, courage, resourcefulness and great tradition may carry him far unless he knocks himself to pieces like his father.(p. 160)
I'll say more about Webb and her comments tomorrow.