Friday, February 08, 2008

The Churchill Series - Feb. 8, 2008

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

November 8,1895.

Churchill, a few weeks shy of 21, is on board Cunard's RMS Etruria and nearing the end of his first trans-Atlantic crossing.

How did he like the crossing?

He wrote his mother:

I do not contemplate ever taking a sea voyage for pleasure, and I shall always look upon journeys by sea as necessary evils which have to be undergone in the carrying out of any definite plan. ...

(Although the weather gave some) bad moments we were never seasick. ...

There are no nice people on board to speak of - certainly none to write of. ...

There is to be a concert on board tonight at which all the stupid people among the passengers intend to perform and the stupider ones to applaud. The days have seemed very long & uninteresting.
The next day Etruria sailed through the Narrows into New York harbor. To starboard Churchill could see Brooklyn, where his mother, Jennie Jerome, was born and grew up. Directly ahead was Manhattan. A few hours later Churchill set foot in America for the first time.

Jennie had arranged for her son to stay at the home of one of New York's most influential citizens, Bourke Cockran. Years later, Churchill would say of him,” I have never seen his like, or in some respects his equal."

On Churchill's first night in America, Cockran hosted a glittering dinner in his honor. There's no record of any of the guests offering to perform a concert.
Randolph S. Churchill, Winston S. Churchill: Youth, 1874 - 1900. (pgs. 256-259)