Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Churchill Series – May 28, 2008

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

If you’ve read many of Clementine Churchill’s letters to Winston, you know that despite Churchill’s claim they married and “lived happily ever after,” relations between the two weren’t always happy.

Theirs was surely a wonderful fifty-seven years of marriage filled with love and care in good times and bad.

But it was not always happy. Sometimes things got very testy. One of the reasons was Churchill's choice of friends.

Clementine approved of most of them, but there were some – Brendan Bracken and Lord Beaverbrook were two – that for years she wished Churchill would cast aside. But he wouldn't. Worse for Clementine, he often invited them to be overnight guests at Chartwell.

Why wouldn’t he give in to Clementine? Or at least put a little "distance" in certain friendships?

Violet Bonham Carter, Churchill’s friend for almost sixty years, gives us her answer :

His friendship was a stronghold against which the gates of Hell could not prevail. There was an absolute quality in his loyalty, known only to those safe within its walls. Their battle was his own. He would concede no inch of ground, no smallest point against them. In a friend he would defend the indefensible, explain away the inexplicable – even forgive the unforgivable.
Isn't the Churchill Bonham Carter describes the same Churchill we know respect and honor?

Tomorrow, we’ll see Churchill help someone he would never call a friend but helped in a tough time the way we'd want our friends to treat us in tough times.
Violet Bonham Carter, Winston Churchill: An Intimate Portrait. ( pgs. 116-117)