(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)
In the early summer of 1906, Lady Wemyss hosted a small dinner London party. The guests included a bright, charming nineteen year old, Violet Asquith, daughter of Herbert Asquith, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, and soon to be Prime Minister.
Violet was seated next to a thirty-two year old Member of Parliament, Winston Churchill, the son of a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Randolph Churchill. She tells us about the evening:
I found myself sitting next to this young man who seemed to me quite different from any other young man I had ever met. For a long time he remained sunk in abstraction.The young Violet Asquith, and Winston Churchill began a remarkable friendship that night that lasted until Churchill died on January 24, 1965.
Then he appeared to become suddenly aware of my existence. He turned on me a lowering gaze and asked me abruptly how old I was. I replied that I was nineteen.
“And I,” he said almost despairingly, “am thirty-two already. Younger than anyone else who counts, though, “he added, as if to comfort himself.
Then savagely: “Curse ruthless time! Curse our mortality. How cruelly short is the allotted span for all we must cram into it.” And he burst forth into an eloquent diatribe on the shortness of human life , the immensity of possible human accomplishment – a theme so well exploited by the of all ages that it might seem difficult to invest it with a new and startling significance .
Yet for me he did so, in a torrent of magnificent language which appeared to be both effortless and inexhaustible and ended up with the words I shall always remember: “we are all worms. But I do believe that I am a glowworm.”
By this time I was convinced of it – and my conviction remained unshaken throughout the years that followed.
Bonham Carter paid a last visit to the Churchill shortly before he died. She must surely thought of that summer evening in 1906 when a young man told her he was "a glowworm," something she never doubted and saw History confirm.
Violet Bonham Carter, Winston Churchill: An intimate Portrait. (p. 3)