Life Amid Chaos: “The Hope Still Lives…The Dream Shall Never Die”

Life Amid Chaos: “The Hope Still Lives…The Dream Shall Never Die”

My broth­er Andrew Roberts inspired this post, when he asked for Churchill quo­ta­tions about child­birth. Yes, even now, friends have brought a new life into the world. Three months ago, my son and daugh­ter-in-law did likewise.

Life Goes On

On 30 May 1909, Clemen­tine Churchill was preg­nant with their first child, Diana. Win­ston, ask­ing her to prac­tice social dis­tanc­ing, wrote these beau­ti­ful words: “We are in the grip of cir­cum­stances, and out of pain joy will spring, and from pass­ing weak­ness new strength will arise.”

Four and one-half decades lat­er, his daugh­ter Mary was a fort­night over­due for the birth of Char­lotte, her fourth child. “It’s an extra­or­di­nary busi­ness this way of bring­ing babies into the world,” Churchill observed to his doc­tor. “I don’t know how God thought of it.”

Life and its per­ils influ­enced the Churchill fam­i­ly plan­ning. In 1945 his wartime sec­re­tary, Eliz­a­beth Nel, was leav­ing to mar­ry. ” You must have four chil­dren,” the boss instruct­ed her. “One for Moth­er, one for Father, one for Acci­dents, and one for Increase.” The Churchills were as good as their word. Only after the trag­ic loss of their fourth child, Marigold, did they plan the replace­ment fourth, Mary. We are so lucky for that life.

Even into a terrible world

The oth­er side of the coin is not so cel­e­bra­to­ry, as Churchill quotes go. Of course, it came at a low point in his­to­ry: 30 Novem­ber 1940. That was his 66th birth­day. It was also the chris­ten­ing of his sec­ond grand­son, Win­ston S. Churchill. And it was a time when bombs rained down on Lon­don, and “all save Eng­lish­men,” in Pres­i­dent Kennedy‘s words, “despaired of England’s life.” It was “a very emo­tion­al day,” recalled his daugh­ter-in-law Pamela:
 I remem­ber it as being one of the rare moments I had seen Win­ston in church. In fact, I think it was the first time any of us had been down to the church at Che­quers. Win­ston was very emo­tion­al about the whole cer­e­mo­ny, and, with tears in his eyes, kept say­ing, “Poor child. What a ter­ri­ble world to be born into.”
Vir­ginia Cowles, who was also present, remem­bers dif­fer­ent words. They seem a lit­tle more melodious:
I had always heard that the Prime Minister’s emo­tions were eas­i­ly stirred and at times he could be as sen­ti­men­tal as a woman, and on this occa­sion I had proof of it, for he sat through­out the cer­e­mo­ny with tears stream­ing down his cheeks. “Poor infant,” he mur­mured, “to be born into such a world as this.”

“The stars in their courses”

We may take courage  from Churchill’s eter­nal faith and for­ti­tude. opti­mism. Life was no bet­ter by 16 June 1941. Britain and the Com­mon­wealth still stood alone. Rus­sia was still bound to Ger­many by their hangman’s pact. There was no sign of Amer­i­ca com­ing in. Churchill was unde­terred. He recalled the old Boer expres­sion, “All will come right.” And he took to the airwaves:

Is the tragedy to repeat itself once more? Ah no! This is not the end of the tale. The stars in their cours­es pro­claim the deliv­er­ance of mankind. Not so eas­i­ly shall the onward progress of the peo­ples be barred. Not so eas­i­ly shall the lights of free­dom die. But time is short. Every month that pass­es adds to the length and to the per­ils of the jour­ney that will have to be made. Unit­ed we stand. Divid­ed we fall. Divid­ed, the dark age returns. Unit­ed, we can save and guide the world.

“The hope shall never die”

As in 1940 and 1941, a dif­fer­ent hunter is armed with a dif­fer­ent dead­ly weapon. Churchill’s courage still applies.

I have already sent many friends this mes­sage to stu­dents and fac­ul­ty of Hills­dale Col­lege by my boss and friend, a great man, Lar­ry Arnn. I com­mend it to you again. It reminds me of the Tom Han­ks chaar­ac­ter the end of Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan: “EARN THIS.”

I am now going to quote some­one I have nev­er quot­ed before: Ted Kennedy. Because it fits the moment. Because it high­lights the small ray of col­le­gial­i­ty and joint endeav­or that may—for a time—replace vitu­per­a­tive pol­i­tics. It cer­tain­ly applies to us at Hills­dale, and I hope also to you. For as Ted Kennedy said: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall nev­er die.”

Mes­sage from the Prime Min­is­ter, Sep­tem­ber 1940.

One thought on “Life Amid Chaos: “The Hope Still Lives…The Dream Shall Never Die”

  1. Nice piece. Stay safe Richard – as Lord Kitch­en­er might say, ‘We Need You’!

    Inci­den­tal­ly, I was in Barter Books, a book­shop in Alnwick, just last month where I learned that the ‘Keep Calm and Car­ry On’ poster had been bare­ly known until a copy was redis­cov­ered by them in 2000. Anoth­er exam­ple of book­sellers help­ing to keep aspects of our great his­to­ry alive! Regret­tably (or thank­ful­ly, from my finan­cial sol­ven­cy per­spec­tive) Barter Books didn’t have any Churchill first edi­tions on their many shelves. But I did walk away with a love­ly jack­et­ed first print­ing of Nev­er Give In! The Chal­leng­ing Words of Win­ston Churchill with an intro­duc­to­ry essay by Eisen­how­er. Great lit­tle book, but no Churchill By Him­self!

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