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
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.”.
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.”