My friend Steve Hayward had the wit to paraphrase, in reaction to the arrival of Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street, some comments about another incoming PM, eighty years ago next May. “Cambridge Cute,” a friend remarked of Steve’s good piece.
Speaking of Cambridge Cuties, I immediately thought of what Andrew Roberts described as “The Respectable Tendency,” the British establishment, in his great book, Eminent Churchilllians. So I dug into a dozen books to find more of what they said back then. (Lightly paraphrased.)
Q: How important was Congressman Bourke Cockran’s influence on the young Churchill?
A: Very. The late Curt Zoller was the first to write in depth about Bourke Cockran. This man played a vital but little understood role in forming young Churchill’s political philosophy. In 1895, Zoller wrote, when young Churchill traveled to New York on his way to Cuba,
…he was greeted by William Bourke Cockran, a New York lawyer, U.S. congressman, friend of his mother’s and of his American relatives. Winston’s Aunt Clara was married to Moreton Frewen. (The peripatetic “Mortal Ruin” would later badly edit Churchill’s first book, Story of the Malakand Field Force.) For many years Frewen had been a friend of Cockran, who would grow to become one of Winston Churchill’s lifelong inspirations.…