“Harold Begbie” is excerpted from an article for the Hillsdale College Churchill Project. To view the original, click here. To SUBSCRIBE for fresh articles weekly from the Churchill Project, reaching 60,000 readers worldwide: Click here, scroll to bottom, enter your email address in the box entitled “Stay in touch with us.” Your email address is never given out and will remain a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
“Boris Johnson, who has sought comparison with Winston Churchill, denounced spending national lottery money to save the wartime leader’s personal papers for the nation,” chortled The Guardian in December. (The Churchill Papers cover 1874-1945. Lady Churchill donated the post-1945 Chartwell Papers to the Churchill Archives in 1965.)
In April 1995 Johnson, then a columnist for the Daily Telegraph, deplored the £12.5 million purchase of Churchill Papers for the nation. The lottery-supported National Heritage Memorial Fund, said Johnson, was frittering away money on pointless projects and benefiting Tory grandees. Johnson added: “…seldom in the field of human avarice was so much spent by so many on so little …”
The Memorial Fund replied the Churchill Papers were a national heirloom under threat of being sold outside the country.…
"[Lloyd George] was the greatest Welshman which that unconquerable race has produced since the age of the Tudors. Much of his work abides, some of it will grow greatly in the future, and those who come after us will find the pillars of his life's toil upstanding, massive and indestructible; and we ourselves, gathered here today, may indeed be thankful that he voyaged with us through storm and tumult with so much help and guidance to bestow." —WSC
Sporadically, pundits compare Donald Trump with Winston Churchill. There’s even a book coming out on the subject. I deprecate all this by instinct and will avoid that book like the Coronavirus. Surface similarities may exist: both said or say mainly what they thought or think, unfiltered by polls (and sometimes good advice). But Churchill’s language and thought were on a higher plane. Still, when a friend said that Churchill never stooped to derisive nicknames like Trump, I had to disagree.
Whether invented by the President or his scriptwriters, some of Trump’s nicknames were very effective.…
A reader refers us to The Polar Bear Expedition: The Heroes of America’s Forgotten Invasion of Russia 1918-1919 (2019). It repeats a misunderstanding about Churchill’s role in aiding the White Russians against the Bolsheviks. By the spring of 1919 in Russia, we read:
…the cat was out of the bag: whether its allies—English, French, White Russians—liked it nor not, the U.S. was pulling out. On March 4, the British War Cabinet decided to follow suit, ignoring the arguments of the virulently anti-Bolshevik Winston Churchill, who as secretary of war had proposed increasing the Allied commitment in Russia to one million men.…
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,” says another friend 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 the sources to find more of what they said back then about the new Prime Minister. (Lightly paraphrased.)
Mr. McDonnell’s swipe at Churchill was brief. Asked if he saw Churchill as a hero or villain, he replied: “Villain—Tonypandy.” The Guardian completed the drive-by assassination, not only by headlining the remark, but with an inaccurate rehash of the Tonypandy riots in 1910.
Sir Winston’s grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames, focused on McDonnell, calling him a “Poundland Lenin.”…
Q: “Who made the crack that Churchill had a hundred ideas a day but only four of them were good?” —Bruce Saxton, Trenton, N.J.
A: There are several candidates and variations. Taking them as a group, Churchill had from six to 100 ideas daily, of which between one and six were good. In order of the most likely. But it could be one of those all-purpose cracks applied to many people.
Roosevelt: fifty to 100 ideas, three or four good.
A reader suggests that these fake Churchill quotes be subdivided. We should separate quotes he actually said, but borrowed from someone else, from quotes simply invented out of whole cloth. Not sure we have much to learn from that. First, while I try to name the originator of a quotation not by Sir Winston, I don't always succeed. Second, my brief extends only to disproving that the words originated with Churchill.
Originally written for and published by the Hillsdale College Churchill Project. This is one of several forthcoming articles intended to encourage younger readers to learn about Churchill. Reader comment, suggestions of further points to make, and other articles on the same theme, would be appreciated.
Who was Winston Churchill? Why, half a century since his death, is he the most quoted historical figure? Scholars know the answers. Do you? Why does it matter?
It matters because Churchill continues to offer guidance and example today. His indomitable courage, his ability to communicate, his knowledge of history, his political precepts, are as valuable now as they were in his time.…