July 2, 2013



“Troubled Like Martha”

Q; While reading The World Crisis 1911-1918 (one-volume edition, page 744) I came upon the expression, “troubled like Martha.” What does it mean? —JONATHAN SPERO, [email protected]

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A; Churchill had a photographic memory, and the book he knew and quoted most often was the Bible. See Luke 10:38-42, King James version, which he usually read:

“38. Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.

“39. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.

“40. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

“41. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:

“42. But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

In the first edition, the passage is in Part II of 1916-1918, 362-63: “The Operations Division, hitherto troubled like Martha over many things, had not been able to think far enough ahead.”


Churchill’s encounters with the Bible began early. He writes in My Early Life: “I had accumulated in those years so fine a surplus in the Bank of Observance that I have been drawing confidently upon it ever since.” More importantly, as Darrell Holley writes in Churchill’s Literary Allusions (Jefferson, N.C.: MacFarland, 1987):

“More than to any other book or group of books, Churchill alludes to the King James Bible. It is for him the primary source of interesting illustrations, descriptive images, and stirring phrases. His knowledge of the Bible manifests itself in direct quotations, in paraphrased retellings of Biblical stories, and in his frequent, perhaps even unconscious, use of Biblical terms and phrases….By using the homely but often profound phrases of the King James Bible, he could not only interest his audience (many of whom knew the Bible as well as he), but he could lead them to greater understanding of the cosmic meanings of their situation…he borrows from no other work the way he does from the Bible. For him it is the magnum opus of Western civilization; it is the source of many a beautiful passage in his works.”

Q; How did Clementine Churchill’s sister Nellie Hozier find herself in France during World War I? Did the Germans make propaganda of her capture? —ROBIN BATES, MESA, ARIZ.

A; Nellie Hozier was a nurse in Belgium in 1914; captured by the Germans, she was released almost immediately. There was a certain honor among both sides then that was not present in Hitler’s Germany. The Germans occupied her house, but didn’t molest her. More details can be found here where they also float a story that she became pregnant by WSC, which is rubbish. There is more on Nellie on Google.

Q; Do you know how or why Sir Winston’s father, Lord Randolph Churchill (1849-1895) came to have the name Randolph? I know that the name has alternated through the generations, but am not aware its origin. —CHARLES LANDGRAF, WASHINGTON, D.C.

A; We consulted John Forster, Director of Education at Blenheim Palace, along with Paul Courtenay and James Lancaster. Lord Randolph’s grandmother was Lady Jane Stewart, daughter of Admiral George Stewart, Eighth Earl of Galloway. She married George Spencer-Churchill, Sixth Duke of Marlborough, in 1819. The Earl named his eldest son (later the Ninth Earl of Galloway) Randolph— the Eleventh, Twelfth and the present Thirteenth Earls also bore that name. The Seventh Duke of Marlborough may have named his third son Randolph because it was becoming a strong family name, especially if his mother’s brother Randolph, Ninth Earl of Galloway, was Lord Randolph’s godfather. Mr. Forster is searching baptismal records to confirm this.

It should be remembered that the Churchill family tradition is to name sons after grandparents. Hence: Randolph (born 1849), Winston (1874), Randolph (1910), Winston (1940), Randolph (1965) and John Winston (2007). The last is named after the Seventh Duke of Marlborough, government minister, Viceroy of Ireland, and Lord Randolph’s father.

Q; Have you encountered this puzzle? His mother was a society beauty. His father’s political career was cut short and his father died young. He took part in his country’s last cavalry charge in 1898. He enjoyed hunting and polo. He proposed marriage three times, was fond of children and played “bear” with them in his country estate. He was nearly killed in a road accident. He entered politics early, was considered “finished” several times, and criticised the government for pursuing “peace at any price.” He achieved high office with the navy, and when war threatened, he mobilised the navy on his own initiative. When war began, he resigned his government post and went to fight in the front line. Ultimately he achieved his country’s highest office, served twice in this post, and spoke of “blood and tears.” He was fond of using the word “Pray” in memoranda. He won a Nobel Prize and wrote thirty-eight
books. His son tried to emulate his career but failed. Who is this man? —DAVID HATTER, ONGAR, ESSEX

A; Theodore Roosevelt! 


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