March 20, 2015

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster…”

In June Lord Moran recorded in that his famous patient seemed to be ready to come back. “A short time ago,” Churchill told him, “I was ready to retire and die gracefully. Now I’m going to stay and have them out….I’ll tear their bleeding entrails out of them. I’m in pretty good fettle [which I attribute to] the the Jerome blood.” However, the next month Moran found Churchill “in poor heart — one of his black moods. ‘I’m fed-up,’ he said. ‘Victory has turned to sackcloth and ashes.'” This feeling would be later expressed in Churchill’s reference to Clemenceau’s post-World War I book Le Grandeur et la Miserede la Paix.

After this war,” said Churchill, “it is all misere and no grandeur.” An additional month later Moran recorded: “Winston is happy at Chartwell, as happy as he can be when the world has gone all wrong.”

Churchill expressed concern about a book by Elliott Roosevelt (FDR’s son) which expressed the view of some Americans that Churchill had unnecessarily delayed the cross-Channel invasion of Europe for two years. Churchill said: “I asked Monty whether we could have invaded France before we did and Monty answered that it would have been madness. We could not have done it without the landing craft.”

Churchill was more concerned about the future, especially the prospect of war between Russia and the Anglo-Americans. He was expressing more concern about Russia’s intentions, which had become very clear to him at Potsdam. He helped prepare for any coming clash by advocating European unity. In France he recalled his visit to Paris in 1883, when his father had explained the Franco-German fight over Alsace Lorraine; and his visit to the’ French Army in 1907, when he “felt that by those valiant bayonets the rights of man had been gained and that by them these rights and also the liberties of Europe would be faithfully guarded. The road has been long and terrible,” he reflected. “I am astonished to find myself here at the end of it all.” He called on the two nations to “preserve and fortify our united action. Never let us part.”

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His theme that “Europe must arise from her ruin and spare the world a third and possibly a fatal holocaust” was best expressed in a speech at Zurich University which was only slightly less influential than the Iron Curtain speech earlier in the year. He began with “I wish to speak to you today about the tragedy of Europe, [that] noble continent … the fountain of Christian faith and Christian ethics … and the origin of most of the culture, arts, philosophy and science both of ancient and modern times … If Europe were once united in the sharing of its common inheritance, there would be no limit to the happiness, to the prosperity and glory which its three or four hundred million people would enjoy. Yet it is from Europe that has sprung that series of frightful nationalistic quarrels, originated by the Teutonic nations, which we have seen even in this twentieth century and in our own lifetime, wreck the peace and mar the prospects of all mankind.” To prevent a recurrence of these quarrels he called for a “United States of Europe,” beginning with a partnership between France and Germany. “There can be no revival of Europe without a spiritually great France and a spiritually great Germany.”

Churchill’s personal concern was for Chartwell, which he had owned since 1922. He had placed it on the market in 1938 but financial help from a friend had allowed him to keep it. He had over £100,000 in the bank and calculated that he needed £12,000 per year to live. Since he wanted the income from his war memoirs to go to his heirs, he determined to sell Chartwell in order to augment his income.

When asked by a friend if he would sell Chartwell for £50,000 to friends who would allow him to live in it for the rest of his life before turning it over to the National Trust, Churchill replied:

“Yes, and [I will] throw in the corpse as well.” Nowhere is the memory kept so green as at Chartwell, and we all thank and honour the following people who purchased Chartwell and left it, not just to the British Nation, but to the world, as a memorial and tribute to the life of Sir Winston Churchill: Lord Bearsted, Lord Bicester, Sir James Laird, Sir Hugo Cunliffe-Owen, Lord Catto, Lord Glendyne, Lord Kenilworth, Lord Leathers, Sir James Lithgow, Sir Edward Mountain, Lord Nuffield, Sir Edward Peacock, Lord Portal, James deRothschild, J. Arthur Rank, Sir Frederick Stewart and, especially, Lord Camrose.

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