February 5, 2015

“In love, but not yet prepared to commit himself…”

The Nile War over, Churchill returned to England where he immediately became embroiled in controversy over his military and political activities. The Prince of Wales wrote him that “I think an officer serving in a campaign should not write letters for the newspapers or express strong opinions of how the operations are carried out.”

“A General Officer” wrote to the Editor of the Army and Navy Gazette: “Can it be for the good of the Service that young subalterns, however influentially connected and able they may be, should be allowed as Lieut. Churchill is to go careering over the world, elbowing out men frequently much abler and more experienced (in a worldly sense at any rate) than themselves?”

Churchill responded: “Your correspondent’s quarrel is not with me but with the Army authorities. They are antagonists more worthy of his rank. He should not bandy words with subalterns in the columns of the public press. What can be more prejudicial to the discipline for which he professes so extravagant a regard? He should go to the War office with this new grievance. …to make personal attacks on individuals, however insignificant they may be, in the publicity of print, and from out of the darkness of anonymity, is conduct equally unworthy of a brave soldier and an honourable man.”

He continued to lay the foundation for a political career. Before returning to India, he made several speeches to Conservative Associations, identifying himself with the progressive wing of the Tory party. “To keep an Empire we must have a free people, an educated and well-fed people.”

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In his personal life Churchill was in love with Pamela Plowden but, as his son later wrote; “such were his ambition and his slender means that he was not yet prepared to commit himself.”

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