COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE
12 Bolton Street, W.
16 April 1908
I am back here for a night and a day in order to `kiss hands' on
appointment, & I seize this fleeting hour of leisure to write & tell
you how much I liked our long talk on Sunday, and what a comfort &
pleasure it was to me to meet a girl with so much intellectual quality
& such strong reserves of noble sentiment. I hope we shall
meet again and come to know each other better and like each other
more: and I see no reason why this should not be so. Time passes
quickly and the six weeks you are to be abroad will soon be over.
Write therefore and tell me what your plans are, how your days are
occupied, & above all when you are coming home. Meanwhile I will let
you know from time to time how I am getting on here in the storm; and
we may lay the foundations of a frank & clear-eyed friendship which I
certainly should value and cherish with many serious feelings of
So far the Manchester contest has been quite Napoleonic in its
openings & development. The three days I have been in the city have
produced a most happy change in the spirits of my friends, & not less
satisfactory adjustments of the various political forces. Jews, Irish,
Unionist Free Traders — the three doubtful elements — wh were all
alleged to be estranged, have come or are coming back into line, & I
have little fear of their not voting solidly for me on Friday.
The Socialist candidate is not making much progress as he
is deserted by the Labour party. He will however deprive me of a good
many votes, and this is the most disquieting feature in a situation
otherwise good and rapidly improving. Even with the risk that a
contrary result may be proclaimed before this letter overtakes you, I
must say I feel confident of a substantial success. Lady Dorothy'
arrived of her own accord — alone & independent. I teased her by
refusing to give a decided answer about women's votes, she left at
once for the North in a most obstinate temper. However on reading my
answers given in public, back she came and is fighting away like Diana
for the Greeks — a vy remarkable lady in every respect. But my eye
what a tyrant! Mind of marble — calm, unerring, precise, ruthless in
its logic devoid of flexibility — a thing to admire, but not to bruise
yourself against. Yet — a dear!
I never put too much trust in formulas & classifications. The
human mind & still more human speech are vy inadequate to do justice
to the infinite variety & complexity of phenomena. Women so rarely
realise this. When they begin to think they are so frightfully
cock-sure. Now nature never deals in black or white. It is always some
shade of grey. She never draws a line without smudging it. And there
must be a certain element of give & play even about the most profound
& assured convictions. But perhaps you will say this is only the
sophistry of a political opportunist. Will you? Well I shall not mind,
so that you say it in a nice letter to
Yours vy sincerely
Winston S. Churchill
Thursday 23 [April 1908]
Your letter found me here only yesterday — Seemingly, our maid at home
thought there was no hurry in forwarding letters — if it were not for
the excitement of reading about Manchester every day in the belated
newspapers I should feel as if I were living in another world than the
delightful one we inhabited together for a day at Salisbury Hall —
All day long here, people are struggling to get well — Many with
absolute success as in the case of Nellie whom Mother & I carry off to
Milan on the 30th. Most of the time there will have to be devoted to
getting clothes for Nellie who after 9 months here looks like a
suffragette after a hot scrimmage ...
I feel so envious of Dorothy Howard — It must be very exciting to
feel one has the power of influencing people, ever so little. One more
day & we shall know the result of the Election — I feel as much
excited as if I were a candidate.
Lately I have felt as if I wanted something to keep the mind about
which you say kind things to me, steady & balanced, so I studied every
word of Lord Cromer to the very end — But now I have begun your book —
so instinct with life & vitality — This letter will reach you after
the storm & stress of Manchester is over, otherwise I would not take
up a minute of your time —
I don't know if wishing & hoping can influence human affairs — if
so — poor Joynson-Hicks!
Yours very sincerely
27 April 
I was under the dull clouds of reaction on Saturday after all the
effort & excitement of that tiresome election, and my pen did not run
smoothly or easily. This morning however I am again buoyant, and
refreshed by a quiet & cheery Sunday here, I set myself to write you a
It was a real pleasure to me to get your letter & telegram. I am
glad to think you watched the battle from afar with eye sympathetic to
my fortunes. It was a vy hard contest & but for those sulky Irish
Catholics changing sides at the last moment under priestly pressure,
the result would have been different. Now I have to begin all over
again — probably another long & exhausting election. Is it not
The Liberal party is I must say a good party to fight with. Such
loyalty & kindness in misfortune I never saw. I might have won them a
great victory from the way they treat me. Eight or nine safe seats
have been placed at my disposal already. From my own point of view
indeed the election may well prove a blessing in disguise.
It is an awful hindrance to anyone in my position to be always forced
to fight for his life & always having to make his opinions on national
politics conform to local exigencies. If I had won Manchester now, I
should probably have lost it at the general election. Losing it now I
shall I hope get a seat wh will make me secure for many years. Still I
don't pretend not to be vexed. Defeat however consoled explained or
discounted is odious. Such howls of triumph from the Tory Press; such
grief of my poor friends & helpers; such injury to many important
affairs. There is only one salve — everything in human power was done.
We are having hateful weather here — blizzards, frost, raw wind —
perfectly vile to everyone: ... How I wish I could get away to
Florence & the sun. But here I am bound upon the wheel of things.
Lady Dorothy fought like Joan of Arc before Orleans. The dirtiest
slum, the roughest crowd, the ugliest street corner. She is a
wonderful woman — tireless, fearless, convinced, inflexible — yet
preserving all her womanliness.
How I should have liked you to have been there. You would have
enjoyed it I think. We had a jolly party and it was a whirling week.
Life for all its incompleteness is rather fun sometimes.
Write to me again — I am a solitary creature in the midst of
Be kind to me.
Yours vy sincerely
Sunday 3 May 
Your letter reached me just before we left Nordrach. Manchester was a
horrible disappointment. But I am not surprised that the Liberal Party
treated you as if you
had won them a victory, for I am sure they felt that no one but you
would have lost so few votes under the circumstances.
I hate to think of you having the fatigue and worry of another
We have not had any newspapers for 2 days so I don't know what is
happening in Dundee — or anywhere else. I have lost the thread. I do
hope all is going as
you wish —
We have been here three days and after the bitter cold of
Nordrach, it feels like Heaven. As a matter of fact the town is modern
and not very interesting but the
sun makes everything beautiful and happy — Everywhere are the most
gorgeous azaleas in full bloom....
Mother has a mania for buying animals wherever she goes — It is
most inconvenient when travelling — In Paris she bought 2 Java
sparrows from a boy in the
street — It was only by saying that she must choose between me & the
sparrows that she consented to leave them behind — Yesterday she
wanted a little Italian
mongrel, called a `lupetto' — Fortunately the quarantine prevented
that — Today love-birds are the danger — I have not yet thought of a
good objection to them —
Thursday we go to Florence. I do hope you will have a record
Yours very sincerely
After his rejection by the voters of North West Manchester, Winston
soon found himself another seat — Dundee, in Scotland — where in early
May he fought his
third by-election, and this time won by a sizeable majority. He was to
represent Dundee for fourteen years.
During June and July Winston and Clementine saw one another
several times, but since in those days unmarried girls did not dine or
lunch alone with men their
meetings were confined to social occasions. They both had pre-arranged
plans for the early part of the summer recess, but arranged to meet at
Salisbury Hall in the
middle of August. Meanwhile Clementine went to stay near Cowes, on the
Isle of Wight, where she was a somewhat distrait guest at various
entertainments. Before the marriage of his younger brother Jack
Churchill to Lady Gwendeline Berrie (always called `Goonie'), Winston
went to stay at
Burley-on-the-Hill at Oakham in Rutland, which had been rented by his
cousins Freddie Guest and Henry Guest. In the early hours of 6 August
a fire broke out after
everyone had retired to bed, and a whole wing of the house was burned
to the ground. Clementine, at Cowes, heard garbled reports about the
fire and was frantic
with worry until she read a full account of the event in The Times.
Greatly relieved at the knowledge that Winston was unharmed (although
he had played a leading
part in rescuing pictures and other valuables from the conflagration),
she cast discretion to the winds and telegraphed him her relief and
7 August 1908
This is only to be a line to tell you how much I am looking forward to
seeing you on Monday. But I have a change of plan to propose wh I hope
you will like. Let us
all go to Blenheim for Monday & Tuesday & then go on, on Wednesday to
Salisbury Hall. Sunny [9th Duke of Marlborough, WSC's cousin] wants us
all to come
& my mother will look after you — & so will I. I want so much to show
you that beautiful place & in its gardens we shall find lots of places
to talk in, & lots of things
to talk about. My mother will have already wired you & Sunny will do
so tomorrow. There will be no one else there except perhaps F. E.
Smith and his wife.
Jack has been married to-day — civilly. The service is tomorrow at
Oxford: but we all swooped down in motor-cars upon the little town of
Abingdon and did the
deed before the Registrar — for all the world as if it was an
elopement — with irate parents panting on the path. Afterwards we were
shown over the Town hall &
its relics & treasures — quite considerable for so small a place — &
then back go bride & bridegroom to their respective houses until
tomorrow. Both were
`entirely composed' & the business was despatched with a celerity and
ease that was almost appalling.
I was delighted to get your telegram this morning & to find that
you had not forgotten me. The fire was great fun & we all enjoyed it
thoroughly. It is a pity such
jolly entertainments are so costly. Alas for the archives. They soared
to glory in about ten minutes. The pictures were of small value, &
many, with all the tapestries &
about 1/2 the good furniture were saved. I must tell you all about it
when we meet. My eyes smart still & writing is tiring.
It is a strange thing to be locked in deadly grapple with that
cruel element. I had no conception — except from reading — of the
power & majesty of a great
conflagration. Whole rooms sprang into flame as by enchantment. Chairs
& tables burnt up like matches. Floors collapsed & ceilings crashed
Excerpted from Winston and Clementineby Soames, Mary Excerpted by permission.
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