[ Winston Churchill's cousin on the Nazi menace. ] Material from the papers of Captain Edward George Spencer Churchill, mainly concerning the League of Nation, Fascism and appeasement, including autograph draft speech, letters, newspaper cuttings.
The extraordinary life of Winston Churchill's first cousin Edward George Spencer-Churchill – war hero, art connoisseur (trustee of the National Gallery, 1943-50) and book collector (Roxburgh Club member) – has not yet been fully explored. Educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford (where, as one of a set of three 'admirers of the best-looking male students', he was known as 'Juggins'), he joined the Grenadier Guards in 1899, serving through the Boer War (2 medals and 7 clasps), and First World War (MC, Croix de Guerre with palm). ('G de B.' (Gavin de Beer?), writing in The Times, 26 June 1964, tells the remarkable story of how, during what EGSC always called 'the Kaiser's War', 'Mis', as EGSC was nicknamed, was revived after being 'shot clean through the head', with a burial party being detailed.) As a Unionist, he contested Derby in 1906, and Tynemouth in 1910. He was High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, 1924–25, and a trustee of the National Gallery, 1943-50. For his activities as an art connoisseur see Sir Julian Huxley's letter to The Times, 27 June 1964; and the report in the same newspaper of the sale at Christie's of his Northwick Park collection, 10 July 1964. He published books on fishing and commerce, and presented a work to the Roxburgh Club. EGSC corresponded cordially with Winston Churchill, and there is, as the present collection indicates, a strong agreement of views between them, but there does not appear to have been much warmth between the cousins. The present collection of material from his papers includes an autograph draft speech, and a copy of a letter to H. A. Gwynne, editor of the Morning Post, on the Italian invasion of Abyssinia, with Gwynne's reply explaining his reasons for not publishing it, together with other letters and newspaper cuttings emphasizing the affinity of views between EGSC and his cousin Winston Churchill, with a particular emphasis on the evils of appeasement and the need to uphold the covenant of the League of Nations. It provides an interesting insight into the political climate of the Churchill family. The album housing the newspaper cuttings is worn and damaged, but the collection itself is in good condition, with light signs of age and wear. It is described here under thirteen headings. ONE: Corrected autograph draft by EGSC of speech to unspecified 'gentlemen'. 4pp., 4to. On letterheads of EGSC's company the Blockley Brick & Tile Works, Worcestershire. Undated, but from the context written around 11 November 1939. Begins: 'This is 20th anniversary of armistice day; that day when we all felt that winter of our discontent was made glorious summer; […] when we looked forward to an era in wh[ich] we shd be able to rebuild our nation, & honour our fallen comrades in peace. | However when I saw that we were disarming to such an extent that our principles & our interests were most unlikely to get a respectful hearing in a still
world, I confess I had the gravest misgivings.' He attacks 'H H' (Herr Hitler) and ridicules 'Mr. C.' (Chamberlain): 'never again shall our English PM have to fly again & again to a foreign dictator to beg him not to make war, & offering substantial bribes not to do so'. TWO: Draft of letter from EGSC on the subject of Italian aggression in Abyssinia, intended for publication in the Morning Post (addressed to the editor H. A. Gwynne, for whose reply see next item). 9 November 1936. 2pp., 4to. On letterheads of 90 Piccadilly, W.1. With one minor deletion. EGSC pours scorn on those in Britain 'who are now saying that we should seek again the friendship of Signor Mussolini', who 'pledged to preserve the political independence & territorial integrity of Abyssinia, but he has instead invaded & annexed it – thereby deliberately breaking the Kellog Pact, the Covenant of the League, an agreement with Abyssinia, an agreement with France & England, & another never to fight with poison gas. […] He has certainly just given the world a striking demonstration of the efficac[y] of Italian poison gas when sprayed from aeroplanes on to seminaked natives, unable to offer any kind of opposition in the air […]'. He ends in true Churchillian style: 'Two things are certain – if in the present temper of men & nations we neglect our arms, we invite disdain attack & extinction as a Power, & we must not rely on the promises or treaties made by those who exult in breaking them, but on ourselves'. THREE: TLS from the editor of the Morning Post, H. A. Gwynne, to EGSC ('My dear Churchill'), responding to Item One. On the newspaper's letterhead, and dated 9 November 1936. Headed 'Personal'. Signed 'H A Gwynne'. Containing an autograph emendation of the typescript, from 'pride or grace' to 'pride of race' (Gwynne's racist views are indicated by the fact that he edited 'The Cause of World Unrest' (1920), a collection of Morning Post articles inspired by the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion'). The letter begins: 'My dear Churchill, | I have read your letter for publication and I agree with every word of it, but I honestly feel it will do more harm than good at the present juncture. | If we had a Government that had the slightest pride of race [last two words amended in autograph from typed 'or grace'], Mussolini would not have been allowed to do the dirty work he has done in Abyssinia and elsewhere. Are we prepared to drive the two dictators of Europe into each other's arms? The danger is too great, to my mind, to risk it.' The two men are clearly on cordial terms, as Howell ends with a reference to New Year's shooting in EGSC's 'delightful park', with a postscript regarding the Beefsteak Club. FOUR: Carbon of typed letter [to the editor of the Spectator]. 1 October 1938. 2pp, 4to. In sending his year's subscription he praises the paper's 'fearless and illuminating articles throughout these momentous months | Our relief is of course now great, but we have bought it with other people's goods in face of Herr Hitler's threats. | His record is conspicuous neither for humanity, moderation, nor for adherence to his solemn pledges – or as you more vividly put it – he is a man emancipated from all ordinary obligations of honour, decency, and even sanity. | Is it not therefore probable that within a comparatively short time he will again threaten and demand more; and if he next demands from us the ex-German colonies with an ultimatum, will the Czechs, French and Russians be with us then? […] Herr Hitler must now know exactly how to deal with democracies, who are in the sight of the whole world willing to buy peace at any price, except perhaps by handing over slices of their own territory, or their liberty.' FIVE: Carbon of typed letter [to the Morning Post]. 13 December 1935, on Northwick Park letterhead. 2pp., 4to. With minor autograph emendations. The letter was published in the Morning Post on 17 December 1935, under the heading 'Captain Spencer-Churchill's Rejoinder' (to a letter from Morning Post's music critic Francis Toye (1883-1964), replying to an earlier letter from EGSC. The present letter would be followed by 'Mr. Toye's Reply', published on 18 December 1935. The correspondence relates to the League of Nations, and in the present letter EGSC makes the case for upholding the League against appeasers like Toye: 'What a case Mr Toye could have made for the repudiation of our Belgian treaty in 1914! | However his greatest & most dangerous illusion is that if we now betray our covenant (as he seems to wish) we should then be left for any length of time a faithless friendless & coward nation – to enjoy in peace that material prosperity, for which some think that such a sacrifice of honour should be made'. SIX: Carbon of typed letter [to the editor of The Times]. 1 March 1936, on Northwick Park letterhead. 2pp., 4to. With one minor emendation in autograph. Responding bitterly to a letter by Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede, published in The Times, 27 February 1936: 'On Lord Ponsonby's principles the League of Nations would seem to be only [an] institution for demonstrating to the world the faithlessness of its members'. The letter would not appear to have been published, but a cutting of Ponsonby's letter is present. SEVEN: Carbon of typed letter [to The Times?]. 14 October 1939, on Northwick Park letterhead. 2pp., 4to. With minor autograph emendations. Begins: 'There has been much discussion in the press & elsewhere about our “war-aims,” & many of us have expressed the hope that we shall make a “just peace” this tim[e.] May I point out that our first & essential “war aim” is to win the war, & put ourselves in a position to dictate the terms of peace; & all our energies must be directed to this end.' He continues by laying out his position, with reference to the Treaty of Versailles. EIGHT: Carbon of typed letter by EGSC, as President of the Evesham Division Conservative and Unionist Association, and three other members of the executive committee, concerning a disagreement between them and the Evesham MP Rupert De la Bere. 24 May . 2pp., 8vo. NINE: Several hundred newspaper cuttings, 1921-1944, including thirteen letters from EGSC (including eight to The Times and Morning Post), pasted onto 120pp. of a folio album, with a few more cuttings loosely inserted. The album with presentation inscription: 'G. Spencer Churchill [EGSC?] | from | A. S. C. [EGSC's mother mother Augusta Spencer-Churchill (1854-1941)] | Xmas. 1909.' 120pp., folio. The cuttings are in fair condition, on aged paper, in a heavily-worn album with no spine and 'News Cuttings' in gilt on detached cover. Mainly from The Times and the Morning Post; also Birmingham Gazette, Daily Express, Daily Mirror, Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard, Evesham Journal, Gloucester Echo, Standard (Evesham), Sunday Pictorial, Sunday Times. The first forty pages of cuttings are concerned with disparate subjects (e.g. British trade and industry, the Locarno Pact, Rajitsinhji); thereafter, with the year 1935, the subject begins to turn to fascism, and in particular Nazism. A handful of cuttings report speeches by Winston Churchill. EGSC's contributions are as follows. Poem to the Morning Post by 'E. G. S. C.', titled 'The Creed of a Materialist', Morning Post, 9 October 1923. Letters to the Morning Post: 21 December 1923 ('A gallant but indecisive fight'); 23 January 1932 ('Our debt to the U.S.A.'); 24 May 1935 ('Germany's aims', with answer by A. Hooton); 13 December 1935 ('The reported peace terms | Capt. E. G. Spencer-Churchill's Outspoken Protest'), with answer by Francis Toye); 17 December 1935 ('Captain Spencer-Churchill's Rejoinder [to Toye]', with 'Mr. Toye's Reply'); 9 May 1936 ('Britain, Italy and the League | Captain Spencer-Churchill on Saving Our Honour'). Letters to The Times: 13 April 1939. Letter to the Sunday Times: 12 May 1940. Also a handful of reports of speeches by Winston Churchill, and the following in The Times, 10 September 1941: 'Lady Edward Spencer-Churchill | An appreciation'. The cuttings also include five 1937 letters to the Evesham Standard and Evesham Journal from EGSC, concerning the disagreement between the Evesham MP Rupert De la Bere and the executive committee of the Evesham Division Conservative and Unionist Association, of which EGSC was president. TEN: Manuscript letter to EGSC from 'Conservative', replying to a letter from EGSC, published in the Morning Post, 9 May 1936, under the heading 'Britain, Italy and the League | Captain Spencer-Churchill on Saving Our Honour'. The letter accuses Baldwin for his 'hate of Fascism' and 'hypocracy [sic]'. A typical racist and antisemitic diatribe of the period: 'England is with Mussolini. He is only doing what we have been doing for hundreds of years. Abyssinia is a lousy, filthy scab. We are simply victims of the machinations of Jewry – Brothers Hoare and Litvinov, (Agenteurs) in their scheme for world domination, the enslavement of all Gentiles.' ELEVEN: Copy of pamphlet titled 'Hitler Step by Step 1933-1939. The Calendar of Aggression'. Reprinted from The Times, 26 September 1939. TWELVE and THIRTEEN: Modern manuscript transcripts of two speeches. The first (6pp., folio), unattributed, dated '6.45p.m. 26th July 1897'; the second (1p., 4to) from a speech by Winston Churchill to the House of Commons, 13 May 1940.