Two-page autograph working draft of key passages from Churchill’s address to the Conservative Party Central Council.
Heavily amended manuscript representing early drafts of two key paragraphs – of ten as published (Eade, The War Speeches, II, pp229-232) – with considerable differences from the final version, and showing all the signs of the flow of rapid composition and revision – palpable evidence of a mind at work. Material of this nature is seldom encountered on the market. Against a background of “an almost unbroken series of military misfortunes” – the Eighth Army driven from Cyrenaica, the loss of Greece and Crete, the fall of Hong Kong, the disaster of Singapore, and severe set-backs in the Battle of the Atlantic – Churchill delivers a powerful appeal for national unity, calling for harmony and understanding in the service of a greater cause. In the first excerpt he appeals for personal sympathy in the view of the enormity of his task; “We are certainly aided by a great volume of criticism & advice from which we will always endeavour to profit in the highest degree … there may sometimes steal across the mind a feeling of impatience with the airy & jaunty detachment of some of those critics who feel so confident of their knowledge & so sure that they c[oul]d put things right. If ever I yield to such temptation, I hope you will remember how difficult it is to combine an attitude of proper meekness & humility towards assailants at home, with those combative & pugnacious qualities, that spirit of the offensive and counter-attack which we are all agreed were never more needful against the foreign enemy.” The second paragraph relates the need for this spirit of conciliation to Britain’s world historic rôle; “This is a v[er]y hard war. Its worrisome & fearful problems reach down to the v[er]y foundations of human society. Its scope is world wide. It involves all nations & every man woman & child in them … We must aid each other. We must stand by each other. We must confront all perils & trials with a national unity that cannot be broken, with a national force that is inexhaustible … with that inflexible will power to endure & yet to dare for w[hic]h our island has been long renowned. Thus alone shall we be worthy champions of the Grand Alliance … w[hic]h without our resistance w[oul]d never have come into being, but which now has only to march together till Tyranny is trampled down.” A superb piece of Churchillian rhetoric, focusing and personalizing the task at hand, then opening it out, inclusively, to embody his conception of Britain’s historic destiny. This portion of the manuscript was clearly gifted by Churchill soon after it was written, the typed “label” is on the same paper stock as the manuscript itself, and the typed note amended in pencil in his hand clarifying that this is “part of” the manuscript. A highly desirable vestige of Churchill’s creative process.
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2 leaves quarto, wove paper embossed “G.R.” in the top left-hand corner, manuscript rectos only, fastened with a pin to a neatly torn half sheet of the same stationery bearing a typed note identifying the speech. Faint rust-marking verso of the second leaf, otherwise very good.