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    Sale 7548

    Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books

    12 November 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 54

    CHURCHILL, Sir Winston Spencer (1874-1965). Autograph letter signed ('Winston S. Churchill') to George Nathaniel, Marquess Curzon of Kedleston (as Baron Curzon), Camp Spearman's Hill, Natal, South Africa, 5 February [1900], 5 pages, 8vo, on bifolia (pin holes, peripheral spots).

    Price Realised  

    CHURCHILL, Sir Winston Spencer (1874-1965). Autograph letter signed ('Winston S. Churchill') to George Nathaniel, Marquess Curzon of Kedleston (as Baron Curzon), Camp Spearman's Hill, Natal, South Africa, 5 February [1900], 5 pages, 8vo, on bifolia (pin holes, peripheral spots).

    CHURCHILL IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN WAR. The letter opens with apologies for Curzon's not having received a copy of Churchill's The River War, a lapse which he attributes to the haste with which he departed for South Africa, and thanks him for 'kind remarks' about his 'adventures' [his recent dramatic escape from a Boer POW camp]: 'some of these adventures have really been very strange and terrible and I think myself very fortunate to be alive and free today'. Churchill goes on to canvas Curzon's thoughts on the South African War: 'I wonder what you think of all this war. Of course the only conduct is to support the Government through thick and thin and carry the quarrel to a successful issue. But if the present is dark and doubtful the future seems still more obscure'; Churchill expresses sympathy for [Joseph] Chamberlain, who having previously made himself unpopular as colonial secretary has now 'scarcely covered himself with glory by his excursion into the domain of foreign affairs. He has always been kind to me and though I think his African policy very merciless & unpitying I do not see how this war could have been avoided'. The letter concludes with a report on the current military situation: 'We have no easy task before us in Natal and in trying to relieve Ladysmith have already suffered two heavy checks costing nearly 3000 men. We are to make a supreme effort this afternoon or tomorrow ... while I write seventy guns are drawing up in line on the hills to being the preparatory bombardment. I am an officer in the South African Light Horse as well as a press correspondent -- a very special indulgence -- so that I see most of the fighting in one capacity or the other ...'.

    Churchill's capture on 15 November 1899, and his subsequent dramatic escape from Boer captivity and return to Durban, elevated him to heroic status and made possible his unusual combination of roles as war correspondent and cavalry officer, in which capacity he had just (24 January) witnessed at close quarters the battle of Spion Kop. Curzon, a one-time protegé of Churchill's father, had been proclaimed viceroy of India on 6 January 1899.


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