2 December 2003
CHURCHILL, Sir W.L.S. Autograph letter signed (twice, 'Winston S. Churchill', and with initials 'W.S.C.' after postscript) to Pamela Plowden ('My dear Miss Pamela'), Government House, Calcutta, 6 March 1899, 7 pages, 4°; envelope.
THE TURNING-POINT OF THE RELATIONSHIP, AND A DRAMATIC VISION OF HIS DESTINY. The letter begins with courtesies - the receipt of a letter, with a reflection on the time lapse between writing and receipt ('How dare they trammel us with time - we who exist only for a moment!'), and thanks for a set of photographs. Suddenly, Churchill turns to a dramatic declaration of his love for Pamela, and of its futility: 'I have lived all my life seeing the most beautiful women London produces ... Never have I seen one for whom I would for an hour forego the business of life. Then I met you ... Were I a dreamer of dreams, I would say ... "Marry me - and I will conquer the world and lay it at your feet" ... For marriage two conditions are necessary - money and the consent of both parties. One certainly, both probably are absent. And this is all such an old story ...'. In an important shift of tone, Churchill turns to a future without Pamela: 'I look to the consolations of life. I enjoy health, brains, youth and the future ... God has taken pleasure in inventing an imperfect world. What a God! ... Your influence brings a strange force into my life. The snowpeak is flushed with crimson & gold by the rising sun - even if the snow is never melted'. Churchill imagines a Platonic relationship of intellectual friendship, touches on Pamela's journey to Germany, and upon her future -- 'I hope you will find happiness ... Are only fat & ugly people to be happy? It is better to be beautifully forlorn than hideously contented' - before returning to his own fortunes: a good display in the final of the Inter-Regimental Polo Tournament makes 'a satisfactory ending to my military career'; his move to Calcutta has given him the opportunity of studying Lord Curzon, 'a wonderful man'; he has political plans for his return to London. Pamela's letter [which must have reported the death of her half-brother], 'stirred my soul more than it ought to have ... I saw how that child loved you. Of course no human eye will read your letter. I destroy all paper records. My memory is my archives, and it will guard no document more carefully'. A postscript reports progress on his book [The River Wars], and plans for another.
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