[CHURCHILL, Winston]. SPENCER-CHURCHILL, Clarissa Anne. Autograph letter signed ("Clare") to an unidentified correspondent, Algiers, 6 or 7 December 1953. 6 pages, 4to.
"HE AND MONTY EXPRESSED THEMSELVES EMPHATICALLY CONCERNING ARABS & JEWS...ISRAEL MUST HAVE A FREE HAND..."
A fascinating account from Churchill's niece of a (relatively) abstemious lunch with her uncle the Prime Minister and Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery. "I lunched at No. 10 before leaving--sat at the end of the table between Winston & Monty who talked together across me. I was most of the time so horrified that I kept silent. Winston looking ever so old & crumpled up...almost speechless with fatigue--& unable to bring himself up as he used to with brandy and champagne. He is evidently under doctors orders and was confined to white wine, upon which he does not sparkle. He and Monty expressed themselves emphatically concerning Arabs & Jews. The Arabs, they agreed, must be swept aside--almost they might be said to insist 'Delenda' [destroy] the Arabs--Israel must have a free hand. I had to bite my lip. After that, irritable & sweeping assertions á propos of France. Monty complained about the French: they'll do nothing to help even themselves...They deserve (said Monty irritably) that Anglo-American troops be withdrawn from Europe and then, let France & Germany face up to one another & see how they like it. At which suggestion Winston grunted and sank deeper in his chair, his head falling forward on his chest. Then, like a pathetic child he asked for cheese--why was there no cheese? He wanted cheese--to which Clemmie rather governessy, told him he was not to have any cheese--that he'd had enough (it was a very small lunch). Winston pouted--'I'd have liked some cheese.'"
Yet just when the old warrior seems to be slipping into his dotage, he shows signs of life and vitality. Later that same day, she reports, he skips his afternoon nap, attends the House, and then goes to the Jockey Club Dinner. "Now he is in Bermuda basking in the sun...Well! I give up trying to prognosticate concerning him..." She finishes by remarking on Churchill's obsession with Russia: "He hates the Bolsheviks yet he can't leave them alone. They fascinate him! It's something he hasn't been able to influence, manage, overcome. It's so big, it arouses his sense of conquest, his lust for overcoming and also his grudging admiration!" A fascinating portrait of Churchill during his second and final tenure as Prime Minister (1951-1955). Clarissa Spencer-Churchill became, in 1952, the wife of Churchill's eventual successor at No. 10, Anthony Eden.