(Cohen A246) (Woods A128)
Not enough has been written about Churchill’s period as Leader of the Opposition (1945-51), a new and unique role for him. For ten years before the war he’d been denied even a supporting role, and he had been too junior to lead in earlier years. Those historians who represent this as a grim and ignominious time for the old lion have not read Europe Unite, which publishes fifty-two speeches and broadcasts delivered in 1947-48. The galleries still filled when Churchill rose to speak, and his wit crackled across the House in some of the most riveting and heated debates of modern times.
As always he defied the Socialists, who now commanded a huge majority, but in the good-natured way that was then accepted practice, and of which he was a master. “How nice to see the Hon. Member climb off his perch,” Churchill would say when little Sidney Silverman, a feisty but diminutive Labour Member whose legs didn’t reach the floor from the bench, would stand to challenge him. Or, when another MP rose to object to something he was saying: “The Rt. Hon. Member may catch Mr. Speaker’s eye. He will not catch mine.” (He didn’t catch Mr. Speaker’s eye, either).
My favorite amusement in this book comes in the debate of 28 October 1947, as Churchill offers a tour d’horizon on behalf of the Opposition, criticizing Labour across the board. The Minister of Fuel and Power, Hugh Gaitskell, had earlier suggested people economize by taking fewer baths, saying, “I have never had a great many baths myself.” Churchill, a noted bather, responds: “When Ministers of the Crown speak like this on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the Prime Minister and his friends have no need to wonder why they are getting increasingly into bad odor. I have even asked myself, when meditating upon these points whether you, Mr. Speaker, would admit the word ‘lousy’ as a Parliamentary expression in referring to the Administration, provided, of course, it was not intended in a contemptuous sense but purely as one of factual narration.”
Of course there are far weightier matters to occupy us in Europe Unite, including the subject of the book’s title, embodied in another moving address to the Congress of Europe at The Hague in 1948. There is the escalating violence in Palestine, up and down relations with America and the Soviets, conscription, nationalization, the grim economy, and above all Britain’s precipitate postwar decline.
Nothing more typifies the last than India, for which Churchill has often been excoriated as a die-hard imperialist, determined to preserve the Raj. How much more reasonable his own words sound: “Great Britain had for many years been committed to handling over responsibility for the government of India to the representatives of the Indian people. There was the promise of Dominion status implicit in the declaration of August 1917. There was the expansion and definition of Dominion status by the Statue of Westminster. There was the Simon Commission Report of 1930, followed by the Hoare-Linlithgow Reforms of 1935. There was the Linlithgow offer of 1940 [that Indians frame a self-governing constitution], for which, as head of the Government in those days, I took my share of responsibility.” The Government had proposed to give the new Viceroy [Louis Mountbatten] fourteen months to organize Indian independence. “I do not think that…gives the new Viceroy a fair chance,” Churchill continued. “Everyone knows that the fourteen months’ time limit is fatal to any orderly transference of power.” Later, quite arbitrarily, Mountbatten had decided to transfer power only five months after this speech. The result was a bloodbath in which millions died.
Undoubtedly by plan, Churchill published Europe Unite in time for the General Election of 1950, where it probably had some influence. The Labour majority of 140 was reduced to a six, and that led inevitably to another election in 1951, which restored our author to power.
-Richard M. Langworth
From the Reviews
“Nothing in this series of speeches indicates that Churchill is losing ground, or that his powers are diminishing, in spite of his half-century in political harness. He continues to stress what are for him familiar themes. One of these is the preservation of Great Britain and her interests: ‘…it never was more needful that we should labour body and soul to preserve and unify whatever is left of our Empire and Commonwealth…’ Another is cultivation of U.S. friendship. As a political realist, Churchill hopes that Germany and Italy will be welcomed back into ‘the European family.’ He urges European unity so that Europe may form a ‘sphere of interest and influence’ alongside Russia, the United States and the British Commonwealth. All of these spheres of power, of course, are to be only ‘the massive pillars upon which the world organization would be founded in majesty and calm.’ In these speeches, Churchill presents his views on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from capital punishment (15 July 1948) to general education (12 May 1948): ‘…a university training should not be too practical in its aims. Young people study at universities to achieve knowledge, and not to learn a trade.’
This book is worth reading, because Churchill is readable and because he is a speaker worthy of careful study. The jacket of one of his recent volumes calls him ‘the most eloquent statesman of our time.’ It is not easy to quarrel with this judgment.”
-Halbert E. Gulley, The Quarterly Review of Speech, April 1951.
The supply of run-of-the-mill copies is reasonably good and these are not expensive. The green cloth is subject to splotching and the page stock spots, so a really pristine copy in an undamaged dust jacket is a rarity. The American edition is a higher quality production than the English, but with only a fourth the press run of Sinews of Peace it is extremely scarce today, and jacketed copies are a rarity. Collectors anxious to complete their sets of American postwar speech volumes have been known to pay dearly for a jacketed copy. Even unjacketed ones are rarely seen, and command good prices depending on condition. Though two other American postwar speech volumes saw even fewer copies produced, this is the one encountered least frequently.
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Cohen A246.1 / ICS A128a
Publisher: Cassell and Co. Ltd.: London, 1950
Green cloth blocked gilt with title, author’s name and CASSELL on spine. 8vo, 518 pages numbered (i)-(x) (+2) and 1-506. Page (ii) lists twenty-eight other works by the author. Dust jackets printed black, green and yellow on white paper. Published 3 February 1950 at 18s. ($2.52) in a single impression of 12,000 copies. Though bound in England, sheets for this edition and the American issue were printed in the Netherlands.
Publisher’s presentation copies were bound in full black pebble grain morocco.
Cohen A246.2 / ICS A128b
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Co.: Boston, 1950
Greenish-blue rough cloth blocked on spine with dark blue-green decorations and in black: “Europe | Unite | [blue-green star] | CHURCHILL and “HOUGHTON | MIFFLIN CO.” (all reading across). Pagination identical to the First Edition although the U.S. publisher’s name and date are substituted for Cassell on the title page. Dust jacket printed black, green and blue-green on white paper. Published 1950 at $5.00 in a single impression of 2500 copies, using sheets supplied by the Dutch printer.
Swedish: FORENADE EUROPA
Published by Skoglund: Stockholm 1950 in cloth and card wrappers. Later included in a four-volume set of war and postwar speeches.
Danish: TALER I DANMARK
Cohen A241, ICS A129/4 (not in Woods)
Publisher: Hasselbalch, Copenhagen 1950
Greyish-green laid paper wrappers printed maroon on face and spine. 8vo, 42 pages numbered (1)-(36) plus four coated paper sheets comprising frontispiece and photographs facing pages 14, 26 and 34. Page (7) reproduces a handwritten note from 28 Hyde Park Gate: “I have a glowing memory of my visit to Denmark. Winston S. Churchill | November 1950. Published in a white folding cardboard case, December 1950. Text in Danish.
The colophon notes 500 copies for sale to the public; others were gifts from the publisher (one such has a blue on white “with compliments” card). The press run was much larger, however, because most copies are not numbered. A second variant is was published by Langkjærs Bogtrykkeri: Copenhagen 1950, carrying that name on the front wrapper and title page and an altered colophon.
During 9-11 October 1950 Churchill visited Denmark, where he received the Sonning Prize (“Sonning-price”), a Danish European Culture award. He delivered four broadcasts and two speeches, one speech after receiving an honorary degree at Copenhagen University, another speech to the Danish Students Association. This softbound book collects all six, only one of which was published elsewhere (In the Balance a year later; the Complete Speeches in 1974). The visit had many moving moments. After being praised as the architect of victory this man so often described as besotted with self replied, “I was only the servant of my country and had I, at any moment, failed to express her unflinching resolve to fight and conquer, I should at once have been rightly cast aside.” The Danes’ praise was “far too complimentary,” he added, with many words “that no man should hear till dead.”
Although there are several individual speeches presented in book form—I have noted four of these following the 1945 collected War Speeches—this work collects them into what some might consider a legitimate, separate Churchill book. It is the only collection of postwar speeches, other than the five book-length works, that I know to be 100% Churchill. Churchill’s Visit to Norway (Oslo: 1949) contains his speeches, but also material not by him. Taler I Danmark is the first, and in part only, publication of the Denmark speeches in volume form. Though not often seen outside Denmark it is not too expensive, though collectors will soon drive the price up.
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