THE UNWRITTEN ALLIANCE
(Cohen A273) (Woods A142)
The last of Churchill’s books published in his lifetime, this compilation of 1953-59 speeches appeared only in England, and is the rarest of his postwar speech volumes. The bulk of the speeches occur in the last two years of his Premiership, for after 1955 he spoke rarely, and usually only during election campaigns.
Churchill in his eighties was still capable of the memorable phrase. In a 29 September 1959 election address to his Woodford constituency, approaching his eighty-fifth birthday, he spoke about capitalism: “Some of [our opponents] regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk [here his hands imitated the act of milking!]. Only a handful see it for what it really is—the strong and willing horse that pulls the whole cart along.”
This was, as it proved, our author’s last political speech. Reelected in 1959 he attended Parliament for its five-year lifetime, choosing, with some reluctance, not to run again in 1964. People would crowd the House chamber when he would arrive to take his accustomed seat in the first row below the gangway, hoping for a sudden reemergence of the voice that had dominated the House for half a century. But Churchill disappointed them. “Time,” as he once said to a former enemy who had saluted him, “ends all things.” Still he gave them a thrill to know he was still among them, for he had indeed passed into legend.
The Unwritten Alliance is nevertheless a remarkable coda to a singular, poignant career. It contains Churchill’s words at dinners and banquets, and to the Primrose League, whose meeting had been the occasion of his maiden political speech in 1897. Here too is his speech at Aachen (“which some call Aix-la-Chapelle,” he bravely reminded them), upon receiving the Charlemagne Prize on 10 May 1956: “It may well be that the great issues which perplex us, of which one of the gravest is the reunification of Germany, could be solved more easily than they can by rival blocks confronting each other with suspicion and hostility. That is for the future.” As in so many things, his hopes came true thirty-five years later.
His son and editor, Randolph, selected the title of this book from one of Churchill’s many speeches on the Anglo-American “special relationship,” which had survived Eisenhower’s rejection of Churchill’s efforts on detente, and American opposition to the Anglo-French action over Suez in 1956. Randolph Churchill, in his preface, quotes his father on “an alliance far closer in fact than many which exist in writing…a treaty with more enduring elements than clauses and protocols. We have history, law, philosophy and literature; we have sentiment and common interest; we have language. We are often in agreement on current events and we stand on the same foundation of the supreme realities of the modern world.”
-Richard M. Langworth
From the Reviews
“This is a wonderful book, showing all the vigour of a long, hard life, filled with many prizes, acclamations and fulfillment—and a large number of heartbreaking setbacks. It is a sad book, for we know it to be the end; and Churchill, too, must have known it. One cannot help wishing that some happy illustrations might be found among the pages, embellishing the text; but the book is purely a record, a collection of things said during the last working years of his life. It is a practical monument.
“Let us end this series of the great speeches which one which all who heard it will remember forever, on 2 June 1953 when a young Queen was crowned at Westminster: ‘We have had a day which the oldest are proud to have lived to see and the youngest will remember all their lives….Here at the summit of our world-wide community is a lady whom we respect because she is our Queen and whom we love because she is herself. ‘Gracious’ and ‘Noble’ are words familiar to us all in courtly phrasing. Tonight they have a new ring in them because we know that they are true about the gleaming figure whom Providence has brought to us in times where the present is hard and the future veiled….We pray to have rulers who serve, for nations who comfort each other, and for peoples who thrive and prosper free from fear. May God grant us these blessings.’”
-Henry Fearon (unpublished catalogue)
Nice jacketed copies of this work today cost sums that offer a compound rate of return as good as a good mutual fund. It is not so much that The Unwritten Alliance is rare, but that so few come up for sale anymore. So many have now gone into private libraries that the supply is truly small. Most that we do see are in excellent condition, though the dust jacket was poorly printed and is almost always rubbed or streaked.
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Cohen A273 / Woods A142
Publisher: Cassell and Co. Ltd.: London, 1961
Bright red cloth blocked gilt on spine with title, author’s name and CASSELL. 8vo, 344 pages numbered (i)-(xii) and 1-332. Page (ii) lists twenty-seven works by the author. Dust jackets are printed black, blue and orange. Published 27 April 1961 at 35s. ($4.90) in a single impression of 5,000.
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