Autumn 1890 (Age 16)

Lord and Lady Randolph were not confident that their son would pass the required examinations that could lead to his admission to Sandhurst. However, on 10 December Winston wrote and passed his “preliminary.” He had studied hard for it but he later attributed his success to a piece of good luck. “We knew that among other questions we should be asked to draw from memory a map of some country or other. The night before by way of final preparation I put the names of all the maps in the atlas into a hat and drew out New Zealand. I applied my good memory to the geography of that Dominion. Sure enough the first question in the paper was: ‘Draw a map of New Zealand.’ This was what is called at Monte Carlo an en plein, and I ought to have been paid thirty-five times my stake. However, I certainly got paid very high marks for my paper.”

He had other good luck: this was the last Sandhurst preliminary in which Latin was optional and the essay question was on the American Civil War, a topic he had discussed numerous times with his mother. Of twenty-nine Harrow candidates for this examination, only twelve passed all subjects. Winston enjoyed his success and knew that his parents would likewise be pleased, so he suggested to his mother that “a remittance would not be altogether misplaced.”

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