Autumn 1923 (Age 49)

A Country Gentleman

Back in England from a cruise on the Duke of Westminster’s yacht, Churchill reflected, “I am very content to have for the first time in my life a little rest, and leisure to look after my own affairs, build my house and cultivate my garden.”

His primary focus was on the second volume of The World Crisis. The periodicals were full of pros and cons about his first volume. Everyone who had participated in the War seemed to want to get a word in. The Morning Post venomously said that Churchill “is mentally incapable of realizing the truth or anything like it” but most reviews were favourable. Stanley Baldwin probably summed up the feelings of Churchill’s colleagues: “If I could write as you do, I should never bother about making speeches.” Baldwin would live to hear Churchill’s immortal speeches of 1940 and 1941.

On the issue of tariffs, Baldwin called an election for December 6. Churchill answered the call to fight Protection as a Liberal. He beat the Conservative but came second to the Labour candidate who had advocated a special tax on high incomes.

Even his Conservative opponents regretted his defeat. “I was at the Carlton Club that foggy Election night,” wrote his aunt. “When your poll was announced, there was a grim silence and stodgy Lord Middleton, who was sitting next to me, said, ‘Well, I am genuinely sorry. We wanted Winston in the House of Commons.”’

His other battle at this time was a libel suit against Lord Alfred Douglas who had accused him of manipulating the stock market during the Battle of Jutland. His victory over Douglas was celebrated by his friends who also encouraged him to continue his efforts to reenter Parliament. “You must get back to the House,” wrote one. “The outlook is dark and troubled; the country will need your energy and vision.”

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