Lord Randolph Churchill
The Macmillan Company, 1951 - 574 עמודים
Randolph Henry Spencer-Churchill, commonly called Lord Randolph Churchill, was born in London on February 13, 1849. His father was the eldest son of the sixth Duke of Marlborough by his first wife, Lady Jane Stewart, daughter of George, eighth Earl of Galloway. The Marquess of Blandford, as he then was, had married on July 12, 1843, the Lady Frances Anne Emily Vane (of whom more hereafter), eldest daughter of the third Marquess of Londonderry, by whom he had five sons and six daughters. Of these sons three died in infancy, the elder of the survivors ultimately succeeded to the title, and the younger is the subject of this account.
In his father’s lifetime Lord Blandford lived at Hensington House, an unpretentious building outside the circumference of the Blenheim Park wall and about half a mile from the palace. Here his numerous family were brought up. Their childhood must have been a very happy one, with such a fine and ample place for a playground, many dear playmates and parents who watched over them with unremitting care. The boy grew up with his brother and sisters, as little boys are wont to do; and when his father became, in 1857, seventh Duke of Marlborough, they all moved into the palace at the other end of the great avenue, and this became for many years their home. Randolph was sent to Mr. Tabor’s school at Cheam when he was eight years old. This was very young for one who had so much space and happiness at home; but he seems to have been most kindly treated and to have been quite content. He did not prove exceptionally clever at his letters, though he made steady progress at school. He had an excellent memory, and was fond of reading books of history, biography, and adventure. But much more pronounced than any liking for study were his passion for sport and his love of animals. By the time he was nine years old he rode well, and even at that early age he showed decision and determination in his ways. In those days the telegraph was some miles distant from Blenheim and the telegraph boy used to ride in with his messages upon a ragged, wiry little pony called ‘The Mouse.’ Once he had seen this pony, Lord Randolph wearied his father and family with requests to buy it and never rested till it was his own. After the pony was purchased, he trained it and called it his hunter. The next step was to go hunting.
On an autumn afternoon in 1859 he waylaid Colonel Thomas, the tenant of Woodstock House and an old and valued friend of the family, on his return from a day with the Heythrop hounds, and, riding up to him, persuaded him to ask his father’s permission to take him out hunting. This was the beginning of a friendship between these two which lasted through life. To the next meet of the Heythrop they accordingly repaired together. The day was fortunate. Lord Randolph, carried to the front by ‘The Mouse,’ was in at the death in King’s Wood, was presented with brush or pad, went through the ceremony of being ‘blooded,’ and returned home in great delight, with glowing cheeks well besmeared with fox’s blood. From that day he became passionately fond not merely of riding to hounds but of hunting as an art.
A glimpse of his later days at Cheam has been preserved by a schoolboy friend who, early in 1860, under the fostering wing of an elder brother, was entered as the youngest and newest of sixty-two boarders at the school. ‘Randolph Churchill,’ he writes, ‘was then very near, and before he left I think he reached, the headship of the school. He and my brother were "chums," whereby I was brought into closer touch with him than otherwise would have been the case. His good-natured and somewhat magnificent patronage of my shivering novitiate has imprinted on my memory a few incidents characteristic of his personality. At any rate, he must have bulked large in my regard, as I have of him a far more vivid recollection than of any other boy, through the whole six years of my Cheam schooling.