This, which I wrote for the New Republic about Winston Churchill
when he lost the election in 1945, is about the best and most charac-
teristic short piece of mine I can think of in just these years.
THERE is a tendency to draw back under the eaves, standing vaguely at attention, and salute as the valiant old gentleman makes his way back into that honorable shadow from which the war called him forth. He was not adjudged safe or sound enough for the responsibilities of government during the ten years before 1939, and there is little likelihood that his talents will again be needed in the arduous but unheroic years ahead, whatever the modifications of general opinion. He will thus have made his distinct contribution on the highest dramatic plane, that is to say in a crisis so great and sustained that his country's history affords no precedent for it; and those who feel most warmly toward him must hope that he will be content. From the purely aesthetic point of view the composition is already marred by his insistence upon contesting an election as Tory party leader, after he had led all parties with such unequalled vigor in the nation's years of trial. If he had left the partisan squabble to others, and retired upon his age and honor--to write a book, perhaps: and what a book it might be!--we should have been inclined to forget those events which, since the landings at Salerno in September, 1943, have successively darkened our view of this exceptional man in the affairs of Italy, Spain, Greece and India. But we know of old, however much we may regret it, that men who reach the supreme power seem incapable of surrendering it in good time, but must be dragged protesting from their places not when, but after the objective situation has made it imperative.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: 105 Greatest Living Authors Present the World's Best Stories, Humor, Drama, Biography, History, Essays, Poetry. Contributors: Whit Burnett - Editor. Publisher: Dial Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1950. Page number: 309.