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‘Eddie’ – tributes to Sir Edward Marsh

Found in a book* of tributes to Sir Edward Marsh, these two pieces unknown to the web - the foreword by Winston Churchill and the 'Tailpiece' by Max Beerbohm. Wikipedia (who regard him as a polymath) has this on him. Very clever, amusing, retiring, gay, one of the 'great and the good' and a patron of the arts - it is hard to think of a modern equivalent. Churchill, whom he served as Private Secretary for many years, attended his memorial and here contributes a touching piece on 'Eddie.' Beerbohm, who regarded him as 'not unalarming' also recognised him as 'one of the ornaments of his time.'

Foreword

Winston Churchill 

The friendship of Eddie Marsh is a memory which I put high among my treasures. We began working together at the Colonial Office in 1905 and from then onwards out association remained intimate and happy for nearly fifty years. He was not only an admirable Civil Servant, on whose judgement, loyalty, and competence I could always count, but he was a master of literature and scholarship, a deeply instructed champion of the arts, and a man for whom the esteem of his friends could not fail to be combined with their deepest affection. His serenity in all things made his companionship a pleasure; and his noble and generous nature made him an unfailing joy to men and woman of all generations who were so fortunate as to walk with him along the road. 


Tailpiece

Max Beerbohm

Eddie 

I do not remember having anywhere at any time heard him spoken of by anyone as Edward Marsh. And yet, with his tufted eyebrows and his monocle, and his sharply chiselled features, and his laconic mode of speech, he was not, one would have thought, unalarming. Or at any rate one would have thought so if his great kindness of heart had not somehow shone through the rather frigid surface of his social form. He was immensely more interested in other people than in himself - though he must have known that he was undeniably one of the ornaments of his time. 



*Sketches for a composite literary portrait of Sir Edward Marsh. C. Hassall and D. Mathews. London: Lund Humphries for the Contemporary Art Society, 1953.
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The wrong Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill - the novelist

The British prime minister, historian and wartime leader Winston Churchill became Winston S. Churchill to distinguish himself from the now forgotten and somewhat unsaleable U.S. novelist Winston Churchill (no relation.) His friendly and diplomatic letter on the subject  is a model of its kind and has been preserved.**

Pretty decent thing to do, but at the time (1899) the American novelist was well known and his books selling very well. To add to the confusion the novelist Winston was also a passable painter. Also our own Churchill wrote one novel, Savrola, in 1900. The American Churchill wrote many novels mostly with titles beginning with C - The Celebrity, The Crisis, The Crossing, Coniston etc., They occasional show up on eBay being sold as if by the great politician ( the American Churchill also dabbled in politics). Wikipedia says "...the two are still occasionally confused, mostly by sellers of second-hand books…" - slightly  dismissive, but possibly not untrue.  They are known to have met at least once and also to have corresponded; a signed letter from WSC to WC would be quite a valuable item!

A good WSC oil painting now goes for several hundred thousand pounds, the American Churchill (who appears to have been more than a Sunday painter) cannot be in this league. Must check an art price site…

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I once met… Anna Pavlova (and Adolf Hitler)

Found in Words Etc.,: A Miscellany (Wordspress, Haslemere 1973) this piece by author, art teacher, botanist and curator Wilfrid Jasper Walter Blunt (1901 - 1987). His meeting with Hitler is admittedly fleeting, his meeting with Pavlova slightly  more substantial, but he tells both anecdotes well..

My Friendships with the Famous

Name-dropping is a pleasant and a fairly innocuous pastime, indulged in even by Shakespeare's Hipolyta: "I was with Hercules and Cadmus once…". At a party, when conversation is flagging, I sometimes like to electrify the company by saying, quite casually, "The first time I met Hitler was…". Then, before I can be subjected to an embarrassing interrogation, I change the subject.

No publisher has ever shown the slightest eagerness to publish a full-length book on my relationship with the Führer; yet I feel that the world ought no longer to be deprived of some account of my first (and alas! last) unforgettable meeting with him. I cannot, unfortunately, remember the exact date but it was some time in the year 1929. I had gone with a German friend to the Café Hecht, in the Hofgarten in Munich; Hecht means "pike", but little did I guess how big a fish I was about to land. At the table next to ours six people were sitting - three men and three women - and on that table was a funny little flag with a swastika on it; I assumed that they were adherents of some esoteric oriental religious cult. The men were dressed in brown (like our Capuchins), and one of them sported a ridiculous little moustache.

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Political and Royal gossip 1920s

Lady Elvery by William Orpen

A good letter, over 20 closely written pages. Indiscreet, gossipy ('The Prince of Wales was blotto..') from the inner circles of power and privilege in the mid 1920s. The recipent was Beatrice Elvery, Lady Glenavy (1881 - 1970). Irish artist and literary host, friend of Katherine Mansfield and friend of Shaw, Lawrence and Yeats. She modelled for Orpen and painted 'Éire' (1907) a landmark painting promoting the idea of an independent Irish state. The letter is from her husband Charles Henry Gordon Campbell, 2nd Baron Glenavy (1885–1963) politician and banker in England and Ireland.

Quite a good little show at the Londonderry's the other night. Great strong retainers at the door in short kilts of the Stewart tartan created an atmosphere of sex appeal, much fortified by the magnificent bosoms of the Marchioness Curzon which are said to have only reached their full bloom for the first time this season.

Eire by Beatrice
Elvery (1907)

The white face of Elinor Glynn, a a long green velvet gown, made our RC aboriginals visibly insecure: her walk is so sensuous as to suggest unimagined pleasures in love and is enhanced by some minor pelvic obstruction which necessitates a few swings with the right leg before she can take a step. Her daughters, married to a pair of peers or better, offer a pleasant contrast of blackheads and anaemia. Lady Jowett was escorted by Eddie Marsh who is still holding up wonderfully together...........We bumped into Gladys Cooper fresh from the theatre in full make up, on Londonderry's arm and a bodyguard of four young men........

On asking Lady Jowett how she explained Baldwin's remaining in public life she said the Baldwin family had a firm hold on the British public's imagination ever since she said, when asked whether she found it (illegible) to have so many children imposed upon her by her husband that 'each time she closed her eyes and thought of England'...........

On Friday McGilligan, Hogan and Fitzgerald went to dinner with the King. Everything gold including the forks.

But the king forgot it was Friday: the soup was a meat soup so the R.C's couldn't eat it and in the end, after a huge long dinner all they had was a bit of sole. a few peas and an ice cream. They rushed back here at midnight and gorged themselves on rolls and butter and tea. They said the Prince of Wales was blotto........

[Later he goes to a party at Buckingham Palace and his take on the queen's breasts is hilarious....  He spends a lot of time with Mark Gertler and Mary Hutchinson. The letters ends on a scrap of 'Irish Free State Delegation' paper.] I am writing to keep myself awake while Ramsay Macdonald meanders on about things he doesn't understand.....