Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Churchill, Randolph Henry Spencer
CHURCHILL, RANDOLPH HENRY SPENCER, commonly known as Lord Randolph Churchill (1849–1895), statesman, was the third son of John Winston Churchill, seventh duke of Marlborough [q. v.], by Lady Frances Anne Emily, daughter of Charles William Vane Stewart, third marquis of Londonderry [q. v.] His eldest brother, George Charles (1844–1892), became the eighth duke of Marlborough; the second brother, Frederick, died young in 1850. Randolph Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace on 13 Feb. 1849. After some instruction at home he was sent in 1857 to Mr. Tabor's preparatory school at Cheam, whence he was removed in January 1863 to Eton. During his first year he was an inmate of the house of the Rev. W. A. Carter, subsequently exchanging to that of Mr. Frewen, where he remained till he left Eton in July 1865. His tutor during the latter part of this period was the Rev. Edmond Warre, who became head-master in 1884. During his comparatively brief career at Eton he bore the character of a high-spirited boy, not very amenable to discipline, and rather frequently in difficulties with the school authorities. Among his slightly older contemporaries at the college were Mr. Arthur Balfour and Lord Rosebery, the latter of whom, after Lord Randolph's death, described him as his 'lifelong friend.' After leaving Eton he spent some time with tutors at Ischl in Austria and elsewhere. On 21 Oct. 1867 Lord Randolph matriculated at Merton College, Oxford. At the university, as at Eton, he cannot be said to have made any conspicuous mark, and was scarcely recognised by his contemporaries as an under-graduate likely to attain future eminence. His friends, though some of them became distinguished in later life, were not numbered among the intellectual leaders of Oxford society, and he exhibited no special interest in public affairs. Long afterwards, in 1888, he accepted an invitation to speak at the Oxford Union, and in the course of his address he expressed his regret that he had not joined the society and attended its debates during his residence as an under-graduate. Nor did he seek distinction in those athletic recreations which are most honoured at our universities and public schools; he was no oarsman, cricketer, or football player. He was, however, a keen sportsman. He hunted a good deal, kept a pack of harriers, and took an active part in the college 'grinds,' or steeple-chase meetings. He was also one of the founders of the Myrmidons Club, a coterie of Merton men who met at intervals for dinner and conversation. Though he was not averse from society and amusement at Oxford, there is no foundation for the statement that his university career was one of idleness, dissipation, and disorder. Some stories to this effect were maliciously circulated in the newspapers in connection with an incident with which his name was connected. A slight collision with the police occurred after an undergraduate gathering, and Lord Randolph was brought before the magistrates and charged with assaulting a constable. He always maintained that an error had been committed, and that he was merely an innocent bystander who had taken no share in the fracas. As a whole his conduct while at Oxford was creditable. The late bishop of London, Dr. Mandell Creighton [q. v. Suppl.], who was his tutor at Merton, informed the present writer that he saw nothing to censure in the behaviour of Lord Randolph Churchill during his residence at the college, and that he was much impressed by his pupil's ability and mental alertness. He read for honours in jurisprudence and modern history. The legal subjects prescribed for the examination were distasteful to him, but he was deeply interested in the study of history. He obtained a second class in the honour school of 'jurisprudentia et historia moderna' in Michaelmas term, 1870. There were only three names in the first class on this occasion, and among those who appeared with Lord Randolph Churchill in the second class were Mr. A. H. D. Acland (afterwards vice-president of the committee of council on education), the Earl of Donoughmore, and Mr. A. J. Stuart-Wortley. Writing to Dr. Creighton in 1883 Lord Randolph said: 'It has always been pleasant to me to think that the historical studies which I too lightly carried on under your guidance have been of immense value to me in calculating and carrying out actions which to many appear erratic' (see this letter and a communication from the bishop of London in T. H. S. Escott's Randolph Spencer Churchill, ch. iii.) His favourite author was Gibbon. He was intimately acquainted with the 'Decline and Fall,' and it is said that he knew by heart long passages from the great history. While in residence at Oxford in 1868 he published a letter protesting against some attacks which had been made upon his father's conduct as a local landowner in connection with the parliamentary election at Woodstock. Leaving the university in 1870 he did not immediately turn his attention to politics. During a considerable part of the next four years he resided at Blenheim, where he devoted much of his time to his pack of harriers, which he hunted himself. He had some idea of entering the diplomatic service or the army, and was regarded at this period rather as a young man of pleasure and fashion than of affairs. He was frequently in Paris, and it was at the British embassy in that city that he was married to Jennie, daughter of Mr. Leonard Jerome of New York, U.S.A., on 15 April 1874.
His political career began the same year. In the general election of 1874 he came forward in the conservative interest as a candidate for the Marlborough family borough of Woodstock (4 Feb.) In his election address, which was not otherwise remarkable, he referred to a subject in which he continued to display the liveliest interest throughout his public life. After stating that he would oppose any large reduction of naval and military establishments, he added: 'An economical policy might, however, be consistently pursued, and the efficiency of our forces by land and sea completely secured without the enormous charges now laid upon the country.' He was elected by 569 votes against 404 recorded for his liberal opponent, Mr. George Brodrick, fellow afterwards warden of his old college, Merton. He took his seat in the House of Commons as a supporter of Disraeli's new administration. His maiden speech was delivered on 22 May. It dealt with a local question in which he was interested as member for Woodstock the proposal for establishing Great Western Railway works at Oxford. The effort attracted no particular attention, though so experienced a parliamentarian as Sir William Harcourt considered that it showed promise and paid a compliment to the young member. In the session of 1875 Lord Randolph again proved that he was mindful of his local obligations by defending those minute and decadent borough constituencies of which Woodstock was a notable example. The speech was lively and vigorous, and held out hopes which were not immediately fulfilled. For the first four years of the parliament of 1874 Lord Randolph's attendance in the House of Commons was irregular. Much of his time was occupied in prolonged visits to Dublin, where his father, the Duke of Marlborough, for whom he always cherished a deep and sincere affection, was then residing as lord-lieutenant of Ireland. In these visits, and in conversations with the able and statesmanlike duke and the kindly and humane duchess, whose Irish distress fund he assisted to administer, Lord Randolph acquired the intimate knowledge of Ireland and the shrewd understanding of the Irish character which he subsequently exhibited in his transactions with the nationalist members in 1884 and 1885, and in the home-rule campaign of 1886. It was not till the session of 1878 that he became a conspicuous parliamentary figure, when he suddenly pushed himself to the front by adopting an audaciously independent attitude. On 7 March 1878 he attracted general attention by a furious onslaught upon some of his own leaders, the respectable, though not brilliant, subordinate members of the Disraeli government, whom he subsequently described as the 'old gang.' He selected for special attack George Sclater-Booth (afterwards Lord Basing) [q.v.], the president of the local government board, vituperating him, in a style that afterwards became characteristic, as the owner of one of those 'double-barrelled names' which, he said, were always a badge of intellectual mediocrity. In supporting the opposition amendments to Sclater-Booth's county government bill, Lord Randolph maintained that he was giving utterance to 'the last wail of the departing tory party' in protest against 'this most radical and democratic measure, this crowning dishonour of tory principles.' So far was he from the tory democracy of later days that he seemed disposed at this period to regard himself as the champion of the rigid and orthodox conservatism which, as he represented, was in danger of betrayal from the weakness of its ministerial chiefs. His antagonism, however, to the 'old gang' does not seem to have extended to the prime minister, and his difference with the front bench was at this time limited to domestic questions. He made no attack on Lord Beaconsfield's foreign and Indian policy, and steadily supported the ministry by his vote in the various divisions on external affairs during the last year of the administration. In his election address in 1880 he declared that he was strongly in favour of the foreign policy of the government. 'I believe,' he said, 'that the safety of this empire can only be secured by a firm adherence on the part of the country to the course pursued by the present advisers of the crown.' The address contained a note-worthy statement on Irish policy. 'The party led by Mr. Parnell, which has for its object the disintegration of the United Kingdom, must be resisted at all costs. At the same time I do not see how the internal peace of Ireland can be permanently secured without a judicious reconsideration of the laws affecting the tenure of land.'
Returned for Woodstock for the second time in April 1880 he speedily made his mark in the new parliament. The condition of the conservatives in the House of Commons supplied him with an opportunity of which he took advantage with a boldness and an ability that soon rendered him one of the most prominent actors on the political stage. The crushing defeat at the polls in the general election of 1880, following a long period of office, had disorganised the conservative opposition. The rank and file were discouraged, and the leaders did little to raise their spirits. Lord Beaconsfield, weighed down by ill-health, had practically retired. Lord Salisbury was still almost unknown to the masses, and Sir Stafford Northcote, the leader of the conservatives in the commons, was too much inclined to temporise and conciliate to satisfy the younger and more ardent spirits of the party. It was in these circumstances that Randolph Churchill came forward, as the self-appointed exponent of a toryism more resolute and aggressive than that which the official leaders mildly asserted against the serried ranks of the liberals, headed as the latter were by such formidable champions as Gladstone, Mr. Chamberlain, and Sir William Harcourt. In these attacks he was aided by a very small band of faithful henchmen, who acted together with so much constancy that they received, as early as the first session of this parliament, the nickname of the 'Fourth Party.' The regular members of the group were Lord Randolph Churchill, Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, and Mr. (afterwards Sir John) Gorst. Mr. Arthur Balfour sometimes joined them, and they obtained the occasional cohesion of Earl Percy and one or two other members. The fourth party made its power felt at the very beginning of the session, when they took up the case of Charles Bradlaugh [q. v. Suppl.], the agnostic member for Northampton. Sir Stafford Northcote was disposed to accept the Gladstonian view with regard to the admission of this gentleman. Lord Randolph, prompted by his two colleagues, gave vigorous expression to the angry conservative sentiment on this subject, and provoked so violent an outcry against the alleged profanation of the parliamentary oath that Sir Stafford Northcote was compelled to abandon his attitude of compromise. Whatever may be said on the merits of the embittered controversy which arose over Bradlaugh's seat, it showed at least that the fourth party had correctly gauged the temper of the House of Commons, since the line they adopted was that which was supported by the majority of the chamber, even against the influence of the government. In other matters Lord Randolph Churchill displayed great activity during this session. He threw himself into the discussion of the ministerial policy for Ireland, and assailed the Irish compensation for disturbance bill with much vehemence. He described the measure as 'the first step in a social war ; an attempt to raise the masses against the propertied classes.' He also took part in the debates on the budget, and indeed on most of the matters brought before the house. The oratorical activity of the fourth party was prodigious, and it was stated by the Marquis of Hartington that their 'leader' had delivered no less than seventy-four speeches between the opening of the session in April and 20 Aug. Their efforts had done much to develop the rising art of party obstruction, and had partially wrecked the ministerial programme of legislation. By the autumn of 1880 Lord Randolph had decisively established his position, though he was not as yet taken quite seriously by the party chiefs or the newspapers. ' The rise of a small body of conservative free-lances below the gangway,' said the 'Times' in its review of the session on 7 Sept. 1880, 'of whom Lord Randolph Churchill and Mr. Gorst are the chiefs, is a curious incident, and has originated the half-serious nickname of the "Fourth Party." ' But in the ensuing recess the young orator deepened the impression which he had already made, and showed that he was a politician who had to be reckoned with. At Preston on 21 Dec. 1880 he delivered an address on the Irish question. It was 'the first of Lord Randolph's speeches which had the great advantage of being reported verbatim in any metropolitan newspaper' (Jennings, Speeches of Lord Randolph Churchill, i. 11), and it 'at once attracted great and general attention, for the dangers inherent in the increasing growth of the Parnellite party had never before been so irresistibly brought home to the public mind.' Lord Randolph, from his association with the government of Ireland during his father's viceroyalty, was able to elucidate the position of affairs with much knowledge and, as events proved, with foresight and sagacity. He declared that the refusal of Gladstone's government to renew Lord Beaconsfield's Peace Preservation Act would inevitably lead to a new era of coercion. He prophesied that this coercion would be a failure, and that in the result the union would be in jeopardy. In this speech, as in his Woodstock election address, he struck the note which, through some occasional variations due to the temporary exigencies of party tactics, may be said to have dominated his opinions on Irish politics. He cannot fairly be charged with any wavering on the central question of the union. But, while asserting that no compromise with home rule could be admitted, he also contended that in the administration of Ireland conciliation should be pushed to its furthest limits, that coercion by itself could never remedy the evils of the country, and that a large measure of local self-government should be accorded to the Irish people. In a great speech at Manchester on 1 Dec. 1881, when an audience of over twelve thousand persons assembled to hear him, he insisted that 'the first and highest duty of a government is to prevent revolution rather than to suppress it, to sustain law rather than to revive it, to preserve order rather than to restore it.'
It was as a determined opponent of repeal that Lord Randolph fiercely attacked the so-called 'Kilmainham Treaty' and the alliance between Gladstonians and Parnellites in 1883 and 1884. Speaking at Blackpool on 24 Jan. 1884, he said : 'Mr. Gladstone has a weakness for effecting his objects by acts of parliament ; the Irish a slight preference for more rapid and violent action. A little difference as to method, you see, but a precisely similar result. These two parties are now at this moment preparing to meet parliament with a demand for a repeal of the union.' It was often urged as a reproach against the speaker that, in spite of these declarations, he cultivated the closest relations with the Parnellite members during 1884 and 1885, and used the utmost efforts to detach them from the liberals, and to secure their support for the opposition. Liberal critics, and some of the nationalists themselves, asserted that in his frequent private conversations with the Parnellite members he had given them to understand that he would be prepared, in certain circumstances, to support a scheme of home rule. But no satisfactory evidence has ever been adduced in support of this allegation. As a party-manager Lord Randolph was habitually careless of the means he used to obtain votes. Knowing that Parnellite support was valuable to the conservatives in the House of Commons, he was doubtless prepared to bargain for it ; and he was always in favour of making large concessions to Irish feeling. But at no time did he publicly exhibit any want of fidelity to the act of union ; and though he may have unconsciously misled some of the nationalists in 1884 by vague or inaccurate language, it is very unlikely that he ever went the length of pledging himself to support a scheme of repeal.
In these years Ireland only occupied one part of Churchill's multifarious political activity. He was still a 'free-lance' of the tory party, and was equally busy in assailing the actions of the Gladstonian ministry, in reviving conservative spirit among the mass of the electors, and in prosecuting his campaign against the official leaders of the opposition in the House of Commons. His attacks were characterised by more vigour than good taste. Derisive, and even vulgar, nicknames were hurled at William Henry Smith [q. v.] and Mr. (now Viscount) Cross, and the kindly tolerance of Sir Stafford Northcote was mercilessly abused. The 'masterly inactivity' of the conservatives after the death of Lord Beaconsfield seemed to him sheer weakness. In November 1882 he was already so well known and popular in the north of England that a deputation was sent from Manchester urging him to become a candidate for that constituency at the next general election. In declining the invitation he complained of the want of energy which the tory chiefs had shown. 'The constitutional function of an opposition,' he said, 'is to oppose, and not to support, the government ; and that function has, during the three sessions of this parliament, been systematically neglected.' He maintained that the dual leadership, under which the party had been left, was a fatal source of weakness ; and in a letter to the 'Times' (31 March 1883) he came forward as an emphatic advocate of the claim of Lord Salisbury to direct the policy of the opposition, and heaped scorn on 'the malignant efforts of envious mediocrity' to retard or prevent the recognition by the party of 'the one man who is capable, not only of overturning, but also of replacing, Mr. Gladstone.' He followed this statement with an article entitled ' Elijah's Mantle 'in the 'Fortnightly Review' for May 1883, in which the parliamentary tactics of the conservatives were severely criticised. The writer argued that it would be a great advantage for the opposition to have its leader in the House of Lords. The obvious aim of Lord Randolph was to get Lord Salisbury recognised as the chief of the whole party, in which case, by the supersession of Sir Stafford Northcote, the way would presently be cleared for himself as leader of the conservatives in the Commons. He illustrated his theory as to the duty of an opposition by the persistency of his attacks on the liberal administration. Gladstone's home and foreign policy was assailed with the same unsparing determination, and with the same emphatic and often exaggerated phraseology, with which Lord Randolph criticised the conduct of Irish affairs. He took a strong line on the Egyptian and Soudan questions, denouncing Gladstone, in one of his most extravagant outbursts, as 'the Moloch of Midlothian,' who had shed streams of blood only to restore the Khedive Tewfik, 'one of the most despicable wretches who ever occupied an eastern throne.' His choicest collection of adjectives was reserved for the prime minister; but he bestowed his invective with almost equal energy upon some of the other liberal leaders, and particularly upon Mr. Chamberlain and John Bright [q. v. Suppl.] Meanwhile he was fostering the revival of conservatism among the working classes in two ways. In the first place he and his efficient lieutenant, Mr. Gorst, improved the party organisation by promoting the establishment of conservative clubs, and by establishing and popularising the primrose league. Speaking to the midland conservative club at Birmingham in 1884, he commended 'the peculiar form of organisation which is known as the Caucus,' and advised tories to take a lesson from their opponents by adopting their methods. At a primrose league gathering on 15 April 1885, however, he said : 'For my part I prefer the primrose league to the caucus, and I will back the primrose league against the caucus.' But in addition to strengthening the conservative machinery he endeavoured to widen the basis of conservative principles. In a series of speeches, delivered chiefly to large audiences in the great towns of the north and the midlands, he endeavoured to show that toryism, so far from being the political creed of an exclusive class, was in essentials as truly 'democratic' as that of the radicals, if not indeed more so. The doctrines of Lord Randolph Churchill's 'Tory Democracy' were never reduced by him to a system, nor has he anywhere given a completely coherent and harmonious account of them. But generally it may be said that the fundamental object is conveyed in his own phrase : ' Trust the people.' ' I have long tried,' he said in the Birmingham speech of April 1884, ' to make that my motto ; but I know, and will not conceal, that there are still a few in our party who have the lesson yet to learn, and who have yet to understand that the tory party of today is no longer identified with that small and narrow class which is connected with the ownership of land. . . . Trust the people and they will trust you.' Briefly, it may be said that while the democratic toryism claimed to differ from radicalism in its jealous regard for the throne, the church, the House of Lords, and the constitution, it asserted at least an equal interest in political and social reform.
By the winter of 1883 Lord Randolph Churchill's incessant activity, the audacity of his controversial sword-play in the House of Commons, the bold independence of his attitude towards the chiefs of his own party, and the effectiveness of his platform speeches, had made him one of the virtual, though unacknowledged, leaders of the opposition. The party managers were still disinclined to admit him to their inner councils ; but they could not counteract his influence over large numbers of middle-class conservatives, particularly in the great urban constituencies. In the autumn of 1883 he took part in the conference of the National Union of Conservative Associations, held at Birmingham, and established a close connection with some of the influential provincial politicians who belonged to that body. The antagonism between Lord Randolph Churchill and the official conservative leaders came to a head in the spring of 1884, and was fought out partly at the meetings of the National Union, and partly on the floor of the House of Commons over the franchise bill introduced by the liberal government. On the first night of the debate on the bill (29 Feb. 1884) Lord Randolph severely criticised it, and condemned the proposal of the government to swamp the electorate by the addition of some two millions of poor and grossly ignorant voters. But as the discussion continued he developed a line much more in consonance with his 'democratic' theories, and one which brought him into antagonism with a section of his own party. Sir Stafford Northcote, and those who agreed with his views, were on the whole inclined to accept the bill, while insisting on conditions which would have tended to maintain the existing system of representation in the prospective scheme of redistribution. Churchill, however, seemed more disposed to favour the establishment of single-seat electoral districts, believing that toryism would be no loser by them, and that by this method of representing local minorities seats would be gained even in the centres of dominant radicalism a calculation which was subsequently justified by events. There was also a division of opinion on the subject of Ireland. The Carlton Club conservatives objected to the immediate extension of the new franchise to that country. Lord Randolph held that Ireland should be included in the provisions of the bill. His friends said that this was merely consistent with tory democracy, his enemies that he was angling for the Irish vote. He, however, supported the general body of his party in the contention that it was unfair to pass the franchise bill into law without a disclosure, by the government, of the principles on which redistribution would be based, and without guarantees that the balance between urban and rural electors would be equitably maintained. On 28 April, on the motion for going into committee, he made a strong attack on the liberal 'gerrymandered,' whom he charged with an intention to manipulate the new constituencies in their own party interests. On 1 May Mr. Chaplin's amendment, intended to prevent the extension of the bill to Ireland, openly revealed the divisions among the conservatives. Mr. Gorst, as Lord Randolph Churchill's lieutenant, repudiated the amendment, which was withdrawn, after an admission from Lord George Hamilton that the opposition was not united on the subject. The real question at issue in the party was whether or not Lord Randolph and his followers were to be permitted a controlling voice in the direction of its affairs, and whether the whiggish conservatism of Sir Stafford Northcote, or the progressive toryism of the younger man, was to prevail. The dispute was made public by the crisis in the National Union of Conservative Associations. On 15 Feb. Lord Randolph, by a narrow majority, had been elected chairman of the council. This was a blow to the conservative parliamentary leaders, who had done their best to secure the election of a rival candidate. Lord Randolph followed his victory by obtaining the appointment of an executive committee, consisting of himself, Mr. Gorst, Sir H. Drummond Wolff, and one or two others. This committee refused to recognise the authority of the 'central committee' of the conservative party, which included Lord Salisbury, Sir Stafford Northcote, Edward Stanhope, and Mr. Arthur Balfour. A severe struggle took place in the association, where Lord Randolph was denounced for his open adoption of radical views on lease-hold enfranchisement, and for his endeavour to introduce the methods of the Birmingham caucus into the conservative organisations. A resolution was carried in the council of the association which Lord Randolph regarded as a vote of confidence in the central committee. He immediately resigned the chairmanship (3 May), and a letter, addressed by him to Lord Salisbury, appeared in the 'Standard,' in which he contended vigorously, and with much plainness of speech, for 'that popular form of representative organisation which had contributed so greatly to the triumph of the liberal party in 1880.' As for the caucus, it may be, he said,' a name of evil sound and omen in the ears of aristocratic and privileged classes, but it is undeniably the only form of political organisation which can collect, guide, and control for common objects large masses of electors.' This bold defiance of 'effete wire-pulling' and secret influence, and the threat to appeal to the general body of conservatives in the country, were to a large extent successful. On 7 May Edward Stanhope [q. v.], speaking for the conservative front-bench, accepted the principle of popular and representative party organisation. On 8 May the chairmen of the conservative associations in some of the largest constituencies in England and Scotland held a meeting, and requested Lord Randolph to withdraw his resignation of the chairmanship, which he consented to do, on the understanding that the main points for which he contended should be adopted. This recognition of his position by the party leaders was followed by his appearance at the meeting of the conservative party at the Carlton Club (9 May), where he spoke immediately after Sir Stafford Northcote, and generally supported his views on the proposed vote of censure. The partial reconciliation, however, did not prevent him, ten days later, from opposing Mr. Brodrick's amendment to the franchise bill, which aimed at excluding Ireland. On this, and on Colonel Stanley's amendment for postponing the operation of the measure till a new redistribution or boundary bill should become law, his attitude provoked from Mr. Balfour the observation that if the noble lord had endeavoured to place himself in accord with the majority of his party, he had not succeeded in his object. On 23 July the annual conference of the National Union of Conservative Associations assembled at Sheffield under the presidency of Randolph Churchill. The contest between the two sections was renewed over the election of members of the council for the ensuing year. The result was again a success for the chairman, twenty-two out of the thirty candidates recommended by him being selected. This further proof of his influence in the constituencies led to a final adjustment of the dispute. The question of the National Union was settled by a compromise. At a meeting of the council on 31 July, Churchill resigned the chairmanship, and moved the election of Sir Michael Hicks-Beach as chairman for the ensuing year. Mr. Gorst, Mr. Balfour, and Mr. Akers-Douglas were chosen vice-chairmen. As a public demonstration that the quarrel was at an end, and that Lord Randolph was officially accepted as one of the party leaders; he appeared on the same platform with Lord Salisbury at a great conservative meeting at Manchester (9 Aug.)
In the recess agitation he took an active part, strongly supporting the action of the House of Lords in adopting Lord Cairns's amendment to the franchise bill. He declared his confidence that the nation 'would award the palm, and the honour, and the victory to those who, conscious of the immeasurable responsibilities attaching to an hereditary house, have dauntlessly defended, against an arbitrary minister, the ancient liberties of our race.' He also insisted on the unity of the opposition. 'Tory disunion,' he said in his Manchester speech, with his usual audacity of assertion,' is a phantom and a fiction, the ridiculous figment of a disordered and dissipated liberal imagination.' His platform campaign ended at Carlisle on 8 Oct., when he concluded his address with a description of the liberals as 'clouds without water, blown about by the wind ; wandering stars, whose helplessness would compel the English people to turn to the united and historic party, which can alone re-establish your social and imperial interests, and can alone proceed safely, steadily, and surely along the broad path of social progress and reform.'
Before the close of the autumn session of 1884, in which the franchise bill was passed, Churchill started for a tour of some months in India. He left England towards the end of November and landed at Bombay, where he was the guest of Sir James Fergusson, the governor. He visited the other Indian capitals and most of the chief towns of the peninsula, occupying himself to some extent with sport, and at the same time studying the political situation of the country. He was enthusiastically welcomed by some of the native Indian reformers, who hoped to find in him an advocate of their claims for local self-government. He seems also to have made a favourable impression on the official world. With his usual quickness in acquiring information, he obtained from this short visit a considerable insight into the problems of our eastern administration. In an address delivered to the Cambridge Carlton Club in June 1885, soon after his return, he referred to the difficulties of Indian government in some sentences that touched a higher level of eloquence and philosophic statesmanship than perhaps any other passage of his published speeches.
Lord Randolph's Indian experiences, such as they were, speedily became of practical value to him. When Gladstone's government broke down, in the summer of 1885, and was defeated on Childers's budget on 8 June, the member for Woodstock had some excuse for the passionate excitement ; he displayed. 'He jumped on the green bench where he had been sitting, and standing there, or rather dancing there, he waved his hat madly round and round his head, and cheered in tones of stentorian exultation.' He was certainly entitled to take much of the credit for the victory to himself; for no man had done more to weaken the liberals in parliament or to rouse the spirit of the conservatives in the country. His claim to a place in the new cabinet could not be ignored ; and when the ministry was formed it was seen that the concessions made by Lord Salisbury to the leader of the 'fourth party' were of the most substantial kind. Sir Stafford Northcote was removed to the upper house ; Sir Michael Hicks-Beach was made chancellor of the exchequer and leader of the House of Commons, and Lord Randolph became secretary of state for India.
His career at the India office lasted only from 24 June 1885 to 1 Feb. 1886. But during those few months the young minister showed that he possessed other qualities besides those of the dashing parliamentary gladiator and an astute party organiser. The breadth and comprehensiveness of his views, his grasp of detail, and his resolute industry, astonished the officials of his department. According to all competent testimony he was an admirable administrator, who might, with ampler opportunities, have taken a high place among those statesmen who have been responsible for the affairs of our eastern empire. As it was he accomplished some important work. He assisted in bringing to a satisfactory conclusion the critical negotiations with Russia over the Afghan frontier, and obtained from parliament the vote of credit required to place the Indian defences in order. On 6 Aug. he introduced the Indian budget in a speech which included a virulent attack upon Lord Ripon, the late viceroy, who was charged with gross want of foresight, with negligence, and incapacity. It was alleged that while Russia was steadily advancing the Indian army had been reduced, the strategic defence of the frontier neglected, and ' Lord Ripon slept, lulled by the languor of the land of the lotus.' The financial statement was, however, set forth lucidly, and the speaker's general reflections showed that he had taken a large survey of Indian policy both external and domestic. His tenure of the Indian secretaryship was rendered historically notable by the short Burmese campaign and the acquisition of King Theebaw's dominions. To a large extent this enterprise was Lord Randolph's work. He saw that the rule of the mad despot Theebaw had become impossible, and he boldly and rapidly decided that the annexation of Burma was the only possible solution of the difficulty. His energy was reflected in the swiftness with which the operations were carried out. In November he gave the order to advance ; on 1 Dec. Lord Dufferin announced that the conquest was completed ; and on the 31st of the same month the secretary for India sent out his despatch, detailing what had happened and authorising the annexation. He devoted attention also to the economic development of the peninsula. The formation of the Indian Midland Railway was carried through by him in spite of strenuous and influential opposition. He had promised to move for a parliamentary committee in the session of 1881 to inquire into the whole subject of the administration of India ; but he quitted office too soon to take any steps for the fulfilment of this pledge.
Besides attending sedulously to the duties of his department, Lord Randolph, both during the remainder of the session of 1885 and in the ensuing contest at the polls, spoke frequently on the Irish question. This portion of his career has been often and severely criticised. The debt which the conservatives had incurred to the Irish party for assisting to overthrow the Gladstone administration had to be discharged. Lord Randolph did his share in the liquidation by joining the Parnellites in a furious attack on Lord Spencer and the Irish executive generally, in connection with certain atrocious agrarian murders which had taken place at Maamtrasna. He also made it his special business to defend the refusal of the government to renew the Crimes Act. This omission has been explained frequently enough, both at the time and since, as being due to an unwritten compact between the Parnellites and the conservatives. But so far as Lord Randolph was concerned and it was to him that the discredit, if such there was, of this alliance chiefly attached it is to be observed that he had opposed the prolongation of the coercive system even while Gladstone was still in office. In his speech at the St. Stephen's Club on 20 May 1885, delivered before the fall of the liberal ministry, he declared against the renewal of the Crimes Act for the same reasons as those he subsequently urged namely, that the condition of Ireland had so far improved that crime could be dealt with by the ordinary law, and that it was absurd and inconsistent to bestow exceptional powers upon the executive immediately after the parliamentary franchise had been conferred upon the mass of the Irish people.
In the general election of November 1885 Lord Randolph's connection with Woodstock came to a close owing to its disfranchisement. For some time past he had been closely interested in the politics of Birmingham. The conservatives of the midland capital early appreciated his abilities. Their toryism was always of an advanced and decidedly democratic character, and the local leaders of the party, eager to shake off the radical predominance, which at that time was unbroken, made advances to him. In 1883, the year of John Bright's jubilee, when radicalism was supposed to have reached its zenith in Birmingham, Lord Randolph took part in the conference of the National Union of Conservative Associations held in that city. On 13 Oct. of the following year a political garden party was held at Aston Park, at which Lord Randolph and other leading conservatives were present. A riot occurred, instigated, in part at least, by some of the persons connected with local radical organisations. The incident led to some angry discussions in the House' of Commons, in the course of which Lord Randolph accused Mr. Chamberlain of being partly responsible for the disorder. In the early part of 1884 Churchill was invited by the Birmingham Conservative Association to contest the representation of the borough, with Colonel Burnaby as the other conservative candidate. Lord Randolph accepted the invitation, 'and the consciousness that he was to be pitted against Bright at the polls seems to have lent a sharper edge to the satirical vehemence with which he assailed the veteran radical orator in the House of Commons. Before the election of 1885 Colonel Burnaby had been killed on the battle-field and the Redistribution Act had divided Birmingham into seven constituencies. Lord Randolph opposed Bright in the central division, and was defeated after a sharp contest by 4,939 votes against 4,216. The result was really a 'moral victory' for the conservative candidate, considering Bright's long services and great personal popularity in Birmingham. The following day (25 Nov.) Lord Randolph was returned for South Paddington by a majority of 1,706.
The Salisbury administration came to an end in January 1886 by the defection of the Irish members in consequence of Gladstone's adoption of home rule. On 26 Jan. 1886 the government was defeated on Mr. Jesse Collings's amendment to the address by a combination of liberals and nationalists, and the resignation of Lord Salisbury and his colleagues was announced on 1 Feb. Gladstone returned to office, and for the next few months all other public questions were forgotten in the agitation over the home-rule bill. In the fierce campaign, in and out of parliament, which lasted through the spring and summer of 1886, Lord Randolph took a prominent part. Op. 23 Feb. he addressed a great audience in Belfast, and roused much enthusiasm by a stirring appeal to Ulster sentiment and tradition. At Manchester on 3 March he advocated a coalition among those who were opposed to home rule, and suggested that 'unionists' should be the general name adopted by 'the party of the union,' while their opponents should be known as 'separatists.' He added that if the dissentient liberals should be able to form a ministry of their own the conservatives would support them, and that if their leaders were willing to enter a coalition cabinet those conservatives 'with whom the whigs did not wish to serve ' would cheerfully stand aside. In the House of Commons he spoke during the first few days after the introduction of the home-rule bill, which he described as a 'desperate and insane' measure. After the rejection of Gladstone's bill by the House of Commons he used even stronger language, both in his platform speeches and his address to the electors of South Paddington, with regard to the scheme and its author. 'The caprice of an individual,' he said, 'was elevated to the dignity of an act of the people by the boundless egoism of the prime minister;' and he declared that an attempt was being made to destroy the constitution merely 'to gratify the ambition of an old man in a hurry.' He was re-elected for South Paddington on 2 July by 2,576 votes to 769. He returned to parliament at the head of a triumphant unionist majority, whose victory he had materially assisted to secure. In the electioneering campaign he had been somewhat less active than Lord Hartington, Mr. Chamberlain, Mr. Goschen, and other unionist liberals. But in the conservative camp proper there was no leader, except Lord Salisbury, who could now be compared with him in influence and reputation, and perhaps not one who surpassed him in popularity with the rank and file of the party in the constituencies. His personality had fascinated the masses, who admired his courage, his ready wit, and the brilliant audacity with which he dealt his blows at the loftiest crests, whether those of friends or adversaries. Moreover, it was perceived by this time that there was a fund of intellectual power and a genuine depth of conviction behind his erratic insolence and reckless rhetoric. Discerning judges recognised that the former swashbuckler of the 'fourth party' had statesmanlike ideas and penetrating insight. Accordingly, when the general election of July 1886 overthrew Gladstone, and Lord Salisbury was sent for by the queen on 22 July, Lord Randolph was offered and accepted the second place in the ministry, the chancellorship of the exchequer and the leadership of the House of Commons. Parliament was opened on 19 Aug., and on the same night, in answer to Gladstone, the new leader made a detailed statement of the ministerial policy, particularly in regard to Ireland. In this speech, and in the course of the other Irish debates of the short session, Churchill insisted on the unalterable determination of his party to maintain the union inviolate. He promised, however, a general inquiry into Irish administration, and dwelt on the necessity for developing local government 'in all parts of the United Kingdom.' It was an attitude which was somewhat resented by extreme unionists, who suspected Lord Randolph of a desire to coquet with the nationalist vote ; but it was thoroughly consistent with his general view of Irish policy. He had steadily asserted that, though repeal was inadmissible, Irish nationalism should be conciliated as far as possible by the extension of local self-government.
But Lord Randolph carried his progressive toryism into other fields. In the recess he delivered a speech at Dartford on 2 Oct., in which he gave a description of conservative policy that excited much adverse comment, both from radicals, who said that Lord Randolph was trying to 'dish' them by stealing their principles, and from many conservatives who complained that the chancellor of the exchequer was little better than a radical himself. Nevertheless several of the measures which he then advocated were destined to be officially adopted by the conservative party in the course of the next few years and carried into effect. The 'Dartford programme,' vigorously defended and reasserted three weeks later in a speech at Bradford, included local government reform in Great Britain and Ireland, bills for providing agricultural labourers with allotments and small holdings, the sale of glebe lands, and legislation on railway rates, tithes, land transfer, and Irish land purchase. 'Politics,' said its author, ' is not a science of the past. You must use the past as a lever with which to manufacture the future.'
As leader of the House of Commons in the autumn session of 1886 Lord Randolph vindicated the judgment of his admirers and disconcerted those who thought him petulant and shallow. He displayed tact, ability, and good temper, and exhibited that mixture of firmness and conciliation which the house respects above most qualities. Some curiosity was entertained as to what kind of financial administrator he would make. It was not destined to be gratified, for Lord Randolph never introduced a budget. On 23 Dec. 1886 the 'Times' announced that the chancellor of the exchequer had placed his resignation in the hands of the prime minister. The step was wholly unexpected by the general public, and caused intense interest and surprise. The retiring minister's colleagues were perhaps less astonished. All through the autumn there had been a certain amount of friction in the cabinet. Lord Randolph, though he could keep his feelings under restraint in the House of Commons, was not always able to control a high-strung and irritable temperament in his private intercourse with associates, some of whom he regarded with very little respect. On the other side, those members of the cabinet who had scarcely forgiven the gibes and insults of the 'fourth party' day, were displeased with the 'advanced' sentiments of the Dartford and Bradford speeches, and the overbearing manners of a comparatively youthful colleague. The chancellor of the exchequer is said to have talked of resignation more than once in the course of the autumn.
The final rupture was precipitated by a difference of opinion on a specific question of policy. Lord Randolph, as guardian of the public purse, objected to the demands of the ministers responsible for the army and navy. On 20 Dec. 1886 he wrote to Lord Salisbury saying that the total of 31,000,000l. for the two services 'is very much in excess of what I can consent to.' 'I know,' he added, 'that on this subject I cannot look for any sympathy or effective support from you, and I am certain that I shall find no supporters in the cabinet.' Under the circumstances, as he did not 'want to be wrangling and quarrelling in the cabinet,' he requested permission to give up his office and retire from the government. Lord Salisbury replied two days later, expressing his full concurrence with the views of Lord George Hamilton and W. H. Smith as to the necessity for increased expenditure on the coaling stations, military ports, and mercantile harbours, and declining to take the responsibility of refusing the supplies demanded by the heads of the war office and the admiralty. The prime minister concluded by accepting the resignation of the chancellor of the exchequer with 'profound regret,' and with the caustic observation that 'no one knows better than you how injurious to the public interests at this juncture your withdrawal from the government may be.' In his subsequent explanation in the House of Commons (27 Jan. 1887) Lord Randolph complained that Lord Salisbury offered him no opportunity for reconsideration, nor did he endeavour to adjust the differences between the chancellor of the exchequer and the other two ministers. Filled with the sense of his own commanding position in the conservative ranks, Lord Randolph probably imagined that he would be implored to withdraw his resignation. But the terms of his letter of 20 Dec. were such that Lord Salisbury was bound to permit the retirement of his subordinate, unless he was prepared to modify the entire foreign and military policy of the government. At any rate, on receiving the premier's letter of the 22nd, Lord Randolph perceived that the step he had taken could not be retraced. He spent the evening with Lady Randolph at a theatre, and at midnight went down to the office of the 'Times' and communicated the news of his resignation to the conductors of that journai. Earlier in the day he had sent a reply to Lord Salisbury, which, however, did not reach the prime minister till the following morning, and by that time the resignation of the chancellor of the exchequer had been made known to the world. In this communication he abandoned the curt brevity of his former note and endeavoured to vindicate his action on general principles. 'The great question of public expenditure,' he wrote, 'is not so technical or departmental as might be supposed by a superficial critic. Foreign policy and free expenditure upon armaments act and react upon one another. ... A wise foreign policy will extricate England from continental struggles, and keep her outside German, Russian, French, or Austrian disputes. I have for some time observed a tendency in the government attitude to pursue a different line of action, which I have not been able to modify or check. This tendency is certain to be accentuated if large estimates are presented to and voted by parliament. The possession of a very sharp sword offers a temptation which becomes irresistible to demonstrate the efficiency of the weapon in a practical manner. I remember the vulnerable and scattered character of the empire, the universality of our commerce, the peaceful tendencies of our democratic electorate, and the hard times, the pressure of competition, and the high taxation now imposed ; and with these factors vividly before me I decline to be a party to encouraging the military and militant circle of the war office and admiralty to join in the high and desperate stakes which other nations seem to be forced to risk. ... A careful and continuous examination and study of national finance, of the startling growth of expendituie, of national taxation, resources, and endurance, has brought me to the conclusion, from which nothing can turn me, that it is only the sacrifice of a chancellor of the exchequer upon the altar of thrift and economy which can rouse the people to take stock of their leaders, their position, and their future.' Whatever collateral and personal motives may have influenced Lord Randolph's conduct at this juncture, there can be little doubt that in these passages he expressed his genuine convictions. His anxiety for economical administration and careful finance had been declared for several years past. In his election address at Birmingham in 1885 he urged that it should be part of the policy of the tory party so 'to utilise the powers of the House of Commons as either to effect financial retrenchment and departmental reform or else to make sure that the present expenditure of the people's money is justifiable and thrifty.' In a speech at Blackpool on 24 Jan. 1884 he denounced the extravagance of both parties, and advocated a searching inquiry into the administration of the army, which he condemned as wasteful and inefficient. If such an investigation were held, 'we should find,' he said, 'that we spend annually from sixteen to eighteen millions on our army. Germany, Austria, and France do not spend more ; but we should find that while these powers have great armies we have no armies at all. We have regiments of various sorts ; but if by an army you mean a perfect fighting machine, fully equipped in all its parts, and ready to take the field at the shortest notice, then we have not got an army or anything approaching it ; and yet we spend over fifteen millions on it annually. You now have to consider whether it is worth while going on spending such an enormous sum of money for a thing which you do not possess.' With these strong views on economy he had a deep distrust of an adventurous foreign policy. Though he professed profound admiration for Lord Beaconsfield, he had little sympathy with that statesman's imperialism. The mission of Britain, as a great 'world-power,' and the mistress of a vast empire beyond the seas, does not seem to have appealed keenly to his imagination. But his belief in the old liberal axiom of 'peace, retrenchment, and reform' was quite sincere, and he had a vivid conception of the dangers which would arise if they were disregarded. He defended his views in detail in the House of Commons on 31 Jan., and in a speech to his constituents on 2 April. In these addresses he maintained that he had not opposed necessary expenditure on the defences of the country, but that he wished to reform the wasteful and extravagant administration of the public departments. A sane and sober external policy, he urged, would save us from 'throwing ourselves hysterically into the embraces of engineers or lying down pusillanimously in a cemetery of earthworks.' He contended that he had saved the country nearly a million and a half sterling by resisting the excessive demands of the military departments, and that further reductions, refused to him, were allowed to his successor. He suggested that printed summaries of estimates should be circulated among members before being read to the House of Commons, and that a select committee should be appointed to examine the naval and military estimates. The suggestions were subsequently carried out, and Lord Randolph became the first chairman of the committee. If Churchill entertained any expectation that the shock of his resignation would bring down the ministry and enable him to return to office as the actual chief of a conservative cabinet, he was disappointed. Mr. Goschen, whom, according to a story current at the time, Lord Randolph declared he had ' forgotten,' joined the ministry as chancellor of the exchequer, and W. H. Smith became leader of the House of Commons. Lord Randolph, however, made no attempt to revive the fourth party, or to harass the conservatives by damaging attacks in flank. During the whole existence of the administration he preserved the attitude of a candid, but not rancorous, commentator. He gave the government an independent support on most occasions, though he sometimes criticised them severely, particularly when dealing with Ireland and with naval and military administration. He remained staunch in his opposition to Irish home rule, and showed no symptom of entering into relations with the nationalists or mitigating his hostility to Gladstone's bill of 1886. Indeed he more than once warned the country that the union was in danger, not only through the designs of the home rulers, but because of the supineness, as he alleged, of the ministerial management of Irish affairs. 'The Union,' he said to a vast and enthusiastic audience at Nottingham in April 1887, 'is the life of the British empire, and it is worth fighting for.' But he continued to urge, with a consistency which was more real than that of some of his hostile critics, that conciliatory measures should be adopted to satisfy the Irish demand for the control of local administration. In the House of Commons in April 1888 he strongly advocated 'simultaneity' in dealing with the problem of county government, and asked that the unionist party should fulfil its pledge to 'legislate largely and liberally for the removal of Irish grievances.' He pointed out that in August 1886, speaking as the official representative of the cabinet, he had been authorised to announce remedial legislation on 'popular' lines for Ireland. On this question it cannot be said that Lord Randolph ever wavered, or that there is any contradiction between his earlier and later utterances. In the debates on the Parnell inquiry he took a line of vehement hostility both to the 'Times' and the special commission ; and in March 1890 he delivered one of the most violent of his diatribes in angry criticism of the commissioners' report.
Of his other speeches during these years the most important related to financial and economical reform. At Wolverhampton on 3 June 1887 he entered upon an elaborate and very able analysis of the whole system of naval and military administration, based on a mass of facts drawn from official documents of various kinds. He added that he had devised a comprehensive plan of departmental reform, and was prepared to lay it before the country. But other interests and the decline of his political energy prevented the realisation of this project. In March 1888 he supported the appointment of a royal commission to inquire into the condition of the army ; and on the introduction of Mr. Goschen's naval defence scheme he strongly attacked the government proposals. Other matters that occupied his attention from time to time were the Channel tunnel project, which he opposed on 26 June in a speech of much humour and lightness of touch, and temperance reform, which he dabbled with sufficiently to produce a licensing bill of his own in 1890. Labour questions and social reform had been part of his conservative programme since his first appearance as a tory democrat. At this period of his life he paid renewed attention to them, and in reply to a deputation of miners he promised his support to an eight hours bill. On 9 June 1888 he received the hon. LL.D. at Cambridge in company with the Duke of Clarence, the Earl of Rosebery, the Earl of Selborne, Lord Acton, Lord Rayleigh, and Mr. Qoschen. In April 1889 Bright died, and the Birmingham conservatives invited Lord Randolph to fill the vacancy in the representation of the city. The result was a controversy with Mr. Chamberlain as to the rival claims of conservatives and liberal unionists in the midland capital. Finally the matterwas referred to arbitration, and Lord Randolph acquiesced in the decision to leave the seat in possession of the other wing of the unionist coalition.
His attendance in parliament was becoming fitful and his devotion to public affairs diminishing. In the session of 1889 he threatened the first lord of the admiralty with relentless opposition, and 'a long and heavy fight' over his estimates. But by the time the committee stage was reached the champion of economy had gone to Norway, and the votes were got through with exceptional ease. Lord Randolph was much occupied in other ways during these years. He spent a good deal of the time, which in the first half of the decade he had devoted to politics, in sport, travel, and social recreations. He had always been interested in racing; and between 1881 and 1891, but particularly during the.last four years of that period, he was well known on the turf. He and the Earl of Dunraven ran their horses together, and the partnership was on the whole successful. In 1888 Lord Randolph and Lord Dunraven won the Fitzwilliam Plate at Newmarket with St. Serge. In L'Abbesse de Jouarre, a filly said to have been bought by Lord Randolph on his own unaided judgment, they possessed an animal of remarkable quality, which won the Newmarket May Plate in 1888, the Oaks in 1889, and the Prince of Wales Handicap at Sandown in 1890, and ran second for the Gold Vase at Ascot. Lord Randolph entered his own horses, and paid great attention to their training. He was an excellent judge of horseflesh, and he threw into his racing a good deal of the intensity which he brought to bear on most matters that really engaged his interest.
In the spring of 1891 he started on a journey to South Africa. The expedition was undertaken partly for change and recreation, and partly for the benefit of the traveller's health. A constitution congenitally delicate, with a high-strung nervous system, had been severely tried by the strain to which it had been exposed for years. His political work had been performed with fiery energy ; and his activity in the House of Commons and on the platform was often supplemented by long spells of exhausting labour over blue-books and official publications. Nor had he ever taken much pains to conserve his mental and physical forces. He is credited with the characteristic saying that he had tried every kind of excitement from tip-cat to tiger-shooting. He was fond of society, and he and his accomplished wife were constant guests at country-house parties, and leading personages in the fashionable gaieties of successive London seasons. But Lord Randolph was also tempted to South Africa, as he said, by an interest in the country, and by the attraction 'of seeking for gold oneself, of acquiring gold mines or shares in gold mines.' He left London towards the end of April 1891, and returned to England in December. He travelled through the Cape Colony to the Transvaal, visited Kimberley and Johannesburg, and rode across Bechuanaland and Mashonaland, inspecting the reefs and gold mines, conversing with the principal officials, and shooting lions and antelopes as occasion offered. One result of his visit was to cause him to recant his former opinions on Gladstone's South African policy in 1881, which at the time he had violently assailed in the House of Commons and on the platform. 'Better and more precise information,' he wrote, 'combined with cool reflection, leads me to the conclusion that, had the British government of that day taken advantage of its strong military position, and annihilated, as it could easily have done, the Boer forces, it would indeed have regained the Transvaal, but it might have lost Cape Colony.' Lord Randolph gave some account of his experiences and impressions in a series of letters to the 'Daily Graphic' newspaper. These were subsequently republished in a book with the title 'Men, Mines, and Animals in South Africa' (London, 1892).
The journey appeared to have a highly beneficial effect. He returned to politics with his old vigour. In the general election of 1892 he was re-elected for South Paddington without a contest. In the new parliament he abandoned his position of semi-isolation, took his seat on the front opposition bench, and was again accepted as one of the regular leaders of the conservatives. He bore a conspicuous share in the debates on Gladstone's second home-rule bill, which he attacked with effect. He also opposed Mr. Asquith's Welsh church bill in the 1893 session in a speech of considerable power. Always a favourite on the platform, he was welcomed back with effusion by the conservatives of the north and midlands, to whom he delivered a large number of speeches during the recess. But in spite of this access of brilliant energy, he was a doomed man. He had been suffering for some time from the incipient stages of general paralysis, and the malady made rapid progress. In the session of 1894 his few attempts to speak in the House of Commons were failures. The painful change in his voice and manner, and his frequent lapses of memory, moved the sympathy of friends and foes. His last speech was on the Uganda railway vote in June 1894, and it was a tragic exhibition of physical and mental decay. A long sea-voyage was determined on as a final chance of arresting the disease from which he suffered. He left England in the summer, accompanied by Lady Randolph Churchill, on a trip round the world. But he grew rapidly worse after reaching Japan in September. From Madras the party returned with all possible speed to England, and arrived two days before Christmas 1894 at 50 Grosvenor Square, the residence of Lord Randolph's mother.the Duchess of Marlborough. The sick man lingered for a month, mostly in an unconscious condition, dying in the morning of 24 Jan. 1895. He was buried on 28 Jan. in the churchyard of Bladon near Blenheim.
Randolph Churchill's private character exhibited some of the contradictions of his public career. His personality, which fascinated men in masses, and attracted those whom he admitted to his intimacy, was often found repellent by casual acquaintances and by his political associates. The insolence of bearing, which excited so much resentment, particularly when displayed towards dignified and elderly colleagues, was sometimes said to be deliberately studied; but it was probably the natural expression of a temper which was at once frank, egotistical, and unaccustomed to mental discipline. Yet Churchill, in spite of his quivering nerves and impatient temperament, could control himself when occasion demanded, as he showed during his brief tenure of the leadership of the House of Commons. Though he was constantly charged, especially by his conservative critics, with a taste for discreditable intrigue, he was one of the most indiscreetly outspoken of politicians, and he expressed his opinions and intentions with the utmost candour. An overpowering ambition, fed by the consciousness of great abilities, and hampered by an unstable nervous system, would go far to explain both his qualities and his defects. His lack of culture was often exaggerated. His scholarship was scanty and superficial, and his speeches seldom contain literary allusions. But he had read more widely in English and French literature than was commonly believed, and his retentive memory and mastery of detail enabled him to make the most of such knowledge as he possessed. The acuteness of his political insight struck most persons who were brought into contact with him. It is only necessary to turn to the volumes of his speeches to recognise how often subsequent events have vindicated his foresight and penetrating judgment. Lord Iddesleigh, who had no reason to love him, called him the shrewdest member of the cabinet of 1880.
Lord Randolph Churchill left two sons. The elder, Mr. Winston Spencer Churchill, after serving in the Malakand, Tirah, and Soudan campaigns as an officer in the 4th hussars, and acting as war correspondent in South Africa in 1899 and 1900 with the armies of General Buller and Lord Roberts, was elected member of parliament for Oldham in October 1900. Lady Randolph Churchill survived her first husband, and married Mr. George Cornwallis West in July 1900.
A portrait of Lord Randolph Churchill, by Edwin Long, R.A., is in the Constitutional Club, London. Another portrait, painted by Alfred Hartley in 1893, is in the possession of the Earl of Rosebery. A third portrait, a small one, painted by Edwin Ward in 1886, belongs to Lord Tweedmouth. A marble bust is in the members' corridor of the House of Commons.