England: None, circa 1955. This is an original sketch of the House of Commons on 1st March 1955, the day of Winston Churchill’s final major speech as prime minister just a month before he resigned his second and final premiership. The artist, Miriam Cozens, shows future Prime Minister Harold Macmillan speaking at the Despatch box with Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister Clement Attlee, Christopher Soames, future Prime Minister Ted Heath, Gwylim Lloyd George, Emanuel Shinwell, and other political figures in attendance. (The artist named 17 of the figures depicted on the large margin below the image.)
Macmillan signed the sketch in black ink “Harold Macmillan” at the lower left, just below his figure and just above the artist’s penciled name “MIRIAM COZENS”. The date “1st MARCH 1955” is penciled in the artist’s hand at the lower right. In the list of names below the sketch, Macmillan is listed as prime minister, despite the fact that Macmillan did not become prime minister until January 1957, twenty-two months after the moment the sketch depicts.
The sketch measures 21 x 18 inches (54.5 x 46 cm) on a 27 x 21.5 inches (68.6 x 54.6 cm) sheet of heavy card with a double-matted heavy card overlay framing the drawing hinged along the left edge. Condition of the drawing is excellent, with no appreciable wear or soiling. It has clearly been protected over time by the double-matted overlay. Condition of the hinged overlay is very good, with modest soiling and wear along the edges. This large item will be shipped at cost.
In Churchill’s final major speech as prime minister, the man who had charged on horseback with the Lancers at Omdurman more than fifty-six years earlier told Parliament and the world that Britain was to build its own hydrogen bomb. “Churchill spent a total of twenty hours preparing this speech, which he wanted to contain both a warning and a way forward in the new era.” (Gilbert, Vol. VIII, p.1072) Cold War tensions dominated post-WWII geopolitics, and Churchill bluntly posited “Unless a trustworthy and universal agreement upon disarmament, conventional and nuclear alike, may be reached… there is only one sane policy for the free world… That is what we call defence through deterrents.” Churchill spoke for three quarters of an hour, concluding with a characteristic note of stern hope. “The day may dawn when.. tormented generations march forth serene and triumphant from the hideous epoch in which we have to dwell. Meanwhile, never flinch, never weary, never despair.” The final two words eventually become the title of the last volume of Churchill’s official biography.
As it did for Churchill, the outbreak of the Second World War proved Harold Macmillan’s (1894-1986) qualities and brought him into the government. Macmillan became an important wartime liaison, reporting directly to Churchill and “On several occasions his diplomacy saved the day” (ODNB) - his diplomatic accommodations often both vexing and ably serving Churchill. When the Conservatives returned to power in 1951, Macmillan served as minister of housing and then, in quick succession, minister of defence, foreign secretary, and chancellor of the exchequer under the premierships of Churchill and Eden. When Eden resigned the premiership in January 1957, Macmillan became prime minister, remaining until October 1963, when Cabinet scandals and ill health forced his resignation.
When Churchill broke his hip in Monte Carlo on June 1962, there was concern that the injury might prove fatal and Churchill’s secretary conveyed to 10 Downing Street Churchill’s wish: "I want to die in England”. It was Prime Minister Macmillan who ordered an RAF Comet to ferry Churchill home. Macmillan’s grandfather had founded Macmillan publishers, who published Churchill’s 1906 biography of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill. During the Second World War Macmillan reprinted several of Churchill’s books and, after his premiership, Harold Macmillan went on to chair his family’s publishing firm. Item #006016