Twenty-One Portraits

by Winston S. Churchill
[Putnam, $3.75]
HERE are pictures in the grand manner. Hardly since Clarendon’s time have portraits of Great Contemporaries been drawn by a Great Contemporary. These are not easel likenesses, with colors borrowed from the libraries, but rapid, nervous sketches vivid with memories of a single extraordinary lifetime. No man is here described, saving Trotsky alone, who is not set down precisely as Churchill has known him. In this solitary instance, the artist has simply accepted the legend and paints a horrible chimera — true, for aught I know, or false, but hardly an historic portrait; but, for all that, most instructive in that the sketch proves how ineffective a substitute is hate for appreeiation and affection which alone bring out all there is in a man.
This is not Mr. Churchill’s most considered volume, nor so by him regarded. Otherwise it would have been more carefully revised. Wherever his generous feeling is called forth, the native nobility of his style keeps pace with it.
In the National Portrait Gallery there hangs no truer likeness than Churchill’s ‘Lord Rosebery,’ the sensitive aristocrat serving the state and serving history, but thinking of politicians and the people as
. . . dissentious rogues,
That, rubbing the poor itch of their opinion,
Make themselves scabs.
Churchill, I imagine, holds somewhat the same view, but, with his career still at three-quarter length, successfully conceals it.
It is great company that Winston Churchill has kept: Balfour and Curzon, Foch and Lawrence, Morley and George V. His gallery reminds us that we, too, have lived through spacious decades. The corridors of Fame seem very empty now. but, looking back, we can still discern the glow of that full noon it is now the fashion to despise.
E. S.