Thursday, May 3, 2007

Randolf and Jennie - 2

The Jerome parents were the first to give way. Clara, who was on the scene, was first, later Leonard. He would have taken the next boat to England to deal with the Churchills himself but the Duke’s informants all too accurate. The Crash of 1873 had wiped him out. He had to devote his full attention to Wall Street to recoup his losses.

Whether it was this, or his own rakish attitude to the world, his next letter contained the essential words: “You know my views. Great confidence in you, and still greater in your mother; and anyone you accept and your mother approves, I could not object to, provided he is not a Frenchman or any other of those Continental Cusses.”

Marlborough, seeing how passionate Randolf was, decided to use strategy. He will consent to the marriage if they wait for one year and:
Extract from a letter from Randolf to Jeannette

You see, both he and my mother have set their hearts upon my being a Member [of Parliament] for Woodstock. It is a family borough, and for years and years a member of the family has sat for it. The present Member is a stranger, though a Conservative, and is so unpopular that he is almost sure to be beaten if he were to stand; and the fact of a Radical sitting for Woodstock is perfectly insupportable to my family. It is for this they have kept me idle ever since I left Oxford, waiting for dissolution. Well…dissolution is almost sure to come almost before the end of the year.
While making Randolf fight an election for Parliament would keep him occupied for some time, the Duke opened up on another front. What about Jerome’s dowry?

Of course, the Duke was just looking out for Randolf’s interest. You wouldn’t want a slick Wall Street operator to take advantage of you, now would you? Don’t worry. Your father is on the job!
Regrettably, though, the redoubtable Leonard Jerome was on the rebound and by September he wrote that he could capitalize a ₤50,000 trust fund and promise ₤2,000 a year to Jennie. Worse, Randolf was still insistent. Still worse, the general election was finally held in February and Randolf won handily. The crafty Duke was down but not out. He hired lawyers. There would have to be a pre-nup. And ₤2,000 a year while acceptable would have to go to Randolf, not Jennie.

He knew his man. Back from New York came a two-word cable: “Consent Withdrawn.” The Jeromes were not some gold-digging, social-climbing family out to buy their way into nobility!

Randolf and Jennie were beside themselves. They dispatched letters to each other, which poured out their hurts and hopes. One of them will change the course of history. To Jennie: “But after all public life has no charms for me, as I am naturally very quiet, and hate bother and publicity, which, after all, is full of vanity and vexation of spirit. Still, it will all have greater attractions for me if I think it will please you and that you take an interest in it and will encourage me to keep up to the mark.”

They hatched and discarded complicated schemes to force their parent’s hands. Randolf contemplated marrying against his parents’ wishes even though that meant cutting himself off from their financial support, incurring social stigma, and even leaving England altogether. These grievous events were not necessary for they had at hand a much more simpler action, one that was much more pleasurable and decisive, and one moreover that would make almost any Victorian parent support a marriage.

Whatever was done, the wrangling over the finances ended. The parents consented. They were married on the morning of April 15, 1874 at the British embassy in Paris. The ceremony was swift and simple. People in the know could guess something was wrong. Sons of Dukes and daughters of millionaires usually got a church wedding of some splash.

Anyway, Leonard Jerome had made it from New York to give the bride away and after the ceremony the family went out to a wedding breakfast. The bride and groom then left on a coach pulled by a set of gray horses. Jennie called, “Why, Mama, don’t cry, life is going to be perfect . . . always . . .”

The Marl boroughs had not attended. Seven months later Winston Churchill was born.

Excerpt from a book in progress. Churchill Stories. (from Chapter 1.)