Wednesday, January 16, 2019

DAY 6: A Passage to Burma

Courtesy, Daily Mail, 2016, from a private photo album dated 1895, Rangoon under British Rule
In an effort to avoid spoilers, I've refrained from discussing the end of Randolph Churchill's life. Suffice it to say that he was dying for much of 1894, and that in the spring of that year he and Jennie decided to take a final journey together, along with her maid Gentry, his valet Walden, and a doctor, George Keith.

Randolph's bucket list had one main goal: To see Burma before he died. 

Lord Randolph Churchill at the end of his life, aged 45
As Secretary for India, his first Cabinet post in 1885, Randolph had almost unilaterally launched the Third Burmese War. It lasted roughly three weeks in November--at which point British forces had deposed the Burmese king of Upper Burma and exiled him to India, ending the Konbaung dynasty and placing the Upper Kingdom under control of the British Raj. Great Britain had already annexed the Lower Kingdom thirty years earlier, during the Second Burmese War, but Lord Randolph regarded finishing the task as his signal accomplishment in government. 

The usual route to Burma would have been to travel east. The Churchills, instead, decided to travel west--beginning their journey in June, 1894 on the docks of Liverpool, bound for New York. From there, the Churchills intended to visit Bar Harbor, Maine; travel across Canada by train, stopping at various towns en route; descend to San Francisco, and from there, set sail for the Far East, their first port of call being Tokyo. They expected the journey to last at least a year.

To finance it, Randolph sold some shares in the Rand gold mine he had helped discover in South Africa; sold No. 2 Connaught Place; and finally, sold his share in the swift and beautiful black racehorse, L'Abbesse de Jouare.

Many of those close to the Churchills, including Fanny, Dowager Duchess of Marlborough, urged Jennie to remain in England and allow Randolph to travel solely with his doctor. Fanny was convinced that Randolph's "nervous condition" would improve if only his annoying wife left him alone. Jennie refused. She understood the facts of Randy's death sentence. It was her duty, she believed, to stand by her husband in his final months.

On June 27th, 1894, Jennie and Randolph embarked on the four-year-old S.S. Majestic, owned by the White Star Line. 

White Star Line's S.S. Majestic, 1890

For more images of people, places and fashion from THAT CHURCHILL WOMAN, visit the  Pinterest board behind the novel.

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