Courtesy Reuters

Anthony Eden

THE resignation of Anthony Eden from the British Foreign Office on February 20, 1938, revealed for the first time to the bulk of the British public a sharp and growing cleavage in political thought between the younger and the older generations. The issue on which the resignation was given and accepted seemed obscure and even insufficient to many, among them some of Eden's own best friends and colleagues in the Cabinet. But the question, as Eden saw it, was something greater than whether or not the British Government should enter into negotiations with the Italian Government on the latter's own terms. There was involved a dual question of principle, part somewhat personal, part essentially national. That proportion of the difference which was personal need never have arisen but for the fundamental clash on that which seemed essential from the national point of view.

To judge whether this is a true estimate, we must recall something of the past. Fifteen years of animated politics had drawn Anthony Eden and Neville Chamberlain constantly into closer relations until shortly after the older man was called upon to take over control and direction of British affairs. We must examine the causes, then, so far as they are known, which produced a progressive estrangement and a mutual irritation in which each felt so keen a sense of frustration that to continue longer together had become personally impossible and nationally undesirable. Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of Great Britain in his sixty-ninth year and now rising 70, was already nearly 50 when he first entered the political arena. Behind him lay a solid and excellent record of municipal administration. For the next 18 years of his life he was destined from Whitehall to concern himself with such questions as public health and housing, the City and finance. Hard-working, efficient, with a strong mind of his own and, as it developed in later years, a certain admiration for the efficiency of the dictators, Neville Chamberlain came to the highest office imbued with the idea

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