CHAPTER XLVIII
"A YOUNG HERO WITH NO SCOPE FOR
HEROICS"

Baldwinnow had to choose Sir Samuel Hoare's successor. Eden's candidate was Sir Austen Chamberlain, under whom Eden "was prepared to serve in any capacity".1 Mussolini, too, favoured Sir Austen (dispatch from Rome, DT. 22. xii). Lady Chamberlain was in Rome, and made no secret of her pro-Mussolinian enthusiasm in the Ethiopian affair. Lady Asquith tartly remarked that it was not the first time the Roman capitol had been saved by a goose. However, Sir Austen was considered too old a man for the strenuous job of Foreign Secretary. He was, into the bargain, the man who had reached the agreements of December 1925 with Mussolini. After all, Laval, in January 1935, had done no more than follow Sir Austen's lead, reversing the French nine-year policy of refusal which had provoked Mussolini's wrath. By getting into the limelight as Foreign Minister, Sir Austen would attract attention not only to recent, but even to more remote responsibilities.

Another man was needed to go on playing the farce of sanctions. That man was to hand. "The fate of the entire administration was handed on a platter to Anthony Eden, the man whom everybody now realized had won the election, whose record was beyond reproach." But "it was an embarrassing position to be a young hero without any scope for heroics".2

Eden, as Acting Secretary in the absence of Sir Samuel Hoare, had initialled the telegram instructing Sir Sidney Barton in Addis Ababa to use "his utmost influence" to induce the Emperor to give "careful and favourable" consideration to the Hoare-Laval proposals (see above, p. 394). Thus he was as much responsible for those proposals as Hoare and Baldwin. But for a whole year, by careful juggling, he had succeeded in bamboozling everybody. When the news broke that he was the new British Foreign Secretary, the world was thrilled. The League of Nations would at last be a living reality and not a sham! Sanctions—the oil sanction—would now be enacted in dead earnest. Sir Galahad had triumphed. Beside him, as Lord Privy Seal, Baldwin placed Lord Halifax, who was soon to reveal himself a faithful watchdog of the Anglo-German entente.

Mussolini, as might be expected, contributed his part to Eden's triumph. Before the announcement of Baldwin's choice, the usual

____________________
1
Churchill, The Gathering Storm, p. 185.
2
Johnson, Anthony Eden p. 301.

-408-

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