Mr. Europe

Mr. Europe

Mr. Europe

Mr. Europe

Excerpt

EVER SINCE the ministerial or presidential chair came to replace the royal saddle as the seat of the mighty, the exercise of power has carried as much danger of corrupting the latter's muscles as their morals. Paul Henri Spaak was made painfully aware of it when, in July 1950, he descended from the heights of world statesmanship into the streets of his native Brussels to put himself at the head of the rebellious and sometimes disorderly multitudes that were violently protesting against the decision of Parliament to bring back their exiled King. At fifty-one, and after fifteen years of high office, he was quite out of training for this sort of thing. And never did he realize this more acutely than on the hot Thursday afternoon when the demonstrations reached their dramatic climax with the long march all the way from the Parliament in the centre of the Belgian capital to the Palace of Laeken on its outskirts.

There had been a time when far more strenuous exertions would not have made him pant as he did now. For in his youth Paul Henri had been an athlete, a crack tennis-player who nearly achieved top rank on his country's courts. But those days were long past. Since the early 'thirties he had been occupied with winning more exciting battles and gaining greater prizes than the tennis-courts had to offer. Battles for power, first in his party, then in his country, finally in the world at large.

They had kept him in office almost without interruption since he had first achieved ministerial rank in 1935. His ascent had been meteoric indeed. Having become Foreign Secretary when still only thirty-seven and Prime Minister at thirty-eight, the youngest . . .

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