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take a less favourable view of the actions of His Majesty's
present Ministers than you have been good enough to indicate.
But there is one feature common to all the critics. None of
them carries the responsibilities that I do, and none of them
has that full knowledge of all the circumstances which is only
open to the members of the Government. A combination of
ignorance and irresponsibility may conduce to a freedom of
mind which may be cheerful or gloomy according to the
temperament, but I rather doubt whether it constitutes a
satisfactory foundation on which to build a sound judgment.
For myself, looking back, I see nothing to regret nor any
reason to suppose that another course would have been
• " War to-day is so terrible in its effects on those who take
part in it, no matter what the ultimate outcome may be; it
brings so much loss and suffering even to the bystanders that
it ought never to be allowed to begin unless every practicable
and honourable step has been taken to prevent it. That has
been the view of this Government from the beginning, and
the Munich Agreement, though it is the most important
illustration of its practical working, was only an incident in a
consistent unwavering policy of peace.
" I go further and say that peace could not have been
preserved if it had not been for the events which had preceded
it, by the exchange of letters between myself and Signor
Mussolini in the summer of 1937, and by die conclusion of
the Anglo-Italian Agreement in February of last year, because
without the improvement in the relations between this country
and Italy I could never have obtained Signor Mussolini's
co-operation in September, and without his co-operation I
do not believe peace could have been saved.
" Quite recently, as you know, the Foreign Secretary and I
paid a visit to Rome and for that, too, we have been criticized
by those who seemed determined to obstruct and resist every
attempt to improve international relations, There are some
who are so blinded by prejudice and partisanship that they do
not scruple to attempt to besmirch and belittle the repre-
sentatives of this country.
tc They declared before the visit that we were going to
Rome to surrender British interests, that we were going to