The months-long strain of decisions, uncertainties and criticisms was too much.

Last week, harassed by circumstance, chivied by Opposition critics and harried by rebellion within his own party and even his own Cabinet, Britain's 59-year-old Prime Minister Anthony Eden succumbed to "overstrain" and was ordered off the political stage to a weeks-long rest.

Close associates date Sir Anthony's physical decline from early October. Then, on his way out to the country for a quiet weekend at Chequers, Eden stopped at London's University College Hospital to see his wife Clarissa, who was suffering with...

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