So long as Rhodes lived it would have been impossible for South Africa to escape the influence of his brain, which was always plotting and planning for the future whilst forgetting more often than was healthy or wise the preoccupations of the present. After the Queen’s flag had been hoisted at Pretoria, Cecil Rhodes alive would have proved an anomaly in South Africa. Cecil Rhodes dead would still retain his position as a dreamer and a thinker, a man who always pushed forward without heeding the obstacles, forgetful of aught else but the end he was pursuing, the country which he loved so well, and, what he cared for even more, his own ambition. Men like Rhodes—with all their mistakes to mar their dazzling successes—cannot be replaced; it is just as difficult to take up their work as it is to fill the gap caused by their disappearance.
I have come to the end of what I intended at first to be a book of recollections but which has resolved itself into one of impressions. A more competent pen than mine will one day write the inner history of this South African War, which by an anomaly of destiny had quite different results from those expected. So many things have occurred since it happened that the whole sequence of events, including the war, is now looked upon by many people as a simple incident in a long story.
In reality the episode was something more than that. It was a manifestation of the great strength of the British Empire and of the wonderful spirit of vitality which has carried England triumphantly through crises that would have wrecked any other nation. The incidents which followed the war proved the generosity that lies at the bottom of the English character and the grandeur that comes out of it in those grave moments when the welfare of a nation appears to be at stake and its rulers are unable to apply to a succession of evils and dangers the right remedy to bring about peace and contentment. No other nations possess this remarkable and distinctive feature. England very wisely refused to notice the bitterness which still persisted in the early days after the conclusion of peace, and devoted her energies to the one immense and immediate work of Federation.