At times, such as that related in the paragraph above, Rhodes appeared a perfectly detestable and hateful creature, and yet he was never sincere whilst in such moods. A few moments later he would show himself under absolutely different colours and give proof of a compassionate heart. Generous to a fault, he liked to be able to oblige his friends, or those who passed as such, while the charitable acts which he was constantly performing are too numerous to be remembered. He had a supreme contempt for money, but he spoiled the best sides of his strange, eccentric character by enjoying a display of its worst facets with a “cussedness” as amusing as it was sometimes unpleasant. Is it remarkable, then, that many people who only saw him in the disagreeable moods should judge him from an entirely false and misleading point of view?
Rhodes was a man for whom it was impossible to feel indifference; one either hated him or became fascinated by his curious and peculiar charm. This quality led many admirers to remain faithful to him even after disillusion had shattered their former friendship, and who, whilst refusing to speak to him any more, yet retained for him a deep affection which not even the conviction that it had been misplaced could alter. This is a remarkable and indisputable fact. After having rallied around him all that was honest in South Africa; after having been the petted child of all the old and influential ladies in Cape Town; after having been accepted as their leader by men like Mr. Schreiner and Mr. Hofmeyr, who, clever though they were, and convinced, as they must have been, of their personal influence on the Dutch party and the members of the Afrikander Bond, still preferred to subordinate their judgment to Rhodes’; after having enjoyed such unparalleled confidence, Rhodes had come to be spurned and rejected politically, but had always kept his place in their hearts. Fate and his own faults separated him from these people of real weight and influence, and left him in the hands of those who pretended that they were attached to him, but who, in reality, cared only for the material advantages that their constant attendance upon him procured to them. They poisoned his mind, they separated him from all those who might have been useful to him, and they profited by the circumstance that the Raid had estranged him from his former friends to strengthen their own influence upon him, and to persuade him that those who had deplored the rash act were personal enemies, wishful for his downfall and disgrace.
MRS. VAN KOOPMAN