Cecil Rhodes eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 178 pages of information about Cecil Rhodes.
to come to the material help of his neighbour—­maybe out of affection for him; maybe out of that special sort of contempt which makes one sometimes throw a bone to a starving dog one has never seen before.  The greatest misfortune in Rhodes’ life was his faculty, too often applied upon occasions when it were best suppressed, of seeing the mean and sordid aspects of an action, and of imagining that every man could be bought, provided one knew the price.  He was so entirely convinced of this latter fact that it always caused him a kind of impatience he did not even give himself the trouble to dissimulate, to find that he had been mistaken.  This happened to him once or twice in the course of his career.

The English party in the Colony regretted until the end of Rhodes’ life the strange aberration that allowed the Raid, and made him sacrifice his reputation for the sake of hastening an event which, without his interference, would almost surely soon have come to pass.  The salient feature of the Raid was its terrible stupidity; in that respect it was worse than a crime, for crime is forgotten, but nothing can efface from the memory of the world or the condemnation of history a colossally stupid political blunder.

After the foolish attempt to seize hold of their country, the Boers distrusted British honour and British integrity; and doubting the word or promises of England, they made her responsible for this mistake of Cecil Rhodes.  Rhodes, however, refused to recognise the sad fact.  The big magnates of Johannesburg said that the wisest thing Rhodes could have done at this critical juncture would have been to go to Europe, there to remain until after the war, thus dissociating himself from the whole question of the settlement, instead of intriguing to be entrusted with it.

The fact of Cecil Rhodes’ absence would have cleared the whole situation, relieved Sir Alfred Milner, and given to the Boers a kind of political and financial security that peace would not be subject to the ambitions and prejudices of their enemies, but concluded with a view to the general interests of the country.

CHAPTER XV.

DEALING WITH THE REFUGEES

The refugees were a continual worry and annoyance to the English community at the Cape.  As time went on it became extremely difficult to conciliate the differing interests which divided them, and to prevent them from committing foolish or rash acts likely to compromise British prestige in Africa.  The refugees were for the most boisterous people.  They insisted upon being heard, and expected the whole world to agree with their conclusions, however unstable these might be.  It was absolutely useless to talk reason to a refugee; he refused to listen to you, but considered that, as he had been—­as he would put it—­compelled to leave that modern paradise, the Rand, and to settle at Cape Town, it became the responsibility of the inhabitants of

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Cecil Rhodes from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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