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.
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