Cecil Rhodes: The Colossus of Southern Africa

Cecil Rhodes: The Colossus of Southern Africa

Cecil Rhodes: The Colossus of Southern Africa

Cecil Rhodes: The Colossus of Southern Africa

Excerpt

The main purpose of this new biography of Cecil Rhodes has been to make full use of the Rhodes Papers at Rhodes House, Oxford, which are the principal subject of the preceding note. Readers expecting startling revelations will be disappointed. The general portrait of Rhodes that emerges is not very different from what it was before. It is perhaps a little sharper in focus and in detail, in contrast to the fuzzy aura of hero worship with which his admirers blurred the outline, or to the black and menacing shadow over Africa evoked by his enemies. It is often a little easier, too, to find rational motives for his actions in place of the mystical vision or the unscrupulous cynicism that have sometimes been used to explain everything. Or rather one should say "in addition to" that vision and that cynicism, for Cecil Rhodes had an ample measure of both. Perhaps one thing also emerges more clearly from the totality of the Rhodes Papers. Those who hated him most were those who knew him least, and those who most admired and loved him were those who knew him best. Of course, the judgment of either side may be discounted and derided, but it is well to be clear about the facts.

W. T. Stead, the brilliant journalist of liberal imperialism, perceived the fact long ago. Immediately after Rhodes's death in 1902, he wrote:

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