The Founder: Cecil Rhodes and the Pursuit of Power

By Robert I. Rotberg; Miles F. Shore | Go to book overview

15
"I Must Have My Lions and Tigers" Creating a Castle and Courting the World

RHODES HAD CREATED a place for himself in the world. Its dimensions had already been affirmed by diamonds, gold, railways, interior territory to the north, and the bountiful reception he had received during the London season. The premiership of the Cape had expanded his public prominence and placed him in the center of concentric parliamentary, African, and imperial circles. Unlike so many men, he had succeeded in making his grandiose fantasies real and had laid the foundations for further triumphs.

"The feeling of a conqueror, that confidence of success," which Freud ascribes to a man's favored relationship with his mother, is usually put to the test by a man's mid-thirties. For many, especially the most self-absorbed and those whose dreams are far larger than their capabilities, the results are unhappy. Unmodified by the large and small vicissitudes of real life, their desires for special renown and extraordinary accomplishment are rebuffed. Stirred by the physical news that their youth is fleeting, by recurring evidence, even failures, that life is unforgiving, and by the passing calendar that the future is not forever, they come to know that the success to which they had felt entitled will remain elusive. The magnitude of their disappointment is measured by futile further attempts to achieve their dreams, by renewed fantasies, or by myriad forms of self-destruction.

For another group, the largest, the reports are mixed. Conditioned by the rough and tumble of human experience, most men are little surprised to learn that their time is limited and their horizons less than infinite. Cushioned by the warmth of their relationships, and less blinded by self-absorption, their interest in the application of their gifts propels them forward with fewer illusions to confront the second half of their lives. 1

A very few, catapulted like Rhodes along a higher trajectory, discover in their mid-thirties that their youthful fantasies have been realized. For them

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