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'When you first see Mr Rhodes you think `What an enormous man!' He seems to tower above every one else; but curiously enough, his stature is not over the average. It is the head that is so big - like the head of some great lion - full of brain and capacity. He is all head - it seems to fill the room. The face is like the face of Nero on a coin - strong and determined, with a mouth like iron. In repose his expression is very severe; but when he is talking the lines of the face turn up and the eyes look down benignly upon you. One realised how those lines could tighten and the blue eyes become like burnished steel, and that at times he could be very formidable indeed....

'It is difficult to gauge the character of a man like Mr Rhodes, because there never was a man so full of violent contrast. He is the roughest man possible, and amazingly animal, yet as delicate and sensitive as a schoolgirl, and strongly spiritual. I have never seen a man look more angry than Mr Rhodes, and almost at the same moment I have seen tears shining in his eyes. To know the real Rhodes, your thoughts must run parallel with his; otherwise he will close like an oyster. I have spent days with him in Kimberley. I have seen him in all his many moods. I have learnt to know the man himself, not the rough exterior that he presents to the world; and I have learned to like him. He is a giant, dwarfing the strongest man - capable of almost any emotion - capable of any mortal thing.'

'Mr Rhodes is a very busy man; yet he found time to give me many sittings, both in the garden and in his study.... We were both talking of growing old. As I sat by this great man and heard him talk, I realised the horror he had of it. I thought of the work he had set himself to do; I realised that he certainly was not getting younger; the pathos of the thing almost overpowered me; and I burst out with "Rhodes, you'll never be old. Your mind is young, and you are young: you must always be a boy!" I felt I must say so, and Rhodes loved me for it, and kept repeating in an exultant way, "I am a boy! I am a boy! Of course I shall never get old!"

'Then I talked of the romance of life, and at that moment I felt that I could talk of my work as a painter; and Rhodes listened delightfully, simply because my thoughts ran parallel with his ...."Of course I am romantic," he said. "Why do I love my garden? Because I love to dream there. Why not come and dream with me in my garden? Come tomorrow morning!"

 

Despite the fact that he didn't live to see
his 50th year, Cecil Rhodes was always
referred to by his close friends and
associates as 'The Old Man'.

I went in the morning, and did dream with Rhodes for hours....That day no trace of the harsh, imperial Rhodes showed itself, but only the artistic and sympathetic; and here was this great financier dreaming and loving his garden as only an artist could.'



Inscribed at the base of Rhodes' statue at the University of Cape Town are the opening lines of a poem
that Rudyard Kipling dedicated to Rhodes:
'I dream my dream, by rock and heath and pine, of empire to the northward....'




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