The Latymer School History Magazine - page 34

Rudyard Kipling
visits. The two had met each
other at the height of their
careers.
Born the humble son of a
Hertfordshire vicar in 1853,
Rhodes at a young age
decided to make his fortune
in Africa; in order to do this
he knew he had to create a
monopoly. First he tried
water, but realising this was
too broad, switched to
diamond mining,
establishing the De Beers
Company. Through loans
given by the Rothschilds,
Rhodes quickly pursued a
series of deals buying up
huge African land masses,
evicting native Africans by
the bulk in the process, and
began an extraction that was
virtually slave-led. By 1891
Rhodes owned 91% of the
world’s diamond supply. As
one of the richest men in the
world, he dedicated his
fortune to expanding the
frontiers of the British
Empire.
Kipling, meanwhile, was
raised on imperialism since
birth. His parents had in the
1860s, like so many others of
their class, travelled to India
to help run local affairs with
the sahibs. Kipling’s
attachment to his home in
Bombay led him to return in
1881, where he used his
experience in the Indian
brothels and opium dens to
write his first set of short
stories, Plain Tales from the
Hills. It’s easy to see why
Rhodes was attracted to him.
During the 1890s in
particular, Kipling was taking
an increasingly hard line with
regards to the actions of the
British. Consider the 1899
poem The White Man’s
Burden, one of his less
ambiguous works:
Take up the White
Man's burden -
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of
terror
And check the show of
pride;
By open speech and
simple,
A hundred times made
plain
To seek another's profit,
And work another's
gain.
Rhodes himself had
declared it his mission
to build a railway line
all the way from the
Transvaal to Cairo to
‘paint the map red’. But
just imagine living at
this time, when The
White Man’s Burden
was genuinely believed
by many to set out the
future of the world.
How incredibly
exhilarating and
terrifying would that
have been?
Admittedly, upon
meeting, both of the
men found their political
goals had already been
somewhat neutered. Rhodes’
reputation was permanently
tarnished among British
statesmen following his
participation in the Jameson
Raid, a failed military coup
that sought to overtake the
Transvaal from the Afrikaans,
in doing so stoking the
flames for the Second Boer
War. This had the effect of
further dashing Rhodes’ aim
of forging a three-way
alliance between Britain,
America and Germany.
Kaiser Wilhelm II instantly
telegrammed President of
the Transvaal Paul Kruger
with ‘sincere congratulations’
that the Boers had managed
to stave off invasion alone.
The White Man’s Burden
,
meanwhile, was not without
its own controversy. Among
a storm of literary anger, the
most surprising
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