Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Good People

Sometimes, a reader comes across a brief passage, as if by chance, that is both so brilliantly and scathingly put that it deserves to be stolen over and over again, and at the same time reminds you of what makes good people. I found such a lovely passage today, reading an article entitled "Kipling in South Africa" from the London Review of Books, about the friendship between dear Rudy and Cecil Rhodes, the beast who co-founded DeBeers, colonized what is today Zimbabwe, helped brutalize both the blacks and the Boers of southern Africa, and played a particularly estimable role in the godawful ruthlessness and brutality that marked European colonialism in the late 19th century. He was a man of such horrific ambitions that he once commented, "all of these stars...these vast worlds that remain out of reach. If I could, I would annex other planets."

Reading about such awful people, I was blown away when I followed a little footnote and came across this absolute gem from the man who remains our country's finest writer, Mr. Samuel Clemens. In Following the Equator from 1897, Mark Twain wrote:

In the opinion of many people Mr Rhodes is South Africa; others think he is only a large part of it. These latter consider that South Africa consists of Table Mountain, the diamond mines, the Johannesburg goldfields, and Cecil Rhodes . . . I admire him, I frankly confess it; and when his time comes I shall buy a piece of the rope for a keepsake.

Labels: , ,

Blogarama - The Blog Directory