The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
"Here and here did England help me: how can I help England?--say."
Now that the silence of the Matoppos has fallen upon one who has given England, and indeed the world, one of the most forcible and practical object lessons ever administered *, it might be deemed wiser to let the great lesson fulfil its mission silently rather than just at this time to choose that particular virtue as the subject of mediocre theorizing. Yet in extenuation it may be urged that just as the contemplation of the sublime in Nature has the effect of making us realize to the full the extreme impotence of Man, so, perhaps, such stupendous and successful effort of the great if apt to be a little paralyzing in its action upon the rank and file, if merely beheld as a distant and unscalable height, not to be approached but by the gifted few.
* [Cecil Rhodes, who died at age 48 of heart failure and was buried in the Matopos Hills in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1902 just months before this article was published. He is responsible for setting up the international Rhodes Scholarship, which encouraged a well-rounded scholar.]
"What man has done, man can do," was evidently in the mind of him whose loss the Empire now mourns, when he penned the many characteristic phrases of his Last Will and Testament, notably that describing the ideal student who will benefit hereafter by its provisions. His third and most important qualification is to be "Manhood, truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for the protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship," which compendium surely represents the sum total of the whole duty of a patriot, whatever his race or country, and it is a noteworthy fact that each of these attributes has been employed--alike by admirer and quondam detractor--to describe the personality of the testator himself. Knowing, as he must have known by experience, how more vastly important is character than intellectual attainment or physical prowess, not only to the individual but to the cause he would support, it is easy to see, by his making this a sine qua non in the selection of candidates, that his aim was to aid those who possess the capacity to follow in his footsteps and further his work.
Of what did the patriotism of Cecil Rhodes consist? Stated briefly, and gathered chiefly from his own words, I think it might be said:--
A belief in the Justice, Liberty and Peace of that High Heaven unto which it is man's aim ultimately to attain.
The conviction that, of all countries, his own was most surely based upon the Divine Model.
That because "we needs must love the highest when we see it," it was the duty of those who hold this opinion of our Empire to promote her welfare, to enlarge her borders, and to strive strenuously in all directions to ensure her continuity, for the final benefit of the whole world, in securing for it Justice, Liberty and Peace.
"Judgment is stayed; so large he seems to loom
"This much we know, that through the shifting scenes,
* Punch, April, 9th. (O.S. is Owen Seaman; the poem is called "Cecil John Rhodes.")
This, then, was the all-mastering creed and passion of the life that has just passed away. Where, we may ask, did this "ardent bosom catch this ancient fire"? He, himself, gives us the answer in his oft-expressed admiration and affection for his Alma Mater, and that others might be filled with his own "patriot ardours," he left the means for not only "those who come of the Blood," but alien nations, to receive this inspiration from Oxford's storied walls, that--
"In a day that is not far
Within these precincts so crowded with the historical associations of centuries--from its reputed founder, the patriot King Alfred, to the present time--what wonder that day after day, brought face to face with these influences, the student imbibes the atmosphere of his surroundings, and becomes deeply imbued with the spirit of gratitude and reverence for the forbears who strove, suffered, laboured, fought and bled to give him the freedom, the justice, the peace he now so heedlessly enjoys. What wonder, again, that he should become possessed with the determination to go and do likewise, that posterity may invoke upon his own head laid low the blessings which spring spontaneously to his lips at the sight of the illustrious names of those whose deeds have been an example to countless generations, and whose lives have done so much for us in establishing the character of the nation.
All this was reckoned for in the document [his will] which gives to so many the benefits of a university training, and explains to the world the true character of the man whose motives have been at times regarded with suspicion by his foes, and even by his intimates with doubt. "The striving of the power of life which looks like a desire to rile may be what it seems--the sin through which angels fell; or it may be a root of heaven, a burning strength of love, a zeal of those high angels who are a flaming fire to serve" (M. E. Dowson). If good may so resemble evil in its outward appearance, how chary should we be of condemning motives we only think we understand!
Meanwhile he, striving and working every day--
"Content with calumny, careless of fame;
has lived out his little span--his "three days at the seaside"--leaving the empire-builders he has himself selected and provided for to carry out the designs he spent his life in formulating, and to continue the work of civilization for which he has laid such splendid foundations in the country bearing his name. That the hour will provide the man there can be but little doubt; for us of an earlier generation who may not live to see much accomplished it only remains to breathe the prayer:--
"O strength Divine of Roman days,
So much then for patriotism in its broadest and most conspicuous aspect, which, though accessible to many, can necessarily only be attained by the few; were this the only road to becoming a patriot, the majority of men and all women would be excluded from rendering service to the country of which they are so proud and for which they would feign do their utmost.
Fortunately there is a homelier side of patriotism--a side which brings it within reach of all. For example--a glance at the list of qualities demanded in Rhodes' ideal candidate will be sufficient to satisfy the members of the society for which this is written that here alone is a wide field for their patriotic zeal; in training the young to those virtues which for ages have characterized the nation, they are going far towards upholding the traditions which are our country's boast. What is this national character of which so much is said and written? By no one, I think, has it been more justly criticised or more accurately described than by that lofty and unprejudiced French thinker, Amiel; because he has said all and more than all good taste permits one to say of one's own, perhaps I may be pardoned for using his language almost in extenso.
Speaking of the English ideal, he says:--"What, then, is a gentleman? Apparently he is the free man, the man who is stronger than things, and believes in personality as superior to all the accessory attributes of fortune, such as rank and power, and as constituting what is essential, real, and intrinsically valuable in the individual. Tell me what you are, and I will tell you what you are worth. 'God and my Right,' there is the only motto he believes in. . . . . The gentleman, then, is the man who is master of himself, who respects himself and makes others respect him. The essence of gentlemanliness is self-ruling, the sovereignty of the soul. It means a character which possesses itself, a force which governs itself, a liberty which affirms and regulates itself, according to the type of true dignity. Such an ideal is closely akin to the Roman type of dignitas cum auctoritate. It is more moral than intellectual, and is particularly suited to England, which is pre-eminently the country of will. But from self-respect a thousand other things are derived--such as the care of a man's person, of his language, of his manners, watchfulness over his body and over his soul, dominion over his instincts and his passions; the effort to be self-sufficient, the pride which will accept no favour; carefulness not to expose himself to any humiliation or mortification, and to maintain himself independent of any human caprice; the constant protection of his honour and of his self-respect. . . . . . So that an analysis of the national type of gentleman reveals to us the nature and the history of the nation, as the fruit reveals the tree."
From another French source (Max O'Rell) we get a tribute to British pluck, endurance, and esprit de corps in the memorable story of the school boy, fatally injured in a football scrimmage, whose last breath almost was spent in asking, "Has our side won?" This then is the national character, and if the first seven years of a child's life are quite sufficient to establish him for the remainder of it in the creed of Loyola, the same short period ought to be long enough to inculcate in him those principles which he would part with life sooner than abandon. Thus in the training of our children and the trivial round of every day, abundant opportunities are afforded for adding our mite towards the bettering of our homes, our parishes, and ultimately our country. That subscription to the place of worship, the literary club, the recreation ground, the local hospital, may seem to come round all too often, and show nothing for the expenditure, but it is nevertheless one of those grains of sand which goes to make the beauteous land. The same, too, may be said of the many societies which we help by our time and our support; so little that is apparent seems to come of it all, and we feel we have it in us to do so much! Speaking at last year's Conference of the P.N.E.U., Dr Schofield said:--"One of the characteristics of our Union is that it is entirely occupied with potentialities , with sowing seeds which never show a harvest, for the harvest is not of a nature to be shown or published, but is known only to the hearts of mothers and fathers." Yes, and the hearts of parents are assured that their Union is doing a great patriotic word, in spite of that work not being demonstrable. So often in our best endeavours we are discouraged with the apathy and unresponsiveness of the very people we would benefit. He is but an indifferent workman who complains of his materials; the true artist works his wonders with "things as they are." J. M. W. Turner railed not at the sordid atmosphere of his London, nor yearned for Italy to give inspiration to his painter's eye, but he just showed us the beauties in a London fog as he saw them; also it took the ear of a Kipling--that ear so sharpened by sympathy to catch and interpret truly the faintest cry of man or beast--to make us hear the pathos in the twang of the camp banjo. "It is not the ideal, it is the real we neglect. Many a man has his Will-o'-th'-Wisp ideal and dances after it. Few have patience and humility enough to consider the real world they know, and to see in it as in a mirror the rays of heaven's light" (M. E. Dowson).
In this world of reality there is again another and still humbler method of demonstrating love of country in a practical form--one, too, which manifests little to the world of our good deeds and intentions, but which may nevertheless keep our Recording Angel busy on the credit side of our day book, and may probably save our country's name from at least some dishonour. This is the prevention of the making of the criminal--not by the aid of public societies alone, but in the house, in the workshop, in the office or the factory. Never the let harsh sentence of public exposure turn the dishonest in word into the dishonest in deed; or the pilferer into the confirmed thief; the merely flighty into the wanton; or the intemperate into drunkards. If at the very first offence one could only try and fancy oneself the parent instead of the judge of the offender, what a different course would sometimes be pursued in dealing with the offence. Is there not also scope for patriotism in preventing those willing to work from becoming paupers and thereby a burden to their country? Sometimes just a little interest, a little influence, the price of an advertisement, or a letter or two written to friends may be the means of restoring a loose screw or nut to its proper position in the Good Ship "Empire," to the possibly infinitesimal benefit of the vessel herself, and certainly to the advantage of the article in question by preventing it from becoming flotsam and jetsam.
All these minor details seem to take us a long way from the lofty achievements of such patriots as he who suggested these thoughts; yet, if we look back again to the qualities he demanded in his ideal Empire-makers, we find not only "force of character, manhood, truth, and courage," but as well, "sympathy for the protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship"--qualities which bring patriotism within the reach of everyone of us today, and which make the Love of Country not only our price, but a sacred duty--
"Lest we forget!"
This is the Chapel, here, my son,
To set the cause above renown,
from the slightly longer poem Clifton Chapel by Henry Newbolt
Cecil John Rhodes
["I admire the grandeur and loneliness of the Matoppos in Rhodesia, and therefore I desire to be buried in the Matoppos, on the hill which I used to visit, and which I called the 'View of the World,' in a square to be cut in the rock on the top of the hill, covered with a plain brass plate with these words thereon: 'Here lie the remains of Cecil John Rhodes.'" -- Extract from his Will.]
Take and guard this, O Heart of Africa!
The richest golden veins of all thy rocks,
Build it a sanctuary in thy breast,
Red yet with battles, but anon to be
Give him a tomb! For thee he gave his life,
This was a heart with passion stirred to make
Now need hath ceased, and those who hated most
Open thy bosom for his bed of rest,
Typed by happi, Apr 2020; Proofread by LNL, Apr 2020
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