THE RHODES COLLECTIONA NATIONAL ASSET

D. Wardle

Abstract


Virtually all of the biographies which discuss Cecil Rhodes' private life, as opposed to his political and business career, record that his favourite reading was Marcus Aurelius' Meditations and Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I His fascination with the latter led to a project which could have been Southern Africa's greatest contribution to Classical scholarship. The scheme was some time in its formulation, as the original idea was conceived on his lengthy visit to England in 1888 (before his return in August 1889) when he was chiefly occupied with securing a Royal charter for the British South Africa Company.2 It was not until around 1893 that the plan was put into action.J In discussing Gibbon "during a country house visit" (Williams 1921:223) Rhodes regretted that he could not read in the original Greek and Latin the ancient authorities quoted by Gibbon and that there were no good translations readily available; he was advised to consult Mr. Arthur Humphreys of Hatchards. The following is Mr. Humphreys' account of what happened:...

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7445/38-2-546

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ISSN 2079-2883 (online); ISSN 0303-1896 (print)

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