Cecil Rhodes eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 178 pages of information about Cecil Rhodes.
destinies of an Empire might be entrusted with safety.  One can truly say, when writing the story of those years, that it resolved itself, into the vain struggle of Rhodes to recover his lost prestige.  Sir Alfred was continually being made responsible for things of which he had not only been innocent, but of which, also, he had disapproved most emphatically.  To mention only one—­the famous concentration camps.  A great deal of fuss was made about them at the time, and it was generally believed that they had been instituted at the instigation of the High Commissioner.  When consulted on the subject Sir Alfred Milner had, on the contrary, not at all shared the opinion of those who had believed that they were a necessity, although ultimately, for lack of earlier steps, they became so.

The Colony at that time found its effective government vested in the hands of the military authorities, who not infrequently acted upon opinions which were not based upon experience or upon any local conditions.  They believed, too, implicitly what they were told, and when they heard people protest, with tears in their eyes, their devotion to the British Crown, and lament over the leniency with which the Governor of Cape Colony looked upon rebellion, they could not possibly think that they were listening to a tissue of lies, told for a purpose, nor guess that they were being made use of.  Under such conditions the only wonder is the few mistakes which were made.  To come back to the Boers’ concentration camps, Sir Alfred Milner was not a sanguinary man by any means, and his character was far too firm to use violence as a means of government.  It is probable that, left alone, he would have found some other means to secure strict obedience from the refugees to orders which most never thought of resisting.  Unfortunately for everybody concerned, he could do nothing beyond expressing his opinion, and the circumstance that, out of a feeling of duty, he made no protestations against things of which he could not approve was exploited against him, both by the Jingo English party and by the Dutch, all over South Africa.  At Groote Schuur especially, no secret was made by the friends of Rhodes of their disgust at the state of things prevailing in concentration camps, and it was adroitly brought to the knowledge of all the partisans of the Boers that, had Rhodes been master of the situation, such an outrage on individual liberty would never have taken place.  Sir Alfred Milner was subjected to unfair, ill-natured criticisms which were as cunning as they were bitter.  The concentration camps afford only one instance of the secret antagonisms and injustices which Sir Alfred Milner had to bear and combat.  No wonder thoughts of his days in South Africa are still, to him, a bitter memory!

CHAPTER XI.

CROSS CURRENTS

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Cecil Rhodes from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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