The Boers and British Gold and Diamonds.
[Sidenote: Solomon's Ophir]
Solomon obtained his supplies of gold, it is believed, from the Transvaal. There is something more in this than imagination and conjecture. There are two excellent harbors on the South African coast that confronts the Indian Ocean, and in Solomon's great days he was a "sea power" there and his ships were on the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, so that his connection with African gold mining is not at all improbable. The Transvaal mines are neither remote nor inaccessible from the best ports on the coast of Eastern Africa. Solomon obtained the "gold of Ophir," and it was by making "a navy of ships in Ezion-Geber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon. And they came to Ophir and fetched from thence gold * * * and brought it to King Solomon." The visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon in his glory is testimony of the familiar splendor of his fame in Africa.
[Sidenote: How the Gold was discovered]
The Leydenburg gold fields were first made definite and certain in the public eye by the writings of a German explorer, Herr Carl Mauch, which attracted adventurers from California, New Zealand and Australia. In February, 1875, the official reports in Pretoria stated that notice was given to the Landrost of Leydenburg of the discovery of alluvial gold between thirty and forty miles eastward of that town, which is situated 5,825 feet above the sea. In 1873 the Postmaster-General at Pretoria received a letter from the Landdrost of Leydenburg and with it two ounces and a half of gold. This had been found on a farm thirty miles from Leydenburg. Other gold discoveries were soon made and among them nuggets in the walls of mud houses. A letter was published in the "Transvaal Advocate" giving interesting incidents of gold finding. We quote as follows:
[Sidenote: Reports About Early Gold Finds]
"In the bed of a spruit running through the farm (Hendricksdale) alluvial gold was found in sufficient quantity to justify the opinion that it was present in paying quantities, and this opinion was confirmed from day to day by the following facts:
"1st. Messrs. McLachlan, Palmer and Valentine, with two Kaffirs, and without proper appliances, found in fourteen days the first sample of two ounces, among which is a nugget the size of a half sovereign, somewhat longer, but more flattened.
2nd. Mr. Valentine with two Kaffirs found and sent to the cashier of the Standard Bank of Natal a second sample of above two ounces, in which was a nugget as large as a middle sized bean.
"One of the farms distinguished by gold, that of Erasmus and Mullers, was at this time hired for thirty years at £200 per annum.
"Among these hills are caves, in one of which one might travel underground for hours, and here, in olden times, the natives sheltered themselves and cattle in many an inter-tribal war. Skulls and bones of men and cattle are found, and tradition, whether justly or not, brands the occupiers as cannibals. Near some of the southern sources of the Um Saabi, or Sabea, is the Spitz Kop, 100 feet high, under which the first gold in the district was found, and the gold district was in early times supposed to be about fifty miles long by eight broad, and six or eight farms were known to have gold upon them. The gold was found about three feet below the surface, the upper layer being red clay; then large gravel quartz in fragments, limestone and a cindery fused substance, like slag from a smelting furnace, but softer; below this is a soft black soil, which when put in the box reminds one of a mixture of tar and oil, and with this a soft white clay is found. The quartz when pounded proved also to have gold in it, and so did the cylinder layer, and the stones of which the cattle kraal was built contained gold. The best finds were usually under or between the large boulders.
[Sidenote: The Most Interesting Specimen]
"The latest testimony I can give is that I saw thirty-one ounces of gold a day or two ago brought from McMc and Pilgrim's Rest, and that one of my friends not long ago sent 145 ounces home. But to me the most interesting specimen was a half ounce obtained from the country to the southeast of Matabeleland, probably about half way between Hartley Hill and the ruins of Mazimboeye Zimboae--or Zimbabye--of Herr Mauch, in which direction I have reason to believe that alluvial fields as rich as and more extensive than those of Leydenburg await the coming of the explorer who shall unite to skill in prospecting patience, perseverance and tact in dealing with the various native tribes, whose friendship must be cultivated and assistance gained before the richest of all the districts of Southeastern Africa shall be ready to surrender its treasures to the enterprise and industry of Europe."
United States Consul Macrum writes from Pretoria to the State Department in regard to the gold production in South Africa in 1897 and 1898:
"The Rand has at last reached and surpassed the marvelous output of 400,000 ounces of gold as the production for a single month of twenty-eight working days. Every twenty-four hours, then, witness the recovery of 14,250 ounces of gold, worth rather over £50,000 ($243,325). The Rand total comprises only the output of mines along a stretch of some thirty miles of country. With this statement for the month of October, the gold winnings of the whole Republic for the ten months of 1898 amount to 3,700,908 ounces. At this rate the total for the whole of 1898 would be over four and a half millions.
[Sidenote: Gold Production of South Africa in 1897 and 1898]
The value of the October 423,000 ounces is £1,500,000 ($7,299,750), which may be compared with £11,653,725 ($56,162,743), the value for all in 1897, and £12,208,411 ($59,412,232), the value of the gold production of the United States in the same year. Although the combined mines of Colorado, California, Dakota, Montana, Nevada, and Alaska put out more gold last year than did the South African Republic, it is not likely that the Transvaal will take second place this year. Deep levels continue on the upgrade, as their production in October was 106,426 ounces--the first time that the hundred thousand has been exceeded. The average price of the September production was £3 16s. ($18.42) per ounce."
The yearly aggregate for eleven years was:
1888 .......... 208,122
1894 .......... 2,024,162
1895 .......... 2,277,685
1890 .......... 494,819
1896 .......... 2,279,827
1891 .......... 729,238
1897 .......... 3,034,678
1892 .......... 1,210,869
1898 .......... 3,700,908
1893 .......... 1,478,477
The price of gold is a few cents less than $18.50 per ounce. The figures $18.42 often occur. Consul Macrum sent from Pretoria December 31, 1898, a report of the gold production of the South African Republic--the Transvaal--saying:
"It must be remembered that this has been a remarkably dull year, so far as ordinary business is concerned, and the mining companies, it is freely said, are not working up to their full capacity; but, nevertheless, the production and profit have been greater this year than ever before. When the differences that are said to exist between the Government and capital have been removed or adjusted, the Transvaal, it is predicted, will see a most wonderful boom."
But it must be taken into account that the Boer has a soul above booms.
[Sidenote: A Clear and Impartial Statement]
Mr. O. P. Austin, Chief of the Bureau of Statistics of the Treasury Department of the United States, gives an admirable, impartial and clear statement of the matters of first importance in the Transvaal. A few official, indisputable figures and simple facts put the question of the right and wrong of the bloody war in South Africa in the right way and yield the correct answer unmistakably. He says:
"The laws of the State are enacted by a Parliament of two chambers, the first or higher chamber enacting a large share of the laws independent of the lower house, which only originates measures relating to certain subjects of administration, and which cannot become laws without the approval of the upper house. Members of the first chamber are elected from and by the first-class burghers, who comprise only the male whites resident in the Republic before May, 1876, or who took an active part in the war of independence in 1881 or subsequent wars, and the children of such persons over the age of sixteen. This condition would deprive persons natives of other countries of becoming "first-class burghers," and thus obtaining the privilege of participating in the election of the President or the house which enacts the most important of the laws and has a veto power upon all measures originating in the lower house. The second-class burghers may become members of and participate in the election of the second chamber, the second-class comprising the naturalized male alien population and their children over the age of sixteen. Naturalization may, according to the Statesman's Year Book, 1899, "be obtained after two years' residence and registration on the books of the field cornet, oath of allegiance and payment of £2, and naturalized burghers may by special resolution of the first or higher chamber become first-class burghers twelve years after naturalization."
[Sidenote: Boss and Caste Government]
This is the rarest combination known of Boss and Caste Government. It is an unrestrained despotism designed to perpetuate itself by favor and force, regardless of everybody not of the ruling race and condition, and the Englishman who would give up his rights in the Transvaal as a British subject for the privilege of ultimate participation in the government, even of his own town, if that town contained ten Englishmen to the people of all other nationalities, would have to be "a man without a country" for seven years. It was at this point that Mr. President Kruger stood fast, peremptorily refusing the reduction of the period of probation even two years--leaving it five, and yet the probability is a very large number of the naturalized citizens of the United States who would regard such a restriction in this country as a bitter and remorseless discrimination against the foreign born, are sympathizing with the unrelenting attitude of the Boers upon this subject. Apply to this condition of things in the Transvaal the facts and figures following:
[Sidenote: Facts and Figures]
The area of the Republic is 119,139 square miles; the white population, according to the State Almanack for 1898, is 345,397, and the native population, 748,759. The seat of government is Pretoria, with a white population of 10,000. The largest town is Johannesburg, the mining center of Witwatersrand gold fields, having a population within a radius of three miles, according to the census of 1896, of 102,078 persons, of which number 50,907 were whites, 952 Malays, 4,807 Coolies and Chinese, 42,533 Kaffirs, and 2,879 of mixed race. One-third of the population of the Republic is estimated to be engaged in agriculture, the lands of the Republic generally, outside the mining districts, being extremely productive, and the demand for farm products in the mining regions very great, even in excess of the local products at the present time."
It does not in the least soothe the Boers that they have a good market for their farm products, for which they are indebted almost exclusively to English enterprise in great feats of engineering, in the application of the most modern methods of mining, and to immense investments, in the cheapening of transportation, and extending the capacities and facilities of the poor as well as the rich, for swift and easy communication with neighbors.
[Sidenote: Boer Prejudice and Intolerance]
The chief care, concern and anxiety of the Boer is that a government of the people must not by any chance be established in Transvaal. It is the elementary principle of the Boer disposition and government, that there are no real "people" except Boers, who place the Hottentot, the Englishman, the Zulu and the Kaffir, the American, the German and the Frenchman on the same level. He will have none of them except in the capacity of subordinates, and when it suits his humor, servants of the established class that dominates. The native population is double that of the number of whites, but that does not concern the Boer. His Republicanism takes no account of people with darker skins than his own. In the most important part of the Transvaal, the Boers themselves are in a pronounced minority, if we take into account only the white folks. The Boer capital, Pretoria, has a white population of 10,000; the white population of Johannesburg is 50,907; and the great political task and vindictive occupation of the Boers of Pretoria, the political capital of the alleged free country, is that the select few of the 10,000 whites in that town shall rule it and Johannesburg also at their pleasure, and according to the obstinate caprices of their will. There were 50,000 whites in Johannesburg, and the argument the Boer advocates have advanced in America is that the whites of that city, five times as numerous as those of Pretoria, must not be allowed even the shadow of the right of suffrage, because they would outvote the chosen people who have taken the course of government upon themselves in the political capital. It is this insistence upon an atrocious inequality that is the elementary cause of the war. Such an oppression becomes an intolerable condition, and there is no cure for it but the sword. Of course, it has been a characteristic of this situation that it is associated with a systematic tyranny at once insulting and extortionate. [Sidenote: The "Dog in the Manger"] The Boer policy is moderately described as that of the "dog in the manger." The 50,000 white people of Johannesburg, are disfranchised, first, because they under the rule of the majority would be at least their own rulers and exercising an important influence in the government of Johannesburg, would impair the authority and destroy the prestige of the oligarchy at Pretoria. We do not urge the fact that this majority at Johannesburg are also the creators and possessors of the greater wealth of the Transvaal. Property has the right of recognition as the result of investment and industry, but it is not necessary that to protect itself it must have political advantages out of proportion to the number of the electors who are the property holders. So the argument for the enfranchisement in a reasonable time of the Uitlanders of Johannesburg rests primarily and safely upon the proposition that they could cast a majority vote, and we do not need to call in the merits of the property qualification or the question whether the natives have by possibility any rational right to consideration because about sixty years ago they were crowded out of their hunting grounds by the Boers, seeking a country where they could own labor and assert mastery over all others, instead of being second in importance as a people to the English of lands further South.
[Sidenote: The Commerce of the Transvaal]
The Johannesburghers are not merely disfranchised; they are, by a vengeful and grasping minority, excluded from the right to protect themselves in persons and property. It is a great fault in them that they did not arm themselves and march to Pretoria to receive and reinforce the Jameson raiders as deliverers. They are justly punished for this sin of omission. The statistician of the United States Treasury Department says: The gold mines are now the most productive in the world, and have already turned out gold to the value of more than $300,000,000, and, according to the estimate of experts, have still $3,500,000,000 'in sight.' The commerce of the South African Republic, while naturally great because of the large number of people employed by the mining industries, cannot be as accurately stated as that of states or divisions whose imports are all received through a given port or ports. Foreign goods for the South African Republic reach it through several ports--Cape Colony, Natal, Lourenco Marquez, and in smaller quantities from other ports on the coast. The total imports of 1897 are estimated at £21,515,000, of which £17,012,000 were from Great Britain, £2,747,000 from the United States, £1,054,226 from Germany, and the remainder from Belgium, Holland and France."
All this does not help the Boer as a politician. He is devoted to the rule of the minority and the exercise of his will in commanding others, native and foreign, black and white, and trampling them into the place he has assigned them. This he calls liberty, and for that sort of liberty he has a portentous passion that he is absolutely sure is sanctified.
Mr. Howard C. Hillegas, in his book "Oom Paul's People," D. Appleton & Co., holds the Boers to be a nation, and his pages are full of highly colored partiality for their cause. The diamond mines, he says, "have yielded more than four hundred million dollars worth of diamonds since the Free State conceded them to England for less than half a million dollars."
He does not condescend to consider the proposition that if the cession had not been made, the find of diamonds would not have occurred, or if it had, and the Boers undertaken to work the mines, their success would have been small in comparison with the remarkable results produced by the Uitlanders.
Mr. Hillegas in his story of the gold mines sheds light upon the character of the people of the Orange State as well as the Transvaal. He says:
"In 1854, a Dutchman named John Marais, who had a short time before returned from the Australian gold fields, prospected in the Transvaal, and found many evidences of gold. The Boers fearing, that their land would be overrun with gold seekers, paid £500 to Marais and sent him home after extracting a promise that he would not reveal his secret to any one.
"It was not until 1884 that England heard of the presence of gold in South Africa. A man named Fred Stuben, who had spent several years in the country, spread such marvellous reports of the underground wealth of the Transvaal, that only a short time elapsed before hundreds of prospectors and miners left England for South Africa. When the first prospectors discovered auriferous veins of wonderful quality on a farm called Sterkfontein, the gold boom had its birth. It required the lapse of only a short time for the news to reach Europe, America and Australia, and immediately thereafter that vast and widely scattered army of men and women which constantly awaits the announcement of new discoveries of gold was set in motion toward the Randt.
[Sidenote: The First Stamp Mill]
"The Indian, Russian, American and Australian gold fields were deserted, and the steamships and sailing vessels to South Africa were overladen with men and women of all degrees and nationalities. The journey to the Randt was expensive, dangerous and comfortless, but before a year had passed almost 20,000 persons had crossed the deserts and the plains and had settled on claims purchased from the Boers. In December, 1885, the first stamp mill was erected for the purpose of crushing the gneiss rock in which the gold lay hidden. This enterprise marks the real beginning of the gold fields of the Randt, which now yield one-third of the world's total product of the precious metal. The advent of thousands of foreigners was a boon to the Boers, who owned the large farms on which the auriferous veins were located. Options on farms that were of little value a short time before were sold at incredible figures, and the prices paid for small claims would have purchased farms of thousands of acres two years before. * * *
"Owing to the Boer's lack of training and consequent inability to share in the development of the gold fields, the new industry remained almost entirely in the hands of the newcomers, the Uitlanders, and two totally different communities were created in the Republic. The Uitlanders, who, in 1890, numbered about 100,000, lived almost exclusively in Johannesburg, and the suburbs along the Randt. The Boers, having disposed of their farms and lands on the Randt, were obliged to occupy the other parts of the Republic, where they could follow their pastoral and other pursuits."
Elsa Goodwin Green, a lady who volunteered as a nurse and served in the hospital at Pretoria, where forty of Jameson's wounded raiders were cared for, writes of "Raiders and Rebels in South Africa," and says of the gold question:
"In the year 1885 gold was found in the reefs underlying the Witwatersrand (Whitewater's strand). Miners, prospectors and capitalists soon gathered together--drawn by the magnet gold--and a fine town, Johannesburg, sprang rapidly into existence. The progress of this town with its rich reefs--gold-bearing--excited a large amount of curiosity, felt by the world in general.
"With the rapid development of the mining industry and the influx of strangers, a certain amount of friction sprang up between the two races--viz., the Boers and the ever-increasing Uitlander population. A repressive legislation was persevered in, to prevent the still growing majority of newcomers from predominating or participating in affairs of the Republican States.
"This rush of men with capital to the Randt meant undreamt of prosperity to the Boers, who found a ready market for horses, cattle and farm produce. Railways and telegraphic communication further developed the land.
"Though the foreigner and his money were welcome to the Boer, yet he was persistently denied a voice in the government of the community--a vote even in matters most concerning himself--indeed all rights as a citizen. Heavy duties were imposed on the articles most necessary to the development of the mining industry. Monopolies were often unjustly obtained by those having interest with the Government. Concessions were granted only after large consideration to a Government not wholly free from a taint of bribery."
South Africa is not only a land of gold. It is even more famous for its diamonds; and the richest mines in the whole world for these precious stones are located in that country. Some of the most fabulous stories have been told by travelers of their experiences in the early mining days of South Africa, and such books as "King Solomon's Mines," and others have served to awaken a lively interest and induce adventurous spirits to go to that land.
[Sidenote: Diamonds for Toys]
The use the Boers had for diamonds when they took their wagons and oxen and moved north from Cape Colony 700 miles, to find a country where they could subjugate the natives and live in a Paradise of Great Game, was to amuse their children with the pretty stones,--certain glittering pebbles that sparkled as the young Boers, without the least comprehension of the prodigality of Nature, rolled on the grass and sand. If it had not been for the revelations of the riches of Africa by travelers from foreign lands, the Boer boys would still have had a monopoly of diamonds for toys, and but a dim consciousness of their bucolic magnificence. Boers are very queer people. Their idea of a next-door neighbor is that he must keep his hut and wagon at least three miles away. A closer approach makes a crowd; the air and the soil become impure, and the Boer is stifled in the midst of his own splendors. He is the most conservative citizen in the world. He estimates his own inherent, individual imperialism so extravagantly, that the rights of men without big wagons with tents on them, and long strings of oxen with long horns, fade into speculative insignificance. The Boers did not believe in diamonds--for they are not decorators of their persons--until they found others making money by mining them, and even then they only took a feeble interest in the work and were willing to rent a few square miles of each of their farms to those who were, with labor and capital, seeking the beautiful crystals. The Boer talent, according to the testimony of their lives, was in the multiplication of cattle, the shooting of wild beasts good to eat, occasional encounters with lions, and hunting parties that pursued the hippopotamus in the marshy lakes. As a matter of military science, they were educated in making forts out of their big wagons to repel the black warriors opposed to invasion by the drivers of horned cattle and dwellers in houses on wheels.
[Sidenote: President Kruger]
President Kruger is a power, because he is representative of his people. He is a great chief for the reason that a big savage becomes a leader and the headman of a tribe on account of his superior strength. In his youth he was the swiftest and longest winded runner and the champion rifleman in his part of the country, and it is the favorite tradition of his admirers that once when a youth he was pursued by a lion, and the brute incontinently ran away when the man of destiny turned upon him and looked him in the eye. His attitude towards gold is a distinction in which those who celebrate his virtues take special pride. It is well known that his capital city, Pretoria, is built on a gold mine, and a few years ago there was a revolutionary proposition made in Mr. Kruger's alleged parliament--even that of opening the neighboring land to prospectors seeking gold! The powerful President crushed out the insidious proposal.
"The Transvaal and the Boers," an interesting volume by William Garrett Fisher, says of the pre-eminence of Mr. Kruger in the official decision settling this matter that the great and good man said, with the wisdom inherited from generations of ancestors who had studied the encyclopedias of Nature:
"Stop and think what you are doing before you open fresh gold fields. Look at Johannesburg, what a nuisance and expense it has been to us! We have enough gold and gold seekers in this country already; for all you know there may be a second Rand at your very feet."
These momentous words in the aid of higher destinies were addressed to the Volksraad, and there was no more countenancing the idea of digging for gold.
[Sidenote: Gold Found in 1854]
In 1854 there was a find of the obnoxious yellow metal in the Boer country, but it was hushed up on the great principle announced with such simple sublimity by the grand old President when the horrors of prosperity broke in upon the contentment of his people and caused the "nuisance" at Johannesburg, where fifty thousand white men rushed in and gave the Boers more trouble to make them "servants of servants" according to the curse of Cain than millions of blacks had done, whose lives were ordered upon even more primitive and economical lines than presented by the secondary rulers of the golden lands.
However, it cannot be denied that from the standpoint of the Boers, the British are not to be tolerated when they assume that they have "certain inalienable rights," for they make themselves an abomination, obstreperous in the preliminaries of their educational reduction to the condition of the serfs of semi-barbarians. The objection undoubtedly is good against the British that they are fond of lands where gold is found, and they obstinately support the yellow metal as the standard of value, notwithstanding that they are by their ubiquitous commerce and enduring egotism forcing the yellow metal as the true standard upon the great nations of the earth.
Diamonds do not play the great part in the forces that form governments and shape the destinies of peoples in South Africa or elsewhere, that gold does. While the precious stone is useful in the arts, excellent as a tool, and adorns beauty with the beautiful in the highest degree, it does not find its way diffusively into the service of the people generally. Diamonds are not a popular production. They are for a class and not for the mass. The four hundred million dollars worth of glittering stones picked up and dug up in South Africa within a few years, have not affected the measure of value. The finding of gold in such quantities as to over-pass largely and permanently the consumption of it, affects the money standard by which is valued all that the fields and shops produce; that is, all that comes of perseverance in toil that is productive.
[Sidenote: Diamonds of not so great importance is Gold]
Mines of diamonds attract labor for immediate returns--only as they can be sold for gold or silver, which have functions that make up power in purchasing food and raiment and in construction, the carrying out of enterprise that causes the activities both of capital and labor, putting the two in harmonious relations. Diamonds in Africa have aided commerce, increased exportation and importation, indirectly helping the people at large, but they have not competed with gold in the political potentialities. They are found, when their stories are written, to be rather romantic than historical. Their is a fascination in the relation of the finding of South African diamond mines equal to the charms of fiction. One would have thought the old Dutch settlers should have had special qualifications for seeking and securing and appreciating diamonds as one of the gifts that are gracious, for the African stones have to find the world at large by way of Belgium and Holland, and are not ready to be known to fame until they have been cut in Amsterdam.
[Sidenote: Boyle's Statement]
In Boyle's delightful history "To the Cape for Diamonds," he says of the diamond fields:
"Old Dutch residents of Cape Town appear to have been quite astir upon the matter on several occasions; but as years passed on, the ancient rumor died away. Men had to search back for memories long buried when Governor Woodhouse set the Colony agog by exhibiting the "Hopetown" diamond in 1867. That Bushmen, Corannas and other tribes of low condition used the gem mechanically from immemorial time seems to be quite ascertained. They still remember how their fathers made periodical visits to the rivers of West Griqualand, seeking diamonds to bore their "weighting stones." The rediscovery, however, took place in 1867. At that date a shrewd trader named Niekirk, passing through a country forty miles or so west of Hopetown, saw the children of a Boer called Jacobs playing with pebbles, picked up along the banks of the neighboring Orange. Struck with the appearance of one among their playthings, Niekirk told Vrouw Jacobs that it reminded him of the white shining stones mentioned in the Bible. As he uttered the words, an ostrich-hunter named O'Reilly chanced to pass the doorway of the house. He overheard, entered, and was also impressed. Vague ideas of a diamond--which none of the three had ever seen--passed through their minds. They tried the pebble upon glass, scratching the sash all over, as I have seen it at this day. A bargain was struck. O'Reilly took the stone for sale, and each of the parties present was to share. At Capetown, upon the verdict of Dr. Atherstone, Sir P. E. Woodhouse gave £500 for it. The news spread fast. At the moment of this discovery, there was something exceeding a panic in the colony. Wool, its staple product was at a hopelessly low quotation. A murrain was thinning the sheep. Never had merchants known such a time of anxiety, and no hope was visible. The story of the trader, corroborated by actual inspection of his treasure thus excited more active stir than it would have made at any other time. People began to study every foot of the ground. Then other stones turned up, the most of them bought from natives, in whose hands they had lain for many years, perhaps centuries. In 1868 several were picked up along the banks of the Vaal about Pniel, and then the rush began. But as yet it was mere surface seeking.
[Sidenote: "Star of South Africa"]
Early next year a Hottentot shepherd named Swartzboy, brought to Mr. Gers' store, at the Hook, a gem of eighty-three and a half carats, the "Star of South Africa," wide famed. In Mr. Gers' absence, his shopman did not like to risk the £200 worth of goods demanded. Swartzboy passed on to the farm of that same Niekirk above mentioned. Here he demanded £400 which Niekirk ultimately paid, receiving £12,000 from Messrs. Lilienfeld the same day. The diamond was passed to Cape Town, and all the colony rose. But not for twelve months more did "digging" begin. On January 7, 1870, Captain Rolleston and his party washed out their first diamond at Pniel, on the lands claimed by the Berlin Mission. Within three months, there were five thousand people digging there.
[Sidenote: The Earliest Discoveries]
South African diamond fields henceforth were established; but of such "pockets" as Dutoitspan and New Rush none yet had any inkling. The fields were established as a fact in the colony, but none yet at home. Mr. Harry Emmanuel sent out a professed expert, Mr. Gregory, to report upon them, and his foolish haste in discrediting their wealth caused serious loss to English merchants. The diggers only laughed, and showed each other their glittering prizes. Mr. Coster, of Amsterdam, came out, and he also went back incredulous. But the diggings grew and grew. The necessity of some system of government amongst the crowd became apparent. The Orange Free State claimed jurisdiction over the larger space, and the Transvaal Republic exercised rights over the remainder. Practically there was no government at all.
The earliest report, in writing of discovery, is a letter addressed by Mr. Parker to Mr. Webb. However it be, Mr. Parker was not long in acquiring very great influences. All the camp yielded authority to him, and passed the title of President which he affected. He met the chief of the South African Republic upon such easy terms of equality that the latter hastily fled to realms where his supremacy was uncontested.
[Sidenote: The First Dry Diggings]
In December, 1870, the dry diggings first were heard of. Hitherto the search for diamonds had been only carried on by river banks, and the gems discovered there had been washed down in ancient floods from some kopje, or dry mine now perhaps worn away. In two years of such digging in a score of places, the yield had not been greater than 300,000 pounds, as Mr. Webb computed. This is indeed an astonishing figure, all circumstances considered, but the time draws near when the same amount will be returned as the monthly average in Custom House reports at Cape Town. In December then, it was whispered that the children of Dutoit, a Boer living at Dorsfontein--so well known by the name of Dutoitspan--were in the habit of picking up diamonds on their father's farm. To those who believed the rumor, it was evident that diamond digging was henceforth to enter on a novel phase. The gem would be sought in the bed where nature created it. But few believed--not till the end of January did the crowd put faith. About that time the farm was "rushed," an expressive word, though sinister to the ears of a landed proprietor nowadays. It signifies that diggers swarmed to the spot in such throngs as to render merely foolish any resistance a proprietor might meditate. But the simple Boer who owned Dutoitspan never dreamed of such a thing. He only sat in, staring, amazed at the endless train of carts and wagons and foot travelers that filed past him.
[Sidenote: Conditions Under Which Diamonds are Found]
Diamonds in South Africa are found in a limy, chalky grit, bound together in smaller or larger lumps, from the measure of a foot ball to that of a pea. The grit is very dry and of considerable hardness, so that a heap of it looks like shingle on the sorting board. I do not understand that the diamond is found under those conditions anywhere else. It is discovered in a limy stratum at the Brazils, I find, but rarely, and always waterworn. The river beds are the treasure houses there. In India, for the most part, it seems to have been the same case; though at one large field, five days' journey from Golconda, the diamonds were hooked out from crevices of the rock. "In the neighborhood of the mines," says Tavernier, "the earth is sandy, covered with rocks and thickets; something like the environs of Fontainebleau. In these rocks there are many veins, sometimes half a finger wide, and sometimes double of this. The miners have short iron instruments, hooked at the end, which they thrust into the veins, and so drag out the sand or earth collected there. This earth they load into convenient vessels, and therein are the diamonds found. No one reading this description can doubt that the jewels were lodged in the crevices by water power."
The Vaal and the Orange Rivers, the Mod and the Riet, all contain diamonds, waterworn for the most part. Hundreds or thousands of years have these lain grinding mid the pebbles, brought, I should take it, from some diamond kopjes, washed away and vanished which stood beside the stream. There is not the mark of water on a single stone at the dry diggings.
The foremost quality of the Cape diamond which attracts attention is its freedom from the coat or skin which wraps the stone [Transcriber's note: end of chapter?]