To my Mother at Home in England.
I wrote this Diary, day by day, with no idea of ever publishing it. Now that I am led to change my plan, to her I dedicate this book.
Kimberley, March 6th, 1900.
E. O. A.
Kimberley is the second largest town in Cape Colony, and is the largest diamond-mining centre in the world. It came into existence in 1870 with the discovery of diamonds, and, including its suburbs of Kenilworth, Beaconsfield, and Wesselton, has now a population of about forty thousand, of whom about twenty-five thousand are whites. The three principal mines—Kimberley, De Beers, and Wesselton—are worked by the De Beers Consolidated Mines, Limited. This immense Company, of which Mr. Rhodes is the chairman, has a capital of nearly four millions, pays well over a million a year in wages, and turns out ten thousand pounds' worth of rough diamonds every working day. All Kimberley makes its living directly or indirectly from the Company, and for all practical purposes Kimberley and the Company are one. The town is six hundred and forty-seven miles by rail from Cape Town, and four hundred and eighty-five from Port Elizabeth, and there is no English town nearer than the last-named place. The Cape Town to Bulawayo line passes through the town; but from the Orange River (seventy-seven miles south of Kimberley) it runs for quite four hundred miles close to the Orange Free State and Transvaal borders—never more than ten miles, often only two or three, away from them. Kimberley itself is about four miles from the border. From its isolated position it could, therefore, be cut off with the greatest ease, and only relieved with the greatest difficulty, whilst the chance of looting its good shops and well-furnished private houses must have had an irresistible attraction for the pious Boer and his still more pious vrouw.