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ment. Large gangs are supervised by narrow inclined tramways, each conveying single Europeans, who strongly exemplify a load of earth and conducted by a Kaffir the moral influence of race. Instant,
Instant, shouting out warnings. In a short time cheerful, unquestioning obedience is the I am streaming with perspiration, soaking rule : occasionally a rough hustle, or a with roof-drippings, splashed from head smack with the palm of the hand, is be to foot with grease and mud, and in my stowed on the laggard or the careless ; bedraggled miner's costume present an but when justly administered, this is never aspect compared with which that of a resented, and a careful observation of the Whitechapel dog-fancier would be refined demeanor and friendly verbal intercourse and respectable. But at Kimberley, both between superintendents and laborers above and below ground, Englishmen are failed to reveal to me any signs of babitual wont to put their hand to the plough, bodily tyranny. Without doubt, out wisely resolved to perform their work thorbursts of the white man's brutality occa- oughly, and regardless of the externals of sionally occur. During my stay at Kim- their normal social status ; and here I find berley a European was tried for having many a better man than myself similarly caused by violence the death of a native, transformed. I speak a word or two to and after a fair trial was acquitted. Yet, some Europeans who are heads of gangs, on the whole, there is no reason to be- and whose appearance would justify atlieve that our rule is characterized by tributing to them the minds and manners cruelty, and an air of happy contentinent of bargees : they respond with the timbre was generally prevalent.
of voice and the diction of highly eduQuitting the enlarged level at the bot- cated gentlemen. I tentatively lead up to tom of the shaft, I grope through one of their antecedents, and I discover that the low radiating tunnels, which twist many of the speakers are members of about in a fashion reminding me of the well known English county families, and catacombs of Rome. Diamond-mines ar had been formerly residents of well-known free froin most of the dangers associated English country homes, but that through with other subterraneous workings. There stress of circumstances and the temptais no rush of fire-damp, and no wire-gauze tion of the De Beers payment of a guinea is needed for the unprotected candles ; no a-day, they are now bravely working as deadly emanations of gas, no sudden over- weekly laborers. One of the head offiwhelming of water, and no falling in of cials told me of a tallyman who was ocroofs-shoring-up being only needed to a cupying the intervals of counting trucks very limited extent. Almost the only by reading, and to whom he remarked in fatal accident of magnitude recorded in a friendly manner, “A novel makes a the annals of these mines occurred three pleasant change down here." years ago, when some timber caught fire, but this is not a novel,'' said the reader, and over three hundred imprisoned na- holding out for inspection an elaborate tives were choked to death. The ruling treatise on conic sections. Then he expassion for gain then proved strong up to plained that he had been a university man, the last : many bodies were found in at- had taken his degree, and had subsetitudes which showed that their dying quently adopted the profession of civil engasps had been expended in efforts to gineer, but that owing to family misforplunder their comrades of the little leather tunes and poverty, he was now glad to purses which most of them wear sus- accept the remunerative employment of pended round the waist. An explorer of tallyman in a Kimberley mine. the labyrinth must be all eyes and ears. At the extremity of one of the tunnels The intense darkness seems to be aug was an enlarged chamber where receptamented by the alternate glimmer of our cles were being drilled for explosive spluttering naked candles, and the fierce charges destined to break through some glare of an occasional electric light : at unusually obdurate rock, and here I was one time I stumble ankle-deep into a enabled to take leisurely note of further churned-up slough of despond; at an- details concerning the Kaffir workmen. other I have to exercise the utmost activ- My questions were translated into native ity to avoid being annihilated by the pidgin" Kaffir, a jargon compounded of trucks, which rush, with deafening rever the numerous dialects of the various tribes. berations and at railway speed, along the The men seemed cheerful and bright after
“ Yes ;
a fashion, but their replies Jacked intelli- by the heavy breathing of the native workgence, and betrayed a low order of intel- men, and after a few seconds by the scraplect. I must however, in justice, premise ing of lucifer-matches for relighting our that this particular group was composed candles. Nobody seemed in the least disof the most inferior specimens of natives. composed, and the answer to my aweFor instance, I found that 9 or 10 com- stricken inquiry was, " Oh, nothing at prised their highest familiar notation ; 15 all ; only dynamite blasting in an adjacent and upward puzzled them ; higher figures chamber.” I afterward found that these could only be expressed by a clumsy peri- explosions were of frequent occurrence ; phrasis ; while 200 or 300 was quite be- but on each occasion, to resist the impulse yond their realization, and was vaguely of a startled jump taxed the strongest conceived as "a very great number." nerves. “How old are you ?" I inquired of one ; Let us turn our attention from the perbut the overseer explained that none of sonal to the material for which thousands them have the least idea of their own of human beings in this district are toiling ages : their sole landmarks are certain im- day and night about 800 feet below portant events which befell their tribes, ground. The diamondiferous earth, losuch as some particular war, a great fam- cally termed the.“ blue,” is reached at a ine, a general drought or cattle-sickness. varying depth, and is found in a hardened “ Only last week,” he added, “a Kaffir but friable condition. It is detached with being asked a similar question, and reply- comparative ease, and the process of filling in total ignorance, a European inter- ing trucks, each of which holds 1600 lb., posed — Let me look at your teeth. I is carried on unceasingly, on a very large will soon tell you. Why, you must be scale, and with the utmost rapidity. The 100 at least. The native immediately contents are hauled to the top by powerassembled his fellows around him, and ful steam machinery; and if we follow told them that the Baas (master) had pro- their further destination, the scene changes nounced him 100 years old, in an ecstasy in sudden and wondrous contrast from of pride at the attainment of an age which dark stifling tunnels to bright sunshiny be considered added so much to his dig. farms, where the soil is turned up, and nity.” One Kaffir rejoiced in a snake- watered and harrowed, and vivified by skin charm round his neck ; another wore the action of wind and sin, and where a string—his sole article of vesture-tied the resulting crop is-diamonds. On to his thigh, whence depended a small reaching the surface the “ blue” is tilted leather pocket containing five or six shil- into railway wagons, and by means of lings—a large sum for a wild native—and divergent lines of rails and wire-ropes, is his working ticket. The only drinks al- bauled in vast masses into the adjacent lowed are tea, coffee, or water ; and I was open country, where it is distributed over struck with the simple and clever device the flat to a depth of 21 feet. The extenfor a constantly cool supply of the last, by sive area so occupied is protected by means of common bags of coarse canvas, barbed-wire fencing 10 feet high, and is which, when soaked, became sufficiently guarded by patrols both by day and by impermeable to retain the bulk of the night. The effects of the weather cause fluid, but sufficiently porons to admit of a the friable lamps to disintegrate still furcontinual oozing and icy evaporation. ther, the process is aided by alternate bar
While we were casually conversing, rowing and watering, and in about six I was startled by a terrific roar, followed months all but the most obdurate fragby a reverberation and quivering of the ments, which are left for further treatment walls and arches as though convulsed by varying from three months to a year, are an carthquake, and by a violent rush of reduced to a size which admits of their wind which instantly extinguished every being subjected to the washing-machines. light in the vicinity. “Doubtless a hide- Trains of carts convey the harvest to inaous catastrophe,'' I reflected : “ some chinery sheds, where it is subjected to portion of the mine has fallen in ; we are processes which in corn would be analimprisoned like rats in a trap, and shall ogous to threshing, winnowing, and siftfeed on each other's carcasses until re. ing. Roughly described, an endless chain leased by a lingering death.” Profound supporting large pans carries the diamondsilence in the pitch-darkness, only broken earth up to a platform, and thence pitches
it, automatically, into cisterns of water; and so on to the water in No. 1 pan. revolving metal arms stir and break up the Herė, too, the water vexedly throbs up, mass; the muddy liquid flows away, and squirts through the perforated plate, husthe solid residue passes over a succession tles the layer of buckshot, and thereby of large vibrating sieves with different stirs up the superincumbent diamondifersized meshes, thus effecting a separation ous layer. But the irritated fluid rapidly into four sizes. The largest is composed regains its composure, is followed by the of pebbles somewhat smaller than walnuts, buckshot in a great hurry, then by the is turned over by searchers on the chance heavier particles among which are the that it may contain some unusually large diamonds, while on the top of all leisurely diamonds, and is then carted away as rub. reposes the lightest useless residue which bish. I may remark that the amount of has been successfully eliminated. I esti. débris from various sources is so consider- mated the number of these pulsations at able that its disposal is somewhat of a 110 per minute. Now stop the machine ; puzzle, and is the origin of gigantic earth- let all the water drain off the zinc plate ; mounds in various parts of the country, remove the thick top layer, which is worth. and that the superficial crater of one of less, and then gather together the deposit the mines, the "Kimberley," is marked spread over the buckshot, and to which by the spontaneous, never-ending com- all the diamond have fled.] bustion of waste shale. The other three The name “pulsator” is very approprisizes are subjected to a process devised at ately bestowed on this clever piece of mechKimberley, and absolutely charming anism. Gently placing my hand on the through its efficiency, simplicity, and in- top of the mass being treated, I am startled genuity. Without illustrations, a com- by a
com- by a sensation of lifelike throbbing plete description of this " pulsator," as it throughout the whole of the substance is called, would be impracticable, but the precisely such as one might suppose the following statement may serve to explain throbbing of the femoral artery of an eleits general principle :*
phant in a raging fever.. For the sake of [Be it remembered that the diamond- simplicity I have omitted two or three iferous mass is made up of substances of ingenious little details. For instance, the different specific gravity, whereof the size of the stirabout buckshot varies in greater part, which consists of natural proportion to that of the component parsoil, mica, and other components, is the ticles of the stuff to be “pulsated," but lightest ; while the small residue, consist- each machine acts with such unerring ing of garnets, “olivine," iron pyrites, fidelity that never by any chance is a diaand diamonds, are much heavier. We mond allowed to loiter in the top rubbishmust also bear in mind that the property layer. “Here,” said my guide, picking of a fluid is to transmit a pressure applied out a tiny white pebble, is a 1}-carat to it in every direction, irrespective of stone, worth about £2 in its present condistance, area, bulk, etc. Now imagine a dition," and he flicked it away as careNo. 1 pan half filled with water, and just lessly as though shooting a pea into a pigabove the fluid a fixed zinc perforated tub.” “I congratulate your Company on plate. The plate is covered with a layer its atiluence," I remarked with would be of buckshot, and above the buckshot is irony, “ since it can afford thus to throw some of the sifted earth in which the £2 into the dirt.” “You are mistaken,' diamonds are lurking. The apparatus is was the rejoinder ; that diamond will completed by an adjacent open No. 2 pan inevitably be brought to light again. To of water, which cominunicates with No. test the accuracy of our working, we are 1 by a broad tube. Set the machinery at wont constantly to throw marked diamonds work.
A large flap of wood bestows a into the pulsating-pan, and we never fail smart box on the ear-speaking in hyper- to recover them.” bolical language on the water-surface of On the assumption—which is generally No. 2 pan ; the fluid quivers with indig. received as approximately accurate-that nation, transmits its quivering downward, the previous processes of elimination have then through the broad connecting-tube, reduced the original bulk contained in a
truck to its one-hundredth part, the pro* The reader who hates explanations can
verbial difficulty of finding a needle in a skip the part between the brackets.
bottle of hay is applicable here, and henceNew SERIES - VOL. LIV., No.
forth the diamond-charged residue is scru• discovery that I am shadowed prompts me tinized almost particle by particle. The
The to be less ready to trickle handfuls of seeking or sorting” house consists of a diamonds through my fingers, and to tuck Jong hut, with tables so disposed as to be up my cuffs ostentatiously, to disarm sussearchingly illuminated by the rays of picion that I may be exercising a little the sun.
Here are assembled, in com- legerdemain. paratively noiseless activity, a multi After the English sorters have secured tude of black convicts, with a sprinkling the greater part of the contained treasure of white sorters. A Kaffir half fills a com — have, as it were, picked the plums out mon hand-sieve with the precious mate- of the pudding—the débris is passed on rial, pours some water over it, swirls it to the native convicts for the discovery of about with a peculiar jerk which tends to the casually remaining currants. They send the heavier diamonds down to the turn the stuff over twice, and their findbottom, and then with a bump empties ings are dropped into boxes with padlocked the sieve upside down in front of a Euro
One which I examined contained pean. Most of the diamonds present ap- nine or ten seed-stones, as the result of pear on the reversed surface of the topsy- five or six hours' work; but their total turvied heap ; but numerous stragglers are value was reckoned at about £50. The also found by turning over seriutim, with a prisoners receive a special money reward bricklayer's sinall trowel, the bright pretty in proportion to their success, amounting, pile of olivine (a species of jade), garnets as far as I remember, to 14d. per carat. (false), non-magnetic iron, and diamonds, It is manifest that without soine such inwhich, slightly dripping to aid selection, ducement they would scamp their investiglitters in the sun like a child's box of gation. beads. Each searcher is supplied with a For diamond labor the Company hires common little tin box, into which he from Government sixty-five Kaffir condrops his findings. I peer into one of victs, of whose maintenance it bears the them taken haphazard : it contains about entire expense, and whose condition in a dozen small stones, representing the re- the prison, which I subsequently inspected, sults of one man's searching for three or might almost be called enviable. They four hours, and is approximately equiva- are grouped together by tribes ; the sepalent to the value of £1600. The monot- rate and silent system is ignored ; they ony of investigation naturally brings about are well and warmly housed ; an occaa tendency to become careless ; and in sional wback from the warders habitually order to keep attention on the full stretch, constitutes their punishments ; and their variety is afforded by frequently changing food comprises, together with other allowthe sorters to different-sized siftings ; so ances, the enormous daily meat-ration of that at one spell the prizes to be discov- 1 lb., plus a large supply of bread. The ered consist of stones no larger than pep- traditional rollicking " life on the ocean percorns, while at another they are as big wave” dwindles into dulness compared as hazel-nuts. The facilities for theft by with a “life in a convict-yard" at KimEuropean workers are obvious, inasmuch berley. They are every night searched to as searching of their persons—as in the the very skin to prevent them pilfering case of natives, to be hereafter described diamonds. -is out of the question ; and there is no Thus we have followed the stages of doubt that the Company is consequently mining, farining, washing, sifting, searchsubjected to heavy losses, which some ex- ing, and finding, during which diamonds perts estimate as being as high as 10 per have been discovered in small numbers, cent-i.e., £10 worth is stolen out of but generally of exceptional size, in the every
£100 worth discovered. Numerous mine, a few more in the “ blue” exposed placards forbid visitors to handle the gravel. in the open fields, but by far the greater ** How do you know," I inquire, that number in the sorting-houses. Next, the I, a perfect stranger to you, have not al scene reverts to the rooms in the De Beers ready secreted two or three diamonds un- office, where all the stones are sent for der my tongue or up my sleeve ?” “No sale. Considering the vast treasure it fear," is the smiling reply ; “unknown contains, the building is of a flimsy nato yourself, you are being carefully and ture, with little provision against fire or incessantly watched." And this startling thieves beyond one or two safes, and a
few loaded revolvers on the table, ready high as 60 per cent of their value, and to be snatched up for instant use. Mr. the loss of weight incurred thereby freJoseph, we may assume, is still arguing quently amounts to two-thirds of their the question of £26,000 or £26,400 be- original carats. Among the curiosities of fore one parcel ; but on another adjacent the collection are fancy stones of queer table are spread out other diamonds worth shapes and colors-deep yellow, dark about £60,000 in their rough state.
their rough state. purple, and prismatic shades. But all These are arranged in about eight rows, diamonds-good, bad, and indifferenteach containing seven or eight little heaps, are transmitted to Europe at the present and, moreover, so disposed as to be gradu- rate of 40,000 or 50,000 carats weekly, ated both according to color, from white and ultimately find their way into the to darkish yellow—and to size, from pin's hands of the Amsterdam cutters. * heads to nutmegs. A large proportion By degrees the De Beers Company has are characterized by a curious mathemati- bought up the four principal mines in the cal regularity of shape-perfect octahe- district, which are included in the limited drons being the most frequent, with occa space of four square miles, and comprise sional dodecahedrons ; but it is out of the the Kimberley, area 31 acres ; Du Toits, question to muster up any admiration for 35 acres ; Bultfontein, 27 acres ; while them in their present condition. They the De Beers proper, the most valuable of have been cleaned by immersion in a solu- all, spreads over 181 acres. In addition, tion of boiling water and acid ; yet they it has a large proprietorship in Brazilian still resemble bits of common dull glass, mines. The directors therefore strenuand can only be rendered interesting by a ously insist, with every appearance of peremptory demand on prophetic imagina- sound reasoning, that the purchase of tion. Even a 400-carat diamond, found their shares should not be regarded as a the previons day, marking an era in the speculation like gold-mine property, but De Beers discoveries, and which is now as a safe and permanent investment. produced out of an old tin box easily to They claim that, being the chief diamondbe prized open by a schoolboy with his producers in the world, they can so reguknife, cannot produce a vestige of enthu- late the issues of stones to the market that siasm among the Company, although it they can maintain a steadily uniform nakes a stir among the outside public. price, and that their unworked “ blue," It is a perfect octahedron of a distinctly even at the present level, will suffice for yellow color, about the size of a par many years' harvest on the existing scale. tridge's egg, and even when cut will be of But as yet the bottom has not been a weight far in excess of the Koh-i-noor. plumbed, and the deeper the shaft the Though of very high value, it can never richer the produce. I may mention the become of worldwide repute, inasmuch theory, which, however crude, is not enas it is not of the first water. Indeed tirely withont verisimilitude, that the diathere is reason to surmise that only a mi mondiferous material has been thrust up nority of the Kimberley findings are brill- by igneous agency from immense proiants, and that all such are absorbed into fundity through a superincumbent mass ; the Brazilian diamonds which constitute that the same agent had long ago crystalfamily jewelry handed down as heirlooms lized the diamonds; and that if we could of great value. “How can you distin- dig down to that crust we should find the guish true from false diamonds ?” I ask. precious stones sticking to the roof like
By common-sense,” is the contemptu- pieces of suet in a pudding. Nor is it ous reply of experts so trained by long argued ---can there be the smallest doubt! experience that they jump at accurate con- -after such long and extensive experience, clusions without being able to trace the as to the uniform average richness of the process thereof. It was pointed out, be- earth. For instance, the accepted estisides, that by crackling large stones to- mate that one De Beers truck-load will gether in the hand the noise produced is produce 1} carat is useful and true in theof a peculiar sharp grating sound. Ad- ory only, but that a thousand loads will mirable ! only unfortunately few of us possess enough large diamonds to enable us to
* The value of the diamonds produced from carry out the experiment. The expense the four principal Kimberley mines in 1887 of cutting and polishing is estimated as was £4,033,332.