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Full text of "The diamond diggings of South Africa. A personal and practical account"

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THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS 



OF 



SOUTH AFRICA. 



A PERSONAL AND PRACTICAL ACCOUNT. 



i:v 



^OHA R T, E S A :' ' P^ YTON, 



SAROELLE" op "THE FIELD.' 



WITH A BRIEF NOTICE OF THE NEW 



SBffi&P^ 



LONDON: 

HOEACE COX, 346, STRAND, 

1872. 




JBH-241939 



Eight of translation and reproduction reserved. 



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LONDON : 



PRINTED BY IIORAOK COX, 346, STRAND. W.C 






mm 



INTRODUCTION. 



The wonderful discoveries of the year 1871, far surpassing in 
richness everything that had gone before, and proving the South 
African Diggings to be no risky speculation, no exaggerated 
humbug, but a source of great profit— nay, often of actual 
wealth., to industrious and persevering diggers— have naturally 
caused (not only in the Cape Colony, but in Europe, Australia, 
and America) an all-pervading interest in these Fields, and a 
constantly increasing demand for reliable information. 

To meet this demand, the author has compiled from personal 
experience a book which will give a detailed and reliable account 
of the condition of the various digging camps, up to the very 
latest dates, of routes thither, and of all expenses connected 
with the enterprise ; will enable any who are hesitating at once 
to decide whether to migrate thither or not ; will put faithfully 
before the friends of men out there the actual advantages and 
disadvantages, hardships and comforts, cares and pleasures, of a 
digger's life; and will tell the general public "all about the 
diggings," and he ventures to hope, amuse them with " Sketches 
of Life and Character on the Fields." 

Before parting from this little book, the writing of which has 
whilecl away so many of the tedious hours of convalescence, the 
author would now earnestly reiterate— to any for whom the life 
herein described may have enticing charms—that advice which 
he gave in the commencement of his diary from the Fields. 

Let no one give up a fixed income at home, however moderate 
(so that it be sufficient to live upon) for the vicissitudes and 






IV INTRODUCTION. 

hardships of a digger's life. But let any young, active, strong, 
" smart," and above all steady, man with a few hundreds to spare, 
start for " West Griqualand ' as soon as he likes, following the 
instructions given in the ensuing pages, and I do not think he 
will be disappointed. 

Note to Map. 

This is only a sketch-map, drawn with approximate accuracy, 
to aid in the comparison of the different routes from the sea- 
coast to the Fields, and the principal stopping places. The only 
rivers that are here represented with accuracy are those in the 
immediate vicinity of the Fields, viz., the Vaal, Orange, Modder, 
Riet. and Hart. There are numerous rivers in the lower part of 
the colony which are not shown in this map. 

The red lines indicate the postal routes, which are generally 
also followed by the passenger-waggons. 



f 



CONTENTS. 



PART I. 



General Account of the Fields. 
Chap. I. Early History of the Fields 



page I 



II. The Riverside Diggings and How to Work there.. 

III. The Dry Diggings 

IV. Colesberg Kopje ... 

V. Climate, Weather, and Health 

VI. Sport in the Neighbourhood of the Fields 

VII. Outfit and Working Expenses 

VIII. Professions, Trades, and other Ways of Making 
Money on the Fields ... 

IX. Annexation of the Fields... 

X. Diamonds and Prospectin 



ig 



PART II. 

EOUTES TO THE FlELDS. 

Chap. I. Comparison of the different Routes 

II. Diary on board SS. " Roman," Southampton to 
Cape Town 

III. Port Elizabeth to Du Toit's Pan by Bullock 

Waggon 

IV. Pniel to Cape Town by Inland Transport Com- 

pany's Horse Waggon ... 

V. Diary on board SS. " Roman," Cape Town to 
Southampton ... 



13 
22 

29 

3«s 
42 

47 
51 

57 



61 



66 



77 

85 
1)5 



i 5< ! 



m 



2 



v- 



1 



VI 



CONTENTS. 



PART III. 

Sketches of Life and Character on the Fields. 
Chap. I. Diamond Diggers ... ... ... ... page 103 



II. Diamond Buyers and Diamond Brokers ... 

III. Hotel-keepers, Storekeepers, and Auctioneers 

IV. Our Coloured Labourers ... 
V. Tent Life. 

VI. Food, Water, and Wood ... 

VII. Our Police 

VIII. Amusements on the Fields 

IX. A Battle Prevented 

X. A Digger's Holiday, and Sport on the Modder 

XL Fishing in the Vaal 

XII. A Dinner under Difficulties at Mrs. Brown's 

XIII. Churches and Hospitals ... 



116 
127 
137 
147 
152 
156 
161 
165 
169 
178 
182 
186 



PART IV. 

My Diary at the Dry Diggings 



... 188 



PART V. 

The Gold Fields. 
Chap. I. The Tatin 236 

II. The Transvaal or Leydenburg, newly-discovered 



Gold Fields 
III. Eoutes to the Gold Fields 



... 237 
... 240 



i i 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



FART I. 

GENERAL ACCOUNT OF THE FIELDS. 



CHAPTER I. 

EARLY HISTORY OF THE FIELDS. 

The first diamond discovered in South Africa is said to have 
been found in the Hope Town Division, Cape Colony (near the 
Orange River), in the year 1867, by one of the children of a 
Boer, or Dutch farmer, named Jacobs. For some time it was 
merely considered as a pretty pebble, and used as a plaything, 
no one having any idea of its value. Another Boer, named 
Schalk van Niekerk, calling on Jacobs and seeing the diamond, 
was struck by its lustre and weight. He offered to purchase it 
from Mrs. Jacobs, but it is said that the worthy vrouiv laughed at 
the idea of selling a stone, and let him have it for nothing. The 
stone next passed into the hands of a Mr. O'Reilly, and was taken 
by him to Hope Town, where the idea of its being a diamond met 
with such ridicule that he was very near throwing it away. He 
took it, however, on to Colesberg, and from thence it was for- 
warded for the inspection of a scientific gentleman, Dr. Ather- 
stone, of Graham's Town, who at once pronounced it a veritable 
diamond. Its weight was 21 carats odd, and I believe it was 
sold to Sir P. E. Wodehouse, the then Governor, for 500/. 

Another diamond was soon afterwards found on a farm called 
"IPaarde Kloof," on the Orange River, also in the Hope Town 
Division. It was a beautiful stone, weighing over 8 carats. 

B 



2 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

After these discoveries, many people, both natives and Euro- 
peans, of course began to search superficially in the Hope Town 
Division and neighbouring districts, notably along the banks of 
the now world-famous Vaal Eiver, and a few of the searchers 
were rewarded with fine gems. The first famous diamond, called 
the "Star of South Africa," appears to have been found, or at 
any rate to have first come into the possession of a white man, 
early in 1869. The first known owner of this gem, which 
weighed 83^ carats, and will, it is believed, cut into a brilliant 
of the finest class, was a Kafir witch-doctor, or sorcerer. This 
savage conjuror was with some difficulty induced to sell it to the 
same Schalk van Niekerk, who was the quasi-discoverer of the 
first South African diamond. The " Star of South Africa," in 
the rough, was of an irregular shape, and about the size of a 
small walnut. After being exhibited at Port Elizabeth and at 
Cape Town, and visited by crowds of people, it was finally 
forwarded to England, where, I believe, it passed into the 
possession of Messrs. Hunt and Eoskell, and was valued at 

25,000/. 

I will now proceed to quote from an account of the Diamond 
Fields published in the " Cape of Good Hope Directory and 
Guide Book," as I am necessarily at a loss for many particulars 
of proceedings prior to my arrival on the Fields in 1871, and 
the said account appears to me to be reliable, being corroborated 
in most material points by what I have heard from older 
diggers. 

News of these discoveries having reached England, Mr. Harry Emanuel, 
a London dealer in diamonds, despatched a Mr. Gregory to South Africa to 
make inquiries as to their reality. This gentleman made an examination 
of the geological features of some parts of the country, and on his return to 
England reported, at first in private and in speeches, but subsequently in a 
paper published in the Geological Magazine that " the whole diamond dis- 
covery in South Africa is an imposture — a bubble scheme." When the 
news of this reached the colony, several gentlemen exposed Mr. Gregory's 
erroneous statements, and none more successfully than W. B. Chalmers, 
Esq., at that time Civil Commissioner and Resident Magistrate of Hope 
Town, who, in a letter to the Journal, gave such particulars of a large 
number of diamonds that had passed through his own hands as to place the 
matter beyond all doubt. 

In the earlier part of 1870 the number of diamonds found was so con- 
siderable that it attracted the attention of the inhabitants of the various 
colonies and republics in South Africa. Gradually a " rush " set in from all 
quarters, and the banks of the Vaal in a few months became covered with 
thousands of busy diggers. 

The extent of the diamondiferous region it is at present impossible to 



I 



I 



EARLY HISTORY OF THE FIELDS. 3 

say, but, so far back as 1870, it was stated by Dr. Shaw, of Colesberg, the 
most competent observer tbat had yet visited the Fields, to be at least one 
thousand square miles in area. The same gentleman, writing in the Cape 
Monthly Magazine of December, 1870, says that it seems to him that every 
day the extent of the Diamond Fields enlarges, and that every week a new 
diamond farm is found in the Free State. The opinion of Dr. Shaw is 
confirmed by less scientific but in other respects equally trustworthy 
observers. The general geological features of the Diamond Fields are said 
by Dr. Shaw to be throughout the whole tract the same. Trap, meta- 
morphic, and conglomerate rocks run through the whole valley of the Vaal. 
The surface soil consists of water-worn pebbles, and extends from both 
banks of the river considerably inland ; in the narrowest part, he says, two 
or three miles. The impression made upon his mind is that the whole 
Vaal region has been subjected to a series of successive disturbances, and 
that the river has played about in different channels, till now on the top of 
"kopjes," and in the hollows, we have deposited the diamondiferous alluvial 
gravel. This gravel consists of nodules of granite, sandstone, basalt, green- 
stone, agates, garnets, garnet spinel, and peridot, and here and there, of 
course at rare intervals, the princely gem itself. The alluvial soil lies, in 
some places, above the calcareous tufa, in other places above the basalt, and 
in many parts above a clayey shale of various colours. Everywhere, as far 
as has been investigated, however, the diamonds are in it alone. (Subse- 
quent discoveries have shown diamonds to be found in a wide range of 
various strata. — Sarcelle.) 

What is the real diamond matrix ? has been asked over and over again 
in the diamondiferous tracts of Brazil and India. They have been found 
imbedded in a micaceous sandstone in Brazil, and in a conglomerate sand- 
stone in India, but neither of these is believed to be the ultimate matrix. It 
may be that a region which has undergone no changes since the secondary 
geological epoch, except those of gradual and uniform denudation, like 
South Africa, may, by ultimate investigation, solve the problem. At all 
ovents, Dr. Shaw does not believe that the diamonds have been carried down 
by the Vaal. The Vaal region, he feels persuaded, has been the theatre of 
diamond formation. The component rocks represented in the water-worn 
pebbles are from the strata and formations of the Vaal — and why not the 
diamonds? Dr. Shaw states that the geology of the Vaal region is alto- 
gether different from the secondary and trappen formations of the colony. 
When the traveller passes through the Free State by Fauresmith, he has 
the tabular mountains and "spitz-kops" (sharp-pointed hills and peaks), 
so common and all-prevailing in South Africa, till he arrives within a few 
hours' distance of the Vaal. A manifest change sets in, and for miles on 
miles there is a luxuriant and undulating plain almost undisturbed by any 
hills. He feels that there is a break in the structure of the country. 
When he comes to the Vaal, an entirely different landscape appears before 
him. The perpetual greenstone porphyries of the colony have vanished, 
and genuine basalt makes its appearance. This basalt he finds protruding 
through conglomerate and amygdaloid trap. Glittering pebbles of every 
form and colour glisten at his feet, and he feels indeed that he is in a new 
region. The Doctor carefully questioned the diggers on the subject of the 
gravelly mass in which the diamonds are found, and, as a matter of course, 
got very variable information. Some prefer the summits of the " kopjes " 
rather than the sides, and this opinion is supported by some show of reason — 

B 2 






v.' 

k 



4 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

as extensive washing by rain and surface water must carry away the accu- 
mulation of gravel from the slopes. But surely the M kloofs " (gullies) 
filled with sand must have under the surface the greater part of the 
alluvium of the sides. There is no attempt made to penetrate through this 
sand to the gravel underneath as yet by the diggers, and, indeed, their 
mining is altogether surface work and mere scraping, to what it ought to 
be. {Nous avons change tout cela. — Sarcelle.) 

In regard to the constituent stones of good diamondiferous gravel, 
satisfactory information cannot be got. Some diggers prefer a light- 
coloured and sparkling gravel, others again are greatly in favour of dark 
pebbly soil. Diggers generally eschew gravel with quartz fragments (not 
water-worn) in it. Rotten ironstone pebbles (basalt) are considered a 
favourable sign. Dr. Shaw is inclined to think that the best indications are 
garnets (what diggers style " rubies ") and peridot, a blue (qy. green ?) 
transparent crystal. The top of the " kopjes," considerably above the 
present water level, are mentioned above as having alluvial soil, consisting 
of thoroughly worn and rounded pebbles. A casual observer will quickly 
perceive that there have been upheavals, and probably successive, every- 
where. 

The basalt of the summit has wedge-shaped crevices, wide at the top 
and narrowing downwards. Forming at one time the bottom of the river, 
the " kopjes " have been raised and the alluvial gravel has fallen into the 
interstices to some extent, the greater part remaining as a cover to the 
" kopjes," or rather appearing now as a sort of matrix, in which the angular 
blocks of basalt are imbedded. 

Those who wish for a more detailed description of the geology of the 
diamondiferous region, we refer to the series of papers published by Dr. 
Shaw in the first volume of the Cape Monthly Magazine (new series), a 
portion of which was re-published in Nature, a London periodical of great 
eminence. The discovery of diamonds has naturally drawn considerable 
attention to the ownership of the diamond-fields. Heretofore this region 
was in the occupation of various native chiefs, the European population 
thinking it hardly worth owning. 

I liave but little to say, in the present chapter, to supplement 
the above account. The subsequent discoveries of the dry 
diggings, far inland, twenty-five miles away from the Vaal Eiver, 
and the rinding of diamonds at great and varying depths, and in 
very varied strata, are rather calculated to upset some of the 
theories formed above. Equally astonishing and subversive of 
theory have been the strange finds, for which I can vouch, of 
ostrich eggs, entire or more often fragmentary, a human skele- 
ton, portions of an ant-hill, and heads and parts of shanks of nails, 
at considerable depths in claims on the dry diggings. With the 
establishment of Mr. Campbell as British commissioner for Klip 
Drift and all the diggings on the Transvaal or further side of the 
Vaal Eiver, speedily ceased the "Diggers' Mutual Protection 
Society," and the presidency of Mr. Parker. Offences against 
" Diggers' Laws and Eegulations ' were formerly treated with 



• 



EARLY HISTORY OF THE FIELDS. 5 

summary justice, a la Lynch ; parties guilty of theft or other 
crimes which roused the indignation of the diggers being quickly 
tried and sentenced. The general sentence was " to be expelled 
the camp and dragged through the river/' an unpleasant 
operation when we consider the uneven bottom, swift currents, 
and sharp and rugged stones of the Vaal. Another amiable punish- 
ment was "making a spread-eagle," wherein the culprit was tied 
down on the ground to short stakes, arms and legs extended, and 
left for some time to the heat of the sun and the tender mercies 
of flies and other insect tormentors. But, long before I reached 
the Fields, police-courts were established, and diggers had ceased 
to think of taking the law into their own hands. The " cat " 
was in full swing : of this terror of garotters in England, and 
thieves, both white and black, on the diggings, I have more to 
say anon. 

Mr. Parker, the ex-president of the "Diggers' Mutual Pro- 
tection Society," is now flourishing as an hotel-keeper at Du 
Toit's Pan and the Colesberg Kopje. With regard to the rival 
claims of Waterboer and the Free State, and the final adjustment 
of them by the annexation of the greater portion of the 
diamondiferous territory to the British Government, and the 
changes consequent thereupon, the reader is referred to a subse- 
quent chapter entitled "Annexation of the Diamond Fields." 

Hard days were those early days for the poor diggers — stores 
few and far between, only the coarsest of food obtainable, none of 
the minor luxuries of life, few even of the necessaries, and very 
inefficient shelter often provided against the inclemency of the 
weather, the chill blasts of winter, and the terrible heats and 
nerve-destroying thunderstorms of the summer. But every- 
thing is changed now. The diggers form a large, flourishing, 
civilised, and orderly community. At the stores literally every- 
thing can be bought ; and are there not hotels and lodging- 
houses, churches, theatres, concerts, balls, aye, and even schools 
too ? And the flag of old England waves proudly over the busy 
camps, and the imperturbable British "bobby " is there, too, by 
this time, reassuring and home-like in aspect, an object of awe to 
the crowds of strangely-clad or un-clad Kaffirs and Hottentots 
by whom he is surrounded. 

At the early period spoken of above, high prices were paid for 
diamonds by the great ^Toritz Unger, and the few other diamond 
merchants whom the fame of the great discoveries had attracted 
to the banks of the Vaal. No one appeared to have an 






• 



II 

I] 



6 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

inkling then of the great depreciation of "off-coloured" or 
yellow stones in the European markets, which was to cause 
some of the early buyers so much loss, and many an apparently 
lucky finder so much disappointment. Can no market be found 
for these splendid gems, many of which, though yellow, are of 
wondrous purity and lustre ? 

It is a question which often occupies the minds of diggers and 
of buyers too, and which has received no satisfactory solution as 
yet. So much for the early discoveries ; and now let us carefully 
review all the principal diggings, both on the riverside and in- 
land, as they were during nearly the whole of 1871. 



I 



THE EIVERSIDE DIGGINGS. AND HOW TO WORK THERE. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE RIVERSIDE DIGGINGS, AND HOW TO WORK THERE. 

The banks of the Vaal River, which for a long time after the 
first discoveries gave its name to the South African Diamond 
Fields, have been found to be, in many places, extremely rich in 
diamonds, and most of the early diggers at Pniel, Klip Drift, and 
neighbouring places, were well rewarded for their toil. But the 
"dry diggings," lying about twenty-five miles away from the Vaal 
River, have been found, during the year 1871, to be so much more 
uniformly remunerative than those on the banks of the river, that 
the latter have become by this time comparatively deserted. 
though some of the diggers who have remained at the different 
waterside camps do still occasionally turn out something good, 
and the diamonds found by the riverside are, as a rule, of slightly 
better quality than those from the " dry diggings." During a 
few days' stay I made at Pniel, in November, 1871, a diamond 
of 34^ carats was found there by a digger who had been long 
unsuccessful, and several smaller stones by other parties. But 
the " finds " are so small on the average, as compared with the 
wonderful riches daily yielded by the dry diggings, and the in- 
stances of long-continued ill-luck are so sadly numerous, that I 
would not advise our " new chums " to pitch their tents on the 
banks of the Vaal. True, the temptations to do so are great. 
The pleasant sight and sound of running water, the facilities for 
bathing, boating, and fishing, the abundance of splendid trees, 
affording shade and firewood, and the comparative absence of 
dust, make a camp on the river seem a perfect elysium, when 
contrasted with the dry, barren, treeless waste which surrounds 
the dry diggings. But I think there is little doubt that the 
latter will continue to prove much the richest, and will, 
therefore, attract by far the largest proportion of the digging 
population of the future. 

I will, however, endeavour to give some little account of the 
different riverside camps, premising that I have not worked there 
myself, and can only speak from the experience of others. Pniel 
and Klip Drift form the centre of the river diggings, and, some 









1 1 



< ' 



8 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

think, the future commercial centre of the Diamond Fields. 
Pniel is a very straggling little town, or rather village, situated 
on the brow and slope of a hill overlooking the Vaal River, which 
is here some two hundred yards broad. The buildings, which 
are very scattered, are mostly of wood or galvanised iron, with 
one or two more solid erections of brick. There are stores 
where literally everything can be bought, a church, and a most 
comfortable hotel, thoroughly well kept by Mr. James Jardine, 
the agent of the Inland Transport Company's passenger carts. 
The number of travellers passing through Pniel is very large, so 
this hotel is always full, and new arrivals will not only often find 
that they cannot get a bed, but may be very glad to get a 
" shake- down ' on the floor. Between the town and the river, 
on the slope of the hill or M kopje," are the " claims." They 
are big holes, of various sizes and depths, full of large ironstone 
boulders, the necessarv removal of which makes the work here 
very heavy, slow, and expensive. Among these boulders is the 
gravel in which the diamonds are found. This gravel is generally 
washed, to free it from sand and dirt, at the riverside, otherwise 
water must be brought up from the river to wash it. Generally, 
the "'cradle" is erected close to the edge of the water. In 
either case, the cost of a cart, with a couple of mules or oxen, 
must be added to the ordinary expenses of a digger's outfit. 
When a cartload of gravel or " stuff " has been dug out of the 
claim, it is carted down to the river, and emptied into a large 
trough made in the ground, with smooth bottom and sides, or 
merely on to a smooth floor. A proper quantity of it is put into 
the "cradle," which is a strong wooden framework, holding two 
or three sieves of perforated iron or zinc, or wire meshing, one 
over the other, the top one having large holes, and the bottom 
one very small ones — the whole framework resting on two strong 
rockers. While the stuff is being rocked in this cradle, one of 
the diggers pours bucketfuls of water into it. The gravel being 
thus thoroughly cleansed by this double process of sifting and 
washing, the large stones in the top sieve are hastily glanced over, 
to see if perchance any big diamond be amongst them, and the 
other sieve or sieves are taken out, and the contents emptied on 
to the "sorting-table," which is an ordinary table of deal, with 
or without legs, or a smooth sheet of iron or other inexpensive 
metal. 

At this table, the digger either sits or lies, according as it has 
legs or rests on the ground, and quickly sorts over the stuff with 



i*L 



THE RIVERSIDE DIGGINGS, AND HOW TO WORK THERE. V 

the aid of an iron or wooden scraper. Nine or ten inches of 
ordinary hoop-iron answers very well for this purpose. Diamonds, 
especially those of good quality, show out brilliantly, and can 
very seldom be missed on a sorting-table ; the larger gems, 
indeed, are often found in the sieve, or even in the act of digging. 
Besides diamonds, one or two valuable rubies and sapphires have 
been found on the river-diggings ; garnets are very numerous but 
almost valueless, and the gravel contains immense quantities of 
beautiful agates, also cornelians, jasper, chalcedony, and other 
pretty pebbles, which I am sure might be cut and set in large 
brooches, bracelets, &c, like the Scotch pebbles which at home 
form such an important item in cheap jewellery. Bock crystals 
of pretty shapes, clear and shiny, glitter occasionally among the 
bright and many coloured pebbles, and woefully deceive the "new 
chum." Strong, full-grown Kafirs should be employed for the 
river work, as young boys, though they may be hired much more 
cheaply, often prove unequal to the heavy work among the 
boulders. There are, I think, only between forty and fifty 
claims now being worked at Pniel, and about the same number 
at Klip Drift, a great contrast to the thousands at the dry 
diggings. Klip Drift is just opposite to Pniel, on the slope of a 
hill or kopje. It is reached from Pniel by ferry-boats, which are 
very numerous, and make a pretty good thing of it, charging 6d. 
each way. A little above the ferry is the " pont," an immense 
flat-bottomed decked boat, for the conveyance of waggons and 
carts, with horses, mules, or oxen, when the river is so high 
that the ordinary passage by the " drift," or ford, a few hundred 
yards farther up the river, is not practicable. Klip Drift stands 
in a very favourable situation as the great depot for produce of 
all kinds from the interior of the Transvaal, a fine fertile 
country, growing almost everything, and abounding in large 
game. It is the Transvaal which supplies nearly the whole of 
the Diamond Fields with meal, maize, tobacco, rheims, or pre- 
pared strips of strong hide used as ropes or harness, and many 
other necessaries. The merchants at Klip Drift, besides selling 
all these things, on a very extensive scale, to storekeepers and 
diggers at the different camps, can also often "make a good 
thing of it " by purchasing ivory, ostrich feathers, and valuable 
skins, all of which frequently arrive in large quantities from the 
interior. Here is a slight description of Klip Drift, from the pen 
of the correspondent of the Natal Mercury : — 

Klip-Drift is certainly, in many respects, a most English-looking little 



, 






i. 



• 






if 



]0 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

town. The situation is pleasant, and the river-scenery extremely pretty. 
The Vaal here takes a great many turns, and can be seen from all parts of 
the town. It is here and there hidden by the bends, and then comes into 
view again some miles off. The original "rich kopje," and the Colesberg 
Kopje " (which must not be confounded with that wonderful Golconda, the 
Colesberg Kop or De Beer's New Rush) are rugged-looking hills, and not at 
all the places where one would naturally think diamonds would be found. 
The main street (called Campbell-street) is quite smooth, and regularly built 
upon. There are some very substantial buildings. Mr. James Strong has 
come out strong indeed in his fine stone-built stores. There is nothing this 
side of Grahamstown to be compared with them. The stone is found in the 
neighbourhood, and has been well cut and laid. Mr. linger, the diamond 
merchant, has an extremely neat office, with prettily-built stone pillars for 
gates. Mr. Sanger's Masonic Hotel is certainly one of the best constructed 
and conducted establishments it has been my good fortune to visit. Close 
to this, on the old market-place, stand Joel Myers' iron store and brick- 
built stores. Gordon and Co. are in Parker's Music Hall, and Myhill and Co. 
monopolise both sides of the street. Reid and Co. have a large granary here, 
for supplying the various diggings with Transvaal produce. The Standard 
Bank and the Government offices are now under wood, but will shortly be 
comfortably ensconced in stone and brick. Mr. Strong has let one-half of 
his store to che former, and Mr. Schultz has hired the other part. Mrs. 
Schuardt has a very comfortable-looking hotel on the site of the original 
tent she had the enterprise to put up whilst diamond-digging was in its 
infancy. An excellent business she does too, and well she deserves it. The 
shell of the English Church is not badly situated on the hill above Sanger's, 
but it is very small, and, I am sorry to say, of brick. It is a great pity that 
a church should be built of indifferent brick when really good building 
stone is to be obtained in great quantities in the neighbourhood. The 
Masonic lodge is close to the church, and is a very creditable building con- 
sidering the number of members of the craft resident here. The Parsonage 
is also hard by. The less said about this building the better. Mr. F. 
Thompson is building a house in, the style of a bungalow, which will be a 
very comfortable house if the roof can be kept from blowing off. Alto- 
gether, Klip Drift is a very pleasant place, and doubtless it will be a town 
of great resort for dried-up diggers from Du Toit's Pan. A very large 
business has been done here of late, but whether merchants will continue 
to send their goods twenty-five miles beyond the present diggings, and bring 
them back again, is highly problematical, I think. Still it is the centre of 
the various river diggings, and the depot for all Transvaal produce, and 
will no doubt monopolise the whole of the interior trade, for which it is 
well situated. The inhabitants live in the hope that diggers will be com- 
pelled to come back to the river in the summer, for they say no mortal thing 
can hold out at the Pan and its vicinity during the warm weather. We 
shall see. 

Klip Drift lias always been under English government. 
Pniel used to be under Orange Free State (Dutch) authorities, 
but is now, with the whole of the known diamondiferous district 
under British rule. I shall treat these matters in detail in a 
chapter on the Annexation. 



■ 



THE RIVERSIDE DIGGINGS, AND HOW TO WORK THERE. 11 

At Pniel was formerly published the Diamond News, the 
earliest and most important newspaper on the " Fields," but it 
was removed in September last to Du Toit's Pan. Another 
newspaper, the Diamond Field, is published at Klip Drift. 
Pniel and Klip Drift have a more settled appearance than most 
of the other camps, as they are of the earliest date, and contain 
a much larger proportion of solid structures, and fewer tents ; but 
the quiet streets and absence of noise and dust form a striking 
contrast to the din, turmoil, and ceaseless activity of the Coles- 
berg Kopje. A company was projected for working Klip Drift 
and neighbourhood on a large scale, and forms of applications 
for shares were issued, but I believe it has since fallen to the 

ground. 

About twenty-five miles from Klip Drift up the Vaal Eiver, 
on the same side as Klip Drift, is Hebron, where there was a 
busy camp during the greater part of last year, and many very 
good finds, but also a good deal of unsuccessful work. Hebron 
has been gradually growing less popular, owing to the wonderful 
finds at the dry diggings ; but a good many still persevere there, 
some of them being well rewarded, and Hebron has turned out 
one or two large stones lately. It is a pleasant camp, with 
pretty scenery, good bathing and fishing, and well supplied with 
provisions and all necessaries. 

For the benefit of my English readers I must explain that if 
a claim has been left unworked for a certain time, in some camps 
three days, in others eight, it may be " jumped," i.e., any person 
may jump into it, and take possession, on payment of the ordinary 
10s. licence, and the original owner has no redress.^ 

Down the river there are several pretty good digging camps. 
Twelve miles from Klip Drift, on the same side, is Cawood's 
Hope, an early favourite, but not thought very much of now. 
Opposite to it is Gong Gong, generally considered to be pretty 
well worked out. About live 'miles lower down, are Forlorn ■ 

Hope and Delport's Hope — neighbouring camps. I hear that the 
work there is pretty satisfactory. One gentleman, a newspaper pro- k> 

prietor, got, in a fortnight's work at Delport's Hope, diamonds SB 

worth at least 300/. A stone of 2f carats he sold on the spot H 

for 27/. Of course it was of pure water. This is considered a Wk 

very good price. About four miles lower down is Sifonell, where 
some very good finds were made soon after the first " rush 
there last spring, but I have not heard much of it lately. ^ On IE 

many of these small camps there are hardly any stores, which is gg 



12 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

a serious drawback to residence there, as the digger must either 
make frequent journeys to the "town" of Pniel or Klip Drift, 
or must be satisfied with coarse and monotonous food. 

A friend of mine, working at Forlorn Hope, subsisted for 
months, sometimes, on meat and " mealies " (Indian corn). 

I have now enumerated the principal diggings on the river, and 
will endeavour to sum up their advantages and disadvantages. 
The former are abundance of water — bathing, a great luxury and 
very conducive to the preservation of health, plenty of wood, 
good fishing and consequently an important addition to diet, a 
slight superiority in the quality of the diamonds, and more in- 
teresting sorting, owing to the immense quantity of beautiful 
pebbles, some of them of slight value. Their disadvantages are 
less uniformity in success, the diamonds lying a good deal in 
patches, much harder work owing to the innumerable boulders, 
far less society, less life and amusement than at the "dry 
diggings/' and, at the smaller camps deficient supplies of food 
and other necessaries, and total absence of luxuries. Many of 
our " dried-up " diggers will, of course, make frequent trips to 
the river for bathing — in fact, we of the dry diggings are 
beginning to look upon the pleasant little camps by the Vaal 
River as our Scarborough and Brighton, or, perhaps^ Harrogate 
and Matlock would be nearer the mark. 

I hear that a rush has lately taken place to a spot called 
Tsitsikama, three miles from Forlorn Hope, and that fresh 
ground is being opened up on both sides of the river, so that 
diggers going out now had better, on arriving at the Fields, make 
full inquiries as to the state of all the riverside camps, both old 
and new, though I still hold the conviction that the dry diggings 
are by far the richest. 

Many waggon-loads of goods were, when I left the Fields in 
November last, still arriving at, and on the way for Pniel, and 
Klip Drift, taking from a month to six months from Port 
Elizabeth (Algoa Bay). 

I expect, however, that the big markets of Du Toit's Pan, De 
Beer's, and the Colesberg Kopje will soon attract most of 'the 
trade, both from the colony and the interior. 



THE DRY DIGGINGS, AND HOW TO WORK THERE. 13 



CHAPTER III. 

THE DRY DIGGINGS, AND HOW TO WORK THERE. 

The first of the " dry diggings ' to attract public attention was 
Du Toit's Pan. to which a few diggers resorted in 1870. This 
place derives its name from a large "pan," or shallow depres- 
sion in the ground, filled with brackish water in the rainy season, 
and on which no vegetation grows when the "Pan" is dry, it 
being then simply an expanse of hard mud, fissured in all direc- 
tions by the heat. Du Toit's Pan is situated twenty-five miles 
from Pniel, on the road leading from the colony through Faure- 
smith to the Vaal River township. On the further or Pniel side 
of the "Pan," which is about a quarter of a mile in length by 
half that breadth, is a sloping ridge, or long "kopje," towards 
the top of which the diamonds are found ; the main town, called 
by some enthusiastic journalists the " City of the Pan," lying 
between the claims and the Pan, while many hundreds of diggers' 
tents also cover the " veldt ' ' or common, above the claims in the 
direction of De Beer's and Pniel. The town of Du Toit's Pan is 
large and picturesque — tents, marquees, and buildings of every 
possible material being charmingly grouped round the large open 
market square, from which streets, mostly of canvas, radiate in all 
directions. 

The work here is far more easy than on the river, no water 
being used : moreover the big boulders are absent, the ground 
being soft rotten limestone, with green trap, amygdaloid, &c, all 
of a consistency which is easily worked by pick and shovel, a 
large rock requiring any trouble in removing being only found at 
very rare intervals. Here, when the stuff has been loosened by 
the pick, it is thrown on to the top of the claim with the shovel if 
the claim is shallow, hauled up in buckets if it is deep, broken 
up with the shovel, then shaken in a sieve of large mesh to 
remove all the rough stones which might injure the fine sieve, 
and then well sifted in the fine sieve, which is generally of very 
fine but strong wire meshing, sometimes of perforated zinc or 
iron, in a strong oblong wooden frame, some 3ft. by 2ft., with 
rounded handles at one end, and two deep notches at the other, 



■■■•._' 



14 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

by which the sieve rests firmly on a piece of strong rheim (hide 
rope) hanging between two upright posts, called " sieve props." 
The operator swings the sieve rapidly to and fro till all sand, 
dust, and dirt has fallen through ; then the gravel, which is com- 
posed principally of minute pieces of limestone, chalk, green trap, 
&c., with a slight admixture of garnets, peridot, ilmenite, and 
talc, is emptied on to the sorting-table, and treated in the ordi- 
nary manner. The early diggers, in 1870,, only dug to a depth 
of eighteen inches or two feet, stopping when they got to a stra- 
tum of rather hard limestone or green trap, and rinding a good 
many small diamonds, with here and there a big one ; but it has 
since been found that the best and largest stones generally lie 
deeper, and there seems hardly any limit to the depth at which 
diamonds may be found. 

The natural consequence was that early in the year 1871, there 
was a rush of diggers to Du Toit's Pan, who commenced to work 
the whole of the old claims over again, beginning where the 
former workers had left off. And whereas a man could " work 
out " a claim (30 square feet) in a week or two when two feet was 
his limit of depth, now when we go down 30 or 40 feet, or even 
more, it takes many months to work out a claim properly. It is 
difficult to say at what depth most diamonds are found. A great 
many small diamonds lie near the surface, some large ones have 
been picked up on the surface and very near to it ; but, again, I 
have known diggers find hardly anything till they got to a depth 
of 20 feet or more, and from that time go on finding regularly 
one or two stones per day. From general experience I may 
safely say that by far the greater proportion of large stones are 
found below five feet, many between that depth and ten feet, and 
that the quality is often found to improve with the depth. 
Different diggers, according to their experience and ingenuity, 
adopt various methods of working the deep claims. One will 
sink a perpendicular, narrow shaft, that he can easily stride 
across, and descend and ascend by means of little niches or u toe- 
holes ' picked in each side of the shaft. Another will have a 
knotted rope or rheim hanging down the side, fixed to a strong 
post above. Where trees are plentiful, which is not at Du Toit's 
Pan, I have seen a big tree with convenient branches lowered 
into a claim and used as a staircase. Others, again, work their 
claims in regular stages, with a little kind of flight of steps to 
each, if the ground be hard. Many make tunnels or shafts, 
horizontally or slanting, when they arrive at a certain stratum 



THE DRY DIGGINGS, AND HOW TO WORK THERE. 



15 



which seems to be particularly good. But this is dangerous ; 
first, because the ground at Du Toit's Pan is hardly of suffi- 
ciently firm consistency for this purpose, and small " landslips " 
are frequent, especially after heavy rains ; and secondly, because 
a man is working, as it were, in the dark, and may unwittingly 
burrow under his neighbour's claim, for all the claims touch one 
another. Many disputes as to ownership of diamonds have 
occurred from this and similar causes. One great drawback to 
the work at our dry diggings, which would otherwise be exceed- 
ingly easy and comfortable, is the dust. This is of two kinds — 
red dust from the open veldt beyond the claims, and white lime- 
stone dust from the claims themselves. The supply of both 
seems unlimited ; they are both equally fine and penetrating, so 
much so as to stop a hunting watch ; this is a fact — very few 
watches can be kept in order on the Fields, the works get 
clogged up in "no time." As it is nearly always windy, our 
camps are generally enveloped in clouds of this irritating ele- 
ment, of which the editor of the Diamond Neivs eloquently 
says, doubtless with eyes smarting and lungs oppressed by it : 
" The dust of the dry diggings is to be classed with plague, 
pestilence, and famine, and, if there is anything worse, with that 
also." 

Du Toit's Pan is certainly the camp which has yielded, up to 
the present time, the largest stones, a considerable number of 
stones weighing over one hundred carats having been found since 
I went there in May, 1871. The largest that I know of was 175 
carats, a very fair size, and would have been of immense value if 
it had only been a pure white stone. I have heard, it is true, of 
a wonderful stone of, some say 314 carats, others 318 ; and there 
is certainly no reason why even larger gems should not be found, 
especially as I have seen a stone weighing 124 carats, which was 
evidently only a fragment of a much larger gem. I w T ill speak 
more fully of some of the principal large stones found on our 
South African Fields, in a special chapter on diamonds and other 
precious stones. 

There is an immense area of ground being worked at Du 
Toit's Pan, I should think not less than half a square mile, 
entirely full of claims, all joining — at first sight, a chaotic mass 
of irregularly shaped holes of various depths, and endless whitish 
mounds of various sizes. Claims, last year, in good positions, 
sold from 11. to 501. per claim (30ft. square). License 10s. per 
month. In consequence of the immense exodus to the new rash, 



•' . 



h 



•".\ 



16 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



many claims at Du Toit's Pan are now for sale pretty cheap, and 
although there are very few where a man can be certain of daily 
or even weekly finds, yet it is a tempting place to work at, owing 
to the frequent finds of very large stones, and the sanguine 
digger, especially if a '-new chum," feels a constant nervous 
excitement, or half expectation, hoping to see something shining, 
about the size of a pigeon's egg, in the floor or wall of his claim, 
as he is picking. I think Du Toit's Pan is not a bad place for a 
man with small capital to begin ; living is comparatively cheap 
and comfortable, there being an active and salutary competition 
of numerous large storekeepers, who are well supplied with 
everything, and an immense market every morning at seven, 
where cattle, sheep, food, and produce of every kind is brought 
in by Dutch farmers, and sold by auction. 

Du Toit's Pan boasts many large hotels, immense stores, two 
churches, several billiard-rooms, an hospital and a theatre, which 
latter is also a " canteen" or liquor-bar, performances being only 
held there occasionally. The scenery immediately around the 
Pan is flat, a broad expanse of "veldt " or prairie, with stunted 
growth of scrub, and here and there a mimosa or thornbush, but 
at a distance, varying from five to twelve miles, run ranges of 
picturesque hills, many of them well wooded. 

The claims, during working hours, present a most animated 
and striking appearance, each claim employing on the average, I 
should say, two "white folks" and three or four Kafirs, all 
ceaselessly busy at the various occupations above and below 
ground, picking "stuff," throwing it up, breaking, sifting, and 
sorting, the whole accompanied with much barbaric singing and 
shouting on the part of the half -naked Kafirs. 

Joining Du Toit's Pan is another large camp called Bultfontein, 
presenting similar characteristics. 

I must mention here that each of these camps possesses a 
large dam, where water collects during the rainy season, and 
supplies the cattle of the camp, and many of the human beings 
too, with drinking water, while a smaller dam is set apart for 
washing, and is constantly surrounded by a chattering crowd of 
washerwomen of every possible shade of colour, and clad in every 
variety of dress, the brighter colours being naturally prevalent. 

Bultfontern was originally a cattle-breeding farm, and when it 
got bruited about, early in 1871, that diamonds had been found 
on the surface, the proprietors refused to allow diggers to come 
on their ground. A number of miners of the rougher sort 



H 






THE DRY DIGGINGS, AND HOW TO WORK THERE. 17 

"jumped," or took forcible possession of the farm ; but, after too 
short a stay to do much good there, were driven away by some of 
the Free State police. Towards the end of May, however, the pro- 
prietors, fearing that the farm would again be " jumped " by so 
large a force of determined diggers thai a handful of police could 
do nothing against them, wisely threw it open to the public on 
payment of the ordinary monthly licence of 10s. per claim. 
This gave general satisfaction. The day I arrived on the Fields, 
29th May, 1871, over a thousand diggers were busy marking out 
claims on the "kopje," all round the old farm-house, and in a 
few days the Bultfontein diggings were at full work. 

From this time all the available ground there kept thousands 
at work, with average satisfactory results, till the news of Coles- 
berg Kopje drew many of them away. The Bultfontein diggings 
have been found to yield an immense number of small stones, a 
few good-sized ones, but hardly any very large ones. So great is 
the number of small diamonds, most of which are here of very 
good quality, that the holder of any claim in a moderately good 
position is almost sure of finding something every week, — and a 
great many diggers regularly kept a claim at work at Bultfontein, 
on which they relied for the payment of their expenses at least, 
while they would work a claim at Du Toit's Pan on alternate days in 
the hopes of big stones. Owing to the number of large stones 
found at Colesberg Kopje and elsewhere, many good claims at 
Bultfontein are abandoned, and it would, I think, be an excellent 
place for a beginner to work, while looking out for a chance of 
getting a share in one of the rich claims elsewhere. He will 
only have to go to the registration office in the old farm-house on 
the top of the "kopje," where he can peruse the list of licenses, and 
take down a few of the numbers of claims on which the license 
has not been renewed. Armed with this list, he can go amongst the 
claims, and look at those on which the license is unpaid, and which 
are consequently " jumpable." He can inquire of the diggers 
working in the neighbourhood of such vacant claims — they are 
generally pretty communicative — and if diamonds are being found 
all round any claim, it is a pretty sure criterion that that claim is 
good. Having looked at a few such, and made all needful 
inquiries, the intending digger can make his choice, return to the 
office, take out a license in his own name for the claim he has 
chosen, and set to work as soon as he likes. 

Another digging camp, Alexandersfontein, joins Bultfontein, 
and precisely similar remarks apply to the diggings there. 

c 






18 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



About two miles from Du Toit's Pan, to the left of the Pniel 
Eoad, lies the large, scattered, and very picturesque camp of De 
Beer's (Old Eush). The " business " part of this camp — •'. e., the 
stores and hotels— lies all close together, along the roadside, while 
the tents of the diggers are scattered in all directions over the 
" veldt," and are generally pitched near one of the numerous 
Icameeldorn (camel-thorn) trees. (See Chapter on "Tent life.") 
The old De Beer's Kopje contains many exceedingly good claims, 
the diamonds are generally of good quality, and there are plenty 
of large stones. I know many diggers who have done exceedingly 
well there. It was first regularly worked about May, 1871, and 
soon attracted a very large digging population and became a town. 
Here is an advertisement relative to De Beer's, which appeared in 
a Cape paper of 30th September, 1871. 

NEW TOWNSHIP AT DE BEER'S. 

THE Proprietors of the Farm " VOORUITZIGT," commonly known as 
" DE BEER'S," beg to intimate to the Public that they have laid out a 

TOWN ON THE ABOVE FARM, 

THE ERVEN OF WHICH WILL BE OFFERED AT 

PUBLIC AUCTION ON THE SPOT, 

ON 

SATURDAY, THE 2\st OCTOBER NEXT, 

At 11 o'clock in the Forenoon. 

The site selected is eligibly situated on a gentle slope contiguous to the 
Two Rushes which are now yielding such Large Fortunes to the Diggers, 
and the Erven will be sold with all the Proprietor's Rights to the 
Diamonds which may be found or them. 

The Pniel Road will pass through the Town, which is situated within easy 
walking distance of " DU TO ITS PAN," "BULTFONTEIN," and 
" ALEXANDERSFONTEIN " Diggings. 

In selecting the spot for this Township, the Proprietors have specially 
regarded the Healthiness of the situation ; the fact of Good Water being 
found at moderate depth and the proximity to the several digging Camps. 

Ample space has been provided for a MARKET, and eligible allotments 
reserved for CHURCHES and SCHOOLS. 

It is scarcely necessary for the Proprietors to point out the advantages 
that will accrue to possessors of Erven in this Township, so conveniently 
situated in close proximity to all the successful Diamond Diggings, either 
as a centre of Business or Healthy Residence. 

Plans of the Town may be seen on application at the office of " The 
Friend of the Free State," Bloemfontein ; The office of the Proprietors, De 
Beer's ; Messrs. Dunnell, Ebden, & Co., Port Elizabeth. 

Vooruitzigt, 18th September, 1871. 



i 



THE DRY DIGGINGS, AND HOW TO WOItK THERE. 19 

Claims at De Beer's have always commanded a pretty good price 
— 50Z. and 100/. being an ordinary figure in the early days. 
Soon after the great rush to the Colesberg Kopje the oldDe Beer's 
claims fell very much in price ; but as many of the new arrivals 
found that the purchase of claims at the "New Eush " was far 
beyond their means, they began to turn their attention to old 
De Beer's, and claims there soon rose again in price. Active work 
is now going on there, and with generally satisfactory results. 
De Beer's is rather an aristocratic camp, many gentlemen blessed 
with wives and families have encamped here, and made them- 
selves comparatively comfortable, and the English element pre- 
dominates pleasingly over the Dutch or Boer: 

Well-dressed gentlemen, and well-dressed ladies too, may be 
seen cantering over the " veldt " on well-groomed horses ; the 
tents are more like marquees, covered generally with a wide awn- 
ing as an additional protection against tho hot rays of the sun. 
Kafir servants are numerous, horses, mules, and oxen plentiful, 
and the whole place has a thoroughly " well-to-do " air. 

The soil is pretty much the same as at Du Toit's Pan. The 
excavations in the claims are generally larger and deeper, owing 
to many of the diggers here being men of capital, employing 
much more labour, and, consequently, getting through the ground 
much more quickly than at Du Toit's Pan and Bultfontein. 

Colesberg Kopje is scarcely a mile from De Beer's, farther to 
the left of the Pniel road, but Colesberg Kopje requires a chapter 
to itself. 

I subjoin the rules and regulations issued by the Digger's Com- 
mittee for the Du Toit's Pan camp in 1871. They are not likely 
to be very materially changed, and will be similar on other 
diggings :— 

Rales and Regulations of the Dorstfontein (Dutoitspan) Diggings. 

The following are the Rules and Regulations framed and agreed upon 
between Martin Lilien field and Henry Webb, acting on behalf of the 
proprietors of Dorstfontein, and the following gentlemen, deputed by a 
General Public Meeting of diggers at Dorstfontein, on the 15th day of May, 
1871, for that purpose, viz. :—. James Buchanan Finlayson, Barend Woest, 
Joachim J. Rothman, William Devine, William Stratford Wright, as repre- 
senting such general public : — 

1. The Committee shall consist of five members. 

e 2. That from and after the 15th May, 1871, a fee of ten shillings and 

sixpence sterling per month for claims shall be payable by each digger, in 

advance, to the proprietors or their agents, at their office, Dorstfontein, 

save and excepting those who hold briefes or permits prior to the 15th 

o 2 



20 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

April, 1871, who can satisfy the proprietors and Committee that such are 
bond fide permits, to be exhibited within one week, 

3. All claims shall be surveyed and measured off by the proprietors, and 
the Committee shall be entitled to impose a fine, not exceeding five pounds 
sterling, upon anyone removing or altering any beacon after the same has 
been finally measured and adjusted. 

4. No one shall be allowed to throw any ground, dirt, or filth on his 
neighbour's claim. All loose ground shall be kept by the owner on his own 
claim. The Committee shall have the power of imposing a fine, not 
exceeding two pounds sterling, in case of any infringement of this 

rule. 

5. Any person or persons, with or without a licence, found working any 
claim other than his own, or without consent of the owner, shall be sub- 
jected to a fine not exceeding five pounds sterling. 

6. Any person or digger finding a diamond on the claim of another 
person, and not returning the same to the owner of the claim, shall be con- 
sidered as a thief, and be expelled the diggings. 

7. The spot or locality for burial of carcases and other filth shall be 
selected and pointed out by the Committee. 

8. No person or persons shall be entitled to select or work any claim 
without having first signed and submitted to the Diggers' Rules and Regu- 
lations, which the Committee shall at all times have the power of enforcing 
and making operative. 

9. The Committee and proprietors shall have the right conjointly to 
amend or add to these Regulations, and such amendments or additions 
shall at all times be taken to be as effectual as if inserted herein. 

10. Any member of the Committee absenting himself for fourteen days 
or more, without intimation or notice to the other members, shall, ipso 
facto, cease to be a member of the Committee. 

11. Every digger shall be compelled to assist the Committee in giving 
effect to, and support in, the execution -of their judgments, subject to a 
penalty of one pound sterling in case of non-compliance. 

1 2. Every digger shall pay the sum of one shilling to the Committee on 
the signing of these Rules. 

13. No person shall be entitled, under the new licence, to have more 
than two claims at one time. 

14. Any claim or claims having been abandoned for eight or more suc- 
cessive days, shall be liable to be selected and taken possession of by any 
person or persons taking out a licence for the same — the claims of members 
of Committee being specially exempt from such a rule. 

15. Each licensed digger shall be entitled to pasturage on the farm 
Dorstfontein for six sheep and one span of oxen, at the following rate, 
viz. : — For six sheep, the sum of threepence sterling per month ; and for 
each ox the sum of threepence sterling per month. Such sheep and oxen 
to be the bond fide property of the licence-holder, and such privilege being 
in no way transferable. 

16. The proprietors shall, as soon as the same becomes practicable, sink 
six wells, which they will, on completion, place at the disposal of the Com- 
mittee for the benefit of the diggers, who shall pay the proprietors the sum 
of one shilling sterling each per month, from the 15th day of May, 1871. 

17. The Committee and proprietors shall select a person or persons 
competent thereto, to regulate the formation of streets and squares, and 



THE DRY DIGGINGS, AND HOW TO WORK THERE. 



21 



the former are empowered to enforce rules necessary for the accomplish- 
ment of such purposes. 

18. All disputes and differences between the diggers and proprietors 
under these Rules shall be submitted to the arbitration of the Committee, 
whose decision will be binding and final. 

19. Any person signing these Rules and Regulations, and having been 
fined by the Committee for any misdemeanour or infringement, or having 
been ordered to comply with any order or judgment, shall be bound to pay 
such fine or fulfil such order or judgment ; and in case of failure so to do, 
submits, by signing these Rules, to such process as shall be by the said 
Committee directed, for the carrying out of their judgment. 

20. The proprietors engage at the end of each month to pay over to the 
Committee as custodians for the diggers — to enable the latter to carry out 
sanitary measures, pay a permanent secretary, and uphold the Committee- 
ten pounds sterling upon every one hundred pounds sterling, of all revenue 
collected by them from " Dorstfontein Diggings." 

21. Monthly permits of occupation for establishing places of business 
other than those already established under permission, will be granted by 
the proprietors on terms which can be ascertained on application at their 
office. Parties holding licences or permission prior to the 15th of May, 
1871, shall continue to hold such licences upon the same terms as hitherto, 
and all persons holding shop licences shall be subject to the following rules, 
viz.: — 1. No servant to have drink unless he have a written permission 
from his master. 2. No gambling to be permitted on the premises. 3. 
No drink to be sold on Sundays, or during the hours between 10 p.m. and 
5 a.m. on week days. 

22. Any infringement of the above rules shall subject the party so 
infringing to a penalty or fine of not less than 1/. (one pound sterling), and 
not more than 5/. (five pounds sterling). 

23. It is strictly forbidden to anyone to purchase a diamond or diamonds 
from any servant, black or white, without a certificate from such servant's 
master or mistress, under a penalty of five pounds sterling, and expulsion 
from the Camp at the discretion of the Committee. 

24. AH transfers of claims or portions thereof shall be registered in the 
proprietors' books, for which the person applying for such transfer shall 
pay a fee of sixpence sterling. 



i 



I* 



2'2 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



CHAPTEE IV. 

THE OOLESBERG KOPJE.* 

Early in July, 1871. a "new rush" was prospected about a 
mile beyond De Beer's, and many diamonds being found on or 
near trie surface, a great many claims were at once taken out. It 
is only a small "kopje' or hill, about 250 acres in area, sur- 
rounded by a reef of hard rock. In about a fortnight after the 
first discovery claims were selling there at from 20/. to 100/., and 
lucky indeed were those who bought any at those prices, luckier 
still those who originally marked out claims, and paid only the 
105. license, for little more than three months after the opening 
of this "kopje " a whole claim in a good position there would 
not be sold for less than 2000/. to 4000/., and half or quarter 

claims in proportion. 

The daily finds there are something marvellous, fortunes 
having already been realised by single individuals between July 
and the end of October, when I left the Colesberg Kopje. A 
friend of mine having taken out a claim there, sold half of it to 
a Mr. Arie Smuts, a Dutchman, for, I think, 50/. In two months 
time Smuts found diamonds the value of which is estimated at 
from 15,000/. to 20,000/. The other half of the same claim has 
also turned out very well. The daily increasing riches of this 
wonderful place soon attracted crowds of diggers, diamond 
buyers, store and hotel keepers ; and, within three months from 
the first discovery, the De Beer's New Bush, subsequently chris- 
tened "Colesberg Kopje," has become a busy, thriving town, 
with regular streets, handsome buildings of every material except 
stone, and an immense encampment of tents and wagons all round 
the "kopje." As to the appearance of the "kopje" itself during 

* " Kopje," pronounced koppie, is a Dutch word, meaning literally " little 
head," but generally used in the sense of " hillock " or small (generally 
circular) elevation of ground. It is a diminutive of u kop" or "head," 
which is used for a larger hill. The De Beer's New Rush is often also 
called " Colesberg Kop," but I do not think it is quite large enough to merit 
that designation. The diamonds are generally found in rather elevated 
ground (ridges or hills), so that plenty of " kopjes " will be noticed on the 
different diggings. 



THE COLESBERG KOPJE. 23 

working hours, no words of mine can give an adequate idea of the 
immense activity which is here displayed. 

In consequence of the high price of claims and richness of the 
ground, most of the claims have been divided into halves and 
quarters, the latter being the most general ; and every digger being 
anxious to get through the ground as quickly as possible, puts on 
as many Kafirs as he can get hold of, so that such a number of 
men, white and black, are congregated on this little space, all 
working with ceaseless energy, that the place is like a magnified 
ant-hill, with a combination of beehive. Each claim has to allow 
7ft. for the road. Eoads runs parallel through the whole of the 
kopje; the refuse stuff, rock, &c, being rapidly removed by 
mule-carts, the drivers of which are at work all day long, and 
make a fair thing of it at ninepence or one shilling per load, which 
does not take long, as the stuff is shot out on to the '• veldt," just 
outside the kopje. This refuse stuff consists of large pieces of 
hard limestone and other kinds of rock, too hard to be easily 
broken either by the shovel or in the rough sieve, but diggers 
are now careful to break as much of it as they possibly can, 
using mallets and sledge-hammers, for many diamonds have been 
found embedded in this hard stuff ; and some people who could 
not afford claims were, and probably still are, in the habit of 
making a living, and sometimes a very good one too. by going 
about and breaking the refuse stuff carted away from the claims. 
In one instance, a piece of limestone fell out of the front of a cart, 
the hinder wheel passed over it and crushed it, when out came a 
20-carat diamond. A 33-carat stone has lately been found em- 
bedded in solid quartz. 

The noise, dust, and heat at the Colesberg Kopje are intense 
and most trying. Thirst is keenly felt, and the canteens drive a 
roaring trade. In consequence of the small portion of ground 
each digger has to work on, there is no room on the claims for 
most of the sorting-tables, and they are generally placed on the 
"veldt" outside the kopje; and here, under awnings of various 
kinds, rugs, blankets, &c, &c, placed on four props round the 
table, sit men, and many ladies too, with the " scraper " in one y 

hand, and sometimes a horse's, cow's, or wildebeest's tail in the other, 
for flicking the flies away, while their partners, or the more than 
half naked black labourers, bring down the precious stuff from 
the claims in carts, wheelbarrows, or very commonly in a bul- 
lock's hide sewn to two poles, and sift it there— the sieve props 
being also erected near the sorting-table, so as to leave the bit of 



22 THE DIAMOND DKXHNGS. 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE OOLESBERG KOPJE.* 

Early in July, 1871. a "new rush" was prospected about a 
mile beyond De Beer's, and many diamonds being found on or 
near trie surface, a great many claims were at once taken out. It 
is only a small "kopje' or hill, about 250 acres in area, sur- 
rounded by a reef of hard rock. In about a fortnight after the 
first discovery claims were selling there at from 201. to 100/., and 
lucky indeed were those who bought any at those prices, luckier 
still those who originally marked out claims, and paid only the 
105. license, for little more than three months after the opening 
of this " kopje ' a whole claim in a good position there would 
not be sold for less than 2000/. to 4000/., and half or quarter 
claims in proportion. 

The daily finds there are something marvellous, fortunes 
having already been realised by single individuals between July 
and the end of October, when I left the Oolesberg Kopje. A 
friend of mine having taken out a claim there, sold half of it to 
a Mr. Arie Smuts, a Dutchman, for, I think, 50/. In two months 
time Smuts found diamonds the value of which is estimated at 
from 15,000/. to 20,000/. The other half of the same claim has 
also turned out very well. The daily increasing riches of this 
wonderful place soon attracted crowds of diggers, diamond 
buyers, store and hotel keepers ; and, within three months from 
the first discovery, the De Beer's New Bush, subsequently chris- 
tened "Oolesberg Kopje," has become a busy, thriving town, 
with regular streets, handsome buildings of every material except 
stone, and an immense encampment of tents and wagons all round 
the "kopje." As to the appearance of the "kopje" itself during 

* " Kopje," pronounced koppie, is a Dutch word, meaning literally " little 
head," but generally used in the sense of * hillock " or small (generally 
circular) elevation of ground. It is a diminutive of "kop" or "head," 
which is used for a larger hill. The De Beer's New Rush is often also 
called " Colesberg Kop" but I do not think it is quite large enough to merit 
that designation. The diamonds are generally found in rather elevated 
ground (ridges or hills), so that plenty of " kopjes " will be noticed on the 
different diggings. 



THE COLESBERG KOPJE. 23 

working hours, no words of mine can give an adequate idea of the 
immense activity which is here displayed. 

In consequence of the high price of claims and richness of the 
ground, most of the claims have been divided into halves and 
quarters, the latter being the most general ; and every digger being 
anxious to get through the ground as quickly as possible, puts on 
as many Kafirs as he can get hold of, so that such a number of 
men, white and black, are congregated on this little space r all 
working with ceaseless energy, that the place is like a magnified 
ant-hill, with a combination of beehive. Each claim has to allow 
7ft. for the road. Roads runs parallel through the whole of the 
kopje; the refuse stuff, rock, &c, being rapidly removed by 
mule-carts, the drivers of which are at work all day long, and 
make a fair thing of it at ninepence or one shilling per load, which 
does not take long, as the stuff is shot out on to the " veldt," just 
outside the kopje. This refuse stuff consists of large pieces of 
hard limestone and other kinds of rock, too hard to be easily 
broken either by the shovel or in the rough sieve, but diggers 
are now careful to break as much of it as they possibly can, 
using mallets and sledge-hammers, for many diamonds have been 
found embedded in this hard stuff ; and some people who could 
not afford claims were, and probably still are, in the habit of 
making a living, and sometimes a very good one too, by going 
about and breaking the refuse stuff carted away from the claims. 
In one instance, a piece of limestone fell out of the fiont of a cart, 
the hinder wheel passed over it and crushed it, when out came a 
20-carat diamond. A 33-carat stone has lately been found em- 
bedded in solid quartz. 

The noise, dust, and heat at the Colesberg Kopje are intense 
and most trying. Thirst is keenly felt, and the canteens drive a 
roaring trade. In consequence of the small portion of ground 
each digger has to work on, there is no room on the claims for 
most of the sorting-tables, and they are generally placed on the 
"veldt" outside the kopje; and here, under awnings of various 
kinds, rugs, blankets, &c, &c, placed on four props round the 
table, sit men, and many ladies too, with the " scraper ' in one 
hand, and sometimes a horse's, cow's, or wildebeest's tail in the other, 
for flicking the flies away, while their partners, or the more than 
half naked black labourers, bring down the precious stuff from 
the claims in carts, wheelbarrows, or very commonly in a bul- 
lock's hide sewn to two poles, and sift it there— the sieve props 
being also erected near the sorting-table, so as to leave the bit of 






1 



24 THE DIAMOKD DIGGINGS. 

claim clear for working. Diamonds are found here at all depths : 
in some claims they find every day from the surface downwards ; 
in others a man will find hardly anything till he has got down to 
20ft. or more, and will from that time be richly rewarded for his 
perseverance. As a fine diamond of 10 carats was lately found 
at a depth of 96ft. in sinking a well, it is difficult to say to what 
limit the diggers of the future will go. But already the working 
of these claims, with the holes so close together in the crumbling 
white limestone, red sand, and green trap, is becoming dangerous. 
Portions or sides of claims frequently slip in, and some lives have 
already been lost by diggers being buried under such landslips. 
Moreover, the heavily-laden mule and ox-carts, going along the 
very edge of numerous claims, tend very much to loosen the 
earth. Often will the side of a claim give way, and the cart and 
quadrupeds topple over into the hole. The curious visitor to the 
Colesberg Kopje will be frequently startled by a loud and gather- 
ing " hurrah ' or confused shout. He will see many diggers 
running from their claims to a certain spot, on reaching which he 
will probably find that a large diamond has just been "turned 
up ;" but even more frequently it will be a cart with a couple of 
mules or oxen which has tumbled into some claim, and has to be 
extricated, for which purpose volunteers, with plenty of ropes and 
rheims, are speedily forthcoming. I saw a cart with two oxen 
topple over into a claim 40ft. deep; a nigger was working at 
the bottom, and he yelled out lustily, but, fortunately for him, 
about 10ft. down was a large rock jutting out, which narrowed 
the claim considerably in that part, and prevented the further 
descent of the cart and oxen, which vvere firmly jammed in the 
narrow shaft, and took much time and trouble to extricate. 

It is difficult to form an estimate of the number of stones daily 
found here, for a very great number of the diggers never report 
their finds, and it is, I know, only a small proportion of the dia- 
monds actually found which appears in the weekly list published by 
the Diamond News. But even this small proportion is sufficiently 
exciting. Here is, for instance, the summary of one week's list 
of diamonds found at the Colesberg Kopje : — G5 7 stones, from 
one, 103 carats, found by one Piet Otto, downwards, including 
stones of 102, 84, 83, H'2, &o„ &c. The uniformity in size of 
many of the stones found in one week is often very curious : — 
Another week's list contains 477 diamonds, including stones of 
81 carats, 42, 35, 31, 30. 20, &c. At the time I left the Fields, 
viz., in the middle of November, 1871, it was estimated roughly, 



THE COLESBERG KOPJE. 25 

but I think with, no exaggeration, that from £40,000 to £50,000 
worth of diamonds were weekly taken from this small kopje, only 
about 250 yards square, and containing about 1000 claims, I 
have been told, on good authority, that one dealer in diamonds 
had then in his possession more than one j)ound weight of first- 
class stones 1 The amount of money at this kopje, the lavish 
way in which it is spent, and the carelessness with which it is 
risked, surpass all belief. The following I can vouch for as a 
fact, knowing the parties concerned. A party of three, possessing 
a claim valued at about £1500, out of which they had taken a 
goodly amount of diamonds, tossed up, "odd man out," who 
should keep the whole' as they were desirous of leaving the Fields. 
The partner who won, and consequently had to stay some time 
longer in the heat and dust of the hottest and driest place of the 
dry diggings, will probably yet make a fortune out of the claim 
he won on a toss ! 

Diggers at Du Toit's Pan, De Beer's, and other camps, meeting 
one another, immediately ask, " Have you found anything 
lately?" and only too often the answer may be in the negative. 
But at the Colesberg Kopje, the question is always, " How many 
have you found to-day?" And, generally, the answer will not 
be less than two or three, while even a dozen or fifteen is not 
looked upon as anything very astonishing. Parties who have 
bought a half or quarter of a claim for £500 or £1000, have 
frequently got their purchase-money back in a few days or a week 
or two. 

But I must not forget to say that a great many of the 
diamonds found here are of such bad colour and shape as to be 
worth simply the price of boart, i.e., lbs. to 11. per carat, on the 
Fields, and perhaps about double that in Europe. And most of 
the larger ones, in fact, a very great majority of those over 10 
carats, are off colour. But then there are so many of them that 
working there must pay, but there is already (Dec. 1871) 
hardly room for the "new chums" who are flocking to the "rich 
kopje " from all parts of the colony, and it is sincerely to be 
hoped that some equally rich spots may soon be discovered. I 
fully believe that this will be the case, if the surrounding 
country is thoroughly " prospected," and just before I left Cape 
Town, I heard that very rich new diggings had been discovered 
about four miles from the Colesburg Kopje. 

I am also glad to hear that claims are going up in price at the 
old De Beer's diggings, especially those alongside of and near the 



2f> THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

"reef." (There is a reef of rock and shale running round nearly 
all the rich tracts of ground which constitute the different dry 
diggings, and the claims close to this reef often produce the most 
numerous and largest gems. Many of the claims at the Coles- 
berg Kopje are "on the reef;" so much so that only half the 
claim is workable stuff, but in this case, though the digger gets 
virtually only a half -claim, he may probably find it as good as a 
whole one elsewhere.) Many of those reef claims at De Beer's 
are turning out remarkably well, and some of them are equal to 
the good claims on Colesberg Kopje. Most of the diamonds 
found there are perfect stones. A little before I left, two young 
men from Natal found in one week, out of a claim at De Beer's, 
fifteen diamonds, the largest being 13 carats. 

Such an immense number of hands are now at work at the 
Colesberg Kopje, that many people say it will be entirely worked 
out it in from six to twelve months' time. And I think this quite 
likely, if diggers stop at the present usual depth, viz., thirty to 
fifty feet. A correspondent of the Natal Mercury writes as 
follows :— 

Although Du Toit's Pan is still a large place, its proportions are not 
now nearly so great as the enormous encampment around the Colesberg, 
which increases in size daily. It would be extremely difficult to form an 
estimate of the population, as the tents are so scattered, but it is really a 
wonderful place; and just as we have read with surprise the accounts of 
African travellers of large towns in the interior of 40,000 or 50,000 black 
inhabitants (sic), so may the black regard with astonishment the sudden 
rise of so large a town by the white people. Indeed, I know of nothing so 
calculated to cause astonishment — supposing one to be in ignorance of what 
had already occurred at the Diamond Fields — as, after travelling through 
the barren sandy track (tract ?) which, surrounds these inland diggings, to 
come into view, instantaneously, as it were, of the neighbourhood of Du 
Toit's Pan, a large city springing out of the desert. At night, the scene is 
even more surprising — the encampment seems larger still, the lights 
appearing to extend for miles. Standing between De Beer's and the Coles- 
berg, at night, with lights on either side, the scene is exactly like that 
observed at a certain point in Hyde Park, where the long line of lights on 
the Bayswater road can be seen at the same time as those at Knightsbridge. 
The delusion, however, only exists at night time. We are curious to know 
where claims can be found for all the parties who are likely to arrive soon 
on the Fields. There is no room at the Colesberg. 

This writer does not appear to have had much experience of 
the Fields, or he would know that even in the most improbable 
event of no new diggings being prospected, there is plenty of 
room, and probability of doing moderately well, at Du Toit's 
Pan, Bultfontein, and old De Beer's. People who would not be 



j^EICATlj 




THE COLESBERG KOPJE. 

satisfied without finding six to a dozen diamonds 
be prepared to pay down their thousands for the luxury of that 
sensation (and it is a luxury), but for the more modest crowd, I 
would not say. " odi profanum vulgus, et arceo," but would tell 
them that there is plenty of room for hardworking men to make 
a good living. 

I subjoin a description of the business part of the Colesberg Kopje, 
written early in October, and I have reason to know that the said 
business part had nearly doubled itself a month later : — 

Half-way between De Beer's and Colesberg Kopje the Committee Tent 
is pitched. Alongside it stands its placard board, which is literally covered 
with notices, &c. This tent is pitched between the two camps for the con- 
venience of the diggers, as the Committee, I believe, act for the two fields — 
De Beer's and Colesberg. In the neighbourhood of this point the tents are 
pitched far from each other, but nearer the kopje they are denser. The 
kopje, like De Beer's, is surrounded by hundreds of tents of various 
descriptions and sizes (many of them very large and luxurious). From the 
west side of the kopje the tents stretch away until they reach the ridge 
beyond. The business places are very numerous. They are the following : — 
In Lower-street — Moss's general store, a billiard room, Crowder's general 
store, a butchery, Squire's shoemaking shop, Harmsworth's Hotel, Brown's 
retail store and refreshment rooms, a general store, three hotels and stores, 
Norris's Odd Fellows' Arms, and store. Upper-street — Bromwich's Dispen- 
sary, Muirhead and Co.'s store, Robinson, diamond merchant, Parker's club 
and billiard rooms, Eldorado bar, a store, Royal Oak Hotel, Jessup's Hotel 
and billiard room, a canteen, London bakery and confectionery shop, an 
eating house, a store, Webb and Posno's diamond buying establishment, 
Royal Hotel and billiard room, a store, a billiard room and bar, London Hotel, 
a canteen, a butchery, McWilliams' wholesale spirit and provision store, a 
restaurant and boarding house, a general store, The Diggers' Arms, 
Honiball's butchery, &c. Round the kopje — Spring's canteen, Von Kraut and 
Co., general agents, auctioneers, &c, two canteens, Holm's general store, a 
hotel, &c, &c, besides many business places just completed, and many more 
in course of erection." 

Many diggers at the " rich kopje " live at Du Toit's Pan or 
De Beer's still on account of less crowding of tents, and greater 
convenience, and cheapness of wood, water, &c. So there is ample 
employment for the different omnibuses, carts, and other vehicles, 
which run between De Beer's, Colesberg Kopje, and Du Toit's Pan. 
The roads, at sundown especially, are crowded with vehicles of every 
description, and drawn by all kinds of cattle, while innumerable 
diggers and buyers, the latter always on horseback, many of the 
former on foot, in every variety of costume, and niggers in no 
costume at all, add to the animation of the scene. 

Two gentlemen holding good positions in Australia came over 
to the South African Diamond Fields in the middle of 1871. 









28 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

They were working on the Colesberg Kopje when I left, and had 
for some time been pocketing £300 per week. What will folks 
say in Australia ? 

A correspondent, dating from Du Toit's Pan, 20th October, 
1871, says : — 

Several accidents have happened on Colesberg Kopje. The other day a 
white man fell down a deep shaft upon a nigger, whom he seriously injured 
besides hurting himself severely. Landslips are of frequent occurrence. 
Lately a portion of a claim gave way, falling upon a white man and a nigger, 
completely burying both. When extricated, it was found they had re- 
ceived little or no injury. Accidents to carts, oxen, mules, &c, are of daily 
occurrence. A fatal accident occurred on Wednesday last. A loaded cart, 
drawn by mules, fell into a claim. The driver (a black boy) and one of the 
mules were killed. The other mule escaped uninjured. 

The following extract from the Standard and Mail (a very 
good Cape Town paper) of 5th December, 1871, the day on 
which I sailed for England, will not be devoid of interest : — 

The Diamond Fields. — The finds are something enormous, and not sur- 
passed by any fortnight's work that has gone before. The news from home 
with respect to the value of diamonds above ten carats are anything but 
satisfactory ; but we are confident that well-shaped, faultless stones, of good 
water, will still find their price, and not a few such come with the large 
quantities that find their way to our market. Sickness at the Fields is 
terribly on the increase, and it is alleged to be attributable principally to 
the bad water, of which even there is a scarcity. Of the value of claims at 
the New Rush (Colesberg Kopje) we can give the following instance ; Mr. 
Jacobus Swanepoel, of Wipener, in the Conquered Territory, has recently 
given two good farms in that territory, valued at £1000 each, for half a 
claim in the New Rush, and disposed of the same the next day for £1600 
cash, on condition that when the latter amount (£1600) shall have been 
realised by the purchaser, he (Swanepoel) shall get a half share of the finds. 
The other day £450 was paid cash down for a small portion of a claim 
7 feet by 10 feet only, and £1000 was, we understand, given for half a claim by 
Messrs. Adler, Escombe, and Co., of Natal. These claims will eventually be 
sunk to the depth of 60 feet from the surface. One party has already 
reached that depth. About seventeen feet of red sand has, in some cases, 
to be removed before the diamondiferous soil is reached. The best 
diamonds are, it is said, turned out at twenty or twenty-five feet. 
People are very curious to know whether another equally rich kopje will 
shortly be hit upon. There is no reason why it should not. A few months 
ago nothing was known of the Colesberg Kopje. 



A 



CLIMATE, WExVTHER, AND HEALTH. 



29 



CHAPTER V. 



CLIMATE, WEATHER, AND HEALTH. 

The climate of the district in which the Diamond Fields are 
situate is, though not absolutely unhealthy, in many respects 
extremely trying to newly-arrived Europeans. For the purpose 
of becoming gradually acclimatised, it is best to reach the fields, 
if possible, in autumn, or beginning of winter. The seasons may 
be put down as follows : Spring — August, September, October ; 
Summer — November, December, January ; Autumn — February, 
March, April ; Winter — May, June, July. The spring weather 
is bearable enough — pretty hot during the day, but not oppres- 
sively so, with a good many cold nights and mornings, now and 
then a slight frost, but very little rain or storms. The summer 
at the Fields is excessively hot — I think more so than in most 
other parts of South Africa. While I was at Pniel, early in last 
November, the thermometer frequently registered 100° Fahrenheit 
in the shade ; while the heat and glare of the sun acting upon 
the white limestone and uniform light colour of soil, tents, and 
almost everything at the dry diggings, try the head and eyes most 
severely. In the summer time there is almost always a strong 
wind blowing — this is very often a hot ivind — in addition to 
which it keeps the whole of the camp enveloped in a cloud of the 
horrible dust mentioned in a previous chapter. And when the 
wind does not blow, the stifling, oppressive, sultry heat renders 
breathing difficult, and the slightest exercise almost impossible. 
Moreover, from the middle or end of November to the end of 
January thunderstorms are of frequent, in fact almost daily, 
occurrence, generally bursting over the camps about sundown. 
They are terribly violent, and many strong men grow nervous 
when they see the lurid, coppery clouds gathering up to windward. 
Lightning so vivid and thunder so painfully loud I have hardly 
ever experienced elsewhere, but I am happy to say that fatal 
accidents are comparatively rare. Most of the diggers place glass 
bottles on the iron spikes of their tent-poles as a security against 
the lightning. These thunderstorms are sometimes accompanied 
by a descent of huge hailstones, sometimes by a deluge of rain. 



30 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 






which causes considerable hindrance to work. The storms are 
perhaps a little more violent at the river-side diggings, owing to 
the high hills, the trees, and the masses of ironstone which 
abound there. Two most terrific thunderstorms burst over the 
Vaal Eiver on the 12th and 28th of November, 1870; during 
the latter the lightning struck and shattered the tent-pole of a 
bell-tent, in which five Kafirs, belonging to Mr. Jardine, were 
sleeping, all with their heads towards the pole ; three of the un- 
fortunate natives were killed instantaneously, and the other two 
seriously injured. Apart from the hindrance to work caused by 
the very frequent rains, these constant thunderstorms have a very 
weakening effect on the nervous system, except in men of very 
strong constitutions. 

True, they cool the air considerably. 

I took an observation in this respect of a storm which occurred 
in the daytime. At 11 a.m., previous to the gathering of the 
storm, the thermometer stood at 100° in my shady room at 
Jardine's ; after the storm, at 2 p.m., the temperature was 70°. 

It will easily be understood that, during the summer, very few 
Europeans feel inclined to engage in the more active operations of 
picking, shovelling, hauling, breaking, or sifting. It is quite suffi- 
cient for them to sit under an awning and sort, leaving the Kaffirs 
to perform all the other stages of the work. During the worst part 
of the summer, say December and January, even existence in the 
camps becomes almost intolerable, and many diggers, especially 
those who reside in the Cape Colony, leave the diggings and visit 
their homes for a month or two, whereby unless they leave a 
partner or other representative to work for them, they lose 
much money probably, but are infallibly great gainers in health. 
In autumn the weather begins to be tolerable again, and all hands 
are back at the Fields resuming work with activity. Of course 
the great proportion of diggers, impelled by that all-powerful 
" auri sacra fames," remain through the whole summer at the 
diggings ; but many a strong man has found a grave on the barren 
" veldt " beneath the solitary black flag that marks our cemetery, 
or at least had his constitution radically injured thereby. Many 
again, escape scot-free, and laugh at their more timid or prudent 
comrades. 

After the tempered heats of autumn, comes the reallv 
delightful weather of a South African winter. Truly the frosts 
are frequent and sharp. I have found thick ice in my water- 
buckets outside the tent, and even half the cold tea frozen 






CLIMATE, WEATHER, AND HEALTH. 31 

in my kettle inside, and have looked out to see the whole of the 
surrounding " veldt " white and glistening with thick hoar frost ; 
but all this only reminds a man of Old England, and bids him 
take a stiff "night-cap" before he "turns in," and put on 
plenty of warm blankets. And, soon after the mighty South 
African sun rises, all is changed — the frost disappears as swiftly 
as if by magic, and about two hours after sunrise the air is as 
warm as that of a fair English June day. This is the time when 
diggers work " with a will," and enjoy their work too — when we 
gaily handle pick, shovel, or sieve, with light hearts in our breasts 
and merry songs on our lips. Now and then during the winter 
there will occur rainstorms, and perhaps two, or at most three, 
raw, cold, cloudy days in succession ; and it can be very cold at 
the diggings, a kind of cold which I have felt more keenly than 
the hardest frosts in England, and at such times the claims are 
deserted, and the hotels and canteens crowded. But storms and 
cold wet weather are rare and not of long duration, and even on 
such occasions the hardy digger may spend the day profitably if 
he puts on thick clothing, takes his gun, and wanders over the 
"veldt," where he is pretty sure of finding game in abundance, and 
may chance upon indications of some new diamondiferous spot. 
Accounts of one or two of these winter-storms will be found in 
my diary. Apart from these rare occasions, the sky is almost 
always cloudless, and the sun powerful ; so that even in winter it 
behoves the digger to wear light head-gear, broad brimmed straw 
hats, with light muslin "puggerees " being the best wear, and 
"pith helmets " the next. 

As to health, it is generally good at the camps, except in 
summer. During this summer fever, diarrhoea, and dysentery 
have been alarmingly prevalent, and I have had my share 
of them, but I believe they are to be attributed not so 
much to the heat, or natural atmosphere of the district, 
as to the scarcity of good water, and the abominable deficiency 
of all sanitary arrangements. If cleanliness is neglected, 
amid so large a congregation of people, in a crowded camp, the 
public health must suffer ; but I believe that now, under British 
rule, both these fertile causes of disease will be removed, and the 
summer of 1872, will, I trust, be less fatal than that of 1871. 
■The principal ailments of this summer have been a very trying 
low fever, acute diarrhoea and dysentery, colic, inflammation of 
the lungs, and a very mild form of scurvy. Some deaths have 
resulted from intemperance — of which, as may be expected, 



I 



32 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



there is a good deal. Owing to the heat and dryness causing 
incessant thirst, the temptations held out by the innumerable 
canteen keepers, and the total absence of all restraint, a young 
man who drinks is totally lost on the Fields ; many a man of 
good connections, who might have gone home in a year or two in 
health, and with wealth too, to gladden the hearts of his friends, 
now lies in a nameless grave, beneath the black flag., having 
killed himself by hard drinking, which is totally incompatible 
with this climate. I will here give a few extracts from 
different papers bearing on the subject of this chapter. 

Diamond News, 11th Nov. 1871. 
Dust Storm. 

On Sunday evening week the Du Toit's Pan, De Beer's, and New Rush 
Camps were maddened by a dust storm from the north-west, which lasted 
nearly a couple of hours. We have been asked to write an article descrip- 
tive of the event, but as we had to shut ourselves up within our small cabin 
to prevent ourselves from being blown away and to ballast the cabin itself ; 
and, as during the said two hours our eyes, in common with the eyes of all 
the camps, were blinded with dust, and our ears deafened with the flapping 
of canvas, and the rush of the wind and the roar of thunder, description is 
impossible. All we can say from personal observation and experience is, 
that the dust was the finest, the most searching, the densest, the most per- 
vading, and the most irritating we ever had the bad fortune to see, smell, 
taste, or feel. It was not only moving about in the air, on the plain, and in 
the Pan, but it entered into tent, shanty, and store ; and, penetrating broad- 
cloth, flannel, and linen, plugged up the pores of the skin, and dried up the 
very source of life. The dust of the dry diggings is to be classed with 
plague, pestilence, and famine, and if there is anything worse, with that also. 

The wind was very wilful, and did a deal of damage. Half the population 
in the Fields had to hold on by poles and ropes like grim death during 
the time the storm lasted. In some cases holding on was of no use. Bell 
tents went after bell tents by the score, especially at the New Rush and Do 
Beer's. The Central Hospital tent came miserably to grief, and a canvas 
house put up for Mr Stockdale, of Du Toit's, was knocked over and smashed. 
This last-mentioned result of the storm might have been fatal to life, as 
Mr and Mrs Stockdale were both in the house at the time, and narrowly 
escaped the falling of wood-work. It was some time before they could 
extricate themselves from the canvas. 

A little rain followed the dust, scarcely enough to make the ground damp. 

A correspondent of the above paper, dating u Klip Drift, 3rd 
Nov., 1871," says : 

11 We had the first hint on Sunday that we must look out for squalls. 
At about four o'clock in the afternoon there was a streak of gold over the 
Colesberg Kopje (an old kopje near Klip-Drift, not the famous Now Rush) 
that the weather-wise of Klip-Drift understood. The streak soon widened, 
and before the hour hand of the clock had made "five," the sky had changed 
from blue to orange. The special magistrate said, "It is going to thunder, 
by Jove, sir !" The chaplain of the Fields, who had arranged for an evening 



CLIMATE, WEATHER, AND HEALTH. q* 



66 



service, put away his sermon-book and surplice with an air of thankfulness 
that he was as secure from the weather (not the service) as the vicarage 
can make him. Those who watch the thunder of these latitudes with about 
the same enjoyment as little boys do rockets, must have enjoyed themselves 
amazingly, lor the lightning on this occasion was to ordinary lightning just 
as "Home Sweet Home," with variations, is to the original melod? It 
commenced as some printers do, with "broadsheets," and ended with "fiz 
zers and then it recommenced with fizzers, and ended with a fizzer and a" 
crack which looked like anything but keeping the Sabbath, and sounded 
like the crack of doom. There was very little rain. The only damage which 

w C w ed ,w 0n i 8t my ac j^ intan <* from this outbreak happened to Mr 
Webster Wm. Hume and Co.) One stroke of the electric Lid knocked 
off the chimney of Mr. Webster's residence, entered the bedroom, knocked 
off the plaster, and took a turn round the iron bedstead, leaving its trail 

hurl vTZl r lt 1 tr i Velled - ^^ 110b ° d y WM killed »d nobody 
hurt. Mi s ^ ebster who has recently arrived on the Fields, was stunned 

for •some little time ; but having rushed out of the house into the store, and 
finding that the whole place was not » coming down by the run," she speedily 
rl^Li V" ^ ^^y Ratifying thing that at Klip Drift compa- 
rative j little damage has been done to either person or property bv theso 
frightful "squalls." The squall lasted about an hour and a^uEter. We 
must now look out, not for squalls merely, but for storms. 

Tins appears to have been identical with the dust-storm tie- i 

scribed by the editor of the Diamond News at Du Toit's Pan 
and of which I have given my impressions in " A Dinner under 
Difficulties at Mrs. Brown's." 

November 8th, the same correspondent writes again : 

We had a storm on Monday; I presume the first of the season. It was 

2rZ y i m eV <vl y reSpeCt ' Xt Came and wont P^cisely as all our summer 
storms do. there was hrst the leaden hue over the whole firmament • 
tnen thick heavy clouds chased each other in every direction, as if the' 

X, th ° Wea ?/ r had , lost his re S ister > and was puzzled about what 
ordeis to give. After a while there seemed to be some sort of drift in 
me air, and the wind puffed the clouds round the camp of Campbell 

hJw^ 6 , h0 i el ,° f Jardine - Then there is a S^re over the hills on the 
jigut (Fmel side from our point of view), and down comes a rattling hail 

w !r? ° Ut i h 1 e Size of hazcl nuts - That little &*** played out, we 
have thunder and lightning, and rain-a good deal too much of the two 
lormer; not one half enough of rain. 

Cape Argus. November 25th, 1871 : 

A good deal of fever, colic, and other diseases, is said to be just now 

lw\v T Vru eUt at the Fields ' es P eciall y «* Du Toit's Pan and De Beer',, 
it a- , ' wa gg° nn ^ker, of Bloemfontein, has returned home, looking 
exceedingly unwell from the effects of fever. He has, moreover, lost one 

h™ \r°u y ? arS ° ld ' 0n the road ' at the farm of ^ J - Vessels, and has 

oiougnt back another very ill. Three strong men died at Du Toit's Pan. 

viinm one hundred yards of each other, on Monday morning week. Mr. 

witt' ^ yselden ' of Bloemfontein, likewise returned home quite prostrated 

ltn lever, but is now gradually recovering. The doctors at the Fields 

*■> it is said, ordering the sick (especially women and children) to leave 



34 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

without delay, declaring that nothing can be done for them while they 
remain there: The Rev. Mr. Doxat (Church of England) has had a touch 
of the fever, but is now, we are glad to say, getting over it. Several who 
have recently arrived at Bloemi'ontein from Du Toit's Pan and De Beer's, 
assert that they left because they latterly felt far from well, and were 
getting afraid to remain during the summer months. 

A letter in the Natal Mercury, dated 23rd October, 1871, 
speaks on sanitary arrangements (or rather a very minor detail 
compared with some 1 could mention), and speaks mildly of flies, 
as follows : 

A stop should be put to slaughtering in the camps. Sheep and goats 
are slaughtered alongside the tents, especially by the Boer portion of the 
community, who seem to have very little regard for cleanliness in the 
vicinity of their encampments. The offal is allowed either to fester in the 
sun, or dragged about the camps by packs of half starved cur-dogs. The 
committees should look into the matter, and impose a heavy penalty on all 
who persist in slaughtering in the camps. Flies are beginning to become 
troublesome. It will be remembered that they were a great nuisance 
about this time last year on the river fields, especially at Pniel, where we 
poor diggers were so troubled by these abominable little insects that it 
beeame°necessary to carry a handkerchief to brush them off the exposed 
parts of the body. I hope we shall not have them in such numbers as 
they were on the river. I believe the filthy state of the camps will tend 
to increase them by myriads. Perhaps the next nuisance will be fleas. 

The practice of slaughtering small animals close to the tents 
is certainly objectionable on many grounds, but I cannot corro- 
borate the writer as to the " half -starved curs dragging the 
offal about the camp." I hardly know any part of a sheep 
which the Kafirs will not eat. having frequently seen them 
consume the foulest offal, so that if the curs depend on that 
kind of food, they run a risk of becoming totally starved. But 
as to the flies — they had become, by the time I left the fields, a 
fearful plague, for they filled the air both outside and inside the 
tents, and they are far more aggressive and irritating than the 
European insect. They come at you with a loud threatening 
buzz, and their contact is excessively irritating, producing almost 
the sensation of an actual sting. Moreover, they are particularly 
fond of plunging into the corners of your eyes, and sticking 
there if you will let them, or into your ears, nose, &c. 

It is thought by many that they communicate opthalmia, 
which is prevalent in many parts of the colony in a mild form, 
though excessively painful, generally lasting a month. I suf- 
fered terribly from this affection of the eyes, which came on 
after I had pretty nearly got rid of fever and diarrhoea, and ha*d 
left the dry diggings. 



CLIMATE, WEATHEB, AND HEALTH. ^ 



60 



A solution of sulphate of zinc and rose water makes a good 
lotion for tins painful ailment. To return to the flies. Durincr 
the summer they swarm in the tents, rendering the afternoon 
siesta impracticable, and spoiling every article of food or drink 
that is left uncovered. I found it almost impossible to keep 
meat from them, for even if I adopted the precaution of putting 
it into a large close-lidded tin box directly I bought it, I generally 
found that one or two of the horrible insects had managed to 
slip in with it, and the next day the meat would be found fly 
blown. The flies are of two kinds : a little black fellow, lik- fi 

the common house fly of Europe, and a rather large brigh' 
green fellow ; the latter the more endurable insect of the two, 
because he very seldom settles on the person or attacks the face,' ' , 

m which the little black beast is most pertinacious. It is common I 

on summer days to see a large number of diggers going about 
armed with long tails of different animals, which they constantly 
flick before their faces. Different kinds of fly traps are in use 
in the tents, but they are of little avail. You see a number of 
disgusting corpses it is true, but no apparent decrease in the 
number of your tormentors. But there is a certain wild satis- 
faction felt at the death of even a few— indeed, even now. on 
board the good steamer Roman, in mid-ocean, I have such a 
vivid recollection of the constant misery I suffered from these 
winged pests, that I am at great pains to kill a fly, if I possibly 
can, whenever and wherever I see him. The same writer also 
alludes, interrogatively, to fleas. I can answer him. There are 
thousands of them by this time (December, 1871). But though 
they certainly do bite, I esteem them as nothing compared to 
the filthy flies. When one reflects that there are, outside the 
camps, hundreds of carcases of cattle which have died of different 
diseases, in different stages of putrefaction, and that when I left, 
the public latrines were huge open trenches, lying in many cases 
in the midst of the tents— the horror felt at the contact of a fly 
can be easily imagined. A writer from Du Toit's Pan, 9th 
October, says : — 

I am sorry to say that the sanitary measures of the camps are as far 
trom completion to-day as they were some time back It is time something 
was done, for in certain parts of the camps the stench is dreadful— almost 
sufficient to knock one down. Surely, if this continue, we will be visited 
by some pestilential disease. Is it not time that the diggers acted for them- 
selves, instead of leaving it to a Free State Government official, who makes 
all sorts of excuses. 

Well, let us hope that long ere this is in print the British 

d 2 



\: 



■I 



36 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

Sanitary Inspectors will have taken vigorous measures to put all 
these matters to rights, for in truth it was sadly needed. 

Here is another writer, a Natalian, who had just arrived on 
the Fields early in October. He writes from the Colesberg 

Kopje : — 

As regards sanitary matters, but very little indeed has been done; the 
consequence is, that with a population of so many thousands all congre- 
gated on a small space of ground, the atmosphere is completely polluted, 
and unless some steps are taken to remedy this evil, I much fear that the 
summer will bring a great deal of sickness. Already the weather is getting 
verv warm at mid-day, and the flies are very troublesome ; this, I take it, 
arises from the number of dead cattle, and the filth that surrounds the 
camp and should sound a warning note. The work is very laborious, and 
trying to white men, and now that the hot season is setting m, I have no 
doubt many will be obliged to give in. The dust from thousands of sieves, 
combined with the heat and glare of the white soil, is extremely trying, 
and brings on with persons inflammation of the lungs ; indeed, the larger 
number of deaths that have taken place— if we leave out of the question 
those who have died from the effects of intemperance— have been caused by 
inflammation of the lungs. 

I am not at all sure that this writer is correct on this last 
point. During my six months' residence there I heard very little 
of inflammation of the lungs, but much of fever, diarrhoea, and 
dysentery. Quinine and Collis Browne's Chlorodyne are good 
medicines to take up. It is an unfortunate thing with regard to 
the camp fever, that even when the fever appears to have left the 
patient, lie does not regain the least strength as long as he 
remains in the vicinity of the camp, It seems to be a kind of 
malaria. Nothing but removal to a distance, and thorough 
change of air, can promote restoration to health. There are 
plenty of doctors on the Fields. I cannot lay down better rules 
for general health than that a man should live soberly, have 
abundance of good food, plenty of good vegetables, no matter 
what he pays for them, and good water at any price ; and choose 
a clean, healthy, open spot, far from any latrine or slaughtering- 
ground, for pitching his tent. 

Re weather. Here is another extract from my favourite Natal 

Mercury : — 

The weather continues dry, hot, and uncomfortable. Rain has occurred 
on two occasions during the week. A constant gale of wind is blowing, 
and this, with the sun, is most trying to the eyes. Clouds of dust extend, 
occasionally, for miles, and the incessant whirlwinds cause a great deal of 
annoyance. 

Ah, by the way, I forgot to mention the whirlwinds, which 
used to cause me more amusement than annoyance. I never 






CLIMATE, WEATHER, AND HEALTH. 37 

saw one on a very large scale, but was constantly gratified by the 
sight of a tall revolving column of dust, pursuing a most erratic 
course through the claims or through the camp, growing bigger 
as it advanced, and snatching up every moderately light article 
that came in its way. Thus hats, papers, sheepskins. &c, &c, 
would be seized, and would go comically gyrating to the top of a 
column, while the owners had to run a long way before they 
recovered them, to the great amusement of all the diggers near. 
But if the open door (?) of a tent stood in the way of one of 
these "young whirlwinds," and it got in, it would play " old 
gooseberry ' with the tent and contents, with a vengeance. 

A chapter treating of health at the diggings would be incom- 
plete without some notice of the very unpleasant sores to which 
we diggers are liable. We frequently find that the slightest 
scratch, on the hand especially, will fester, and become an open, 
discharging sore, which often prevents a man from using his 
hand, and takes several weeks to heal. I have heard these sores 
attributed to lime dust getting into any scratch or cut ; but 
this is not an adequate explanation, for I have frequently known 
— even in my own case — these sores to come spontaneously in 
places where the skin was perfectly sound. I have had them 
often, and sometimes many at a time, always on the hands, and 
have known innumerable other diggers who suffered in the same 
manner. They can be treated either with carbolic ointment, 
after the discharge has ceased, or with frequent applications of 
cold water, or even left entirely alone, and I found that they got 
well just as quickly if I took no notice of them whatever. But 
I think they must be attributed to an impure state of the blood, 
being in fact, a mild form of scurvy ; and I think a good course 
of sarsaparilla or some similar blood-purifying agent, might 
either prevent their occurrence, if taken in time, or at any rate ex- 
pedite their healing. Not having visited the colony of Natal, I am 
not aware if these are the same as "Natal sores," which appear to 
be very frequent there, and for which certain infallible specifics 
are advertised in the Natal papers. It might be worth while to 
give the famous Holloway's Ointment a trial on these diggers' 
sores. I have heard of some cures being effected b} T it. There 
is a certain large bulb found on the Fields, the thin skin 
of which is considered very efficacious in healing all kinds of 
cuts, wounds, and sores, and it is certainly a useful thing 
to have by one, and costs nothing. Any old digger will describe 
the bulb or root to a "new chum," or give him a piece. 



i 

I 



:38 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



CHAPTER VI. 



SPORT IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF THE FIELDS. 






Very fair sport, both with shot-gun and rifle, may be had in 
the immediate neighbourhood of the different camps. About two 
and a half miles from Du Toit's Pan, to the left of the Boshof 
road, lies a large tract of scrub, with here and there a stunted 
thornbush, which abounds with game, especially the "knorhaan ' 
( Otis afro) a small species of bustard. This bird, which generally 
rises at a longish range, is best brought down by a shot from 
directly behind him, i.e., when flying straight away from the 
sportsman, being less easily killed when crossing. The harsh 
cry of this bird soon becomes familiar, and the practised eye will 
often detect the black and white head of the cock, or the smaller 
grey head of the hen, raised a little above the thick scrub. In 
this case, it is well worth while to try a little careful stalking, if 
the ground affords any cover at all, by which means the birds, 
hens especially, may often be approached within quite short 
ranges. The birds will frequently lie very close, especially in 
stormy weather, and will not rise unless the sportsman come 
within a few yards of them, but they unquestionably afford the 
best sport to him who sees them at a distance, and goes in for a 
persevering stalk. They afford excellent eating, when kept for a 
few days. I think they slightly resemble in size and plumage 
our black cocks and grey hens. 

On this same tract of ground there are a good many grey 
partridges, very like our English bird, and a good sprinkling of 
hares, rather small, long-legged, and wonderful runners ; but as 
they seldom get up until you almost walk over them their agility 
rarely suffices to save their lives. Besides these there are 
numerous red-legged plovers, handsome birds of black, white, and 
grey plumage — small bodies, but very fair eating. 

In numerous parts of the " veldt ' may be seen a lot of little 
holes in the limy, sandy soil, a little larger than rat holes. 
These are generally found twenty to forty together, and are the 
entrances to the abodes of the "meerkat," a small feline animal, 
something like a weasel, with a nice furry coat — which makes very 



■■ 



SPORT IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF THE FIELDS. 39 

pretty tobacco-pouches — and fine bushy tails. The meerkat 
may often be seen scampering over the " veldt ' at a great pace, 
and, if followed, will be traced to one of these colonies, and will 
dart into one of the holes before you can get within range ; but 
if you lie down at about twenty-five yards from the colony, and 
wait patiently, perfectly still, in a quarter of an hour or so you 
will see first a knowing little head, then a pretty furry breast, 
and lastly perhaps the whole animal, emerge from one after 
another of the holes. At the slightest movement you make, they 
are in again ; and though by waiting some time you may get a 
shot, your victim, even if killed outright, will probably tumble 
back into its hole again. Still, by dint of great patience, and only- 
shooting such animals as are seen to have come well away from 
their holes, a couple of skins may be secured in a morning. It 
is lazy work, and reminds one of angling, as it may be called 
'*a contemplative man's recreation." So much for meerkat 
shooting. 

Larger holes are frequently found, which are the dwellings of 
the porcupine, and still larger ones of the jackal, and the great 
Cape ant-eater, but these animals are rarely seen, except at night- 
time. It is not uncommon, indeed, in walking over the " veldt," to 
come upon the carcase of a porcupine which has been killed by 
the camp-dogs, and quills of all sizes are very frequently to be found. 

The slaughtering-grounds in the neighbourhood of the camps 
naturally attract large numbers of the different species of 
vultures, some of them very large, and some possessing handsome 
plumage ; it may amuse the digger who has not time to go far, 
to try a long shot at some of these ravenous birds with his rifle, 
or to try to stalk them to within buck-shot range. Carrion 
crows are numerous, with a broad white ring round their necks. 
I must not forget to mention the '• paanw," or Cape bustard, a 
fine large bird, the size of a turkey, with very strong wings, 
handsome plumage, and excellent eating. Though frequently 
seen flying high over our camps. the} r are not often found on the 
"veldt" in the immediate neighbourhood; but there are great 
numbers of these magnificent birds near the banks of the Modder 
River, and doubtless of the Vaal also. They can be approached 
without difficulty to easy rifle range, and sometimes, by careful 
stalking, or by riding round them on horseback, in gradually 
narrowing circles, within shot range. Hawks, and other large 
birds of prey, also abound. By going farther from the camp, 
past the hills on the Boshof ftoad, the hunter, if he has a good 



40 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



i 






I 



liorse to cany him, or if he can spare time to get away for a few 
days with a waggon or cart, may get good sport with the rifle 
among those graceful antelopes, the springbok and the larger 
blesbok, individuals of both which, with occasional flocks, I have 
sometimes seen close to Du Toit's Pan. One or two " vleis," i.e.. 
water-holes, or " pans " filled with water in the winter-time, may 
be found in the neighbourhood of the camps, and near these, 
especially towards evening, you will frequently get shots at Kafir 
cranes ; singly or in flocks. These are magnificent large birds, 
of most graceful proportions, and beautiful bluish-grey plumage ; 
they are also fair eating. I think the scientific name of this 
beautiful bird is AntJrropoides Stanleyana. Within two days' 
journey of the camps (by bullock waggon, i.e., thirty to forty miles) 
may be found abundance of different antelopes, and even the 
big, diabolical-looking wildebeest, some of which we saw down 
by the Moclder River. 

Immense quantities of " bucks,' ' as all the antelopes are called, 
are daily, during the winter especially, which is the proper 
shooting season, brought on the Du Toit's Pan market, and sold 
at very moderate prices, owing to their abundance. I have seen 
a large waggon loaded with springbok and blesbok, with a couple 
of wildebeest ; I should think five or six dozen animals altogether, 
all of which had been killed in one day by two guns, only two days' 
waggon journey from the camp. From De Beer's and the Oolesberg 
Kopje, very pleasant and successful shooting excursions may also 
be made ; and some of the aristocratic diggers of those camps see 
no harm (nor do I) in turning out with horses and dogs on 
Sunday, and organising a "chasse" on a large scale, the result 
of which is that many a buck, hare, bustard and partridge may 
next day be seen hanging among the legs of mutton and pieces 
of beef, on the big mimosas outside their tents, which form their 
winter larders. Along the wooded banks of the beautiful Vaal 
may be found abundance of guinea-fowl, wild ducks, < >ccasionally 
wild geese, and plenty of smaller game. The sport to be obtained 
on the Modder Eiver, about the same distance from the "dry 
diggings " as the Vaal, I have described in a chapter entitled 
" A Diamond Digger's Holiday." Leopards are occasionally seen 
on the banks of both these rivers. Anyone really fond of hunting 
should not think of leaving South Africa without getting a few 
months* thorough enjoyment in the shape of big game shooting 
in the interior, which can be easily managed by arranging to 
accompany one of the regular hunters and traders, who go up 



iih, i 

! 

i 



1 






SPORT IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF THE FIELDS. 41 

with blankets, powder, and other commodities much prized by 
the native tribes, and return with skins, ostrich feathers, and 
ivory, frequently realising several thousands of pounds by one 
trip. Some of these traders, who are very well known men, and 
can easily be heard of, pass through the Diamond Fields on their 
way ; others go by a different route, starting from Natal. 

The "new chum " must beware of letting his love for sport 
draw him away too long or too often from attending to his 
claim or other business at the fields ; but a little change of air 
and good healthy exercise occasionally, is highly beneficial, 
especially when it involves facilities of bathing in cool, running 
water. With regard to weapons, it is not absolutely necessary to 
bring out any, as plenty can be bought at fair prices on the 
Fields. But for anyone who intends to shoot much, I would recom- 
mend a Henry Express Bine, and a good strong 12-bore muzzle 
loading smooth bore. In the event of wishing to realise money on 
weapons, I may mention that I have seen a great many sold by 
auction ; and that while a rifle, or double-barrel rifle and smooth- 
bore will always fetch a fair price, yet a smooth-bore only is not 
much esteemed, because the sportsmen "up country' only go 
in for large game, and hold " small deer," either furred or 
feathered, in contempt. About bl. or i)l. is the price a double- 
barrel smooth-bore will fetch by auction, apparently almost 
irrespective of quality or maker's name. 

There is plenty of good fishing to be obtained on both Vaal 
and Modder, of which I treat fully elsewhere. I have heard of 
wild ostriches being found only a few days' journey from the 
Vaal, on authority, however, of which I will not vouch for the 
veracity. On my way down from Pniel to Cape Town, I saw a 
large number of tame ones on the farm of a gentleman named 
Devenish, not far from Victoria West. 



I 






: 



42 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



CHAPTER VII. 

OUTFIT AND WORKING EXPENSES. 

With regard to outfit for the Diamond Fields, under which 
heading we may comprise tent, bedding, cooking utensils, 
digging tools, weapons, and clothing, it appears to be by no 
means certain that any great advantage is gained, or any great 
saving of money effected, by bringing these things out from 
England. Owing to the increasing competition among store- 
keepers on the fields, and the frequency of persons leaving, and 
consequent large bi-weekly auction sales of these and all other 
necessaries, everything may be obtained at fairly moderate prices. 
Moreover, if the intending digger studies my account of the 
different routes, he will probably decide in favour of the quickest 
and cheapest, i.e., by Inland Transport Company's waggon from 
Cape Town, in which case he will only be allowed 401b. of 
luggage, and can consequently hardly bring out more than a 
change of clothing. 

Any who may decide upon travelling up the country by 
bullock waggon for the sake of the sport to be obtained on the 
road, may judge for themselves of the advantage to be gained 
by bringing their outfit from England, and see if it is worth 
the extra trouble, by reading the following statement of average 
prices on the Fields in October, 1871. 

A " square " tent (this is really oblong, but is the regular term 
in opposition to bell tents, which are not advisable) suitable for 
one or two persons, say 10ft. long by 7ft. wide, will cost new SI. 
or 91. ; larger sizes rather cheaper in proportion. This price 
should include tentpoles, pegs, and lines. I got a good straw 
mattress made for 11. ; woollen blankets are about 15$. ; cotton 
ditto about 5s. each. Cooking utensils may be bought pretty 
cheaply at the diggings, but for anyone going up by waggon I 
can confidently recommend, from experience, one of Silver and 
Co.'s canteens, costing about two guineas, and containing in a 
very portable form every requisite for plain cooking and eating 
for two persons, suitable both for the road and for the tent. 
With regard to diggers' tools, they had better be bought on the 






OUTFIT AND WORKING EXPENSES. 4 



o 



Fields, as otherwise the novice might waste his money on un- 
suitable articles. They are, first, the fine sieve, fine but strong 
wire meshing, in a strong frame, costing 1/. 10s. to 21. 5s. new ; 
second, the coarse sieve, large mesh in a small square frame, 
costing 105. to 15s. ; third, pick and shovel, about 7s. 6d. to 
9s. each ; fourth, a crowbar, about 2s. ()d. ; fifth, two or three 
galvanised iron buckets, indeed half a dozen is not too man}', 
they being so useful not only in hauling up stuff out of the 
claims, and drawing water, but also in fetching home small lots 
of vegetables, &c, from market and many other purposes, in- 
cluding the collecting of dry bullock dung for fuel. These 
buckets cost on the Fields about 6s. Gd. each. Some rope or 
one or two good strong rheims will also be required. Rope is 
very dear just now. Rheims about 2s. 6d. each in stores, but 
can be bought much cheaper in the market. Clothing, made 
expressly for the diggings, canvas and corduroy suits, &c, can be 
bought at moderate prices in the stores, and still more cheaply 
at the auction sales. The hire of Kaffirs will probably cost 
30s. per man per month, their food (mealie meal) about 15s. to 
20s. per month more, with a bit of coarse meat once a week, 
some Boer tobacco, and a Saturday night's "tot" of "Cape 
smoke," which may be put down altogether at Is. 6 d. per head 
per week. 

The digger, if he wishes to live economically, must do all his 
own cooking, marketing, and washing. A plain cookery book 
will be of much assistance to him in the former department. 
With regard to marketing, he should attend the morning market 
(7 a.m.) pretty often, taking a Kafir with him with a wheel- 
barrow or a sack ; he will soon get au fail at the prices, and will 
only buy when he can buy cheaply. As to washing, hear what 
those who are too proud or too lazy to do their own say about 
the expense of having their washing " put out " : — " Since I have 
been here I have only been able to get one sack of clothes 
washed, the Koranna and half-caste women are too lazy to work, 
and get their money more easily. They ask 10s. to wash a small 
sack, and it costs about 10s. more for water in addition to soap, 
so that cleanliness is a most expensive luxury." 

I always found that, with care, I could wash all I had dirtied 
during the week with half a bucketful of hot water and a little 
soap. I did no ^ perhaps, produce results which would have 
satisfied the critical eye of a British housekeeper, but it was suffi- 
cient for purposes of cleanliness. The " freshman ' will also, as 



Hi 



^ 



44 " THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

I had to do, soon learn the art of taking a thorough bath — or, at 
any rate, total ablution — on Sundays in half a bucketful of water. 
With regard to the price of this great essential to health and 
comfort, I paid, at Du Toit's Pan, at Clarke's or the Boyal 
Engineer's Well, which contains the best water in the place, 
4s. per month water-rate, for which I was entitled to draw four 
buckets of water daily. But at Colesberg Kopje I never paid 
less than 3d. per bucket, there being no monthly rate, though I 
believe wholesale buyers, as hotel keepers, &c, could get water at 
10s. per hogshead — in their own casks, of course. 

I need not here enumerate the prices of food of various kinds, 
which will be given in another chapter, but I will look over the 
housekeeping accounts which I kept for myself and partner, and 
shall thus be able to give a very fair approximate estimate of 
monthly expenditure. Details of expenses on the voyage and 
journey out will be found elsewhere, but I will put down firsi- 
class expenses from London to Du Toit's Pan at G5Z., which is 
ample. I will then give the following reliable statement, show- 
ing on what capital two men may be able to work for six months, 
by the end of which time it is hard lines indeed if they have not 
found something to keep expenses going for some time longer : — 

Preliminary Expenses, 

Voyage out (first-class) and journey to diggings by Inland 
Transport Company (9 days), including everything, with a 
moderate allowance of drinkables, Go/, each -£130 

Tent 9 

Bedding, say 1 mattress, 1 woollen blanket, and 2 cotton ones, 

each person 5 

Tools, say 1 fine sieve, 1 coarse ditto, 1 pick, 2 shovels, 1 

crowbar, 6 buckets 6 9 

Cooking and eating utensils, including an iron cooking pot for 

the Kafirs, at outside 3 

Planks, to make sorting-table, skirting-board for tent, &c 2 

Light clothing, and sundries 5 

Total £160 9 

i 

Monthly Expenses. 

Claim licence 10 

Four Kafirs at 30s. per month 6 

Food for Kafirs 4 4 

Food and general expenses of partners, at 3/. 3s. per month each 6 6 

Water, say 3 buckets per day at 3d. per bucket 1 2 

Total £18 2 C 



llill II 



OUTFIT AND WORKING EXPENSES. ■ 45 

Six months at the above rate ....£108 15 

Add preliminary expenses ... 1GO 9 

Total £260 4 M 

Thus we arrive at, say 270/., as the sum necessary to enable 
two persons to make a very fair start at the diamond diggings, 
or 135/. each. One man alone will spend rather more in pro- 
portion. To arrive at the above estimate correctly and at the 
same time liberally. I have taken the average of three months' 
total expenses of myself and partner, including hotel expenses 
on many occasions when we were washed out of our tents for a 
day or two by heavy rains (which will not happen to my readers 
if they follow my directions), and including also Cape brandy, 
occasional beers and other liquors, candles, firewood, and small 
incidental expenses. I have not included purchase money for a 
claim ; if the new comers commence at Bultfontein they may 
•'jump " a claim for nothing, as before explained. At Du Toit's 
Pan a good claim should not cost more than 10/. or 20/.. at De 
Beer's (Old Rush) 20/. to 100/. according to position, at the 
Colesberg Kopje (De Beer's New Rush) a quarter of a claim in 
first-rate position, 250/. to 1000/. : but all these prices may be 
very much modified by the time any of the readers of this book 
reach the diggings, and it may fairly be expected that by that 
time, many good new camps will be opened. I need hardly say 
that it will certainly be advantageous to a man of energy and 
, 'cuteness ,) to takeout much more money than the sum above 
mentioned, there being, besides the certain investments in a claim 
known to be good, many other ways of making money at the 
fields, which I shall point out in a special chapter. Should the 
emigrant decide on trying his luck first at the river diggings, to 
which he may be influenced either by good new diggings which 
may have been discovered on the Vaal or elsewhere, by the time 
he arrives, or by the consideration of greater security to health if 
he arrives during the hot season ; then he should add to the 
above mentioned preliminary expenses that of a strong Scotch 
cart and four oxen, or two good mules would do : 

Scotch cart (second-hand), say i'lo 

Two mules, or four oxen, about 30 

Total 4^5 

and the food of the animals will form a considerable monthly 
item, varying so much according to the part of the diggings to be 




46 • THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

worked at, that I will not attempt to put it down. But it must 
be borne in mind that either on the riverside or at the dry 
diggings, considerable profit may be derived from letting out cart 
and mules, or oxen, for carting off stuff, transport of goods from 
one camp to another, and many other purposes ; moreover there 
is a constant demand for carts and cattle, and if kept in good 
condition they are sure to sell at good prices, and may be con- 
sidered, on the whole, as a profitable investment. I have spoken 
elsewhere on the prices of firearms on the fields, but should any- 
one decide on going in for a good deal of sport, and have a predi- 
lection for breech-loading weapons, which have unquestionably 
many great advantages, let him by no means forget to bring out 
an abundant supply of ammunition or cartridge cases, which he 
will hardly be likely to obtain on the fields. A pair of good 
diamond-scales will be a useful article to bring up, also a good 
test-case, especially for anyone who thinks of going after gold, of 
which it is likely that many new discoveries may shortly be 
made. Some specks of gold-dust have been discovered on the 
Vaal Eiver, but it does not as yet appear to exist there in paying 
quantities. 



J 



PROFESSIONS, TRADES, ETC. AT THE FIELDS. 47 



CHAPTER VIII. 

PROFESSIONS, TRADES, AND OTHER WAYS OF MAKING 

MONEY AT THE FIELDS. 

With regard to the different professions and callings, the exercise 
of which will be found profitable on the Fields : I will now 
proceed to enumerate the principal of such avocations, leaving 
aside diamond-diggers, buyers, and brokers, hotel-keepers, store- 
keepers, and auctioneers, all of whom find full mention elsewhere. 

And first let me treat of the medical profession, whose services 
we poor diggers so often stand in need of, during the summer 
especially. There are at present on the Fields many soi-disant 
" doctors," few of whom, I fear, could show a diploma, and I do 
not know of many in whom I should place confidence if attacked 
by a serious illness. Therefore, there is certainly a good opening 
for energetic and talented young members of the medical pro- 
fession, and diggers would be very willing to pay a high fee for 
consultations, and a high price for medicines to a man in whom 
they could have confidence. There are certainly one or two such, 
but there is plenty of room for more. The medical man on the 
Fields need not confine himself to the exercise of his profession. 
He can, and probably will, take out a claim, and spend a good 
deal of his time at the sorting-table. He can either have the 
sorting-table close to his tent, or if he sorts on his claim, his 
tent should be pitched not very far from the latter, and he can 
liave a particular flag flying on his claim with a notice to patients 
as follows : " Apply at claim No. 10, marked by a red flag." 

A doctor, too, may often get a good berth as sanitary inspector 
of one of the camps, with fair pay and light duties. A pleasant 
change truly, for a young doctor, from his gloomy consulting- 
room in the neighbourhood of Cavendish-square, to a seat by a 
shaded sorting-table, close to a well-pitched tent on the banks of 
the Vaal, where, whilst waiting for the patients who will be sure 
to come, he may sort a variegated, glittering heap of fresh- 
washed pebbles, and turn out a diamond now and then. At the 
dry diggings our practitioner will probably make more money in 
both ways, but will not find life so comfortable there. When he 



48 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

gets into good practice, however, the monotony of existence will 
often be necessarily varied by a ride on a good horse from one 
camp to another, for the fame of a good doctor will soon spread 
amongst the digging population. 

Next in order I will take the lawyers. We diggers are a peace- 
able set of men as a rule, and by no means litigious, yet awkward 
disputes, beyond the power of a digger's committee to decide, will 
occur sometimes, and "gentlemen of the long robe " will find oc- 
casional profitable employment. There are several magistrate's 
courts at the different camps, and though I hardly think that a man 
would make enough by law alone to enable him to witness, with 
equanimity and without envy, the daily finds of lucky diggers ; 
yet. by getting all the legal practice that comes in his way, he 
may make a very desirable addition to his income, and should, in 
fact, more than pay his working expenses, if, as is almost certain, 
he. like everybody else, works a claim, or has one worked for him. 

I don't know whether it will be necessary for the barrister to 
bring out his wig and gown with him. During my residence at 
the Fields, the practitioners in the Free State courts did not wear 
them ; but perhaps the British authorities may be greater sticklers 
for these imposing adjuncts. 

Engineers and land-surveyors will find frequent employment, 
at good remuneration ; the latter especially, if qualified, standing 
a good chance of securing lucrative appointments as surveyors to 
the different camps. 

Carpenters are particularly well paid, and realise large sums of 
money, both by erecting wooden houses, doing different kinds of 
woodwork in hotels and stores, and by making sieves, for which 
there is a constant demand at high pi ices, so that a good car- 
penter can easily realise from £l to £3 per day, if he is active. 
He can both make sieves to order, charging his own price, and 
can put two or three sieves, if he finds time to make them, on 
the public auction sales, where a new well-made article in this 
line never goes very cheap. 

Tent-makers also, of whom there are but few on the Fields at 
present, do an excellent trade. 

Blacksmiths, too, will find constant employment in repairing 
waggons and carts, and in many other ways. 

One or two butchers are already making fortunes by that trade 
alone, the amount of meat daily consumed being enormous. A 
butcher with a little capital has frequent opportunities of buying 
flocks of sheep and cattle very cheap, so that they realise a 






iiill I 



■ 



PROFESSIONS, TKADES, ETC. AT THE FIELDS. 4 ( J 

splendid profit, selling at the uniform rate of 4d per lb.. ,*>,/. for 
the prime cuts. 

Bakers and confectioners are in great demand. At one little 
tent in Du Toit's Pan may constantly be seen a crowd of dio-o-ers, 
demolishing small mutton-pies, fruit tarts, buns, and various 
small articles of indigestible pastry by the dozen, undeterred by 
the enormous prices, washing them down with repeated draughts 
of home-made ginger-beer. This same baker also makes a very 
good thing of it by sending a boy with cakes, tarts, and ginger- 
beer amongst the crowds which attend the Saturday afternoon 
auctions ; and it is amusing to see the avidity with which rouo-h- 
bearded diggers, perhaps with thousands of pounds' wortrTof 
diamonds in their belts, and stolid old Dutch Boers, consume 
these juvenile dainties. The wives of many of the poorer diggers, 
especially of the Dutchmen, industriously keep the expenses going 
by making bread, cakes., pies, and dubious-looking sweetmeats, 
baskets and trays of which are carried round the claims. Many 
a digger pauses in his sorting to buy a shilling's-worth of cakes or 
sweetmeats, brought round by some small nigger, or still more 
tiny Dutch boy or girl, or to take a bottle of home-brewed 
ginger-beer from a basket carried by a grinning Kafir. 

Men — and women too — who can turn their hands to a little of 
everything, are sure to do well at the Fields. I have known 
amateurs do very well at making sieves and wheelbarrows, the 
latter being also in great demand, and selling at four guineas 
each. Then there is the sinking of wells, for which the com- 
mittee can afford to pay very handsomely indeed — all diamonds 
found in sinking to be the property of the man who does the job. 
Some diggers, after working a part of their claim to a good 
depth, have persevered till they came to good water, then turned 
that part of the claim into a well, boarded it over, and either sold 
the water by the bucketful or let it out to subscribers. A private 
well, with a good supply of water, will easily find a hundred or 
two hundred subscribers at four or five shillings each per month, 
or perhaps double that amount. Then there is the making of 
dams and other work connected with the sanitary arrangements 
of the camp, simple, easy pick and shovel work, and all well paid, 
for no one will work cheap at the diggings. 

Again, one or two men with good voices and a little wit and 
humour, may easily get up some kind of entertainment, or ama- 
teur, theatricals ; and our diggers are always ready to throng to 
anything in the nature of amusement. I have seen what would 

E 



50 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



be in England something like the programme of an ordinary 
" Penny Beading," one or two songs, a reading from Dickens, and 
a half -impromptu stump-speech, fill a large room with a well- 
pleased audience at 2s. M. and is. These sort of things are 
easily got up, and will always pay. 

Many of these ways of making money may be looked upon 
with distaste by many of my readers, but I am simply endeavour- 
ing to show that what the Yankees term " a smart man " with 
some "notions" about him, even if not successful in digging, 
will have no difficulty in "keeping the pot boiling." And I can 
affirm, too, that there is no false pride at the diggings, no man is 
thought the worse for any honest avocation he may pursue, and 
that, as long as he is honest and steady, " one man is just as 
good as another, and very likely better." 

There are a couple of photographers on the Fields, but there is 
room for more. Dentists, watchmakers, jewellers, two hair- 
dressers, and a somewhat strange item for the last — Du Toit's 
Pan is fortunate in the possession of a matrimonial agent ! 



ANNEXATION OF THE FIELDS. 51 



CHAPTER IX. 

ANNEXATION OF THE FIELDS. 

Heee is good news for the British digger. The diamond fields 
are annexed, have become British territory, and the reign of the 
Boer is over. This has been foreseen for some time past, and 
charitable people have said that the lamentably inefficient state 
of postal, sanitary, and other arrangements under Free State rule 
was mainly attributable to the fact that President Brand and his 
subordinates knew that the day was at hand when the long-pending 
territorial dispute between the Free State authorities and the 
Griqua Chief, Nicholas Waterboer, should be definitely settled by 
the British Government nominally pronouncing in favour of 
Waterboer's claim to the territory in which the diamond fields 
are situated, but virtually annexing that valuable territory to the 
British possessions in South Africa, already so large and im- 
portant. So the poor Free State officials, knowing their tenure 
of office to be short, naturally took but little pains to "keep 
things square," and much grumbling was heard amongst British 
diggers. But now what do we expect ? Increased taxation, 
which every right-thinking digger will be most willing to submit 
to, for it will bring a corresponding increase in the efficiency of 
police, postal and sanitary regulations in the different camps, the 
latter being of the most vital importance. 

A number of proclamations were issued from Cape Town by 
Sir Henry Barkly, Governor of the Cape Colony, on the 27th 
October last, and came into force on the Diamond Fields about a 
week afterwards. 

The first proclamation declares Captain Nicholas Waterboer, 
chief of the Griquas, and his people, to be British subjects ; and 
that his territory shall be considered British territory, and become 
part of the Cape Colony. This document also takes the award of 
his Excellency, R. W. Keate, Esq., Lieutenant-Governor of Natal, 
as the basis of the boundaries of the newly acquired territory, to 
be called West Griqualand. The annexation is based on the 
continued refusal of the Orange Free State to submit the terri- 
torial disputes between it and the Chief Waterboer "to any 
reasonable settlement," 

e 2 



52 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

The second of Sir Henry Barkly's proclamations appoints Courts 
of Justice for the Diamond Fields, and gives full regulations for 
the conduct of such Courts, and qualifications necessary for advo- 
cates, barristers, or attorneys to practice therein. 

The third proclamation issues the different regulations under 
which the control and working of the Diamond Fields is in future 
to be conducted, stating the necessary officials, system of register- 
ing and transferring claims, and discretionary powers given to 
Government Inspectors. It goes on to make an alteration in- the 
old rate of licensing, which I conceive to be of sufficient importance 
to be given in extenso. " The license money, royalty, or rent, pay- 
able in respect of such claim (the old measurement of thirty 
square feet) shall be, where the same shall not be worked by 
more than three persons, five shillings per month. Where the 
same shall not be worked by more than six persons, ten shillings 
per month. For every additional hand or person employed two 
shillings per month. Hands or persons shall be deemed to be 
employed in working a claim who shall be engaged in digging, 
picking, or shovelling with any implement, or drawing or carry- 
ing on any vehicle and by any means the soil, gravel, or rock 
raised from the claim. " 

A fourth proclamation declares that the laws and usages of the 
Cape Colony shall be deemed to be the laws of the new territory, 
so far as they are not inapplicable thereto ; the laws relating to 
the sale of wines, &c, shall be the same as the laws of the Colony 
relating to the same matters ; and all stamp and license duties 
payable in the Colony shall be payable likewise in the new terri- 
tory ; and all stamps of the Colony shall be deemed to be stamps 
for the said territory, and to be valid therein. 

A fifth proclamation divides the Diamond Fields into three 
magistracies — Klip Drift, Pniel, and Griqua-town, establishes 
Courts of Magistracy within each district, and declares the said 
districts to be subject to the said courts from the 27th day of 
October. 

A sixth proclamation assures all holders of land titles in the 
annexed district that their titles will be respected and their rights 
secured. Landholders are instructed to send in particulars of 
their claims to the Civil Commissioner of their district. • 

Then follows Mr Keate's award, which lays down the bound- 
aries of the new territory of West Griqualand, and takes in nearly 
all the existing Diamond Fields. The following is the plan of the 
three above-named districts ; 



ANNEXATION OF THE FIELDS. 53 

District of Klip Drift. 

A line commencing at the junction of the Vaal and Steinkopf Rivers, 
following the course of the Vaal River to where it meets the boundary line 
denned by Proclamation No. 67 of this date, as running " from the summit 
of the Platberg in a straight line in a north-westerly direction, along the 
north-east of Roeloff's Fontein and cutting the Vaal and Hart Rivers to a 
point north of Boetsap ; from the point where it meets the last-mentioned 
boundary line, along that boundary line to the said point north of Boetsap ; 
thence along the straight line defined by said Proclamation as running in 
a westerly direction between Nelsonsfontein and Koning, and further In a 
south-westerly direction along a line passing south of Marimani and north 
of Klipfontein to a point in it where the shortest line from the principal or 
north-western source of the Steinkopf River meets it ; thence to the said 
north-western source of the Steinkopf River, following its course to its 
junction with the Vaal River. 

District of Pniel. 
A line commencing at the junction of the Vaal River and Modder or Riet 
River, and following the course of the Vaal River to where it meets the 
boundary line denned by Proclamation No. G7 of this date as running " from 
the summit of the Platberg, in a straight line in a north-westerly direction 
along the north-east of Roeloff's Fontein, and cutting the Vaal and Hart 
Rivers, to a point North of Boetsap;" from the point where it meets the 
last-mentioned boundary in a straight line in a north-easterly direction to 
the summit of the Platberg ; thence in a southerly direction in a straight 
line cutting the northern branch of the Modder or Riet River to David's 
Graf ; thence to a point in the southern branch of the Riet or Modder River 
intersected by the boundary line from David's Graf to Ramah, from the said 
point in the southern branch of the Modder or Riet River, following the 
said river's course to its junction with the Vaal River. 

District of Griqua Town. 

A line commencing at the junction of the Vaal River and Modder or Riet 
River, and following the course of the Vaal River to its junction with the 
Steinkopf River; along the Steinkopf River to its point where such line 
meets the line mentioned above as the boundary of the district of Klip Drift, 
viz. : that running in a south-westerly direction along a line passing south 
of Marimani and north of Klipfontein, thence along the said line last men- 
tioned to the northerly point of the iLangeberg ; thence in a straight line in 
a southerly direction to Kheis, near the Orange River; thence by the 
shortest line to the said Orange River, thence along the course of the said 
Orange River to the point on the same nearest to Ramah, thence to Ramah, 
and thence in a northerly direction to the point on the southern branch of 
the Modder or Riet River, mentioned in the definition of the district of 
Pniel, thence following the course of the said Modder or Riet River to its 
junction with the Vaal aforesaid. 

President Brand, of the Orange Free State, issued, on the 7th 
Nov.. a .counter-proclamation, or rather a protest against the 
British annexation. It is not very long, and is worthy of atten- 
tion. Here it is : 

Whereas I, Johannes Hendricus Brand, President of the Orange I'reo 



54 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

State, have received a copy of a Proclamation from his Excellency the 

Governor of the Cape Colony, dated day of , 1871, by which 

Captain Waterboer and his people are proclaimed British subjects, and a 
large portion of the territory, which has for many years been under the 
jurisdiction of the government and law courts of this state, and in the quiet 
and peaceful possession of its burghers, British territory, against which the 
government of the Orange Free State protested to his Excellency the 
Governor of the Cape Colony ; and 

Whereas I, this morning, received information from the Landdrost of 
Pniel, Mr. 0. J. Truter, that Inspector Gilfillan, with fifteen men of the 
Colonial Frontier Armed Mounted Police, have moved on to Du Toit's Pan, 
and with twenty men of the said Frontier Force of the Cape Colony on to 
Vooruitzigt, within the territory of the Orange Free State, and are 
stationed there now, against which the Landdrost of Pniel beforementioned 
formally and solemnly protested to the said Inspector Gilfillan, as also 
against the exercise of any authority by him, or any person in the name of 
the Government of the Cape Colony ; and 

Whereas I, on the receipt of the letter of his Excellency the Governor, 
dated the 23rd October, protested on the 2nd inst., on behalf of this Govern- 
ment, as a violation of Art. 2 of the Convention of the 23rd February, 1854, 
and an encroachment upon the rights and territory of the Orange Free State, 

I therefore herewith protest against the entrance of the above mentioned 
armed force of the Government of the Cape Colony on the territory of the 
Orange Free State as a violation of its territory, and as an hostile invasion 
in time of perfect peace which has hitherto existed between the Cape Colony 
and the Orange Free State, and against the exercise of any authority by or 
on behalf of the Government of the Cape Colony, on or over the before men- 
tioned farms, or on any diggings or places situated within the territory of 
the Orange Free State ; and 

Whereas I am desirous of preventing any collision between the Govern- 
ments and peoples of the Cape Colony and this State, who are allied to each 
other by the strongest ties of blood and friendship, therefore I hereby order 
and enjoin all officers, burghers, and residents of this state, to guard against 
any action which may lead to such collision, in the fullest confidence that 
the informations and explanations which w ; ll be given to Her Britannic 
Majesty's Government in England by our plenipotentiary, will secure the 
acknowledgment and recognition of our just rights. 

Given under my hand and the Great Seal of the Orange Free State, this 
seventh day of November, 1871. 

An Englishman, lately arrived on the Fields, asked a colonist 
why this proclamation resembled the month of March. The 
colonist " gave it up." " Because it comes in like a lion and goes 
out like a lamb," was the reply ; but still the colonial gentleman 
" did not see it." His apparent obtuseness is easily accounted for 
by the fact that the March to which men are accustomed in the 
colony is a mild, quiet, autumn month 

The following appointments were gazetted, and notified in the 
Diamond Neivs of 4th Nov. : John Campbell, J. H. Bowker, and 
J. C. Thompson, Commissioners ; J. D. Barry, Eecorder ; J. C. 



PI 



ANNEXATION OF THE FIELDS. 55 

Thompson, Public Prosecutor ; A. Tweed, Begistrar and Master ; 
P. J. Buyskes, Sheriff ; J. Campbell, Civil Commissioner and 
Eesident Magistrate at Klip Drift ; Francis Orpen, Civil Commis- 
sioner and Eesident Magistrate at Griqua Town. Many other 
appointments have been made since that date. 

There was naturally a good deal of grumbling and muttering 
among our friends the Boers when it became generally known 
that annexation was decided upon, but the proclamations were 
received at the different camps most peacefully, and not the 
slightest resistance is expected from the burghers of the Free 
State. 

The only overt protest against British rule on the Fields is 
said to have been made by a certain American digger, residing at 
Du Toit's Pan, who deliberately, and in broad daylight, hauled 
down the British flag hoisted in that camp. I only just received 
news of this prior to my departure from the country, but I have 
every reason for believing that the " flag which braved a thousand 
years ' still waves there. I subjoin a slight account of the 
ceremonies at Du Toit's Pan. 

Hoisth.g the British Flag at the Fields. 

This ceremony has been performed at the various camps with much €dat 
and great rejoicing. There was not an obstacle raised, nor the slightest 
opposition shown ; but, on tho contrary, the diggers, as a body, seemed 
delighted with the change. Du Toit's Pan, which we have been led to 
believe all along had such strong Free State proclivities, was the most 
enthusiastic in its reception of the commissioners. There were Chinese 
crackers, cheers, and a dinner, and a ball. In the address of welcome the 
following paragraph occurs : — " That under that flag we shall prosper, that 
our lives and liberties will be protected, and that a wide and rich country 
will now be opened up to the surplus population of the United Kingdom, 
under the protection of the majority, we doubt not, and so long as British 
subjects know that the English flag is that under which they work and live, so 
long will there be no lack of energy and determination to help you, gentlemen, 
or your successors, in the arduous duties your high position now demands of 
you for the protection of all British subjects. And as we have every reason to 
confidently expect, the functions and duties devolved on you, gentlemen, 
conjointly, will be carried out in the same honest, straightforward and im- 
partial manner as they have been by John Campbell, Esq., during the time 
he has been on the Fields ; we state then, indeed, we have cause to hail with 
double satisfaction the planting of the English flag." 

At the dinner, Mr Commissioner Thompson made a speech which has 
given great satisfaction. He said u he would take the opportunity of saying 
a word or two upon a matter which had been to him a subject of careful 
thought, as it was to the company one of deep interest. Gentlemen present 
were aware that the Proclamation stated broadly, that the laws of the Cape 
colony were to be administered here. That taken literally had given rise 
to some apprehensions. It had been felt, and quite reasonably, that tho 



5G 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



I 



colonial law in its entirety was hardly suited to the state of things here. 
But he would remind them of the reservation in the Proclamation, whereby 
that law is only to be made use of in the new territory, so far as the same 
is not inapplicable to the circumstances there existing. Therefore he would 
counsel all to put away from their minds the unfounded dread of such 
things. For example, a strict and literal application of the Masters and 
Servants Act, and the sudden and immediate appearance in their midst of 
a crowd of independent native diggers. In conclusion, he expressed his 
earnest confidence that the labours of the Commissioners and of all the 
officials would tend to the welfare and advantage of the vast population here 
assembled." 

The Diamond Field sums up the action of the Government in the follow- 
ing way:—" The new Government is acting most judiciously at Du Toit's 
Pan and De Beer's (old and new rushes) under the discreet and able man- 
agement of Mr Thompson. Licences for claims were commenced to be 
issued on Monday, and a most liberal construction was put upon the first 
readings of the Proclamations. New regulations are to be made in reference 
to the working of claims at the New Rush, in regard to cartage, &c. Carts 
will enter at one side and file out at the other so that they will not be 
passing one another, which is leading to daily accidents. The old com- 
mittee is to be allowed to work as before, save with the exception of assess- 
ing the amount of damages where a claim has been invaded. The roads 
are all to be levelled a foot or more per day by the diggers, and Government, 
at its own expense, will scarf the reef at the outside, so as to facilitate the 
exit and entry from and to the claims. Mr Thompson is fully justifying 
the favourable impression created by his known antecedents as a man of 
tact and business talent, and we feel sure Mr Barry will be found to make 
an excellent judge." 

The name of Duffy is apparently destined to take a place in 
the annals of South Africa. A man bearing that name was 
arrested on a charge of theft by the Free State Police, but while 
being marched to the presence of Mr. Truter, the Free State 
Landdrost or chief magistrate at Du TohVs Pan, Duffy saw some 
British officials, and claimed their protection as a British subject. 
Messrs. Campbell, Thompson, and Gilfillan deliberated over this 
case, and determined to interfere. The Colonial Police rescued 
Mr. Duffy from the emissaries of the Free State. This was the 
beginning of the last act in the drama of annexation. As Duffy 
walked away with Commissioner Bowker's police, Mr. Truter 
rose, closed his Court, and thus terminated the jurisdiction of the 
Free State over that part of the Diamond Fields. 

Should any of my readers wish to study the whole of the 
political questions and negociations concerning the ownership of 
this long-disputed territory, I would refer them to a very lengthy- 
article on "South Africa and her Diamond Fields," in the 
Edinburgh Review for October, 1871, in which these questions 
are most exhaustively treated. 



DIAMONDS AND PROSPECTING. 57 



CHAPTER X. 

DIAMONDS AND PROSPECTING. 

The reader who expects a scientific chapter will be very much 
disappointed here. I am not a scientific man, and never shall be. 
Harry Emanuel, and many other authorities, have written fully 
on the subject of diamonds and other precious stones, and I have 
no desire either to pirate from them or to emulate their example 
without a chance of success. With regard to Cape diamonds, as 
compared with Brazilian, it is an undisputed fact that in South 
Africa a very much larger proportion of large stones is found 
than in Brazil. Stones over 10 carats are comparatively rare in 
the latter country, while in "West Griqualand " (as I suppose we 
must now call the diamondiferous territory) those over 10 carats 
are exceedingly numerous, and generally several stones within a 
few carats of 100 are among the weekly finds. 

Marvellous would be the riches, and immense the fortunes 
made in South Africa, but for the lamentable fact that the vast 
majority of our large diamonds, i.e., of stones over 10 carats, 
are " off-colour, ' being, instead of pure "white" — or rather 
transparent — tinged, apparently throughout, with a yellowish 
tint, varying from the palest straw-colour to that of the topaz, or 
pale sherry colour. Already, when I left the Fields, "off -coloured' 
stones would barely command one- third the price of pure " white ' 
gems, and it is to be feared that by this time, owing to the news of 
the unsaleableness of these stones, they will be still further depre- 
ciated. Consolation for the digger is, however, to be found in 
the fact that a great number of the smaller gems are of perfect 
shape and colour, and such stones will command high prices for 
many years to come. I saw a 12^ carat white stone, found in the 
next claim to mine at Du Toit's Pan, which should have been 
worth at least 200/. on the fields, but, alas ! there was a horrid 
black spot nearly in the centre of it, so it was only worth GOl. or 
70/. Many off-coloured or yellow stones are of perfect shape 
and of great lustre, still they are not the fashion, so que fane ? 
Accept the low prices and be thankful. 

Du Toit's Pan is famous for large stones, and they vary very much 



58 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

in shape, colour, and brilliancy. Bultfontein has held from the 
first a great reputation for numbers of small stones, most of them 
white, and of good quality. Tiny little gems of from ^ to 1-1 6th 
of a carat are very numerous there, especially near the surface. 

Most diggers used to pay their expenses at Bultfontein, but a 
great many did not do much more, so it has never been a very 
favourite camp after the first few days, when the numerous small 
surface diamonds gave it a temporary good name. 

At De Beer's the stones are generally very good, many of them 
being white. 

At the Colesberg Kopje there is an immense abundance of all 
sorts, from the pure white lustrous octahedron, or dodecahedron, 
to the irregular fragment or chip of faint lustre and inky dulness, 
called boart. The river stones are generally good, but apparently 
not so numerous as on the dry diggings. 

For prices of diamonds I would refer the intending digger to 
Emanuel and other authorities, also to my chapter on " Diamond 
Buyers and Diamond Brokers. 

A few sapphires have been found at the river diggings, but 
they are scarce, and not apparently of the very best quality. I 
have been told, at different times, of the finding of real rubies 
at the dry diggings, but I will not vouch for their genuineness, 
having seen myself nothing but garnets and spinel rubies, gene- 
rally small, fragmentary, and comparatively valueless. I saw one 
small stone which I pronounced to be an emerald, but I have not 
heard yet whether my opinion was correct ; and some of the 
fragments of bright transparent green peridot, called by some 
diggers "green garnets," are of such fine colour as easily to 
deceive a novice. 

Here is a description from a colonial paper, of a strange stone, 
which I should very much like to have found : 

Extraordinary Stone. — Mr. Thornbury, who has just returned from the 
Diamond Fields, has shown us an extraordinary stone which he has brought 
down with him for the purpose of sending it to England. At first sight it 
looks like a large ruby of a peculiarly beautiful colour. Looked at from 
two different points it presents two different colours — one the light 
amethyst and the other the deep, lovely pigeon-blood. The stone is of 17f 
carats, and has been found at Hebron. Mr. Thorns, the lapidary, has stated 
it is a most unique stone, that he has never seen the like of it before, and 
that he would sooner have it than two diamonds of 72 carats each. Ho 
says it is a combination of crystals of the Oriental amethyst and the 
pigeon-blood ruby. The stone is supposed to be of great value. 

It certainly must be a beautiful stone, but I cannot quite agree 



™ 



DIAMONDS AND PROSPECTING. 59 

with Mr. Thorns, and I think I would very much prefer two dia- 
monds of 72 carats each. If they were pure stones, their price 
would make a handsome fortune. 

One or two clusters of diamonds of different sizes, apparently 
partly fused together, have been found, and have excited much 
speculation among the savans who have pet theories as to the 
matrix or origin of diamonds. 

With regard to prospecting, I shall only speak of the dry dig- 
gings, the gravel and surface indications on the river being 
different, and having already been alluded to under the heading 
'•'Early History of the Fields." What prospectors like on the 
dry diggings is as follows : — A small hillock, large mound, or ridge, 
is the favourite conformation of ground for prospecting. Grass 
does not, as a rule, grow much over the known diamondiferous 
patches, they are more generally covered with a low, stunted, 
rough scrub, slightly resembling heather. Rotten white lime- 
stone cropping up through the surface is considered a good sign, 
though in many places, and notably the Colesberg Kopje, the 
surface stratum is composed of red sand, varying in thickness 
from one to sixteen feet. If a minute examination of the sur- 
face soil reveals the presence of small fragments of garnets, 
transparent green stone or peridot, and of the shiny metallic 
black substance known as '•carbon," but which is really ilmenite, 
these signs are considered to denote "promising stuff," and the 
digger will do well to dig down a few feet and sift and sort the 
stuff. A pick and shovel, small fine hand-sieve, and smooth 
board or sheepskin for sorting, will suffice for ordinary surface 
prospecting, and may be easily carried. But, if prospecting be 
done at all it is worth doing well ; and it has often been found 
that at a new place no diamonds have been seen till a considerable 
depth was reached, sometimes even 1 6 feet, so here the surface- 
prospector might have missed a "good thing." Under old regu- 
lations the prospector of a new digging was allowed two extra 
claims free, and could mark out others for his friends. 

A good deal of time is often wasted in fruitless prospecting, 
and it is better to let others do this, and wait till something 
genuine is found and the place surveyed, when good claims can 
be marked out, or bought cheap. I have seen hundreds of 
diggers at work prospecting on one small hill ; little sticks with 
papers on them marking the position of claims ; white men and 
black men, all working with intense eagerness with pick and 
shovel ; a few sieves and sorting-tables put up, and people poring 



1 



60 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



most anxiously over their contents. This was some four miles 
from Du Toit's Pan. It was a likely looking kopje, but I believe 
nothing was ever found there. 

Trees are much favoured, and their immediate vicinity, in 
likely-looking ground, is always most carefully examined. Some 
of the claims close to trees, at De Beer's for instance, are very 
rich, and ** tree-claims " on a new camp, always command rather 
higher prices. 

I prospected a kopje myself once, found a good deal of peridot, 
plenty of limestone, but no garnets or "carbon." Still, a lot of 
diggers who came over pronounced it a very promising looking 
place, and many marked out claims, and worked for a day or two., 
but nothing came of it. 

Frequently may be seen on the " veldt ' the white or grey 
heaps of stuff, and neatly-dug holes, signifying that a prospecting 
party has been there ; but generally they appear to leave off too 
soon, for it is quite possible that just on that spot there. may be 
no diamonds at less than sixteen feet deep, and then plenty. In 
some parts of the Colesberg Kopje, for instance, nearly that depth 
of red sand has to be laboriously got through before the real 
diamondiferous stuff is reached. A great many diamonds are 
there found just at the junction of this red sand with the first 
stratum of white limestone, then again much deeper in rotten 
green trap, soft and easy to work. 

Prospectors going out for a proper exploration should take with 
them niggers, a cart and oxen if possible, a small tent, or at any rate 
plenty of blankets, cooking utensils, provisions, a gun for getting 
game, and plenty of water, unless they are quite certain of 
finding it. 






l'!!«i 



PART II. 

ROUTES TO THE FIELDS. 



CHAPTER I. 

COMPARISON OF THE DIFFERENT ROUTES. 

In treating here of the several routes by which the Diamond 
Fields may be reached from England, I will assume it to be the 
object of the intending digger to reach the scene of his new 
labours as cheaply and quickly as possible. In the case of the 
Diamond Field Routes, these two important elements — cheapness 
and quickness — are combined. The first step is to take a passage 
from England by a mail steamer — it is a very false economy to 
go by a sailing ship, which will probably take from two to four 
months in reaching the Cape, while the mail steamer does it in 
thirty to thirty-eight days, the latter being an exceptionally long 
passage, and the limit of time allowed by the postal contract. 
Dismissing, then, all idea of sailing ships, we come to the con- 
sideration of the two mail companies now running steamers to 
the Cape of Good Hope, Algoa Bay. and Natal, The mail 
steamers of the Union Steam-Ship Company leave Southampton 
on the 10th and 25th of each month, the fares by which are, to 
Cape Town, 30 guineas first class, 20 guineas second class ; to 
Algoa Bay, 33 guineas and 22 guineas, and to Natal, 37 guineas 
and 25 guineas ; while the steamers of Messrs. Donald Currie, 
and Co.'s London Mail Line, sail direct from the Thames on the 
4th and 20th of each month, calling at Dartmouth for the mails 
on the 7th and 23rd ; the fares by this line being, to Cape Town 
and Algoa Bay, 30 guineas first class, 20 guineas second class, 
and 5 guineas extra to Natal, 



62 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

The advertisements of both these steam companies will be 
found at the end of this work. The accommodation by both 
lines is first-rate in every respect, a very liberal table being kept 
for passengers, both first and second class, and the voyages are 
made with punctuality and despatch. 

There is a slight pecuniary advantage to persons going to 
Algoa Bay or Natal by the latter line, but I do not recommend 
any one to go further than Cape Town by sea. On arriving at 
Cape Town, the traveller, if his baggage be light, as it should be 
(I have explained elsewhere that no outfit is necessary), can at 
once get his portmanteau passed by the Customs officials, jump 
into a Hansom, and drive to the Royal Hotel in Plein-street, 
where he will meet with every possible comfort and attention. 
But he should lose no time in securing a seat in one of the com- 
fortable passenger waggons of either the Inland Transport Com- 
pany or the lately established Diamond Fields Transport Company. 
The fare by each of these companies is 12/., from Cape Town to 
the Diamond Fields, which journey, about seven hundred miles, 
is accomplished in seven to nine days. The Inland Transport 
Company's waggon passes through the towns of Wellington. 
Ceres, Beaufort West, Victoria "West, and Hope Town, and its 
terminus is Pniel, on the Vaal River, the centre of the river- 
diggings. That of the Diamond Fields Company passes through 
Wellington, Ceres, Beaufort West, Murraysburg, Richmond, Coles- 
berg, Philippolis, Fauresmith, and Jacobsdal, arriving at Du To it's 
Pan, the metropolis of the dry diggings (if not superseded by the 
neighbouring Colesberg Kopje). As the dry diggings are at 
present far more generally flourishing and remunerative than the 
river-side diggings, the latter route would seem to be preferable, 
as the journey from Pniel to Du Toit's Pan or the Colesberg 
Kopje would otherwise have to be accomplished by a separate 
conveyance— fare, ten or fifteen shillings. Each of these com- 
panies allows 401b. of luggage per passenger, and charges one 
shilling orone shilling and three pence per pound for all in excess 
of that weight. 

Should the traveller elect to go up from Port Elizabeth (Algoa 
III Bay), he has the choice of either Cobb and Co.'s American 

coaches, going up in about five days, with light baggage, or mule 
HI waggons taking passengers and heavier goods in about fifteen days. 

The fare will, of course, be proportionately less than that from 
Cape Town, but as the steamer waits two or three days at Cape 
Town before proceeding to Port Elizabeth, and the voyage 






COMPARISON OF THE DIFFERENT ROUTES. Go 

thither takes three days more, it is perfectly evident that both 
time and money will be saved by adopting the direct Cape Town 
route. 

A line of quick passenger waggons is, I believe, by this time 
established from Natal ; but here again the objections to the 
Algoa Bay route apply still more strongly, in consequence of the 
length of the sea voyage from Cape Town to Natal. Bullock- 
waggons are continually starting from Port Elizabeth, Natal, and 
other ports, to the Fields, but these slow, old-fashioned colonial 
conveyances will, I hope, soon be things of the past, except for 
the transport of heavy goods, for stores, &c. Thirty days is 
considered a quick journey from Port Elizabeth to Du Toit's Pan, 
by bullock-waggon. I, in my inexperience, went up that way, 
and w&sjifti/ days on the road. In addition to this great loss of 
time, which may be very detrimental to the digger — arri vino- 
just too late for a good "new rush," for instance — there is no 
money saving effected by the slow route, but quite the contrary, 
as, although only about five pounds is charged for each passenger, 
and two hundred pounds or more of luggage carried free, the 
traveller has to purchase food all the way, and stoppages of a day 
or two at little towns are frequent ; when, after the jolting of 
the waggon, the want of comfortable sleep, and the very rough 
dietary, the temptations of hotels, good meals, soft beds, and 
other luxuries, are almost irresistible, and it is no uncommon 
thing for twenty or thirty pounds to be spent en route. 

To any one desirous of seeing much of the country, or passion- 
ately fond of sport, the bullock-waggcn route certainly offers some 
inducements. It is a rough kind of pic-nic the whole way, 
travelling ten to fifteen miles a day, camping out, cooking your 
own food, procuring your own wood and water, wandering through 
wild regions with gun or rifle among plenty of game, and it is 
certainly a very jolly life for a month or so ; but, after all, the 
great object should be to get direct to the fields as quickly as 
possible. I have shown elsewhere that the digger can obtain 
plenty of sport by an occasional short holiday in the immediate 
neighbourhood of the Fields ; moveover, if successful in digging, 
he can afterwards combine pleasure with profit by a hunting and 
trading trip into the "big game country." Having given a 
general comparison of the principal routes to the Fields, and I 
hope, established the superiority of the direct route, viz. : mail 
steamer to Cape Town, passenger-waggon thence to the Fields 
in nine days or less, I will now proceed to give my own experience 




04 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

of these routes, in which I trust some amusing and interesting 
details maybe found, and the "new chum" may know exactly 
what he has to look forward to. 



NOTE TO CHAPTER I. 

New Algoa Bay Routes. 

Since writing this chapter I have received from Port Elizabeth 
(Algoa Bay) full information as to two transport and passenger 
companies which have just been started to facilitate trade and 
travelling from that port, and I cannot, in justice to the enter- 
prising promoters, withhold this information from the public. 

" Cobb and Co. (Limited)," a company with a capital of 
10,000/., was to start the first through coach for the Diamond 
Fields early this month (Jan. 1871), after which two coaches 
would run each week, doing the journey in five days each way. 
The carriages are American-built, exceedingly strong and com- 
fortable. Arrangements were being made along the route for a 
reasonable and uniform scale of charges at the various hotels ; 
also to allow reasonable time for rest, and generally to secure in 
every way possible the comfort and convenience of passengers. 

'•Port Elizabeth and Diamond Fields Conveyance Company 
(Limited)." This company has been formed to meet the increased 
demand for the transport of goods to the Fields from Algoa Bay. 
The carrying trade from this port (the growth of thirty years) 
has hitherto been done by bullocks ; but, although vast numbers 
are engaged in the business, the demand for transport, in conse- 
quence of the unparallelled success of the diggings generally, has 
increased much more rapidly than the means. The promoters of 
the Conveyance Company are certainly deserving of every encour- 
agement, having introduced the system of quick conveyance of 
goods to the Fields, so important to our merchants and store- 
keepers. Their waggons, drawn by good mules, will reach the Fields 
in fifteen days. Each waggon will carry from four to five thousand 
pounds weight of goods ; and six of these waggons will start every 
fifth day. By this "mule train" passengers who are unable to avail 
themselves of the coaches of Cobb and Co. may obtain cheap pas- 
sage, with the loss of only ten days. The rates of carriage and 



COMPARISON OF THE DIFFERENT ROUTES. 65 

passage will depend on the current rates for transport. The 
prospectus of the company estimates the rate at 205. per 1001b. 
This is a good deal less than the present bullock-waggon rate, 
and as much as 60s. per 1001b. has lately been given by mule 
waggon. The charge for parcels will be higher ; about Is. per 
pound. No parcel will be sent under 5s. The distance is 436 miles. 
This is very creditable to Port Elizabeth, and I have no doubt 
both the new companies will have the success they deserve. For 
goods traffic this route is, I think, the best, but for passengers I 
keep to my original recommendation of the Cape Town route. 
Mr G-. Leslie, Port Elizabeth, acts as secretary for the two com- 
panies here mentioned. 



66 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



CHAPTER II. 



DIARY ON BOARD S.S. "ROMAN," SOUTHAMPTON TO 

CAPE TOWN. 

23rd Feb., 1871. — At 2 p.m. steamed away from Southampton, 
with about fifty first-class passengers (a few more to join at Ply- 
mouth) and a heavy cargo. Lunch at 12.30. Dinner five. Dead 
calm. 

24th Feb. — Arrived off Plymouth about 7 a.m. (N.B. The 
steamer no longer calls there.) Went ashore with M. ; walked all 
over Plymouth, also up to one of the forts, from which there was 
a magnificent view of the town and sea, and of that lovely spot 
Mount Edgecombe. Dead calm, sea unrippled, brilliant sunshine, 
quite warm — happy omen for our voyage. Came on board in 
time for dinner. Quiet evening, game at ecarte, good night's 
rest. 

25th Feb. — Sailed from Plymouth about 11 a.m. Dead calm. 
Got rather breezy in a few hours. In the afternoon, when out 
of sight of land, a wagtail flew on board to rest. Good dinner, 
cards, pipes in smoking-room, bed. 

26th Feb. — Sunday. In the Bay of Biscay; oh! Very much oh! 
and worse noises than that. Nearly everybody sick. At 10.15 
after smoking a pipe, presented my undigested breakfast to the 
unpleasantly heaving Bay ; after which, went to prayers in saloon ; 
during service one of the saloon lamps fell and was smashed. 
Beastly uncomfortable. Heaving, roiling, pitching all combined. 
Managed to eat a pretty good lunch, and was quite recovered by 
dinner, to which I did full justice. Quiet evening, reading in saloon. 

27th Feb.— More Bay of Biscay. Not quite so much heaving. 
Some getting convalescent. Smoked many pipes, ate tremendous 
meals, played much ecarte, turned in at eleven, in the dark (saloon 
lights always put out at ten, smoking-room and bedroom lights at 
10.30). A little before ten a tremendous lurch had sent all the 
cards and a fellow-passenger's bottle of brandy off the saloon 
table. There was a vocal concert in the smoking-cabin from 6 to 
8 p.m. Some capital singing. 

28th Feb.— Up at 5.30 a.m. Am told ship has been rolling 



I 



DIARY ON BOARD S.S. "SOMAN." 67 

tremendously all night. People ill again. Not I. Sighted 
large steamer in the morning, and brig after lunch. Breeze 
freshening now (3.15 p.m.), glass low, and every prospect of dirty 
weather. I object, but it's no use protesting. Overhauled fire- 
arms, found them hardly at all rusty. Fiddles (wooden frame- 
works placed all along table for holding plates, &c.) and other 
precautions necessary at meals. A very good muster at lunch 
to-day ; one young man turned up who had not been seen since 
we left Plymouth. In the evening stiff breeze again, but every 
one got " sea-legs ' now. Lots of card-playing going on, also a 
little music — instruments, cornet-a-piston and penny whistle. 

1st March. — Ship been very " lively " all night. A quiet day. 
Lots of ecarte. Just before dinner a tired swallow came on 
board, and was caught. Sighted two ships. Turned in at 
11.30, in the dark. Ship rolling tremendously. 

2nd March. — Found everybody this morning talking about 
row in the night — ship had taken in a tremendous sea, fore part 
been under water five minutes ; sea carried away part of fore- 
hatch ; knocked pots and pans about in cook's galley, and slightly 
damaged the cook. Also, a passenger fell down this morning, 
and put his shoulder out. Many passengers had bad falls yes- 
terday. To-day it is blowing very stiff, and interesting anecdotes 
about shipwrecks are going round rather suggestively. At ten we 
sight a barque and a brig, homeward bound ; also, first shoal 
of porpoises — lively animals. Ship tremendously on one side. 
Turned out a wet day ; stiff breeze in the evening. Some rather 
high card-playing. 175 miles run by noon to-day. 

3rd March. — A charming day — bright, warm sunshine, and 
strong favourable breeze, especially in the afternoon. 167 miles 
run. At twelve saw a small turtle paddling along on the rough sur- 
face of the water. After lunch, drawing up of the " Grand Madeira 
Sweepstakes," 50 members, 2s. M. each ; 48 quarter hours marked 
on little tickets. Member holding quarter hour during which we 
fire gun on arriving in Funchal Roads to receive 5 guineas, next 
quarter before and after 10s. each. Winner to stand three bottles 
of champagne to committee. One or two bets made on same 
event. Ecarte playing, and betting still rather high. 

4th March. — Calm ; porpoises, numerous and playful, right 
under our bows in the clear water. Over-hauling of luggage ; 
stoppage of the " pirate's " liquor (nickname of a fellow-passenger 
addicted to liquor, and inclined to D. T. Since dead). 191 
miles run. First-class passengers " pay their footing ' to sailors 

f 2 



68 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

on passing limits of the forecastle. I and M. being the first 
caught, proceeded in our turn to decoy a lot of the other 
passengers beyond the chalk line, on various pretexts of whales, 
sharks, &c. 

5th March. — On awaking at six, had a fine view of the Madeira 
Islands, and by the time breakfast was served we were anchored 
off Funclial ; and little Madeira youngsters, of whom there were 
many little cockle-shell boat-loads alongside, were diving in the 
clear water for sixpences ; utterly refusing copper. After break- 
fast, went ashore ; rambled about the town and up the hills, 
admiring the glorious scenery, magnificent flowers, quaint cur- 
tained carriages on wooden runners, drawn by oxen, snug ham- 
mocks slung on poles and borne on men's shoulders, strange fish 
in the market, including huge albicores, &c, bananas, plantains, 
guavas, other fruits, and sugar-canes. Didn't much admire the 
samples of the fair sex. Tasted some wine of the country and 
approved of it. Had good lunch — fish, bread and cheese, and wine. 
Then went on board again, and sailed about 3 p.m. After dinner, 
although Sunday evening, had lots of jolly songs, with rollicking 
choruses, in the smoking room, scandalising one or two Scotch 
passengers. Query, effect of the Madeira wine ? 
. 6th March. — Fine weather, and a good run made. Two ships 
sighted, also one or two birds seen. Cards and singing as usual. 

7th March.— A pleasant day, with hot sunshine and light 
favourable breeze. No incidents, except a hoopoe hovering round 
the ship. Also a little revolver practice, at a bottle trailed astern 
on a long line. I smashed him first. A very strong breeze in 
the evening. 

8th March. — Ship has been rolling awfully all night. I woke 
to find luggage, clothes, brushes, books, cards, &c, &c, all mixed 
up together in horrible chaos on the floor of my cabin. Made 
my way to the bath-room. Bathers not very numerous this 
morning. Saw a good-sized flying-fish. Very rough weather all 
day, and a good many absentees both from breakfast and lunch. 
M.'s knee hurt, "sky-larking" last night. 2.45 p.m Ship 
rolling worse than ever. Got a little calmer towards evening. 
Trade wind. 

9th March.— Trade wind still blowing, but much calmer 
Calm, hot day. In the evening sighted a ship ; threw up a 
rocket and burnt a blue-light, to which she replied. The piano 
was got up on to the poop, and a very jolly evening spent in 
dancing and singing, it being perfectly calm and bright moon- 



DIARY ON BOARD S.S. "ROMAN. 69 

light. Two ship's lamps were hung over the piano, and a couple 
of large Chinese lanterns swung gaily from the boom. 

10th March. — Before breakfast saw nine smallish sea-gulls, 
with dark-brown wings and white breasts ; also, a stormy petrel, 
or "Mother Carey's chicken." After breakfast another petrel. 
Lots of masses of floating yellowish weed all the time. 10 a.m., 
breeze freshening ; many stormy petrels seen at different times 
to-day, also quantities of nautilus, or "Portuguese men-of-war." 
One flying-fish, the size of a smallish herring, came on board, I 
fished in the afternoon with Hearder's spinner, No. (>, on 21b. 
lead, and 80 yards line ; lost two baits, the first on single stout 
gimp, second on double ditto ; going too fast. In the evening, 
more harmony. Several passengers slept on the poop-deck, 
because of the heat in the little cabins, I amongst the number. 

11th March. — Awoke at 4.20 a.m. by the deck washers. Lay 
down again at 5.15 on deck, and slept till G.15, then bathed. 
"We spoke a large steamer, and saw a vessel supposed to be a 
man-of-war. Lots of nautilus, two or three shoals of flying-fish, 
and two unknown birds. Took soundings just before breakfast, 
during which halt I tried in vain to catch a fish. In the after- 
noon got amongst sharks ; whereupon I and a great many more 
of the passengers produced rifles and revolvers, and amused our- 
selves shooting the "varmint," many of which we severely 
wounded. The scene in the bows was most picturesque — three 
of us sat astride on the bowsprit, and the rest clustered thickly all 
along the bows, dressed in every variety of free-and-easy light 
costume, with a wondrous diversity of head-gear — pith helmets, 
"puggerees," and hats of all nations — I with a head-cover I had 
manufactured out of a Madeira grass mat — all most piratical in 
aspect, each looking eagerly out, weapon in hand. This excite- 
ment lasted until dinner-time, after which we had cards, music, 
and, finally, a long vocal concert on the poop. Slept on deck. 

12th March. — Sunday. Up at G.30 ; bathed, lounged, and 
breakfasted. Flying-fish very numerous. Saw a big shark just 
now (9.45 a.m.) Prayers on tlie poop, picturesquely adorned with 
flags ; Mrs. D. at piano, and Mrs. G. leading the choir ; all the 
sailors in full rig, captain all in white, officers in smart uniform, 
man at the wheel attentive in background, white awning 
above, blue sea and blue sky all around. The whole of this^ day 
was intensely hot, and everybody in a state of languid, perspiring 
ennui. Turned in at 10.30 in smoking-room, 

13th March.— Fine warm morning, after a stifling hot night. 



70 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

Not quite so bad to-day as yesterday ; light refreshing breeze. 
One of the second-class passengers practising with his revolver at 
flying-fish and " men of war " — ridiculous waste of ammunition. 
Like yesterday, the consumption of liquids most alarming, that of 
solids proportionately on the decrease. Still nearly a dead calm. 
Iced drinks procurable at 11 a.m. and 4.30 p.m., A 1. Card- 
playing in full force again to-day. Da}^ passed pleasantly and 
uneventfully ; music in the evening as usual. Several passengers 
slightly tipsy, owing to large number of "big drinks " consumed 
during the day. A slight shower in the evening. 

14th March. — Up at 6 a.m. Went forward, and had the hose 
played on me — most delightful, much more refreshing than ordi- 
nary bath, or even shower-bath. Found there had been a slight 
tornado in the night. Captain says, if we had had canvas up 
might have come to grief, A quiet day ; tolerably cool in the 
bows ; reading, cards, and drinks all day. After dinner, very 
extensive sky-larking — assault and storming of the bridge. I got 
hauled off twice, and M. came down on his face, hurting his mouth 
and cutting a deep gash under his chin, which had to be sewn up 
by the " experienced surgeon." A great deal of loud singing in 
several parts of the ship. At 8 p.m. Neptune and his "suite " came 
on board, and obtained captain's permission for the usual games. 

15th March. — After a pleasant night in the smoking-room, 
not being awoke by a heavy squall and rain, got up and had hose 
and another bath. Great preparations going on for the shaving, 
<fec. A huge canvas bath prepared, also three razors, and other 
formidable items. Soon after breakfast Neptune, his wife, secre- 
tary, doctor, and barber, all splendidly rigged in most comical 
costumes, came aft in procession, and invited the company to the 
fore part of the ship. After the novices of the crew had been 
"shaved," ducked, and otherwise tormented, one or two of the 
second-class passengers volunteered to go through the ordeal in 
order to get a lot of their comrades into the same mess, and there 
was great fun — a dozen at a time, with all their clothes on, splash- 
ing, struggling, and tumbling about in the big bath. The pro- 
ceedings terminated at about 11.30, though we did not really 
cross the line till seven at night, when rockets were sent up. 
This day was also marked by the appearance of a magnificent 
and abundant claret-cup at the captain's end of the table, ten 
members. The iced " cup " was delicious. After dinner we had 
some capital "cock-fighting," then card-playing, and music and 
harmony reigned fore and aft, only marred by one of the first 






DIARY ON BOARD S.S. "ROMAN." 71 

cabin stewards getting beastly drunk, for which he received a 
good pummelling, was put in irons on the bridge for a short time, 
and then banished to the fore cabin. 

16th March. — Up at six ; hose and other bath, and quiet 
lounge till breakfast-time. Double-barrelled gun raffled in 
smoking-room. A quiet, warm day; claret-cup very accept- 
able. Plenty of music in the evening. 

17th March. — St. Patrick 1 s-day. Grand procession and pro- 
menade concert of Irish passengers, headed by Captain C. in 
shirt and trousers, green ribbon in hat, bottle of whiskey under 
his arm, shillelah, and penny whistle ; other instruments being 
a piccolo, tambourine, cornet, drum, and triangle. In the even- 
ing, concert both fore and aft. In the fore part the sailors got 
up an excellent band ; played, sung, and danced famously. 
Good but quieter music aft. 

18th March. — After a good night's rest in smoking-room, learn 
that said room is to be converted into a " sick bay " for Mrs. G. 
and the little H.'s ; the latter have scarlet fever; don't know 
what is the matter with Mrs. G. A fresh breeze ahead, and sea 
rising rather fast. Immense shoals of flying-fish and a stray 
bird or two. Eather an uncomfortable evening, there being no 
smoking-room. Slept on saloon deck. 

19th March.— Fine breezy morning, and heat quite bearable. 
Service in saloon. Flying- fish very numerous. No particular 

incidents, 

20th March.— Strong favourable breeze. Ship tremendously 
on one side. Sales by auction in fore-cabin in the afternoon, 
grass hammock, pipes, cigars, pistols, books, &c. Fair prices 
realised, The auctioneer lively and facetious. Quiet evening, 
mild card-playing and smoking. Slept in berth again. 

21st March.— Fine cool morning. Quiet day. In the evening, 
"jubilee " in fore-cabin, in honour of Princess Louise's marriage. 
One shilling admittance, entitling to refreshments— rum-punch, 
claret-cup, and Scotch whiskey. Plenty of jolly good songs, 
speeches, toasts, &c, and nobody very drunk. 

' 22nd March.— On getting up, found we were quite close to 
St. Helena, a grand rugged island. iSTumerous pretty sea-birds, 
some pure white, others brown. We anchored off the pretty 
little town, nestling in a snug valley, between two high sloping 
mountains. Stopped two hours, but not allowed to go ashore, 
quarantined because of scarlet fever. Boats came orr, manned 
mostly by negroes, with bananas, apples, pears, peaches, cab- 



72 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



bages, and water-cresses, which found a ready sale at moderate 
prices. Small fish and horse-mackerel were numerous round 
the stern, and several of us tried hard for them with every kind 
of tackle and bait available. At last a small gar-fish was 
brought on board, and I hooked and lost a great many. Sailed 
at 10 a.m. Soon afterwards spoke the barque Hastings, of 
and for London. She passed quite close to us. In the evening 
the band of the crew came aft, and sang and danced in capital 
style on the poop, being very much applauded. 

23rd March. — A pleasant day, with light breeze. At 7 p.m. 
ceremony of " dead horse," symbolical of completion of a 
month of the voyage, the animal, made of a couple of casks, 
artfully covered with canvas, &c, was carried in procession by 
the crew, singing, then hung to the yard arm, and cut adrift, 
and went floating astern — having been previously set fire to — 
amid cheers, to the light of a huge "Roman candle." At 
eight performance of the farce "Mad as a Hatter," in the saloon, 
to a large and appreciative audience, by our captain and third 
officer, "The General," " The Admiral, " and Mr. and Mrs. G. 
A most creditable performance, every one highly pleased. 

24th March. — Mock court-martial held on the poop. " The 
General " tried for drunkenness. Great fun. Found guilty, but 
recommended to mercy, and sentenced to "stand a liquor" to 
the judge. Strong breeze, sea rising rapidly. 

25th March.— Second court-martial — on me, for abstracting 
two bottles of beer from "The Admiral's" bunk. After a 
protracted, but somewhat slovenly conducted trial, found "not 
guilty." People getting excited and speculative as to time of 
arrival at Cape Town ; I opine for Saturday next. 

26th March.— A. very quiet Sunday, without a single incident. 
Pleasant weather, light breeze, and ship very steady. 

27th March.— Usual bathing business. Discovery and capture 
outside a port-hole, of a lady's false ringlets, red in colour, 
which, amid much laughter, was run up on the signal halyards. 

28th March.— A few "Cape hens" seen. Strong breeze, and 
heavy rain in the afternoon. Considerable amount of " tight- 
ness." Slight row between two passengers, terminating peace- 
fully, with ample apologies. 

29th March. — Cape hens about, and two lesser albatrosses 
continually crossing our wake. They refused biscuit. Strong 
breeze and huge rolling waves. Ship getting very lively. 

30fch March.— At 10.15 a.m., great sale by auction in fore 



«-- " no 



DIARY ON BOARD S.S. "ROMAN. 16 

saloon, advertised by the big dog, "Lion," perambulating the 
ship with his usual solemnity, with a big bill on his back. In 
the afternoon half a dozen guns out practising at Cape hens. 
Three killed, and a few wounded. I rigged up a line to try to 
catch one, but being badly fastened on winder, the whole line 
jumped overboard. First large albatross seen. In the evening 
the usual whist, &c, followed by a good bit of music, concertina 
and vocal. Head wind all day. 

3 1 st March. — Head wind, heavy sea, and occasional rain. ' ' Cape 
Arrival Sweepstakes" got up. 

1st April. — Many good " sells." Birds numerous. Wind 
dead ahead, but not so much sea as during the night. Drawing 
of the "Cape Arrival Sweepstakes." Bets made freely. At twelve 
173 miles to run. Wind still dead ahead. Sea getting calmer. 
Drawing of lots to find who is the " Jonah," to whom the 
adverse weather may be attributed, the lot falls to R., the 
invalid, who is brought before the captain, and finally " remanded 
for a fortnight." In the afternoon a little desultory shooting at 
Cape hens. In the evening much conviviality. I promoted the 
brewing and circulation amongst eight members, of a bowl of hot 
rum-punch, the partakers of which afterwards formed a concert 
party on the poop. We had some jolly good songs up to 12.30, 
followed by much noisy sky-larking, finally put a stop toby a middle- 
aged married passenger rushing on deck in his shirt, and abusing 
us all roundly. Retired to rest in smoking-room at 1.15 a.m. 

2nd April. — Glorious sunshine, cloudless sky, only a light 
wind ahead, and comparatively little sea, so we hope to arrive 
this afternoon. Soon after breakfast, M. and I. making up our 
minds to be partners, and discussing business matters near the 
bows, get a very thorough ducking from a stray wave, but are 
not "put out" by this trifle, though my pipe is. 10.30. 
Every one on the look out for land. Church time. At twelve 
o'clock we were surprised and disgusted to find that we were still 
seventy miles from Cape Town. The afternoon passed slowly, 
though there were a great many strange birds and fish to be 
seen, besides the bold outline of Table Mountain visible in the 
distance, with other mountains and headlands of the South 
African coast. All the evening we were very convivial, several 
bowls of punch were drunk, a lemon being found for the first, 
and some lime-juice as flavouring for the second. We arrived in 
Table Bay about 10.30 p.m., and boats came off for the mails, 
also relatives of some of the passengers. 




74 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

3rd April. — Got up early and went ashore. The scenery 
grand in the extreme, and aspect of the town exceedingly 
foreign. Had some Cape beer at 3d. the quart bottle, which I 
found very refreshing, bought some fruit and tobacco, and 
returned on board to breakfast. Afterwards, strolling along the 
beach, observed a negro fishing off a jetty. Found he was 
catching lots of small mullet, with bits of the flesh of cray-fish, 
which are very numerous and cheap here. Sent a coolie to get 
me a cray-fish, went on board to get rod and line, the latter a 
fine Thames roach line, which I never dreamt last year of using 
in South African waters. Caught in about two hours, fifty-one 
small mullet, 6in. to 8in., and a couple of brown gurnards. A 
small species of cormorant, termed by the natives " duiker," 
extremely numerous. Saw some little niggers knock one over 
with a stone, and one of them swam out and got it. In the 
afternoon went down to a breakwater close to the Romans 
berth. Here the deep water was perfectly clear, the bottom 
thickly covered with bright red echini or sea-urchins, in 
astonishing masses, anemones and beautiful weeds. Spider- 
crabs and cray-fish were creeping about here and there, and a 
bluish-coloured water-snake crawled about the lovely natural 
flooring, while shoals of mullet and other fish frequently darkened 
the water so that none of the beautiful objects at the bottom 
could be seen. Fishing with same bait and tackle as in the 
morning, I caught a good many of the so-called Hottentot fish, a 
fat little fellow, somewhat like a black bream, with very sharp 
prominent teeth. I found that these little rascals, if allowed 
time to swallow the hook, invariably bit through the gut, there- 
fore they should be fished for with a fine wire or gimp snooding. 
A Dutch clergyman standing near me was fishing for these 
fat little darkies, which are very good eating, with a large leaded 
triangle of hooks, a little above which a goodly lump of cray-fish 
bait was tied on the line. The u Hottentots " came by dozens, 
swimming round the bait and tugging at it, so he easily caught a 
good many of them " foul " by jerking up the triangle. He also 
hooked and injured a snake, which emitted from the wounded part 
a vast quantity of thick glutinous slime, exceedingly disgusting in 
appearance, and said to be poisonous to other fish. A native 
fisherman told me that, when a water-snake is taken in a net, all 
the other fish in the net turn yellow, My afternoon's bag was 
forty-six Hottentot fish, and two pretty little striped wrasse. 

4th April. — Got up early and caught eleven Hottentots before 



DIARY ON BOARD S.S. "ROMAN. 75 

breakfast. Afterwards went to see the snook-boats coming in. 
The snook is a fish shaped something like a pike, only rather 
longer, and in skin and colour something like a dusky 
mackerel. It has a huge mouth and terrible teeth, the bite of 
which is said to be poisonous. The fish itself is excellent eating, 
and smoked is said to equal kippered salmon. Large quantities 
are exported dried to the Mauritius, and elsewhere. The ordinary 
weight is from 51b. to 151b., and price from l±d. to 2d. per fish, 
according to the season's supply. Dozens of boats were coming in, 
containing immense quantities of fresh snook, caught with a red 
rag or other showy bait, on a very large hook, towed astern of 
a sailing boat. In the afternoon I and three others went by train 
to a village close to Cape Town, called Salt Eiver, having been 
told we should find some fish which would rise to a fly in the 
river there. The little railway trip was very enjoyable, the 
carriages far more roomy and comfortable than ours at home. 
Some amusement was created at the first station, by a difference 
of opinion as to the name which the guard shouted out, one 
Roman saying it was "Uppatuptup' and the other vowing it 
was "Long Tom." I have forgotten what the real name was, 
but I know each of my comrades was equally far from the 
mark. We saw only a few very small fish in Salt Eiver, and 
could not induce any to take fly, minnow, or fish bait, though a 
young Africander managed to " jigger " two or three little mites. 
Passing a lot of native washerwomen, one of whom, though as 
black as my boots — used to be in London — was very good-looking 
and exceedingly well-made. We went farther up the river and 
found a splendid deep pool, wherein we had a delightful bathe, 
and then chased one another about in the sun to dry. We observed 
several snipe by the banks of this little stream, also a large kite, 
a " secretary-bird," a bird like a hooded crow, and many others. 
Having refreshed ourselves at a funny Dutch inn, we returned to 
Cape Town with a good appetite for dinner, at which we had a 
very excellent fish called "red stump-nose." 

5th April. — Went down to the fishing quarter to charter a boat 
for snook-fishing. The whole atmosphere down here was of the 
snook, snooky — all the fishing population busy opening, gutting, 
and hanging them up to dry. We got a very large, roomy, clean 
sailing-boat for 15s. for the day, and were soon outside the break- 
water with tackle and guns. There is a fine, 20/., I believe, for 
firing a gun inside the breakwater. We soon had lines out, but 
we had yet some distance to go before we reached the regular 



76 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

fishing ground, clearly shown by the number of sailing boats 
cruising over it in close company. Birds were wonderfully 
numerous, thousands of cormorants, Solan geese, penguins, and 
two large birds, termed by our natives ° mollimauks ' and 
"nialagasses." So. soon lines were disregarded, guns out, and 
the magnificent birds, the biggest we had ever shot, began to 
cumber the decks. We only caught three snook, but one of 
them was a fine fellow, over 1 51b. I lost a spoon-bait in a big 
fellow. As to birds, we shot twenty-eight, my share being one 
lesser albatross (Diomedea metamophrys), one Solan goose, four 
penguins (Speniscus demersa) and three " malagasses," a large 
speckled grey bird which I had never before seen. It was 
astonishing to see the thousands of these birds, Solan geese 
especially, hovering high over the parts of the sea where fish 
were thickest, many of them darting down from a great height 
with a bewildering and dazzling velocity, as if shot from some 
powerful aerial weapon, and evidently entering deep into the 
water. Several of the birds, the penguins especially, had fish in 
their mouths when brought on board, most of which appeared to 
be small grey mullet. A thick damp mist came on in the after- 
noon — they seem to be frequent both morning and evening at 
this season — and I wondered how our niggers would manage to 
get in ; but we were soon alongside the breakwater, and half an 
hour afterwards I was smoking my pipe with a stem taken from 
the wing of a "malagasse." We handed over the rest of the 
birds to a coolie, who volunteered to skin them for us for the sake 
of the carcases, many of them being eatable. My albatross 
measured 8ft. Gin. from tip to tip of wings. I believe the 
wandering albatross {Diomedea exulans) is a much larger bird. 

7th April. — In the morning had an interview at the Masonic 
Hotel with a successful diamond digger, just returned from the 
Fields, and going up again in a fortnight. He gave us much 
valuable information, and showed us a diamond of 37^ carats, 
which he says will cut to pure water, though it is at present 
straw-coloured. He does not think there is any likelihood of a 
war with the Boers, in spite of what the Cape papers say. 

Left for Algoa Bay at 9 p.m. this (Thursday) evening. 

We arrived there about 6 p.m. on Sunday the 9th April, after 
a totally uneventful voyage along the coast. Some further 
account of Cape Town will be found in a subsequent chapter. 



POET ELIZABETH TO DU TOIT's PAN. 77 









CHAPTER III. 

PORT ELIZABETH TO DU TOIT'S PAN BY BULLOCK 

WAGGON. 

Port Elizabeth, as the town in Algoa Bay is called, occupies the 
important position of chief sea-port to the Eastern districts of 
the Cape Colony. And yet it seems to me a misnomer to call it 
a port, for it is really nothing but an open roadstead, only very 
partially protected by a large breakwater, now in course of 
erection. And it is a dangerous roadstead, too, very rough, with 
a terrible surf, during the prevalence of certain gales. Steamers 
and ships lie well out in the offing, and passengers are landed at 
a small jetty. It is a long town, with plenty of churches, large 
warehouses, and handsome public buildings. It has one long 
main street, with a few short little streets radiating from it. At 
the back of this main street rises "The Hill," a slight and gentle 
elevation whereon are situated the cosy villas and fair gardens of 
the enterprising merchants of Port Elizabeth. 

In front of the town is the sea-beach, with its ever-sounding 
treacherous surf, and some half-dozen big black skeletons of ships 
which have been wrecked there are scattered over the beach, 
adding a gloomy picturesqueness to the scene. It is a very busy 
town, doing an immense trade in wool, hides, and other colonial 
produce, and also importing a very large quantity of European 
manufactures for the interior and the Diamond Fields. Graham s 
Town, the principal inland town of this part of the colony, is 
about eighty-five miles from Port Elizabeth. We arrived here 
as I said in my last chapter, on Sunday evening, 9th April, and 
were not able to get a waggon to start till the ensuing Saturday, 
15th April. We put up at Dreyer's Phoenix Hotel, but^ it is a 
rough, uncomfortable place ; the other hotel, on the hill, is much 
better. There was no quick line of horse or mule waggons from 
Algoa Bay then, so we were obliged to look out for a "transport 
rider," and charter a bullock waggon. 

Thirteen of us joined together for the journey up, and suc- 
ceeded in getting a good waggon, driven by J. W., oi King 
William's Town, to take us up for 70/. That expense was to be 



78 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

divided amongst the thirteen of us, and we were entitled to load 
the whole of our waggon with our own goods, not to exceed 
however a total weight of 70001b., including weight of our own 
persons. The passage up was to be performed in " usual time," 
which we considered to mean about thirty days. On Saturday, 
about noon, there was much cracking of whips and shouting in 
front of our hotel. A black waiter came rushing frantically 
into the room where M. and I were finishing our packing, 
shouting " Baas, here de waggon for de Diamond Field! " We 
hurried down stairs, and there stood the waggon. It was a long, 
rather low-hung concern, some 20ft. long by 5ft. 6in. broad, 
with a high arched framework, on which would shortly be 
stretched a strong waterproof canvas covering, with a curtain at 
each end to be let down at night or for bad weather. Into this 
novel conveyance, which was drawn by a long team of sixteen 
sturdy, patient oxen, with big wooden yokes on their necks — 
driven by a white man with an ostrich feather in his hat — we 
hastily deposited our portmanteaus, boxes, guns, blankets, and 
sundry stores we had bought for the road, such as tea, coffee, 
pickles, pepper, flour, rice, curry powder, dried sausage, dried herbs, 
sugar, &c. We had also a keg of " pickled fish," which the 
Malays at Port Elizabeth are very skilful in preparing. Then 
we went along the town, the " admired of all observers " — for 
the diamond fever was getting very strong in Port Elizabeth — 
and picked up by degrees the other eleven passengers and their 
luggage. So soon the waggon was loaded half way up to the 
roof with the miscellaneous property and provisions of thirteen 
men — boxes, portmanteaus, carpet bags, little bags, big casks, 
sacks of biscuits, potatoes, and onions, and hosts of other 
articles, while, outside the waggon, buckets, cooking-pots, and 
kettles swung gracefully, and jangled noisily as we jolted slowly 
over the road. 

Guns and fishing rods were tied up to the frame work of the 
roof. ^ Great was the excitement we all felt at fairly starting for 
the Diamond Fields, and many were the farewell glasses drained 
with hospitable acquaintances ; so that when at last about 
4 p.m., the long whip cracked, and we fairly "trekked" out of 
the town, marching gaily beside the waggon, some were rather 
'^unsteady on their pins," and nearly all were shouting and 
singing, to the great gratification of the nigger population of the 
outskirts of the town. We trekked on slowly till nightfall, then 
one of the wheels got into a deep rut, and we stuck there for 



PORT ELIZABETH TO DU TOIT's PAN. 79 

the present ; so a fire was lighted by the driver and his nigger 
assistant with a few miserable little bits of wood that were to 
be found on the scrubby plain by which we were surrounded, 
coffee was made, a slight supper eaten, and pipes smoked 
round the wretched little camp-fire. "We then rolled in 
our blankets and lay down to sleep, but it was very cold 
and there was a very heavy dew, so we got little good 
rest. We stopped there the greater part of the next day, 
Sunday. By the time the sun had warmed us we were quite 
happy, some wandering over the veldt to secure wood for the 
cooking-fire, others roaming about with guns in search of game, 
of which we only saw one or two curlews, some sandpipers, and a 
big black and white kingfisher, by the banks of a creek, about 
two miles from our carnping-place. In the afternoon some friends 
from the town, hearing we had not gone far, came out to see us, 
and we made merry with them ; gave them coffee and biscuits, 
and then went and dined with them on oysters, eggs, sardines, 
bread and butter, and bottled beer, at an hotel on the banks of 
the creek above mentioned. The same evening we trekked on, 
and then began our pleasant wanderings through the interior, 
travelling by easy stages, averaging ten or fifteen miles a day, 
getting plenty of shooting, stopping a day or two at each of the 
towns on the way, viz., Graham's Town, Fort Beaufort, Queen's 
Town, Burghersdorp, and Fauresmith. Sometimes we would 
lose our oxen for a day or two, moreover one or two of the cattle 
died on the road, so delays were numerous. But it was a wild 
and jovial life, it did us good, and we enjoyed it much. It was 
good practice for the " roughing " at the Fields, too, for we 
had to draw our own water, cut or collect our own firewood (often 
very heavy work), cook our own meals, and wash up our own 
plates and dishes. Some extracts from a letter of mine, written 
from Queen's Town, Gth May, 1871, may give a somewhat 
more vivid idea of the life than I can now draw from my recol- 
lection. 

We have had a very pleasant journey so far. Left Algoa Bay 
on 15th April, and expect twenty-one days from here will land 
us at Pniel, where we shall see people we have letters to, and get 
information about latest '•' new rushes," &c, &c. The weather 
has been simply delightful, just like English summer, with rather 
chilly nights. At night rugs and blankets are arranged so as to 
diminish as far as possible the painful irregularities, sharp angles, 
and utterly impracticable differences oi height of our boxes, 




80 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



portmanteaus, casks, &c. A space of 17in. wide is nominally 
allowed to eacli man as sleeping accommodation, and each person's 
berth is denoted by a pencil mark on the wooden framework of 
the waggon ; but, when all sleep in the waggon, owing to the 
peculiar differences of size and shape in the luggage, some get 
more than their allowance, others not nearly enough. For 
instance, one man will be lying on a big box, and have an inch or 
two to spare, while the other, on a portmanteau very much lower 
than the box, cannot level them by any number of blankets, so 
can't take any advantage of the two inches of the top of the 
box, which ought to belong to him, but is wedged into fifteen 
inches or so between the side of the box and a neighbouring 
cask. Generally, though, man}^ sleep out on the veldt when the 
waggon "outspans " for the night. M. and I never sleep both in 
the waggon together, so whichever of us happens to be in has 
plenty of room. But sleeping in the waggon has many disad- 
vantages. Two or three lively spirits, who will not go to bed (?) 
early, even in the bush, are sure to come in late, and walk calmly 
over other people's stomachs in the dark to their place in the 
middle or at the other end of the waggon. Then, when we are 
moving on, or " trekking," which is the proper expression, the 
jolting is frequently something fearful, not only for the shaking 
and noise, but because it frequently loosens and shakes down 
sundry small but heavy articles hung to the top of the frame- 
work to be out of the way. For instance, one night, going along 
a very rough road, a fishing-rod of mine jumped down, and hit a 
man on the cheek with its butt-end. A double-barrelled gun 
came down and nearly broke a fellow's rib ; shortly after which 
a concertina bounced on to a man's face, the squeak of the 
astonished sleeper mingling ludicrously with a faint strain of 
music from the offending instrument. The same night, waking 
up with uncomfortable sensations, I found the toe of a dirty boot 
in my mouth, while another was trying to gently insinuate itself 
into my left ear. This sort of thing was only during the first few 
days, really ; we" arrange matters differently " now, never all 
sleep in the waggon together, and tie up our things securely. 
For the first fortnight from leaving Algoa Bay we used to " trek " 
chiefly by night, seldom travelling after 8 a.m. till about 4 p.m., 
then perhaps moving on till 9, " tying up " oxen till 12 or 1 a.m. 
and then going on again till daylight. Each waggon has eight yoke, 
or sixteen oxen. Mr. W., our transport rider, drives one waggon, 
which contains his family, Mrs. W., two girls, and three boys, 



PORT ELrZABETH TO DU TOIT's PAN. 81 

who, though very young, already know how to crack a huge whip 
and hold a gun straight. 

A very decent Englishman, known by the name of Fred, 
drives our waggon, and a Kafir drives a third, also belonging to 
Mr. W., and containing seven very nice fellows, who came out in 
the Sweden, which made the wonderfully quick passage of 
twenty-seven days from England to Cape Town. There are so 
many details you would like to know that I hardly know what 
order to put them in. However, I will next speak of the cooking. 
Each separate mess divides among its members the labours of 
cooking and washing up. As M. knows nothing about cooking, 
and I have developed a remarkable talent that way, I do all the 
cooking, and he does all the washing up. We have also to provide 
our own wood and water. The latter has been plentiful all the 
way, but wood is now a thing of the past. We have a small 
stock on the waggon, but I have already learnt to build a good 
cooking-fire out of dry bullock dung, which we shall have to 
depend on now for a considerable time. 

^ Now, as to the food we get. We have very frequent opportu- 
nities of buying sheep, the prices of which have fluctuated at 
different points on the road from 5s. to 10s. per sheep. M. and 
I got a quarter of a sheep for Is. M. the other day. Then we 
carry with us bacon, potatoes, onions, tea, coffee, sugar, condensed 
milk, biscuits, flour, dried peas and beans, rice, raisins, Cape 
brandy, a little sauce and pickles, a lot of dried herbs, mint, &c, 
so that we not only don't starve but live well, with the aid of M.'s 
portable canteen (Silver's), which contains in a small compass 
every requisite for cooking and eating, for two persons. 

Our guns, too, bring in frequent welcome additions to the 
larder. We have not got fairly into the big game or buck 
country yet, but nearly all the way we have seen plenty of doves, 
which are plump and excellent eating. I shot nine one morning, 
and a grand stew we made of them. Fred, the driver, shot a 
M duiker ! doe one rainy day ; it is a pretty little antelope of a 
quiet dun-brown colour. Last Sunday we bought from some 
Kafir boys a doe grysbok, rather bigger, reddish brown, with 
silvery hairs here and there, for 2s. 

We have seen many hares, a little smaller than the English 
ones, rather thinner and more active — hosts of the so-called rock- 
rabbit, a brown furry little animal, with hardly any ears and 
funny long black feet, the "cony " of Scripture, I believe, living 
in holes among almost inaccessible rocks and cliffs. A few big 

a 



82 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



bushbucks and springbucks have been seen, but none yet brought 
to the waggon by our sportsmen, of whom I and another York- 
shireman, B. by name, are about the keenest. I shot a fine grey 
partridge two days ago, very like our bird, only rather larger, 
and slightly darker plumage— very tough birds to kill. We 
have also seen many pheasants, and got a couple. They are not 
very brilliant plumaged, and have short tails. 

In the dusk, coming up a gully, after shooting by toe Fish 
Eiver, I almost stumbled on to a leopard, or " tiger," as they 
call it here, which had apparently caught some small beast, and 
was growling over it. The brute gave a most tremendous growl 
at me. I stood still for about half a minute, uncertain what to do. 
Then, having only shot in my gun, I walked quietly away, the 
leopard growling fiercely at me all the time, but not moving. I 
was told afterwards that I had acted wisely, and not cowardly, as 
I should not have killed him with the first shot, and he would 
probably have given me some ugly scratches, if nothing worse. 

We have passed through every variety of scenery, plain, scrub, 
wooded hills, grass lands, mountains, rocks — in fact as beautiful 
and varied scenery as any man could desire, not excepting a snow- 
clad peak, the Winterberg, which we saw a day or two ago. We 
crossed the famous Katberg two days ago. It is a very high and 
rough mountain, with a winding zig-zag road, very dangerous and 
precipitous in parts. We came half-way up in the night, then 
camped out on the slope cf a hill, with a fierce driving wind and a 
terrible quantity of dust, but the next day the wind went down. 
We have had two regular rainy days, rather unusual for this 
season, several windy days, and many dusty days. The dust is 
so fine that it covers one all over, and penetrates everywhere. I 
must have swallowed my allotted "peck of dirt" on this journey 
already. Nevertheless we are all very healthy. I have walked 
nearly all the way, though I often take a little ride on Mr. W.'s 
waggon, and have a pleasant chat with the children, with whom 
I get on capitally, having always been fond of the "little folks. 
I tell them of the wonders of England and Europe, and they 
tell me of the rough life of the colony, and tales of shooting, 
fishing, &c. 

There are plenty of openings in the colony for anyone coming 
out with money, and not liking the diggings. Wool-growing is 
the principal business of farmers in the Eastern Province, and 
is now paying well. Produce of every kind can be raised by 
irrigation. There are plenty of rivers. 



POET ELIZABETH TO DU TOIt's PAN. 83 

Ostrich-farming is also carried on successfully ; a good adult 
bird yielding at least 101. twice a year. 

The English colonists are capital fellows, very proud of the 
"old country/ 5 and full of kindness and welcome to English emi- 
grants. Our waggons are going to " trek " on this afternoon. 

To-morrow being Sunday, my chum and I have gone in for a 
luxury. We bought on the Queenstown market this morning a big 
bucketful of beautiful green peas for Is. 3d. I also got a bag, 
over 1001b., of fine potatoes for 4s. tid. Horses are good and 
cheap in the colony. At one place we found a lovely garden and 
orchard, with lots of oranges, citrons, loquots, apples, and other 
fruits. Pomegranates also plentiful. 

We go about very roughly clad. I find I look like a cross be- 
tween a bushranger and poacher. Life on the roads is very free and 
jolly, and no strong man need fear any hardships in this colony. 

As we got farther up the country game became more abundant, 
we often saw droves of graceful springbuck, and two of them 
were shot by B., after a long and careful stalk. Partridges of 
two kinds, paauws, knorhaans or lesser bustards, and many other 
birds and beasts, became very numerous. During the whole of 
the way, we were hardly a day without passing some " canteen " 
or " accommodation house," indeed, they were too frequent for 
some of our fellow-passengers, who could not resist the tempta- 
tion of " liquoring up" freely at each of these opportunities. 
The weather was very pleasant during the whole of the journey, 
we had sharp frosts once or twice at night, but the days were 
always warm. Plenty of sport, good food, pleasant scenery, 
plenty of good singing, and "spinning of yarns," all contributed 
to make the time pass quickly ; but still many of us began to 
grow impatient, and to think we had made a great mistake in 
adopting such a slow old-fashioned mode of conveyance. 

When at length, on the evening of the 30th May, after a 
rather rough crossing of the Modder Eiver in the dark, we were 
told on "out spanning " that we were only about eighteen miles 
tromDu Toit's Pan, where most of us had decided to commence 
digging operations, some of us were too impatient to stop any 
longer ; so four of us started off to walk, accomplished about ten 
miles, then camped with our blankets among some fine mimosas, 
and started a big fire. A thunderstorm came on, and we got 
very wet before morning, but we did not mind that now. On 
we went, gaily singing, till we came to a Boer farm, where the 
niggers said we were "not far" from the Diamond Fields, and 

g2 






84 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

soon from the brow of a thinly-wooded hill we were delighted 
by seeing the white dots of tents on a distant ridge, and we 
waved our caps and shouted lustily for joy, for Du Toit's Pan lay 

before us. 

Passing over a broad plain, covered with stunted grass and 
here and there a little thornbush, we rapidly neared the camp. 
We were barely half a mile distant from the nearest tents when 
I saw four springbuck grazing, and got so near to them that I 
risked a couple of shots with my revolver, but missed them. 
Then we got to the "Pan," from which this camp takes its 
name, a large shallow depression in the ground, which will ap- 
parently be full of water in rainy weather. Cattle were grazing 
all around, nigger men and women of all tribes and colours busy 
drawing water from two dirty wells, or washing clothes at two 
dirtier dams, while on a slight rise of ground beyond the Pan 
stood tents and waggons of every description, and farther up yet 
rose the huge mounds of earth and gravel thrown up by the 
diamond seekers, above which a dense permanent cloud of fine 
dust showed that they were all busy at work "dry-sifting." 

In the afternoon there was a meeting of diggers, to hear terms 
proposed by the proprietors of the adjoining farm of Bultfontein, 
which had been " jumped," or taken forcible possession of, by a 
number of diggers. It Was an animated scene. Crowds of rough 
bearded diggers, in various and picturesque costume, many with 
picks or shovels on their shoulders, stood on the slope of a hill, 
and listened pretty quietly to the speeches. At last it was de- 
clared that the farm of Bultfontein was thrown open to the public 
at 105. per claim (thirty square feet), monthly license, and that 
those diggers who had jumped claims, were to keep them, on the 
same terms as new comers. As a great number of "jumpers' 
were present, this measure was advisable and gave general satis- 
faction ; though one or two, who were not "jumpers," proposed 
that the whole of the claims should be numbered and drawn for 
by lot, but this was not agreed to. 

Well, I see I was wrong in saying that I was fifty days on th 
road, it was only forty-six, but even that is a great deal to 
long. Some fellow passengers, per Roman, who had gone up b 
steamer to Natal, and thence by waggon to the Fields, arrived at 
Du Toit's Pan two days after us, so there is not much to chooso 
between those two routes, except that via Natal there is much 
more big game, And it was really vexatious to think that wc 
might have got up in eight or nine days at much less expense. 



le 
o 



PNIEL TO CAPE TOWN. §5 



CHAPTER IV. 

PNIEL TO CAPE TOWN BY INLAND TRANSPORT COMPANY'S 

HORSE-WAGGON. 

There's news of the waggon — it will be here about twelve," said 
another digger to me, as we sat at Jardine's comfortable breakfast- 
table in the Eoyal Arch Hotel, Pniel. " Glad to hear there is a 
chance of our making a start to-day," I replied, "but I will have an 
hour's farewell fishing in the Vaal first." It was Wednesday, the 
15th November, 1871, and the waggon should have reached Pniel 
some days previously, and started on the return journey to Cape 
Town, according to advertisement, on the 13th. All the places 
were taken, and diggers and merchants, anxious to reach their 
homes and friends, had been waiting some days in Jardine's 
Hotel, impatient and grumbling, some fearing our waggon had 
met with an accident, others attributing the delay to what 
ultimately proved to be the real cause, viz., bad management at some 
of the relay places. It was a hot morning, but rather cloudy and 
breezy. After breakfast, I and the friend above mentioned 
wandered along the pleasant, gravelly, willow-fringed banks of 
the Vaal, down the stream, I casting in my light gut line and paste 
bait wherever I saw a rapid or eddy likely for the vigorous yellow 
fish, pausing every now and then to pick up some of the pretty 
pebbles which are so abundant on the banks of the diamondi- 
ferous stream. "We had been absent from the hotel about two 
hours. I had caught a dozen tidy yellow fish, from a quarter of 
a pound to two pounds in weight. It was getting terribly hot 
and sunny, the fish were off the feed, and I was moving up 
stream and taking my rod to pieces. I heard a shout, then a 
young friend came swiftly towards us, and said, "Be quick, the 
waggon is there, and going to start in an hour." So, quickly we 
had climbed the hill, passing big stores and busy claims, where 
the Kafirs were hard at work getting the gravel from amongst the 
big iron-stone boulders, and when we reached our hostelry it was 
one o'clock ; the waggon stood there empty, the passengers 
from Cape Town having already begun to disperse themselves in 
the direction of the different camps, where they were going to 
try their luck, most of them of course proceeding to the famous 



86 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



Colesberg Kopje, reports of which had caused such a sensation in 
the colony. The Inland Transport Company's waggon is a very 
strong but light vehicle, somewhat resembling a covered wag- 
gonette. In front is a seat for the driver, and his two nigger 
assistants ; behind this three similar seats cross the waggon, each 
holding three passengers, and at the back of all there is a little 
sort of coupe, holding two passengers, with their backs to the 
horses. There is no glass, but stout curtains can be drawn and 
fastened across all the windows to keep out wind, rain, or dust ; 
the moderate softness of the seats can be increased by one or two 
artfully arranged blankets ; while those who have a corner seat, 
which is always preferable, can easily fasten a light pillow to the 
window-frame in such a way as effectually to secure their heads from 
the tremendous bumps caused by the jolting of the waggon, if they 
go to sleep sitting, as they doubtless often will. 

I hastily packed my solitary portmanteau, and went in to dinner, 
after having done full justice to which, the ten other passengers and 
myself proceeded to instal ourselves as comfortably as possible in 
our respective seats. And at two p.m., amidst loud cheers and 
hurrahs, and not a few envious looks from our assembled friends 
and the whole personnel of the hotel, our driver shouted, cracked 
his long whip, and our ten gallant wiry little Cape horses started 
off at a canter, which very much resembled a gallop. 

Leaving the banks of the Vaal, and the familiar scenes and 
faces of the last few months ; leaving the hard, rough toil of 
digging, and turning our faces homeward, towards relatives, 
friends, civilisation, and comfort, many of us with good news and 
well-filled pockets for those at home ; what wonder that we all 
felt a keen exhilaration, as the waggon dashed and jolted along — 
away over the hills, down on to the plains, and over the level 
ground— briskly, nay, swiftly and wildly, to the jingling of the 
merry little bells on our horses' necks, which we in the waggon 
accompanied with song after song, and chorus after chorus, till we 
grew hoarse and were fain to rest, and look out upon the hills and 
plains, and watch for the graceful bounding springbok, the pretty 
little furry bushy-tailed meerkat, the noisy knorhaan, and many 
other of the birds and beasts so numerous in this part of the 
country ! We were nearly all young, none of us past the prime 
of life ; several of us had been very lucky, and were taking down 
big diamonds to sell at Cape Town, or send home to the European 
markets. Merchants, too, were there, with keen eyes and shrewd 
heads for successful trading at the Fields. 



PNIBL TO CAPE TOWN. 87 

I was only just beginning to recover strength after the fever 
which had so lately left me, and the diarrhoea which was still 
keeping me weak, moreover, I was suffering acutely from opthal- 
mia ; but when the doctor had represented to me the trying 
nature of the journey, and its dangers for an invalid like me, I 
had replied, " Doctor, I am homeward-bound ! That thought will 
be sufficient to cheer my spirits and restore my health. I have 
set my face straight for Old England, and I am going there 
straight." And in truth I was not the least merry of the party, 
and my spirits and health improved, with the exception of my 
eyes, each day of the rough journey. 

At five in the afternoon we made our first halt, at BadlofTs 
farm, called " Sekretaris," where we stopped for an hour, and I 
purchased a large loaf of bread for a shilling, and refreshed myself 
also with two cups of milk at 3d. per cup. 

A few hours later we came to Oombrink's, where we could get 
nothing but sour or thick milk, but even that I did not despise, 
for I began to have the keen fever-convalescent appetite, and 
would neglect no opportunity of wholesome food. We out- 
spanned that night at another farm, De Plooi's, sleeping on the 
ground in our blankets ; and as, in the morning, our horses were 
not ready, and we had to wait till past ten o'clock, we got a 
rough but substantial breakfast of meat, milk, bread and coffee, 
at the old Boer's, at very trifling cost. 

But as the painful condition of my eyes prevented me from 
taking my usual copious notes of this journey, I am unable to 
give more than a general outline of it. We crossed the 
dangerous rocky bed of the Eiet River, camped out by the banks 
of the broad Orange, having arrived there too late to get the 
"pont," or huge ferry-boat, which takes waggons and cattle 
across ; crossed on said "pont," at about five a.m. on the morning 
of the 17th, to the hotel kept by John Rostoll, the owner of the 
ferry, but did not stay there, for Hope Town was only a mile and 
a half off, and we reached it before seven. There we had a comfort- 
able breakfast, and then proceeded by Addison's Farm, Steenbok 
Flat, Kalk Kraal, Skilderspan, Jiigerschern, Wonderfontein and 
Driefonteki to Victoria West, which we reached at six p.m. 
on the 19th. Victoria West is a pretty little town in a valley, 
between two high slightly-wooded hills. Early in 1871 a 
waterspout burst over these hills, and a huge body of water 
rushed down upon the little town, causing fearful destruction 
to both life and property, which will long be remembered in 



88 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



the colony. It is painful to see how many families there are in 
mourning. 

Enjoying a hasty dinner at Victoria West, we went on past Brack- 
fontein and Devenish's Farm to Beaufort West, arriving there at 
one p.m. on the 20th. Here we began to get our first glimpse of 
real luxury. At the hotel (Human's, I believe) the snug clean- 
liness and comfort of the little bedrooms in which we performed 
very needful ablutions, were most tantalising, after nights in the 
jolting waggon, with occasional uneasy naps for an hour or two 
on the hard ground, when we rested, fed, or changed our horses. 
Alas, we were not to sleep here ! But we got a most sumptuous 
dinner, with an abundance of green peas, which called forth 
exclamations of delight from those to whom even a fresh potato 
had long been an unwonted luxury. Moreover, the pretty lady- 
like daughters of the host were extremely polite and attentive, 
and we had not been used to that sort of thing. I believe the 
whole family will have moved to .the Diamond Fields by this 
time, and I prophecy great success and prosperity for them. 

Moreover, we discovered here a baker's shop, wherein were 
wonderfully delicious cakes, in which I immediately invested a 
couple of shillings, and was also irresistibly tempted by some fine 
raisins, for diggers are very much like schoolboys in their 
fondness for '-'sweets." It was pleasing to find also that beer 
was decreasing in price ; from 3s. per bottle on the Fields, Bass, 
Allsop, and Guinness was down to 2s. at Beaufort West. 

At Devenish's Farm, where \ve had breakfasted before proceeding 
to Beaufort, we had been much pleased at the abundance of running 
water, trees, shrubs, and gardens round the farm, still more so at 
the sight of more than a dozen full-grown ostriches, and about 
three dozen in all stages of infancy, feeding quietly in a large 
grassy enclosure. 

At four p.m. we left the town, and proceeded over a very 
rough road, which gave us much jolting. We bore all such 
trifles very good-humouredly by this time. At about six we 
met the Company's waggon from Cape Town. Both waggons 
halted ; homeward-bound and upward -bound chatted pleasantly, 
and exchanged news ; then we drove gaily off in our several 
directions, amid loud hurrahs and much cracking of whips and 
blowing of horns. Then on to a farm called " Uitkeek " (English, 
" look-out "), which we reached about 1.30 a.m. Slept on the 
ground till five a.m., had coffee, left at six, on to Rietfontein, where 
we had a very excellent breakfast. From five p.m. on the 21st to 



PNIEL TO CAPE TOWN. 89 

five a.m. on the 22nd we were at Blood Kiver, where there is a 
decent hotel. We got an excellent dinner for 2s. 6<2., chickens, 
curry, beef, mutton, potatoes, beans, &c. Then we indulged in 
the luxury of a real bed, for which only Is. was charged, and we 
did not at all like being pulled out of it at two in the morning, 
but "onward" was the word. At six we reached Grootfontein, 
where we got eggs and coffee ; at ten, Geelbek, more coffee, and 
from twelve to two p.m., stopped at Zoutkloof, where we had an ex- 
cellent dinner, with green peas and other delicacies, the host 
swinging a big "punkah" over the table the whole time to keep 
the flies off. Then we drove on to Patatas Biver, a little beyond 
which we got a good supper, with green peas in abundance, at 
another farm. Thence we went on up high mountains, and after 
a halt at the unearthly hour of two a.m., which we spent in eating 
bread and butter and imbibing beer, at a picturesquely situated 
hotel — in a room which was all papered with Illustrated London 
News pictures — we drove on, through very fine mountain scenery, 
to the little town of Ceres, most picturesquely situated at the 
foot of a high mountain, and looking very gay with its white 
houses and lots of green trees. After breakfasting heartily, and 
having pleasant chats with some of the inhabitants, all very 
anxious to know how things were going at the Diamond Fields, we 
started gaily, at about three p.m., on the last stage of our waggon 
journey, via Mitchell's Pass, Darling Bridge, and Bain's Kloof, to 
Wellington, where we were to take to the railway cars for Cape Town. 
The scenery along the whole of this last stage was awfully 
magnificent; high mountains, deep ravines, fearful precipices, 
along which a narrow road wound along, bordered here and there 
with huge stones, to guard against waggons or carts toppling 
over into the abyss below. A wild torrent dashed along the 
bottom of the deep valley ; here and there lay huge rocks in 
chaotic masses, and we had to drive very cautiously, for there 
were many waggons coming up the Pass, and but few places 
where there was room for two vehicles to pass each other ; so our 
driver's horn kept sounding loudly, waking up the echoes of the 
grand old mountains, as a signal to advancing waggons to keep 
out of the way. It was wonderful to see how cleverly thednver 
guided his eight horses along the sharply-winding, precipitous 
road, and how very close to the edge of the precipices we often 
were, in passing other vehicles. And when we had passed the 
summit, and were rattling down a fearfully steep declivity, some 
of the passengers were avowedly nervous. But soon we reached 



90 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



a level plain, and then the driver rose up, yelled, and cracked his 
whip loudly, and the splendid horses rushed away at full gallop 
along the level road in the bright moonlight, and dashed up to 
the doors of the hotel at Wellington at nine p.m. 

How quickly we then descended from the waggon, and how we 
exulted at the thought that there was to be no more jolting, no 
more broken nights, no more coarse food, scarce water, and 
hard work — for our waggon journey was at an end, and 
the pleasures of civilisation lay before us. It would have been 
difficult to find a merrier company than that which was shortly 
assembled in the spacious saloon of the hotel, discussing a supper 
of hot and cold viands, with oranges, bananas, and other fruits, 
and some excellent Cape sherry. 

Though we had once or twice fared well on the journey — green 
peas to wit — our food at the Boers' farms had often been of the 
coarsest and roughest description. Cooking is certainly not the 
forte of the Boer or his "vrouw." At one place we could get 
nothing but hard-boiled guinea-fowls' eggs and coffee. A heap of 
eggs was laid upon the table — no egg cups, no spoons, not even 
a morsel of bread — and the old Boer took out a handful of salt 
out of a big jar and threw it down upon the table. But all these 
things are gradually improving, owing to the immense traffic on 
the Diamond Field routes. Another Transport Company is now 
running waggons from Cape Town, and both companies have 
made efficient arrangements to have no delays with the relays of 
horses, and to allow frequent and ample time for rest and 
refreshment. We had found two relays quite unprovided with 
horses, and had to do one stage with mules and another with 
oxen. But the driver, by dint of much yelling and whipping, and 
his sable assistants by running beside the bullocks and belabour- 
ing them with the terrible " sjambok," managed to overcome 
the constitutional slowness of these animals, and even "con- 
ciliated ' them into something resembling a gallop. Altogether, 
the journey was pleasant enough, nothing very serious in the way of 
hardship or fatigue ; and even I, the invalid, was much stronger and 
stouter at the end of it than when I left Pniel, in opposition to my 
doctor's recommendation. But we are not at Cape Town yet. 

On the morning of Friday, the 24th November, after a most 
luxurious sleep, we rose, paid our bills, and got into the waggon 
for the last time ; for a very short trip this time, only to the 
Railway Station, a quarter of a mile distant from the hotel. 
Here the waggon was placed upon a truck, and the passengers 



PNIEL TO CAPE TOWN. 91 

were presented with tickets for the train, included in the 121. 
passage money. 

What a delight that smooth railway trip was, after the confine- 
ment and jolting of the old waggon, which was coming along in 
solemn, solitary state, on its truck behind us ! 

We passed through most luxuriant and varied scenery — 
mountains, plains, pretty little white villages embosomed in green 
trees, long stretches of bright green vineyards surrounded by 
hedges of quinces, gardens where flowers of wondrous beauty 
bloomed in bright profusion, and we thought of the hot, barren, 
dusty veldt round our mining camps far away in the Orange 
Free State, and greedily drank in the fair prospect around us, and 
were thankful. 

But this was not all. At a station called Stellenbosch, about 
half-way to Cape Town, our train stopped ten minutes for 
refreshments, and then what a sight met our eyes I Negro, 
Malay, and half-caste girls, in clean white clothing, were waiting 
for us with baskets of huge oranges, plates of strawberries, cups 
of hot coffee, and piles of delicious cakes ! A wild shout arose 
from the carriage in which I was sitting with three other diggers, 
a rush was made for the window, and the carriage was soon full 
of oranges, strawberries, and cakes, at what seemed to us absurdly 
low prices. And the oranges looked too large to be good, but 
they were the most delicious and juicy that I had ever tasted. 
The strawberries and cakes, too, were deserving of the highest 
praise, and we enjoyed ourselves more like schoolboys than ever. 

And soon we were speeding along in sight of the grand old 
Table Mountain, fair Cape Town, and the calm blue sea, dotted 
with the white sails of the fishing boats, with a big craft lying 
here and there, and a forest of masts and rigging, showing the 
docks in the distance. 

My fellow-passengers were all colonists. They were dose to 
their homes and their friends now : you could see it in their eager, 
joyous faces ; but / looked out into the far distance over the broad 
blue water, and longed to be standing once more on the familiar 
deck of the good old Roman, and fairly "homeward bound." 

At 9.15 we were in Cape Town Station, where eager friends 
and relatives and many of the general populace were waiting in 
a crowd for the arrival of " the diamond diggers." 

I slipped away from the throng, for I had no friends there 
and, with one fellow-passenger similarly situated, giving our light 
baggage to the brown-faced, white-clad, obsequious coolies, we 




92 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



marched gaily across the parade to the Eoyal Hotel, in Plein 
Street. 

Mr. Lopes, most excellent of landlords, was standing in front of 
his door, clad in most faultless costume, and looking oppressively 
aristocratic to our unaccustomed eyes. 

And what a figure I was ! A dirty old broad-brimmed straw 
hat, with a blue veil round the crown, a light brown canvas 
jacket much the worse for wear, bright yellow trousers, a striped 
shirt, a big red sash round my waist, and a pair of rougb brown 
" veldt-schoens "on my feet — altogether wild-looking, haggard, 
and travel-stained. No wonder that Mr. Lopes looked at me 
somewhat dubiously at first, but in an instant he thought of the 
arrival of the Diamond Field train, and was re-assured. 

With the utmost politeness he ushered us into a comfortable, 
nay luxurious, bedroom, and proffered warm baths, and every 
possible comfort. 

We hastily made a trifling change in our apparel, and then 
descended to the saloon, to enjoy a breakfast of the most delicious 
fresh fish that mortal man could desire. Then we went out, 
bought civilised "toggery," and commenced to enjoy ourselves. 

Our first ardent desire was to eat ices, our next to drive in a 
Hansom cab ; after the satisfactory accomplishment of both of 
which, I settled ;down to the perfect enjoyment of luxurious, placid 
dolcefar niente, for I was still far from well, and did not want to 
do anything, not even to fish. 

I had to wait ten days at Cape Town, and the time passed 
most delightfully. I don't believe there ever was a more comfort- 
able hotel than the Eoyal, with its large, high, cool, luxuriously 
furnished drawing-rooms, its pleasant lounge beneath the verandah 
between the green trees in front, its abundant table and most ex- 
cellent cuisine, and the attention of such a host and hostess as 
Mr. and Mrs. Lopes. We were lively too ; returned diggers, naval 
officers from our men-of-war stationed in the neighbouring 
Simon's Bay, travellers and hunters from the interior, enterpris- 
ing wealthy merchants of Cape Town, all hearty, genial, and 
kindly— the time could never hang heavily in such company. 

Then there was a grand ball given by the officers of a Swedish 
man-of-war, to which came most of our naval officers, and plenty 
of fair English girls and matrons. 

There were plenty of delightful rides and drives to be made, 
the neighbourhood of Cape Town affording an endless variety of 
most lovely scenery ; and the best of horses and neatest of car- 



PNIEL TO CAPE TOWN. 93 

riages were easily procurable, but I was too lazy. I strolled 
sometimes through, the beautiful Botanical Gardens (liberally 
thrown open to all travellers) and I visited the Museum, delighted 
with its admirable collection of birds, beasts, fishes, minerals, 
&c, &c. ; specially interested in the fine collection of pebbles from 
theVaal Kiver, containing beautiful specimens of agates, corne- 
lian, chalcedony, garnets, crystals, jasper, and amygdaloid. There 
is also a pure nugget from the Tatin Gold Fields, a model of the 
first South African diamond, and many diamonds lent for exhibi- 
tion. A careful inspection of the treasures of the South African 
Museum will well repay any intending digger. 

The population of Cape Town is very mixed — English, Dutch, 
Germans, and other Europeans ; negroes, Malays, half-castes of 
every shade of colour, many of the girls of great beauty, and 
dressing picturesquely, generally in white. The European popu- 
lation follow closely upon the London and Paris fashions, and 
generally dress remarkably well. Our soldiers, with their white 
trousers and helmets and red coats, look very neat and cool ; so do 
our policemen. The Malays wear immense broad-brimmed straw 
hats, of a pyramidal shape, and very curious wooden sandals, only 
held on to the foot by a big wooden button between the big and 
next toe. They are large dealers in fish, which they bring round 
in carts, blowing a very loud and discordant horn. The markets 
are abundantly supplied with the best of meat, game, fish, vege- 
tables, and an endless variety of fruit, of which there is always 

some in season. 

The climate of Cape Town is delightful ; it seemed quite cool 
after the Diamond Fields, and the heat was never at all oppressive 
during my ten days' stay there, though the summer season had 
fairly set in. The warehouses, stores, and shops of Cape Town 
are magnificent, the import and export trade being very large. 
There are occasional performances at the theatre— concerts, fetes, 
balls, &c. ; and for riding and driving, boating and fishing, there 
could not be a more delightful residence. The neighbouring 
vineyards of Constantia— Cloete's, and Van Kenen's— will well 
repay a visit ; and, from samples I have tasted, I think Cape 
wines are much calumniated in England, and will one day be ap- 
preciated at a high value. There are plenty of omnibuses about 
Cape Town and neighbourhood, and an abundance of Hansom cabs. 
Cape Town is a perfect paradise to a returned digger. I know 
of no place where better living, or more pleasant society, is to be 
found. I spent one day most pleasantly at the country house ol 



94 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



a friend from the Fields, a lovely little place at Claremont, and 
we drove about in the afternoon among gardens, parks, and 
vineyards, all of the most bewildering luxuriance. 

But now it is time for me to leave fair Cape Town — though I 
could linger over its pleasant reminiscences for hours — and go on 
board the old Roman, in which I have secured my passage for 
England, and the same berth I occupied on the voyage out, No. 1 , 
about the best situation in the ship — being far away from the 
noise and shaking of the screw. 

Pleasant Cape Town, and grand old Table Mountain, au revoir ! 



11 



I 



DIARY ON BOARD S.S. "ROMAN. 



•5 



95 



CHAPTER V. 



DIARY ON BOARD S.S. " ROMAN," CAPE TOWN TO SOUTH- 
AMPTON. 

5th December, 1871. — " Once more on the deck I stand — of my 
own swift gliding craft." She is not "my own," though, and she 
does not go in much for " gliding ;" rolling is more her form, I 
know, but she is a splendid old sea-boat, and familiar to me as 
home. Familiar faces all around me ; here is the genial, gentle- 
manly captain, the jovial, hearty officers, the attentive stewards, 
the sturdy, merry crew, aye, and even the same two dogs, old 
"Lion," the big black retriever, stately and dignified as ever, and 
little " Charlie," the black and tan terrier, who enjoys the tropics 
with an intense laziness, and will shiver piteously as we draw near 
the chills and fogs of Old Albion. But I am going ahead too 
fast ; now let me stick to my diary. Steamed out of Table Bay 
at 4.15 p.m. Fair breeze outside, sails hoisted at 5.15. Few pas- 
sengers, two parsons aft and one forward. Several returned diggers 
— among them two lucky ones from the Colesberg Kopje. Also a 
young Oxonian, who has been hunting up in the big game country, 
had grand sport, and proves very companionable, his conversation 
being amusing and instructive to a high degree. 

6th December, six a.m. — Fair breeze continues, we are bowling 
along rapidly, ship quite steady ; by noon 187 miles run from 
Green Point (corner of Table Bay) ; weather fine, but cool. 

7th December. — Clear, sunny, but not warm. Fair breeze all 
day ; 229 miles run by noon. One of our lucky diggers comes 
out very strong as a ban joist and vocalist, we have very pleasant 
times in the smoking room, quiet whist and ecarte, chess, and 
plenty of good singing and music. In the evening our musician 
plays and sings on the poop for the gratification of the ladies — 
pity they are all married ladies — and lots of children, some of the 
latter terrible squallers. Development of Herod-like feelings 
among some of the male passengers and ship's officers, deprived 
of natural and needful rest by incessant howling of some of the 
youngsters. 

8th December. — Breeze has died away, or rather there is just a 



96 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



faint breeze ahead, nearly a dead calni. Noon. Breeze has got 
round again, sails set forward. 217 miles run. Much music in 
saloon ; chess, &c. 

9 th December. — Favourable breeze fresher, more' sail, slight 
ripple on ; 237 miles. Afternoon and evening stronger breeze, 
ship rolling a good deal. Music and whist. 

10th December, Sunday. — A grey morning, some sea on, and 
much rolling. Captain read prayers in saloon. 241 miles run. 
Quiet, slow day. 

11th December. — Grey morning, inclined to rain ; much rolling 
still. Bathed, water just right temperature, " with the chill off." 
224 miles run, 360 from St. Helena. Music and yarns in smoking- 
room. 

12th December. — Up at 7.30 ; bathed. Breeze a little 
fresher, slight rain. 228 miles run, 145 from St. Helena. Music 
in saloon in the afternoon, and on poop in the evening. 

13th December. — Up at six ; just cast anchor off St. Helena. 
Quarantined because of measles at Cape Town. Tried to fish ; 
hooked a gar-fish, but lost him half-way up. Boats come off with 
fruits, birds, and curiosities, but are not allowed to come along- 
side. After breakfast we get pratique, but as we are to sail in 
two hours, and it is raining, don't think it worth while to go 
ashore. Boats now alongside, and birds, shells, beads, baskets, 
and sundry curiosities offered for sale, and sold at half the prices 
asked. Pears sixpence a dozen, hard and flavourless. Two fresh 
saloon passengers, and eight marines for Ascension. Lovely 
flowers brought on board, also cabbages and other vegetables for 
Ascension, which must be a barren place. Anchor up and off at 
noon, with fair breeze. Several homeward-bound ships passed us 
while anchored. The Marc Antony, of the Cape and Natal Com- 
pany, is lying off St. Helena, boiler having broken down, and 
will be very late at the Cape, instead of the magnificent quick run 
she was expected to make. 

14th December. — Warm, cloudy day, one light shower in 
morning. 244 miles run. Music and singing in afternoon. 

15th December. — Rather warmer; flying-fish about. 233 
miles run ; distance from Ascension 226. Very quiet, dull day. 

1 6th December. — Ascension in view at 7 a.m ; good-sized 
island, fine bold outline, one high peak. Pass sandy (?) beach, 
where turtle are caught at night. Round a point, and got to 
anchorage in a large bay about 11.30. No guns fired here, for 
fear of scaring the turtle. An old man-of-war hulk stationed 



DIARY ON BOARD S.S. "ROMAN. 



'5 



97 



here; two merchantmen lying in the bay. Many peculiar birds 
flying about, very close to the ship, "boobies " I think, One big 
fellow settles on jib-boom, and is all but caught by a passeno-er, 
not flying away till the man actually touches it. Picturesque 
little settlement ashore, at foot of high mountain. Many large 
barracks, officers' quarters, forges, condensing factories, a large 
canteen, a church, a reading-room, and a " Theatre Eoyal," all 
painted a uniform yellowish brown. 

Went ashore at one p.m. Found the island apparently all com- 
posed of volcanic scoriae and lava, but here there is one part where 
vegetation grows, and game, pheasants, partridges, and wild goats 
abound. At the settlement, however, the only specimens of vegetable 
life I saw were two miserable stunted nondescripts, a few inches 
high, surrounded by a most imposing amount of wooden palisades. 
I judged this arrangement to represent the Botanic Gardens of As- 
cension, as it was situated in the middle of a fine parade-ground. 
Finding the canteen closed, Captain H. and I strolled on to the beach, 
and found it entirely composed of water- worn fragments of shells 
and coral, most beautiful on close inspection. We found many 
beautiful entire shells, of seven or eight varieties, also handsome 
echini, or sea-urchins. Going down to the rocks, found the pools 
amongst them marvellously rich in life. Small fish of various 
species, a great many like our fresh-water perch, barring the back 
fin, with very marked black bars down the sides ; also thousands 
of weird-looking crabs, black with many round white spots, 
of wonderful agility, running over the rocks much more quickly 
than I could follow them, and often jumping small distances. 
One of them, jumping into a pool to avoid me, was hotly pursued 
by a hideous poulpe, octopod, or "devil-fish," which darted out 
from a crevice in the rock, but missed the crab. In deep, clear 
water, outside the rocks, and in some pretty inlets, were numerous 
fine fish, of very dark colour, from lib. to 31b. each, one or two 
still larger. How I wished for a rod and line ! The bottom of 
the pools was thickly studded with echini, also with three kinds 
of coral, some pieces of which I managed to break off, with the 
aid of a good stone. Innumerable shells, tenanted some by their 
natural owners and some by hermit crabs, added to the beauty of 
the sub-aqueous landscape. With a good collection of shells and 
coral, we returned to the canteen, and found it pretty well supplied 
with everything, like a store at the Diamond Fields. Marines, 
workmen, and other people connected with the fort and station, kept 
dropping in, and were eager for any news brought by our steamer. 



98 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



Eeturning to the little jetty, I noticed a small flock of goats, 
in tolerably good condition. These animals are reported to sub- 
sist entirely on old canvas and paper collars, the latter being 
extensively worn on the island. A reverend gentleman, one of 
our passengers, saw a goat devouring a piece of old canvas with 
apparent satisfaction. On the parade ground, I saw a game ^ of 
cricket played by some of the officers on a ground paved with 
some kind of concrete stone — grass, or herbage of any kind, not 
existing in this part of the island. Many Kroomen, or Krooboys. 
act as servants, seamen, &c. They are a fine looking race of 
negroes, very well blacked, their countenances all looking as if they 
had been lately operated upon by one of the London Shoeblack 
Brigade, with a liberal supply of Day and Martin. It was cur- 
rently reported on our ship that there are two good looking 
young ladies on the island. I saw a female on the jetty, but she 
could not have been one of those. 

We brought for the officers' mess some cabbages and carrots 
from St. Helena, also a large supply of liquors and beer. A 
huge turtle, weighing I should think 10001b., was sent on board 
our ship, so I look forward with pleasure to some aldermanic 
treats. At 4.30 we went on board again, and by G p.m. were 
leaving Ascension far behind. I could have spent a few days 
there very pleasantly in fishing and exploring. The heat is 
rather intense there sometimes, and it is the driest place I ever 

saw. 

17th December, Sunday. — Very hot and sunny. 173 miles run 
by noon (from Ascension). A fiying-flsh, nearly the size of a 
mackerel, came on board in the evening. All officers and pas- 
sengers in very light costumes, Bath water almost tepid. 

18th December. — Warm, but cloudy. 218 miles run. In the 
evening, in honour of crossing the line, two rockets sent up, and 
a blue light burnt. About 9.30 the phosphorescent animals or 
zoophytes in the wake of the ship wonderfully brilliant ; small 
coruscations and large bodies of light revolving in the wash of 
the screw, some of them visible a long way off, and the water 
lighted up from below by the countless animals swimming a foot 
or two down, so that the slight ripple on the surface had a mar- 
vellously beautiful appearance. 

1 9th December. — Hot and sunny. The breeze has left us, but 
there are signs, I fear, of another springing up-heading us. 215 
miles run. Very hot, close day and evening. Much singing in 
evening. No lights in the sea at night. 



DIARY ON BOARD S.S. "ROMAN." 99 

20th December. — Almost dead calm. Slight rain. Waterspout, 
seen about seven a.m. Several Mother Carey's chickens about. 
Run 192. Very hot. In afternoon a three-masted schooner seen. 
Too far off to speak. 

21st December. — Hot, sunny morning. Met a French brio", 
white hull, the Navigateur, apparently bound for the Cape. 
Breeze getting up ahead, making ship rather cooler. 190 miles 
run. Freshening breeze ahead. Much singing on poop in even- 
ing ; whist, &c. 

22nd December. — Much cooler, strong N.E. trade; ship pitch- 
ing a good deal, and shipping seas forward ; going seven knots. 
Run 176. In the evening rehearsal in the smoking-room for 
amateur Christy Minstrel performance for to-morrow, Saturday, 
to be kept as Christmas Eve. 

23rd December. — Fresh morning ; wind N.E. a little on our 
beam, so hoist sails, which help us on a little. Run 172. A ring- 
dove came on board, was caught and caged. About 6.30 p.m. 
we pass the two lights of Goree, Cape Verde. At seven p.m., grand 
Christy Minstrel performance in saloon. Tables and lamps cleared 
away for stage. Seven performers, well blacked, and most excel- 
lently and comically costumed ; songs, riddles, &c, really a very 
creditable performance. During the singing, champagne and 
brandy-and-soda handed round among the audience, presented by 
the captain. The captain thanks the performers, and announces 
a " wedding " for Christmas Day. Our big turtle was killed this 
evening. 

24th December, Sunday. — Some pretty tall drinking going on ; 
' experienced surgeon " comes to much grief — gets very tight, 
tumbles out of berth and cuts forehead, has to be tied down and 
locked up. Bun 146. 

Christmas Day. — Cool morning, very calm ; turtle steaks to 
breakfast. Fine scrolls, with beautifully painted devices, and 
suitable inscriptions, by a talented lady passenger, decorating the 
saloon. Quiet morning ; Church service in saloon. At lunch, a 
fine Christmas cake. Excellent dinner at five, turtle fins, turkey, 
towls, roast beef, &c. ; champagne and other suitable liquors cir- 
culating freely. At 7.30 grand performance in saloon of " The 
Wedding," an original burlesque, very well got up by the first 
and second officers and several of the passengers. Costumes 
would have done credit to any stage, and must have taken an 
immense deal of preparation. The first officer, as the bride, 
looked very like Miss Anna Swann, the Nova Scotian giantess, 

h 2 




100 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



— only much bigger! Songs and dances, all very funny and 
grotesque. We were in soundings to-night, heaving the lead : 
dangerous part of the sea. At 7.30, found no bottom at seventy 
fathoms — two hours later, bottom at only about twelve fathoms. 
I was on deck till midnight ; cutting cold wind and intensely 
cold air, heavy dew. 

2(>ch December. — Cold, clear, sunny morning. Cape Blanco, 
and a long, low, rugged coast line in view some ten to twenty 
miles off. Sea calm. Bath very refreshing. Many birds about. 
Run 161. In sight of land all day. Rocky coast, big breakers 
dashing up the cliffs ; apparently nothing but a waste of sand 
behind, said to be inhabited in the interior by savage Arab 
tribes. In the evening magnificent moonlight effect over long 
rolling swell. 

27th December. — Heavy swell on, but light w T ind, still ahead. 
Good bath. Ship rolling much. Run 173. Distance from 
Peak of Teneriffe 220. Singing and whist in evening. 

28th December. — Not so cold. Light breeze still ahead. At 
11.30 I made out the Grand Canary. Run 1G5. 325 miles 
from Madeira. At two p.m. the Peak of Teneriffe plainly visible 
above the clouds, covered with snow. In the evening, singing 
and playing, as usual. Fine moonlight view of the snow-clad 
Peak. Revolving light on farthest headland of the island. 
Snw a faint light of the little town at Santa Cruz. This after- 
noon there was a very good auction sale in fore-cabin ; karosses. 
lion, leopard, jackal and other skins, diamonds, curiosities, &c... 
&c. Very good prices realised, for diamonds especially. 

29th December. — Fine fresh morning, jolly cool bath. Run 
174. Distance to Madeira 15 3. Auction on quarter deck in 
afternoon ; skins, curiosities, &c. Music and whist in evening. 

30th December. — Madeira visible at sunrise (about 6.30). 
Heavy swell on. Rather cold morning, but bath still bearable. 
Anchored at 11.30. Went ashore. Dined at Neal's Hotel, on 
top of a hill. Painfully hard walking, all stones. Splendid 
fruit, vegetable, and fish markets. Bananas, oranges, guavas. 
custard apples, &c. Plenty of green peas. Immense albicores 
in fish market, live turtle, and large quantities of horse mackerel. 
Left about 5.80. 

31st December. — Fine morning. Heavy swell on. Rather cold. 
Run 118 from Madeira. In afternoon large three-masted steamer 
seen and spoken, the Mariana or Miranda, for Buenos Ayres. 
Great lolling; occasional light rain. Saw Old Year out on the poop. 



DIARY ON BOARD S.S. "'ROMAN. 



j i 



101 



1st January, 1872. — Cool damp morning, with very heavy 
swell. Bath getting rather cold. A fine rainbow. Signs 
of a favourable breeze getting up. Run LS2. In evening 
singing, eearte, and wdiist, in smoking room. Stayed on 
poop till twelve. Hardly any sleep all night, owing to rolling 
and noises. 

2nd January. — Wind ahead (N.E.) All sails furled. Heavy 
swell on. Ship rolling very much, especially at breakfast time, 
spilling gravy, &c. Kun 205. Sighted many ships to-day. 
Among others, spoke the Dolphin, of Shoreham, bound to 
Falmouth. Wind nearly dead ahead. Whist, singing, &c. 

3rd January. — Cold, damp morning. Rain before breakfast ; 
fine afterwards. Wind still ahead, but hope to reach South- 
ampton by Sunday. At about ten land in sight — Spanish coast. 
At twelve off Cape Finisterre, and a long stretch of coast very 
distinctly visible ; also a fine three-masted screw steamer, going 
coastwise. Bun 195. Only 625 miles to Southampton. Fine 
bright day, many sea-gulls around, and one or two lesser albatross. 
In afternoon, wind round to S.W. — fair for us — roughish sea, 
rather thick weather. Usual music, whist, &c, in evening, but 
under difficulties ; wind freshening, ship rolling tremendously. At 
night had to shorten sail, and soon after turning in, at 10.30, she 
gave some tremendous rolls. Smashes of crockery were heard, 
and heavy articles of furniture and luggage rolling and banging 
about. Everything in chaos on the floor of my cabin. Bottle of 
wine and one of noyau smashed in saloon, and some of the 
liquid splashed into C's. berth. 

4th January. — Eainy morning. Wind not quite so strong. 
Going about eleven knots. Some good rolls just about breakfast 
time, and coffee and gravy spilt here and there. Lots of gulls 
and lesser gulls about. Fine sea on ; rough, but not so much 
swell. Eun 244 by noon, sea getting up, wind still fair. In 
evening, regular Bay of Biscay weather; gale from S.W. At 
dinner many small mishaps — soup, gravy, &c, in undesirable 
places; biscuits, nuts, apples, and oranges, flying all over the 
saloon. At about eight, main topsail carried away by gale, and split 
to ribbons, whereby ship rolled tremendously. Great running on 
deck, mate shouting for men with axes and tomahawks to cut 
away the debris. Great hauling of ropes, in which I assisted, 
getting swung about and one foot stamped on, so said " I 
wouldn't play/' and retired to saloon. Some of lady passen- 
gers turned rather pale, and some of males required a good 






102 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



deal of " Dutch courage." Continued heavy rolling and 
tremendous thumps from big seas all evening. Turned in at 
10.30, rolling tremendous. Wedged myself in berth with extra 
rugs, &c. ; got to sleep, unlike most of the other passengers, and 
slept till six a.m. 

5th January. — Sunshiny morning. Breeze has shifted to W. 
by N.W. Very good for us. Heavy sea on still. Passengers all 
more cheerful, though few have slept. Plates, dishes, &c, very 
lively at breakfast. Difficult to get from one part of ship to 
another. Big rent in main topsail from last night's gale. There 
was a squall and heavy hailstorm about 6.30 a.m. Land in sight 
at ten, and by eleven in good view of the Lizard Lighthouse, 
a fine large white building, and one or two scattered farmhouses 
on the neighbouring headland. Good breeze, grand heavy green 
sea and white waves. After lunch, wind backed again to W.S.W., 
and weather became thick and hazy, with squalls, Lots of sea- 
gulls about, and one or two wild-ducks seen. Run 222. Sighted 
Start Point in afternoon. Thick haze and rain. Wind rather 
less. At dinner-time heavy thunderstorm and vivid lightning, 
and " St. Elmo's Light ' visible on mainmast head ; this dis- 
appeared on a fearfully bright flash accompanied by a crashing peal 
of thunder. Evening calm, going slowly. Numerous craft about. 
Music, singing, and tall drinking in smoking room. Turned into 
my berth at eleven, for the last time. 

Gth January. — Off the Isle of Wight at daybreak (seven 
a.m.) Pilot on board before eight. Hurrah for Old England! 
In Southampton Docks at ter, pouring rain, waited some time 
for it to leave off, but it seems it never does. Finally went ashore 
in it, and it has been raining nearly ever since. 




PART III. 

SKETCHES OE LIEE AND CHARACTER 

ON THE FIELDS. 



CHAPTER I. 

DIAMOND DIGGERS. 

Among tlie mighty concourse attracted to the banks of the 
Vaal and the interior of the Orange Free State by the wonderful 
riches which have been discovered there during the past two 
years, there are of course to be found men of numerous nation- 
alities, of every grade in the social scale, and every type of 
character and manners. A large proportion of the diggers are 
Cape colonists, and Natalians, then come the Dutch Boers, both 
of whom have, of course, facilities for trying their luck at the 
diggings at little expense, owing to the small cost of the journey. 
Then come Englishmen, Australians, and Americans, the former 
in very large and continually increasing numbers. ^ A good 
many Germans, with a sprinkling of Frenchmen, Italians, and 
Spaniards, are also to be found among the diggers. 

An Englishman will get on very well among the colonists 
when he comes to know them, and succeeds in rubbing off some 
of their prejudices. I found a very general feeling amongst 
them that the South African colonies, their productions, and 
their people, were not properly appreciated in England, and 
there really seems to be some little foundation for tins leehng. 
But to anyone who speaks well of the colony, as it deserves, they 
are very friendly, hospitable, and generous. They are a very tine 
race of men, generally tall and well built, tough, strong hard- 
workers, energetic, steady, and sober. Ail, or almost all ot t hem, 
speak Dutch or Kafir, or both. They get along very well in 



104 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



business and other necessary intercourse with the Boers, without 
feeling any great liking for them. Some of the Natalians, 
especially, have rather too much of the " nemo me impune 
lacessit ' style about them at first sight ; but this will soon wear 
off on a closer acquaintance, and beneath the hard, rough shell 
of manners which are not those of the most refined civilisation, 
will be found the wholesome kernel of an honest, warm heart, 
of manliness and good feeling. The colonists, as a rule, dress 
after the latest English fashions, the dwellers in towns especially, 
but of course at the diggings everyone dresses "just how he 
darn pleases ; ' and it will be difficult to distinguish the colonial- 
born from the recently-arrived English by the dress, except that 
perhaps the latter are a little more inclined to disguise them- 
selves, or "come out strong." The corduroy trousers, the light 
flannel shirt, the broad felt hat, or pith helmet, and the broad 
belt, with its partitions for diamonds and gold, are common to 
both ; but the brim of your Englishman's hat may perhaps be a 
little broader, his u puggeree ' more showy, and his belt of a 
handsomer pattern than those of his colonial friends. But, on 
the other hand, I think the colonists come out the strongest in 
feathers. Large ostrich feathers, worth perhaps ten shillings 
each out there, are frequently to be seen curling gracefully 
round the slouched felt hat of some stalwart young farmer from 
Natal or the Cape colony — wings of birds of gay plumage, shot 
on the way up, immense long feathers of the Kafir crane, all 
these and many more make gay their head-covers ; nay, I have 
seen a broad strip of the soft fur of a silver jackal, or some other 
animal, going right round the crown of a hat. Eed sashes, of 
silk and other materials, and of great length, like the Eastern 
" cummerbund ' are very extensively worn ; not only because 
they are ornamental, and softer and pleasanter wear than a 
leathern belt or strap, but because they are considered to be of 
some use as a preventive against diarrhoea and other disorders of 
the bowels. Green veils, blue veils, red and white puggerees. 
and divers other arrangements for coolness, shade, or ornament, 
are also very prevalent among all the diggers ; so that with the 
numerous suits of brown or yellow cords, with " white ducks " 
here and there, the gay colours and variegated patterns of the 
shirts, and the eccentric but highly ornamental character of the 
headgear, an assemblage of diamond diggers has in it many 
dements of the picturesque, and a good deal of vivid colouring. 
The diggers are. as a rule, a good tempered race, and respecters 




DIAMOND DIGGERS. 



105 



of law and order. Revolvers are not carried, at any rate never 
openly. I remember a time, though, when one or two daring 
highway robberies in the neighbourhood of Du Toit's Pan 
caused me — as well as many others — to take out my six-shooter 
at night, but I am sure I should have got along just as well with- 
out it. 

The Australian and American diggers generally do well, 
having had previous experience of mining. An Australian, with 
his wife, worked near me at Du Toit's Pan, employing no Kafirs, 
he digging and sifting, she sorting, and they had very fair luck, 
making about 800/. in three months. They got early news of the 
"new rush " (Colesberg Kopje), and went over there. The man 
was employed in sinking a well there, and had got down to a good 
depth, in a hard stratum where blasting was required. One day, 
owing, it is believed, to imprudence in using a steel rod for " tamp- 
ing " instead of a copper one, a charge of powder ignited while this 
Australian and another man were below. A terrific explosion took 
place, the Australian was killed instantaneously, the other man 
severely injured. His widow, I hear, was very soon consoled. 

American diggers " go-ahead ' well at the Fields ; I knew 
some very nice fellows amongst them, and some very lucky 
ones too. One party, not satisfied with the ordinary way of 
digging and sifting, brought up a large steam-engine, with a 
rotary cylindrical sieve, by means of which they were to sift I 
don't know how many cartloads of stuff a day, and to work out a 
whole claim in three weeks or a month. They got about a dozen 
Kafirs to work out the stuff quickly, and bring it to where the 
machine stood, close to their tents. Great was the crowd col- 
lected, and loud the admiration expressed at the working of the 
machine, which appeared to go on smoothly enough, though one 
or two wary old diggers shook their heads and expressed disappro- 
bation. When the steam- whistle sounded, the Kafirs and Boers 
standing round jumped with fright, but stood their ground. But 
when the engine blew off steam, the strange sight and sound were 
too much for uncivilised human nature, and there was a regular 
!' stampede " of Kafirs and Boers too. They soon got used to 
it, of course. The machine went on working for a week or two, 
but soon it was found that if the sieve was turned at full speed, 
all the stuff, by centrifugal force, stuck to the sides of the 
cylinder instead of getting properly sifted, and if turned slowly it 
got through no more work than a couple of Kafirs would do in 
the same time ; so soon the engine and cylinder were advertised 



106 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



for sale, and found a purchaser at a fair price, as it could be 
applied to many other purposes. My Yankee friends, in nowise 
discouraged, went on steadily digging, and will probably ere long 
set sail for Columbia with a "pile.' 

I have little to say about the Germans in this chapter. More 
of them are to be found amongst diamond buyers than amongst 
diamond diggers. Frenchmen, Italians, and Spaniards are but 
few in number. They soon get merged in the great mass of 
English-speaking diggers, and lose many of their most apparent 
national characteristics. 

But the Boer, the omnipresent, cordially detested by the 
English, surely I can find much to say about him. In the first 
place, to borrow from my Yankee friends what appears to me a 
very suitable expression, he is a "mean cuss." Most emphatically 
and thoroughly mean is your average Boer, with his stolid 
ignorance, his contempt for civilisation and refinement ; living, 
though perchance a man of considerable wealth, in a way that 
would disgrace a farm labourer, in a barely furnished one-storied 
house, the floor plastered with cow dung, feeding like pigs, living 
often on meat and mealies, satisfied with breeding cattle and sheep 
on the scanty "veldt " that surrounds his farm, not even thinking 
of fencing in a bit of ground to grow a few vegetables, and seldom, 
therefore, getting either vegetables or good bread to eat. There are 
exceptions though ; the Boers in the neighbourhood of the Fields 
are beginning to find out how well it pays them to bring vege- 
tables, eggs, and other small luxuries on the Du Toit's Pan and 
Oolesberg markets ; while those of the Transvaal country, impelled 
by the wondrous fertility of that region, have long been large 
growers of corn, maize, tobacco, and many other important 
marketable commodities ; — but even in the houses of such as these 
I will warrant that you shall find neither abundance nor comfort. 

But it is with the Boer digger that I have more immediately 
to do. Who digs so cheaply, who risks so little capital, as he ? 
He starts for the Fields with his big waggon, his team of oxen 
— slow and stolid as himself — perchance a flock of sheep, too, 
and a good stock of maize, flour, tobacco, and " Boer brandy " — ■ 
for he is not going to be swindled by the high prices at the Fields, 
not he. Moreover, he has with him not only his " vrouw ' and 
"hinders/' i.e., wife and children, but a lot of Kafirs, whom he 
has obtained in the interior at about the wages of a cow, or of. 
per year. So he comes to the Fields, lives in his wacrcrori, or in a 
tent which his Kafirs and his " kinders ' make for him, spends 



DIAMOND DIGGERS. 



10 



no money at all on the Fields, living on the stores he lias brought 
with him. See him dig — well, you can hardly call it digging ; 
the brutal old patriarch will sit at the sorting-table all day with 
his pipe — perhaps allowing the " vrouw ' to do likewise — while 
half -naked Kafir boys (aye, and young girls, too), and his own 
children, from the long, pasty-faced, half-idiotic lout of twenty, 
down to the little four-year-old, who can scarcely toddle, are all 
toiling hard under the broiling sun, picking, shovelling, hauling, 
breaking, and sifting. One old couple I have often seen sitting 
solemnly at the table — long after all the English diggers had 
knocked off work for the day — while a young Kafir girl, of most 
graceful figure, and a still younger Dutch girl, were toiling hard 
at a big sieve, evidently thoroughly tired out. Another, working 
quite near my claim, used to rouse my indignation, and that of 
many other Englishmen too, by the amount of labour he got out 
of a most active little girl of about ten and a poor little toddler of 
five, hardly able to lift the tools they worked with. The Boers 
are an intensely stupid race, but have a kind of low cunning 
withal. Many of them sold diamonds very cheaply during the 
early times, but they have grown pretty wide-awake now, and ask 
enormous prices. They have a very great animosity towards 
Englishmen, which, as they are too cowardly to show fight, now 
takes the more profitable form of cheating them on all possible 
occasions. Proud indeed is the Boer who has performed a suc- 
cessful swindle on a " verdomd Engelschman." I must admit 
that if they apply this objectionable participle to us, we English 
are, in return, no less emphatic in speaking of the Boers. Many 
of the latter have been very lucky, and were particularly for- 
tunate in finding big stones during my stay at Du Toit's Town. At 
that time, whenever the report spread through the camp that 
another 50, 80, or 90 carat stone had been found, the natural 
inquiry would be, " Who found it ? ' and the almost invariable 

reply was, " Another Dutchman ! " 

Some of the Boers used to cause particular irritation amongst the 
storekeepers by the amount of silver they took out of the camp, 
small change being in great request and very scarce. One old fellow 
came in with a waggon-load of oranges, which he retailed from 
his waggon at ten for a shilling, and absolutely refused to take any- 
thing but silver in payment, so it is estimated that he must have 
taken something like fifty pounds worth of silver with him when 
ta '' inspanned ' his oxen and trekked away from the camp. 
Others, to avoid the expense of a tent or store, having brought a 



i 



108 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



waggon -load of " Cape Smoke," wine, &c, would sell it from the 
waggon at a little lower than store prices. 

The Boers are — or rather used to be — awfully noisy fellows at 
night. Besides a very regular business of psalm singing, very edify- 
ing to them no doubt, but by no means gratifying to an English ear. 
they would have grand jollifications whenever one of their number 
found a big diamond — which was pretty often. Their chief delight 
on these occasions was to let off all the crackers they could buy, and 
fire an indefinite number of guns and rifles. I say "indefinite/" 
though I was at one time inclined to think they fired a shot for 
each carat of the diamond found, but I was always too lazy to 
count. I should have premised that the noisy part of the busi- 
ness always took place late at night, after a Homeric repast had 
been eaten, and numberless glasses of Boer brandy been con- 
sumed by the men, and " kommetjes ' of coffee by their fair and 
fat spouses ; and, in their excited state, they would often forget 
that, in order to make a noise, it was not necessary to put a bullet 
into the rifle ; so, after a horse had been accidentally killed, and 
several diggers had complained of bullets whistling through their 
tents in rather unpleasant proximity to their persons, our active 
Landdro8t or police magistrate issued all over the camp notices for- 
bidding the discharging of firearms within the precincts of the 
camp after sundown. Some of the lucky Boers still persisting in 
their usual expression of exultation in spite of this edict, the 
police one night made a raid on a lot of the demonstrators, caught 
them flagrante delictc, and seized their guns, most of them old 
" roers ' of portentous strength, but some excellent new sporting 
rifles among them, The said weapons had to be ransomed next 
morning at the police-office by their chopfallen owners on pay- 
ment of a fine of 5/. — Most distressing ; for of all things that a 
Boer most detests, "parting ' is the worst, however rich he may 
be. Catch him saying, in the words of the poet, "parting is 
such sweet sorrow." He sees in that operation all sorrow and no 
sweetness. Occasional instances have been known of temporary 
aberration of intellect, caused by large "finds/' prompting a Boer 
to acts of unwonted liberality orlavishness ; as in the case of the 
middle-aged Dutchman who, when a "merry-go-round," with its 
beautiful and exceedingly piebald wooden horses, was first put up in 
the market square of Du Toit/s Pan, was so astonished and delighted 
that he straightway mounted one of those fiery steeds, sternly 
refused to descend at the termination of the regular " round." 
and remained triumphantly seated, to the admiration and amuse- 



DIAMOND DIGGERS. 



109 



merit of all beholders, till sundown, when finding that he had 
had thirty shillings' worth of equestrian exercise, he paid it " like 
a lamb." As other anecdotes of Boers will be found in other 
pages of this work, I will now return to the consideration of 
Englishmen, or British-born colonists, at the diggings, and will 
for the present class them together. 

A most true and striking contrast may be drawn between the 
wealthy and successful and the poor and unsuccessful digger. 
The rich man has everything that wealth can procure to replace, 
as far as possible, the comforts of civilisation — a spacious well 
furnished tent, with shady trees around it, a soft and luxurious 
couch, good and abundant food, servants to cook it for him. As 
to work, he need do very little of that. He has a claim at each 
of the rich diggings, with a trustworthy person to work it for 
him. Elegantly dressed, mounted on a thoroughbred horse, he 
canters merrily from one camp to another, hears the reports of 
diamonds found for him, sits clown at a table now and then to 
amuse himself for half an hour by sorting, rides back at evening 
to his tent or to an hotel, enjoys an excellent repast, washed 
down by the wines and ales of Europe, goes to call on a few 
friends in the evening — when the result of mutual inquiries is that 
a few bags containing from half a dozen to fifteen diamonds are 
thrown carelessly from one to another of the gay party, and 
shown as the results of the day's or week's work. He smokes 
the best Havannahs, lounges into a billiard room, reads a novel, 
or finds a thousand other ways of amusing himself, and turns in 
about midnight, to lie in a soft bed till his black boy brings him 
coffee in the morning. Not very hard, such a life as that, you will 
sa ) T . — True, and there are many such, and generally the richest 
men are the most fortunate, partly, of course, because they employ 
the greatest amount of labour, and get through the most ground. 
But now look at the poor man ! — With the earliest dawn, 
or even sooner, he rises from the hard ground, or from one or 
two wretched buckskins on which he has been lying — in a poor 
shaky little tent, affording hardly any protection against wind or 
rain. He cooks his own rough food with the dung fuel he has 
gathered himself, eats hastily, then hurries to his claim. Some- 
times shivering beneath the cutting winds and pelting rains, at 
others scorched or melting beneath the burning sun, still he works 
on manfully, for he cannot afford to employ any Kafirs. Deeper 
and deeper he burrows into the very bowels of the earth, load 
after load of stuff he painfully gets to the top of his claim ; 



no 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



wearily, mechanically, month after month, he goes through the 
monotonous work of sorting table fuls of the same dry stuff — 
with never the sparkle of a diamond to cheer him — and feeling, 
ah, how bitterly, that "hope deferred which maketh the heart 
sick " — as l ie thinks of his struggling wife and children at home, 
and of the poor yet certain employment which he left for dazzli un- 
dreams of Golconda. But "luck must turn," he thinks; so lie 
works on fiercely, with wild untiring energy, heedless of wind, 
rain, hail, lightning, frost or heat, grudging even the brief time 
he gives to the consumption of his coarse food, and the recruiting 
of exhausted nature by a few hours' sleep. And perchance the 
tent will blow in upon him, and he will wake to find his clothing 
wet through, his little store of provisions spoilt, everything in a 
horrid chaos of water and mud, and the rain pouring in upon 
him, and the pitiless wind piercing through him, as he looks out 
on the gloomy prospect around him — a leaden sky, the barren 
M veldt," a few bedraggled quivering tents among pools of water. 
and flooded claims where no work is possible for that day. 

And, perhaps, after a long and patient endurance of these and a 
thousand other hardships, still finding nothing, but seeing rich 
men around him add big diamonds to their riches, the man — 
either struck with sudden sickness, the malaria of our camps, or 
wearied out to utter hopelessness — sells his claim, where his hard 
labour Las been so long unrequited, and turns his pale face and 
his weary steps homewards. And he will learn probably, soon 
after he reaches that home where he brings so little of comfort 
to the dear ones he left behind, that the man to whom he sold that 
old claim for a few shillings or a couple of pounds, found a large 
diamond in it the very next day, and is now rinding almost daily. 

This is no picture of exaggerated sentiment, such instances are 
of only too frequent occurrence. — I knew of an old man who 
worked in a claim almost day and night for many months, till al 
last he gave it up in despair, sold the claim for 10*. — and the 
purchaser found a large diamond the next day only a few inches 
below the depth the old man had reached. 

But, as a rule, our diggers lie in most respects between the 
two extremes I have quoted, and are a merry, good-tempered, 
hopeful lot, full of fun and frolic. When a big rain has washed 
us nearly all out of our tents and claims, and in a half-drenched 
state we congregate in the hotels and canteens, many are the 
glasses drained to "luck" ; many the songs sung, and the merry 
tales related, and few, very few, are the disputes and fights. 



DIAMOND DIGGERS. 



Ill 



And I really do not think that the diggers are an intemperate lot 

upon the whole — I am sure they were not at Du Toit's Pan 

but the sudden riches of Colesberg Kopje have turned a few heads, 
and brought the canteen-keepers some too good customers. 1 
have seen some ludicrous and shameful examples of the effects of 
intoxication. One white man I saw seated in the middle of the 
road, leaning upon a naked Kafir scarcely less drunk, while the\ 
both sang, shouted, threatened, and laughed at the crowd that 
surrounded them, and passed the bottle of "Cape Smoke" freely 
from one to the other, till they both became « maudlin," then dead 
drunk, and finally lay down to sleep in the hot sun, in the middle 
of the road, and had to be dragged out of the way of an advanc- 
ing waggon. — I never saw black and white so equalised by any 
other medium. 

Many of our diggers are military men— who can tell brave tales 
of campaigns in India and the Crimea, over the evening smoke 
and "nightcap " — professional men of every grade, clerks, trades- 
men, artisans, all are here represented. Men of high standing 
and authority from different parts of the colony are to be found 
at the diggings, and the local colonial papers frequently have 
paragraphs exulting at the success of local worthies and "big-wigs." 
Deserters from the army and navy are numerous enough. Some- 
times the most dissipated, those who do the least amount of 
hard work, are the most successful. Early in 1871 a wild Irish- 
man used regularly, whenever he found a diamond, to betake 
himself to a canteen, and there remain till he had drunk what the 
landlord estimated as the value of the gem. And the man was 
wonderfully lucky. When he had drunk his last bottle, and slept 
off the effects of his last carouse, he would go off to work again, 
and generally return in a few hours with another diamond, to 
recommence the same miserable round. I do not know what has 
become of him, but should think he must be dead by this time. 

The diggers are an open-handed lot. Subscriptions for the benefit 
of a brother digger who has met with any accident, for churches, 
hospitals, and other charities, are soon filled with liberal dona- 
tions, No one who is willing to work, and has been long enough 
at the Fields to be known among a good many diggers as being 
honest and steady, need fear poverty ; for even should he exhaust 
. ls p wn little resources before he finds anything remunerative 
m his claim, he will be sure to find plenty of chances of working 
good claims for richer diggers " on shares." A digger may be 
going down to the Colony for a month or two, or home to England 



112 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



for a short time, leaving a rich claim at the Colesberg Kopje, 
and is glad to give an honest, hardworking man a third, or even 
half share of the finds, to work the claim for him during his 
absence. Sometimes, too, a man will own two good claims in 
different camps, and want a representative to take entire charge 
of one of them ; or, a capitalist may wish to buy several claims 
on a rich kopje, but, as according to Diggers' Eegulations lie 
cannot himself hold more than one claim, he will get a working 
man to take out a licence for him, re-buying the claim, paying all 
expenses, and giving the man who works the claim for him, and 
puts his name on the licence, a good share of the profits. I have 
even known a half-share in a good claim, plus W« per month 
regular salary, given to a man for working a claim and bringing 
two Kafirs with him. I will now endeavour to cull from one or 
two colonial newspapers of the very latest dates, any items that 
may bear on the life of a diamond-digger as it is. 

The bachelors at Du Toit's Pan gave a ball last week at the Masonic 
Hotel — a very large room and a splendid floor for dancing— which com- 
menced at nine o'clock, and terminated at four a.m. The music was good, 
and the arrangements excellent and liberal. There was certainly no want 
of ladies ; indeed, some persons thought that the proportion was too large, 
as many gentlemen did not dance. To the credit of the digging com- 
munity, let it bo recorded that, so far as my observation went, there was 
not a case of anyone taking a little too much. This is saying a great deal, 
because there was a buffet where liquors of all sorts were to be had 
the whole evening for the asking. Thus, something like sixty bottles of 
Hennessey (French brandy) were disposed of, about fifty dozen of soda 
water, and everything in proportion. There was no supper, but substantial 
refreshments for alL The bachelors at Colesberg Kopje will have to return 
the compliment. 

All the camps on still, quiet nights are lit up, especially in the business 
part of the town, so that it is nearly as light by night as in London. The 
shopkeepers burn parafline, and I was greatly surprised to see the lively 
appearance M the city of tho Pan " presented by oil-light and candle-light. As 
most of the diggers are at work in the daytime, a great deal of shopping is 
done in tho evening. Of course, those substitutes for the London gin palaces 
are nearly as bright and radiant with light as day, and the many votaries of 
Bacchus aro flitting about, bat-like, after the shades of evening have fallen. 
Some have represented the diggings to be a place for deep drinking of 
alcoholic liquor. I can't say, taking into consideration the population and 
the stylo of living, that such is the case. We do occasionally see an old 
root, or a policeman, the worse for liquor, but that you must expect to see 
on these Fields. But I maintain that the great majority are a sober, indus- 
trious, plodding sort of folks ; and if they do now and then " take a drop 
too much," they have the senso to keep it to themselves. 

At night as by day, the camps are very orderly, which speaks volumes 
for the quiet and peaceable character of the diggers. Rows are not of fre- 



DIAMOND DIGGERS. 



113 



quent occurrence, and everyone is allowed to pursue the even tenor of his 
way unmolested. ^ Psalm singing is carried on to an alarming extent in the 
Boer quarter, which, although decidedly unpleasant to the human ear on 
earth, may be duly appreciated elsewhere. 

One day last week the camp rang with cheer after cheer. I went to 
inquire what luck, and found that two poor men, who had been working 
long without success had found a splendid stone of ninety-seven carats 
—their fortune made in five minutes. Such circumstances make all 
hopeful. 

I saw a person last week, who told me he had just given 450/. for a 
quarter claim, and, before night, had got diamonds enough to pay for it, and 
MM)/, over. 

One day, as I rode in the passen-er cart to Du Toit's Pan, a fellow- 
passenger was a working man, and he shewed me a large stone he had got 
that morning, weighing about fifty carats, besides another of ten, and 
another of seven, all before breakfast. He said, " Yesterday I was a poor 
man, now I am a rich one." But at that early hour of the morning he 
was showing symptoms of having drank too freely ; but it is not very sur- 
prising that such success should throw a man off his balance a little. These 
circumstances are of daily occurrence, but on the other hand there are many 
unsuccessful— it is a complete lottery. One person finds ten and even 
twenty stones in a day, whilst another, working not three feet from him, 
finds nothing. Still they are all hopeful, and I am happy to say there is no 
sign of distress. Only one man asked mo for alms, so I gave him his break- 
fast, and a trifle ; but an hour or so afterwards, seeing him in a state of 
intoxication, I took it he was not really in want, but was too idle and dis- 
solute to work. There is no difficulty for anyone who is willing and able to 
work to get employment ; but in a population of so many thousands it 
would indeed be extraordinary were there no idle and worthless characters. 

The amount of money in these camps is something beyond belief. No 
one comes to make a purchase without a pile of bank notes ; and the short 
time I have been here I have seen more ready money than the whole eleven 
years I have been in Natal. The great difficulty people seem to have is to 
find something to purchase with their money. Yesterday, a man, with all 
the appearance of a day labourer, came into my store intoxicated, and asked 
for a bottle of pickles. I served him, and said the price was 2*. 6d. He 

replied, " Who the asked you how much it was ? " untied a dirty 

handkerchief, and disclosed a bundle of bank notes as large as a pudding 
basin, value from 51. to 50/. each. He chucked them down, saying, 
4 There, take your choice out of them, and if you don't like that lot I've 
got plenty more." 

Again, another day, a woman and her husband came in and bought a few 
pounds worth of goods, and for payment drew from her bosom a bundle of 
bank notes as thick as my wrist, and had difficulty in finding one small 
enough to pay my account. 

" How many have you found ? " appears to be the question of the day. 
No one thinks now of asking people from the "New Rush" if they have found 
anything. We take it for granted when we see a rusher of the new sort 
come to town, that he comes either to sell or to ship. 

Babe's party were in yesterdays, the same who found the 83J carat stone. 
Their answer to the question, " What have you found since you wore here 
last?" was, "A little." " What is your largest ? " "Only a 16.' 



114 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



But it is not only at the " New Rush " that they are finding large stones. 
M^srs Young and G. Cronan were in yesterday, and they brought me 
evidence that Gong Gong is looking up again. 

This cliapter would become of unwieldy length did I attempt 
to give any detailed description of individual diggers I will 
just glance at the peculiarities of a few. H., who worked near 
me a tall, stalwart man from Lancashire, was noticeable for the 
splendid belt of many colours he wore (I hardly ever saw him 
with a coat on, never with a waistcoat), for the beautilul y neat 
way in which he worked his claim— the walls and floor ol it being- 
kept as smooth as those of a house— and for his contempt and 

hatred for Dutchmen. He would omit no opportunity ot 

"chaffing'' a Boer, and would have been delighted had his 
taunts been resented by even half a dozen of them at a time but 
none of them dared raise a ringer against him, and it would have 
been very bad indeed for them if they had. 

S another neighbour, was particularly fond of pets ; frequently 
he brought a young baboon down to his claim and amused his 
niggers bv insisting that it was "their brother," another time 
it was a tame "meerkat," another time a bull-pup, and so on. 
S. didn't like Dutchmen, either ; in fact there was a pretty strong 
British clique round my claim. 

R a sturdy, brown-faced, bearded, very thick-set digger, 
generally very quiet and temperate, once got slightly thrown 
off his balance by the finding of a 20-carat; and in one of the 
billiard-rooms that night he was dancing all round the table, to 
the great discomposure of the players and the crowd of spectators 
and loafers, dancing round, elbowing every one out of the way, 
and vociferating the chorus of the " Marseillaise." 

Another neighbour of mine, an old sailor, used to work very 
hard and very regularly, but could not resist going on the spree 
whenever he found a diamond, or whenever he met a brother sea- 
faring man. . 

I have seen various classes of diamond diggers very variously 
affected by the rough life at the Fields, or by sudden acquirement 
of wealth. I have seen a very decent gentlemanly young fellow, 
after sudden rich finds, become intensely affected, cut nearly all 
his acquaintance who had not been equally lucky, go in for ex- 
travagance in dress, gambling, and drinking, and in his general 
demeanour affect the " haw-haw " swell to a ridiculous extent. 

I have seen others, apparently of the station of gentlemen, 
become so used to the freedom and absence of restraint, the loose 



DIAMOND DIGGERS. 



115 



style of clothing, and coarse vulgarity of speech prevalent on the 
diggings, that on the voyage home, though they had plenty of 
money, and were by no means economically disposed, they took a 
second-class passage, saying that they would be much more jolly, 
and shouldn't be half so comfortable in the first cabin. On the 
other hand, some fellows who couldn't possibly have been any- 
thing but farm labourers at home, and still preserved the loutish 
appearance, manners, and talk of a ploughboy in spite of the fine 
clothes their suddenly acquired wealth enabled them to wear, 
and in which they looked so singularly ill at ease, took a first- 
class passage — and how miserable they seemed among ladies and 
gentlemen, with whom they had nothing congenial ! They were 
driven sometimes to drinking and most reckless gambling, some- 
times to the society of the common sailors, for only in such 
things could these poor "fish out of water" find comfort. 
Money they had plenty— manners they had none. But still 
there are plenty of men whose minds are strong enough to bear 
sudden reverses or accessions of fortune with perfect equanimity, 
and I doubt not that each of my readers thinks that he, at any 
rate, would be very glad to try the experiment of the latter in 
the finding of a big diamond of pure water. 



i 2 



116 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



CHAPTER II. 

DIAMOND BUYERS AND DIAMOND BROKERS. 

First and foremost amongst the ranks of diamond buyers on the 
South African Fields must certainly be placed the German Jews. 
There are very few Englishmen amongst them. The dealers in 
diamonds may be divided into the following classes: — 1. The 
large buyer, who is a diamond buyer, and nothing else ; 2. The 
storekeeper, who buys diamonds ; 3. The small buyer; 4. The 
diamond broker. Of the first class we can hardly take a better 
example than Mr. Moritz Unger, one of the earliest and largest 
buyers on the Fields, being backed up with an immense capital by 
an Amsterdam house. He has many enemies, as any man in such 
a position, among such a host of competitors, is sure to have ; 
but I have heard many diggers say that he gives as fair prices 
as any man on the Fields. He is established in a substantial and 
comfortable house and office at Klip Drift, having his family with 
him. He is a good judge of horseflesh, and owns some remark- 
ably fine horses. Formerly he used frequently to ride from one 
camp to another, visiting the claims, asking each digger if he had 
any diamonds to sell, doing business in the hotels and canteens, 
and, in fact, everywhere, with untiring energy. Now that the 
camps have become so numerous and so large, he has found it 
impossible to continue this system, but generally remains at his 
office at Klip Drift, to await the numerous sellers, and visiting 
occasionally the big camps of Du Toit's Pan and the Colesberg 
Kopje, at the latter of which places he has established an agency. 
He is not famed for excessive politeness, but is somewhat cheeky 
and slangy. This, however, is no very serious drawback to 
business or social intercourse in the eyes of most of the diggers, 
chaff and slang being very current. Like most diamond 
buyers, Mr. Unger affects rather a loud and dashing style of dress, 
such as a velvet jacket, white cord or buckskin breeches, and long 
tight-fitting well-polished boots, adorned with glittering spurs. A 
handsome courier bag is slung to his side, the contents of which 
would often be a moderate fortune to many of us. 

Diamond buyers of this class almost all wear long boots, partly 




DIAMOND BUYERS AND DIAMOND BROKERS. ] 1 7 

because they are much on horseback. Ostrich feathers, red silk 
"puggerees," or green veils, round their hats, elaborate ties, 
white waistcoats : all these gay and festive articles of dress are 
much favoured by the diamond buyers. 

Besides buying, for cash, diamonds of every size and quality, 
and "boart," Mr. Unger and others of his class will, if desired, 
receive consignments of diamonds to send to European markets 
for sale, and will make liberal advances upon really good stones. 
Many of these large buyers content themselves with staying 
quietly in tent or office, awaiting sellers. Others again perambu- 
late the claims, frequent the canteens, and canvass everywhere 
for business. Whenever a loud shout proclaims the finding of a 
big diamond, two or three of the diamond-buying fraternity are 
quickly on the spot, and cash offers are made, sometimes very 
good ones too. In fact, I believe, that often higher prices have 
been paid on the Fields, for large off-coloured {i.e. yellowish) 
stones especially, than would be realised at home ; but the latest 
news from London, to the effect that large vellow stones are 
almost unsaleable, has already affected all the buyers in the colony, 

Many of the buyers have often immense sums of money at their 
command, and immense numbers of fine diamonds in their possession. 
I know that Unger once showed a gentleman a hatful. But so many 
exaggerated stories were at one time current in this respect, that 
the following absurd canard was circulated to ridicule the public 
credulity. It was related of a well-known rich buyer, occupying 
an office at Du Toit's Pan, that when he had weighed a parcel 
of diamonds, and paid the price of them to the seller, he would 
throw the diamonds into a bucket which stood on the counter : 
when the bucket was full he would empty it into a muidsack 
(grainbag, containing about 20Olb. weight) which stood in a 
corner, and when the muidsack was full, it was taken into an 
inner room, wherein were dozens of other muidsacks already 
filled with the glittering gems ; while in another room numerous 
deep cupboards were crammed with rolls of bank-notes, all of 
high values. Such was the "yarn" over which we used to 
laugh, but which many of the Boers firmly believed to be true. 
But Boers will believe anything. (See, in my diary, a brief 
account of the proceedings of a fortune-teller.) 

When a digger comes to a buyer with a stone, or lot of stones, 
the latter weighs them carefully, examines them minutely through 
a powerful glass to detect any tinge of colour or any flaw, then 
asks. "How much do you want for them ? " The digger names 



118 



THE DTAMOND DIGGINGS ' 



a figure. The buyer laughs contemptuously, and offers half. 
Digger pockets his diamonds, walks out, goes and sees several 
other buyers, perhaps they offer him still less, in which case he 
goes back to the first, and clenches the bargain ; or. perhaps one 
will give him a little more than the first buyer offered. Buyers 
who have large capitals at command generally make very large 
profits. Mr. Unger must be making a fortune. Most of the 
storekeepers, large and small, advertise that they are "Diamant 
Koopers," or -'Diamond Buyers. ' : One man combined in his 
own person the various functions of dissenting minister, dentist, 
watchmaker and jeweller, homoeopathic chemist, and diamond 
buyer ; and he made money too, and gave very fair prices for 
diamonds. The storekeepers, in fact, all buy diamonds whenever 
they see a chance of buying cheap ; and I should advise everyone, 
diggers included, to do this. I think that the storekeepers, on 
the whole, give somewhat lower prices than the regular buyers, 
and should always recommend a seller to go to one of the largest 
of the latter. I do not propose to enter here into the question, 
so often raised, as to whether it pays best to sell diamonds on the 
Fields, at Cape Town, or in Europe. I certainly saw many auction 
sales of diamonds in Cape Town, and they seemed to realise better 
I > rices than they would have done on the Fields, but then the 
bad news from England had not come. This question depends 
much on fluctuations in the European market, and would pro- 
bably have a different answer for different qualities ; but one 
thing is certain, that pure white stones of good shape command 
pretty nearly their full value everywhere. 

The hotel keepers and canteen keepers have many facilities for 
diamond buying ; they, with the storekeepers, generally buy 
diamonds, and also have a party working some claim or claims for 
them. so. with these three strings to their bow, they can hardly 
fail to make money. Some of the smaller store and canteen 
keepers have occasionally been known to yield to the temptation of 
Inlying diamonds from natives. No native is allowed to dig on his 
own account, and every diamond he may find, either in his master's 
claim or elsewhere, belongs to his master. If, therefore, a nigger 
offers you a diamond for sale, you know that it is stolen. Your 
proper course is to collar the nigger and hand him over to the 
police ; it will soon be ascertained whose nigger he is, the right- 
ful owner will get the diamond, and the nigger will get what is 
so good for him, viz., the ''cat,'" and a long dose of "chokey " 
(prison). 



DIAMOND BUYERS AND DIAMOND BROKERS. 



119 



But, alas, human nature, especially in the keepers of low 
canteens, is weak ; the conscience blunted bv a lono- series of 
drinking and card-sharping, which is very freely and unscrupulously 
indulged in by that class of the community. Our canteen keeper 
has come to regard diggers and the general public as a natural and 
proper source of profit, to be "skinned," if possible. " Bern recte 
si potes, si non, rem, quomodo rem," sang dissipated old Horace 
nearly two thousand years ago ; and I have heard one of the class 
I am now speaking of — who certainly never could have read 
Horace — say, very plainly, and with an air of conviction. " The 
proper motto for the Fields is — 'make money — honestly, if you can 
— but, anyhow, make money.' I was sometimes swindled when I 
first came on the Fields, so I will do my best to ' skin ' others.' 
The consequence is that, when a felonious darkey presents himself 
at the counter of a grovelling scoundrel of this stamp, he frightens 
him so by threats of giving him in charge, &c, that the wretched 
native is glad to part with the diamond (perhaps a large one) for 
the merest trifle, for a bottle of grog, or perhaps for nothing at 
all, and the swindling canteen-keeper, if all keeps " dark," has 
made half a fortune. Should any little transaction of this kind 
come to light, the receiver of the stolen diamond will be arrested, 
tried, and fined heavily. In the old times of Lynch law, he would 
have been " dragged through the river," and expelled the camp, 
if nothing worse. Here is a brief mention of a case of the kind, 
in a letter to the Natal Colonist of 24th November, 1871 : — "A 
man going by the name of Rogers decamped from his canteen at 
Colesberg Kopje, and it subsequently transpired that he had 
recently bought a diamond of fifty odd carats from a native. A 
hot pursuit was the result, and it is to be hoped he will be quickly 
here again and get his deserts. By the way, I am reminded that 
he is a deserter, from the 75th, I believe. ' : 

Now, here is a pretty thing ! Here is a scoundrel decamping 
with a fifty-carat diamond, which might have been a little fortune 
to some poor and long unsuccessful digger ; no one knows who it 
belonged to, it may have been mine; every digger feels tre- 
mendously "riled" at such a case as this. Each one thinks, 
"By Jove, suppose it was one of my 'boys' he got the stone from." 
And I have reason to believe the villain in question got clear off, 
and is now in England. 

There is a class of small, very small buyers, who commence 
the business of diamond buying with hardly any capital. It is a 
current saying on the diggings, that to be a "diamant kooper," 



120 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



all a man wants is a pair of long boots, a courier bag, and half-a- 
crown! This is, perhaps, hardly enough. But a very little 
money certainly suffices. The small buyer, generally an energetic, 
'cute, active little party, perambulates the claims freely, and buys 
a few small stones when he can buy cheap. Perhaps., in his day's 
work, he may buy 20/. worth, and sell them again to one of the 
large buyers for 22/. 10s., or, if he has made a good bargain, for 
25/. Many small parcels of stones, and some large diamonds, 
pass through a good many hands, and leave a good many small 
profits sticking to different people's ringers, before they finally 
leave the Fields on their way to the European markets. 

To be a successful diamond buyer, a man must be a very keen 
judge of diamonds, with a sharp eye for the slightest defect in 
shape or colour — he must also be able to drive a hard bargain ; 
novices often make lucky hits at diamond buying, but they also 
often find themselves sold if they go in for it on too extensive a 
scale, and without due caution. The intending diamond buyer 
should make himself thoroughly acquainted, before leaving Eng- 
land, with the latest prices of diamonds of every size and quality, 
on the London and other European markets. 

Diamond brokers are a class that have only sprung up quite 
lately on the Fields, and when I left there were very few of them ; 
but those I knew were making fair profits, without risking capital 
of their own, by getting acquainted with different large buyers, 
finding out where the best prices were to be obtained, and then 
selling, for a trifling commission, diamonds entrusted to them for 
that purp >se. They are very generally buyers also, on a small 
scale at first. Of course, a man must be pretty well known 
on the Fields, and bear a good character, before he can expect to 
do a large business as a diamond broker. 

One or two sales of diamonds by auction have taken place, 
and diamond auctions have probably by this time become a re- 
cognised institution on the Fields; but the great place for 
diamond auctions is Cape Town, where each of the principal 
auctioneers generally holds a bi-weekly sale, either at his own 
rooms or in the Commercial Exchange, of the stones consigned to 
him for that purpose by diggers and buyers. These sales are 
nearly always attended by the same class, in fact by the same 
individual buyers, most of them being Cape Town merchants, who 
dabble a little in diamonds, and have correspondents in London, 
Amsterdam, or Hamburg. I attended several of these sales in 
November, 1871. The diamonds may be inspected previous to 



DIAMOND BUYERS QNV DIAMOND BROKERS. 



121 



the sale, when intending buyers examine them carefully, and put 
down against each numbered lot in the printed catalogue their 
remarks— often in cipher — on the size, shape, and quality of the 
stones which compose the lot, and the price they consider it 
worth. Nearly all the diamonds I saw put up realised more 
than the reserve prices which had been put upon them by their 
owners, until decidedly unfavourable news, as to the unsaleableness 
of large "off-coloured" stones, arrived per mail steamer Saxon, 
and the next day a great many of the diamonds offered remained 
unsold, not nearly the reserve prices being offered. 

From the sales I saw I should put the average of diamonds 
sold by each of the three large auctioneers at each bi-weekly sale 
as 2000/., so that even on a small commission your diamond 
auctioneer evidently makes a pretty good thing of it, and can 
afford to drive the " slashing turn-out " frequently to be met in 
the lovely suburbs of Cape Town, or to stand all hands in his 
auction -room, whether actual customers or not, brandy-and-soda 
all round at the conclusion of a sale, as I saw the liberal Mr. 
Caffyn do. The total weight of diamonds sold by public auction 
during the fortnight previous to my departure from Cape 
Town was 4512 [§ carats, and the sum realised thereby was 
20,189Z. 16s. 3d. This is only a very small proportion of the 
diamonds weekly sent away from the South African Fields— only 
very few of them stopping to be sold at Cape Town— but some 
idea may be formed from even this of the immense value of those 
Fields. To give the reader a better idea of one of these auction 
sales, I subjoin literal copies of the catalogues of a sale held by 
Messrs. Caffyn Brothers which I attended. The " remarks ^ 1 
made were merelv the result of a very cursory inspection 
as each lot was put*up. not having had an opportunity of previous 
close inspection. The letters in the left-hand corner are the 
initials of the owners, in many cases of the actual diggers, ol these 
diamonds : — 



122 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



CATALOGUE NO. 1. 



CATALOGUE OF DIAMONDS 

To be Sold 

THIS DAY (TUESDAY), 

At Half-past Two o'clock, p.nu^ 

BY MESSRS. CAFFYN BROTHERS. 

IN THE AUCTION ROOMS. 



■ 



No. 


No. of 
Diamonds. 


Weight 
Carats. 


Sold ft 


>r 
d. 


REMARKS. 




.£ 


S. 




S. 1 


4 




50 








White, good stone 


3 


1 


i .; 


27 


10 





II 11 II 


8 


6 


w*J 


71 








II M •' 


4 


9 


9& 


45 





(i 


Some slightly off colour 


5 


1 


3| 


21 








White, good shape 


6 


4 


H 


18 








,, had ,, 


7 


25 


12 A 


42 


10 





Mixed colours 


8 


11 


4 S 5 3 


15 


10 





Good little white stones 


9 


1 


y 7 

- 1 ,; 


16 


10 





Slightly off colour 


10 


2 


8 


17 








One slightly off colour 


li 


I 


Si 


'11 








Slightly off colour, bad shape 


12 


1 


!, i* 


22 








II M |i "i l| 


18 


1 


8j 


28 








it •» ii iiat 


14 


1 


4 


16 








,, ,, good shape 


15 


1 


5 


17 








Wh.te, good fragment 


16 


1 


7* 


24 








White, had shape, black spot 


11 


6 


s , 1 ,r 


32 








Mixed colours, good stones 


18 


•") 


HI 


22 


10 





Bad shape, off colour 


19 


88 


26| 


51 








Good little stones 


20 


10 


141 


13 


10 





Jloart 


B. 1 


6 


10| 


30 








Slightly off colour, good shape 


2 


is 


12* 


42 


10 





Nearly all white, mixed sizes 


8 


1!) 


!> 


1<; 








Chips, mostly white 


4 


11) 


fij 


7 


1(1 





Boart 


5 


1 


6J 


64 


10 





White, good shape, slight flaw 


6 


1 


'•»■ 


60 








Off colour, good shape 



J) 



■ 
I 



DIAMOND BUYERS AND DIAMOND BROKERS. 



123 



CATALOGUE NO. 2. 

CATALOGUE OF DIAMONDS 

To be Sold 
THIS DAY (TUESDAY), 

At Half- past Two o'clock, p.m., 
BY MESSRS. CAFFYN BROTHERS, 

IN THE AUCTION ROOMS. 







No. of 






Diamonds. 


R. No. 


1 


1 


B. 


2 


15 


R. 


3 


9 


B No. 


1 


2D 




2 


1 




3 


2 




4 


2 




5 


m 

i 



Weight 



Sold for 



D. 



A 
A. 

T. V. 
T. V. 
P. No. 



H. E. 

H E. 
H. E. 



G 

7 

8 

J) 

10 

11 

12 
13 
14 
15 

it; 

17 

is 
19 
20 
21 
22 
1 
7 
2G 
27 
1 
2 
3 
4 
5 
6 
7 
8 
9 
10 



1 

4 

1 

2 

1 

3 

2 

3 

1 

G 

9 
34 
10 
22 

3 

1 

2 

10 

9 
12 

1 

1 

1 

10 

2 
3 

1 
IS 

1 

1 

17 

40 

10 

25 





£ s. 


i. 


81 


43 





n 

n 


22 
32 10 






LlJ 


28 





Hf 


30 





"••5 


35 





104 

1 --I 


51 





t;t 


20 10 





7 IV 


45 





5 r 5 a 


28 H) 





7-10 


16 10 





10| 


14 10 





6* 


4o 





7M 


16 





71 


(JO o 





Si 


34 o 





•V* 


41 





4£ 


4 





ao& 


SO 
129 






9.i 


!) 10 





1H| 


24 





7 


25 





1 i 8 

6 J 


4 
G 







11* 


30 





13 J 


25 





i i ■';, 


31 





I'V.. 


<;4 o 





7| 


49 





1 1 , : V, 


4G 





ISA 


5<! 10 





1*A 


55 
89 






7 11 
171 


40 
35 10 






6* 


43 

22 






15| 


50 





43 
180 











REMARKS. 



Off coloured, flue stone 

Mixed, claps, &c. 

Good stone, some slightly off coloured 

White chips 

Off coloured, had stone 

White, good some 

White, one good shape, one fragment 

Mixed colours 

Slightly off colour, very good shape 

White/ fair stone s 

White fragment 

Off colour, bad shape 

Slightly off colour, good shape 

Fragments 

Nearly white, good shape 

Off colour 

Slightly off colour, good shape 

Boat't 

Nearly white, had shape 

White, good little stoues 

Bad chips 

Rather better chips 

Off colour 

Off colour, bad shape, bright 

Off colour, bad shape 

Mixed chips 

Large mixed chips 

White, had shape 

Off colour, good shape 

Good shape, slh htly off colour 

Slightly off colour, flawed 

(rood stones 

Off colour, good shape 

Off colour, largest bad shape 

White, bad shape, flawed 

Some large, bad shape, offcoloui 

Slightly off colour, good shape 

White, slight flaw 

Nofsohl; £4 19s. per carat offered, 
£.") 15s. wanted 

Not sold Off coloured but good stones; 
! £600 offered, Unwanted 



124 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



Since my arrival in England I have learnt that the small prices 
now given for our large stones, which are mostly off-coloured, is 
not due so much to the fact of the prevalent yellowish tinge, as 
they often cut to very fine brilliants, but to the fact of the 
immense number of large stones now constantly arriving from 
South Africa having completely revolutionised the market. 
There is no demand for such numbers of these immense gems at 
anything like original diamond prices ; as there appears to be 
every probability of a constantly increasing supply of large 
stones, diggers and colonial buyers will have to make up their 
minds to receive comparatively low prices for these large stones, as 
otherwise there is no market for them. For instrnce, I believe 
that in one case 8000/. would now be taken for a diamond which 
was priced last year at 33,000Z. according to the old scale of 
valuations. 

The Diamond trade in London appears to have been, until 
lately, in the hands of very few persons, and an immense amount 
of stock having accumulated within the last six months, owing 
to the difficulty of ready sale for numerous large diamonds, 
and the slowness of the operation of cutting, consignors have 
frequently been disappointed not only in the time that elapsed 
before they received account sales, but in the prices realised. 
Many of the London consignees have begun to think that it 
would be better for everyone's interests to submit to the public 
a merchantable article ready for the jeweller rather than to sell 
the rough diamonds privately to one of the few dealers who trade 
in such things. 

Sales by auction afford a very advantageous medium for the 
disposal of diamonds, whether cut or in the rough : those held 
monthly by Mes-rs. Debenharn, Storr, and Sons, of Covent 
Garden, have already been noticed in the Times as being of 
public interest and importance, and they are beginning to attract 
a good many buyers from the provinces and the Continent. It 
is to be hoped that fair prices may continue to prevail in 
Europe, though the market certainly rules rather lower this 
year than in 1871. 

Small stones of good quality are still in demand at fair prices, 
and so are good yellow diamonds, but stones with black spots or 
flaws are worth much less than formerly. 

The dealers seem at a loss to fix the value of stones of 10 carats 
and upwards, few of which are of good form and spotless lustre. 
For these no scale of values, such as we constantly see in print, is 



DIAMOND BUYERS AND DIAMOND BROKERS. 



125 



of any use. Each stone, with its special beauties, or its special 
defects, must stand on its own merits ; and its value be determined 
by men who thoroughly understand brilliants, and know the 
public taste concerning them. Bad stones of large size are 
certainly not worth more than one-third their former price, and 
it is by no means easy to sell them even at that. 

All this, corning to the knowledge of our colonial buyers, will 
tend to make them very cautious in their offers for the numerous 
large stones which will probably long continue to be found in 
West Griqualand. 

I am inclined to think that the system of public competition 
at auction sales, which now prevails so extensively both in the 
colony and in England, will prove, in the long run, more satis- 
factory to diggers and their consignees than the method which 
formerly prevailed, of selling through dealers and brokers. 

We may feel disappointment at the falling off in the price for 
large stones, but we can hardly feel surprised. The rarity of the 
gem has as much to do with its value as its beauty ; so, in the 
presence of the immense discoveries of this one gem, and the great 
proportion of large stones, it is only natural that the value should 
be lessened. Eubies, emeralds, sapphires, and pearls still maintain 
their old values, because the supply does not equal the demand 
for them ; but it would certainly be absurd to suppose that there 
should be a constant demand for diamonds of 50 to 100 carats at 
the old scale of prices, making them each worth a comfortable 
fortune. 

The following paragraph from the Times, of Feb. 1st., 1872, 
showing prices realised in London for rough and cut diamonds, 
will be of appropriate interest here : — 

Cape Diamonds.— The largest sale by auction of these gems that has yet 
heen known in this country, was held yesterday at the rooms of Messrs. 
Debenham, Storr, and Sons, of King Street, Covent Garden. The auction 
comprised upwards of one thousand carats of cut brilliants and rough 
diamonds as found. The following quotations may be interesting in the 
present fluctuating state of the market for rough stones. Lot 741. A 
white diamond, 9£ carats, £60. 742. A ditto, slightly off colour, 1\ carats, 
*37. 750. Seventeen ditto, of pure water, 17 carats, £60. 750. A large 
diamond, of drop shape, 14J carats, £42. 7G1. Six diamonds, of fine colour, 
10 carats, £68. 7G2. Six ditto, about 9 carats, £48. 767. An uncut diamond, 
a'>out 45 carats, described as a crystal of the highest promise, £570. 769. A 
native diamond, in the matrix, a curious cabinet specimen, £14. 771. b lve 
uncut diamonds, together about 25^ carats, £100. 772. An uncut diamond, 
1 8J carats, and four others, smaller, total about 23 carats, £96. 773. An uncut 
diamond, 15 j± carats, of good colour, adapted to form a drop, £io. 774:. len 



126 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



uncut diamonds, about 32 carats, £1 GO. 77G. Fourditto, 28 carats, 105 guineas. 
777. Twenty-five ditto, about 39 carats, £250. The cut brilliants sold 
remarkably well. Lot 724. A magnificent and lustrous brilliant, about 
8 carats, 430 guineas. 727. A fine yellow brilliant, of great lustre, about 
7£ carats, 140 guineas. 728. A brilliant, of great spread and good water, 
about 7 J carats. 140 guineas; and lot 738, a large and lustrous brilliant, of 
fine colour, weighing about 7 carats. 180 guineas. Among the bijouterie we 
remarked the following items: — Lot 592. Five stars, set with lustrou> 
brilliants, 100 guineas.' 629. A single-stone brilliant ring, £90. 659. A 
court tiara, of five graduated brilliant stars, 185 guineas. GOO. A brilliant 
necklace, of 40 graduated collets, £300. GG2. A brilliant pendant or 
brooch, the stones of the purest water, 105 guineas. GG3. A pair of 
elegantly designed brilliant ear rings, 112 guineas. 684. A pair of 
magnificent three-stone brilliant ear rings, 120 guineas ; and 685, an 
emerald and brilliant bracelet, 4G0 guineas. The total realised by the sale 
was about £9730.— Times, Feb. 1st, 1872. 



I 



I 



HOTEL-KEEPERS, STORE-KEEPERS, AND AUCTIONEERS. 127 



CHAPTER III. 



HOTEL-KEEPERS, STORE-KEEPERS, AND AUCTIONEERS. 

Our hotels, on the Fields, though many of them are largo and 
spacious, will not recall, in many particulars, the Westminster 
Palace, the Langham, or the Grosvenor. They are big caravan- 
serais, built generally either of wood or of corrugated iron, 
possessing a few bedrooms, possibly, but dealing far more exten- 
sively in "shake-downs," i.e., one or two blankets or antelope 
skins spread on the floor and on the table, by no means disdained 
by the " washed-out ' storm-beaten digger, who may be con- 
sidered as the " casual." while the " diamant kooper," or 
merchant, is the more frequent and regular visitor, and therefore 
the more desirable person to propitiate with four square yards of 
green-baize partition, an iron bedstead, and a mattress. 

The prominent feature of an hotel on the diggings, and certainly 
its most paying element, is the spacious bar, behind which the 
landlord and his assistants, polite or slangy, civil or bullying, as 
the case may be, dispense from apparently exhaustless stores the 
liquids of Europe, and the liquid of Africa (i.e., the baneful Cape 
Smoke) to an incessant crowd of rough diggers, in picturesque 
working garb, whitened by the horrid limestone dust, which dries 
the palate, chokes the throat, oppresses the lungs, and drives men 
to desperation and — the liquor bar. Let us take a well-known 
hotel at Du Toit ? s Pan, as it was during my stay at that camp, as 
an example of the class. It is a huge barn-like wooden building, 
very scantily furnished, with one big dining-room, along the sides 
of which a dozen of tiny bedrooms are formed by slight wooden 
and green-baize partitions — a spacious bar in front, with numerous 
strong shelves well filled with bottles of wine, brandy, beer, 
syrups, & c ., &c, &c, and adorned with one or two fine heads of 
blesbok, springbok, and other antelopes. Behind the counter 
stand the busy landlord and his assistants, dispensing fluids 
of every kind to thirsty diggers, diamond buyers, and transport 
riders, at such prices as the following :— 2s. Gd. or 3.9. for a 
bottle of beer, dd. for a glass of draught ale, Od. for lemonade, 
soda-water, or foreign wine, Gd. for Cape brandy and Cape wines, 



H 









128 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



one of which, Pontac, a wine much resembling a rough new port, 
is much affected up here, as it is believed to act as an astringent. 
"Long drinks " are continually called for, such as brandy and 
soda, lemonade and sherry, ginger-beer and pontac. " Tommy 
Dodd" and games of "twenty-fives' are freely played for 
expensive " rounds " of liquor. A case of champagne is no 
unusual "call." Diamonds are freely shown, as the lucky 
diggers warm with their drinks ; here and there is a loud inhar- 
monious song, a hot argument or dispute, rarely terminating in 
a regular row. but frequently in "glasses round." 

The presiding genii behind the bar generally refuse 5/. notes, 
or charge 2s. (jd. for changing them, very often even refuse 1/. 
notes, or if they do condescend to change them, will very pro- 
bably give several little slips of paper, with some such an in- 
scription as "Good for one shilling— T. B.," as an equivalent of 
part of the change, to be redeemed when they are more flush 
of small coin, or, far more frequently, to be passed over the 
bar again in five minutes time for " another fluid." 

Coppers are altogether unknown on the diggings ; the three- 
penny-piece, known as the " ticky " is still in currency, but there 
is a considerable scarcity of these small coins, and a cigar, 
or a couple of boxes of those thin Swedish matches known 
as " Tandstickors," are regularly given in change as the equiva- 
lent of a "ticky," and received without a murmur. The little 
" good fors," as the above-mentioned slips of card or paper are 
called, are rather objectionable, being easily lost, especially the 
paper ones, the recipient of one of which generally feels it 
incumbent on him to fcurn it into liquor as soon as ever he feels 
at all thirsty again, lest he should lose it, and fail to get any 

value. 

At the entrance to the bar are generally standing a few loafing 
Kafirs, in expectation of a job, or of a "tot" of Cape Smoke from 
some over- generous inebriate. 

There are generally three table dhote meals per day — breakfast, 
tiffin, and dinner — at eight, one, and six. There is but little 
variety in the viands placed upon the long, rough, deal table, but 
such as they are, there is plenty of them. Abundance of mutton 
and beef, frequent venison, fair curries and stews, very few 
vegetables, plenty of bread, white and brown, of rather indifferent 
quality, and any amount of coffee and tea — such is diggers' hotel 
fare. The company assembling at such a table is very varied. 
The rough digger, in his shirt-sleeves, corduroy trousers and jack- 



* 



HOTEL-KEEPERS, STORE-KEEPERS, AND AUCTIONEERS. 129 

boots, sits side by side with the rich diamond buyer, " got up 
regardless of expense," or with the Church clergyman of the 
camp. All are free and equal, free and easy too— dress makes not 
the slightest difference in the prompt attention, but very scant 
civility, shown to all the guests alike by the saucy, bustling 
waiters, whom the landlord swears at, who swear at the landlord 
in return, and who probably have shares in rich claims. 

( The general charge for breakfast and tiffin is 2s. each, for 
dinner 2s. Gd. ; but lower prices may be found at some establish- 
ments, even on the Oolesberg Kopje. 

The hotels are frequented by a lively class of regular cus- 
tomers ; and when an occasional spell of bad, wet weather drives 
diggers from tents and claims, they congregate thickly in the 
hotels, filling bar and dining-room alike. A bed is charged 2s. or 
2s. 6d., a " shakedown," Is. or Is. Gd. Some diggers, at the Coles- 
berg Kopje especially, board and lodge regularly at hotels ; but it 
is a very bad practice, being very expensive and greatly promotive 
of loafing, and leaving claims too much to the Kafirs. 

These hostelries are the regular starting-places and booking- 
offices for the post and passenger carts to different parts of the 
colony, and for the omnibuses and carts which ply between the 
different camps. 

The hotels at the little towns of Pniel and Klip Drift, which 
are looked upon as permanent, afford greater comforts to the 
traveller in the way of sleeping accommodation, and a better 
cuisirie, than the temporary wooden and iron structures of Du 
Toit's Pan, De Beer's, and the Colesberg Kopje. 

Jardine's Hotel, at Pniel, the booking-office of the Inland Trans- 
port Company's passenger waggons, and of the passenger carts to 
Uu Toit's Pan, deserves specially grateful mention from me for the 
comfort, kind treatment, and good food I enjoyed there when ill. 
^ Jardine had everything of the very best : lost no oppor- 
tunities of getting green peas, lettuces, and other luxuries, no matter 
whatsit cost to supply his table with them; and on "pudding 
days," which occurred twice a week, and were eagerly looked for- 
ward to,^ there was such a profusion of fruit puddings (made from 
mottled fruits), plum puddings, cabinet puddings, blanc manges, 
a nd custards, as would have done credit to any table in the 
colony, and used to cause hungry diggers to trifle airily with beef, 
J^utton, and vegetables, and reserve themselves for the attack on 
these rare delicacies.— Mr. Jardine's cook tried his hand at jellies 
°flce, but they failed to solidify, and there appeared on the table 

K 



II 



130 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



wineglasses full of a lukewarm liquid, very pleasing to the taste, 
but still very far from the real, quivering, solid transparency 
which is so refreshing. It is true that the thermometer stood 
that morning at 100° in the shade ; so how could the poor jellies 
be expected to turn from hot to cold, when men who had 
come out of the Vaal Eiver cool soon found themselves melting ?— 
There was another very grand thing at Jardine's, too, intensely 
appreciated by fellows from the dry diggings : he took measures 
to have a plentiful supply of milk, so that not only had we milk 
in our tea or coffee at breakfast — an unheard-of luxury at the 
" dry diggings " — but he also gave us milk soup, with rice, pearl- 
barley, sago, or something mild and nutritive of that kind, for 
tiffin. ' Comfortable bedrooms, large beds, plenty of washing 
apparatus, and an unlimited supply of water, combined with the 
above advantages to render Jardine's quite a little elysium to a 
convalescent from the horrible Colesberg Kopje ; where though 
many of our enterprising hosts do their best, and spare no ex- 
pense to give us wholesome food and occasional delicacies, they 
can only get fresh vegetables very occasionally, and milk not 

at all. . . 

Small establishments for the retailing of liquors, not giving 
board and lodging, are called " canteens," and they are legion; 
for any man with fifty pounds in his pocket can start a canteen, 
if only on a very small scale, such as a small rough tent or canvas 
house, with only a bar, no chairs or tables. The number of these 
little places, of every possible shape and material, is fairly 
astonishing ; still more astonishing is the fact that they all do a 
roaring trade. A canteen may be distinguished from afar, 
amongst other tents, by a flag of any nationality or pattern flut- 
tering on a tall pole or bamboo. I have even seen a big red cotton 
pocket hankerchief doing duty as a flag. These places, in the 
outskirts of the camp especially, are very much frequented by 
Kafirs, Hottentots, and other natives, most of whom go in freely 
for Cape Smoke when their wages are paid, or when they get a 
present for the finding of a big diamond. The black fellows will 
either take a big drink of Cape Smoke at the bar, or will buy a 
bottle to take to the fire-place and discuss with their friends, and 
they are a very fertile source of income to the suburban canteen 

keeper. 

General stores are very numerous on the Fields, in fact hardly 
anyone goes in for any special line of goods, but all deal mis- 
cellaneously in everything — diggers' tools, ready-made clothing, 



HOTEL-KEEPERS, STORE-KEEPERS, AND AUCTIONEERS. 181 

and preserved meats, fish, fruits, &c, being the staple commo- 
dities. The storekeepers also buy large stocks of every kind of 
produce on the markets, purchase eagerly all green vegetables, 
eggs, and other luxuries that may be offered, which they retail 
at a high profit ; and as they all buy diamonds, and, almost 
without exception, sell liquors too, their aggregate profits must 
be very large. Storekeepers, hotel keepers, and auctioneers all 
pay a regular monthly license to Government. As the scale of 
licenses has just been altered in consequence of the annexation of 
the territory by the British Government, and I have not the 
necessary documents before me, I cannot give the license charges, 
but I know they are very modest in comparison with the large 
profits made. 

Canteen keeping is much more simple, sure, and inexpensive 
for a novice to begin at than storekeeping, but it is open to many 
objections. "Difficulties" with drunken roughs are not plea- 
sant for a gentleman — though as long as the host will supply the 
"rowdy" with liquor till he rolls dead-drunk on the floor, he is 
not likely to have any difficulty — it is only a refusal to let a man 
have more than is good for him which is likely to cause any 
awkwardness. Kafirs, too, will get drunk and annoying ; it is best 
to keep a big, heavy stick behind the bar for them, and lay it on 
vigorously when they have had enough and ask for more. There 
is in many camps a regulation to the effect that no liquors shall 
be supplied to any native without a written permission from his 
master ; but this seems to be universally evaded, or no notice at all 
taken of it, any more than of certain other provisions in the camp 
regulations, viz., that no hotel or canteen shall be kept open after 
10 p.m., and no liquor sold on Sunday. The thirsty digger can 
get drink when and where he likes as long as he has small change, 
without which the canteen keeper will sometimes refuse to serve 
nim. If he has nothing less than a banknote, his best plan is to 
call for his liquor and drink it off before he tenders payment, in 
which case the landlord is obliged either to change the note or 
give credit. 

There are several auctioneers on the Fields, and those who are 
well known, and have the "'gift of the gab," make very large 
profits ; frequently selling in an afternoon a large number of 
waggons, carts, mules, and oxen, besides a vast assortment of 
miscellaneous property of different values, and, the general com- 
mission they charge being 10 per cent., it is a very paying thing. 

Besides the waggons, carts, and cattle which they get from 

K 2 



132 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 






parties arriving on the Fields, they have constant supplies of 
tents, tools, and furniture, from parties leaving or dying, and they 
also receive large consignments of miscellaneous goods of every 
kind, and often purchase large lots of cheap goods to re-sell. The 
Saturday afternoon sales are the principal amusement of the great 
mass of the diggers. No work being done after 12.30., from one 
till five p.m. rival auctioneers are trying their lungs to the 
utmost in commendation of the most heterogeneous lots of articles, 
from a bullock waggon to a bottle of pickles, or a box of paper 
collars, and very fair prices are generally realised. 

Eothschild, one of the principal auctioneers at Du Toit's Pan, 
was most lavish in his use of the word " diamondiferous," 
which he would apply to any article without the slightest regard 
to its appropriateness. Thus, not only would he extol as 
diamondiferous a sieve, sorting-table, pick or shovel, but he 
would speak of a diamondiferous waggon, or a diamondiferous 
pair of trousers. Whenever he was selling any diggers' tools, 
the article he was selling was sure to be the " very identical sieve 
in which the 93 carat was found last week," or, " here's a nice 
little pick, a sweet little pick, a dear little pick, a diamondiferous 
little pick — it picked out a 40-carat stone two days ago, and is 
warranted to do the same again ! " When he came to the last 
of any lot of articles, or the last but one or two (auctioneers' 
all the world over are far from particular in this respect), he 
would be sure to say " Now, gentlemen, this is the ' Last of the 
Mortimers! ' " — Was he thinking of the " Last of the Mohicans ? ' 
No one ever knew. — But, with a constant flow of eloquence, half in 
rather indifferent English, and half in low Dutch, for the benefit 
of the numerous Boers who stood round, ready to buy anything 
that went cheap, our worthy auctioneer, refreshed now and then 
by a tall glass of beer from the neighbouring hotel, would keep 
the whole crowd of diggers amused for a whole afternoon in the 
scorching sun — " faute de mieux," you know. 

A capital trade is an auctioneer's on the Fields, especially 
because it requires no capital. (I didn't intend a pun when I 
began that sentence.) 

Of course the auctioneer is also a diamond-buyer, and very 
often a canteen-keeper too, as only a bi-weekly afternoon is taken 
up with the public sale business. One or two sales of diamonds 
have already taken place, and it is probable that this most lucra- 
tive branch of the profession will soon be as extensively carried on 
in the different camps as it is in Cape Town. 



HOTEL-KEEPERS, STORE-KEEPERS, AND AUCTIONEERS. 133 

I here subjoin advertisements of two wholesale and retail 
stores at Pniel, and at Du Toit's Pan, showing the principal 
articles of sale on the Fields. 

J. B. E B D E N. 



Wholesale and Retail Store, Pniel, 
Has just received, and has on hand — 

Ale, in quarts. 

Alum. 

Ammonia. 



Acid, Tartaric. 

Augers. 

Awls. 

Arrowroot. 

Alpaca, blk. 

Biscuits. 

Blacking. 

Bathbricks. 

Brooms. 

Blue. 

Brandy, Cape. 

Do. French. 
Bitters, Orange. 
Bottle Baskets. 
Barley, Pearl. 
Bags, wool and flour. 
Buckets, gal., 12, 13, 

Hin. 
Boots, Men's E.S. and 

hobnail. 
Braces and Bits. 
Brushes, assorted. 
Bowls. 
Bedsteads. 
Bolts, Tower. 
Bolts and Nuts. 
Blankets. 
Bells. 

Burning Fluid. 
Belts for Diggers. 
Breadpans. 
Beeswax. 

Butchers' Cleavers. 
Boxes, Snuff. 
Brass Butts. 
Cinnamon. 
Capers. 
Candles. 
Cement. 
Cigars. 



Chicory. 

Cloves. 

Chocolate. 

Cocoa. 

Coffee. 

Camphor. 

Curry-powder. 

Confectionery, assorted. 

Cream of Tartar. 

Corks, Wine & Ginger 

Beer. 
Coals for Smiths. 
Campkettles. 
Camphor. 
Camp Ovens. 
Canisters, rnd.& square. 
Crowbars. 
Candle Moulds. 
Cooking Ladles. 
Castor Oil. 
Concertinas. 
Champagne. 
Cullenders. 
Cider. 
Chalk. 

Cruet Stands. 
Carbonate Soda. 
Candle Cotton. 
Chimneys, Lamp. 
Carraway Seeds. 
Coffee Urns. 
Currycombs. 
Cloth, Oil. 

Deals, 1, 2, 3 & 5 cut. 
Dry >rs. 
Dates. 

Dishes, Tin. 
Demijohns. 
Diamonds, Glaziers'. 
Deliveiy Books. 
Eau de Cologne. 
Epsom Salts. 
Earthenware, assorted. 



Essences, assorted. 
Envelopes. 
Fruits, bottled. 

Do. dried. 
Files, Taper and Pitsaw. 
Fusees. 
Funnels. 
Fish Hooks. 
Flints, Gun. 
Filters, Water. 
Forks, Cooking. 
Glass, Window, 7x9, 

8 x 10, & 10 x 12. 
Glue and Glue Pots. 
Ginger. 
Grease, A. E. 
Gridirons, assorted. 
Gimlets. 
Gins, Rat. 
Guttering, OG. 
Guns. 
Honey. 
Hats. 

Helmets, Pith. 
Hammers. 
Hoes. 

Handles, Pick. 
Hasps and Staples. 
Huis Apotheeks. 
Hatches. 

Hinges, assorted. 
Horse Brushes. 
Hemp, Shoe. 
Iron, rod and bar. 
Iron Weights. 
Do. Weaving. 
Ink. 

Knives, Pocket. 
Knives and Forks. 
Kettles. 

Kits, Shoemakors'. 
Lamps. 
Lead, white and red. 






j 



134 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



Ladles, Melting. 

Lime juice. 

Lanterns. 

Lightning Conductors. 

Locks and Padlocks. 

Lampblack. 

Ladders, Amer. folding. 

Lines, Fishing. 

Lamp Wicks. 

Latches (Norfolk). 

Matches. 

Maccaroni. 

Maizena. 

Marmalade. 

Meal. 

Mealies. 

Mustard. 

Medicines, Dutch. 

Mirrors, Zinc. 

Meats, Potted. 

Mule Shoes. 

Mattresses. 

Mills, Coffee. 

Machines, Sausage. 

Magnesia, Citrate. 

Nutmegs. 

Nails, £ to 5in. 

Needles, Sail. 

Nipples, Gun. 

Oil, boiled and raw. 

Oatmeal 

Oysters. 

Oars. 

Oil, Salad, half-pints. 

Orange & Lemon Peel. 

Pickles. 

Pepper. 

Pipes. 

Pilot Bread. 

Paints. 

Pontac. 

Pots, Iron. 

Pimento. 

Ploughs, Nos. 75 & 25. 

Putty. 

Pills, Holloway's. 

Pans, Kneading. 

Do. Frying. 

Do. Bread. 



Pan, Dust. 

Peas, Split. 

Planes. 

Pincers. 

Picks. 

Plates. 

Purses. 

Pestles and Mortars. 

Painters' Tools. 

Pipe Covers. 

Pipes, Wooden & Cutty. 

Paper, Hanging. 

Do. Sand. 
Pens. 

Perforated Zinc. 
Pencils. 
Paper. 
Penholders. 
Pepper Pots. 
Pit Saws. 

Quinine, Sulphate of. 
Raisins. 
Ridging, galvanised. 

Rules, 2 feet. 

Roasters, Coffee. 

Sheet Zinc. 

Sherry, F. C. and Cape. 

Seidlitz Powders. 

Rakes. 

Sugar. 

Sauce3. 

Sardines. 

Sago. 

Salt. 

Soap Pots, 16 & 18 
gal. 

Starch. 

Saltpetre. 

Salmon. 

Spades. 

Shovels. 

Soda. 

Squares, Masons'. 

Saws, Hand. 

Soups, Kidney. 

Screwdrivers. 

Sardine Knives. 

Scales, Counter. 

Spices. 



Spoons. 
Scoops, Tin. 
Snuff Boxes. 
Scales, Diamond. 
Stationery, assorted. 
Spirit Levels. 
School Slates. 
Sickles. 
Saucepans. 
Steels. 
Sad-irons. 
Steps, Carriage. 
Steel, Octagon. 
Sieves, Wire. 
Sealing Wax. 
Shoe Pegs. 
Screws, Wood. 
Stoves, Portable Camp, 
Screwjacks. 
Slippers, Men's Carpet. 
Tea. 

Turpentine. 
Tobacco, Cavendish. 
Do. Golden Leaf. 
Do. Boer, packets. 
Tar. 

Twine. 

Tinware. 

Tumblers. 

Teapots. 

Taps, Brass. 

Tobacco Pouches. 

Tape Lines. 

Tamarinds. 

Traps, Mouse. 

Tooth Brushes. 

Tacks, Copper. 

Trowels, Masons'. 

Tin, IC, DC plates. 

Thimbles. 

Vermicelli. 

Vinegar. 

Varnish, Copal. 

Vermillion. 

Wrenches, Coach. 

Rim Locks. 

Whipsticks. 

Wire Netting. 



ALWAYS ON HAND, 
A SUPPLY OF MEAL, MEALIES, AND KAFIR CORN. FORAGE, FORAGE. 



HOTEL-KEEPERS, STORE-KEEPERS, AND AUCTIONEERS. 135 

Also for Sale and Inspection, 
1 WOODEN HOUSE, 21 X 12. 1 WOODEN HOUSE, 23 X 16. 

Fresh Supplies of Groceries, Oilman's Stores, Hardware, Wines and Spirits, Sfc 

daily expected. 

Diamonds Bought. Drafts on Port Elizabeth granted. 



R. H. & J. STOCKDALE, 

DU TOIT'S PAN, 

Have just received further additions to their stock, consisting of— 



Scarlet Woollen Blankts. 
White do. do. 
Scarlet Flannel. 
White do. 
Cotton Bed Tick. 
Union do. do. 

Checked Ginghams. 

Derries. 

Shot Lustres. 

Blue and Orange Prints. 

Hoyles' Prints. 

White and Brown Baftas. 

Huis Linen. 

White Shirtings. 

Horrocks's Long Cloth. 

Printed Pilot Trouser- 
ings. 

Mens' Woollen Shirts. 
Do. Cotton do. 

Winseys, in variety. 

Gala Plaids. 

Gamboons. 

Coloured Coburgs. 

Coloured and Black Al- 
pacas. 

Ladies Trimmed Hats. 

Cotton Blankets. 

Harvard Checks. 

Striped Jean. 

Buff Nankeen. 

Fancy Flannel. 

White Kid Gloves. 

Camlet Dresses. 

Challie do. 

Fancy do. 

Romal Handkerchiefs. 

Egyptian Edging. 

White & Blck.Voerchitz. 

Coloured do. 



Cotton 

do. 
do. 
do. 



Skirtings. 

Brown, Drab, and Black 

Corduroy. 
Brown, Drab, and Black 

Moleskins. 
Silk Handkerchiefs. 
Printed Coburgs. 
Turkey Towels, white 

and brown. 
Cotton do. 

Printed Cotton Hand- 
kerchiefs. 
Turkey Red Twill. 
Woollen Shawls. 
Men's Brown 

Half-Hose. 
Men's Fancy 
Do. Shetland 
Do. Striped. 
Morley's W. W. Reels 

Sewing Cotton. 
Coloured Sewing Cotton. 
Rolled Jaconets. 
Cart Binding. 
India Tape. 
Steel Thimbles. 
Portmonnaies. 
Memorandum Books. 
Fancy Woollen Scarfs. 
Puggerahs. 
Women's Stays, white 

and coloured. 
White Moleskin Trou- 
sers. 
Woollen Bootees. 
Men's Felt Hats. 
Green Baize. 
White Swansdown. 
Diggers Boots. 



Men's Clothing, in 

variety. 
Mohair Braids. 
Wave do. 
Hbts. Coloured Kid 

Gloves. 
Ribbons. 
Ladies' Belts. 
Sealing Wax. 
Playing Cards. 
Mouth Harmonicas. 
Briarwood Pipes. 
Eau de Cologne. 
Rope. 

Brass Candlesticks. 
Lanterns. 
Liverpool Soap. 
Widnes do. 
Rimmel's Bar Soap. 
Tent Lines. 
Bass Brooms. 
Cooks Ladles. 
Iron do. 
Melting do. 
Garden Rakes. 
Wood Screws. 
Saw Files. 
Awl Blades. 
Tinned Iron Spoons. 
Coloured Flannel. 

Gridirons. 

Tailors' Scissors. 

Cambric Pocket Hand- 
kerchiefs. 

Men's do. do. 

Elastic Belts. 

Leather Belts. 

Embossed Table Covers. 

Coloured Damask. 



136 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



Needles, in boxes. 

Steel Pens. 

Soup Ladles. 

Dressing Combs. 

Knives and Forks. 

Carvers. 

Cream of Tartar. 

Black Pepper, 

Carpenters' Saws. 

Currants. 

Scissors. 

GalvanisedlronBuckets. 

do. do. Baths. 
Candles, Belmont. 
Pick Handles. 
Turpentine. 
Paraffino Oil. 
Paraffino Lamps. 
Sago. 

Confectionery, in £lb. 

bottles. 
Rice. . 

English Vinegar. 
Green Paint. 
Dates. 
Window Glass, 8 x 10, 

10 x 12. 
Deal Boards, 1x9. 

Do. Quartering, 3x3. 
Assorted Crockeryware. 
Cups and Saucers. 
Bowls. 
Dishes, Jugs. 



Plates, &c. 

Tar, in drums. 

Iron Pots. 

Snuff, in bottles. 

Japanned Jugs & Basins. 

Tin Funnels. 

Hair Brushes. 

Beer Corks. 

Zinc Mirrors. 

Copy-books. 

Steel Spectacles. 

German-silver Table 

Spoons. 
German - silver Tea 

Spoons. 
German - silver Table 

Forks. 
Tea Pots, block tin. 
Coffee Urns, superior 

quality. 
Oblong Mirrors. 
Corkscrews. 
Padlocks. 
Gimlets. 

Knives and Sheaths, 
Holloway's Ointment 

and Pills. 
Cockle's Pills. 
Dutch Medicines. 
Fever Elixir. 
Chlorodine. 
Spalding's Glue. 
Lemon Syrup. 



Cut Tobacco. 

Cue Tips and Cement. 

Cut Deals. 

Transvaal and Colonial 

Tobacco. 
Mauritius Sugars. 
Coffee. 

Souchong Tea. 
Curry Powder. 
Fish, in tins. 
Saddles, Bridles. 
Sorby's Sheepshears. 
Whitewash Brushes. 
Horse Brushes. 
Matches. 
Steel Pens. 
Writing Ink. 
Blacking. 
Shoe Brushes. 
Slate Pencils. 
B. Wove Note Paper. 

Letter do. 

Foolscap, plain 
and ruled. 
Sausage Machines. 
Salad Oil. 
Castor Oil. 
Blue Stone. 
Starch. 
Mustard. 
Worcester Sauce. 
Pickles, &c, &c. 



Transvaal and Boer Meal. 
Shortly Expected: Europe Rope and a number of Blocks and Pulleys, 



OUR COLOURED LABOURERS. 



137 



CHAPTER IV. 



OUR COLOURED LABOURERS. 



The immense demand for labour, created by the rapid growth 
of the Diamond Diggings, and the splendid wages given, have 
attracted to our camps thousands of natives belonging to all the 
tribes around and a long way north of the Vaal River. Kafirs, 
Korannas, Hottentots, of every colour from pale sickly yellow to 
polished ebony, swarm at the Fields. Formerly the " up- 
country ' Kafirs used to contract with the Boers and other 
farmers for a year's services, at the end of which time they con- 
sidered themselves well rewarded with a cow, value 31. or 41. ; 
now good " boys ' are freely paid on the diggings 305. per 
month, and fed well into the bargain. They are all indiscrimi- 
nately spoken of as "nigger," and addressed as "boy," quite 
irrespective of age. The Kafirs are considered the best and most 
trustworthy labourers, and of the Kafirs the Zulus have the best 
reputation, and perhaps the Basutos next. Unfortunately Zulus and 
Basutos are in a chronic state of hereditary feud, so that a digger 
cannot employ two Zulus and two Basutos to work and live 
together. Three other tribes of Kafirs, known as Mahows, Macca- 
tees,and Mankapaans are also extensively represented on the Fields. 
(I will not vouch for the correct spelling of these three words.) 

Large parties of Kafirs are constantly coming up "on their 
own hook," and pervading the camp in search of a "baas' or 
master, which they are not long in finding, the demand for native 
labour being continually on the increase, Old .colonists and 
traders frequently make money by going into the interior, bring- 
ing down lots of natives, and introducing them to masters, with 
whom they contract for three months' services, the trader charg- 
ing 11. per head for the accommodation ; but anyone who has 
been long on the diggings will not have much difficulty in obtain- 
ing Kafirs. If he is a "good baas," his own "boys' will fre- 
quently bring to him relatives or friends who will offer their services. 

A Kafir's notions of dress are primitive in the extreme ; 
his only garment the ancient mutya or loin-cloth, with perchance 
huge plumes of gaudy feathers adorning his woolly head, and a 



138 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



necklace of tiger claws, shells, or beads ; knowing probably no 
language but his own, or at the best but a few words of Boer 
Dutch ; he arrives on the Fields as raw material, fit for any 
amount of hard work, and requiring the treatment of a big child, 
with no petting or spoiling, but plenty of scolding and occasional 
castigation if he is disobedient or lazy. It is well, on engaging a 
Kafir for any period of service, to take him to the magistrate's 
office and get him there to make his mark on a written contract, 
which formality makes a salutary impression on his untutored 
mind, and afterwards the master should, in the event of any 
disobedience or laziness, bring the culprit to the police-office, 
where he will probably receive a dozen lashes with the "cat." 
This is preferable to taking the law into one's own hands. 

The raw, untutored, unclad Kafirs, fresh from their " kraals " up 
the mountains, are by far the best and most trustworthy work- 
men. The contact of civilisation seems to be almost invariably 
pernicious and demoralising to the peculiar organisation of our 
Kafir friends. Above all things, mistrust a Kafir who speaks 
English and wears trousers. They are very fond of assuming 
different articles of European garb ; an old flannel shirt is a most 
acceptable present, or an old jacket ; while, if you want to make 
your nigger supremely proud and happy, you have only to present 
him with an old military red coat ; but let him keep to his mutya, 
and doiit give him any trousers. I have seen a nigger walking 
about most complacently, dressed in a hat, an old paper collar, 
and a courier bag, not a rag else, barring the mutya. One of my 
"boys " once found one leg of a pair of trousers, and straightway 
put it on ; but finding it inconvenient, frequently slipping down 
and hindering him in his work, to which I naturally objected, he 
finally converted it into a sort of turban., and wore it triumphantly 
on his head. Huge bunches of tall feathers and coloured hand- 
kerchiefs are much worn as headgear. 

With regard to sleeping accommodation for the Kafirs, some 
generous diggers provide them with a rough tent ; but if the "boys " 
are smart and active they will soon make a comfortable little hut 
for themselves with branches, bushes, &c, which they can go 
into the country to fetch on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. 
In any case one or two cotton blankets should be given them, for 
the nights are often very chilly, and they suffer much from cold. 
With regard to food, the digger must buy for them mealies 
(Indian corn or maize), crushed mealies, or mealie meal. If 
whole mealies are bought, they must be provided with a mill, 



OUR COLOURED LABOURERS. 



139 



rather larger than an ordinary coffee-mill, for grinding them. About 
1001b., or half a muid, is a fair monthly allowance for each Kafir. 
Mealie meal fluctuates on the Fields from 25s. to 35s. per muid ; 
crushed mealies and whole mealies are a good deal cheaper. A 
large iron cooking-pot should also be bought for the niggers. It 
is as well to give them a little coarse meat (sold cheaply as 
" Kafir meat ") once or twice a week, and a glass of brandy (Cape 
Smoke) on Saturdays or Sundays. If the tent is anywhere near a 
slaughtering place, they will frequently provide themselves with 
an extra in the shape of offal, of which they will bring in huge 
quantities with immense glee, throw the filthy stuff on the fire 
without being very particular as to cleaning it, devour it with 
great satisfaction, but still have an appetite unimpaired for the 
discussion of their mealie porridge, or " pap " as they call it. 
Good " boys " should be encouraged with a small money present, 
say a shilling every time a diamond is found. The work that a 
Kafir is expected to perform at the claim is — picking, shovelling, 
hauling, and sifting. It is not desirable to let them sort, both 
because it is throwing too much temptation in their way, and 
because they are very slow sorters ; in fact, it is always desirable 
that the eye of the master should be on the Kafir at work, not 
only because he may be inclined to yield to the temptation of 
concealing a large diamond he may see in the sieve, but because, 
if not looked after, he is very apt to " loaf," stand still, and stare 
about him. 

One of our " boys " was very much given to these fits of laziness, 
and my partner or I, on turning round, would see him leaning on 
his spade or standing by the sieve, in a dignified attitude, calmly 
contemplating the busy scene around him. Our remedy on such 
occasions was to throw stones at his bare legs, which invariably 
recalled him to a sense of his duty. 

Two Kafirs, if they understand the work, ought to be able to 
keep two white men constantly employed in sorting, and this is a 
very good division of labour for the hot weather, while in the 
winter the "baas" will often find it pleasant and warming to 
take a hand at pick, shovel, or sieve himself. 

Two friends of mine brought up from the interior of Natal six 
of the best Zulus I ever saw. They were fine, tall, strong built 
young fellows, of rather prepossessing countenances and splendid 
figures, all clad in bright red coats, so that as they marched 
through the camp to or from the claim, singing their loud and 
not inharmonious songs, their appearance was most imposing. 



140 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



Moreover they were thoroughly good " boys," hardworking, polite, 
good humoured, and lively. They used to go through grand 
performances at their "kraal," war songs and dances, pantomimes 
of hunting and other scenes, with great spirit and talent, causing 
large audiences to assemble to witness their barbaric sports. 
And they appeared to be thoroughly trustworthy, being some- 
times left at the claim all by themselves, when they would not 
only keep on working steadily, but would bring to their masters 
any diamonds they might find. One of them, indeed, who had 
particularly sharp eyes, used frequently to find diamonds on the 
road, or among refuse stuff from other claims, and bring them to 
his masters. 

The ordinary work performed by a Kafir at his master's tent 
and cooking-place, is simply to light the fire, boil water, fetch 
water from the wells, and wash up plates and dishes. They are 
in too filthy a state to be entrusted with the latter operation 
when they have been to the slaughtering places to fetch offal. 
The six above-mentioned Kafirs soon learned to perform some of 
the simpler operations of European cookery, to wash clothes, and 
otherwise " make themselves generally useful." A Kafir does not 
generally wash either his clothes (?) or himself, and if you give 
him an old flannel shirt he will probably never take it off again 
till it falls to pieces. One of my "boys " had a faint notion of 
cleanliness, however. He came to me one morning and said, 
"Baas, give little bit soap, head plenty full of — " (insects un- 
mentionable to ears polite). 

They are great smokers, but as Boer tobacco can be bought 
on the Fields for about Gd. per lb. (I have even bought it as low 
as 3d.), it does not cost much to keep them in -the soothing 
weed. Two of my "boys" I never could induce to smoke pipes. 
They would moisten the ground in a certain raised spot, run a 
stick along it, to make a long hole, enlarge the orifice at one end, 
fill it with tobacco, put a bit of ember on to it, and, lying flat on 
their bellies on the ground, apply their mouths to the other end 
and draw out huge volumes of smoke— over which they invariably 
choked and expectorated freely, generally going through this per- 
formance within a foot or so of our tent while we were having 
dinner inside. They drink an immense quantity of water, and 
as much Cape Smoke as anyone will give them. It is also difficult 
to break them of the habit of keeping up big fires all the even- 
ing, round which they sit and smoke, and sing and talk with other 
Kafirs, who "just drop in," making a fearful hubbub till eight 



OUR COLOURED LABOURERS. 



141 



or nine o'clock, when they coil themselves up in their blankets or 
skins and sleep soundly till daybreak, when the rays of the rising 
sun, or more frequently the foot of the rising " baas" warns them 
to " opstaan, vuur maak ' ' (get up, make fire). 

I had once a "boy ? ' who was rather of an intelligent and inquiring 
turn of mind, and he once astounded and horrified me by suggesting 
that " baas " should teach him to read ! Soon afterwards I showed 
him some pictures in an old Illustrated London News. He had 
never seen pictures before, and at first they conveyed no idea to 
his mind ; but soon it dawned upon him, and when he could lay his 
finger on the figure of a man and say " Baas ! " or " Seer ! " and 
point to the drawing of a woman and say " Mees ! ' he was quite 
pleased and proud, for he thought he had learnt to read. He was 
rather a comical genius too, and used greatly to amuse us by the 
cheeky and fluent way in which he used to chaff his comrade, 
who was a good deal duller. They knew four English words 
between them, all very bad words. They were very proud of 
this little accomplishment, and would swear at one another for 
hours with this limited vocabulary. They were always singing and 
shouting at the claim, or yelling out barbaric "chaff ' to neigh- 
bouring Kafirs. They were very weatherwise, could foretell 
storms and rains with wonderful prescience. 

The natives have unfortunately been accustomed to very harsh, 
rough treatment from their Boer masters, and, generally speaking, 
an Englishman treats them with too much kindness and familiarity, 
which has a decidedly bad effect on them. They think that their 
H baas," if he treats them so kindly, must be very much in need of 
their services, they are evidently most valuable "'boys " to him, and 
they consider it their duty to themselves to strike for higher 
wages. Or they lose all respect for their master, disobey him, 
become insolent, and finally run away, probably with some of his 
diamonds or other property. A nigger is all very well as long as 
he is kept in his proper place, that is " kept down ;" to treat him in 
the "man and a brother " style of the Exeter Hall philanthropists, 
is only to spoil him and injure yourself. New comers to the 
colonies find this difficult to realise, thinking that kind treatment 
must succeed, but they soon get woefully undeceived. Of course I 
don't mean you should ill-use Kafirs, but keep them in their 
places ; punish them when naughty, and never be familiar or 
laugh with them. I think it will not be out of place to quote 
here the following graphic portraiture of " Kafir exquisites," 
from the pen of my friend, Mr. Cowan, author of a book of very 



142 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



great interest on new African sport and travel, entitled, I believe, 
" Swazi Kafirs and Swazi Game." 

The natives he alludes to in the following lines are town Kafirs, 
certainly, but they come from the same tribes and country as our 
" boys " on the diggings, so his appreciation of some of their 
most distinguishing characteristics possesses considerable value and 
interest for us. 

To anew arrival, the spectacle of a darkey swell conveys only a laughable 
impression of negro vanity. He sees merely the repetition of the old fables 
of the raven in peacock's plumage— the ass in the lion's skin — and probably 
the prejudices of inherited civilisation would lead him to prefer the 
ludicrous appearance of the " tame " Kafir in civilised raiment to the sight 
of the mutya-clad Kafir " proper." " But," to use the pet phrase of one of 
our colonial Burkes, "he has yet to learn" that there is a physiological 
character in clothes, and that the fig-leaf, the first clothing on record, 
signalised the first lapse from original purity. 

In order to trace the origin of our u Kafir exquisite," let us briefly follow 
the career of a rustic Kafir crossing the border in search of work. His legs 
are forthwith encased in those nether garments generally termed •• un- 
mentionables" — which are usually, in his case, curiously antique, containing 
more holes than material — a dilapidated hat, rather in the style of the Irish 
caubeen, and a patchwork shirt complete his costume. Now, no one would think 
of ridiculing the Kafir pur et simple. Nay, some indeed think that clothing him 
would be, like painting the lily, mere " wasteful and ridiculous excess." 
Caliban may be coarse, but surely he is not ridiculous or vulgar, on the prin- 
ciple that nothing real, genuine, or original can be. Imperfect as the dress of 
a "wild" Kafir is, and faint as are his conceptions of right and wrong, there 
are individuals so deluded as to prefer the comparative absence of clothing 
combined with the presence of good qualities, and with some dim idea of 
natural law, to the exaggeration of attire, combined with the destruction of 
those virtues, in his " civilised " brother. Our rustic Kafir does not at 
once become exotic ; he has not yet turned his assegai into a jaunty cane, 
nor does he yet abandon the ancestral cow-horn pipe, his tiger-claw neck- 
lace, his bright bangles. At first everyone is stunned at his non-objection, 
nay, even willingness, to work. Nor can they credit their ears when, so far 
from being insolent and saucy, he is actually civil, and occasionally obliging 
— and they can scarcely believe that such an abnormal creature as a sober, 
steady, hard-working Kafir can exist in this our colonial Utopia. But soon, 
alas, " a change comes o'er the spirit " of our rustic Kafir. He begins to 
imitate the manners and fashions of his white acquaintances, and makes the 
grand discovery of the existence of a strong and inebriating fluid, generally 
termed (so we hear) rum, for which he acquires forthwith a violent 
predilection (probably because the transition from barbarism to breeches was 
bo sudden that some stimulant became necessary to sustain the shock), and 
which he contrives to absorb into his system in quantities that render his 
removal to the "tronk" both a benevolent and a sanitary measure. 

As soon as he can beg, borrow, steal, or — least probably — earn and save 
enough money, he proceeds to invest it in the purchase of a startling but 
limited outfit. 

Like most tropical productions, he is partial to loud colours and strong 






OUR COLOURED LABOURERS. 



143 



contrasts. He obviously agrees with Shakespeare that "motley is the only 
wear," but not only for fools. A second-hand uniform, the more vermilliony 
the better, adorned with an incurable eruption of gleaming buttons is, in 
his opinion, the very ultima ihule of the tailor's art. We presume that he 
must, therefore, have, in common with mad bulls and gushing young ladies 
(partial to rouge in any shape), an irresistible attraction to, and admiration 
of, those scarlet automatons, the military. 

His next purchase is a painfully glossy and nappy hat, which, also a la 
militaire, he balances knowingly on the extreme tip of his left ear. He 
then buys a white shirt — white seems to him to imply the acme of respecta- 
bility, if not of positive affluence, from the necessity, obvious to all who 
know his habits, of being constantly washed. He buys paper collars only 
when unable to pick up any that have been rejected by more fastidious 
owners; and finally completes his attire by the purchase of a pair of brilliant 
" unwhisperables." He has put off the old Adam, he has swept and gar- 
nished his lovely person, but we opine that the last state of that man is 
worse than the first. He becomes a public nuisance. There is now, in 
addition to the usual u perfumery" about him, an odour of ingeniously villain- 
ous rum, with which is mingled the scent of the execrable tobacco, puffed 
so complacently out of that brass-topped and coruscent pipe. He is, now, 
neither a fine type of animal man, nor even a passable fac-simile of educated 
man. A woolly head, full of emptiness or vice, a pair of somewhat yellow 
but drolly observant eyes, a brace of hands full of that commodity for which 
His Satanic Majesty so benevolently finds occupation, a couple of legs that 
with difficulty answer the locomotive purposes of their owner — in the entirety 
not at all the kind of biped intended to inhabit this planet. He assumes 
a blase' air, as indicating an exhaustive experience of civilisation, and a 
serenely self-confident look, as indicative of his approval of the liberty fra- 
ternity et fyalite preached by those braying philanthropists with whom, if 
their theory be true, he has a natural chemical affinity. Ho has caught 
the present social epidemic, the wish to be genteel ; and, aping the universal 
white deference to opinion and fashion, he unwittingly becomes, by exag- 
geration, a most trenchant satire, a biped homily on the follies of civilisa- 
tion. He even, although probably a churchgoer, swears fashionably, and 
with remarkable volubility, displaying great fertility of fancy in variations 
on the too meagre — for him — catalogue of M white" oaths. Owing to his 
extraordinary powers of suction, to his very foggy ideas of meum and tuum, 
to prejudices in favour ot miscellaneous polygamy, and to mormonising 
tendencies imbibed in the course of his social education ; or owing, perhaps, 
merely to a civilised abhorrence of work, and a craving for novelty, he 
frequently changes his "wattle and daub" residence for that triumph of 
colonial architecture, popularly known as the " tronk," an abode for which 
his uncivilised brethren entertain an irrational and most unaccountable dis- 
like. There are at present eighty-three Kafirs, we believe, in the Durban gaol. 
We are curious to know how many of these are miracles of civilisation, and 
how many are green Kafirs, i.e., grossly ignorant of the manifold improve- 
ments of colonial life. To be finely feathered and dressed like a white man 
are to him ecstatic blisses " worn in their newest gloss," but blisses to 
which he is wedded by novelty, not familiarity. He is exalted from the 
comparatively pure air of native simplicity to an atmosphere of spurious 
gentility, in which he flutters with all the rapture of a new-born butterfly, 
just disenthralled from the chrysalis state. Mark the ludicrous affectation 



144 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



of his, what Albert Smith terms, "prancing gait;" he seems to be treading 
on air. His teeth, like the silver lining of a sable cloud, are ever and anon 
displayed in grins of ecstacy, as the reflection of his elegant person in the 
shop windows meets his eye. The whole pavement is too narrow for his 
strut ; single ladies are unceremoniously driven off. He condescends to give 
the wall side to none but gentlemen armed with sjamboks. His unsophis- 
ticated admiration of his splendid self would be merely amusing were it 
not generally acknowledged "all is not gold that glitters," and that, so far 
from being sterling metal coined in civilisation's mint, he is merely a 
spurious and base coin, uttered by Exeter Hall optimists and their emis- 
saries, and passed off as genuine on the strength of the breeches, or, 
perhaps, from his absurd similarity to his white brother Brummels. Surely 
they can be only visionary optimists who believe that they have thus 
civilised and Christianised our rustic Kafir. We assert that they have 
merely destroyed a Kafir without making a convert either to religion or 
civilisation. He is your real wild Kafir, degenerated by our accommodating 
him to the pleasure of corrupted tastes, whereas his unpolished brethren 
can lay claim to a few natural virtues, and have to deplore a lesser number 
of degrading and un-savage vices. 

"All things," says Plato, "are produced by nature, by chance, or by art; 
the most beautiful by either of the two first, the least perfect by the last." 
Now we cannot regard our " Kafir exquisite" as a spontaneous production 
of mother earth, nor yet can we look upon him as a biped " fluke," a lusus 
naturce—so he must necessarily be a creation of art — of tailors' art, and 
consequently inferior to, and less perfect than, his more scantily clad com- 
patriots, those "images of God cut in ebony," as Fuller quaintly terms the 
black races, as deriving his would-be superiority from imitative powers 
common to monkeys and Frenchmen. 

What can bo more apparent than that a life of civilisation being un- 
favourable to the animal powers of men, animal men will necessarily 
suffer at first by the contact, and will continue to distil the easy vices 
rather than the difficult virtues from an existence so novel, so foreign to 
their very nature, until the continuity of their vice-distilling propensities 
be summarily checked by a more effective Kafir law than the colony at 
present possesses — or more gradually broken by ameliorating education. 
The true progress of refinement is to teach him to abandon all the mounte- 
bank drapery which, as being really barbarian still, he indulges in ; and to 
get him to wear clothes, not for the purpose of display, but from some 
faint idea of general decency and social propriety. To judge from the 
various and constant notices appearing in our newspapers, it is absolutely 
dangerous for any European lady to indulge in the luxury of a promenade 
anywhere away from the immediate vicinity of Durban, or even then 
without male protection. A reign of terror is instituted by these 
scoundrels, under which neither the lives nor the honour of our mothers, 
sisters, daughters, wives, are for a moment safe. Over and over again 
instances of outrage and violation occur, which no means apparently can 
check. What does this prove ? That the punishments inflicted on such 
scoundrels are not sufficiently terrorising, that the whole treatment of 
the Kafirs by the dominant race is radically wrong. To conclude we are 
not inveighing against imitation, because, besides that quality being a 
prominent characteristic of the Kafir race, and deriving its evil from its 
model, it is in itself one of the chief causes of early civilisation ; not so 



OUR COLOUEED LABOURERS. 



145 



much inveighing against Kafir affectation in particular, as against the 
general system, " which makes a dandy while it spoils a man." 

So far from advocating a return to semi-nudity and pastoral simplicity, 
we wish, by ridiculing the opposite extreme, to point out the necessary 
medium ; and finally, not so much condemning the vices and crimes which 
may be, perhaps, traced to this system of " regeneration," as the impotency 
and imbecility of laws, which are incapable of checking the results. 

Well, our Kafirs in the camps are certainly not so far 
advanced in " civilisation " as the "exquisites" so graphically 
depicted by Mr. Cowan ; still we have a few specimens now 
and then, very few and far between, I am happy to say. My 
two darkies were sitting by the camp fire one bright Sunday 
morning, when to them arrived two visitors, friends or relations 
I presume. One of them was dressed in an old suit of corduroy. 
That was bad enough. But the other! "Oh, ye gods and 
little fishes," to see a nigger with such breeches ! Shiny black 
cloth ones, and a white waistcoat, and a coat, and a "deer- 
stalker ' hat, and a paper collar, and a flaming necktie ! My 
" boys ' had only flannel shirts and mutyas on, but they did not 
seem much impressed by the splendour of the new comers, and 
I, lying prone on ceitain buckskins in my tent, smoking a con- 
templative pipe, and dressed, I must say, in a costume which 
was in every point inferior to that of the "darkie swell," 
observed that the latter appeared to treat my "boy" with a good 
deal of respect, so I immediately nattered myself that I had the 
son of a chief in my employ. 

Visitors were generally very frequent, both morning and even- 
ing, and my "boys" used to always exercise the duties of 
hospitality by helping them liberally to the mealie-meal "pap." 
I naturally objected to this, as I did not see that my " boys ' 
ever went out and fed at other masters' expense; but whenever I 
remonstrated, on seeing how fast my mealie-meal was disappear- 
ing down the capacious throats of sundry shiny, half -naked black 
rascals, my " boy ' would meet me with the argument that they 
were his "brothers," which he appeared to consider unanswer- 
able. What a very large family the rascal had ! 
f The niggers were, I must own, a very strong element of the 
picturesque in the appearance of the camp at night. Hundreds 
oi dusky figures, in every variety of fantastic headgear, squatting 
round the bright camp fires, or perchance dancing their war 
dances, or singing barbaric songs. They are very happy as a 
r nle : they may well be so, when they are getting such wages. 
Many of them will carefully save their money. The great 



146 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



ambition of every Kafir seems to be to buy a gun. ^ When a 
Kafir has served long enough on the Fields to enable him to pay 
51. or 101. for a gun or rifle, he shoulders his weapon, and turns 
his face towards the ancestral "kraals," a happy man. 

He is then a mighty hunter, is sure of getting a good wife,, 
and is ready to take an important part in any war that may arise 
between his and the neighbouring tribes — a very frequent occur- 
rence. Some, it is true, are not so careful ; they yield to the 
" white " vices of drinking, gambling, &c, are often to be found 
in "chokey" (prison), often changing masters, and never saving 

money. 

Of Hottentots and Korannas I have had hardly any personal 
experience, and therefore cannot say much of them here. They 
are paler, more slightly built than the Kafirs : the Korannas, in 
particular, have emaciated looking frames and features, and a 
sickly yellow complexion. They work pretty well, but are not 
generally so good-humoured or willing as the Kafirs, being rather 
of a surly, morose disposition. Moreover, they pretend to more 
civilisation, being generally fully clothed. In spite of their 
appearance, they are very tough and strong. Nearly all of them 
speak Dutch fluently, and a few know a little English. 

Women innumerable, black, brown, and yellow, are to be seen 
in our camps. Nevertheless, there are far more Korannas and 
Hottentots amongst them than Kafir women. They dress de- 
cently, with a natural preference for gaudy colours. They find 
ample and remunerative employment as washerwomen, household 
servants, &c. But it must be added that a great many of them 
are too lazy to work, and prefer to get money more quickly and 
easily, as is soon apparent, by th3ir bolder and richer apparel, 
their constant promenading about the camp, and their impudent 
looks. 

It is rather amusing to see a lot of " darkie swells," male and 
female, going out for a walk on Sundays — surely, in half a dozen 
of them, you shall see all the colours of the rainbow, and a dozen 
more, exemplified ; but they are not so very much more outre in 
their notions of tasteful attire than the wives and daughters of 
the Boers, after all. I have seen both male and female niggers. 
Korannas especially, paint their cheeks with red ochre, which has 
a comically hideous effect. An album filled with good coloured 
sketches of the various types of natives round our camps, in their 
heterogeneous variety of costume, would be a source of endless 
amusement at home. 



TENT LIFE. 



147 



CHAPTER V. 



TENT LIFE. 



The principal kinds of canvas dwellings patronised by the diggers 
are two, viz. : "bell tents " and "square tents." Bound, or bell- 
tents, are not so much liked as the square tents ; the disadvantages 
of the former being that they are not so convenient for the 
stowage of bedding, baggage, &c, inside, and also that they are 
peculiarly liable to the attacks of the wind. If a " young whirl- 
wind ' should chance to get inside a bell tent, away come pegs or 
fastenings, and up goes the canvas over the pole like a big 
umbrella turned inside out, — a ludicrous sight for the spectators, 
but a by no means pleasant sensation for the occupants. A 
square^ or rather oblong tent, about twelve feet long by eight 
broad, is a very comfortable domicile for two persons. Such a 
tent can be bought ready made, or made to order bv a tent- 
maker on the Fields, for 9Z. or 10/., or can be bought second- 
hand at the bi-weekly auction sales for somewhat less. It has an 
upright pole at each end, and a ridge pole ; the bottom is fastened 
down by pegs, driven deeply into the ground, and the tent lines 
can either be attached to pegs, or, what is better still, to strong 
upright posts fixed in the ground two or three feet from., and of 
the same height as, the seam — generally about four feet from 
the ground — from which the lines are taken, and from which 

the canvas descends perpendicularly, which part is called the 
wall. 

( Care must be taken to sink the tent poles deeply into the ground, 
eighteen inches at least, more if possible. They are additionally 
secured by strong "guy ropes" stretched from the spikes at the 
top of the pole to a strong post in the ground four or five yards 
from each end of the tent, 

Ihe spikes are sometimes ornamented with a handsome knob 
or ball, but more often empty bottles are placed upon them, with 
a view to keep off the lightning, which often plays close round 
the tents with a ••familiarity" which by no means "breeds con- 
tempt." At a short distance from the tent is the fire-place, 
S1 mply a square hole a foot to two feet deep, protected from the 

L 2 



148 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



-wind by a movable screen of bushes or other material. Outside 
the tent lie the diggers' tools, shovels, picks, sieves, buckets, and 
perchance a wheelbarrow, a very useful article ; also a water- 
cask, a few rough cooking utensils, and sundries. 

For a description of the interior of an ordinary digger's tent, 
I will refer to a private letter of mine, written soon after we (my 
partner and self) had settled down in our " canvas home. , ' 

On the left of the door (?) on entering, is my big box, whereon repose 
sundry books, my album, two small paraffin lamps, a few dishes, a lot of 
boxes of matches, and a joint of oeef. Tn the corner, between the box 
and the side of the tent, are my old gun and fishing-rods, towered over 
by a Kafir walking-stick, 8ft. high, curiously carved with snakes. Going 
along the side you pass a couple of huge straw hats (useless in this winter 
weather and now used as receptacles for various small articles in daily 
requirement), a large roll of Boer tobacco, a keg of pickled fish, a wickered 
demijohn of Cape brandy, a large tin, holding 101b. of coffee ; and at my 
head, my fishing basket, with sundry rolled-up blankets. I am now 
writing, half-sitting, half-reclining, on the floor, which I have carpeted 
with the skins of many antelopes. Along the middle of the tent our two 
portmanteaus, lying lengthwise, separate my apartment from M.'s, and also 
serve as tables, writing desks, &c, &c. Furniture we neither have nor 
want; w r e have skins and blankets enough either to sit or lie comfortably. 
M.'s side of the house is similarly furnished to mine. We have also, 
stowed away in handy corners, some eighty pounds of sugar and seventy 
pounds of meal, a sack of potatoes outside the tent and some carrots in a 
bucket. 

Now the above is the description of a tent as pitched and 
arranged by a couple of " new chums," and I need hardly say 
that our arrangements were very defective. No one ought to 
sleep on the ground, even with any amount of skins ; after they 
have once got sodden with the chill winter rains it is very difficult 
to get them dry again, and they keep mouldy, damp, and un- 
wholesome for a length of time. Everyone should sleep on a 
mattrass — we got capital straw mattrasses afterwards for 1/. each 
— raised from the ground, either on a " stretcher," made on 
purpose, of wood and canvas, or on two or three portmanteaus 
and boxes, which do just as well. We also found afterwards that 
it was far more comfortable to " sit at table" at our meals, 
instead of taking them in the old Eoman reclining fashion ; so my 
old box was converted into a dining-table, adorned with a bit of 
canvas as table-cloth, washed every Sunday, and the fish-keg and 
other small articles were used as seats. 

In the beginning, moreover, we did not pitch the tent sufficiently 
firmly, nor take the necessary precautions of digging a deep trench 



TENT LIFE. 



149 



all round it, and heaping up a little ridge of earth along the bottom 
of the tent, over pegs, &c, to give it additional security of hold- 
ing. It is also a good plan to run a light skirting-board all round 
the tent, and to floor it with clean gravel from the claims. A 
few skins spread on the floor over this gravel give the tent a 
great air of barbaric luxury, and they are cheap enough. 

As a natural sequence, almost immediately after the above 
description of a carelessly-pitched tent, follows a brief account of 
the miseries of a winter rain-storm. In a postscript to the same 
letter (26th June) I say : — 

Since I wrote the foregoing, we have had three days and nights of very 
heavy rain ; very detrimental and miserable, stopping all work at the 
claims, and flooding many of the tents, ours amongst the number. Fancy 
sleeping in a puddle ! The first day we made a tinv fire just inside the 
tent, and managed to cook a little food ; the second "day too j but on the 
third morning we woke up, after a little damp sleep, to find not a bit of 
wood nor a single match dry, one side of the tent blown in, and water and 
mud mixing horribly with all our skins, rugs, stores, &c. You can hardly 
conceive how miserable, wet, and filthy everything looked. We managed 
to get some dry clothes and boots on (my sea boots had about a quart of 
water in each), and then fled from the place in disgust, and went to an iron 
hotel, where we breakfasted, dined, and at night slept on the table, very com- 
fortable and dry. The hotels and canteens were all full of washed-out 
diggers. 

One more extract from a letter of mine, dated Du Toit's Pan, 
13th August : — 

The weather has again shown us a few of the miseries of a digger's life. 
Last Friday week, hearing and feeling a tremendous gale, we had to get up 
several times in the middle of the night to make the tent more secure. In 
spite of our utmost efforts, I woke up early in the morning to find my half 
oi the tent blown open from its fastenings, rain pouring in upon me, every- 
thing that I was lying on soaked, and a chill damp blast sweeping over me 
most unpleasantly. What could a follow do? The gale was too strong to 
think of fastening the tent again, and it was evident that the whole frail 
structure must shortly come down. So I sat in the driest spot I could find, 
ht a pipe, and philosophically surveyed the scene of desolation. The lid of 
our big coffee tin had blown off, and coffee and mud mingled hideously with 
my clammy blankets ; and the wind howled round us, and still the rain 
poured in through many openings, soaking and damaging our little stores. 
M. awoke, and began to groan. Then we both talked of Mark Tapley, 
and determined to be " jolly." Very creditable under the circumstances ! 
•Impossible to light a fire. I opened my portmanteau, put on the only com- 
paratively dry garments I could find, and we fled to the " town," where we 
felt safe in a corrugated iron hotel, and made a very hearty breakfast. 

Now all this trouble and expense may be spared by having 



150 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



a strong waterproof tent, pitching it securely, flooring it with 
good dry gravel, sleeping on a mattrass well raised from the 
ground, and digging a deep trench all round the tent, which 
should be pitched on rather rising ground. A novice in these 
matters should, after selecting a location, ask some of his neigh- 
bours to give him their advice and assistance in pitching his tent. 
Diggers are always willing enough to help one another in these 
matters. 

The tents of some of our richer diggers, round De Beer's and 
the Colesberg Kopje especially, are very comfortably arranged 
inside and out. They are not so thick together as at Du Toit's 
Pan and Bultfontein. A large well-furnished tent stands in the 
middle of a big enclosure, fenced in with thorn bushes, contain- 
ing also a tent or " kraal" for the Kafirs, and little corral for 
horses, mules, or cattle. Any good-sized trees standing near 
the tent will generally be used as a larder, its branches tastefully 
hung with legs of mutton and other joints of meat, so that it 
looks like a very substantial Christmas Tree ; and if the owner 
of the tent is a sportsman, a springbuck, with a hare and a brace 
of " knorhaans " or partridges, will often further adorn the family 
" leg-of-mutton tree," as some diggers call them. 

It is very customary in summer to have a big "fly" or 
awning stretched over the tent, about a foot above it, which is 
found to be very promotive of coolness inside the tent. This 
object is also attained by having the tent lined inside with some 
suitable material — green baize, for instance. " Canvas houses," 
consisting of canvas closely stretched over a strong wooden frame- 
work, and houses made entirely of wood, are now becoming very 
numerous on the Fields. They are more comfortable and private 
than tents, as they may have a door and a lock, and perhaps 
even a window, but they are also more expensive, a small canvas 
house, say 12ft. by 8ft., costing at least 20/. 

The following is the ordinary routine of tent life : — Up a 
little before daybreak, call the Kafirs to light fire, cook breakfast, 
then off to the claim ; back to the tent at midday for half an 
hour's rest, and a " snack " of something cold ; then back to work 
at the claim till five, cook and eat dinner ; after which if the 
digger has really done an honest day's work, hotels, billiards, 
and other dissipations will have no charms for him, and he will 
be glad to lie down, amuse himself with a little light reading 
and the never-failing pipe, and '"turn in " early, say nine or ten, 
to enjoy a thoroughly good night's rest. In the summertime, as 



TENT LIFE. 



151 



people rise earlier and get through more work by midday, and as 
the heat is very intense between twelve and three, many diggers 
indulge in a couple of hours' siesta in the afternoon. Visiting is 
very frequent among the diggers ; Sunday being of course the 
great day for going from tent to tent, from camp to camp, to see 
friends and compare luck during the past week. 



I 



152 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



<»i 



CHAPTEE VI. 

FOOD, WATER, AND WOOD. 

Food lias been plentiful on the Fields from the first, especially 
at the large camps on the dry diggings. Beef and mutton can be 
bought at the different large butchers at Ad. per lb. ; rumpsteaks 
have now risen to 5d. Veal and pork are rarities, very occasion- 
ally seen, and consequently fetching higher prices. Hams, bacon, 
and salt pork, are being brought on the market in large quantities 
by the Boers and other farmers, and find a ready sale at about 
Is. Gd. per lb. Game is plentiful and cheap, consisting princi- 
pally of springbuck, blesbuck, and wildebeest. Poultry is toler- 
ably reasonable : fowls and ducks 2s. 6d. to 3s. 6d. each, eggs 
very dear, from 2s. 6d. to As. a dozen. Fresh fish not obtainable 
except on the Vaal Eiver or the Modder, distant respectively 
twenty-five and eighteen miles ; and as there are at present no 
professional fishermen, but only occasional amateurs, fresh fish 
never comes on the market. Something might be done in this 
line by an enterprising man with nets and a mule cart, for these 
rivers swarm with very good fish, which would command a high 
price on our markets. Vegetables are very dear as yet ; but as 
the neighbouring Boers are daily becoming more alive to the fact 
of the great demand for these essentials to health, the cultivation 
and supply is increasing, and prices are falling. Still, such prices 
as half-a-crown for a csbbage, a couple of small lettuces, or a 
handful of onions, and five to seven shillings for a bucketful of 
potatoes, were freely given when I left the Fields. 

With regard to bread stuffs, the staple article — Boer meal, has 
been fluctuating from 35s. to 50s. per muid (about 2001b.), while 
flour was retailed at 6d. per lb., and not procurable at every store 
even at that price. Eice dd. per lb. ; sugar, 8d. or M. Forage, 
for cattle ; generally oat hay, Is. to 2s. per bundle of about 51b. 

In addition to these staple articles of food in our camps, the 
well-to-do digger can procure an abundance of European luxuries 
in the shape of preserved and tinned meats, fish, vegetables, and 
fruits, of which nearly all the stores keep a good supply. Pickles 
2s. 6d per bottle. Fruits, bottled, for puddings, &c, 2s. 6d. 
Butter is scarce, and dear ; fresh butter, 2s. 6d. to 5s. per lb., 
salt butter rather cheaper. Common Dutch cheese, 2s. 6d. 



FOOD, WATER, AND WOOD. 



153 



It is to be anticipated that soon, with, the increased facilities 
for cheap and quick transport — notably via Algoa Bay — pro- 
visions and goods of all kinds will become much more reasonable 
in price on the Fields. Every digger who wishes to live econo- 
mically, should attend the morning markets regularly once or 
twice a week, taking a nigger and a wheelbarrow or a sack for 
carrying home purchases, and should do all his own cooking. 
Those who have no idea of the latter should purchase a cheap 
cookery book, or get some of their fair friends to give them 
a lesson or two in elementary cuisine before going out. My 
partner and I used to live very fairly. I did all the cooking, of 
which previous Californian experience had given me a tolerable 
knowledge. Our general fare was as follows : Breakfast, some- 
thing fried — chops, steaks, kidneys, or bacon, with coffee and 
bread ; lunch — bread and cheese, or cold meat ; dinner — roast 
joints, or good wholesome stews of various kinds, with plenty of 
vegetables in them. Pudding generally represented by boiled 
rice, with plenty of dried peaches, apricots, or quinces stewed. 
These dried fruits are very useful ; they can be bought very 
cheaply on the markets, 3d. to 9c?. per lb. ; Is. in the stores. 
Stewed for about an hour with a little sugar they plump out 
beautifully, regain a good deal of their original flavour, and form 
a very wholesome and succulent adjunct to a plain repast. On 
Sundays we generally had the luxury of a fruit pudding (bottled 
fruits), of which a lot can often be bought at auctions at Is. dd. 
or 2s. per bottle. With dinner, or directly after it, we took tea 
or coffee, and previously to "turning in," a "nightcap' of 
Cape brandy and water, hot or cold, according to the season. 
This had risen in price from 7s. 6d, to 12s. 6d. per gallon, but I 
expect it will now be cheaper again. I must not forget to 
mention a favourite food of the Boers — " beltongue ' or jerked 
meat— the flesh of springbuck, blesbuck, wildebeest, and other 
large game, cut in thick strips, and dried in the sun by hunters 
who are too far from the markets to bring in the game fresh. 
Large quantities of it come in, and are sold pretty cheaply. 
High-dried "beltongue" is by no means bad eaten raw with 
bread, and it is excellent as an adjunct to soups and stews. 

With regard to water, at Du Toit's Pan and Bultfontein, the 
committee sank wells, and charged Is. per month "water right," 
for which the digger was entitled to two buckets per day, which 
he must fetch or send for, with his own buckets and ropes. The 
wells were nearly always crowded, and the water muddy. At a 






154 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



well sunk by private enterprise at Du Toit's Pan, there was a 
limited number of subscribers at 4s. per month. The water was 
very good, four buckets per day were allowed, and the well was 
secured by a cover and lock, and fitted with a windlass, rope, 
and bucket. This was a convenient and reasonable arrangement. 
Several other wells were being sunk when I left. At the Coles- 
berg Kopje water was not paid for monthly, but was charged 3d. 
per bucket, and somewhat less in proportion for a hogshead, but it 
is better to get it fresh daily. The water of several of the wells 
was very bad. Here, too, many new wells are being sunk, and I 
do not anticipate that water will be either scarce or dear by this 
time. The need of a bath or thorough ablution is often muck 
felt. A small bathing establishment has lately been opened at 
Du Toit's Pan. Charge for a bath, 2s. (jd. The new comer should 
be careful not to drink too much water at first, it is apt to give 
diarrhoea. A little — a very little — brandy in it is an improvement 
and a corrective in this respect. Cold tea is a good beverage to 
take to the claims in a bottle. 

Wood is dear, and not likely to decrease in price, for there is 
no wood worth mentioning in the immediate vicinity of the dry 
diggings, and it is being cut to a rapidly-increasing distance from 
the different camps. The general price for good firewood was 
about 31. per waggon load; 1/. per Scotch cartload. Persons 
having tents on the outside of the different camps may get it 
more cheaply, for a great many niggers go out far in the country on 
Saturday afternoons and Sundays to cut wood, and bring back large 
bundles of good-sized dry sticks, which they sell for ninepence or 
a shilling per bundle. I used almost always to catch one of these 
fellows on his return, as I was pretty well outside the camp, and 
the first customer he would call on. I found that one of these 
bundles would last, with care, about a week. Kafirs want a good 
deal of looking after, they are very much inclined to be extra- 
vagant with wood and water. They like to burn big fires all the 
evening, whether it be hot or cold weather, but no strict discipli- 
narian will allow them this expensive indulgence. Moreover, 
they are generally particularly averse to collecting dry bullock 
dung, or "mest" as it is called in Dutch, which makes most 
excellent fuel, and of which there is generally a good supply to 
be found on the neighbouring veldt. This objection is entirely 
owing to constitutional laziness, not to any motives of imaginary 
cleanliness — cleanliness, in fact, is a very imaginary quality in a 
Kafir. The digger should take care, both in winter and summer, 



FOOD, WATER, AND WOOD. 



155 



no matter how fine and settled the weather may appear to be, 
to keep a little stock of wood securely dry in a snug corner of his 
tent, and to have a good stock of matches under cover, so that he 
may have materials for starting a fire when all is wet outside. 

While on the subject of food, I ought to have mentioned the 
donkeys. Start not, reader, I don't mean to say that diggers eat 
donkeys — cm contraire, the jackasses eat the diggers' potatoes and 
carrots. There were a great many donkeys round about the part 
of the camp where my tent was situated, and at night they 
would roam about at unholy hours, " seeking what they might 
devour." A sharp bark from the little watch-dog, and the tired 
digger awakes to hear heavy footsteps of felonious quadrupeds 
just outside his tent, and then, oh horror, a sound of munching, 
and he knows the brutes have discovered his little store of 
carrots, cabbages, or potatoes, which he picked up such a bargain 
on the market that morning, for only five or ten shillings a 
bucketful. So he steals cautiously out, and there stand three 
or four jackasses in the bright moonlight, busy at their wicked 
work. Boots, logs from the wood-pile, empty bottles, and any 
other missiles that come handy, are seized and hurled at the 
long-eared offenders, as they scamper off over the plain^but little 
impressed, alas — for African donkeys have tough hides — and 
soon to return and stamp and prowl, and nose round the tent 
again. Those donkeys were always coming to our tent. We 
got fearfully riled, and even asked a policeman if we were 
justified in shooting them if we caught them devouring our 
property. He said no, but we might take them to the pound, 
and charge the owner with the damage done. This was far 
too slow and complicated a process for us. Who was going to put 
on his clothes to drive asses to the pound at one or two a.m. ? 
So we remained exposed to their inroads, continually disturbed 
in our needful rest by the well-known and hateful sound of their 
footsteps and their munching, and the aforesaid missiles were in 
constant requisition. At last I hit on a better plan. I kept a 
heavy iron crowbar close to my head When the donkeys came, 
I would steal very cautiously out, grasp the crowbar with both 
hands, get quietly close behind a donkey before he knew I was 
there, and then bring down the weapon with all my force on Ins 
stern or elsewhere. This seemed to impress them a little ; any- 
how their visits to my tent gradually became ]ess frequent, and 
at last ceased, to my very great relief. 



156 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



CHAPTER VII. 



OUR POLICE. 

During my stay on the Fields, we enjoyed the protecting services, 
at Klip Drift, of a corps of the F. A. M. P., or Frontier Armed 
and Mounted Police. These men, established in a pleasant little 
camp on the top of the "kopje," just outside the town of 
Klip Drift, were dressed in a serviceable uniform of dark brown 
corduroy with a peaked leather helmet. They were all well 
mounted, and carried revolvers. There were a good many 
scamps and "ne'er-do-weels" among them, and the force was 
also a refuge for many of those who had arrived on the Fields 
without capital, and spent all their little means before they had 
found anything remunerative, or before they had got sufficiently 
'well-known in the camp to be entrusted with a half claim to 
work on shares, or with other responsible employment. Many 
too liked the idea of riding a good horse, wearing a revolver, 
and having generally very little to do, better than the hard, 
monotonous toil of digging. But it was upon the whole an 
effective and well-disciplined corps, and though a little latitude 
was allowed to the men in such minor peccadilloes as occasional 
drunkenness, &c, yet anything really criminal in the conduct of 
any of them was sure to be visited with condign punishment. I 
once saw two policemen, convicted of a trifling theft, tied up to 
a waggon-wheel to receive each four dozen lashes with the "cat," 
laid on vigorously by a black executioner — a most degrading and 
painful punishment, and I should think, a salutary caution. 

But Mr. Truter's Free State Police were the most deplorable 
lot of seedy-looking ragamuffins that can well be conceived. 
Mr. Truter himself was an active magistrate, a conscientious 
man, and a courteous gentleman— as I believe all who knew him 
will testify. But the pay was so small, and other inducements 
so slight to enter this corps, which was on foot, and wore no 
uniform save a bit of gold lace round the cap of the inspector, 
that no workman or labourer of good character and steady habits 
felt any desire to enter it; and it was almost unavoidably 
recruited from the very lowest class of society on the diggings. 



OUR POLICE. 



157 



Drunken, dissipated, seedy-looking reprobates, in garments of 
every shade, cut, and pattern, but in dirt and dilapidation 
generally resembling those of the typical British scarecrow — such 
were the Free State Police. When they mustered outside the 
police-court it was impossible to look at the motley assemblage 
(about a score of them) without a mixture of pity and ridicule. 
They had a few swords and other weapons in the police-office, 
but didn't generally wear any arms, or indeed any distinctive 
sign of their honourable calling. Occasionally, when sent on a 
special or dangerous mission, they would take out swords, and 
the only time when they looked at all imposing would be when 
escorting some prisoner to the police-station with drawn swords 
flashing in the sun. The police-court was a little building of 
"wattle and daub,' : but a large wooden court-house, under the 
presidency of Mr. Truter, was opened a short time before I left 
Du Toit's Pan. The prison, called in colonial vernacular the 
" tronk ' or " chokey," was a wretched, barn-like little place, 
the floor littered with dirty straw, on which were generally 
reposing one or two inebriated or felonious niggers, and now and 
then a dissipated white man. Fortunately the diggers generally 
were a peaceable, orderly, and honest lot ; it would have fared 
ill with us indeed if it had been otherwise, and if we had had 
to rely on the Free State Police for order and protection. 
Perpetually loafing round the principal canteens, always very 
ready to drink at any one else's expense, thoroughly inefficient in 
the discharge of their duties, lazy and unintelligent, they were 
little more than utterly worthless as guardians of the public 
peace and order. Once indeed, when a fight had been announced 
to come off between an Englishman and a Dutchman, on the 
bank of a dam, the police went there in considerable force — not 
to prevent the fight, however, a la British Bobby, but to keep the 
ring, see fair play, and enjoy the spectacle. 

Floggings were not frequent at Du Toit's Pan under the mild 
sway of Mr. Truter, There was a regular whipping-post close to 
the police-court certainly, but I never saw any but niggers flogged 
there, and the punishment was administered very much more 
mildly than at Klip Drift. 

Mr. Truter certainly performed his duties well, and he had 
plenty to do — sometimes fining a lot of Boers for discharging 
firearms at night, or sentencing Kafirs or Hottentots to small 
doses of imprisonment or "cat " for drunkenness or theft, besides 
which he had plenty of civil cases to hear — disputes, breaches of 



158 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



contract, assaults, damages, &c, &c. The interpreter's berth at 
his court was no sinecure, owing to the immense number of 
different dialects and languages spoken by the various tribes of 
natives on the Fields. 

Should any of the readers of this book arrive on the Fields, 
I think it is pretty certain that they will find by this time, under 
British Government, an efficient, well-organised, well-paid, and 
-well-uniformed police force ; and should they speak to any of the 
diggers of the very irregular state of things described in this 
chapter, they will be told, "Nous avons change tout cela." 
And indeed the change, at which every right-thinking British 
digger or merchant must have rejoiced, did not come any too 
soon. There is only one thing to be dreaded under the new 
regulations — that the British Government may favour the natives 
too much, and possibly even allow Kafirs, Hottentots, and other 
" darkies" to dig " on their own hook" — a system which, I think, 
could never work well. 

The subjoined letter from a resident on the Colesberg Kopje, 
which appeared in the Times of the 8th February, 1872, and was 
therefore, though it bears no date, probably written nearly two 
months after the annexation and the arrival of the British 
officials on the Fields, indicates, I fear, a most unsatisfactory state 
of things. It is sufficiently important to be given in extenso : — 

A Growl from the Diamond Fields. 

To the Editor of the Times. 

Sm, — Under the Free State Government we complained absolutely of 
nothing but the inefficiency of the drunken blackguards composing their 
police force ; and this was a small grievance, inasmuch as there was a tacit 
mutual-protection feeling among us which enabled us to ignore their exist- 
ence. We knew best our own requirements, and elected our governing 
committee, whose acts were recognised and approved by the Free State 
Government. 

When the British flag was hoisted, and Sir H. Barkly's proclamation was 
read, all British subjects, with their usual loyalty, cheered, but not because 
they expected better things. The result of British Government has been 
until now far worse than we could have anticipated. There is an everlast- 
ing growl among the diggers about being infinitely worse off than they were 
before. The Government have left undone those things that they ought to 
have done, and vice versa. Among many grievances I will detail but a few. 

lhis camp is now by far the largest, and numbers over 20,000 souls and 
we have no magistrate. There is one, but his office is at Du Toit's Pan 
the camp most distant (three miles). Besides, we all know that there is 
work enough for one on each of these three contiguous camps. 

The Free State had post-offices here and atDu Toit's Pan, which were of 



OUR POLICE. 



159 



course, their own property. Our Government knew this, and that they 
were to be abolished, and yet up to the present have made no effort to 
substitute equivalent offices. Last week the Free State structures disap- 
peared, and the diggers have to wait the pleasure of the British Govern- 
ment as to postal arrangements. 

We are taxed right and left, and are to be burdened still more by the 
most absurd impositions. The Free State "claim" — licenses improved 
upon, a labour tax on all employers of more than six natives, wood and 
water licenses are our present principal taxes ; and they talk now of tent 
licences (akin to house tax) and sorting-table licences. 

The diggers are cognisant of three good regulations as regards the 
natives — 

1st. No native can legally have diamonds in his possession, i.e., cannot 
hold them as personal property. 

2nd. Any person buying diamonds from natives can be severely punished. 

3rd. No liquor may be supplied to them. 

The first of these is annulled by the fact that " niggers " are now actually 
working claims for themselves at Du Toit's Pan. Luckily for the peace of 
"officials," this fact is not generally known among the diggers. 

A proof of the fracture of the second of these regulations was brought to 
light last week by the confession of a native. Yesterday a meeting of 
diggers was called by his master (a well known popular doctor from Natal) ; 
the native was produced and gave his confession, and a gentleman who 
witnessed the transaction proved the " case." The meeting, condemning 
the general torpidity of the Government, demanded that the nigger should 
lead the way and point out the canteen. In less than five minutes after, I 
saw it utterly demolished, the ruins in flames, and the owner narrowly 
escaping with his life. Five other suspected and well known offenders 
against the last two regulations were punished similarly during the after- 
noon. 

I mention this incident to show you to what a climax the vexatious in- 
action of the British Government has brought its loyal subjects. It will be 
a severe lesson to them, and it will be rather difficult to allay the dangerous 
irritability that exists among us, especially as at least one-third of the 
digging community consists of educated and thinking men. 

Let the British Government annex as much territory as they choose, but 
if they cannot properly govern their loyal subjects, let the loyal subjects 

govern themselves. 

I am, Sir, your obedient servant, 

E. W. B. B. 

Colesberg Kopje, Diamond Fields, South Africa. 

Much comment on this ably-written letter would be super- 
fluous, yet I must try to point out to my readers the full bearing 
of some of the abuses complained of. That the most important, 
rich, and thickly-populated camp of the whole Fields should be 
without a magistrate is absurd. 

As to the post-offices, surely measures will soon be taken to 
give us at least as much convenience as we had under the poor, 
feeble, old Free State. Increased taxation is of course a thing 



160 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



to grumble at ; but if, as I hoped, it had been the means of giving 
us efficient sanitary, postal, and police arrangements, then no right- 
thinking digger, especially among the " fortune finders ' of the 
Colesberg Kopje, would have objected to paying a few shillings 
more per month to secure these very desirable ends, especially the 
appointment of efficient sanitary inspectors, and thorough cleans- 
ing of the camps. I do not gather from E. W. B. B.'s letter 
whether this is so, and cannot therefore tell whether to join in 
his "growl" or not. 

But if it is a fact that under the new government " niggers ' 
are allowed to work for themselves, this is indeed a grave abuse, 
and one against which every digger, be he Boer, colonist, or 
Englishman, will join in protesting. Our only security against 
constant robbery by our servants, was the difficulty they found in 
disposing of the diamonds which they could not legally hold ; 
and the fact that if some rascally little canteen keeper was un- 
scrupulous enough to take a diamond offered to him by a native, he 
was generally also cunning and bold enough to obtain it for a 
mere trifle, or even to frighten the felonious darkey out of it for 
nothing. But if we are to have the utterly impracticable doc- 
trine of black and white equality proclaimed, and if niggers can 
dig for themselves, and sell diamonds unquestioned, the employ- 
ment of native labour becomes practically useless. 

I have heard from other sources of the burning down of five 
canteens. This would not be for the very trivial offence of sup- 
plying drinks to niggers without written permits from their 
masters, for I think all the small canteens supplied any native 
unquestioned, and so did many of the big hotels too — facts of 
which the mass of the diggers were perfectly aware, but to which 
they were also perfectly indifferent. The cause of this summary 
proceeding — probably justified in some measure by the inaction of 
the police — must have lain entirely in the fact that the offend- 
ing canteen keepers had been known to buy diamonds from natives 
— an offence against camp regulations, and against the general 
security of the digging community, which ought always to meet 
immediate and severe punishment. 

Let us hope, however, that many of these complaints are owing 
to the new officials and their subordinates being as yet inexpe- 
rienced in camp life and relations, and that, after thorough 
ventilation in our local and home papers, everything may be 
effectively set upon a right footing, and " all go merry as a mar- 
riage bell." 



AMUSEMENTS ON THE FIELDS. 



161 






CHAPTER VIII. 



AMUSEMENTS ON THE FIELDS. 



Diamond diggers are now sufficiently numerous and civilised to 
require, appreciate, and have provided for them plenty of amuse- 
ments, aye, and are able to pay handsomely for them too. First 
let us refer to things theatrical. Du Toit's Pan already boasts 
its Theatre Eoyal. This is a large wooden building, with a 
good-sized stage. It is all pit and stalls, there being no 
arrangement corresponding to boxes or gallery. Performances 
are frequently given there by the Harper-Leffler Company, a 
fairly-talented little band of actors and vocalists, making regular 
tours of the diggings, and finding large and appreciative audiences 
at our principal camps. Amateur theatrical parties also occa- 
sionally hire our Theatre Eoyal, and advertise at the different 
hotels and canteens, performances of comedies, farces, &c. It is 
not at all difficult to "fill a house ' at the diggings, and not 
with paper either, all good sterling coin of the realm. The 
general price is 2s. 6d. and 3s. 6d. : or 4s. for reserved seats. 
Concerts are also frequently given, and I have seen one or two 
spirited young gentlemen, amateurs, by giving an entertainment 
which would have been classed at home as a " Penny Beading" — 
that is, singing a few songs, and reading one or two comic pieces, 
such as "Mr. Bob Sawyer's Party," from Pickwick, &c. — fill a 
large room with a highly gratified audience at the above prices, 
aye, and there were beautiful young ladies in low dresses in the 
reserved seats ! 

A large circus was stationed for some time at Du Toit's Pan ; 
and I shall never forget the comically gigantic appearance of the 
huge, circular tent, among the diminutive bell tents and square 
tents by which it was surrounded. My partner and I emerged 
from our tent one evening after dinner for a walk into the town. 
An extraordinary object met our astonished gaze. Towering high 
above surrounding tents glaring white in the moonlight, stood a 
huge round tent. We rubbed our eyes and looked again/' What 
on earth can it be ? " asked M. " Looks uncommonly like a circus," 
said I. " Can't be ! " " Must be, can't be anything else ! " And 

M 



1G2 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



circus it was ; and well it filled for many a night with merry 
diggers ; many Boers, young and old, prowling round the outside, 
"prospecting" for furtive peeps through slight rents in the canvas. 
Billiard tables are now numerous in every camp, and are very 
extensively patronised. Card-playing is also prevalent at many 
hotels and canteens; loo, "blind hookey," and similar sportive 
games, with the colonial " twenty-fives," and a very sweetly 
risky little -game called sometimes "mamma," and sometimes 
another name which I have forgotten, being most often in the 
programme. It is desirable to exercise a good deal of caution 
in playing with comparative strangers, for some very sharp 
practitioners are to be found among the card-playing fraternity 
on the Fields. There are several alleys for skittles or American 
bowls, all doing a roaring — yes, a very noisy trade. Sometimes 
when there was a good gathering of diggers in the saloon of 
Benning and Martin's Hotel, at Du Toit's Pan, a pleasant element 
of harmony was introduced, and some capital songs volunteered. 
On such occasions, a young man named Rogers would come out 
very strong, having a capital voice and manner, and singing 
Christy Minstrel songs very creditably, accompanying himself 
on the banjo ; the following song, which Rogers is believed to 
have composed, was extensively sung among the diggers, and 
also went the round of our local papers. It is more calculated 
to be appreciated by diamond diggers than by a general public, 
but I think my readers will understand the " diamondiferous 
technicalities" which are to be found in it. 



DIGGER'S SONG. 

Six months ago to the Fields I came, 

I was a heavy swell, 
My clothes were brushed, my boots the same, 

My coat it fitted well ; 
I wore a collar then, of course, 

Alas ! that day's gone past ; 
And stockings too my feet did grace, 

Oh dear ! I've seen my last. 

Chorus— Rocking at the cradle, sifting all the day, 
That's the life we diggers lead. 
Rocking at the cradle, sifting all the day, 
That's the life for me ! 

I had some notions in me left 

I really thought were good, 
But here there's no such thing as theft, 

Though "jumping" is understood. 



AMUSEMENTS ON THE FIELDS. 163 

Beware your morals, diggers dear, 

And don't let them decay ; 
If " jumping " 's winked at, soon you'll hear 

Your character's "jumped " away. 

Chorus — Rocking at the cradle, &c. 

Now straying cattle and wayward u boys," 

And diamonds never handy, 
Have brought me down, and all my joys 

Are centred in Cape Brandy ; 
I wear a shirt and trousers now, 

And smoke a dirty clay ; 
My feet are cased just anyhow; 

This hat I " jumped " to-day. 

Chorus — Rocking at the cradle, &c. 

Bad luck, however, cannot last, 

A turn must come some day, 
A ninety-carat would change the past. 

And make the future gay. 
May every digger's luck be this 

Who to these Fields has come, 
And take back health, and wealth, and bliss, 

To those he's loft at home. 

Chorus — Rocking at the cradle, sifting all the day, 
That's the life we diggers lead. 
Rocking at the cradle, sifting all the day, 
That's the life for me ! 

This song was composed on the riverside diggings, which will 
explain the allusions to "rocking the cradle/' and "straying 
cattle," the old-fashioned "cradle' being used there instead of 
the plain sieve of the dry diggings, and cattle being necessary to 
cart " stuff ' ' from the claim to the river, or vice versa. 

The principal outdoor amusement was cricket, which was sure 
to flourish where the British element was so strong. Many of 
the colonists are excellent cricketers, and matches are constantly 
coming off between Home and Colonial, Natal and Old Colony, 
De Beer's and Du Toit's Pan, and many other clubs or sets of 
cricketers. Rifle shooting matches, running and walking matches, 
and athletic sports, are also frequent in the neighbourhood of 
our camps, where there is abundant space for all of these. Shooting 
and fishing will of course enjoy a prominent place among the 
outdoor amusements of the British digger, and these, especially 
the former, are easily available, but I have treated specially of 
sport in a previous chapter. The different bi-weekly auction 

m 2 



i 



164 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



sales, also noticed in a separate chapter, afford much gratuitous 
amusement of a mild kind to the great mass of the diggers. 
With the increasing riches and populousness of our camps, we 
may expect a corresponding increase in the amount of amuse- 
ments, and no one need be under any apprehension that he is 
coming out to a place where it is " all work and no play." 



A BATTLE PREVENTED. 



165 



CHAPTER IX. 



A BATTLE PREVENTED. 

Zulus and Basutos, as mentioned in a previous chapter, were 
always in a chronic state of feud, and lost no opportunities of 
showing their mutual hatred. At length, so much insulting, 
chaffing, and stone throwing had gone on that, in October last, 
the two tribes, or rather their numerous representatives on the 
Fields, determined to have a general settlement of their dif- 
ferences by means of a pitched battle. This intention soon leaked 
out, and was much talked of among both masters and servants 
all over the Colesberg Kopje camp, near which the fight was 
to take place on the following Sunday. We, the masters, of 
course objected strongly to the idea — it was not pleasant to think 
of one's niggers getting killed or spoiled at a time when the sun 
was hot and niggers were scarce; so nearly every " baas " who 
had either Zulus or Basutos in his employ, cautioned his "boys ' 
not to take any part in the hostilities, not even to go near the 
intended scene of the conflict, under pain of his severe dis- 
pleasure and a probable dose of "cat.* 5 But, alas for poor 
human nature, I heard some diggers, whose "boys' did not 
belong to either of the hostile tribes, and who were consequently 
under no apprehension of loss or hindrance, express an opinion 

that it would be "a great lark to see the niggers knocking 

one another about a bit." And indeed, par parentliese, let me 
remark that single combats of niggers were very freely encouraged 
among the miners, especially about lunch time, and whenever 
two darkies squared up to one another a ring was immediately 
formed, and each nigger found plenty of backers to stimulate 
him with shouts, yells, and perhaps an occasional "tot" of Cape 
Smoke. But to return to our belligerents ; as a matter of course, 
the Zulus and Basutos having been gradually getting more and 
more incensed against each other, and thirsting for each other's 
blood, naturally paid but little heed to the advice or command of 
their masters. So, on that hot Sunday morning in October, 
everyone, in hotel or canteen, in tent or wooden house, on the 
Colesberg Kopje and neighbouring camps, was asking his friends 



1G6 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



the question of the day, "Are you going to see the fight this 
afternoon ? Will your niggers be in it V' Said 0., a bold young 
Natalian, and very strict disciplinarian. "I've told my fellows 
not only not to fight but not to go near the place, and if I catch 
any of them even going to look on, I'll give them something to 

remember this Sunday, by ." 

I, myself, was lying in my tent, prostrate with burning fever, 
so I cannot give a very graphic account of this affair. I can 
only speak of it from the particulars I heard from eye-witnesses. 
It was evident enough, even to me, that there w r as something 
unusual among the niggers. In my occasional glances outside 
the tent I had seen numbers of tall strong Zulus, and the scarcely 
less well-formed Basutos, hurrying all in one direction, and, I 
even thought I saw here and there an assegai carried. Most of 
them had thick, hard sticks, or powerful bludgeons ; many were 
armed with pick-handles, while those who had been unable to 
find anything suitable in the timber line, had collected large 
bagfuls of big rough stones. Not pleasant missiles at a short 
range, these latter ! Most of the Kafirs who did not belong to 
the hostile tribes, like our "boys" for instance, were also moving 
out of the camp in the same direction ; while a gay crowd of 
diggers, many of them in their "Sunday best," i.e., a new felt 
hat with a clean ostrich feather in it. a clean flannel shirt, a 
paper collar, bright cord trousers, and shining boots, were follow- 
ing the swarm of natives, many simply to " see the fun," as they 
phrased it, but many to identify their "boys" for purposes of 
punishment. It must have been a grand sight when the two 
bodies of dusky savages, for they were little better, stood facing 
one another under that hot African sun, bathed in that wondrous 
glow of light which we. with our cold, damp, dark western skies, 
never even dream of, but which here flooded with its radiance 
the open veldt whereon they stood — a spot about a mile outside 
the Colesberg Kopje camp in the direction of Du Toit's Pan— a 
fine level piece of plain, where green grass was growing, pink and 
yellow flowers dotting it here and there, grasshoppers and locusts 
leaping, strange little birds singing, gemmed butterflies flitting 
all around. Up on yonder rising oround shine the white tents 
of the Colesberg Kopje ; there, beyond, those confused white and 
grey heaps of gravel mark the rich claims where dozens of 
diamonds are found daily; down on this other side is Old Do 
Beer's, with its thick "business quarter," its straggling tents, its 
numerous big shady trees ; while behind von farther ridge, but 



A BATTLE PREVENTED. 



167 



concealed by it from our view, lies the wondrous " City of the 

Pan." 

But here are our niggers, many hundreds of them, drawn up in 
"battle array" — the Basutos and their allies apparently out- 
numbering the Zulus. 

They have chosen temporary chiefs to lead them to the 
conflict, the barbed assegais are ready to be poised and hurled, 
pick-handles and bludgeons are grasped, stones are about to be 
thrown, the concentrated hereditary animosity of ages seems to 
gleam forth from the keen eyes and fiercely grinning teeth of 
these dusky warriors — not " boys ' or servants now, but each 
transformed into a fierce brave warrior for the nonce. 

Diggers are standing on the surrounding ridges, looking, some 
with eagerness, some with anxiety, for the approaching com- 
mencement of the fray. 

But what is this little band of horsemen galloping so swiftly 
towards the combatants? Hurrah! Truter, the Landdrost, 
followed by his Inspector of Police and one or two mounted 
diggers. Brave Truter — come to preserve the public peace at all 
risks. 

Clad in a neat dark uniform, with a gold laced cap, hotly 
spurring on a handsome horse, he rides impetuously, drawn sword 
in hand, into the very midst of the belligerents. 

A few fierce indignant shouts and many low mutterings are 
heard, even some assegais are poised, and stones seem about to be 
hurled at the person of the interfering magistrate; but he, 
nothing daunted, lays lustily about him with the flat of his sabre 
on the woolly heads and bare shoulders of the ringleaders, Zulus 
and Basutos alike. The Inspector, and C, the Natalian, are there, 
with gleaming revolvers. Many of the spectators from the 
adjacent hillsides are hurrying up, animated by Truter's bravery, 
to place themselves on the side of law and order. So, at last, 
reluctantly enough, and with many a muttered curse, and threats 
that they will fight next Sunday, and no one shall prevent them, 
Zulus and Basutos retire slowly to their respective kraals, to gorge 
themselves with mealies or meat, and to indulge in wild war 
dances and yelling barbaric songs round the glowing camp fires 
in the evening. 

C. rides swiftly back to his tents : his "boys " have all been 
there, contrary to his express command ; so, as the disobedient 
niggers come slinking back to the kraal, C. vigorously administers 
to each a sound personal chastisement of a dozen lashes. His 



168 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



example is followed by many other diggers, most masters 
lecture their "boys " on the folly of the affair; moreover the 
determined appearance and conduct of the Landdrost has made a 
powerful impression on them, so I don't think it likely, in spite 
of what some refractory darkeys say, that there will be another 
fight next Sunday. 



A DIAMOND DIGGER'S HOLIDAY. 



169 



CHAPTER X. 



A DIAMOND DIGGER'S HOLIDAY AND SPORT OX THE 

MODDER. 

It was Sunday morning at the diggings. The rising sun shone 
brightly over thousands of tents, whose occupants would on that 
morning indulge in a few hours' extra rest, and on thousands of 

DO 

claims from which would rise no clouds of dust, nor would on 
that day be heard the thud of the picks, the grating of the 
sieves, or the shouts and barbarous songs of our Kafir labourers. 
My friend D. and I stood at the entrance of my tent equipped for 
a sporting excursion. 

Judge us not harshly, kind reader in the dear "old country." 
After a long series of weeks of hard, constant, unsuccessful toil, 
amid choking dust and turmoil, surrounded by an arid, flat 
expanse of "veldt," what wonder that we experienced a keen 
longing to look upon the fairer face of South African nature in 
lier spring awakening ; to pass some hours once more by the banks 
of running streams, beneath the cool, kindly shade of water- 
nourished trees, and to indulge yet again in the peaceful sport of 
the angler, clear to us both from early childhood ? 

I had brought out a stiff old sea rod and plenty of tackle for 
trying experiments in a river totally new to me. D. carried a 
gun. We were likely to find game Avhich would afford us a 
savoury meal ; but, to provide against any chance of hunger for 
that day, we took with us a few biscuits, a couple of very large 
sandwiches, a small piece of cold roast mutton, a couple of 
lemons, and a small flask of weak brandy and water. 

D. had been informed by an old inhabitant of the Free State 
that a certain bend of the Modder or Mud River was not above 
eight miles distant from our camp at Du Toit's Pan ; so, leaving 
tents and claims behind us with a sense of freedom and exulta- 
tion, we marched gaily on towards a little knoll some six miles 
distant, two miles beyond which we expected to find the river. 

The red-legged plovers shrieked shrilly around us, and passed 
by unharmed ; the harsh cry of the knorhaan was heard on all 
sides as we passed over the broad " veldt," covered with hardy, 



170 



the diamond diggings. 



"S. 



stunted shrubs, and spangled here and there with yellow flower 
As we neared the little kopje, or knoll, a graceful springbok 
stood and gazed at us, at about a hundred yards, and then bounded 
away over the plain. We passed by the little hill and beheld an 
intervening flat, with more luxuriant growth of vegetation : a 
higher range of hills some miles distant, but no signs of the 
course of any river. We met a little negro boy herding cattle. I 
asked him in Dutch in what direction the Modder Eiver lay ; he 
pointed over the distant range of hills and said it was very far, 
but we might reach it by evening. Still we hoped he might 
be unaware of the existence of the nearer bend we had been told 
of, and we plodded on through long waving grass, already slightly 
incommoded by the heat, but hoping soon to be refreshed by the 
welcome sight and sound of running water. When we had 
nearly crossed the flat, and were approaching the high hills, we 
met a Kafir, who had just secured a speckled snake of a yellowish 
brown colour, which he was carrying hanging on a big stick, still 
alive and writhing, though sorely wounded about the head. He 
also told us the Modder Eiver was ''very far " (natives never 
seem to have any definite ideas of distances), and that the road 
to it lay between two big wooded hills, which he pointed out. 

We left him, and soon passed by a congregation of vultures of 
different sizes and colours — black, brown, and light grey — busy over 
the putrescent carcass of a bullock. I picked up near here a huge 
feather, which I conjectured to have belonged to one of the largest 
species. The quill was quite as thick as the thickest part of my 
little finger. We next ascended a lovely gorge between the two 
high hills, all full of fragrant flowering shrubs, distantly remind- 
ing me of the fair English " May blossom." We reached a 
broad beaten road, ascended to the top of the hill, and another 
big plain lay before us. So we sat down beneath a large shrub 
to smoke and deliberate, for our confidence in the proximity of 
the river was shaken. To us there shortly came a kindly-spoken 
old Dutch farmer, on a good horse, and gave us friendly greeting. 
[ asked him how far we were from the nearest point of the Modder 
Eiver. He replied, " Two hours on horseback," and pointed out 
a hill close to which the river flowed. The said hill loomed a 
dull purple in the distant horizon ! This was a severe blow. 
The heat of the day was coming on, we had walked at least ten 
miles, and there were full twelve more before us. But then the 
river, and the big trees, and the fish ! No, we would not go back 
to be laughed at, and we steered a straight course across the next 



A DIAMOND DIGGER S HOLIDAY. 



171 



big "veldt " towards the hill on the river; not, however, before 
we had been still further disheartened by meeting a traveller just 
come from the stream, who told us it was very much farther than 
the old Boer had said, and that we should never get there before 

nightfall. 

The sun, as noon drew near, scorched us and caused our weary 
steps to flag, and we were fain to halt often and take little tiny 
sucks at D.'s flask. Two hares started up close to us and 
scampered away unheeded; a "knorhaan" rose within range, 
yet D. did not fire, for his eyes were bent on that distant hill. 
Yet we could not help feeling enjoyment at the sight of 
numerous herds of lovely springbok, now peacefully grazing, 
now bounding away over the plain ; at the slow flight of the 
huge blue-grey Kafir cranes, and the stately stalk of the mag- 
nificent "paauw," the big bustard of South Africa. Aye, and 
at the many new and beautiful flowers too, some of which I 
placed in the muslin " puggeree " of my broad straw hat. But 
as we at length in the afternoon approached a farmhouse, which 
seemed not far distant from our beacon-hill, our walk had become 
much slower, and our baitings much more frequent. 

We reached the farmhouse. A Boer stood at the door. I 
asked him for water. He brought us each a small cupful, then 
said he was in a hurry to go and look after some cattle, and 
moved hastily away, evidently afraid lest we should ask him for 
food or a night's lodging. So we moved on to where a spring of 
moderately pure water flowed beneath the shade of a tall willow 
tree, and there we made a frugal meal. While there we beheld 
an illustration of the old nursery rhyme, "Hush-a-by, baby, on 
the tree-top." &c. There was a carrion crow's nest in the top of 
the big willow. The wind blew very hard just then, the cradle 
did rock, and out came tumbling three baby carrion crows, naked, 
yellow, and very unprepossessing. One fell into the water, two 
others at the foot of the tree. They all perished miserably, cut 
off in their earliest infancy, destined never to know the delights 
of a rotting bullock. 

We walked on, rested and refreshed, and as we approached 
the beacon-hill the " veldt," evidently somewhat swampy here in 
wet weather, was clad with a gay luxuriance of crimson and pink 
flowers, something like daisies. The sun, almost setting, began 
to cast a mellow red light over green " veldt " and wooded hill, 
the great " paauws " came flying thickly overhead from their 
feeding grounds to their resting-places, and the face of nature, 






172 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



even in the fast-closing flowers, so clearly indicated approaching 
repose, that we began to speculate uneasily as to where our 
resting-place would be that night ; for the nights were still very 
cold, and, expecting to return to our tents the same day, we had 
brought no blankets with us. But when, having fairly ascended 
our last hill, we could clearly distinguish the course of a river 
fringed by luxuriant trees, with a little farmhouse apparently 
close to its banks, the idea of seeing the w^ater and u wetting a 
line ' became predominant over everything — even fatigue. 

Before it was quite dark, we scrambled down a sloping, bush- 
covered bank, to where the Modder River lay in broad, deep 
pools, with here and there a rocky rapid, overhung with huge old 
willows. And soon my line w T as in the water, with two strong 
hooks, baited, the one with raw beef, the other with paste. I got 
one bite, but missed him ; and then the darkness and commencing 
chill warned us to find shelter if possible. 

We went to the little farmhouse, but saw no light ; knocked 
and called, but received no answer. The place was shut up, 
its Boer occupants probably being away at the diggings. This 
looked bad ; but there was an outhouse. It had no door, so we 
entered, and lighted some paper. A bird rushed out in affright 
from the reed thatch. The place was empty, with the exception 
of one or two stiff, unbrayed ox hides and sheep skins ; but there 
was a fireplace in it and a chimney ! There was also an old cart- 
tilt, canvas on a light wooden frame. We at once took posses- 
sion, or, in diggers' parlance, " jumped " the outhouse, which 
had probably been the cooking and sleeping place of the farmer's 
native servants, and proceeded to make ourselves snug. Collecting 
a goodly store of wood and dry bullock dung, by the aid of a 
scrap of the Diamond News and a lot of the dry thatch which 
strewed the floor, we speedily got up a blazing fire. Then we 
placed the old cart-tilt against the doorway to keep out the wind, 
sat by the hearth, smoked our pipes, and felt comfortable, both 
of us quite determined not to walk back to Du Toit's Pan, even 
if we had to wait a week for the passing of a bullock waggon or 
passenger cart. 

We lay down to sleep with nothing between us and the hard 
uneven earth floor but a waterproof sheet of D.'s. Cold air and 
bright moonlight were freely admitted through many big gaps in 
the roof. ^ The plovers shrieked around us, astonished at the 
unusual light ; strange cries of night birds came up from the 
river, and fleas and other vermin helped the cold to keep us 



A DIAMOND DIGGER S HOLIDAY. 



173 



awake ; so we only got short spells of restless sleep — often feeling 
a sudden chill, waking up to find the fire nearly out, and having 
to use much energy to rekindle it. Morning dawned at last, and 
soon after sunrise D. went out with the gun. I thought it was of 
no use for two to go out with one gun, and judged it too early 
and the air too cold for fishing ; so stopped by the fire, which I 
amply replenished, and smoked a meditative pipe. But soon I 
heard the report of a gun ; so I strolled down to the river, 
rejoicing much at the aspect of its cool deep pools, of the fine old 
willows, of the innumerable new and lonely flow T ers which studded 
its sloping banks, and of the many-plumaged birds which flitted 
among trees, shrubs, and flowers, and filled the morning air with 
joyous song. 

Getting down to a "drift" or shallow ford, where waggons 
and carts cross the river, I came upon D. with a brace of 
magnificent guinea fowl — splendid, heavy, plump fellow r s, with 
much darker plumage than that of the tamed species, long necks, 
and little blue and red wattled heads. He was in pursuit of 
some more. I accompanied him among the thick scrub and 
bush that fringed the river in this place. He fired at another, 
and wounded it severely ; but we lost it in the thick under- 
growth. 

Then I took the gun, and went a little lower down the river. 
Climbing up the bank, and emerging from the bushes on to the 
open "veldt," I beheld a sight equally gratifying to naturalist 
or sportsman. A hundred yards from me stood eight majestic 
"paauws," while around them clustered a flock of at least thirty 
guinea fowl. How I longed for a rifle ! Seven of the paauws slowly 
took flight, the eighth let me approach to within eighty yards, 
but I would not fire, knowing that I could only slightly wound 
the grand bird with my shot gun. The guinea fowl separated 
into two bands, and scuttled away through the undergrowth with 
amazing rapidity, one lot running across the "veldt/' the other 
flock making for the shelter of the bushes by the river, from 
which they rose before I could get within range, and crossed the 
stream. 

I was not much chagrined at losing them, for I had come more 
for fishing than shooting ; moreover, I was very hungry, so re- 
joining D., we went back to " our house ' to eat our very scanty 
breakfast; but as it was getting pleasantlv warm, and we were very 
anxious to begin fishing, we determined to breakfast by the river- 
side. Choosing a pleasant spot, and having found a few worms, 



174 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



I cast a fine Thames roach line into this South African water, 
and landed a couple of very vigorous fish before I took my first 
mouthful of food. They were of the kind known here as " yellow 
fish," not very unlike a chub in shape, though having a small 
head and leathery mouth, something like that of our barbel, a 
large and rather deeply-forked tail, and a handsome golden tinge 
upon the scales, which are a little larger than those of the chub. 
My first two fish were only of ^lb. and ^lb., but they were the 
first I had caught for such a long time that I rejoiced exceedingly. 
and grudged myself the time I spent in eating my breakfast. 
Soon afterwards I caught one or two more small ones ; we also saw 
several fine fish rising, apparently to a small fly. Then we had 
to seek more worms, and they were terribly scarce and difficult to 
get. How I wished for a few of that lot of "all sorts" which 
Mr. Francis Francis took down for his day's barbel fishing, and 
which, if I remember rightly, he did not want so badly after all, 
as the rain enabled the friend, in whose company he enjoyed such 
grand sport, to get a plentiful supply. 

While we were hard at work digging with bits of wood. I 
heard a flapping of wings. Turning round, I saw a flock of 
ducks flying swiftly up stream towards us. Fortunately the gun 
was at hand, and as they passed us I gave them one barrel. Two 
dropped on the opposite bank, and I ran round by the ford and 
secured them. Then we got to fishing again. I tried a deeper 
pool, got another half-pounder, then hooked a big fellow, who 
dashed away to the opposite side like a salmon ; and though I 
gave him line as quickly as I possibly could, the fine-drawn gut, 
which was old and rotten, gave way beneath one of his impetuous 
rushes, and he left me disconsolate. We fished quietly on, trying 
several likely-looking holes, till about four p.m. I took about a 
dozen yellow fish, the two largest being about l^lb. ; my friend, 
having coarser tackle, was not quite so successful. Then we 
went in for a bathe, which refreshed us so much that, though we 
had. vowed, when exhausted with fatigue and heat, that we would 
decidedly remain there at all hazards until some waggon or 
other conveyance passed for Du Toit's Pan, we now felt "anxious 
to get back to our work, beginning to wonder whether our 
respective partners might not have turned out a diamond while 
we were fishing ; and, after a short debate, determined to walk 
back through the night. Accordingly at about five we left the 
scene of a very pleasant day's sport, and marched away briskly 
till we reached the first Boer's farm, where the folks, thouoh 



A DIAMOND DIGGER S HOLIDAY. 



175 



ready enough to ask us innumerable questions, totally refused to 
give or sell us either bread, milk, or brandy. 

At the next farm, about half a mile further on. the Boer at 
first said he had nothing, but after a little conversation invited 
us to sit down on wooden stools outside the house door ; and one 
of the women-folk, after asking us man}?- questions as to our 
success at the diggings, and expressing her astonishment at our 
having come all the way from England on so hazardous an enter- 
prise, took compassion on us in consideration of the long night's 
walk which lay before us, and brought us each a bowl of milk 
and some sweet cakes, which were to us, hungry as we were, a 
delicious luxury. After about half an hour's rest here we started 
off in the dark, and a weary walk we had of it ; for we had 
hardly any rest the night before, and had a good many things 
to carry, so that every time we sat down for a minute's rest one 
or the other of us would be certain to fall asleep instantaneously, 
only to be speedily awakened and urged onward by his comrade. 
By degrees our halts grew longer and our slumbers sounder, so 
that it was broad daylight when at length, from the brow of a 
sparsely-wooded hill, we were gladdened by the sight of the 
white tents of Du Toit's Pan, still some six miles distant- The 
remainder of the journey we performed at the same slow pace 
as three bullock waggons, heavily laden with goods for our 
storekeepers, and in two hours' time I was among the claims 
again, showing my birds and fish to excited diggers, many 
of whom immediately declared their intention to follow my 
example. 

It was very tiring, but still very pleasurable, this trip to the 
Modder. A few days afterwards I made the same journey again, 
under more comfortable circumstances. Seven of us chartered 
a light covered ox waggon, and started off on Friday evening 
with guns, rifles, fishing tackle, half a sheep, bread and small 
sundry provisions, and plenty of blankets. Finding some time 
after starting that we had brought no cooking utensils except 
two kettles, we borrowed a large gridiron at Wessel's farm, five 
miles from Du Toit's Pan. About half way to the river we 
outspanned, cooked mutton, had supper and grog, sung songs, 
spun yarns, rolled ourselves in our blankets, and slept on the 
"veldt " beneath a big thorn bush till daybreak, when — I having 
occasionally replenished the fire during the night, so that it was 
still burning — we made coffee, and then " trekked " on merrily 
in the cool morning breeze over the plain, where the springboks 



! 



:<i 



170 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



were capering and the wary knorhaans rising at provokingly lcng 
ranges. 

We reached the river about 10 a.m. on the Saturday morning, 
took possession of the whole of the empty farmhouse before 
mentioned, and enjoyed ourselves exceedingly till Monda} r evening. 
We went out shooting early and late, and fished during the day. 
In shooting we were not very lucky. I believe our total bag con- 
sisted of one springbok, two paauws, four Kafir cranes (Anthro- 
poides Stanley ana, I think), a very large and handsome bluish- 
grey crane, with very long wing feathers, three ducks (species 
unknown to me, but somewhat resembling our teal, though 
larger), one knorhaan (Otis afra), and a few plovers, doves, &c. I 
found out some capital deep fishing places lower down the river, 
where I could sit beneath big shady trees and enjoy capital sport. 
I also found that by pulling up certain plants and grasses by the 
roots I could obtain worms in abundance. I caught an average 
of a dozen fish each dav, some of the vellow fish being brilliant 
strong fellows of 31b. each. I also captured a " barber" of 61b. on 
a No. 1 1 hook on fine-drawn gut, after a very exciting play of fully 
ten minutes. The brute continually bored down t o wards the bottom, 
and made for weeds, stumps, and other dangerous obstructions. 
At length I got him fairly tired out, scrambled down the high 
bank on to a stump close to the water, and gaffed him with a big 
conger-eel hook which I held in my hand, having previously 
taken my rod to pieces so as to get him within reach by holding 
the top joint only. He was an ugly brute, with a huge flat cat- 
like head, small, sharp teeth, and very long barbs or feelers, more 
resembling the burbot than any English fish I know. The flesh 
is very like that of an eel, and moderate sized barbers are excellent 
eating, but big ones are coarse. They sometimes reach the weight 
of 1001b., and are frequently caught from 201b. to 401b. I think 
it is a species of Silurus. It is a voracious fish, feeding, however, 
best at night, and taking almost any bait, fish or flesh, offal, 
large worms, or big lumps of paste. One of our party set night 
lines for them, but found all his hooks and several of his lines 
carried away, having been either of insufficient strength or badly 
fastened. I also had a spare line, with a big float on, lying out 
for barber near my fishing-spot during the day time, but was 
unsuccessful, losing many baits and two hooks. 

Hanging over the water, from a drooping spray of the willow 
tree beneath which I sat, was a beautiful bottle-shaped nest, 
woven of grass, round which flitted a lovely bright yellow bird 



A DIAMOND DIGGER S HOLIDAY. 



177 



with a black head, like a canary, taking no notice of my 
proximity, but carrying on an animated conversation, in melodious 
tones, with his mate inside. Numerous very large birds of the 
Accipiter tribe hovered over the wooded hollows by the river, 
and I often had opportunities during my fishing excursions which 
would have been very valuable to my companions with shot-gun 
and rifle. 

What lots of game a fellow does see when he has no weapon 
with him ! Paauws, Kafir cranes, and guinea fowl, all at easy 
ranges, were tantalising in the extreme. A leopard was seen 
twice in a thickly-wooded gully by the river, but the riflemen 
could not manage to get a shot at it. 

I would advise any digger at Du Toit's Pan or the neigh- 
bouring camps, who cares for nature or sport, to imitate our trip 
— not the pedestrian one, for it is too fatiguing in the hot 
weather, but to go down with cart or waggon, taking bread, 
condiments, and a little brandy to qualify the water of the 
Modder river, which we believed gave several of us severe 
diarrhoea when indulged in freely, the intense heat causing us 
often to feel an irresistible longing to plunge our heads into the 
cool water and drink like horses. 

The bathing we found intensely enjoyable, and we returned to 
Du Toit's Pan, which we reached at one p.m. on Tuesday, after a 
good breakfast en route at Wessel's, much delighted with our 
trip. Including hire of waggon, provisions, and liquor, it cost 
each of us 10s. Qd., giving as much fun and enjoyment for a 
small sum as any reasonable mortal could demand. 



178 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS 



CHAPTER XI. 



FISHING IX THE VAAL. 



Here is a little chapter for my brother anglers. The reader who 
despises the " gentle craft ' is advised to skip it. The Vaal 
River swarms with fish, the principal kinds being " yellow-fish ' 
and "barber." The " yellow-fish " much resembles the trout in 
its habits, and in the waters it frequents, being generally found in 
rocky streams, rapids, swirling eddies. It takes worm freel} T , but 
worms are far more difficult to find on the Vaal than on the 
Modder. A friend of mine, after half an hour's diligent bait- 
hunting, came back with two tiny frogs and two little reptiles 
which he thought were worms, but which I immediately pro- 
nounced to be leeches. 

But the " yellow-fisli ' in the Vaal take a paste-bait very 
freely. I found plain stiff flour-and-water paste the best, on a 
small hook, stoutish gut, with a light float, and good long reel- 
line — for these fish, especially the smaller ones, are the most 
vigorous that I have ever met with. I have known a little 
quarter-pounder run a dozen yards or more of line straight out 
when hooked in a strong stream, before I knew what he was, and 
a pounder or two-pounder gives grand sport on fine tackle. The 
banks of the Vaal are very pleasant for fishing, especially a little 
wooded peninsula about a quarter of a mile above Pniel, where I 
have spent many a pleasant hour, either at a corner where there 
is a fine eddying stream abounding in fish, or, if the weather 
were very hot and sunny, under a big bastard willow a little 
higher up, fishing in some still water beyond the tail of a broad 
stream, comfortably shaded from the sun, with a bottle of Pontac 
lying amongst the cool dark water-weeds within easy reach. 

I could generally catch from twenty to forty fish in a few 
hours' work. Looking over my diary I observe that on the 
11th November last I killed about forty, and was also amused by 
the insouciance of three buxom Dutch girls, who came down to 
the opposite bank of the river (about eighty yards broad here) to 
bathe, and swam and splashed and otherwise disported themselves 
in the stream in jpuris naturalibus, while three young Boers sat 



FISHING IN THE VAAL. 179 

smoking their pipes under a tree about thirty yards from them, 
chaffing these African sirens in a rough, boorish manner all the time. 
I had not any good fly-tackle with me, but believe the yellow- 
fish will often rise freely to a fly, and would suggest lake- 
trout flies as the likeliest size for them. On this same day 
I hooked one splendid fellow, which I saw, and judged to be from 
ten to fifteen pounds. He broke my light and partially rotten 
gut when he had got about fifty yards away from me. thouo-h I 
was as gentle as possible with him. As the yellow-fish seem to 
swim pretty near the surface, and to frequent shallow rapids, a 
foot and a half to two feet of gut-line below the float, with a 
single shot, is about the best form of tackle for them. The gut 
should be stout, hook small, if for a paste-bait, a No. 10 Thames 
roach-hook, in very strong wire, is about the size ; for worm- 
fishing about a No. 6 may be used with advantage. All tackle 
should be brought out from England, as only very coarse articles 
in the way of lines and hooks are obtainable at the Pniel and 
Klip Drift stores. A landing-net or gaff will often be needful ; 
the latter is perhaps the most convenient, as it can easily be made 
by lashing a strong large conger-eel or hake hook to any suitable 
stick. The hook should have a very sharp point, as the skins of 
our Vaal fish are tough. The best time for fishing in the summer 
is from six to eight a.m., and from three to seven p.m. In the 
cooler months fish may be caught nearly all day long. I tried 
spinning-baits once or twice without success. I can rely 
thoroughly on the plain paste for the Vaal, and worms for the 
Modder. 

I would advise a strong grilse-rod, not too heavy, fourteen or 
fifteen feet long. The best yellow-fish are often killed by making 
very long casts, or by wading into the middle of the stream, and 
letting the float go a long way down stream below you. If the 
angler wades barefoot as I often did, and keeps stationary any 
time, his feet will be considerably tickled by numerous fresh- 
water crabs of all sizes, which crawl about over one's feet in a 
familiar manner — but they never bit or hurt me. Good-sized 
fish may often be taken on the bottom, ledger-fashion, either with 
worm or paste-bait, the latter when used for bottom-fishing 
should have a little wool worked up in it to keep it on the hook. 

In speaking of the voracious " barber," which may be taken of 
any size from half pound up to even one hundred pounds, I cannot 
say very much from personal experience, for I had no tackle 
strong enough to hold the big ones, the biggest I caught was a 

N 2 



I 



180 



THE DIAMOND DIGGING P. 



six-pounder, taken in the Modder (see preceding chapter). The 
"barber," a species of Silurus, takes freely almost any bait at the 
bottom, a large worm, a big paste bait, a small fish, a frog, or a 
piece of meat. A quarter pound yellow-fish is as good a bait as 
you can have. The barber feeds best at night, and is generally 
taken on night-lines. But the tackle must be very strong, 
especially near the hook, for this fish has terribly sharp teeth, 
and can bite through strong gimp. I set a line one Saturday 
night, and came down early the next morning. The line was 
there all right, apparently, yes, there was the big bung-float a 
few yards out, I hauled it in, and found the strong gimp had been 
bitten through near the hook ; the barber had again been too many 
for me. A conger-eel hook on twisted brass-wire snooding would 
hold any barber, I should think. A night-line for these fish may be 
set in any deep hole, none the worse for being quite near the bank. 
Or the angler may obtain more real sport from these powerful 
fellows by having a short stiff rod, good easy reel full of strong 
line, and bung-float big enough to hold a bullet, and fish-bait. 
This he can throw into some convenient deep hole near any 
stream or eddy where he is going in for yellow-fishing ; and while 
proceeding comfortably with his light corking, should give a 
frequent glance to the bung of his barber-line, and will probably 
be rewarded with a run every quarter of an hour or so. 
Ample time must be allowed the barber to pouch the bait. His 
play is vigorous and powerful, though of a somewhat sullen and 
deep-boring character, and he persistently makes for beds of weeds, 
trunks, and roots of trees, and other vantage grounds. 

The early diggers on the Vaal, who had tents close to the 
river side, used often to have a strong barber-line out at night, 
attached to an elastic stick, in or close to their tent. On this 
stick was fixed a bell, so that when the fish pulled the bell rang, 
and the digger would wake up and call one or two of his neigh- 
bours to help him to land a possible monster, with the promise of 
a bit of good fresh fish as a welcome addition to the morrow's 
breakfast. 

^ I have seen a similar plan, viz.. with a little bell fixed on a 
piece of whalebone, adopted by French fishermen when barbelling 
from the piers of the bridges over the Seine at Paris. 

Besides the two species above mentioned, the Vaal also con- 
tains many small fish something like the yellow-fish, but with 
very small greyish scales. This little fellow, sometimes called 
white-fish, is excellent eating, and a capital bait for barber. 



FISHING IN THE VAAL. 



131 



The angler on the Vaal will have abundant opportunity of making 
a collection of the beautiful river pebbles, and may even chance 
to stumble on a diamond. To anyone coming from the dry dig- 
gings the mere fact of being amongst leafy trees and by the side 
of cool running water, is so delightful, that I can imagine many 
a man turning angler who has never fished before : and I would 
advise everyone to bring out rods, reels, lines, hooks, and gut, as 
they make so slight an addition to general impedimenta, and are 
sure to be productive of much healthy and refreshing amusement. 

Nearly all the streams to be crossed on the way up to the 
Fields contain fish ; but if the digger goes up by one of the pre- 
ferable quick conveyances, he will hardly have time to fish any 
of them except sometimes for an hour or so if he has his tackle 
very handy. 



182 



THE DIAMOND DIGGING P. 



CHAPTER XII. 

A DINNER UNDER DIFFICULTIES AT MRS. BROWN'S. 

"It is too late to cook dinner now," said inv friend G., address- 
ing a seedy-looking individual, gaunt, yellow, hollow-eyed, clad 
in canvas jacket, flannel shirt, yellow colonial trousers, and rough 
brown "veldt schoens,*' this wonderful tout ensemble surmounted 
and completed by a huge West Coast straw hat, with an Indian 
' puggeree " round it. The said seedy-looking party, kind reader, 
was your humble servant. I was tired of the monotony of my 
tent, where, between fever and diarrhoea, heat, wind, dust, and 
flies, I got no rest or peace, and little but misery, during that 
blessed month of October, 1871. So on this particular Sunday, 
feeling about as strong and lively as a fly in January (at home), 
and bethinking me of my kind friends G. and W., and of their 
big cool tents, with pleasant gravelly floors overspread with buck- 
skins ; bethinking me, too, of the hearty welcome, the kindly 
sympathy I was always sure of meeting at their hands. I had 
feebly invested myself in the wonderful garments above mentioned; 
and, leaning heavily on a big stick, had crawled along past rich 
claims, lying quiet in Sunday's repose — past canteens and restau- 
rants, doing a roaring trade — past the waggons of the Boers and 
the rude " kraals " of the Kafirs, down to my friends' tent. And 
here I was in a state of dreamy, languid comfort, listening to 
pleasant chat, to happy reminiscences of the far-off home, whither 
my thoughts were beginning to turn so obstinately. It was a hot 
stifling day. scarce a breath of wind stirred the burning air; heaps 
of white limestone and gravel glared fiercely up through the 
quivering atmosphere; Kafirs, foregoing their usual " country 
walk/' lay sleeping in their tents and huts; dogs lay panting, 
with lolling tongues, in the shadiest corners they could find ; 
diggers were still and did nothing, or only talked slowly and 
languidly, and the general appearance of the simmering camp was 
lazy in the extreme. And thus it happened that G., finding that 
the usual dinner-hour was fast approaching, and that no prepara- 
tion for that event was being made by anyone, said to me — " It is 
too late to cook dinner now. Let us go and feed at Mrs. Brown's." 



A DINNER UNDER DIFFICULTIES AT MRS. BROWN'S. 183 

" Agreed," said I, for I actually felt strong enough to walk as far 
as the well-known restaurant in question, and slightly hungry 
into the bargain ; so in a few minutes, with Or., W., and another 
friend. I was tottering along the dusty road that led towards the 
''business part " of our camp at Colesberg Kopje. 

A slight wind was now blowing, and two or three threatening- 
looking little clouds had already risen over the distant hills in 
the direction of the Vaal River ; and I looked at them nervously, 
for I knew they portended a thunderstorm, and I do not hesitate 
to own that I felt a wholesome dread of those terrific Diamond 
Fields storms ; besides, my tent was shaky and rotten, and I 
thought of the probable misery of returning to find it blown down 
and everything soaked with wet. 

As we approached the spot where were situated the houses and 
tents of the principal hotel and restaurant keepers, Mrs. Brown's 
among the number, the aforesaid clouds, which had been coming 
rapidly up behind us. were beginning to spread themselves, black, 
lurid, and copper-edged, over the whole of the sky, and already 
we heard the distant growl of the thunder and saw the bright 
blue forks of lightning playing over the distant hills, 

We entered the big marquee which was Mrs. Brown's dining- 
saloon. It was a big tent supported by three strong poles, the 
table, flanked by rude benches, and, of course, quite innocent of 
a table-cloth, was capable of seating at least fifty persons. A 
long row of tin platos with stout knives and forks adorned it on 
each side, while here and there a cruet stand, a salt-cellar, or a 
bottle of pickles, added ornament to the scene, and a promise of 
luxury to the dinner. It was early yet, only about half-past five, 
and Mrs. Brown's dinner-hour was six ; still there were several 
diggers and merchants there, spruce in Sunday rig, the latter 
especially, all holding an animated conversation on the two pet 
subjects — diamonds and gold, with a slight reference now and then 
to fever and dysentery, quinine and chlorodyne, the sanitary 
condition of the camp, and the approaching annexation of the 
Fields. By way of a slight change my friends and I went into 
the adjoining tent, where was Mrs. Brown's bar, at which we 
"liquored," then returned to- the dining- tent, thinking it was 
nearly time for dinner to be served. 

But it had all the time been quickly growing darker, the 
thunder louder, and the lightning more vivid, and now the usual 
premonitory gale was upon us. In an instant we, the table, and 
everything inside the tent, were covered with a thick coating of 



i 






i 



18-1 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



red dust, not ornamental to us, but still less improving to the 
salt and pepper. Then came a tremendous blast, several of the 
tent-ropes gave way, and one of the big poles leaned over alarm- 
ingly. It was evident that if something were not clone we should 
soon have the whole tent down upon us, and might very probably 
be suffocated ; so, as nothing could be done outside in the midst 
of that fierce wind and impenetrable cloud of dust, several of the 
hungry diggers inside volunteered to stand by the poles. They 
leaped upon the strong tables, and three or four held stoutly 
to each wavering pole. There they had to remain, brave and 
patient caryatides, while the storm burst upon us in all its fury. 
The dust filled the inside of the tent so that one could not see 
across it. One little party of men were constantly employed in 
keeping the candles alight; all looked anxiously towards the 
windward side of the marquee, whose canvas flapped and whose 
poles creaked so ominously. 

After the dust came a furious downpour of rain, much of which 
leaked through the seams and trickled clown the sides of the tent, 
here and there pattering down and making mud of the red dust 
that covered the table. But especially did it pour upon and 
trickle down the necks of the brave men who were holdino- up 
the tent-poles, for in that part the wet canvas was flapping about 
them, and the rain leaked through, of course, far more than 
where it was still stretched taut. This rain lasted about half-an- 
liour. During the whole of the dust and rainstorm the crashes 
Ot thunder had been deafening, the lightning simply terrific in its 
vivid blaze Many of the expectant diners were avowedlv ner- 
vous. And where was the dinner all this time ? Cooking in a 
very frail little kitchen outside the tent, which was probably 
blown down, and surely the most enthusiastic cook could not 
stand by the fire in such a storm as that ? 

Soon there came a lull, the wind fell considerably, the rain 
almost ceased In an instant all was activity. Mr. Brown and 
his assistants rushed out, hauled on guy-ropes, knocked in pegs, 
and soon, had poles and canvas all firm and taut again; while, 
inside the tent, a couple of men with buckets and huge cloths or 
swabs hastily washed down the long deal table and cleared it of 
dust, and performed the same kind office to the benches on which 
we were shortly to sit. Plates, knives, forks, all had to be 
washed, saltcellars &c, to be replenished, but about half-an-hour 
after the original dinner time an excellent meal was served, the 
only really noticeable result of the storm being that the meat was 



A DINNER UNDER DIFFICULTIES AT MRS. BROWN S. 



185 



a little over-done. So dippers and buyers, strong men and inva- 
lids, all forgot their late troubles, and chatted gaily as they did 
justice to the good dinner, at which figured plenty of roast joints, 
a curry, some pies, and a plum pudding. We inwardly congratu- 
lated ourselves, however, that the dinner had not been served 
before that horrid dust-storm came on, in which case everything 
would have been spoilt. 

Soon after dinner, feeling thoroughly worn-out (I ought not 
really to have been out of bed), I walked back " slowly and 
sadly" through the drenched camp to my tent, which I scarcely 
dared hope to find standing ; but to my great gratification it was 
erect, and though my bedding was rather wet, and there was 
more dust mixed both with it and with everything else than was 
desirable, it was in much better condition than I had seen it on 
some previous occasions. 

I ascertained that our Kafirs, four very strong, willing "boys," 
had been holding on to the tent during the whole of the storm. 
Poor "boys!" Their little sleeping-arrangement was thoroughly 
drenched ; but they did not seem to mind that, and I found them 
dodging among the neighbouring tents and waggons in the dark, 
searching minutely for sundry books and papers which had been 
blown out of my tent when the gale had lifted one of the sides 
up, and nearly all of which they recovered. And I lay in my 
wet bed, and fever and diarrhoea came on me again, and I was 
sorry I had yielded to the temptation of going out and eating ; 
and I was lonely, and no one came near me but a very drunken 
mounted policeman, who rode half-way into my tent, to my great 
discomposure, to inquire the way to Klip Drift. Fancy, kind 
reader, lying ill on a wet bed on a chilly night and seeing sud- 
denly half a horse and a big drunken man looming dimly upon 
you in the moonlight ! I directed him to Klip Drift, then he 
wanted to light his pipe, for which purpose he got off his horse 
and made some ludicrous attempts to bring the bowl of his pipe 
in contact with my candle ; finally, he having blown out my only 
candle, I gave him a light myself and he rode away. I hope he 
got safe back to the Police Camp at Klip Drift. 






I, 



r 
■ 



180 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



CHAPTER XIII. 



CHURCHES AND HOSPITALS. 

Diamond diggers are by no means an irreligious community, 
Churches of different denominations are numerous on the Fields, 
and all well attended. The Church of England has regular 
chaplains on the Fields, and places of worship at Pniel, Klip 
Drift, Du Toit's Pan, De Beer's, and the Colesberg Kopje. The 
Wesleyan Methodist body is also well represented on the dry 
diggings. The insufficiency of accommodation afforded by tents, 
and the frequency of accidents caused by the high winds — a 
church tent being often rendered untenable, if not blown bodily 
away — have caused erections of brick and stone to be needed ; for 
which purpose subscriptions have been collected among the dig- 
gers, and the appeal has been nobly responded to, so that by this 
time church-going diggers will find substantial structures every- 
where. 

Roman Catholic priests and places of worship are also to be 
found. The Dutch Reformed Church of course numbers a great 
many members among the Boers, and a large bazaar was held at 
Du Toit's Pan last year in aid of the funds of this church. 

Hospitals have been much needed now and then by some of 
the poorer diggers, when suddenly struck down by illness and 
thrown out of work, many having neither friends nor relatives 
on the Fields. The Klip Drift Hospital was at first very defective 
in its arrangements and accommodation ; but, public attention 
having been called to this state of things last year, subscriptions 
have been actively collected by an efficient Hospital Committee, 
and the institution is now flourishing, and deserving of increased 
support. There was a Catholic Hospital at Bultfontein, and a 
Diggers Central Hospital at Du Toit's Pan. At a general meet- 
ing of the Central Hospital Committee, held on 31st October, 
1M 1, steps were taken to have the hospital tent, which had been 
blown down m a late gale, re-erected and strengthened, and to 
provide proper accommodation for the attendants who were 
engaged to assist the superintendent and matron, and a collector 
was appointed for the Hospital, who was to receive a per centage 



CHURCHES AND HOSPITALS. 



187 



on the sums subscribed. Father Hadien, President of the St, 
Mary's Society at Bultfontein, having volunteered to hand over to 
the Central Committee the St. Mary's Hospital tent and furni- 
ture, together with such funds as the Society might be able to 
spare, the offer was accepted, and the two hospitals are now amal- 
gamated. Let us hope that hospitals may be increasingly well- 
supported on the Fields, but that, with improved sanitary 
arrangements we may have less sickness, and consequently fewer 
diggers in need of their benefits. 



180 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



CHAPTER XIII. 



CHURCHES AND HOSPITALS. 

Diamond diggers are by no means an irreligious community, 
Churches of different denominations are numerous on the Fields, 
and all well attended. The Church of England has regular 
chaplains on the Fields, and places of worship at Pniel, Klip 
Drift. Du Toit's Pan, De Beer's, and the Colesberg Kopje. The 
Wesleyan Methodist body is also well represented on the dry 
diggings. The insufficiency of accommodation afforded by tents, 
and the frequency of accidents caused by the high winds— a 
church tent being often rendered untenable, if not blown bodily 
away — have caused erections of brick and stone to be needed ; for 
which purpose subscriptions have been collected among the dig- 
gers, and the appeal has been nobly responded to, so that by this 
time church-going diggers will find substantial structures every- 
where. 

Eoman Catholic priests and places of worship are also to be 
found. The Dutch Reformed Church of course numbers a great 
many members among the Boers, and a large bazaar was held at 
Du Toit's Pan last year in aid of the funds of this church. 

Hospitals have been much needed now md then by some of 
the poorer diggers, when suddenly struck down by illness and 
thrown out of work, many having neither friends nor relatives 
on the Fields. The Klip Drift Hospital was at first very defective 
m its arrangements and accommodation ; but. public attention 
having been called to this state of things last year, subscriptions 
have been actively collected by an efficient Hospital Committee, 
and the institution is now flourishing, and deserving of increased 
support. There was a Catholic Hospital at Bultfontein, and a 
Diggers Central Hospital at Du Toit's Pan. At a general meet- 
ing of the Central Hospital Committee, held on 31st October, 
1871, steps were taken to have the hospital tent, which had been 
blown down m a late gale, re-erected and strengthened, and to 
provide proper accommodation for the attendants who were 
engaged to assist the superintendent and matron, and a collector 
was appointed for the Hospital, who was to receive a per centage 



CHURCHES AND HOSPITALS. 



187 



on the sums subscribed. Father Hadien, President of the St, 
Mary's Society at Bultfontein, having volunteered to hand over to 
the Central Committee the St. Mary's Hospital tent and furni- 
ture, together with such funds as the Society might be able to 
spare, the offer was accepted, and the two hospitals are now amal- 
gamated. Let us hope that hospitals may be increasingly well- 
supported on the Fields, but that, with improved sanitary 
arrangements we may have less sickness, and consequently fewer 
diggers in need of their benefits. 



i 



• 



PART IV. 

MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 



Du Toit's Pan, Diamond Diggings, 

June 9. 

I was rejoiced on Saturday last to find a batch of the Field 
waiting for me at the Klip Drift post office. I have been too 
hard at work ever since to read them, but promised myself that 
luxury tomorrow. As you will, doubtless, have many inquiries 
about the famous South African Diamond Fields, I will endeavour 
to put before your readers all the information in my power. Let 
me commence by advising any gentleman having a settled 
income at home, however small — provided that it be enough to 
live upon — by no means to come out here. To anyone not in 
receipt of any such regular sum, but possessed of a few hundreds 
he may think of investing in business, I would say, Come out 
here ; start in business if you like, and you are sure to make 
money; or dig, and you may make more, but that is all a 
lottery. 

We have a very big camp here — I should think not less than 
6000 people, taking the two farmsteads of Du Toit's Pan and 
Bultfontein together. Of course we live in tents, and they are 
of every size and shape imaginable, and, with a few exceptions, 
pitched together all anyhow, or higgledy-piggledy; but the effect 
is far from unpicturesque. Many of the Dutch Boers live in 
their waggons, erecting cooking sheds and ovens close to them, 
and generally showing themselves keenly alive to comfort. 
Then we have large marquees, corrugated iron houses, and even 
brick erections are beginning to be made. There are stores, 
canteens, and billiard-rooms, and they all do a roaring trade. 
Claims are spreading in all directions, threatening to push away 
the tents and encroach upon the road. I need hardly say we 
have no gas, and on a dark night evening calls on friends in 



MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS 



189 



distant parts of the huge straggling camp are fraught with many 
dangers. One instant you narrowly escape falling into a 15-foot- 
deep claim ; the next you are almost impaled on the horns of a 
bullock— and there are hundreds lying by the waggons at night ; 
then you come upon huge rocks and boulders — and, just as you 
see the light glimmering in your friend's tent, you fall over a 
sleeping donkey. 

Now, with regard to the mode of working hero,, and the 
probability of a good return. The soil seems to be principally 
limestone, intermixed with small pebbles, and here and there the 
diggers come upon big rocks ; but, generally speaking, it is plain, 
straightforward pick and shovel work. The soil being taken out, 
and well beaten down with the shovel to break all clods of earth, 
is then sifted in one or two sieves, or a combination of coarse or 
top sieve and fine or bottom sieve. The sieves in general use 
here are strong oblong frames, holding about three feet by two of 
wire meshing or perforated zinc, the former being the best, but 
difficult to be obtained here. Two such sieves were sold on the 
auction market this afternoon, and fetched 24s. and 2;').?. My 
partner and I made one for curselves ; it cost us about I Ss. 
When the stuff is properly sifted it is placed upon the sorting 
table, where the sorter rapidly spreads a portion of it over the 
table with a metal or wooden scraper, and, after a swift but 
careful inspection, sweeps it off the table on to the refuse heap. 
Two strong white men can work a claim advantageously, though 
of course, with plenty of capital, it would be well to employ 
black labour for the digging. Some even entrust sifting to their 
natives, but I think this imprudent, as a diamond of any size 
will very probably be seen in the sieve, and, if the master is not 
looking, it will equally probably find its way into the nigger's 
pocket, tobacco pouch, or mouth, instead of on to the sorting- 
table. I admit that many instances of native honesty have 
been brilliantly shown : but then they have often been caught 
thieving, or " jumping," as the appropriation of another mans 
property is called here. A native servant found an 80-carat 
diamond under the roots of an old tree he was pulling up for 
firewood, and took the gem to his master. But here is an 
example on the other side. A gentleman, wishing to test the 
fidelity of two Kafirs he employed in sifting, cut two mutation 
diamonds out of alum, and slily put them into the heap from 
which the natives were just going to fill the sieve. He then 
went away for a short time. The stuff was placed on his table ; 



190 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



he sorted it, didn't find his sham diamonds, and asked the 
niggers if they had found anything. They replied, " No." 
Thereupon he insisted on searching them, and found his two bits 
of alum carefully concealed about their persons. 

Children are profitable here. Some of the deepest holes are 
made, and the largest heaps of stuff thrown out, by Dutchmen 
with large families. It is a pleasant sight to see mother and 
daughter busily picking over a sorting table, while father and 
sons are all hard at work digging and sifting. In such cases 
"happy is the man who hath his quiver full." 

Happy also is another man, whose hot lunch I see brought 
every day at one o'clock by a fair young wife ; I envy that man. 
There is an Australian digger, too. working close to my claim — 
only he and his wife. She does all the sorting, and she has such 
a lucky hand for picking out diamonds that they have averaged 
61. 10s. per day since they started ; and they are now going very 
deep, in confident hopes of finding a "big thing." Don't I envy 
that man ! Almost everyone seems to find something, but there 
are a great many small surface diamonds ; some large ones too, 
for one of 55 carats was found on the surface by a man walking 
in the veldt the other day. Many large ones, from 5 to 54 carats, 
have been turned out this week. 

I must now give my own brief experience. Commenced work- 
ing our claim Tuesday, June 5. Wednesday, the 6th, commenced 
sorting. Thursday, found our first diamond, a little thing of about 
^ carat. No more yet, but many have been found in claims 
immediately adjoining ours ; and ours shows most promising indi- 
cations. We have already found a great many garnets — the 
diggers call them rubies, and I fancy some of ours are real rubies 
— also some clear, bright, green stones like emeralds, and a great 
quantity of very hard, shining black substance, not unlike exceed- 
ingly hard bright coal. It only occurs in very small lumps 
indeed, and is called here carbon. I don't know exactlv what it 
is ; it certainly has some value. Some say it is worth 20*. per 
ounce, some say 10s. ; but there is a man here who will give 5,9. 
for any amount for it. So it is worth collecting even at that, and 
we have a couple of ounces already ; but I won't sell it till I know 
what it is worth in London. Can you tell me from the descrip- 
tion? I won't send a specimen, for fear some one should take it 
for a diamond and purloin the letter. It shines very brightly ; 
the smallest bit of it is instantly seen amongst the gravel. 
Another party who came up in the waggon with us have found 






MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 101 

to-day a nice diamond of -J- carat, so we have all got some 
encouragement to start with. 

Claims are 10s. per month here, and new comers pay Is. regis- 
tration fee. This place is in the Free State, the authorities of 
which have decided that all diamondiferous lands, private pro- 
perty or otherwise, be thrown open to diggers under the licensing 
system, half the licence going to the proprietors of the land, half 
to the Government. This measure is very satisfactory to the dicr- 
gers. There is a mass meeting of diggers called this after- 
noon to take steps for the formation of a Diggers' Mutual Pro- 
tection Society. My partner has gone ; I have stayed in the tent 
to write this, as the mail goes out early to-morrow. Free State 
postage has to be paid here, so that letters to England are charged 
Is. Gel. instead of Is., and newspapers 3c?. I believe Klip Drift, 
on the Vaal River, being now under British Government, English 
postage suffices — Is. letters, Id. ordinary papers. 

Now about expense of living out here. First you must have a 
tent, which can be brought out from England, or bought here 
reasonably. I bought a very well-made strong tent, 10ft. long, 
7ft. wide, 9ft. high, for SI. 10s. It affords ample accommodation 
for two people. Meat is cheap ; there are several butchers' shops, 
and beef and mutton are always od. per pound, except rump- 
steaks, which are Ad. Flour and meal rather dear. Bread Is. 
per loaf of 31b. or 41b. English beer, 2s. 6d. reputed quart 
bottle. Draught ale, Gd. per glass. Drinks at hotels and liquor- 
bars, Gd. upwards. Cape brandy tis. to l)s. per gallon. Wood 
very scarce and dear, 21. to 3/., or more, per waggon load; 15s. 
per Scotch cartful. We make most of our fires of bullock duno-. 
It is amusing to see those whose turn it is to cook sallying forth 
over the veldt with sacks and buckets in search of dry dung. It 
makes capital fires, and we are all pretty good cooks. We are 
not satisfied with plain roast and fried meat, but go in for elabo- 
rate stews, curries, puddings, and cakes. To-morrow I am going 
in for a big bread-baking. Very wrong to bake on Sunday ; but 
then I have no time in the week. Many of the diggers spend 
Sunday in prospecting about the country, diamonds being fre- 
quently picked up, even by children playing round the camp. 
And let me tell } 7 ou there is scarcely a child here over five years 
old on whom you could pass a crystal or artfully broken bit of 
glass for a diamond. The want of water is keenly felt here. We 
have two dams or artificial rain-water holes, but they are barely 
fit for washing clothes in. Several wells, always besieged by a 












i 






i 



' ii 






192 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



crowd of male and female natives, in every variety of costume — ■ 
from native innocence to a suit of "store clothes." From said 
wells muddy water may he extracted at the rate of about half 
a tumblerful per minute, and they are half a mile from my tent. 
There is a Dutchman here who sometimes has clear, good water 
to sell at 3d. for two bucketfuls ; but sometimes he has none to 
spare. 

Fortunately for us, a member of the committee here — a most 
excellent and kindly old gentleman — sends a waggon some 
six miles weekly for a large supply of water, and allows us to put 
a little cask on his waggon ; so we have enough for all purposes 
with economy, and are thankful accordingly. Generally speaking, 
the Du Toit's Pan diggers are dirty perforce. Washing of the hands 
and face is a luxury not to be indulged in every day. For the 
delights of a bath, many of our diggers will from time to time 
travel by passenger cart or otherwise to the Vaal Eiver, twenty- 
five miles distant, It is related of one of them that, while 
bathing at' Klip Drift a few days back, he found on his feet the 
remains of a pair of socks which he thought he had lost a month 
previously ! 

We are not without amusements in this camp. From many a 
tent may be heard at night sounds of music and of song ; while 
travelling concert companies and amateur Christy s frequently 
honour us with their presence. Nor do they go away empty, for 
diggers are an openhanded race. As evidences of civilisation, I 
may mention that a butcher's cart calls at our tent, a Dutch boy 
brings round some excellent sausages made by the good old 
"vrouw' : his mother, and the Diamond News is brought round 
weekly. Our crier, with his loud tinkling boll, summons us in 
the morning to market, and on Saturday afternoons to sales, 
meetings, &c. — for we diggers take our Saturday half-holiday like 
the clerks and counter-jumpers in dear old London ; and don't 
we deserve and enjoy it ! There is one thing the new comers 
grumble at. and that is the weather. They say they came out 
to South Africa expecting to be "frizzled," but they didn't 
bargain for being frozen. Now we have had certainly some very 
keen frosts lately, even to finding water frozen inside our tents of 
a morning ; and fancy getting up and lighting a fire at daybreak 
then, with the bullock dung all over hoar frost and refusing to 
be lighted, while the unhappy digger stamps about with icy feet 
and blue fingers. But in a couple of hours what a change ! 
Such is the clearness of the sky and power of the sun, that by 






MY DTAKY AT THE DllY DIGGINGS. 



193 



nine o'clock all is warm and glowing ; and I can sit on my little 
heap and sort with a light canvas jacket on, and no collar or 
necktie. Collars are a good deal worn on Sundays. 

We have many types of diggers here : your working man who 
is disgusted to see how soon gentlemen learn to handle pick and 
shovel, speaks to them with surly insolence, and tries to pick 
quarrels ; your other sort of working man — nature's gentleman 
— honest, intelligent, kindly, and civil : the latter typo, I am 
happy to say, by far the most plentiful. Your bar-room loafer, 
who spends all his time, as long as he has money, in the tents 
where are grog and billiards, and is great at imparting " colonial 
information' to " new chums." He will take a fit now and 
then, and work for an hour or two, but soon you shall see him 
back for another "tot' of "Cape smoke' or " Hennessy's 
French." Your swell, in polished top-boots, spotless breeches, 
trim-fitting jacket, and shapely felt hat with feather in it. Your 
old Australian or Californian, looking the very typical digger, 
with broad-leaved hat, thick loose flannel shirt, red sash, cord 
trousers, and huge waterproof sea boots ; and your digger who 
dresses in a colonial suit of plain brown corduroy, and works hard, 
and is brown as to his hands and face and tattered as to his clothes, 
but yet whom no one can possibly take for anything but a 
gentleman. Your Dutch Boers, an industrious though somewhat 
sluggish race — reconcile that paradox if you can — affectionate to 
one another, kindly, courteous, and helpful to strangers, especially 
to such as speak their language, keenly sensitive to ridicule or 
ill-treatment of any kind, and often imposed upon by keen 
colonial traders. A Jew made much money once by travelling 
round through a farming country and selling pinchbeck watches 
to the Boers for gold. I don't think he would dare to show his 
face there again. As to the natives here, you have them of all 
tribes and all colours, from sickly yellow to jetty black ; Kafirs 
and Hottentots, Korannas, Griquas, Fingoes, and many more 
are here, helping the all-powerful white man to turn up the 
bright gems which so long lay hidden in the soil. Not a little 
do they contribute to the picturesqueness of the scene, though 
truth compels me to say they are sometimes more picturesque 
than decent. Some of the women have good features, and many 
of the younger ones have splendid forms. They are a noisy 
lot, singing and shouting over their work, and^ specially glad 
when a diamond found and proclaimed gives the signal for a loud 
" Hurrah ! " from all the neighbouring claims, or when the mule 

o 



i 



194 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

i 

cart for Pniel dashes by with its six fine mules at full gallop — or 
at any other excuse for a shout or a yell. 

There is a plenty of game here ; plovers often come quite near 
the tent, so that I can shoot one or two for a meal. A few miles 
further, bigger game may be found. Now I must draw this to a 
close, and tell you more about this and other diggings in another 
paper. 

Just a few more words of advice to intending emigrants. Don't 
come out without some capital — at least 200/. If you know any 
trade, you may combine business and digging with a partner. 
Blacksmiths and carpenters are very well paid. If you don't 
know any trade, you can start a canteen or set up as auctioneer, 
or you can just work hard at digging and nothing else, as I am 
doing. If you mean coming up by passenger cart, you must 
bring out hardly any luggage, but buy here at an increased 
price. Or you might let your luggage come after you by 
waggon, in which case it would reach you a month or six weeks 
. later. In summer time (English winter) bring plenty of protection 
against wet. In winter (English summer) be prepared for severe 
cold. 

The climate is very healthy ; diarrhoea and dysentery rather 
prevalent at the diggings, from bad water. Filters are almost 
indispensable. I have found Dr. Collis Browne's chlorodyne a 
capital cure for the above complaints. Quinine should be brought 
too. 

A fact or two come into mv head at the last moment. A 
Dutchman bought an old claim last week for 10s. Before dinner 
time he had found in it a 14-carat diamond. Another Dutchman 
worked for about three weeks, never said what he found, but at 
the three weeks' end inspanned his oxen and rode away in his 
waggon, his servants firing off many guns. It afterwards came 
out that he had made over 14,000/. I know for a fact that a 
gentleman who has been digging at Pniel, and is now going to 
work here, has in his possession a bag containing 255 diamonds ! 
So there is plenty of encouragement. On the other hand, four 
English gentlemen lately set off to tramp down to the seacoast 
with the intention of working their passage back to England. 
Hard lines ! and there are plenty of broken-down loafers about 
this camp. But then of course it is all a lottery ; so says every 
one. I will try to send you a livelier article by next mail. 






MY DIABY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 



1 95 



Du Toit's Pan, Orange Free State, 
June 18, 1871. 

I will now give you a few of the incidents that have enlivened 
this busy camp during the past week. On Monday I heard of the 
sale of a claim at De Beer's Farm a few days ago for 110Z. The 
lucky purchaser made 150/. by diamonds found in the said claim 
within three days after. In the afternoon we had a bright 
sample of "advertising at the diggings." A grinning nigger boy 
perambulated the claims, bearing a board, on which was very 
roughly written an announcement that a good band would play 
that evening at Turner's Billiard Booms, coupled with the great 
attractions of " Marionettes and Punch/' and "Rogers, the Ballad 
Artiste." The little darkey called the attention of the busy 
miners to his progress amongst them by a very loud drumming 
on an old biscuit tin. On the loth we were gratified by finding 
our second diamond, though only a small gem, J carat, and of 
bad shape. It never reached the sorting table, for it shone so as 
to attract the notice of my partner as he was sifting a lot of stuff 
in the sieve. In the afternoon we were visited by three curious 
little birds, which I have seen several times before and since. 
They are a little larger than a linnet, and of a dusky black colour, 
with the exception of a few half-white feathers in the wings, and 
they sing very beautifully. Their tameness is remarkable ; they 
fly right into the midst of the dust and turmoil of the diggers, 
and settle within a few feet of us on a heap of "stuff" or on our 
sieve props, from which perch they indulge us with sweet melody 
for a quarter of an hour or so, accompanying the same with a 
most comical swift raising and dropping of the tail. I saw many 
of the diggers pause to look and listen. They are welcome visi- 
tors, and of course never molested. 

The evenings in camp are pleasant enough. I hardly ever foci 
inclined to stir out, but lie on many buckskins and rugs, and spend 
the time between dinner and ten p.m. in reading. But others are 
not so quiet ; there are plenty of amateur bands frequently 
promenading or playing in neighbouring tents, so I get plenty of 
music. At ten a bugle sounds, which is the signal for all natives 
to retire to their respective locations. Any unfortunate darkey 
found in the "streets" after that hour is taken to "chokey," the 
slang name for our little prison, and receives fifteen lashes. 

On the 14th two good diamonds were found under somewhat 
singular circumstances. An English gentleman, having worked 
a claim for six months and found nothing, went home disgusted, 

o 2 









190 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 






giving away his claim. The man who got it found on the 14th 
a fine diamond of 29-J carats before he had gone six inches deeper 
than his predecessor. I believe he was offered 2500/. for it. 
Pleasant news for the other ! Another digger found a beautiful 
10-carat stone — which I saw directly it was found — in another old 
claim, under similar circumstances, 

The variety of dress among the different tribes and classes of 
natives is somewhat striking. Many wear merely a parti-coloured 
bunch of rags before and behind, barely sufficient for purposes of 
decency. One will strut about with nothing on but a hat and a 
loin-cloth ; another with an old shako and red coat, formerly the 
property of a private in the 20th ; another with hat, jacket, and 
shirt, but both totally innocent of trousers. Many have coloured 
handkerchiefs twisted round their heads, and feathers are still 
affected. These semi-barbarian, half-naked negroes are said to 
be the most honest and best workers. Educated, and conse- 
quently fully-clad, natives are looked upon with distrust. The 
bare-legged fellows go about singing weird native songs, of strange 
tone and wonderful discord. On this day, the 14th, many large 
diamonds were found — one of 93 carats, and many between 50 
and 10. The 93 was found by a Dutchman, and in the evening- 
he and his friends held a great merry-making, firing off also many 
guns, crackers, &c, so that the camp was very noisy. I had an 
idea that they fired off a shot for each carat of the diamond, but 
was too lazy to count. 

On the 15th I went with a party on a bullock waggon with 

many large casks to fetch our week's supply of water from a spring 

on a farm six miles distant. It was a very pleasant trip. The 

farm, a large one, did not show any signs of grain or vegetables. 

except prickly pears, but seemed to be devoted to the raising of 

sheep and cattle. At a dam close to our spring negro women 

were washing clothes, brought from Du Toit's Pan ; while the 

scene was continually enlivened by huge herds of cattle, mules, 

and horses, and large flocks of sheep, coming down to the dam to 

drink. Many of these herds and flocks were driven over from 

our camp to this water, as our dams are nearly dry. I heard 

from one of my companions on this excursion an incident which 

well illustrates the uncertainty of diamond digging. An old 

man, who has long worked a claim most perseveringly — even 

working quite late at night — at last got hard up, and left, selling 

his claim for 10«, The next day the purchaser got out of that 

claim a diamond of 124 carats and two smaller ones. The Dutch- 






MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 



10 



man who found the 93-carat stone yesterday has left ; he had 
only been a fortnight at the "Fields." A 1)4 and several other 
large gems were found to-day. 

There is plenty of game within a short distance of the camp 
— red-legged plovers (very good eating), doves, the " courant ' 
before alluded to, a few springbuck, &c., and a short journey 
will bring a well-mounted sportsman among abundance of large 
game. 

A doctor here found a native in his tent last week ; he put a 
"rheim" — a stripe of hide universally used as rope — round his 
neck and took him to the police station, where the thievish 
nigger received twenty-five lashes. 

On the 1 7th I attended the morning and afternoon markets. 
Wood, potatoes, " beltongue ' ' or dried meat, " mealies ' or Indian 
corn, tobacco, butter, honey, &c, were brought in by the farmers 
and sold very quickly by auction. A few small lotsof potatoes 
and pumpkins went very dear. The wholesale price of potatoes is 
21. to 21. 10s. per bag of about lewt. — and I could have brought any 
quantity at from 2s. 6d. to 5s. at Queenstown ! Tobacco is 9d. 
to Is. per lb., flour retail 6d. per lb., cabbages, Is. 6d. to Is. each, 
according to size. In the afternoon there were auctions of mis- 
cellaneous goods, mining implements, drapery, guns, &c. Every- 
thing fetched high prices, sometimes absurdly high. The only 
articles for which there were hardly any bidders were revolvers ; 
and indeed they are of very little use here, for we are a quiet and 
peacable cgmmunity, with the exception of a few wild spirits who 
will go in for a "big drink " on Saturday night, and occasionally 
wake up to find themselves lying on straw in "cliokey" on 
Sunday morning, in the pleasant companionship of sundry 
strong-smelling aborigines. 

A very stormy meeting was held yesterday afternoon on the 
market square here for the purpose of inducing or compelling 
the committee to make certain sanitary arrangements highly 
necesssary for the health, cleanliness, and comfort of a camp which 
contains now some 10,000 people. The greatest disorder pre- 
vailed, and no definite conclusions were come to, though many 
diggers were in favour of turning out the present and appointing a 
new committee. A 90-carat diamond was found yesterday morning 
by another Dutchman, supposed by certain connoisseurs to be only 
the half of an immense stone. He was offered 10,000/. cash for 
it. He sold his claim shortly after for 10/. Our claim continues 
to show very favourable indications— plenty of " carbon, 



198 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



" rubies," and a few of the bright green emerald-like stones 
which the diggers love to see. 

I cull the following from the Diamond Field, a paper published 
at Klip Drift in opposition to the original Diamond News of 
Pniel : "A native man, while chopping wood near Mr. Jardine's, 
on Saturday last, picked up a very beautiful diamond of 87 
carats." 

The next "item " is one which is likely to increase the number 
of church-going diggers : " Master Kidd picked up a diamond in 
church during prayer-time on Sunday last." The English reader 
must bear in mind that many buildings, both public and private, 
are floored with gravel from the claims. 

" Mr. Unger, the great diamond merchant, is making experi- 
ments with a view to ascertain whether diamonds are to be ob- 
tained by diving in the Vaal river." 

"Mr. Wilhelm Schultz, merchant of Klip Drift, found a 
2-carat diamond in the ground he is excavating at the back of his 
stores. Mr. Schultz is digging away a bank for the purpose of 
making a yard, and, like a sensible man as he is, he washes out 
all the gravel before removing it. Mr. Schultz lives about thirty 
yards from Mr. Pincus, who also washed out all the gravel he 
excavated when making his court-yard ; and he also found a 
diamond. There is no doubt that the whole of Klip Drift, town 
property and all, is diamondiferous." 

The next is headed "Hail, Columbia! — A veritable Forty-five. 
— Mr. Hopkins, an undoubted Columbian of the first water, has 
just brought into Klip Drift a beautiful diamond of 45 carats, 
which he found at Du Toit's Pan on Tuesday. He tells his tale 
of great good luck as follows : < I was not thinking of diamonds, 
I was looking for garnets and agates, and I had a bit of hoop iron 
of about four inches long that I scraped about the earth with. 
I had picked up some very pretty stones, and had put them in 
my waistcoat pocket. I then scraped a little wider scope, and a 
bit deeper, when the corner of this blessed thing (the diamond) 
showed up above the earth.' Upon Mr. Babe's authority, we state 
that Mr. Hopkins was paralysed for the moment, and was so weak 
that anyone might have taken the gem from him. However, 
that may be, he would like to see anyone try it on now. Mr. 
Hopkins was not long, we fancy, in recovering himself. He has 
the precious stone, and he looks as if he means to keep it." 

And now, being rather tired, I will draw this rambling letter 
to a close. Let me add as another reason that it is time for me 



MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 199 

to cook our Sunday dinner, consisting of roast beef, potatoes, and 
a rice pudding, with stewed apricots. These fruit, with peaches, 
apples, &c, are dried in thin slices, and make, when well stewed, 
capital adjuncts to a plain pudding. 



June 20. 

Little of moment has occurred at this camp since I wrote you 
a week ago. The camp is daily becoming larger ; it is estimated 
that not far from 20,000 people are here now ; new stores and 
hotels springing up with mushroom-like rapidity, all doing a roar- 
ing trade. This is now becoming the principal market of the 
Diamond Field district, and, in spite of the immense quantities of 
produce daily brought in by farmers from all parts, prices, espe- 
cially of such luxuries as vegetables, still rule very high. The 
Dutchman who found the 93-carat diamond yesterday week found 
a 43 and a 2^ the same day. The 43 is supposed by connoisseurs 
to be a fragment of the same stone as the 93. The 93-carat 
stone was sold the same day for 10.000Z. — a low price. The 
fortunate man gave a great banquet to all his friends the next 
day (last Sunday) ; much champagne was drunk, and the fun 
kept up fast and furious till 5 a.m. on Monday. I imagine a few 
of the guests would not care much for handling pick and shovel 
that day. 

On the 19th a fine gem of 50 carats was found at Bultfontein, 
and one of 7 carats was picked up on the surface at the same 
farm. 

On the 20th a 105-carat diamond was reported to have been 
found here, also a 27^ and a 47. 

There is great fun whenever a bullock waggon passes along the 
narrow little road left among the claims. All the niggers who 
are digging near shout and yell at the oxen in the most contra- 
dictory and confusing manner, some shouting " Yck ! ' "Trek ! ' 
the stimulus to increased speed; others "Ah now!' and the 
apparently cosmopolitan "Wo!" — the signals to stop. The 
effect of these, all yelled at once by some dozens of strong-lunged 
Kafirs, is to put the oxen into a fearful state of bewilderment, 
and their drivers into a considerable rage. The other day four 
bullocks, confused and terrified, started off up hill at full gallop, 
and a lot of boxes, somewhat loosely packed in expectation of 
uniform slow progress, were precipitated into the road. How all 
the niggers, aye, and diggers too, laughed, and how the old 
Dutchman swore at them ! 



£. 



in 



200 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



On the 21st we had a bitter cold day — keen frost in the morn- 
ing ; very uncomfortable working, especially lying on the ground 
by the sorting table. On the 22nd it was colder, and for once 
the sun was obscured by dull leaden clouds all the morning. 
There was a strong wind too, and snow was looked forward to 
with dread by many ; but neither snow nor rain came. It was 
particularly trying work for the lady sorters, and artful little 
arrangements of rugs and blankets spread on poles were in most 
cases erected to keep off wind, dust, and cold. 

On the 23rd it was still windy and dusty, but not so cold. 
A neighbour of ours had given up his claim. A Dutchman 
began to work it, and before he had got a foot down he found a 
beautiful diamond of 7^ carats. When I congratulated him, he 
replied, " Well, I think I deserve a bit of luck like this, for only 
last week I sold half a claim to a man and he turned out a loa- 
the next day I '" On this same day, the 23rd, my partner and I 
found our third diamond — a poor little thing, scarcely half a 
carat. But we must not "despise the day of small things," and 
we still indulge bright hopes of some big things deeper down. 
We have found a great deal of "carbon" and "rubies" this 
week. 

Yesterday being Saturday, I attended the market, and an 
immense market it was. There were the carcasses of the huge 
brown, shaggy-maned wildebeest; of the graceful brown and 
white springbok, and other antelopes ; there was " beltongue," or 
jerked meat, by the ton ; huge waggons laden with wool, meal, 
hides, &c. ; while such luxuries as potatoes, cabbages, onions, 
beetroot, and carrots suggested savoury stews ; turkeys gobbled 
and ducks quacked loud invitations to buy, kill, and eat them. 
Everything was sold by auction, and it is really astonishing what 
an enormous amount of produce, in large and small lots, the 
market master cleared off in the space of two hours and a half. 
The attendance of diggers, as well as keepers of hotels and stores, 
was very large. The provisions, with a few exceptions, fetched 
such high prices as fairly horrified a few new arrivals by the last 
mail steamer whom I noticed in the crowd. There was a good 
quantity of fine oranges and lemons, refreshing and healthful, and 
they went pretty cheap— 10s. per 100 ; ducks, 4s. or 5*. each ; 
little shrivelled cabbages, Is. each ; good-sized onions, about 6d, 
Sheep and oxen were to be had cheap enough, the former selling 
at 8*. 6d. and 4 s. each. I have managed to lay in a stock of 
potatoes and meal at reasonable prices, and I think I may venture 






MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 201 

to affirm that, if a man keeps aloof from dissipation and eschews 
luxuries, he may live here for about 10s. per week comfortably. 
We had three or four large auction sales of tents, tools, fancy 
goods, and general merchandise in the afternoon. I had the 
pleasure of meeting a gentleman who was among the very earliest 
diamond diggers soon after the first discoveries. He is digging 
here now, believing, with most persons I have met, that Du Toit's 
Pan is about the best place on the Fields. He has found from 
first to last, at different diggings, no less than 730 diamonds, a 
54-carat and many large stones being among the number ! Of 
course he has made his fortune. Several of our fellow-passengers 
have already been tolerably lucky. One who called here half an 
hour ago has four already, the largest a beautifully-shaped gem 
of 10 carats, pure water. Another got his first diamond yester- 
day — 16 carats. I hope we shall lay hold of a big one before 
long. The 7^-carat found near us on Friday was sold for 140/., 
a very good price. We had a thunderstorm and heavy rain 
during last night, and this day (Sunday) has been cold and windy, 
with occasional rain — a very bad day for cooking in the open ; 
nevertheless, I have managed to bake four loaves and three plum 
cakes, and to cook a very good stew, followed by dumplings ! This 
is the day on which we indulge in the luxury of a thorough ablu- 
tion, and a very great luxury it is. To-morrow we shall see how 
our " stuff ' ' is affected by the wet. I fear it will be very bad to 
sift and sort. 

Very well pleased with the life here, so far. It is a hard-work- 
ing, quiet, peaceful life. How enjoyable are the evening's rest 
and the night's sound sleep ! 

A club is being formed here, and musical and other entertain- 
ments are getting more frequent ; but I do not think anything 
will tempt me out of my snug little tent. I hope it won't get 
much colder, though. I hope to be in a position shortly to give 
you a list of all the " finds " publicly reported here, but there is 
a great tendency to keep things quiet among many of our 
diggers, in consequence of the camp being so very full already. 
The list of "finds " and names published in the Diamond News 
of the 17th inst. shows for Du Toit's Pan alone 118 diamonds, 
among which figure gems of 99, 64, 59, 33, 32, and many other 
large stones, besides very encouraging lists from the adjoining 
farms — De Beer's and Bultfontein. A few finds are reported 
from Pniel and Klip Drift, and the lists from Robinson's, Liver- 
sage's, Spences, and Hebron are all pretty good ; but I am happy 



1 



l.<. 



202 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



to say that "Toit's Pan" bears the palm. There is a "new 
rush " close by here, between this and De Beer's, on the Bult- 
fontein land. I believe it is turning out well, though the diggers 
are trying to keep their finds quiet. 

Mr. Tobin, of the Polytechnic, London, is here, and is writing- 
in the Diamond News a series of articles " On the Matrix of the 
Diamond," eagerly read by the diggers. He speaks very highly 
in favour of this place, and says, " Daily experience at Du Toit's 
Pan seems to point to the fact of the trap rock being the source 
of the diamond." 

At Klip Drift the acting British magistrate is inflicting pretty 
severe sentences on all offenders convicted of theft, &c. A man 
has just been sentenced to seventy-five lashes and one year's 
imprisonment for receiving stolen goods, the proceeds of a 
burglary from one of the principal stores. I saw five white men 
and a nigger flogged the day I was at Klip Drif b. Two of the 
white men belonged to the mounted police, and received " three 
dozen " each for stealing a bottle of wine and some meat from an 
hotel. Tw t o other white men (Irish) received " f our dozen' for 
swindling an old Dutchman. The culprit is tied up to a waggon 
wheel, and a black executioner inflicts the degrading punishment 
with a very powerful "cat." 



July 2. 

I now sit down to chronicle the events of another week. Mon- 
day was a very cold and windy day, and the " stuff," being damp 
from Sunday's rain, was very difficult to sort. A young 
American found an 8-carat diamond in the next claim to ours on 
the previous Saturday. 

On Tuesday, after heavy rains during the night, and finding it 
still showery and the stuff too wet to sift; we walked over to the 
New Rush, near De Beer's. We found many diggers and promising- 
looking stuff. Only one confessed to having found anything ; he 
had a large hole 17ft. deep, and had found two diamonds, the 
largest 1\. We had a terrific thunderstorm and very heavy rain 
in the evening. 

Wednesday was cloudy, but it did not rain. A diamond of a 
carat and a half found near us. We were offered £5 for half 
our claim. Would not sell. 

On Thursday incessant pouring rain not only rendered work 
impossible, but flooded most of the tents. 

On Friday awoke from my second night of sleeping in a 






MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 



203 



puddle, to find that one side of the tent had blown in, and our 
rugs, blankets, provisions, &c, were all soaking with water and 
mud ; and, as we had not a bit of dry wood or even a dry match, 
we fled from the miserable scene in disgust, and betook ourselves 
to Benning and Martin's hotel, which we found crowded with 
" washed-out diggers." 

We breakfasted and dined there, and slept upon the table. 
Everybody being damp and cold, and having no work to do, 
there was, of course, a good deal of hard drinking, and in the 
evening there was any amount of singing, music, and general fun 
and jollity. I am happy to say that, although I saw many who 
had taken too much Cape Smoke, there was no fighting, only a 
little rough horse-play now and then, and one or two attempts 
at rows. 

On Saturday it was fine again, but hardly any of the claims 
could be worked, except by washing, and most of our diggers are 
unprovided with cradles for the wet work, dry-sifting being the 
regular thing at Du Toit's Pan. In the morning I attended the 
police court, presided over by Mr. 0. J. Truter, Landdrost. The 
cases were mostly of trifling importance. A lot of Dutchmen 
were charged with firing guns and rifles in the camp after sun- 
down. It appeared that they were celebrating in this their 
favourite manner the finding of a large diamond by one of their 
friends ; in some instances there were bullets in the rifles. The 
police came down upon them and took eleven guns, summoning 
the owners to appear the next morning at the police court, where 
they were severely reprimanded and fined 2s. Gd. each. 

Two Hottentots, who had stolen some sheepskins and offered 
them for sale to the very man they had stolen them from, were 
sentenced to fifteen lashes with the " cat." Another was fined 
5s. for being drunk and beating his wife. Two Kafirs were fined 
2 s. Gd. for being out after hours. A charge of assault, brought 
by a Kafir against a Hottentot, was dismissed. A white man, 
found at night in another man's tent, and pleading drunkenness 
and a mistake, was fined 11, or twelve hours' imprisonment. 

After the court rose, the two Hottentots and two other 
prisoners were conducted to the whipping-post, and received their 
lashes with great equanimity. It is apparently a much lighter 
" cat ' here than at Klip Drift, and I think the executioner is 
either less vigorous or more merciful. I hear on good authority 
that a white woman lately received twenty lashes at Klip Drift. 

Saturday afternoon brought us the usual amount of sales.. 






: 



20 i 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 






during wliicli the waggons of another successful Dutchman wore 
seen slowly ''trekking" away from the camp amid the firing of 
many guns. The weather is bright and sunny again now, so we 
are gradually getting dry again. Very little work has been done 
this week, and I have not heard of many finds. 



Du Toit's Pan, Orange Free State, 

July 8. 

There is very little news in camp this week. We have had 
bright, warm days since I last wrote, but the ground was so wet 
after last week's heavy rains that very little work could be done 
in the beginning of the week. On Monday, finding work impos- 
sible owing to this cause, I took my gun and went for a walk in 
the direction of some hills about fifteen miles off. I saw nothing 
except vultures (which are very numerous round the camp), red- 
legged plovers, and some little beasts called meerkats, which live 
in colonies in holes like large rat-holes. They are pretty little crea- 
tures, something like weasels, generally grey with blackish stripes, 
and have long and rather bushy tails. In returning I passed by 
the cemetery, the sight of which is only indicated by a black flag 
floating over one of the numerous large ant hills. I counted thirteen 
graves, mere rough mounds of earth and gravel, generally with a 
big rough stone at the head, but no inscription. 

On Tuesday afternoon, hearing the cry of " Hurrah" from a 
neighbouring sorting table, I hurried to it and saw a beautiful 
stone of over 20 carats, which had just been found by a lucky 
Englishman — one of the most beautiful diamonds I ever saw, a 
perfect dodecahedron, of pure water, without speck or flaw. Went 
back to work with renewed courage, but we have found nothing 
for the last fortnight. 

On Wednesday, hearing that diamonds had been picked up on 
the surface at a "pan" six miles off — eight being found by a 
Kafir, and three by a neighbour of mine— and a 10-carat stone 
being rumoured to have been picked up, I and three others deter- 
mined to go and " prospect," so started off early in the morning 
with pick, shovels, and sieves. 

We had a pleasant walk across a big, dry flat, with a stunted 
bush here and there, till we came to the pan, a hollow, similar in 
character to the one from which this camp takes its name, but 
much smaller, and surrounded by willows and thorn trees. We 



MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 205 

searched carefully on the surface in and around the pan ; found 
no diamonds, but a few small crystals. A few natives were 
similarly employed. We then dug, sifted, and sorted, at different 
points of the ridge surrounding the pan ; found white limestone 
in abundance, but no signs of diamonds, no garnets or carbon. 
Still, from the fact of diamonds having been found on the surface, 
it is very probable that this place would repay working, and I 
hear to-day that several diggers have gone over to give it a more 
thorough trial. 

We saw no buck or large game of any kind, only a few plovers 
and doves. In the evening I took a walk round the "town" of 
Du Toit's Pan. Besides numerous hotels and billiard rooms, the 
camp now boasts a well-conducted club, where gentlemen may 
see all the latest home and colonial papers, or select a novel from 
a small but rapidly increasing library. 

With these attractions, combined with the pleasant society one 
is sure to meet there, anyone may be sure of j^assing a comfortable, 
home-like evening at the Zingari Club. An enterprising hotel 
keeper has also opened a large American bowling allejs which is 
very much frequented. 

I have just seen a friend who is digging at the adjoining farm 
of Bultfontein. He reports gems of 98, 77, 53, and two of 42 
carats among the principal finds this week ; also that twenty were 
found in one day between the weights of 10 and 20 carats. I can 
rely upon the truthfulness of my informant. 

It is currently reported that a diamond mine will shortly be 
opened on the farm of a Mr. Jan Steyn, close to the village of 
Cronstad. Seven beautiful gems have been picked up on the 
surface. Parties are begining to go thither at once. This " new 
rush," being situated over 100 miles from the centre of the 
locality hitherto recognised as diamondiferous, would seem to 
indicate that we have considerably under-estimated the vast extent 
of land on which diamonds may be found. Many are now bold 
enough to affirm their conviction that the whole of the Orange 
Free State is diamondiferous. 

Diamondiferous ! What a favourite word that is in these regions. 
Our principal auctioneeer has it for ever on his lips, and at our 
Saturday afternoon sales you may hear him eloquently praising 
not only " a most diamondiferous pick," " a highly diamondiferous 
sieve," "a diamondiferous sorting-table," but even applying the 
same sonorous and rich-sounding epithet to a bedstead, a waggon, 
an ox — aye, even a coat or pair of trousers. Talking of sales, I 



ii 



\ 



■\ iiiiii 



206 



THE DTAMOND DIGGINGS. 



lb 






am happy to say that there is a slight fall in the prices of meal, 
potatoes, and wood. 

I now give you a summary of diamonds reported at the different 
camps during the past week, premising that these form a very 
small proportion of the actual finds : 

At Pniel 13, largest 3^ carats; at Du Toit's Pan 62, largest 
40, two of 23, 15, 11, 10^, 10 carats; at De Beer's 9, largest 
50, 21, 10, 9 carats; at Bultfontein 27, largest 33, 22, 15, 8 
carats ; at Moonlight Eush 13, largest 18 carats ; at Winter's 
Kush 3 ; at Esterville, 1, 5J carats ; at Hebron 63, largest 42^, 
10£ carats. 

It will be seen from this that our neighbourhood is still doing 
well. Some enterprising Americans have brought up a large 
steam engine, with an ingenious apparatus for sifting. They say 
they can sift out thirty cartloads of stuff in a day, and work a claim 
of thirty square feet in three weeks or a month to the uniform 
depth of 18ft. Of course they must employ many workmen, but 
native labour is cheap. There will also be a great deal of 
sorting to do, but they have provided for this ; and if the 
machine can really do anything approaching the above work, 
the proprietors of it ought to realise rapid fortunes. But how 
will the rest of us humble diggers, who do everything by hand, 
like seeing the work done by machinery about fifty times quicker 
than we can do it ? That seems rather a knotty question ; but that 
these wonderfully rich fields will have eventually to be worked 
on a large scale seems pretty certain. 

I have before me the prospectus of the Klip Drift Mining 
Company (Limited), just in process of formation at Klip Drift, 
for the purpose of working that and other diamondiferous 
localities on a large scale. The capital is modest — 5000/. in 1000 
shares of 5Z. each. The names of the provisional committee and 
officers are well-known and good names, and I fully believe the 
enterprise will succeed. I yesterday received the Field of 
April 21), May G, and May 20 ; that of May 13 missing. Mails 
have been very irregular lately, the rivers being flooded by 
the extraordinary rains. Part of the mails are reported to be 
actually lost in Riet River. 

The swollen state of the rivers has been productive of many 
other annoyances. Mr. Sonnenberg, merchant of Jacobsdal, 
offered a Fourth of July banquet last Tuesday to all Americans 
on the Fields. Many Americans from this camp started from 
Jacobsdal, but, owing to the Modder or Mud River being flooded, 



MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 



207 



they could not cross, and wore compelled to return. Then, 
again, the Inland Transport Company's waggon did not arrive at 
Pniel as usual last Saturday. On Tuesday intelligence was 
received that it was detained at Eiet Eiver, impassable owing to 
the rains. One of the Pniel " big-wigs," being among the 
passengers, sent a note to the agent requesting that a boat and 
some carts might be sent down, the former to ferry the pas- 
sengers across, the latter to convey them to Pniel. This was done 
on the Wednesday, and the passengers arrived in Pniel safe and 
sound late on Thursday evening. The British commissioner, 
Mr. Campbell, has taken his seat again on the bench at Klip 
Drift. His representative, Mr. Jackson, who officiated during 
Mr. Campbell's absence as acting special magistrate, was some- 
what disliked in the camp for his over free use of the lash. 
This Du Toit's Pan is a very quiet and orderly camp, although 
we have at present only six of the Free State police to keep orcfer 
in an assemblage of about twenty thousand people. 



July 17. 

As the mail cart leaves in two hours, I must hasten to close 
this letter. Of news since I last wrote there is very little. Here 
is the list of finds reported last week : 

At Pniel 8 diamonds, largest 9^-, 8 carats ; at Du Toit's Pan, 
24 diamonds, largest 40, 40, 30, 1<H; at Bultfontein, 3(5 
diamonds, largest 12 carats; at De Beer's 14 diamonds, largest 
16'i 11^ carats; at Spencer's, 24 diamonds, largest 3GJ, 9£ carats; 
at Hebron, 23 diamonds, largest 14^-, 8§ carats. 

This seems rather a meagre list, especially for Du Toit's Pan, 
but I know that many more diamonds have been found than are 
here reported. We have not found lately, but several good 
stones have been picked up in adjoining claims. A friend of 
mine at De Beer's made a good beginning last week, finding 
in the course of the week five diamonds averaging 7 A carats each. 
A 93-carat stone, found at Bultfontein, lias been sold for 2000/. 
only. It was flawed and off-colour. 

We hear that the Governor, Sir H. Barkly, has received full 
power to annex the Diamond Fields, with the consent of the 
Colonial Legislature. A party working at Moonlight Eush 
has found in seven weeks forty diamonds, weighing in all 164 
carats. 

We have had tolerable weather lately, with the exception of 
one night's heavy rain, a day of almost intolerable wind and 



208 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



dust, and several sharp frosts. The Americans are hard at 
work with their steam engine. It seems to answer well. It 
works, by means of endless bands, a huge revolving cylinder of 
fine wire meshing. The native workmen of the American party 
pour the stuff to be sifted in at one end of this cylinder. It 
passes quickly through it, revolving very rapidly, and falls on to 
a sorting table at the other end, freed from all dust, earth, &c. 
From three to six white men are kept fully employed at the 
sorting table. The machine is constantly surrounded by an 
admiring crowd. It is great fun to see the natives, and even 
many of the Boers, rush away in terror when the whistle is 
sounded or steam blown off. 

And now let me say a few words to intending emigrants, as 
there are many such doubtless among the readers of the Field. 
The diamond fields of South Africa are no myth, but a great fact 
and a brilliant success. It will be years before they are worked 
out. I was inclined to say at first that no one should come out 
without enough money to keep him independent for a year. 
Now I must considerably modify that advice. Men of good 
character and sobriety will find work and good pay here. There 
is a great demand for carpenters, and they can make 21. per day, 
or more, at sieve making, &c. Blacksmiths, too, will find remu- 
nerative employment. Engineers can make large sums of money 
by well-sinking. A well, just sunk by a private gentleman on 
part of his claim, is being subscribed for by two hundred members 
at 4s. each per month, each member being limited to four buckets 
of water daily. Wells are becoming numerous, and water con- 
sequently plentiful, so that we can now indulge freely and fre- 
quently in copious ablutions. There is always work at actual 
digging, too, for industrious and sober men. A good man will 
have no difficulty in obtaining a fair weekly wage, board and 
lodging, and a good percentage on all finds. I even heard, the 
other day, of a man getting board and lodging and half all 
finds ; but that is an exceptionally good case. The camp con- 
tinues to be most peaceful and orderly ; nowhere could person and 
property be more secure. Store keepers and hotel keepers, doc- 
tors, dentists, chemists, jewellers, are all reaping rich harvests, 
most of them working claims in addition to their ordinary 
business. Money is very plentiful in the camp. Large raffles — 
for instance, a hundred or more members at 10s. — are got up 
frequently at one or two days' notice. Du Toit's Pan is 
eminently prosperous. 









MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 209 

Du Toit's Pan, Orange Free State, 

July 22. 

This has been an exciting week at Du Toit's Pan, the number of 
finds and size of diamonds being remarkable. A friend of mine at 
De Beer's found last week five diamonds ; total weight, 30 carats. 
There is a (i new rush," four miles beyond De Beer's, reported to be 
very good. On Monday afternoon a diamond of 124 carats was 
found, two claims from mine. Crowds nocked up from all parts 
of the camp as the news of this monster spread, and the lucky 
finder had to hold it up for nearly half an hour to satisfy the 
admiring and constantly changing crowd. I had a very good 
view of the stone ; it is of irregular shape, yellowish colour, and 
marked with many small black spots. I hear it was sold for 
2000/. Had it been a perfect stone, of good water, it would 
have been worth at least ten times that amount. 

On the same day a stone of 120 was reported, but I have not 
heard this confirmed. The 124 was found in an outside claim, 
and in a few minutes there was a rush of excited diggers busily 
marking out new claims beyond it, on ground partly occupied by 
the tents and waggons of some Dutch families, who all received 
notice to quit. An hour afterwards the surveyor of the com- 
mittee was on the ground, measuring and numbering the new 
claims. 

A party at De Beer's found last week eleven diamonds ; the 
smallest 6 carats, largest 27. On the 19th a 104-carat stone was 
found in the next claim to the one from which the 124 was taken, 
by a man who had found a 55-carat stone 10 days before. I was 
on the market that morning. There was, among a great variety 
of stock, goods, &c, a big waggon load of wildebeest, blesbok 
and springbok, at least five dozen animals in all. They were all 
killed by two guns on Monday, proving that game is still plentiful 
not very far from this camp. I bought a good springbok for 
85. 3d. The ^courants" I mentioned before are, I believe, 
properly called " knorhaans." They are difficult to approach, 
except by patient stalking on hands and knees or a plat ventre, 
according to the height of the covert. I shot one yesterday. On 
the 21st a beautiful perfect gem of good water (12 carats) was 
turned out of the next claim to mine. I hope my turn will 
come soon. 

Claims are rising in price at Du Toit's Pan, 1<M. to 20Z. being 
freely given for claims in good positions ; but at De Beer's, where 
the diggers are mostly men of capital, employing large parties of 

p 



: 






s 



V 



210 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



natives, and consequently getting through much more work than we 
can, 100/. is considered quite a moderate price for a good claim. 

This morning I hear on the best authority that a diamond of 
170 carats has been found at Du Toit's Pan. A 51 -carat was 
also found this morning not far from my claim. 

New diggers are constantly arriving, but new locations are 
being " prospected ' ' with proportionate frequency, and the camps 
round here are flourishing in the extreme. 

Ladies, I am happy to say, are adding to our civilisation by 
their graceful presence ; and it is no uncommon thing to see 
faces — aye, and costumes too — walking and riding through the 
camp that would do no discredit to Kensington Gardens or " The 
Row." I am sorry to have to record a case of crime this week — 
a blot on the fair fame of Du Toit's Pan for peace and order. An 
Australian digger, rather a lucky finder, being very drunk yester- 
day at midday, violently assaulted his wife, a frail little woman, 
knocking her down and kicking her furiously, inflicting very 
severe injuries. The cowardly brute was promptly marched off 
to the police station between two constables with drawn swords, 
and I heard the wish expressed by many of the indignant diggers 
that be might get at least " four dozen lashes and six months." 

We have been favoured with beautiful weather this week, so 
that all, except loafers and invalids, have been at full work. 
There was a big market this morning. Wood is still very high. 
Meal about 21. 10s. per 2001b. ; potatoes down to about 25*. per 
2001b. There was a waggon-load of cauliflowers, which were 
eagerly bought up ; but I managed to secure a nice lot of five for 
2s. 9(/. — a very good bargain. A lottery is coming off shortly 
ftft money prizes, 300/,, 150/., and 50/., by 1050 tickets at 
10s. Gd. each. 



July 31. 

I have several more interesting incidents to report. We have 
a "new rush" only about a mile from De Beer's, where the 
precious gems seem to be wonderfully plentiful, it being no un- 
common thing for one party to find from two to six good stones 
in a day. I believe the largest yet found there is 45 carats. 
Claims taken out there at the beginning of the rush are now 
worth over 100/. each. A friend of mine saw last Tuesday a 20, 
a 10, and a 5 carat (about) turned out on one sorting table in 
half an hour. One man found seven diamonds there last 
Saturday. 



MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 



211 



The report is now confirmed that a diamond of 175 carats 
was found about ten days ago — that 33,000/. has been offered 
for it, and that the lucky finder is a poor Englishman, who never 
had 20/. of his own. Here is another amusing incident : A man 
possessing a waggon and oxen, a tent most luxuriously furnished, 
and good stores of provisions, &c, came up to his tent one after- 
noon, and, having collected all his neighbours, said, " Here, you 
can take all these things, I don't want to see a single one of 
them any more. I have made my lot, and I'm off." And he 
stood calmly by, hands in pockets and pipe in mouth, while his 
waggon, tent, and stores were rapidly vanishing. What is the 
"lot" which he has found has not been divulged, but it must be 
a " big thing." 

On the 2(]th I started by passenger cart for Pniel and Klip 
Drift, hoping there to obtain one or two natives, as I was not 
satisfied with the amount of work my partner and I could get 
through unaided. Stopping for a few moments at De Beer's, I 
was shown a beautiful 7-carat diamond just found half an 
hour previously by a young German who has only been two 
months on the Fields, and has already found a 9, a 4, a 3, the 
7 just alluded to, and many small stones. One of my fellow 
passengers showed me the results of three weeks' work — about a 
dozen and a half of diamonds in a small box, two of about 
10-carats, the rest rather small. As our six mules careered 
rapidly over the veldt, the talk of all in the cart was " diamondi- 
ferous," one man even asserting his belief that there are 
diamonds "aU over the colony." There are certainly many 
spots between Du Toit's Pan and Pniel where I will venture to 
predict that diamond digging will be successfully carried on within 
three months from this time, especially round a " pan ' by the 
Halfway House, where we got an excellent luncheon for Is. (\d. 
Farther on, about five miles outside Pniel, is the Digger's Joy, a 
little refreshment shanty, the proprietor of which has made a 
fine collection of crystals, garnets, &c, and I expect diamonds 
will be found in that neighbourhood. At Pniel and Klip Drift, 
though they look very quiet and deserted in comparison with 
Du Toit's Pan and De Beer's, there is still a good deal of work 
going on, and new claims being opened. The work is very hard, 
every claim being full of immense rocks and boulders, so that it 
takes a long time to get out a cartful of stuff for sifting. 

I remained at Klip Drift from Wednesday to Saturday last in 
the vain search for natives, the few whom I found disengaged 

p2 






212 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



J 



refusing to go to Du Toit's Pan. This place lias a bad name 
amongst them, as being very cold, and wood and water scarce. 
Just as I was on the point of returning unsuccessful yesterday I 
met a Pniel digger, whom I persuaded to part with two young 
Zulus, not strong enough for the heavy work among the 
boulders. Having effected the transfer, they were told Ihey 
must follow me, but when they learnt whither I was bound we 
had to use much alternate coaxing and threatening. At last 
they sulkily picked up their sheepskins, and trudged unwillingly 
after me. The present of a little tobacco and a biscuit each 
improved their spirits. I would not trust them to come down by 
themselves, so set off to walk with them. About eight miles 
out of Pniel I got a "lift on a cart drawn by four oxen, driven 
by a very drunken Koranna, who frequently lashed, the beasts 
into a full gallop, and never " outspanned " till we got to 
De Beer's, where we arrived about nine p.m., my driver having 
fallen off the front of the waggon twice. The second time he 
fell close to the hoofs of the hinder oxen, and the wheel of the 
cart went right over his chest ; but he didn't seem to mind it 
much, though the cart was prettily heavily laden. When we 
arrived at De Beer's, of course we found we had left my •' boys " 
and one of his a very long way behind ; and, the camp being 
large, and many roads leading to it, I was much afraid of losing 
them, so walked back two miles, and presently saw three dark 
figures advancing over the veldt in the moonlight. I shouted 
"Abraham," "Frans!" and heard the former exclaim, "Daar 
is meen baas ! " (there is my master). I sent the other " boy" to 
his master's tent, and guided my two youths from De Beer's to 
Du Toit's Pan, where they speedily slept soundly after their 
twenty-five miles walk, lying at the door of my tent wrapped up 
in a big springbok "kaross" and a couple of blankets. 

This morning they seem quite happy, and very willing and 
active. They will cost me 15*. per month, and their food, con- 
sisting principally of "mealies" and "raealie meal" (Indian 
corn). The wages of a fullgrown native are about 305. per month 
and food, or 2s. per working day, finding himself. 

I now give you last week's list of finds, authenticated. Those 
of the previous week I am unable to obtain at this moment. 

Pniel, 6 diamonds, largest 5j carats. 

Moonlight Rush. 5 diamonds, largest 25 carats. 

Sixpenny Rush, 1 diamond, largest 21 h carats. 

Du Toit's Pan, 11',) diamonds, largest 175, 103, GG, 57. 55, 54, 40. 3H 7 
33.30.20,19,1(1,13, 12*, 12 carats. 



*S'-. 



MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 213 

Bultfontein, 27 diamonds, largest 4 J carats. 
De Beer's, 3') diamonds, largest 18, 15, 1), 7, G carats. 
New Rush (De Beer's), 14 diamonds, largest 12, 9^ carats. 
Hebron, 27 diamonds, largest 27, 13J, 12J, 10 carats. 
Spence's, 4 diamonds, largest 13J carats. 

I extract from the Diamond News two characteristic advertise- 
ments : 

Cremorne Gardens— between Union Kopje and the New Rush, Gong- 
Gong— Good Digging, Fishing, Shooting, Boating, Quoits, &c. 

Notice. — The individual who took an ostrich feather from the hat of a 
gentleman in Jardine's dining-room on Wednesday evening last is hereby- 
requested to return the same forthwith to Mr. Jardine, or to the office of 
this paper. 

Observe the nice distinction between the " individual ' and 
the "gentleman." What will the ladies at home say to the 
alarming fact of " male individuals ' wearing ostrich feathers in 
their hats ? We do, though, nearly all wear them. I have one 
in mine. Are not the heterogeneous attractions of " Cremorne 
Gardens " irresistible ? I should think many of the habitue* of 
the famed gardens by the banks of the Thames will be attracted 
thereby to the banks of the Vaal. 



linn 









Du TohVs Pan. Orange Free State, 
August 20, 1871. 

In giving you a brief account of the incidents of the past three 
weeks, I must first notice the astounding wealth which is being de- 
veloped at the New Bush beyond De Beer's. Though it has as yet 
scarcely been worked a month, fortunes have already been made 
there. I will give you a few instances of luck which have come 
under my own knowledge. 

A friend of mine, having- secured a claim there, sold half of it 
for 50/. The buyer has found over fifty diamonds, two of them 
over 40 carats, and many of them large stones ; my friend has 
found nothing in his half. Many men at the now rush are turn- 
ing out from three to six diamonds per day. 

A gentleman of my acquaintance found no less than twelve 
diamonds in one day, Friday last. As may be imagined^ claims 
in good positions command enormous prices. Half a claim was 
sold there a few days ago on the following terms : 47/. to be paid 
down, and 20 per cent, of all diamonds found in the claim after- 
wards. The old diggings at Du Toit's Pan and De Peer's are 



214 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



■ 



^ 



still turning out well ; but the wonderful finds of the privileged 
few who secured good claims at the new rush naturally excite 
great envy, especially among those who, like myself, have worked 
hard for months and found hardly anything. 

We had some very trying weather in the beginning of this 
month ; it commenced with a furious gale of wind late one night. 
One corner of our tent was torn from its fastenings ; in rushed 
the wind with a cloud of dust, away flew the lid of our coffee 
tin, and dust and coffee, hideously commingled, were thickly 
spread over and among our blankets. We both had to get up 
many times that night, and rush out to fix extra fastenings. 
About three a.m. tW G was a thunderstorm, followed by a copious 
downfall of rain. Pan the tent collapsed, and I woke in the 
early dawn to find myself lying in three puddles, rain pouring in 
upon me, a chill blast driving over my face, and my blankets 
soaked through with rain and smeared with mud. the results of the 
aforesaid mixture of dust and ground coffee. I sat up shivering 
in the dryest part of the tent that I could find, and my partner 
awoke and groaned dismally. Then we thought of Mark Tapley, 
and endeavoured to be jolly, but it was rather a failure. Still 
the wind howled, and the rain poured down in torrents. We 
opened portmanteaus, got out dry clothes— for we were wet to 
the skin— and fled from the scene of desolation. We found 
refuge in a corrugated iron hotel, where we did ample justice to a 
very substantial breakfast. Soon after, the rain abating a little, we 
went back to view the tent. We found it ha]f down. Our news- 
papers and other light articles were flying all over the camp and 
the whole interior of our tent, with a miscellaneous and muddy 
chaos of most heterogeneous articles, was exposed to the public 
gaze. ^ Putting the tent up again in that gale being out of the 
question, we covered the things over with the loose canvas as well 
as we could and took a precipitate departure from our desolate 
Lares and Penates, resolved to dwell in something more solid 
until fine weather returned. Many other tents were down in- 
cluding the big church tent, and the hotels were all full of 
-washed-out diggers." Though it was Saturday, there were 
hardly any sales in the afternoon, the weather not permitting 
much open-air work. In the evening, however, there was an 
entertainment given by some talented amateurs on behalf of the 
funds of the English church. The iron room in which it took 
place was crammed to suffocation with diggers in working dress 
who besides hearing some capital songs, both comic and senti- 



MY DIAEY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 215 

mental, recitations, readings, an excellent impromptu stump 
speech, and a lecture on astronomy by our worthy pastor (I don't 
think we cared much for the last-named), had the privilege of 
gazing, modestly and reverentially of course, at the unusual appari- 
tion of two charming young ladies in evening dress, and several 
more in ordinary costume. Sunday again was a pouring wet day, 
but a temporary lull of wind and rain in the afternoon enabled us to 
get our tent up, though sleeping in it was out of the question. On 
Monday it began to clear up. During the week the weather was 
cold, fine, but windy, with three very sharp frosts and a hailstorm. 

On the 10th inst. my partner and I found our fourth diamond, 
a wretched little splinter of ^ carat. It is somewhat disheartening 
to work on month after month with no better result than this, 
while we know of men who, during the same space of time, have 
made their thousands. To read, for instance, such a list as the 
following, which I quote from the Diamond Neics : " Some parti- 
culars concerning the New Bush at De Beer's. — Whilst at De Beer's 
at the beginning of this week, we gathered some statistics, which 
will serve in some measure, though very inadequately, to show 
the prolific nature of the ' new rush' at that place. The 'kopje ' 
had then been opened twenty days. During that time Mr. Arie 
Smuts, who purchased a half claim for 50/., had turned out 175 
carats, including one stone of 40 carats ; Mr. Rhodes, of Natal, 
110 carats, including a stone of 14, 16, and 28 carats ; Battlesden 
party, 85 diamonds, including one each of 13 J, 10, 8, &c. ; Mr. 
John Frank, 30 diamonds, including one each of 10 and 7 carats ; 
Leppan, 25 diamonds ; B. Cawood, 23 ; Gumming, one of 9 ; 
Ruellin, one of 40^; F. Bawstorne, one of 21, and others; Buckley 
and Fraser, one of 37, and others ; Thackwray, one of 8^ ; a 
gentleman who does not wish his name published, one of 60, 21, 
14, 10 ; Carey, one of 23-J. The latter is said to be one of the 
most perfect and beautiful diamonds yet found in South Africa." 

I myself know of many more instances of great good luck at 
this wonderful place. What marvel, then, if we poor " outsiders' 1 
work on somewhat gloomily at our old claims at Du Toit's Pan I 
What marvel, too, if we spend a good deal of time in " pros- 
pecting," each hoping to discover a " new rush " as rich as that 
at De Beer's ! And truly there is much temptation to do this, 
for there must be more than one rich kopje in the country ; 
and the fortunate man who discovers fresh diggings has three 
"prospecting claims" given him for nothing, besides the two to 
which every digger is entitled according to our rules ; and, should 



I I 



216 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



diamonds be found, lie would at once realise very handsome prices 
for his spare claims. 

^ Last Monday I went over to a new place about five miles 
-distant. Found the scene very animated — about a thousand 
claims being already marked out by pick, shovel, or ticketed 
stick, and the diggers all hard at work, anxious to find out, as 
soon as possible, whether the spot were diamondiferous or not. 
I spoke to ^ all of my acquaintances whom I met there, but 
could not elicit anything very satisfactory. Three or four small 
diamonds were believed to have been found, and I myself saw a 
} carat picked up on a sorting table, at which there was a 
tremendous cheering, and nearly all the diggers on the kopje 
congregated to the spot. Not much liking the appearance of 
things here, and seeing that I was too late to get a claim, had I 
been so disposed, I strolled away to another kopje about a mile 
and a half off. There, creeping about on the ground, I discovered 
—not diamonds, indeed, but pretty good -indications" in the 
shape of limestone gravel and bright transparent green stones. 
Marking one or two likely-looking spots, I returned to the old 
camp, and worked at our Du Toit's Pan claim all the afternoon. 
The next morning I set off, with two others and our remaining 
Kafir— one of the two I hired at Pniel having -bolted," probably 
with a diamond. 

We took provisions and complete mining tools with us. On 
arriving at my kopje we commenced sinking holes in different 
parts of it, and found good-looking stuff, but no diamonds. 
However, m the afternoon a lot of diggers came over from the 
other -rush," which they said was not worth working. They 
all liked the look of my kopje, and said -There must be 
diamonds here." Thereupon my friends and I set to work to 
mark out all the claims to which we were entitled as -pro- 
spectors," and the other diggers marked out a couple of claims 
each. 

They all expressed confidence in the place, and a determination 
to give it a good trial. After seeing thirty or forty claims 
marked out, and feeling rather proud of having created a -new 
rush I walked back with my friends through the scrubby 
-veldt where the "knorhaans" were calling, and the red- 
legged plovers screeching around us, to our big canvas " City of 
the Pan.'' I don't know yet how my - new rush " is going to 
turn out ; but I hope to meet to-day some of the men who have 
been working there. It might turn out a good thing. Several 



MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 



217 



other rushes are reported, one of which, named Albany Kop, is 
to be surveyed, and claims allotted to-day. Of course the recent 
astounding finds in the neighbourhood of De Beer's have created 
quite a mania for "prospecting." 

President Brand, of the Free State, has been here all last week, 
and is probably going to stay a week longer. He seems popular, 
both with Dutch and English who know. him ; and many surmise 
that when these Diamond Fields are annexed to the British 
colony the ex-President will be made Lieutenant-Governor. But 
this is mere conjecture, and it appears by no means certain yet 
which portions of Free State or Transvaal Territory are to be 
annexed. 

The latest novelty at Du Toit's Pan is a fortune-teller, believed 
in by the Dutch, and even by many of the English diggers. II is 
tent is thronged from morning till night, and he is said to be 
making from 25/. to 30/. a day. His charge is five shillings, and 
his specialite is giving the locality of diamonds. Applicants bring 
charts of their claims, and he tells them exactly in what part, and 
at what depth, such and such diamonds will be found. To some, 
however, the prophet is very discouraging. He has been known to 
say to a man, " You will never find a diamond if you stop here 
all your life." And the credulous Dutchman has " inspanned ' 
his oxen, and departed, miserable and hopeless, from the busy 
scenes where he cares not to labour in vain. I have heard the 
following anecdote of the fortune-teller (he is rather a near 
neighbour of mine, by the way, and I think I shall consult him). 
He said to a man, " You will get six diamonds out of that claim 
within a week." At the week's end the digger came back 
grumbling. He had found nothing at all. He objurgated the 
soothsayer. The wise man replied. " Well, six diamonds have 
come out of that claim, and if you haven't got them, your 
natives must have pocketed them." Thereupon the digger 
hastened back to his claim, seized his two Kafirs, took them 
down to the " trunk " (police station), where they were searched, 
and six diamonds found upon them ! St non e vero, e ben trovato; 
it is pretty generally believed among the Dutch community. 

I am indebted to the Diamond News for the following news 
from the Mathebele country : 

A couple of months ago, Lepongkole, the young king, despatched a band 
of messengers to all the great Bechoana tribes, officially to inform them, by 
remitting some elephants' tusks, of the death of his predecessor Mosilikatsi, 
and of his having taken the reins of chieftainship into his own hands. 






218 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



Arrived at Shoshong, the Bamangoato chief, Maching, stopped the mes- 
sengers. Said he, " The serpent has only changed his skin. Do I not know 
sufficiently of the Mathebele tactics ? You are spies ! On your peril, I 
command you to go back ! If Lepengkole wants to signalise the commence- 
ment of his rule by plundering our cattle, let him come ; we are ready for 
him." The messengers had to turn back. Lepengkole, on being informed 
of Maching's words, ordered several regiments to take the field, saying, 
11 If my road be blocked up by trees or stumps, my battle axes will cut 
them down ; if by rocks or hills, my crowbars will dig them up !" They 
have already massacred several Masarva villages of the Bamangoato, and 
are on their march to Shoshong. We may soon receive bloody accounts. 

Monday morning, nine a.m., a fine day, but terribly windy, 
threatening the stability of the tent in which I am writing. New 
arrivals of diggers from all parts of the colony and from Europe 
are very frequent. List of finds at Du Toit's Pan last week not 
to hand. 






Du Toit's Pan, Orange Free State, 
Aug. 28, 1871. 
I did not think that so soon after despatching my last letter I 
should have to chronicle a recurrence of that awful weather which 
entails so much misery on poor diggers. On the evening of the 
24th, after a storm of wind and dust all day which had rendered 
work impossible, and covered everything in our tent with a thick 
layer of red dust, the gale increased so much that we feared the 
tent would come down. Fastening after fastening gave way ; we 
were soon almost smothered in dust ; then the wind veered round, 
and rain poured down in torrents. In the morning, after an 
almost sleepless night, we found ourselves wet through, every- 
thing soaked and muddy, and the tent half down. Needless to 
say that we again had recourse to the friendly shelter of the 
hotels. But there was no fire in any of them. It was bitterly 
cold, and, having wet clothes on, we were in a state of " cold 
shivers' all day. Substantial meals slightly alleviated our 
misery, and in the evening, dropping into a store, we found two 
or three friends assembled round a piano, and heard some capital 
music and singing. I slept that night on a table in the principal 
hotel, with only one blanket over me, and was not comfortable. 
The weather improved a little the next day, and yesterday being 
quite fine, we came back to pitch the tent in a fresh place, and 
so securely that there would be no danger of its coming down 
in future. Found it had been robbed in our absence of four or 
five suits of clothes, two rugs, a blanket, a roll of tobacco, a 



MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 



219 



gallon of brandy, and sundry other articles. "We questioned our 
Kafir, but he professed utter ignorance. In the afternoon, how- 
ever, while our " boy " was absent, fetching water from the dam, a 
neighbouring digger called me over to the fire-place of some other 
Kafirs, where he had seen the corner of a blanket sticking out of 
the ground, and had found several articles of clothing, besides a 
roll of tobacco and a bottle of brandy, all lightly buried in the 
loose sand. On searching the neighbourhood we discovered 
nearly the whole of our missing property similarly concealed. 
One of the Kafirs said that our " boy " brought the things there. I 
immediately got two policemen, and had our " boy " arrested as he 
was returning from the dam. His back will probably be made 
acquainted with the "cat." He accuses four other Kafirs, whom 
I believe to be implicated with him. In spite of this and many 
similar instances, some diggers are still confiding enough to let 
Kafirs do all kinds of work at their claims without supervision, 
including sorting. A white man was tried and fined, last week, 
for buying a diamond from a native. We have now got our tent 
well pitched, and comfortably arranged inside, ornamented with 
a bunch of spring flowers on the table. 

The lucky men at the " New Bush ' are still turning out 
diamonds in profusion, and several moderate fortunes have been 
made within the last month. Good finds have been made at Du 
Toit's Pan too. We stick to our old claim there, and hope that 
our turn may soon come. 

Here is an amusing trait of a Dutchman's childishness. We 
have a " merry-go-round ' here, near the American Bowling 
Alley. A middle-aged Boer got on one of the wooden horses early 
one afternoon. He was so delighted that he refused to dismount 
till late in the evening, having indulged his equestrian tastes to 
the tune of thirty shillings ! 

I subjoin a few extracts from the Diamond News, which may 
be of general interest. 

A 9G -carat diamond has been turned out at De Beer's by Messrs. Beyers 
and Boulton, a party who lost all their goods and chattels in the flood at 
Victoria West, on their way to the Diamond Fields. On the same day they 
also turned out a stone of 1 5 carats. 

A diamond of 72 carats, magnificent as to shape and purity, was turned 
out at Du Toit's Pan last week by Mr. A. W. Hyde and his companions, 
from Grahamstown. 

The following is the register of temperature for the past 
week: 



K 



220 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 

Day. Night. 

Highest temp. Lowest temp. 

Saturday 83 40 

Sunday" 85 35 

Monday 83 30 

Tuesday 92 33 

Wednesday 93 28 

Thursday 5(J 28 

Resume of the week's finds at the various camps : 

Pniel, 11 diamonds, largest 14 J, 88 J. 

Du Toit's Pan, 67 diamonds, largest 78, two of 72, 64J, 30, 24 J, 23, 22J, 

19 17^. 

be Beer's (Old and New Rush), 43 diamonds ; two of 96, 76, 29$, 23J, 

20, 181 

Bultfontein, 15 diamonds. 

Moonlight Rush, 1 diamond of 10 carats. 

I repeat that these returns represent but a very small propor- 
tion of the actual finds. I know of many other large diamonds 
found last week, and I know (and envy) several of the luckiest 
finders, whose names never appear at all in any of the published 
lists. 

The papers are full of the proceedings consequent on the visit 
of President Brand and the Executive Council of the Orange Free 
State. Dinners, "dejeuners h la fourchette," &c, have been 
given in honour of the worthy President, and addresses, expres- 
sive of mutual confidence, have been exchanged between him and 
the various diggers' committees. 

Another very successful musical entertainment has been given 
on behalf of the English Church Fund, and a grand bazaar is to 
be held this week in aid of the Dutch Reformed Church. 

The weather is lovely to-day, warm as an English July. The 
wives and daughters of lucky Boers are parading the camp in 
gorgeous apparel ; tired diggers have been hard at work washing 
shirts all the morning, and now everybody feels fairly entitled to 
Sunday's rest and cleanliness. 

Sept. 3. 
Last Monday I went down to the police court to prosecute 
our Kafir. He pleaded not guilty. I identified all the stolen 
things, but could not prove his possession of them, or that he 
had brought them there, so the case was remanded. But I 
was fortunately able to return in half an hour with three witnesses, 
an Englishman who found the buried things, a Zulu Kafir and a 



MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 221 

Hottentot who saw our " boy " bring the things there, and to whom 
he gave brandy. Native dialects here became perplexing, as my 
two black witnesses could speak neither English nor Dutch. At 
last it was managed as follows : The interpreter of the Court, 
who understood Zulu, translated the Zulu's evidence, the Zulu 
translated the Hottentot's evidence to the interpreter in Zulu, and 
the interpreter retranslated it to the Court in English. Our 
young scamp was convicted, and sentenced to twenty lashes with 
the " cat ' ' and a month's hard labour. As soon as the Court 
closed I saw him tied up to the whipping-post and flogged. The 
lashes were inflicted very lightly, and he didn't seem to feel them 
much. Klip Drift is, or was, the place for severe flogging. 

In the afternoon I saw a 2 9 -carat diamond, a perfect stone, 
but rather flat and yellow, found just opposite our claim. In the 
evening there was a great sale of very "Brummagem' jewellery 
in the dining room of the principal hotel. High prices were got 
for a very worthless lot of rubbish. Much rough chaff passed 
between the auctioneer and his customers. Amoncr the things 
sold were "silver pen-holders and pencil-cases." There was a 
slide which worked up and down, but nothing came out. 
Certainly the buyer might make it a " pencil-case ' by insert- 
ing in it a stump of ordinary cedar pencil, but I don't see where 
a pen could go. Some gold (?) watches and chains were also sold, 
and I heard several 61. bets made as to whether the articles really 
were gold or not. 

Tuesdav seemed a fair commencement of South African 
spring, a very hot day, lots of flowers springing up over the lately 
barren "veldt." We found our fifth diamond, a bad-shaped 
little stone, of about f of a carat. 

On Thursday evening I saw a man who had begun on Monday 
to work a quarter of a claim at the New Bush, and had actually 
found, in the four days, stones which he had sold for 1500Z. 

On Friday a neighbour of ours, on arriving at his claim, found 
that his Kafir had got out a 12^-carat stone that morning, and 
was keeping it for him in his headkerchief. Whereupon the 
lucky digger sent all his Kafirs off to get each a glass of Cape 
Smoke. He himself, with your humble servant and his partner, 
and several other neighbours, adjourned to a neighbouring 
refreshment tent, where the landlord immediately set a large 
musical-box playing, and received orders to "keep on bringing 
in bottled ale till he was told to stop." We enjoyed the 
welcome beverage for half an hour, amidst much "diamondi- 



222 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



ferous " chat, and then all returned to work with renewed 
vigour and hope. 

It was a very hot afternoon. Inventing a new, easy, and 
graceful position — reclining by the sorting table, I was straight- 
way minded to call it "An improvement on Eve at the fountain; 
or Afternoon at the Claim." I am not quite sure whether this 
is a " goak," but some of my neighbours think so. 

On Saturday I learnt the sad news that two diggers, one 
of them a slight acquaintance of mine, a married man, and 
successful, had been blown up and killed in a well which they 
were sinking at De Beers, through imprudent blasting, viz., 
"tamping' 1 with a steel rod, when a copper one was lying handy. 
The steel rod struck one of the numerous flinty rocks. An 
explosion immediately ensued, which blew one man's head off, 
and inflicted such numerous injuries on the other, that he died 
the next day. Another casualty is reported last week from 
De Beers' New Bush. A man working a claim there had not 
been seen at work for eight days, so another man " jumped ' 
the claim, that being the limit for which a claim can be held 
open without working. He had not worked long when he 
discovered the body of the original proprietor lying buried under 
a lot of stuff which had fallen in upon him from a badly con- 
structed tunnel. 

On Friday afternoon I witnessed a slight whirlwind in Du Toit's 
Pan. A tall revolving column of dust moved swiftly through a 
part of the camp. Sheepskins, hats, papers, were among the 
things seized by it, and whirled high in the air, the papers and 
other light articles gyrating right at the top of the column. 
Yesterday afternoon there was another little one ; but the weather 
is still lovely and summer-like, only rather too hot for hard work, 
and the time is approaching when many will have to leave the 
hot, glaring, and dusty " dry-sifting ' camps for the various 
river-side diggings. 

There was a fight on Friday afternoon by the dam, between 
an Englishman, of indifferent character, and a Dutchman. The 
latter was the conqueror. Both were a good deal knocked about. 
An element of novelty for the British public is, that in this fight 
the police kept the ring. 

Saturday's markets continue very large, and, besides every 
kind of garden and field produce in season, immense numbers 
of "buck," spring-bok, blesbok, wildebeest, See, &c, are being 
almost daily brought in ; but, as some of them have been killed 



MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 



223 



many days' journey from this camp, great caution is necessary in 
purchasing " buckmeat " this hot weather. 

Yesterday morning we found our sixth diamond, a rather 
pretty little stone of a quarter of a carat. This morning the 
proprietor of one of the claims adjoining ours showed us a 
beautiful stone, over 15 carats, which he found yesterday after- 
noon. Surely we shall get among the big ones soon, as such fine 
stones are being found all round us. 

A great sensation was caused in the neighbourhood of Klip 
Drift last Tuesday, by the arrest' of Mr. Unger, the great 
diamond merchant, for liabilities, under the Scottish Bankruptcy 
Act, amounting to 3400Z. Mr. Unger's house was searched, 
and he was marched up to the Special Magistrate's Court, 
escorted by eight policemen. He stated that the debt had 
.already been paid, but lodged a cheque for 4000/. as security 
until the case came off, which it is expected to do to-morrow. 
The person who had him arrested is named Lowenthal. It is said 
that he came out from Edinburgh with a power of attorney from 
the trustee in the Insolvent Estate of Mr. Unger in Scotland. 

Klip Drift will now surely cease to be the "metropolis of the 
Diamond Fields." The principal newspaper of the diggings, the 
Diamond News, has moved all its offices down here, and will be 
published here in future. The " City of the Pan," daily more 
flourishing, rejoices greatly thereat. Many large diamonds have 
been found last week, both here and at De Beer's. 



Du Toit's Pan, Orange Free State, 
Sept. 10, 1871. 
At the risk of making these letters monotonous by mere 
personal details, I will commence by telling you that I have got 
a couple of fresh Kafirs at work, who seem very good " boys," and 
poor "Artemus Ward" would have taken much delight in them, 
such "amoosing young cusses" are they. At " tiffin time, " the first 
day I had them at work, they commenced improvising pipes after 
the manner of their people, by moistening the ground, thrusting 
in a thin stick to make a hole about nine inches long, making a 
hollow at one end for the tobacco, and applying their mouths to 
the orifice at the other. Thus, lying on the ground and sucking 
vigorously, they get huge mouthfuls of smoke, over which they 
invariably choke and cough, but appear to derive great satisfac- 
tion from the exercise ; but their glee was pleasant to witness 



224 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



when I presented each of them with a short clay pipe. Moreover, 
as their costume did not go far beyond the traditional fig leaf in 
amplitude, and as nights and mornings were rather cold just then, 
they were further gratified with an old flannel shirt each. They 
are the two noisiest "boys" on this camp — perpetually shouting, 
singing, or whistling, but working well and willingly. I feed 
them on mealie-meal (ground Indian corn), with a little meat 
once or twice a week ; but the public slaughtering place is not 
very far from this tent, and whenever my "boys" hear of any oxen 
or sheep going to be slaughtered, they will ask leave, rush off to 
the scene, and shortly return with huge festoons of the filthiest 
offal, and so besmeared with blood and dirt that we cannot on 
those festive occasions allow them to clean our plates and dishes. 
And the quantity of offal they will gorge at a sitting is perfectly 
astounding, though it does not incapacitate them from taking 
their usual huge potful of mealie-meal porridge to fill up gaps 
with. One of these characters answers to the name of Jacob, the 
other is called simply "Boy." "Boy" took up a book the other 
day, and said in Dutch, "Book! Ja ! Master must teach Boy to 
read book." He gives me advice on different matters, and oracu^ 
lar information about the weather, in the most amusing manner. 
He certainly foretold the storm of Friday night last, and a very 
pretty storm it was. The usual business ; hurricanes, then dust 
storms, so that you could not see a yard before you for dust, 
then awfully vivid lightning and deep thunder, then torrents of 
rain, then more wind, and so on. This time our tent stood it 
bravely, though the rain came through in places, and we got but 
little sleep, the tent and everything in it shaking continuously. 
But yesterday morning it was quite fine again, and, to prove that 
"it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good," the aforesaid gale 
had carried off somebody else's white hat and deposited it in our 
fireplace. I handed it to "Boy" as his perquisite, and this 
morning gave him a gaudy feather to stick in it, whereupon he 
grinned exceedingly, said, "Boy is gentleman this morning," and 
departed for his Sunday out, walking with a solemn dignity 
befitting the wearer of a hat and shirt. Some scoundrels took 
advantage of the dust storm to attack and rob a digger. They 
got from him a lo^-carat diamond, several other stones, and 
some money. The poor fellow's cries for help were heard by the 
police, but so strong was the wind and so thick the dust that it 
was long before they could find where he was, and then the 
robbers had escaped. A man was arrested yesterday on suspicion. 



MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 



225 



Several other highway and garotte robberies are reported from 
the neighbourhood of De Beer's, so for the moment revolvers are 
at a premium, and much worn at night. 

I was over at the New Rush, that wonderful Golconda, on 
Thursday afternoon. It is truly a marvellous place ; the diamonds 
are so numerous there that everyone works his very hardest, and 
puts on as many niggers as he can get hold of, so at every claim 
may be seen from six to a dozen men, or even more, all working 
hard at the different occupations of mining — some descending 
into deep holes by the aid of rheims or ropes, others hauling up 
bucketfuls of stuff with a windlass, picking, shovelling, sifting, 
sorting, while numberless carts and barrows are actively employed 
all day long in removing the sorted stuff on to the neighbouring 
veldt. All this, with the white glare of the limestone, the 
blinding clouds of dust, the yelling and singing of the Kafirs at 
work, the dull sounds of the pick, the monotonous grating of the 
stuff and gravel in the sieves, the shouting of mule drivers and 
cracking of whips, the general "hurrah!" whenever there is a 
find or a fight, make up a tout ensemble which can hardly be 
imagined from so bare a description as this, but must be seen to 
be realised. 

Soon after I came upon the scene I heard aloud " hurrah," and 
found that a mule-cart had fallen into a claim. The claim was 
forty feet deep, but there was a kind of shelf near the top which 
prevented the cart from falling farther, so that the mules and 
cart were only just below the surface, and, plenty of diggers 
volunteering their help, were soon extricated. There was a nigger 
working at the bottom of the claim. He quite thought the cart 
was coming down on to him, and his terrified yells afforded much 
amusement to his sable comrades. 

Then I went to see a few friends, and saw that they were nearly 
all finding a goodly number of diamonds ; moreover, many claims 
were pointed out to me where eighty or ninety stones had been 
found within a month. 

Shortly afterwards a louder " hurrah!" of a different character 
caused me to rush to a neighbouring claim, where^I saw a 
91 -carat stone, which had just been picked out by a Kafir, who 
was working for an Englishman and Dutchman in partnership. 
There was much shouting and congratulation. It was rather a 
yellow stone, but perfect and without spots. I heard of many 
more instances of good luck, and soon it was time for me to 
walk back to Du Toit's Pan and dinner, as the nierry bands of 



L- 



226 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



native labourers were singing on the way to their tents and 
cooking fires, and the numerous " traps ' of lucky New Eush 
diggers resident at Du Toit's Pan were galloping gaily past me 
along the dusty road. 

This New Rush is quite the bete noire of us poor outsiders 
And to think that, if we had only known, we might have had 
claims there, and that claims worth 10/. to 100/. a month ago 
are now commanding from 500/. to 2500/., and good ones hardly 
to be bought even at that. Well, old Du Toit's Pan is still doing 
fairly, though; a 115-carat was found here last Thursday, and 
the following stones are reported in the Diamond News, now 
published here, for the week ending Sept. 8 : 

Du Toit's Pan, 42 diamonds, largest GO, 57J, 51, 47, 32, 29, 10 

carats. 

De Beer's (two camps), 34 diamonds, largest GO, 45, 38, 34^, 32 carats. 
Pniel, 21 diamonds, largest 7 J, 6f, 5£, 4 carats. 
Hebron, 42 diamonds, largest 14|, 8^, 7J, 1\ carats. 
Robinson's, 3 diamonds, 2^, 2£, 1 carat. 

I must mention, in explanation of the evident paucity of the 
above returns, that, owing to robberies having been on the 
increase of late, most of the large finders are naturally unwilling 
to have their names and finds published. I only give you a 
resume of numbers and principal weights ; but in the Diamond 
Neivs the names of finders are published as well, except on their 
express request to the contrary. I know of many claim holders 
at the New Eush who are averaging two or three or more 
diamonds daily. 

The rate of mortality in the camps is rather on the increase. 
The necessity for speedily providing good hospital accommoda- 
tion, as the hot season will soon set in, and also for improved 
sanitary arrangements, is becoming a topic of general discussion, 
and I believe proper measures will at once be taken for the 
carrying out of both these objects. 

Spring time is coming ; flowers are blooming on the veldt, 
and birds are building their nests. A pair of saucy little 
fellows, like sparrows, have chosen the tent of a friend of mine 
as a residence. * 

Sept. 17. 

This has been a week of intense heat. Black men have 

discarded all clothing ; white men would very much like to do 

the same. Awnings or large umbrellas have been erected over 

sorting^tables, and ''new chums" have been asking the porten- 






MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 227 

tous question, " If this is only the beginning of spring, what 
will the middle of summer be like ? " 

Many very large stones have been found during the week, both 
here, at De Beer's, and at the New Bush. Old Du Toit's Pan, 
as usual, bears off the palm for size ; a lucky digger, named 
Humphries, having contributed a diamond of 150 carats to the 
Diamond News gazette of finds. My partner and self have been 
sinking a deep narrow shaft. We found a little stone in it last 
Tuesday, which, though only 7-8ths of a carat, encouraged us, 
as being the first perfect stone we have found. A striking- 
illustration of the great depths at which diamonds may be found 
has just occurred at the New Bush, where a man. employed in 
sinking a well, saw at a depth of seventy-six feet something 
sparkling in the side, which turned out to be an 87-carat 
diamond. The well-sinking party had not been sifting the stuff 
which was brought out, but I should imagine after this extra- 
ordinary find that they would sift and sort the whole. Two or 
three " new rushes ' are reported at small distances from this 
camp. I know nothing very positive about them yet, but will 
endeavour to report next week. 

The following advertisement in the Diamond News of the 
lGth inst. refers to the robbery I mentioned in the early part 
of this letter : 

<£25 Reward. — The above reward will bo given to anyone supplying such 
information as may lead to the detection and apprehension of the three 
men (believed all to have been white men) who, on Friday night, the 8th 
inst., knocked down Mr. J. J. Joubert near the junction of the Dorstfon- 
tein and Bultfontein roads, and robbed him of — one diamond weighing 
14 carats, one diamond weighing 2J carats, one diamond weighing 2 carats, 
six diamonds weighing 5 carats, also one 51. note and a half-sovereign piece. 

Here are one or two small items from the same paper, which 
may be of interest : 

A dense cloud of locusts was observed towards the southern horizon, on 
Sunday last, drawing from east to west. 

A 50-carat diamond was found in the stuff thrown out of a sieve at De 
Beer's the other day, by a little boy. A Dutchman who was near claimod 
it and took it from him, but the case being brought before the committee, 
he had to restore it. 

Here is my resume of last week's reported finds : 

Du Toit's Pan, 55 diamonds, largest 150, 45J, 32^-, 20, 38 carats. 
Bultfontein, 39 diamonds, largest 7} carats. 
De Beer's, 33 diamonds, largest 42}, 30J, 1G carats. 
De Beer's New Rush, <±7 diamonds, largest 70, GO, 24|, 23 carats. 

Q 2 






228 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



Pniel, 23 diamonds, largest 52^, 10 carats. 
Hebron, 45 diamonds, largest 10, 8£, 7^, 7 carats. 
Robinson's, 5 diamonds, largest, 2|, 2 carats. 
Klip Drift, 1 diamond, 4^ carats. 
Moonlight Rush, 1 diamond, 8 carats. 

Another outrage on the highway took place this week. A 
gentleman named Denham, returning on horseback from Da 
Toit's Pan to his tent at the New Bush, was knocked off his 
horse, and brutally kicked by three men (probably the same gang 
who robbed Joubert). Just as he was becoming insensible 
some people came in sight, and the ruffians decamped without 
having accomplished the robbery. The injuries Mr. Denham 
received are, I am happy to say, not serious. 

The Bishop of Bloemfontein (Dr. Webb) is here earnestly 
advocating the erection of a suitable church, and funds are 
being rapidly subscribed for the purpose. The hospital, too, 
which will be sorely needed as the heat increases, is also meeting 
with liberal support. 

The want of water is beginning to be much felt at De Beer's 
and the New Rush. At the latter place a depth of over 90ft* 
has been reached without finding water. Vigorous efforts, public 
and private, are being made to obtain a good supply. Meantime, 
the otherwise lucky diggers at the New Eush have to pay 9d. 
and Is. per bucket. 

After the great heat last week we had it cooler yesterday. 
To-day we have much wind, and clouds are gathering, so we 
must prepare ourselves and tent to bear the brunt of another 
storm, I suppose. 

Du Toit's Pan, Orange Free State, 

Sept. 23. 

We have just completed another week of hard labour, and still 
our ill-luck continues, exciting the astonishment and pity of our 
more fortunate friends. 

A fellow-passenger per Roman is averaging 30Z. per day at the 
New Eush. That place is a perfect Golconda ; everyone is full 
of it. New arrivals from the Colony, meeting friends up here, 
inquire, " Well, where are you working, old boy ?" '*' Oh ! Du 
Toit's Pan," or " Bultfontein," as the case may be. "Not 
managed to get a claim at the New Eush ?" " No." Then the 
expression of the querist plainly says, "What a poor shiftless 
fellow you must be." The consequence is that now there is a 






MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 229 

perfect mania for "New Bushes;" prospecting parties are out 
continually, and a report last week (unconfirmed) led to about 
three thousand claims being marked out at a spot some few miles 
beyond De Beer's ; but I do not hear of any finds. Then, again, 
a place on the Modder River is said to be turning out well. If 
true, that would be a pleasant station. Who would not exchange 
a glaring expanse of limestone dust and gravel, and a barren 
treeless plain — with drought already beginning to be felt, and 
serious prospects of pestilence from the wretched sanitary 
arrangements — for the cool, wooded shores of the Modder, with 
the home-like rippling of water, and the recreations of fishing 
and bathing ? I am going off to-night or to-morrow morning to 
a, spot on this same Modder, which my comjxignon de voyage says 
is only six or seven miles off ; but which — having frequently been 
cruelly deceived in colonial distances — I shrewdly suspect to be 
about twelve. But what of that? Would not '•Sarcelle" 
cheerfully walk double that distance, even under a South African 
sun, for the chance of a bit of fishing ? Truly, I believe I have 
not been so long debarred from the indulgence of my favourite 
sport since I began, at six years old, fishing for minnows, and 
tumbled into a brook, for which misdemeanour I was forthwith 
put to bed. My poor old rods, at which I often look so wistfully, 
suffered most grievously in the long rough waggon journey. 
There is only one which my skill can make serviceable for to- 
morrow, and that is a trusty old sea rod, which last year did 
much execution among whiting, pollack, billet, and codling, off 
my beloved Yorkshire coast, and since then has killed a fair dish 
of mullet and Hottentot fish, and even bent with the weight of a 
big snook in Table Bay. But as usual, the dear topic is leading 
me into a long digression. It is of diamond digging, not of 
angling, that I must treat in these papers. But if I do find a 
river to-morrow, and get any sport, surely the Field shall hear 

of it. 

On the 18th, a 16-carat diamond was found not far from my 
claim, only Din. deep. A Kafir boy, walking in from De Beer's 
on the previous day, picked up a lQl-carat in the road close to a 
heap of refuse stuff from the rough sieve of an old Dutchman. 
A neighbour, who saw the boy pick it up, took him down to tho 
magistrate. The stone was finally awarded to the Dutchman 
close to whose heap it was picked up. 

Half of the claim in which the 124-carat stone was found was 
sold by auction on the 18th, and fetched only 8/. 






i 



■ 



230 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



On the 19th the skeleton of a Bushman was found 4ft. deep 
in a claim at Du Toit's Pan. The feet, strange to say, were 
discovered in another claim several yards distant. These relics 
are supposed to have lain there for upwards of a century — not a 
pleasant thing to find when looking for " sparklers." On the 
next day, a large fragment of an ant-hill was found at a con- 
siderable depth in another claim. 

We had heavy rains on the night of the 21st, and pretty 
strong wind, but our tent stood it bravely. It rained all the 
morning of the 22nd, and no work could be done. Nature is 
getting animated— too much so for comfort. Our tent swarms 
with the most ferocious flies ; fleas annoy us now and then ; and 
to-day we are invaded by black ants, and they don't seem to 
mind hot water. 

Partridges, knorhaans, &c. are, I fancy, beginning to pair. 
Their calls may be heard very near the camp. But now to rum- 
mage over fishing tackle— a pleasing task, which will call up 
numberless half-sweet, half-bitter souvenirs of bygone ramblings 
with rod and fly book ; of fair Yorkshire, Derwent, Rye, and 
Driffield ; of pleasant Derwent, Wye, and classic Dove in Derby- 
shire ; of lordly streams in Kent, the garden of England, well 
stocked with lusty trout ; of my old favourite, the winding 
Lezarde in la belle Normandie (I hope the Prussians did not net 
it); of the dashing, cascading "Gaves" among Pyrenean ravines ; 
of blue lakes amid eternal snow peaks. Enouoh ; I must put 
the reins to my imagination, and reconcile myself to the fact that 
I am at Du Toit's Pan ! And here is the Diamond News before 
me, from whose list of finds I make my ueual resume : 

Du Toit's Pan, 33 diamonds, largest 84, 59*, 20, 174 10^- 10^ 
carats. ** ^ 

Do Beer's New Rush, 258 diamonds, largest 44$, 24, 19, 16} carats. 
Old De Beer's, 44 diamonds, largest 15J, 1U, 8 carats. 
Bultlontein, 21 diamonds, largest 11 J, 10$, 10 carats. 

I also extract from the published lists the following particulars 
of good luck, nothing very extraordinary for the New Rush 
One gentleman has found in three weeks eighty-Jive diamonds 
but there are not many large ones amongst them, the aggregate 
weight only amounting to 104 carats. 

Du Toit's Pan and the neighbouring camps are busy with 
church and hospital schemes, and subscriptions and money are 
forthcoming m abundance for all these good purposes. The ball 
1 mentioned in my previous paper came off on Thursday last 



MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 231 

and was a grand success. Above 150 persons were present, of 
whom quite one-half were ladies. The costumes were as ravis- 
sant as could be desired. The gentlemen, too, were nearly all in 
evening dress, and an uninformed spectator would scarcely have 
believed that he was looking on an assemblage of diggers. The 
spacious area of Parker's new Masonic hotel afforded a broad 
floor for the dancers. A good band was in attendance, and the 
supper was really first-rate — far beyond my anticipations of the 
highest culinary art in Du Toit's Pan. One trivial detail slightly 
marred the tout ensemble of the tastefully laid out supper table. 
Our candlesticks were all simply empty bottles, and the labels 
had not been removed. Voila tout. 



Friday, Sept. 29. 

I am obliged to close this letter to-day, because I am starting 
with a party for a three days' shooting and fishing excursion to the 
Modder Eiver. I am preparing an account of my first expedition 
to that river, and hope to forward it to you by next mail. 

On the afternoon of Tuesday, I, having walked a distance of 
thirty miles the previous night, was resting in my tent, when I 
heard two shots fired not far off. I took no especial notice of 
the incident, as there are plenty of plovers about, and I mistook 
it for the report of a fowling-piece. But I afterwards ascertained 
that a young man had dragged an elderly one out into the 
" veldt," and there fired two shots at him, the first of which was 
said by a Kafir who was near to have passed over his head, while 
the second entered just below his eye, completely destroying that 
organ, and lodging in the back of the head. The man was still 
living yesterday, but no hopes are entertained of his recovery. 
The aggressor is very cool and unconcerned, and when charged 
before^he magistrates with attempted murder pleaded that it 
was an accident. There is a very strong feeling against him 
amono- the diggers, and although it appears that there is insanity 
in his family, I think if the victim should die there will be much 
clamour for his execution. I have heard it rumoured that Jie 
recognised the old man as the person who had robbed him of 
some diamonds ; many others believe he wanted to rob the old 
man, and credible persons say he had previously threatened to 

shoot him. 

During the week we have had three thunderstorms, in one of 
which the lightning was painfully vivid, while the instantaneous 
and deafening explosions of the thunder were louder and more 



232 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 






startling than I have ever heard before. The hot weather is 
fairly setting in now, and with it frequent storms and heavy 
rains, also plagues innumerable in the shape of flies, fleas, 
ants, &c. 

Fine diamonds are now being frequently found at the New 
Bush by parties who break up with sledge-hammers the stones 
carted off from claims. In one instance a man was walking 
behind a cart loaded with such stones. One fell out, the cart 
wheel went over it, broke it, and a 21 -carat diamond came out. 
±mds at the New Bush claims continue to be magnificent. 
Many diggers are returning to the colony or to England, some 
only temporarily. Mr. Arie Smuts, the owner of one of the best 
claims, who is supposed to have made something like 20,000/. in 
three months, has sold his claim piecemeal— 1 00/. or 150/ I 
believe, per six square feet. 

We have had no hick yet. Perhaps it will come all at once. 



ft_ iv in. n , , London, Jan. 16. 

Un the 4th October, the day after my return from the second 
excursion to the Modder River, my partner and I went over to 
the famous De Beer's New Bush, alias Oolesberg Kopje, to work 
half a claim there in a good position on half shares. Our said 
halt, being covered with a great heap of refuse stuff, was not at 
present workable, so we hired a cart with a couple of mules, and 
were busy all day carting off stuff, and depositing it in the 
a lotted space outside the claims. There was a strong wind 
blowing ; as usual, the whole camp was enveloped in clouds of 
stifling, penetrating white and red dust: the heat was excessive 
and it was very thirsty work. The enormous profits made by 
hotels and canteens, and the increase of drunkenness, are not to 
be wondered at, considering the hardships of summer work at the 
dry diggings I tried the effect, during the day, of two or three 
long drinks of ginger beer, but found my thirst so little allayed 
thereby, that I was tempted to accuse our canteen keepers of 
putting salt into all the liquids they supply to the thirsty diggers. 
Towards sundown we walked wearily back to our tent at Du 
ioit 1 1 Pan, and cooked a rough, hasty dinner. Our boys' wages 
were due, and I paid them ; then they declared their intention of 
leaving our service The work at the New Bush was too hard 
tor them, they said. In vain I harangued them in my best Low 

SI" e ? pl fTS t0 *"? that h was a grand place, that there 
weie plenty diamonds," and that we should make them a small 



MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 233 

present for each diamond found. One was decided to leave, the 
other hesitating, and the next morning neither of them made his 
appearance. This was a great nuisance, as we intended immedi- 
ately removing tent and everything to the New Rush, and working 
hard at our claim there, and in the commencing summer it 
•would be hard lines for a white man to do anything but the 
sorting. 

We heard on Oct. 5 of a 105 -carat stone found two days pre- 
viously at Old De Beer's. Walked over to the New Bush, got the 
.remainder of the old stuff carted off, chose a suitable place for 
pitching our tent, hired a mule-cart, drove back to Du Toit's Pan, 
three miles distant, and removed tent and all our property in two 
'journeys, arriving with the last load in the dark, so would not 
pitch the tent that night, but lay down in our blankets on the 
grass among our boxes, cooking utensils, and general miscellanea. 
It was a very hot night, but we were tired and slept soundly. 
In the morning we set to work, after a light breakfast at a friend's 
tent, to pitch our own and arrange our Penates. I felt terribly 
weak and ill, and as soon as the work was done felt fairly com- 
pelled to lie down, and fell into a strange, feverish sleep. 

From the 5th October to the 5th November I find a total blank 
in my diary, for during that time I was prostrated by low fever, 
being delirious several nights and parts of days ; dysentery and 
very severe diarrhoea came on before the fever left me. I got 
hardly any rest or proper food, and lay in profound misery on my 
straw mattress, sweltering in heat, tormented by legions of green 
and black flies, which I now and then had energy enough to flick 
away from my face with a wildebeest's tail as they came swiftly 
on me with a hideously loud buzzing, making most pertinacious 
attacks on the corners of my eyes, my nose, and mouth. It 
was so hot that T could not bear any covering over my face. Some- 
times, too, I was without water. With very few exceptions, 
which I shall ever gratefully remember, almost everyone was too 
much engrossed in the incessant, eager, hurrying work of the 
Bush to think for a moment of a poor fever-stricken wretch. 
Had it not been for the great kindness of two good Samaritans, 
fellow passengers from England per Roman, I should have fared 
badly indeed. I hope that G. and W. may see these lines, and 
read in them the expression of my heartfelt gratitude. But I have 
dwelt long enough on this theme. 

After making several attempts to fight against the effects of 
the combined fever and diarrhoea, and crawling feebly about on a 



w 









234 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 






stick, hardly recognised by many of my associates — such a lank, 
hollow-eyed skeleton was I — I at length determined to remove to 
the riverside at Pneil till I recovered a little of the strength I 
felt I could never regain in the pestilential air of the New Bush, 
with its filth and bad water. And from Pneil I thought I would 
return for a brief space to Old England, where I knew the ex- 
perience gained on the diggings would enable me to make money 
in several ways, and to organise several lucrative speculations 
before again proceeding to the Fields. One of the friends before 
referred to drove me over from the New Bush to Pniel in a spring 
cart drawn by two mules and two horses. The roads are terribly 
rough within five or six miles of Pniel, and though the cart was 
a most comfortable one, I suffered agonies from the jolting, for I 
had lost nearly all my flesn, and discovered bones of whose very 
existence I was previously ignorant. But I began already to feel 
that I was homeward-bound. 

At six p.m., I was safely deposited at Jardine's most com- 
fortable hotel at Pniel, where I received every kindness, had 
medical attendance, and enjoyed excellent food, to which I was 
soon able to do full justice. During my illness my partner, 
having succeeded in getting four Kafirs at the advanced wages of 
eight shillings per week and food, found several small diamonds 
in the New Bush claim, and he is in confident hopes of very 
large finds when they get down a little deeper. It is truly a 
wonderful place. I will give you a brief account of it in a 
separate paper. 

Previous to my leaving the camp we sold our old Du Toit's 
Pan claim for 161. 10s. Wanting to lighten my luggage as 
much as possible, as the passenger-cart only allows 401b. of 
baggage, I gave my gun, revolver, and many other articles to an 
auctioneer at the New Bush, and he got very good prices for 
them. I heard of many more cases of sickness — one death — 
in a very short time, from the same diseases which had attacked 
me, and felt happy to be away from the camp. It is a great 
place for making money, that is certain ; but, under the present 
abominably defective sanitary arrangements, unhealthy during 
the hot season. I had to stay ten days at Pniel, as, though the 
comfortable waggons of the Inland Transport Company start 
thence weekly for Cape Town, they are generally very full at this 
time of year with lucky diggers going home to the Cape to spend 
Christmas with their families. It must be delightful for a 
digger who resides at the Cape to reach his home, familv, and 



MY DIARY AT THE DRY DIGGINGS. 



235 



friends, in eight or nine days, or even less, from the Diamond 
Fields. All the seats are engaged long in advance, and it was 
only by the accident, fortunate for me, of an invalid staying at 
Jardine's feeling too ill to proceed, that I got the chance of a 
seat in the waggon leaving Pniel on the 13th November. I 
found that the old diggings at Pniel and Klip Drift were nearly 
deserted, scarcely fifty claims being worked on both sides of 
the river, and the little tpwns presenting a striking contrast to 
the New Bush in everything — in their quietude and appearance 
of peaceful stagnation ; in the large, dark boulders and bright 
gravel of which the claims were composed, instead of the red 
sand, glowing white limestone, and crumbling green trap of the 
New Bush ; and, most refreshingly, in the broad stream of the 
Vaal. with its rocky, trout-suggesting rapids, its deep pools, its 
bright green islets, and the grand shade-giving trees which fringed 
its banks. 

Pniel and Klip Drift are by no means "worked out" yet, a 
stone of 34^- carats was found during my stay there, besides 
several smaller ones, and the " river-stones ' are generally of 
very good quality. Three diggers from the New Bush, arriving 
at Pniel on the Saturday afternoon during my stay, and of course 
hastening at once to the river to bathe, found a nice little dia- 
mond on the surface, on their way down to the waterside. 

And now I am in Old England again, and have almost 
regained my strength. Though I have been one of the unlucky 
ones, I cannot but speak well of the Diamond Fields, where I 
have seen so many fortunes realised in a marvellously short time. 

The daily yields of nearly all the claims at the wonderful New 
Bush, or " Colesberg Kopje," are large and certain, but claims 
there cost from 1000/. to 4000/. each, and are regarded as safe 
investments. There are, however, plenty of good claims to be 
had cheap at Du Toit's Pan, Old De Beer's, and Bultfontein, and 
I heard before I left of a great "new rush," four miles from the 
Colesberg Kopje. 

I believe firmly that thorough prospecting will soon reveal the 
existence of innumerable rich diggings. The new gold dis- 
coveries in the Transvaal, about four hunched miles from the 
centre of the Diamond Fields, promise to be very rich, and are 
already attracting many colonial fortune seekers. 

I am very far from regretting my first visit to the South 
African Diamond Fields, and hope ere long to be " outward 
bound " again. 






I 

I- 



PART V. 

THE GOLD FIELDS. 



CHAPTER I. 



THE TATIN. 



The Tatin Gold Fields were discovered, I think, in 1809, are 
situated far in the interior, about 800 miles above the Diamond 
Fields. From what I have heard, there seems to be no alluvial 
gold there, and consequently no surface digging. The gold there 
is in quartz-reefs, and the auriferous quartz is being worked by an 
English company, who have taken up, at great expense, the 
heavy machinery necessary for quartz- crushing, amalgamating, &c. 
The quartz is said to be now yielding very fairly ; but I think that, 
independently of the very long, trying, and expensive journey, 
there is very little actual inducement for any private digger with 
small capital to visit the Tatin Gold Fields. ° 



NEWLY-DISCOVERED GOLD FIELDS. 237 



CHAPTER II. 

THE TRANSVAAL, OR LEYDENBURG, NEWLY-DISCOVERED 

GOLD FIELDS, 

During the month of September, 1871, considerable excitement 
was created on the Diamond Fields and in other parts of the 
colony by the news that gold, both alluvial and in quartz-reefs, 
in apparently good paying quantities, had been discovered in the 
territory of the Transvaal Republic, and notably near Marabas 
Stad, 160 miles from Pretoria, the capital of the Republic. 

A gentleman named Button, a resident in the district, was 
appointed Gold Commissioner for the Transvaal Republic, and he 
and other gentlemen immediately set to work to energetically 
and carefully explore the auriferous region. 

On the 25th September, Mr. Button writes as follows to the 
Government Secretary at Pretoria : — 

Marabas Stad, 25th September, 1871. 
g m? — I have the honour to enclose a small sample of alluvial gold ? 
which I regret is all I can send at present. My two friends, with the 
twenty Kafirs, have not yet arrived ; and, owing to the unsettled state of 
the country, no native labour can be procured here. I intend leaving to- 
morrow for Leydenburg to make arrangements that will enable me to work 
the deposit efficiently. Will you please oblige by exhibiting the gold to 
the honourable members of the Volksraad, and explain my position, The 
sample, small as it is, will prove that the metal does exist in the alluvial 
state, and the deposit from which it was taken is payable beyond doubt. 

Your obedient servant, 

(Signed) Edward Button, 

Gold Commissioner. 

This letter was received with great satisfaction by the members 
of the Volksraad (Legislative Council) and the public present. 
The sample of alluvial gold was forwarded from Pretoria by 
waggon to Natal, to be sent on to the Oonsul-General of the 
Transvaal Republic in England, together with a box full of gold- 
quartz specimens. Large quantities of the auriferous quartz, 
and small samples of the alluvial gold were also forwarded about 
this time to the Commercial Chambers of Durban and Cape Town, 
to be exhibited before being sent on to England. Three different 



238 



THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



parties, consisting of Messrs. McFie, Gray, Leathern., Brooks, and 
Webber, at once started for the new Eldorado ; and many other 
persons, both on the Diamond Fields and in Natal, prepared to 
leave for Marabas Stad. Mr. Leathern, soon after his arrival 
there, wrote a letter, of which the following extract was published 
in the Natal Mercury of 25th November. — 

My reason for writing to you now is to tell you the news, which you very 
likely have heard before this, that a new Gold Field has been discovered in 
the Transvaal, on the road to Zoutpansberg, near a place called Marabas 
Staadt, 1G0 miles from Pretoria. I returned from the Diamond Fields and 
heard of this discovery, but did not believe it, thinking it to be a dodge of 
some land speculators to sell their land. I and two others went with a 
cart and horses, determined to try if there was gold there, and in payable 
quantities, which I found to confirm the description I had heard of it I 
went to the farm purchased by Mr. E. Button, late of Natal, where I 
washed the soil and found alluvial gold, twenty-four grains in three hours 
—fine nuggetty gold. I also went about on several quartz-reefs, and found 
lots of gold in the quartz— the out-crops— so that I calculated that the 
quartz underground must be very rich indeed. I have brought the alluvial 
with me ; also some quartz, and a small bag of the wash in which the gold 
is found. The only drawback I can see in the affair is the shortness of 
water, but that can be managed by making reservoirs or dams. The rainy 
season is coming, and there will be lots of facilities for making the dams 

??n e 1S iT° P laC ° Whcre tbe water can be led out about tlire e miles, round 
a hill and back. I was thinking of bringing the specimens to the Chamber 
of Commerce. The large nugget must be returned, as I have promised it 
Ine people are going mad with excitement about the gold. 

In a letter dated Pretoria, 11th October, to a friend at the 
Diamond Fields, Mr. Leathern says : — 

Send up as many people as you can. There is plenty of gold— alluvial 
as well as quartz— and they need not be afraid. 

This is about all that was known about these new Fields when 
I left the Diamond Diggings, but the excitement there was 
already intense, and a great many parties were leaving for 
Marabas Stad and neighbourhood. Many of them will. I fear 
regret this over-haste and imprudence, as I believe, 'though 
neither Mr. Button nor Mr. Leathern say anything about it, that 
the climate up there is far more unhealthy than that of the 
Diamond Fields, and fever terribly prevalent there during the 
hot season, which was just setting in. But " auri sacra fames " 
will make a man face anything. 

t We have only heard hitherto of the auspicious results of a 
little prospecting, but we may now soon expect news of what 
some of the working parties have done, and almost everyone seems 
confident of the success of the Transvaal Gold Fields. 



NEWLY-DISOOVERED GOLD FIELDS. 



239 



Advertisements like the following were frequently to be seen 
in the Diamond News in November: — 

GOLD, GOLD, GOLD. 

A CERTAINTY. 

TRANSVAAL REPUBLIC. 

The undersigned has for Sale, Farms in the Waterberg and Leydenberg 
districts. 

For further particulars, apply to 

FRANK COWELL, Auctioneer. &c, De Beer's. 






v 



.. 



^K 



"3 



240 THE DIAMOND DIGGINGS. 



CHAPTER III. 

ROUTES TO THE GOLD FIELDS. 

These new Fields can be reached either from Natal or the 
Diamond Fields, according as the digger wishes to go direct after 
the new gold,, or to work some time at the Diamond Fields first. I 
believe the distance from Pniel is about 400 miles. At present, 
of course, bullock waggons are the only available means of con- 
veyance for general passengers and goods. Private parties can, 
however, purchase carts, horses, or mules for the journey, and if the 
fields turn out well, quick-travelling transport companies will soon 
be started. Already some of our enterprising store-keepers of the 
Diamond Fields have laid in a good stock of all gold-diggers' 
tools and necessaries, while many waggons were advertised to 
start from the Diamond to the Gold Diggings. With regard to 
the route from Natal, Mr. Leathern says : 

The best road for people to go by is either through Newcastle, then alon« 
the post road to the Vaal River, Stander's Drift ; from that to Heidelberg^ 
thence to Pretoria; then to Neilstrom ; then to Makapans Poort; then to 
Marabas Stad ; and then to Button's farm ; or another road people can go 
by is by Harrismith to the Sand Drift, then to Heidelberg, and thence to 
Pretoria. The road is pretty good, barring a few mud holes, which the 
President has promised to have filled up. The only really bad place is 
about thirty miles from the Fields, and that is not so very bad. Twenty 
Kafirs in about three days would make it good. There is lots of wood, 
water, and grass along the road. 

I would not at present advise any one to take out tools, &c. 
from England, at any rate until we have some more certain news 
of the successful working of these fields, as everything can be 
bought comparatively cheaply at Natal, or on the Diamond Fields. 
That there is gold, not only here but in many other parts of the 
neighbouring interior, appears certain, from the frequency with 
which gold has been found in the possession of natives, and the 
quartz and auriferous indications noticed by interior hunters and 
traders. In fact, a great many, even of the more accessible parts 
of South Africa, which promises now to turn out one of the 
richest mineral countries in the world, are well worthy of careful 
exploration by practical mineralogists. 



Printed by Horace Cox, 346, Strand, W.C. 



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