Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/471

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THE DIAMOND INDUSTRY AT KIMBERLEY.

THE DIAMOND INDUSTRY AT KIMBERLEY.[1]
By LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL.

NOTHING in the external appearance of Kimberley suggests either its fame or its wealth. A straggling, haphazard connection of small, low dwellings, constructed almost entirely of corrugated iron or of wood, laid out with hardly any attempt at regularity, and without the slightest trace of municipal magnificence, is the home of the diamond industry. It seems that when the diamonds were first discovered, some twenty years ago, many thousands of persons settled down suddenly on the spot like a cluster of swarming bees, and established themselves anyhow as best they could in the most rough and primitive fashion, never dreaming but that the yield of diamonds would be of limited extent and of short duration, that their fortunes would be rapidly acquired, and that they would pass as rapidly away from the place, having exhausted all its wealth-producing resources. The reverse has proved to be the case. The diamondiferous resources of Kimberley are now known to be practically inexhaustible, but the amalgamation of the mines has restricted employment and checked immigration, and the town still preserves, and probably will always preserve, its transitory and rough-and-ready appearance. There are, however, a number of excellent shops, and there are few articles of necessity, of convenience, or of luxury which can not here be purchased. A most comfortable and hospitable club, an admirably laid-out and well-arranged race-course testify to the thoroughly English character of the settlement. At Kimberley the diamond is everything, and the source and method of its production claim more than a passing mention. My first visit was to the offices of the De Beers Company, which company represents the amalgamated interests of the De Beers, Kimberley, Bultfontein, Du Toits Pan, and other smaller mines. The amalgamation was the work of Mr. Cecil Rhodes, and it was this great work, accomplished in the teeth of unheard-of difficulties and almost insurmountable opposition, representing the conciliation and unification of almost innumerable rival jarring and conflicting interests, which revealed to South Africa that it possessed a public man of the first order. The scale of the company's operations is stupendous. On a capital of nearly £8,000,000 of debenture and share stock it has paid, since its formation in 1888 up to March, 1890, interest at the rate of 5½ per cent, and an annual dividend of 20 per cent. In the same period it has given out some 2,500,000


  1. From Men, Mines, and Animals of South Africa. By Lord Randolph Churchill. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1892.