A Handbook of the Boer War eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 357 pages of information about A Handbook of the Boer War.

[Footnote 22:  At the battle of Omdurman he had put short range principles successfully into practice against dervishes.]

[Footnote 23:  The mistake in Hart’s map is shown by a broken line in the sketch map.  It is, curiously enough, reproduced in the Colenso map not only of the Times History, but also of the German Official Report on the War.]

[Footnote 24:  See Combined Training, 1905, p. 109.]

[Footnote 25:  Sic in his speech of October 10, 1901, but he probably meant “sandwiched.”]

CHAPTER IV

Kimberley and the Siege of Rhodes

More than thirty years before the outbreak of the Second Boer War a Dutch child in the Hopetown District of Cape Colony found, while playing carelessly near the left bank of the Orange, a pretty pebble that was destined to mould the History of South Africa.

He took the bagatelle home to his father’s farm, where a neighbour, one Van Niekirk, saw it and was struck by its brilliancy.  It chanced that the Irishman O’Reilly was passing that way and to him it was entrusted to take to Colesberg for expert opinion upon its value.  Here certain Jews declared that it was but a white topaz not worth one shilling and it was disdainfully cast out into the road, from which it was with difficulty recovered by O’Reilly, whose belief in it though shaken was not wholly abandoned.  Through a mutual friend, Lorenzo Boyes, Acting Civil Commissioner of the District, the pebble came to the notice of an expert mineralogist named Atherstone at Grahamstown, but it was held so lightly in esteem by the sender that it reached Atherstone as an enclosure in an ordinary unregistered letter.  Atherstone examined it, and when it had not only spoilt all the jeweller’s files in the town but had also passed an examination by polarized light, pronounced that it was a diamond worth £500.  His certificate to its character, which had been so ignorantly disparaged, was the origin of the Diamond industry of South Africa.  Another diamond was soon picked up near Hopetown which without difficulty or misadventure rose to its own plane in mineralogy.  Its career was short and its destiny happy.  It was purchased by the first Earl of Dudley for the adornment of his second wife.

When it was noised abroad with the customary exaggeration that the monopoly of Golconda and the Brazils was at an end and that diamonds grew wild on the South African veld, a wide extent of country was explored and the precious crystallized carbon was found in districts separated by many hundreds of miles.  In certain places, one of which became known as the town of Kimberley, it was ascertained to recur in a constant proportion of the contents of the “pipes” or volcanic tubes which rose through the surface strata.

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A Handbook of the Boer War from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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