the directors here being so divergent', in order that the London
directors should be fully conversant with the alluvial position. On 22
September 1927, L. A. Pollak in Johannesburg was informed by H. S.
Ernest has had, what I think is, a slight attack of influenza and has
not been very fit since Sunday. He has, however, continued the diamond
negotiations which are somewhat at a deadlock, the formula being
'although I love you dearly, it is quite impossible for me to overcome
Harris's objection'. When I say that the negotiations are somewhat at
a deadlock, perhaps that is putting it too strongly, because,
personally, it seems to me on analysis that the attitude is a
preliminary to compromise rather than an ultimatum before breaking. It
has already been suggested also that Sir Ernest should make a 'beau
geste' and give up the extraordinary good hand he holds at the moment,
while abandoning his claim to the chairmanship; this of course, is not
business. . . .
This was confirmed by a cable from Ernest Oppenheimer himself a week later:
. . Rothschilds support me for the chairmanship and would like to
acquire our alluvial interest(s) and S. B. Joel, while professing
friendship, makes Harris excuse for opposition. Under the circumstances
no deal with De Beers likely, as I will not deal without the
chairmanship. Shall have full and final discussion with S. B. Joel
early in next week; therefore delayed departure until 7 October.
It is evident that we will finally be forced further increase our holding in De Beers. . . .
The year was not to end, however, without a minor victory. In January of the year Ernest had reported to Louis Oppenheimer that:
who I feel convinced has really taken a great fancy to me, spoke to me
about the chairmanship of the Premier company. While in Kimberley he
discussed the matter with Harris who was enthusiastically in favour of
my being appointed. He then spoke to Hirschhorn, who just as definitely
objected. At Joel's request I spoke to Hirschhorn and the conversation
was somewhat as follows:
told him that Joel had asked me to speak to him, to which he replied
that it was useless to say anything at all as his mind was made up, and
he continued that, to be perfectly frank with me, he did not admit
that I knew any more than he did and, as he had been top dog so long,
he was not prepared to sit 011 any board with me as chairman. I told
him that that cleared the position and left it at that.