secured plants of fortunately, as also bulbs of a new pretty pink lily, which Mr, Wood, of the Botanic Gardens, has not yet identified, from my imperfect specimens.
Our next excursion from Barberton was in the opposite direction, viz. to Moodies. As before mentioned,. This is about seven miles from the town, or rather seven miles to the foot of the hill. This property purchased by a Maritzburg syndicate from Mr. Moodie, represents twelve farms, in extent 48,000 acres and consists for the most part of mountains, many of them of considerable altitude. The whole of these are more or less auriferous some that have been developed prove exceptionally so.
It was here that digging was first commenced, and at one time a considerable population of miners and others were located in Three camps, one at the foot, and the others high up on the hills, called respectively the lower, middle and high camps, and it was then a busy place. The terms dictated to the diggers by the company, after it passed into their hands by purchase, were considered oppressive and unjust, viz., prospecting free, and subsequently on finds œ2 a month licence for each claim; 12 first, and latterly 8 per cent on gross yields, with water and wood licences charged additional.
The consequences have been that as soon as gold was discovered on Government land a rush was made there, the charges being prospectors 10s. per month, and diggers 20s. per month per claim. Moodie’s was then deserted, except by the diggers who had got a good thing in hand.
I am not prepared to discuss the wisdom of the policy of the company. I merely state the facts the consequences are visible in the ruins of the three villages or camps and in the large population working now on the Sheba range, who, they assert would otherwise have all been at Moodies, to the mutual advantage of all concerned. The company have a most able, energetic, and popular manager in Mr. Anderson, so well known in Natal as a son of our soil, but the directorate being in Maritzburg, he must necessarily have his hands tied to a great extent. Notwithstanding the exodus, there are some of the best concerns on the fields being worked here; and I have no doubt from all I could gather that a modus vivendi may be arrived at which will induce diggers to return again, when the company’s prospects will be indeed promising.
Whitehead’s, Tiger Trap, Natalia, Alpine, and Pioneer, are the properties most familiar to us, and all are good sound-going concerns. Ascending from the De Kaap Valley, we rode up a glen bonded by high, rounded, bare hills, watered by a mountain torrent, and passing Whitehead’s and Tiger Trap-which we had unfortunately no time to visit, although it would have repaid us, as both are admirably managed-we pressed on up the glen until we arrived at the Pioneer, which we had come specially to inspect. I confess that of all the places which I had seen this gave me the most pleasure, for it was in full and perfect working order, with spacious and comfortable houses, shafts, tunnels and machinery, turning out monthly a handsome return to its fortunate owners, although it does not in the latter respect pretend to rival the Bray’s or Thomas’ Reefs.
I have the less reserve in speaking (thus freely as the few proprietors work it themselves, and have no intention of forming a company, having ample capital of their own. This is the property of the Brothers Hillary, of Durban, my