Page 12 – ‘Notes of a trip’ by Robert Jameson

kaleidoscope, only waiting the pen of some local Bret Harte to catch picture, and serve them graphical1y to the reader.

                     Substitute the Boer for the Mexican and the coolie for the Chinaman and we realize some of that clever artist’s charming word paintings of Californian miner life. A coolie waiter at the “Crown,” clad in spotless white! Saluted us with a most unexpected “salaam, Sahib,” and introduced himself as an old servant of our club who” very much know Sahib long, time, and no this place good, very too mush smell. Where will not the enterprise of these irresistible people find them next? Altogether Barberton out-door life is interesting in its many phases, and in types all its own.

                     One is struck with the preponderance of Natal and especially of Durban men here. It made one feel as if in West Street, and therefore quite at home, as all met us with most kindly greeting and offers of assistance. Natal indeed is well represented everywhere on, these “fields” -in men, in the capital invested and in the energy being devoted to their development; and familiar faces, bronzed and hirsute, were, encountered” constantly in the, most out-of-the-way places. Some of these have already made their “pile,” and many others have done well, while many more have excellent prospects, so that I think as a colony we have little cause for complaint in our share of the luck, Of course there are exceptions; and here I should say again what has been so often said before, that this is no place for a poor man, or for anyone who cannot afford to be idle for some months while coaxing fortune. Men, with capital and skilled handicraftsmen, especially miners, will do well, but there are absolutely no openings for store men, clerks, and the like, and labouring men without trades go to certain penury, The professional classes doctors, lawyers, and civil engineers or surveyors – are well represented, and business is already overdone by the rush which has occurred from the colonies, so that the needs of the community are practically narrowed to those who can afford. to be to a certain extent independent for some time, and who wiII devote themselves to the hard work of prospecting on the hills, from which the wealth is to be extracted. I do not think that Barberton will increase indefinitely in importance or size, it must always be a centre of business activity; but the small townships which are already beginning to spring up in the mountains, near the mines or reefs will necessarily draft off business, and restrict its expansion in Barberton. This is of course a matter of opinion. I give it for what it is worth.

                     The Boer farmer on his sturdy pony is as readily picked out in the busy throng, his swarthy skin, ample beard, his brown corduroys and his gutturals are all his own. Numerous kafirs, “Sans culottes” and sans almost everything else but dirt, are of course everywhere, and as usual noisy and happy – where are they not so? Here comes a string of kafir damsels, under the care of father or brother, each upright as a dart, balancing on their head a Pumpkin or a calabash of native beer and innocent of anything but the merest apology for clothing, their bronzed, but withal shapely limps and lithe figures offering, admirable models for sculptor or artist. The mild hindoo has tramped wearily up here too, and his bright scarf or scarlet turban lend bits of colouring to a

The Pretoria Government has exercised a wise discretion in selecting as gold commissioner Mr. Van der Merwe, a most hard-worked and indefatigable official of imperturbable good nature, who amid the incessant worry of endless duties, manages to give everyone satisfaction. I tried day after day to get near him to procure some statistical information, but in vain. His office was daily crammed by an eager throng, wanting prospectors’ or diggers’ licences, registering claims, etc. There is in his office ample work for three men, and he is fairly entitled to the assistance, if he is not to break down.

As an evidence of the orderly community Barberton represents, I may say that one white constable is all that hitherto has been found necessary to maintain a show of authority and a revolver is never seen at all. The stocks are the only means of restraint visible, and one night these, with a prisoner’ attached, were walked off bodily by some friends of his in a frolicsome humour. At present hotel accommodation is totally inadequate to the wants of the town, and there is as a consequence a great scramble for food or bed. The” Phoenix” Hotel is one of the best of reefs, the place being all day and all night crowded to excess, a bed on the billiard table being the height of luxury, and he