Page 3 – ‘Notes of a trip’ by Robert Jameson

All was calm, peaceful, and beautiful around us, where formerly was so much military activity and parade, and much food for reflection occurred as we sat on the verandah and looked out on it all. As illustrative of the wandering propensities of our Anglo-Saxon race, we found in our host an old Durban acquaintance, a Scotchman who had mined in California, left that with a volunteer corps raised there during the American war, served throughout that war, under Sherman and Grant, was in many of the principal engagements and saw Lee surrender his sword. Found his way here subsequently and went off as a differ again, to the Lydenburg Fields, left there to join a volunteer corps in the Sekukuni war, just for fun, got a couple of wounds, returned to Durban, served on the Durban Borough Police, and subsequently as a guard on the N.G. Railway, and now has settled down as a farmer and hotel keeper, with every evidence of comfort and prosperity in his surroundings. There’s a history to weave into a romance.

                     Passing through these upper districts of our colony, one is struck with the vast area of unoccupied land, with the extreme paucity of cultivation, or other signs of human presence. This is to be accounted for, we were assured, by the land greed of the Boer population, many of whom have huge farms of from 20,000 to 50,000 acres, or even more; they will not part with an acre, and cannot themselves utilise it. One man an absentee, holds I was told some 85,000 acres, this time an Englishman, which he lets exclusively to kafirs at a high rental, and contributes not a penny to the revenue of the colony from which he draws his wealth, while yearly his lands increase in value by the exertions of others who wrest their living from the soil, and are developing the country. Surely legislation is capable of reaching such cases as these; this is a true parasite, and as such I commend him to the notice of Mr. Escombe.
I was told, with what truth I cannot say, that it is customary for farmers in the free State and Transvaal to hire our Crown lands at the Government at a rental of 1d. per acre per annum and then to sub-let the farms, to kafir tenants at a good rent. If this be so, some legislation is needed to check such an abuse of the grazing licence. Bidding adieu to our friend Frazer, we continued our ascent of the berg, passed under the sombre shadow of Majuba, crossed over Lang’s Neck and passed into a charming bit of country beyond, and in the afternoon crossing a dry watercourse were within the Transvaal. Before sundown we reached Michaelson’s store and Mossop’s Hotel, a very comfortable place; but we pushed on to save the remainder of daylight to Sandspruit, Mr. Rutherford’s hotel and store, where we were well provided fore.

                    INCIDENTS BY THE WAY

In front of Michaelson’s store is erected an obelisk to the memory of the Boers who fell at Lang’s Neck during the late war, and adjoining it is the office of Mr. Celleirs, the Transvaal Customs official, whom we found to be both an intelligent and courteous gentleman. Between Llanwarne (Michaelson’s) and Sand Spruit (Rutherford’s) the physical features of the country abruptly change, the rugged and picturesque mountains are left behind, and from here onwards for nearly 150 miles the country is open, a vast undulating prairie extending as far as the eye can reach, entirely destitute of trees, and except on the distant horizon without a mountain. The prairie clothes in the soft green of early spring will no doubt be very beautiful. At present it is yellow with withered grasses, or is wrapped in inky blackness where they have been burnt off. Watercourses are frequent, dry