1885 - United States
September 12th, 1885
Liverpool Saturday morning
Your note just received - the wind was fresh here yesterday but nothing to say rough - Mr. Stone says it was blowing a bit in London - we are just starting - plenty of rain - will drop a line from Queenstown tomorrow - God bless you all with much love.
Cunard Royal Mail Streamship "Etruria" Saturday Evening, 9.45
My Beloved Angee,
We have had 9 or 10 hours at sea and it would be interesting indeed to narrate all that one has observed – altogether it is wonderful in every way – ship and all her infinite details of comfort equal and in many ways superior to the best Hotel I was ever in – am much pleased with my berth and room and my companion is a very nice fellow – It was all excitement in leaving L'pool this morning and when the tender with her human freight came alongside the Etruria it was really almost appauling[?] - She seemed like a mountain and for about 2 hours after embarking it was a scene to see the 6 or 700 passengers looking for their berths and the passages crammed with luggage which seemed could not possibly ever find a place in the berths – now all is changed and the most perfect order reigns in every part of the ship – The large saloon in which I am now writing is very grand and all the people seem first class and already I have made some interesting acquaintances – as soon as we started we went into Mr Stone's room and had a precious moment of prayer – Mr S. prayed very sweetly indeed and for Mrs Petter among a lot of others – he seems very bright and fresh for the Lord. It was looking very wild when we left and as the afternoon came on we got into a stiff gale for 3 or 4 hours which was very grand – I never heard such a howl of wind in my life and the waves were running high but as they came up against our ship, she seemed to cut them in two and sent them flying right and left of her and our ship was scarcely moving – not a bit of roll and scarcely any pitching – it was quite a new experience to be in such a gale of wind and yet to find the ship steady – now it has cleared off nicely and become quite fine, good starlight and sea gone down nicely, so that there is every appearance of a very fine night and early arrival at Queenstown. I am thoroughly enjoying it and trust the Lord will give much blessing on the voyage – I have not yet seen one person unwell, although the gale was at its worst while dining and the cradles were down. Now going in for the night, so good night my beloved Angee.
September 12th 1895 - Log
Embarked on board the Etruria at noon and about 1.30 she had received from the tenders in waiting her passengers , numbering about 560who are all saloon tenants – we sailed out against a very fresh head wind and not many minutes after starting just as we were getting well under way, a tug boat came chasing across our path with a gentleman on board who was a little late – he lifted his hands to heaven and besought the commander of the Etruria to take him on board and Captain Cook gave orders to stop her and the tug came alongside and the gentleman quickly stepped off the small craft and was evidently thankful for the very kind consideration of the Captain. After an hour's steaming we were getting well out in the channel and the head wind soon became a stiff gale. Our huge ship seemed to take but little notice of it, but as night gathered in my heart trembled in the midst of the new surroundings and visions of Atlantic gales and waves nearing mountain height soon filled the mind. The scene of confusion on board for a few hours would baffle all description – the number of passengers being the largest that has ever crossed the Atlantic in one steamer. The greater number were Americans returning after a few months visit having luggage altogether out of proportion to anything I ever saw in England and many boxes seemed large enough to swallow a dozen ordinary portmanteaus. In a few hours however, all had been carried to the various state rooms that were needed for the voyage while the great bulk of it was stowed away in the hold and hatchways. About 11 we retired to Mr Stones's state room and bowed together in prayer to God committing our loved ones at home to his Father's care and ourselves to His keeping on the voyage we had just commenced. I had no sleep that night – my mind seemed appalled with the ship and its terrible power forcing her with such speed through waves and storms – we reached Queenstown harbour at 7 on Sunday morning. It was a beautiful morning and the harbour and country all around looked very grand. We landed about 9 with perhaps some 2 or 300 more passengers – Mr Stone and Mr Herbert went to hear Dr Hall of New York who went ashore too, having been appointed to preach at one of the chapels in Queenstown that morning – I walked about the quays and conversed with little groups of people who received the simple truth of the gospel very nicely I thought – It was very striking to see the reverence with which the people were walking to church – old and young nicely dressed and looking happy in their faces and all carrying a book – we got on board the tender again and[sic] 12.30 and were soon back to our ship and at 2 O'clock the Eturia's mighty power was put forth again and we were at such a speed – we kept on deck until 10 and then turned in and my second night was without sleep as the first had been – being in the bow of the ship we were ascending and descending some 20 or 30 feet every minute or two and now and again as the seas came over us in gave the idea of being swamped for a second or two. At [the] time it seemed as I lay on the berth, as if our ship was falling down over a mountainside with all its fearful weight and to my nerves it was a terrible moment of suspense until one felt that we were once more ascending the next sea.
To sleep under such conditions was more than my nerves could attain to. Monday was a little finer and I began to get accustomed to it all and as meal times came round was always ready for them. It is quite a little world of itself and full of interest in every part of it and acquaintances began to be formed and a few American Christians I have met I am very much pleased with, indeed I am already getting quite taken up with them and their kindness and hospitality. On Monday night It was calmer and I had good solid sleep all the night – my friend and companion having no charge to make against me as yet for driving the pigs to market.
Tuesday morning came with a fresh northerly wind and for 5 or 6 hours in the morning the sea was very high and very grand – in the afternoon the wind went round to the South a little, bringing rain and the sea soon went down and we had a beautiful time in the evening and Tuesday night – our log on Monday at noon shewed that we had run 375 knots from Queenstown – Tuesday log 420 knots and today Wednesday 434, so that as I am writing they say we are about halfway across now in mid-Atlantic and it is calculated we shall reach New York on Sunday morning. The order on board is very striking and the most scrupulous cleanliness – no bad smells anywhere. It is a huge floating hotel – the servants and waiters looking as clean and prim as you would see them at the Duke of Cornwall at Plymouth. The table is abundantly supplied with the best and choicest things the earth could produce – the saloon at any of the meals is indeed a sight – we take our meals in two companies. I get up at 6 mornings and get a salt water bath soon after which is most enjoyable and glad enough for breakfast time to come 8.30. The food question must be a deeply interesting one for the Cunard Company – the kitchen is a sight indeed. The following statistics will convey some idea of the magnitude of the ship and her appointments to your mind – there are
8,000 Iron tonage
14,500 horse power
300 tons coal per day
5 decks 520 ft long
57 ft wide
41 ft. depth of hold
Promenade deck 300 ft long
2 low pressure engines 105 inch cylinder
1 high pressure 71 inch cylinder
12,000 pieces of linen on board taking 14 or 15 men a whole day to count over on arrival at New York and Liverpool at each of which places it is all washed.
Every room is lit with the electric light. I greatly enjoy Mr Stone's company – he seems filled with Christ and ready to every good work – we have reading and prayer together every day, and hours of conversation on the deck. I have not been down to see the furnaces and the engine crank – have heard those who have seen it say it is really awful to look at - know that it must be from the way the ship is driven through the sea – I shall not complain to return in a smaller boat taking a day or two more to accomplish the voyage, but altogether I am enjoying it very much and it is a real change for me and have no doubt but that I shall enjoy the few weeks in America – have had a very pressing invitation from one gentleman and his sister (a bright Christian) to visit them at Pittsburgh – Mr Stone is very much taken up with them too – the gentleman a Mr Stewart is the manager of some great railway system there – we seem to have fallen in love with one another. He is the goods manager of the Pennsylvania System of 3,000 miles of railway.
Thursday afternoon – Since yesterday we have had our first experience of fog as we drew near the Newfoundland Banks – we got into it last night about 7 and did not get through it until about 9 this morning – Captain on Deck all the night and fog horn sounding every 8 or 9 minutes. It did not hinder my getting a good night's sleep for which I am very thankful – they run the ships at full speed through the fog and as the sea has been very smooth this was at the rate of about 24 miles an hour – our log today shews that we ran 450 knots yesterday – that is equal to all 523 English miles – we are now nearly over the banks and pass through a lot of fishing vessels.
The more I see of Mr Stone the more I like him – his whole heart is devoted to the Lord and His interests here – he is much taken up too with my Pittsburgh friends and hopes I shall be able to visit them on my way back from Chicago. Spent an hour this morning with Dr Hall of New York and we both enjoyed the conversation – he is one of the great preachers in New York but I found him very nice and simple – he loves the truth and appears to have a good deal of light. The passengers seem very happy with each other and are not offended to be spoken to and I have found a good many Christians among them. If the Americans on board are a fair sample of the people they are a fine lot, but I expect the company and mostly of the well-to-do class, but there is an openness of character and a boldness I very much like – they are all very intelligent and some of their faces are to my thinking the finest I ever saw. Travelling is a great delight to them and they seem to think little of a trip to Europe – visiting England, Paris and Switzerland as though the distance separating these spots was nothing.
Friday morning – we have had another fine night. The weather this morning is very grand and the ocean like a mill pond and our splendid ship continues ploughing her way without a moment's cessation – the engines have not stopped once since leaving Queenstown and we are now only 5 or 600 miles from Sandy Hook – the first point of land we make on the American side. This morning the saloon was crowded for first breakfast at 8 and now I am writing on the deck which is a most interesting scene – the greater number of our passengers are sitting and promenading the decks with faces bright enough as the prospect of home is realised. It is said we shall reach Sandy Hook tomorrow Saturday evening and land at New York on Lord's Day morning. We have not seen any fog since getting off the Newfoundland banks yesterday afternoon and having turned the corner yesterday and sailing more South we are feeling the difference of climate very sensibly. We sail out on a circle going northwest and when about halfway go southwest to get into New York latitude.
The longer one remains on board the more the grandeur of the ship is appreciated – it certainly is a consummation of human skill aided by vast experience, to produce such a ship which for her infinitude of detail is marvellous the minutest part of which is constructed for the safety and comfort of the passengers. Every man on board is trained for action in an emergency. The boson's whistle is very interesting – no bawling out in angry tones which would certainly not be to our comfort, but when anything is needed to be done to sails or rigging the little shrill whistle gives it varied and distinct sounds which are well understood by the seamen and very quickly responded to – thus all goes on quickly and "no bustle" – I am told she has provisions for 6 months – her stores being half in the fore part and the other in the hinder part of the ship, so that if any calamity took her either end, she would have supplies untouched in the other. She is also built in 4 water tight compartments and the stewards on hearing a signal would instantly close the massive iron doors that would make each compartment secure and independent of the other. The fresh meat and food of this is kept in a large refrigerator room and an engine works near our state room to pump air into it continually. On visiting this part the engineer showed me a handful of snow he had just made.
Had nice conversations with Mr Stone yesterday who spoke very openly to me about P.F.&Co. business – we also had a very long chat about Reading troubles – I have never seen a more lovely Christian character in my life – such unfeigned faith and childlike simplicity and sincerity – I do feel it to be a very special favour of the Lord to have been permitted to spend such a time with him – it would do your soul good to be with us in prayer. My companion Mr Herbert is a very sterling man and we get on capitally together – we were chatting in our berths this morning before 6 – he was speaking of a visit he made to Ilfracombe about 14 years ago and was trying to think of the name of the person he lodged with – I soon helped him out of his difficulty and found it was Mrs Widlakes – he was very much amused at hearing Mr Widlake relate some of his quaint stories and remembered one that I had often heard him relate at the Sunday school about a lad who thought the stars were lanterns and when this was rather doubted said that he had seen the men go up a ladder on Coddon Hill and light them. Mr Herbert also remembered Mr & Mrs Lauder and knew a daughter of John Sarl's[?] living in the neighbourhood of Brixton whose husband was doing well with some patent medicine. Mr Herbert is something of Martin's build and we generally have a little fun when he commences climbing into his berth, over mine, and the mattresses being sprung, I can see the deep impression his figure makes as he moves about and I sometimes put up my hand to point out where the depression in the mattress seems most decided. Mr Stone is thinking to visit some friend near New York to be present at a marriage next Wednesday. He wishes Mr Herbert and me to go straight to the falls by night train from New York on Monday and to spend most of the time there and neighbourhood for the week. Mr Herbert will say good bye to me on Friday returns to New York for us to meet Mr Stone again on Saturday on which day the Etruria will return to England - I shall probably go on to Chicago and back to Pittsburgh to spend a few days with our new friends there – we are much pleased with them. I shall then go to Montreal, Toronto, Boston getting back to New York for a few days before returning to Liverpool.
It was much on my heart yesterday to preach the gospel in the evening and sent in my card to the Captain to ask permission – afterwards called on him in his room and he told me the company had given him the most distinct orders in white and black that no preaching could be allowed – how true that no matter where it is, even in the midst of this great ocean where we are all made to feel how puny we are in the presence of the mighty forces around us and which are all held in His hands to whom all power has been given, yet there is no room for that blessed name of Jesus the sinner's friend – room for anything and everything that will bring glory to the creature, but no room for the wondrous gift of God – His only begotten Son – the One who is to fill our hearts with eternal joy and gladness and from whose blessed face all the glory of God will shine. But God has graciously given many open doors on board, which no man can shut and one gentleman from Boston owned to me yesterday that he had never had such blessing to his soul from God since he had known the Lord as since he had been on this voyage.
The bells have just struck their number indicating 12 O'clock and we set our watches every day by this time, putting back about 45 minutes every day. The sun shines brightly today so that the officers will be able to make their observations and now everybody is waiting to hear the distance run since noon yesterday. This is now reported and we have made the magnificent run of 450 knots since noon yesterday – that is about 530 miles.
Saturday morning 9th. We have had another beautiful night, sea like an even river and our ship cutting its way through the ocean and on board you may quite fancy yourself in a Pullman car so far as steadiness in concerned – the passengers are all packing up now and looking out for the land – I suppose we shall get to New York about midnight but must wait until sun rise for the quarantine officer to come on board – we hope to have breakfast tomorrow in New York. A gentleman residing there told me this morning that he had crossed the Atlantic 53 times but never had a finer passage all things considered so that I think myself very fortunate and give thanks to God our Father for His mercy. It has been a time of real blessing in every way. There will not be any mail to England until Wednesday next so shall add a little more to this from New York – hardly know if you will be able to read it, if you can you must excuse all the blunders – now we have just had quite a little excitement in taking in our pilot – the papers he brings are dated Sept. 2nd which was a great disappointment to those who were eager for racing news – there is a terrible lot of gambling going on too every night in the smoking saloon – very large sums are played for I hear – thank God to be delivered from such work – one gentleman wanted to know this morning how it was I never came in and thought I was missing a great deal by not being there – he little knew the secret place of blessing that we were in, in being over the word of God to meditate upon it and to bow the knee to the Father of mercies and the God of all grace – they say you must live with people to know them and the week spent with Mr Stone has been a very great privilege and blessing to me and to us all. He called me aside just now and handed me an envelope saying, there take that for the expenses of your voyage – I thanked him not knowing what it contained and returned to my state room. On opening it I found a cheque for £50 – I know you will share in the appreciation of this great kindness and write in thanksgiving to God ever our Father for this special mercy and favour to me. Surely He does answer our little faith exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think – to Him be glory for ever.