1886-87 - USA, Canada, Hawaii, Samoa, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Egypt


January 26th, 1887

On board the "Alameda" Pacific Ocean

I wrote to you last from the Sandwich Islands where we reached on Sunday morning the 23rd and left again at 5 the same evening. Felt much disappointed in not being able to spend a few days there and also not to have reached Honolulu on a week day instead of on Sunday. The merchant too that I had a letter of introduction to had been sick and left by the previous mail for San Francisco. On learning that he had two sons also in the business I called upon them a little way in the country and was very kindly received and I hope when they next visit London to buy their goods we may be able to put a good sprinkle of biscuits into their ship. The morning of our arrival was beautifully fine and the first sight of the Island was very grand – the volcanic mountains rising above the town completing the scene - the ocean was like a sea of glass and the sun's rays making you feel the weight of the thinnest garment - of course I had never experienced anything like it before - fortunately before leaving America I had provided myself with a very thin coat and it was well that I did.

Quite one half of our passengers left us at Honolulu and with many of them we had become very friendly - my companion the Californian farmer came down in the evening to say goodbye to me and gave a very hearty invitation to visit him if ever I came his way - he is staying at Honolulu a few weeks. It was very interesting to see a boat of natives coming out to us in the morning - they are not quite blacks, but their jabber was very amusing and the costume of the native women still more so - the corset trade must be a bad one there as every garment is very loose and the outer one is like a huge bed gown not tied in the middle - the women seemed very fat all of them - some wore shoes but most of them had naked feet - their gowns and head gear were of the most brilliant colours and as you passed them, it was manifest that pride had found its way into their heads as well as ours. The trees and shrubs and flowers were simply grand and reminded you of being in a beautiful green house like Mr. Laws - such stately palms, cactuses and plants only seen with us in orchid houses were here flourishing as common as daisies in England. The Chinese are there in rather large numbers too and it was their New Year's day on which occasion they are very zealous on keeping up their customs. One of these is the letting of fireworks and they indulge in this to such a degree that the King has found it necessary to prohibit this practice to a great extent - another is to visit friends on horseback and other conveyances - the men however dressed in all the colours of the rainbow and their horses with wreaths of green leaves coiled around their necks and backs makes John Chinaman look very pictorial indeed - all the horses are kept going at a canter or gallop and generally in groups of about a dozen or more. I went with a very nice young fellow and his wife both Christians into one of the native chapels - a very large building – the service had not commenced - I enquired of two young native men if they worshipped the true God there which he did not at first understand until I said - the true God, Jesus Christ, and then found the response very quickly - Jesus Christ Yes. Yes:- we afterward passed another place where 2 or 3 hundred were assembled - large doors wide open and every window that it was almost like being in the open air. The minister was a German and preached very nicely - it was very cheering to hear many important points of truth distinctly taught. I had quite hoped to have spoken in the open air but the heat was intense. I gave away a lot of nice little gospel books which were received with thankfulness. The missionary work on these Islands has been wonderfully owned of God and I can quite understand what I heard from the lips of a missionary once in a chapel at Holsworthy that if ever the Wesleyans lost their faith they would be able to find it again on some of the Pacific Islands. They have a terrible scourge however among them in the shape of pure Asiatic leprosy and a small island is set apart for them where they are ordered the moment the disease is pronounced - no matter what the condition rich or poor - instant separation and that for life. It is said that two thirds of the native population are all tainted with this terrible disease. The doctors all profess to cure leprosy and their papers are full of quack advertisements with testimonials of wonderful cures. We have had beautiful weather since leaving Honolulu but the heat increases every day as we near the line which we expect to cross in about 30 hours from this.

We had a very interesting addition to our passenger list at Honolulu - two English gentlemen who were placed at our table (the Captain's) and sat directly opposite me one called Mr. Arundel of the five Arundel Brothers of London who own several of the Pacific Islands and gather grain from them which they ship in their own vessels to London - the other a Mr. Ellis - a cousin of Mr. Arundel's who attends to all the business and was born at Combemartin nr Ilfracombe. You may judge of my delight in finding they both confessed Christ very nobly and they too were greatly interested in meeting me - I am told that Mr. Arundel is connected with the Norfolk family and his wife is now living at Worthing. He was interested on hearing that I had a son bearing his name We get nice conversations very frequently and the Captain has given us permission to do what we like on Sunday in the way of meetings. Mr. Ellis knows some Barnstaple people in New Zealand - one especially called Chang which I expect is a brother of Locks wife the grocer. He also knows Moses Ward who once lived at the Infirmary there. Several of the passengers are Christians and I get nice conversations with them continually - one gentleman and his wife going to Sydney came to me this morning after breakfast and said they would be glad to have a scripture reading, so they came to my room and we spent an hour over the first part of first chap. John's Gospel. The Captain is a noble fellow but is not a believer - he is however very kind to me and often calls me into his room as I pass the door. He was telling me a day or two ago he was puzzled in the early morning of the day we reached Honolulu - he was on deck looking out for the land and saw what appeared to be an unknown country to him altogether - the mystery was cleared up on our reaching the port, when papers were brought to the ship informing us that one of the large volcanoes near had suddenly become active and had been belching out its clouds of black smoke which hanging about on the horizon gave the appearance of land. The Island on which this volcano is situated is nearly 100 miles from Honolulu and the crater is 37 miles in circumference - Mr. Arundel has laid down and looked into it when it was not active - you can fancy the size of the pit - from Ilfracombe to Barnstaple and what it would send forth when active. We expect to call at one of the Islands near the Friendlies on Saturday and are hoping it may be by daylight as we hear it is deeply interesting to see it and the natives who come off in their canoes - we leave a mail bag there which the next Australian steamer for San Francisco will pick up and Mr. Arundel has kindly promised to put my letter into his bag.

It has been kept a little cool for us for the last 3 or 4 days while going across the regular trade winds, but last night the heat was terrible even with windows wide open and a ventilator shutter door - this morning Mr. Arundel who is in the next room by one told me we were now in the "doldrums" I remember S.B.S's illustration. In a steamer of course we should not suffer so much having power to go through it but it must be terrible in a sailing vessel. You would scarcely think it possible to have been at sea now 11 or 12 days and not to have sighted a single vessel but so it is and we may go right through to Auckland and not meet one. Sometimes when I think of the enormous distances and size of these countries I am now about to visit I think whenever shall I reach home again - New Zealand is twice as large as England and Australia larger than the whole of Europe and I am proposing to skirt its borders east west north and south - I hear a good deal about Singapore from Mr. Arundel who has visited the place and has given me a lot of useful information I trust the Lord graciously preserves you all - I am often praying for you each by name as I doubt not you are for me, through his mercy He preserves me in good health and keeps me in the enjoyment of His love and truth. Much love to dear Arundel, Harriett and all the dear children also to dear Harry & Emma and their dear children - all my brothers and sisters also Emmie Eliza and Mr. Robertshaw and to yourself my dearly beloved wife and believe me.

Your very affectionate Husband

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