Malta, Egypt, India, Burma…

22nd Sept.-Oct. 17th 1887 - Voyage Log

Journey to India and Burma - September 1887 to April 1888

The "Ganges" at Sea September 22nd 1887

Our parting this morning is too fresh to need any comments. A thought of dear Major McCarthy's at a reading meeting at St. Leonards some year ago was brought to my memory very forcibly. It was on that word in Luke 24.51 "and it came to pass while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into Heaven" and, said our brother, His heart was left with His sorrowing ones where they were, and theirs followed Him where He had ascended - and so in another way was it today, and thank God for it, that through His mercy and goodness, the love He has set in our hearts toward each other, feels and follows its object in spite of the separation. We were a long time getting away from the Dock, and I am sure dear Arundel must have been very hungry and cold in waiting so long and Henry too.

My cabin companion is a young officer going to Malta and seems a nice quiet person - have not yet had an opportunity of a word with him but hope to. Dear Mrs Box and Gertrude came off in a boat at Gravesend to give me a loving greeting - they could not come on board but sent a note by the Pilot expressing good Wishes. Mr. B. was from home for the day and had left before my note reached or he would no doubt have come off too. All are settling down now on board the Ganges.

Our Company are composed mostly of the aristocracy element. On reaching near Sheerness we dropped anchor to wait for the next flood, not having sufficient water through some shallow parts of the channel - we expect to start again about midnight. Oh! what rest of heart to look up into that blessed face where all God's Glory shines, to see a man in whose heart the perfection of love is, who came down into all our misery and died for our sins according to the scriptures that He might give us His place and relationship before His Father and our Father - His God and our God. No wonder this world is a strange place and that we who through sovereign mercy and grace have been saved into this Heavenly Blessing are unknown in it - because He was unknown. But what a mercy and joy to be known of God because we love Him and this as the fruit of His first loving us. The Lord keep us each my beloved Angee and our dear children and grandchildren among that company not ashamed to confess His name in a world that has and does still reject it.

September 23rd

We have had a beautiful day down the Channel, passing near Dungeness, the Isle of Wight and Portland: by 9 in the morning we expect to enter the Bay of Biscay. Have felt the loneliness and leaving home more than I ever have before and expect kindred feelings have filled your heart. It has been very quiet on board - passengers fix themselves in their chairs soon, after breakfast and except for meals, keep in them all the day. Had a nice conversation this afternoon with a young man converted about 2 years ago - a sergeant in the Duke of Cornwall Regiment and going - to Malta - he is an Irishman and appears very fresh in the joy of the Saviour's love. He said he was very glad to meet any one on board who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and it certainly was a cheer to my spirit. Have had a day's rest in every way and much refreshed in soul, in looking over a few papers dear Mr. Ritchie handed me on leaving London and some notes of the London meetings in the spring, lent me by dear Mr. Patching which I must return from Gibraltar. Our company are of the wise and mighty and noble of this world and I have been feeling the solemnity of that word today - "not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called" alas! How little they know what the Sovereign grace of God is doing in calling the poor, despised, weak, foolish and base things of this world to fill His house and not this only but the hearts of all His grace brings into it and who are made meet for His presence. "To the poor the gospel is preached" - It is the rich and the mighty that will call upon the rocks and mountains to hide from His face - the despisers of His grace and His precious Blood: then made to feel the reality of His glory and power in judgement. How blessed our portion who have been brought to bow the knee in the day of salvation.

September 24th

It has been an interesting day and we have been favoured with a continuation of fine weather. We are now only about 12 hours from Cape Finistere where we get out of the Bay. I was led to ask the Lord this morning if it might please Him to allow me to see any of His own on board the ship beside the one discovered yesterday. On leaving my cabin l went to the deck above and passed the sergeant who was conversing with a little group, so I just saluted him and passed on. He came quickly after me saying there were some missionaries on board going to China belonging to the China Inland Mission, so I returned and had some conversation with 3 of them, and since then have spent some hours with one of them, who has laboured there for past ten years. His account of the work was very interesting and I look to the Lord to guide as to any further intercourse with them. They have expressed a desire to come together daily for reading the scriptures and I trust it may be profitable for us all, resounding to the glory of God.

The Lord gave an opportunity too of a word with my young cabin companion. His father was an officer in the army, and the son thinks himself very fortunate in having been with the recent expedition up the Nile under Sir G. Wolsey and returned directly after the fall of Kartoum. During our conversation I asked him if he knew Col. Crawford at which he seemed greatly surprised and answered that he was a particular friend of his fathers who had not long since died. He also told me Col. Crawford had now retired from the army and had gone to Jersey to reside. I was hoping to have seen him in China. He took a little gospel book thankfully and on going to our cabin afterward he was lying down and had just read it. A voyage like this gives a good opportunity for great reading and meditation - a privilege I have much enjoyed today.

Have been reading some lectures given by J.B.S and published under the title of "Steps in Light"[1] - one of the most precious settings forth of the truth of the gospel and the church I ever read and so simple - it did my soul good to read it - do get a copy of the same - it will be a feast for you and Emmie and Eliza.

Everything goes on very quietly on board this splendid ship, which does indeed abound in comforts for every passenger both saloon and second class. Have had some nice conversation with the Captain who has been kind and offers to land me at Ismalia if we arrive there in time to get the first train for Cairo. The Lord graciously sustains my spirit and I trust He has not left your heart without special comfort today. I was telling some of the missionaries this morning the story of dear little Hilda who when reminded that she had not said - "Pray God make me a good girl today", replied that she "had not said her rations yet". They greatly enjoyed it and one of them remarked that nothing so proved Christianity to be a revelation of the true God as that children were brought under its power and blessing. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself when upon earth taking them up in His arms, putting his hand upon them and blessing them. There was nothing he said, in Buddhism or the system taught by Confucius for the children. I was struck with it. Dear little Hilda's story will probably be repeated to many in China. "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained praise". The story would make a nice little paper for the children's corner of scattered seed if Arundel could write it out.

Lord's Day September 25th

Through mercy have had a good day - the first part of it alone in my cabin to worship at His feet who is worthy of homage and of praise. Most of the missionaries attended the service in the saloon and complained enough afterward of the poverty of it. I suggested we should come together for a reading in the afternoon and about 25 came in the second class saloon, many from the first class, among them a Dr. Anderson and his wife - a Presbyterian missionary returning to Formosa where he has laboured for some years. He and his wife I soon found were taught of God - we had a blessed time over a part of the first chapter of John's gospel, proposed by one of the missionaries and I trust for edification and blessing. The Captain gave me very hearty permission to use the place again in the evening for the gospel and the purser who was with him wrote out a notice and posted up, and sent down the ship's hymn books. The Lord gave us a good time - one of the missionaries spoke very simply from a few words in Matthew 11 - "Come unto me" etc. - the people were interested - many came from the saloon.

After the meeting two men came up and spoke to me - father and son - called Rowett living at St. Austell - Bethel, Homebush near Mount Charles where dear Sobey lives. The father has been working at a mine in Spain for some years - he is a believer among the Bible Christians and was home at the time dear Sobey came out to the Lord and well-remembered what a stir there was about it. The son was a lad about 12 years old at that time and came to many of the meetings at the Town Hall. The lad is now returning to work with his father. They speak of a work going on in the place they live and Rowett's house is often used for preaching. He was delighted to hear the truth and evidently has a real heart for it and begged that we would have a meeting again tomorrow evening. The weather has been very fine and sea quite smooth and much warmer than when we left England. The Portugal coast is in full view and our ship is expected to reach Gibraltar in another 24 hours.

September 26th

God has graciously given encouragement and we trust His word found entrance into some hearts last night. Some have asked for another meeting tonight especially those leaving the ship at Gibraltar tomorrow morning. The Captain has given permission and so we propose D.V. having another preaching this evening, one of the saloon passengers who came to hear the gospel last night spoke to me this morning and I soon found God was working with him. He gave his card - his name is Mackay residing in Spain and he is the leading physician in the town where he lives - added to his name on the card are the letters M.A.M.D. His wife was also at the meeting and is very bright and happy in the Lord (a Scotch lady) but has evidently had a heart burdened with deep sorrow in an unconverted husband. Spent a long time with them this morning and could see the thought of a Saviour's suffering for sins on the cross had touched his heart and conscience, and there was no attempt to hide his sinful state which he owned with tears, but kept saying I cannot understand it - I cannot understand it. No wonder indeed that such a word should come from a poor prodigal when the Father's arms were around his neck and the Father's heart delighting itself in the kiss - the beginning of the blessing - the poor guilty one may well say, I cannot understand it - I cannot understand it, such grace, such love, flowing forth from its own mighty source and fullness in God Himself.

Our conversation was renewed again in the afternoon and some little time after their retirement to his cabin, she came out in the saloon where I was writing requesting me to go in - he wished to see me. I soon packed up my papers and returned with her, shall not soon forget all that passed there. Poor fellow he was in an agony of soul. He had said in the morning he had never been afraid of death in his life, but when reminded of the judgement that followed, he owned he could not stand there - he was lost. This came up again in the cabin where he said that if God sent him to Hell he would justify God and acknowledge it was righteous judgement. I was much impressed to hear such words from his lips and he then made a most remarkable statement, which his wife told me, she has never heard from him before that if he was shut there and heard one word against the Lord Jesus Christ in that place, he would lead a revolt. I read a few verses from Romans X and handed the testament to his dear wife who also read the same portion - he was weeping and unable to speak. We bowed the knee together to give thanks for what was made manifest, on rising, he took my hand and kissed it and confessed the Lord Jesus Christ as his saviour. He is the son of an English Clergyman and about 37 years of age and I judge has to some extent fallen under the power of drink, of which his face gives some indication, but his dear wife said nothing about it. It appears she had often entreated him to read one chapter of the Bible every day, but he had always refused. He read this evening for the first time. God bless His word to him and his household henceforth to the end of his days upon earth.

September 27th

The adversary has been aroused and last evening the haters of the truth commenced singing songs and playing a banjo close to where the meeting was held, so that the preacher's voice was scarcely heard and in spite of our entreaty they continued it. However a good number came in spite of it and we know how God is over all and it makes us realise the terrible hostility of the God of this world. We came together around the word at 11 this morning - three missionaries and their wives and a few others confirming the Gospel of John. Mr. Lysaght of Bristol gave me a call last evening, so I suppose Albert must have known he was taking a passage on board the "Ganges". He spoke very nicely of Albert and referred to the preaching and said religion appeared to run in our family; he had heard in some way of my intercourse with Dr. Mackay and spoke of the Dr's. wife as a charming lady.

September 28th

We anchored at Gibraltar about 7 this morning - weather very fine and warm and the buildings on the side of the Rock looked very fine. Landed about 7.30 and I got up quickly as possible to business and soon after 8 my samples were all opened in one of the merchants offices who gave me a good order - called on another with same result, and on a third who happened to be out - very much wished I had been able to spend a day or two there as I could see there was plenty of business for me. Very thankful to get two fish in the basket for a good start on the journey.

HMS Rover (from Wikipedia)
One of H.M. ships the "Rover" [2] was anchored there and seeing one of her men on the landing place, sent my card with a greeting to the brethren on board. Returned to the Ganges again at 9.30 and at 10 we steamed away into the Mediterranean for Malta our next calling place. Have had a fresh breeze all the day and a heavy sea, but as are running before it our noble ship has been very steady. The Lord has given many opportunities for conversation with one another today - He can watch over the seed sown and I doubt not will do it. About 20 of our passengers left us this morning giving those remaining a little more berth room, so my young friend Lieut. has gone to the next cabin which had been vacated. Now that his berth (the upper one) is folded up my comfort is greatly increased. At our reading this morning one of the missionaries expressed his thought that old testament saints were in the church – we referred to many scriptures and it was interesting to see that his wife was in advance of him as to this - I felt the need of patience and forbearance and trust the Lord may give subject hearts to all, that His mind about it may be received. I have promised to write to Dr. Mackay to his address in Spain which both he and his wife seemed glad of. I hear he has five brothers and one of them a very choice Christian, a clergyman in the Church of England recently gone to India, so it may be the Lord may so order it for us to meet.

September 29th

Another fine day and full of interest, the Lord graciously giving access to some fresh passengers in the saloon. Our reading this morning was refreshing and a nice number came - we read a part of John 3. I have noticed the wife of one of the missionaries seemed a nice spirit and to have some knowledge of the truth. I have felt a little suspicion as to her husband's having some acquaintance with Bethesda and noticed that certain remarks produced a little uneasiness. He is called W.D. Rutland and his mother and sister are in fellowship with us at Clifton and Mrs. Rutland his wife was breaking bread at David Sonter's meeting in Aberdeen and did not go with him in following Mr. Stuart. This all came out in conversation with them in the afternoon. In answer to my straight question as to his association with English meetings, he replied that they were not connected with anybody - quite unsectarian - but I do not feel very happy about him and I look to the Lord about it that I may be guided aright. I told him it was no wonder he did not understand his dear mother's action seeing he had refused the very central truth of the dispensation, the calling out of the Church - he complained bitterly of his mother and sister, who will doubtless be approved of the Lord for faithfulness.

September 30th

I propose posting this at Malta where we shall arrive in about 2 hours. The weather is still very fine and shall be obliged to get out my white clothing tomorrow. Expect you will all have returned home again and I trust safely. Mr. Robertshaw will be preparing for his start by this time - have often wished he were here, I am sure he would have greatly enjoyed it, but I hope he may be comfortable by the route he has selected. I have written freely in my letter and you will see the need of carefulness in lending it to any others to read.

Much love to dear Arundel and Harriett and many kisses for my darling Daisy, Mildred, Olive, Harold, Muriel and the baby - also to dear Harry and Emma and my darling Angee and Hilda and lots of kisses from Grandpa - also dear Emmie, Eliza and all friends. And now my beloved Angee with much love to your dear self and commending you all to our Father's love and care believe me.
Being very affectionate Husband

Dr. Mackay and wife, Mr. Lysaght and the Rowetts landed at Gibraltar.

On board the "Ganges", October 1st

We arrived at Malta soon after noon yesterday entering the Quarantine harbour where we anchored, observing the most rigid quarantine regulations until leaving again at 6 pm. A few passengers landed but no person was allowed even to touch the ship belonging to the Island some letters were brought off and handed in a box attached to a long stick and were well fumigated. I sent you the first 4 sheets of my diary. It is getting very warm and I notice the thermometer registered 82 in the shade this morning. Had a long conversation with a young gentleman yesterday called Sturt, a lawyer and son of the late Mr. Sturt of the firm of Ward, Sturt and Sharp for whom John Stanbury travelled many years. He was a little surprised when giving me his name to find that I knew this firm. He has been dabbling in science and metaphysics and all the rest of it and is a long way on the road to full blown infidelity. I could not but feel what a curse his father's wealth has been to him for he acknowledges the character of his life and that he has often wished for death as a relief from the misery of existence here. His sister is travelling with him and they are just out for a four week's run to visit Cairo and Alexandria and then returning to London.

In conversation with one of the missionaries today I found that Dr. Hewer was the medical man for the China Inland Mission in London and examines all before leaving - the one I was conversing with is called Edward Tomalin who saw Dr. H the day before he left London and spoke with great esteem of him. They speak a good deal of a Dr. Harold Schofield[3] of Rochdale who went out to China as a missionary a few years ago and was just entering with great promise on his labours when the Lord called him home - have been looking through very interesting memoir by his brother, also a Dr., recently published. I judge from this book that he knew something of brethren. These missionaries tell me that in China they adopt the customs of the country as to clothing and even wear a pigtail. I have felt very much how little we at home realise the millions in that country alone, and how little we are found in prayer to God to raise up men to go forth with the glorious gospel of the blessed God. So far as I can see these dear men have little or no sense of what God's salvation brings into - it is all of the character of improving the old man, but they are the Lord's servants and to their own master &c. and he will hold them up for they are confessing His name.

October 2nd

Another Lord's day at sea and once more alone in the morning to sing and worship and in spirit if not in body to be with those gathered to His precious name who is worthy. The Purser told me last night that a clergyman in the second class had asked for permission to hold a Church of England service on Sunday evening where we preached last Lord's day. One of the missionaries had heard him the clergyman say to another passenger "I say can't we get up a service next Sunday and not let these fellows have it all their own way". The clergyman is going to Rangoon and may be seen any day with his pipe and often playing cards with ungodly men. How solemn is it not? So the purser said I could have it in the afternoon which I accepted and we had a nice company of believers principally among them Dr. Anderson and family, the missionaries and their wives and children and others who were known to be interested in the truth - Dr. A and others said that as it could be my last Lord's day with them they wished me to occupy the time, so l took up the Gospel on God's side,. which l had felt was so lacking in many of their souls - well, the day will declare results - the Lord gave us a good time. We have a gentleman called Garthwaite an Oxford B.A. I have had many conversations with - he is a believer - on Saturday after lunch he followed me to my cabin and remained there for 2 or 3 hours - I had the day before in conversation spoken of dispensational truth and now he wanted to know what it was, he had never heard the term before and was greatly interested in listening to the simple truth I was able to put before him, especially dwelling upon the great work of the present dispensation, the calling out of the Church. I lent him B.S's Steps in Light [4] which he is now reading. He is an Inspector of Schools residing in Madras and D.V. I hope to see him on my visit there.

October 3rd

We are now nearing Port Said and expect to reach there in about 3 hours - the weather is very fine and warm - adopted the white clothing again this morning and even that is too much. Hope to be able to do some business on landing and propose to go on to Suez by the "Ganges" so as to arrange about leaving some of my heavy baggage there during my run to Cairo and Alexandria. Conversations with one of the missionaries called Tomalin greatly interests me - he is with the Baptists but is a dear fellow - very simple and true - the whole work in China is manifestly of God especially in connection with this China Inland Mission, you may have heard of the seven young men from the Cambridge University, the Lord seems to have called in a remarkable way and who went out about 3 years ago giving up everything to serve Him in the gospel among the Chinese. Morgan & Scott of Paternoster Row publish a very interesting account of it in a book called a Mission Band - price l/6 - Arundel could write for one.

I am proposing to write Dr. Mackay this afternoon so will bring this to a close - D.V. you shall hear next from Cairo. Trust you are all preserved in good health and prosperity of soul. Much love to you my beloved wife and all our dear ones and believe me.

Being very affectionate Husband

Cairo, October 7th 1887

My diary has gone behind since Monday when I posted my last sheet to you. Our coaling that night at Port Said was, as it usually is, a very dirty job and my cabin being near the shute I could not even enter it for the needful night garment and had with many others to lay on the saloon floor all night. We entered the Canal on Tuesday at daylight and reached the bitter lakes by sunset where we anchored for the night, and it was very cool and pleasant. We arrived at Suez on Wednesday at noon and about 3 left with all my baggage in the launch for the town of Suez and after about 3 hours of disagreeables, the like of which I don't think I ever knew before, I reached the English hotel in that place with one foot blistered in having to walk some distance over the burning sands. If ever I knew the refreshment of a cup of tea it was then and after a rest for an hour I went out with my Dragoman and called on the leading dealer who promises me an order on my return to Suez in a fortnight. I felt sorry to leave the Lord's company on board the "Ganges" - little did I think there was such a family of God's beloved blood bought ones on board when dear Arundel and Henry left me at the Docks. The two weeks we had been together made manifest how blessed and perfect is that work of our Gracious God and Father who has not only saved us and united us to the Lord Jesus Christ our Head in Heaven but also to one another. How blessed to be found just simply expressing, what His grace has made true of us, down here. I felt very much interested in the 3 missionaries and their dear wives and children - Dr. Anderson and wife from Formosa and a young lady with them called Kratt going out to China to be married to a young Dr. there – both the Lord's, and she is very bright in her soul - also dear Mr. Garthwaite from Madras who has given me a very kind letter of introduction to a brother in law, a believer and a merchant residing near Madras and in this letter he tells his bro. to be sure and invite all the Christians in the place together for an address - Mr. G. seems to have been much refreshed in his soul and came into my cabin a little while before leaving and prayed very sweetly. There were also two dear men on board who attended all our meetings and were refreshed in their souls – both believers - returning to light houses in the Red Sea; I gave them some little books which they were thankful to get. Dr. Anderson has given me a very kind invitation to come to Formosa when at Hong Kong and thinks I should be able to do some business there.

I left Suez at 9.30 yesterday morning - the heat at that hour was very great and the flies seemed to attack one like scorpions - at the station I noticed the Arabs were selling pitchers of water to the passengers, so I bought one and took in the carriage with me and thankful indeed I was to have it - you must be in the parched and burning desert to know the sweetness and refreshment of a drink of water. The journey across the desert to Ismalia was not so bad as I expected, but from there to Cairo where most of the land was irrigated with water from the Nile and consequently black with the deposit from this river, it was really terrible - it rolled into our carriages in black clouds and what with the heat and perspiration inside the white clothing and this black dust outside sticking to the damp clothes we were soon transformed into spectacles and I should not have been much surprised on arrival at Shepherds Hotel at Cairo if I had been refused admittance. But with all this personal inconvenience it was very interesting all along the line to see the Arabs with their droves of camels and donkeys in any quantity. We passed Tel-el-Keber[5] where Arabi Pasha[6] and his army were defeated and a little graveyard where the English troops that fell were buried.

The sight at the Cairo station was an extraordinary one with the hundreds of Arabs swooping down upon the passengers wanting to carry their baggage. The city is a magnificent one in the European part of it, but in the Oriental quarter which I had to visit this morning to call on one of the merchants, it would be impossible to describe it. Streets so narrow, that a lot of huge camels going through it left me just room to clear with my back against the wall. Such filth too as I never saw the like of even in Java. Have had a busy morning in looking around and hope my visit will be a prosperous one for the business and I am looking to the Lord for guidance as to that which concerns His present interest among His own that may be in this great city. Mr. Sturt and his sister who came from London on board the "Ganges" and left us at Port Said are staying here and full enough of all the wonderful sights around it. Shepherds Hotel where Pam is staying is a very comfortable house, but the mosquitoes and flies are really a plague - Trust you are keeping well and all our dear ones - dare say they are all glad enough to get father's letters - with much love to them all and to your dear self my beloved Angee believe me.

Being very affectionate Husband

Write me next Post Office - Bombay.

Cairo, October 8th 1887

Have had a busy day and while all is fresh in my memory I will jot it down so that you may know what I have been about. The first part of the day was occupied in visiting the numerous Greek customers our agent has in this City which led to some good business - The manager of our agent's business accompanied me, a nice young fellow, a native of the Ionian Islands and speaking 7 or 8 languages - nominally he is a Christian of the Greek church and I have been much interested in the conversation we have had. He too has been full of questions; and speaking to him of the Lord Jesus Christ as a living person at the right hand of God today seemed to arrest him. His master kindly placed his services at my disposal, so this afternoon he accompanied me to the Pyramids, a distance of about 8 miles from this city.

There is a very long iron bridge spanning the Nile about a mile from Cairo and a portion of it is made to swing so as to allow the fleet of sailing boats to pass up and down. This part being opened all the traffic on either side was stopped for perhaps three quarters of an hour, so that there were hundreds, perhaps thousands of Arabs, Egyptians and Bedouins with their camels and donkeys all blocked up in a strange mass waiting for the bridge to close, so as to move on again. It was a very strange but interesting sight to see this group.

The Nile is much swollen and is a mighty river indeed at this point - the water black with the rich deposit brought down on its mighty torrent spreading blessing to the land over which it flows. For about 5 miles the whole country is covered with the overflow just now, leaving like a bridge in the middle of an ocean, a dry causeway over which we drive, raised a few feet above the level of the country around, with an unbroken grove of trees on either side leading us right up to the Great Pyramid. We had the pyramid in view soon after leaving Cairo but you do not get an idea of its enormous proportions until close up to it. We were soon assailed by the company of Arabs and Bedouins who are in attendance as guides for those who are disposed to make the ascent about 470 feet high. My young friend would not try it but I felt disposed to do so and after making a bargain with a Sheikh, he appointed 4 Arabs to accompany me and two others followed, one with an Egyptian bottle of water and the other one the prospect of selling me some old coins probably not long out of the Birmingham foundries. Well we made the start, one Arab each holding right and left hand, these two always a step ahead in front and two Arabs behind to support the body and to give a very sensible push in the nick of time as you ascend from one huge stone to another.

The Great Pyramid

Each step is about the height of a table, some much higher. Well, I soon discovered that my only way of reaching the summit would be by short stages and a good rest between, but even with this, on reaching about halfway, I thought I should have to surrender. However, after plenty of rest and a drink of water, I started again and in about 55 minutes from the time of starting, the summit was reached and my attendants gave a good cheer. The apex which seemed a point where it would be difficult to stand when viewed from the base, was a large flat [space], covering more space than our house stands upon. The view around was simply wonderful - all the other pyramids around Memphis, the Great Sahara Desert, the City of Cairo with its four hundred thousand inhabitants - the great Nile and its overflow through all the low lying lands - the curious Arab village at the base of the Pyramid - altogether it was indeed a marvellous sight, and to crown its beauty as an earthly scene the sun was just setting. Some of the Arabs could talk a little English, so I spoke to them of Jesus and related the story of His raising the Widow of Nain's son from the dead.

The intelligence of one or two of them was of a very high order and they had the most beautiful faces. They soon became much interested in belonging to a British Regiment stationed here and he would be glad if I could come and speak to them, which I felt happy in doing. Have spent an hour with them in a large room in the minister's house and I trust God may have given His word entrance into many of their hearts'. A good number of them have been recently converted and their hearts anxiety and sorrow came out in their prayers afterward for many of their comrades in the hospital just now. You can hardly tell what a joy it was to my heart to find myself among a few who loved that name God has set above every other. Oh! how little many at home appreciate the privilege of being in the company of God's Beloved Saints and especially among those who though poor in this world are in loyalty of heart cleaving to the Lord - holding fast His word and not denying His name. I am made to feel that the very Heavens have been opened upon England and that God's richest blessings have been poured out in floods from His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus; over its cities and towns and villages - Blessed be His name there are many who know it and value it as the fruit of the sovereign mercy and grace of God, but alas! alas! what a fearful responsibility for those who have partaken outwardly of its benefits, but in whole hearts there is no answer of thanksgiving to God. The Lord preserve us my beloved Angee and our dear children among those who give thanks unto the Lord who call upon His name and who love to make known His deeds among the people.

October 10th

There is a mail to England this evening so will send on the jottings since the 8th. The weather is very hot, though they call it the beginning of winter - the flies and mosquitoes and sand flies are a terrible torment. Our agent called this morning postponing the appointment I had made with him today and being free thought I could call at the Boulac Museum[7]- I was told by a  gentleman last week that the original "Rosetta" stone was here but found this morning that the one here is only a copy - the original stone being in the British Museum.

Mummy of Ramasses II
Mummy of Ramasses II [Image source: Wikipedia]

What interested me most was the actual bodies of the Pharaohs - especially Ramsees ll - the one known to Moses - a thick cloth was drawn back from a large case covered with glass, so that the entire body from head to foot could be seen - the form of the nose, face and head were perfect enough to see what the person was like in life.

Altogether it was a marvellous record of the verities of scripture and gives a pretty good idea of what the grandeur of the nation must have been in its day - the colours of many things are as bright and perfect now as they were three thousand years or more ago. I also visited the Citadel which is one of the chief points of interest here - the view of the city and the country all around is very magnificent and there is also a Mosque on the Citadel grounds which is without any exception the most gorgeous piece of work I ever saw - the massive marble pillars of which there are 35 forming a square, with a beautiful centre fountain where the people wash their feet before entering the Mosque. I had to submit to have my feet wrapped up in a cloth kind of shoe before entering. While in the Mosque with my attendant I sang under the gorgeous centre dome the first two verses of hymn 49 and wished dear Sobey had been there to join. I shall be heartily glad to get out of Egypt. I don't like it a bit, though of course there is much about it deeply interesting. Hope I shall hear from you at Suez before going on to India - the mail only takes about 5 or 6 days to reach London via Beindisi. Trust you are keeping well and all our dear ones, Arundel & Harriett and all the dear children Harry & Emma and their dear ones, Eunice and Eliza and all dear friends. Now with much love once more to yourself my beloved Angee believe me.

Cairo, October 11 1887

I have just come to my bedroom and am tired enough after a busy day's work - it has been intensely hot again and it is this heat that is so trying. Am thankful the day's work has resulted in eleven decent orders, but the places I have been in to get them eclipse anything I ever saw in Java or Singapore. Have been principally among Greeks who speak Italian, so all the talking has been done between the gentleman accompanying me and the dealer - have laid out the samples sometimes on a chair and sometimes on the floor, now and then on a counter where this stage of civilisation had been reached. No previous travelling I have ever experienced has been so distasteful to me in every way and a gentleman recently from Alexandria says that place is ten times worse. However, it will not be for many days and I shall not be sorry to get on board a P. & O. ship again to get clear of the corruption and abomination of Egypt.

October 12th

Goodness and mercy have followed me again for another day in the midst of this strange scene and am very thankful for some good business done with the leading firm, with whom I was told there was not the remotest chance of doing any business. Called upon them yesterday when this seemed confirmed, but this morning I called again and after spending a long time with them, was rewarded with a splendid order and not this only but some very kind things said to me. Have taken 14 orders in Cairo and may get a few more before leaving for Alexandria on Friday. The P. & O. ship the "Victoria" arrived at Port Said two days ago and we have a "Cooks" party of about 45 suddenly added to our company at this Hotel who left the ship there and came on to Ismalia yesterday expecting a special train would have been in readiness for them there at 2 o'clock (noon) as "Cook" had arranged, but this Egyptian special did not put in an appearance until the same hour after midnight. So the tourists had a benefit and were glad to rest upon the seats and floors of the station - a good number of ladies among them. The appearance of the City every day is really wonderful - such a variety of nationalities and costumes - processions of pilgrims returning from Mecca are unceasing - all kinds of music, in addition to which everybody seems to yell as loudly as possible - then an Englishman connected with the Government will drive by in his carriage and this is always accompanied by two Arabs dressed in gay colours carrying long sticks and running before the horses to clear everybody away. Weddings - funerals and I know not what, but the whole place is kept in a perfect uproar from morning till night. Am very thankful for P.F.Co's sake to have done a good business, but once my back is out of Egypt I never wish to see it again while my feet are upon the earth and yet in many ways, especially scripturally it is all deeply interesting and of course attracts many thousands every year from England especially.

October 13th and 14th

Have called at the P.O. many times during the week and passed again this morning and thought well it's no good calling as no letters had arrived for me but thought again and returned and was glad to find one from dear Arundel. Sorry to hear you had taken cold and trust it will soon pass again - P.F. Co. have written me several times through one of our customers, and their letter yesterday brought a very interesting letter from Australia from a gentleman I crossed the Pacific with - his wife being with him, who was a bright Christian and he recently converted. He refers to P.F.Co's goods displayed in all leading shops in Melbourne. I propose D.V. leaving for Alexandria this evening and am thankful for the good success God has given me in Cairo - have sent home 19 orders and sold two stands for Arundel. Suppose Mr. Robertshaw (as he is called in the papers giving intended departures from England) will have left by this time - I hope he will enjoy the travel - it will be a little cooler by the time he arrives here, so that the flies and mosquitoes may not be so troublesome. My white clothes are very useful again and I have had to buy a white helmet which I find very comfortable. Commending you once more to our gracious Father and God and with much love to your dear self. Eunice, Eliza and all dear friends believe me.

Being very affectionate Husband
Write to P.O. Bombay.

Alexandria, Egypt October 15 1887

I left Cairo on Friday at 5.40 pm and reached this City about 120 miles distant a little before 10 the same night. It was not so dusty as the previous travelling from Suez to Cairo. I did not see much of the country because it was dark. The Khedivial Hotel where I am staying is very fine and comfortable and the food is cooked and served up better than at any other I have been in in this country. We are not so plagued either with mosquitoes and flies which is no small comfort but the heat is intense and is felt more than at Cairo because of its moisture. There is a magnificent city of fine buildings and wide streets growing up out of the ashes of the one recently destroyed although the moment you get away from these you are in the midst of Egyptian ruin and corruption directly.

Pompey’s Pillar
Pompey's Pillar (from Wikipedia)

I saw Pompey's pillar yesterday, but I have little inclination for sightseeing, nor time either. Yesterday morning I had to face the work again with all its difficulties - not the least of which is in being among Greeks and French, mostly speaking Italian. Our agent at Cairo gave me an introduction to a gentleman here, a Frenchman acting as sub-agent and I was told he could speak English, but on his calling yesterday morning I soon found that his English was beyond my capacity for interpretation. However we struggled away as best we could for perhaps half an hour, one thing was clear enough that according to his idea no other biscuits but Messrs. Huntley & Palmer would sell in Alexandria and that their traveller had just spent a month here. He gave me a list of the names of all the leading men and with that I preferred to be left - I then walked about a bit to survey the place and called upon three of the chief dealers - at two of them there was one person in each place who spoke English, at the other I left a card - we could neither speak the other's language. I got an appointment with the tip top man in the afternoon who promised to look at my samples - they do about £500 a year with the Reading makers. Well after about 2 or 3 hours battling they gave me a splendid order for all our best goods and were very kind.

Wanted to know about my family and I told them about my wife and Arundel & Harry, and their wives and eight children which seemed to interest them very much. The young fellow speaking English was a Maltese - his master a Greek, so all our conversation was interpreted to each other. How distinctly, God in His great goodness and mercy does care for me in every way and since our souls have known His love, what mercies hath He made us prove, mercies which all our praise excel, our Jesus hath done all things well.

We have a good many English people staying at this Hotel - at the table I am among 3 officers - there is also an American family and I had a nice conversation with the head yesterday who afterward came to me again and asked for my card, also giving me his own and wishing to introduce me to his family.

Today (Lord's day) I have only been out of my bedroom to get breakfast, feeling it would be good to spend the day quietly with the Lord, and I have found it good indeed just to be shut-in alone for quiet reading and meditation and worship. Have been reading II Chronicles - what a mercy of God to us to give us the record of the past that we may learn His ways of old - "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him". Now He is fully revealed in the person and work of His beloved son – that lovely defendant and obedient one whose heart as a man was indeed perfect toward God -how blessed for us to know the eye of God could once look down upon this earth when Jesus was here and show Himself strong toward Him - the Heavens themselves opening upon Him and a voice coming out from there "Thou art my beloved son in thee I am well pleased". Our hearts love to say He was worthy and He is the only worthy one, but in the grace that has taken up such poor ruined worthless ones like we are washed us from our sins in His precious blood - made sweet for His Blessed Presence and get left here for a little while the object of His love and care, committed by that perfect love of Christ to His Holy Father to be kept in His name as those given to Christ that we may be one, even as the Father and Son are one.

Was thinking I might have heard from Mr. Pinkerton here in answer to my letter to him, but
none has yet arrived.

October 17th

Have only time now to add a few words in closing as the mail leaves in about half an hour - hard at work and through mercy God helps me to meet the peculiar difficulties and has given me encouragement again this morning. Now with much love to you all once more believe me my dearest Angee.
Being very affectionate Husband
Post Office, Bombay


[1] James Butler Storey, Steps in Light: Being Notes on Lectures. London: G. Morrish, 1886. pp.119.

[2] An 18-gun iron-screw corvette. See further here.

[3] See further Howard Taylor, The Story of the China Inland Mission, Vol. 2. Morgan & Scott, 1894. pp.416-452. [Text online here]

[4] James Butler Storey, Steps in Light: Being Notes on Lectures. London: G. Morrish, 1886.

[5] Battle of Tel-el-Keber, September 12th 1882. See further here.

[6] Ahmed Orabi (1891-1811). See further here.

[7] Boulaq Museum. See further here.

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