Malta, Egypt, India, Burma…

January 14th, 1888

Cawnpore – Saturday evening

My Beloved Angee,

Have just returned from Lucknow where I have spent two days and am on my way to Allahabad where I expect to reach tomorrow Lord's Day morning about 3. I have to wait here about three hours for a train which gives me a nice opportunity of getting on with my writing – an exercise I have had more of lately than at any other time of my life. There is a very large firm at Lucknow having many branches in various parts of India and also at Karachi. You may remember my meeting a gentleman called Cuper, formerly of Tavistock, who is the managing partner at one branch there and who gave me a very large order and said he would send me another to Lucknow and also write the Chief there to do business with me. On calling yesterday I found his promise fulfilled and have not only received a good order from them, but a promise to do all their business from this time, a conquest not quite so brilliant as Havelock's[1] here, but in its way of great importance for an Indian trade and obtained not in the way mans' victories are, but by the mercy and goodness and power of the living God through instruments weak and foolish in themselves, but mighty in His omnipotent Hand. To whom be glory forever.  I know what a real cheer and encouragement it will be for the firm at home, after practically being shut out of the Indian market hitherto. Well so much for the business and now to relate a very pleasant surprise I met with at Lucknow yesterday morning while driving along the magnificent road to call upon this large firm. I noticed an imposing looking shop with the name of ‘Petter & Co.' over the door and called out for the Garry to stop and ran over to this place and found a nice looking young lady inside, of whom I enquired ‘Is your name Petter?'  She replied, ‘Yes'.  I then asked her father's name and soon found it was my cousin George, who resides in the Himalayas at a placed called Rania Tall, but during the winter they come down in the plains and have had this place at Lucknow now for some 7 or 8 years.  George and his wife and two daughters were all there, but he was gone to the reading room and the mother was out, so I went on with my work and said I would come in to Tiffin with them.  They knew that such a person as E.P. was in India and I had written to a son in London since seeing my arrival in Bombay to enquire what Petter it was.  I returned about one and saw Mrs P and the daughters but George had not returned, so I walked down the road to meet him.  We have not seen each other for about 36 years – in a few minutes I noticed a patriarchal looking old gentleman walking along with a very stately step and with a long beard, snowy white and soon came face to face with him and a beautiful face it was too with bright intelligent eyes.  I knew it well and said, ‘Would you kindly tell me where the Post Office is, Sir?'  ‘Just around to the right, Sir.'  The voice had not altered a bit – it was the George Petter I used to chat with when I first went to London as an apprentice to Henry.  He had no idea who I was, so I said, do you remember me which made him look again – he said, no.  I mentioned my name and we gave each other a warm greeting and returned to his house together.  Well, we talked over family matters and members and he seemed very glad to hear of the welfare of each one. It did so remind me of my grandfather and his father and Uncle William, only I think George is more of a gentleman than the others and is exceedingly intelligent and well informed. His appearance also reminded me of dear Mr Fall[?] whose voice and manner of talking is so like George's that I do not think I could distinguish it if they were hidden.  Mrs Petter looks the old lady and in earlier years found the climate very trying.  Their two sons in India are filling first class positions under government and I am hoping to see one of them and his wife tomorrow, who are residing at Allahabad.  I dined and spent the evening with them all and went to their home again at 8 this morning and George, his wife and one of the daughters all around the residency the scene of the conflict that Havelock's name is connected with and saw the ruins resulting from the 4 or 5 months' siege. The park and grounds all around the neighbourhood were certainly by far the most imposing sight I have yet seen – we sat at 10 to breakfast after which I had to say goodbye, although he greatly desired me to go up to Namid Tall[?] and would have accompanied me, but remembering the limited time left for the work still remaining to be done in India I had to decline.   He cherishes a very deep regard and love for Henry and when speaking of my dear mother he wept – he seems to have a deep love for her memory and many words of counsel she gave him in early days. He remembered too how my father used to speak to him of India and traced his desire to come here from hearing what he said of it.  Naturally he is fine specimen of a man and has retained quite a youthful character of mind – I call him a handsome sample of the Petter family.  He has many vicissitudes in the East, but has now saved enough to live very comfortably and he only keeps on a business for the sake of the two daughters.  In a spiritual way all is darkness and no kind of response to a God fully revealed in Christ.  I am very thankful however to have seen them all and pray that God may in His sovereign mercy look upon them all for good.  They have given me their likeness in a group. I am expecting to get my letters at Allahabad tomorrow and I hope one from you.

Benares, January 17th 1888

My beloved Angee, I reached Allahabad in safety and was cheered to find the Lord's company there, 4 in all, and have had a very happy day and got together on Monday evening which we all enjoyed.  Found George's son a nice gentlemanly fellow he is too and has got a sterling lady for a wife who confesses Christ nobly. They have two dear little children and altogether they seem to be very happy.  The came down to the station to see me off this morning soon after 8 and brought the little boy about 3 years old – a fine handsome little fellow, who seemed to cling to me – it was very kind of them to come as I dare say their house was two miles from the station.  In a material way I felt very proud of my relatives in India.  Have called in at Benares for the day and a filthier place I have not seen in India – the whole place is given up to idolatry and the Golden Temple which I went into this afternoon was a curious mixture of grandeur and filth.  The sacred bulls were all over the place so the temple had the carpet and perfume of a cowshed – it seems almost incredible to think that beings like ourselves should ever have sunk so low and yet this is our history and it is only grace that makes us to differ.  I took a boat for a little while up the Ganges and got a splendid view of all the temples and the place where the Hindus burn their dead – they were burning a body as we passed.  What a magnificent place it must have been, when in its glory.  There are not many Europeans living here at which I am not much surprised – the place is so dirty.

God willing I leave for Calcutta in the morning and hope to arrive there a little after 5 the following morning – I seem to have been a long time getting there.

Trust you are all well – was very thankful to get your dear letter at Allahabad on December 23rd and shall get one a week later on arrival at Calcutta I expect.

God bless you and all our dear ones – with much love once more believe me my dearest Angee being very affectionate Husband. 

p.s. At Allahabad last week there were about a million natives – Hindus – from various parts of India – some coming thousands of miles – for washing in the river there – now they are all congregating here at Benares for a final wash in the Ganges – they lay on the plains by the side of the river which is supposed to have some special sanctity about once in 12 years. The railway stations for a week or 10 days past – have been literally packed inside and out with these poor creatures, both by night and by day, only think of the number – a million, and many of them travelling 2 or 3000 miles and have to return the same distance. How this puts to the blush those who know the living and true God, who find it a task to walk a few hundred yards to get to a prayer meeting or a reading meeting.

I enclose a letter for Arundel which please forward him after perusal.


[1] Major-General Sir Henry Havelock (1785-1857) who distinguished himself during the Indian Mutiny of 1857, an event that left a distinct mark on Cawnpore because of the events that played out there [see further here].

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