Gibraltar, Algeria, Malta, Egypt, India, Burma, Singapore, China, Japan, Korea, Russia
August 7th, 1888
P. & O. Clyde, West of Gibraltar
My Beloved Angee,
We are expecting to reach the above port early tomorrow morning, so I will begin to write you the first letter in case there should be a mail leaving Gibralter soon after our arrival. You will have received the telegram and note the Pilot kindly took off for me on leaving our ship at the Isle of Wight. This person was well known to dear Box who introduced me to him on board at Gravesend.
Well, the varied experience of ship life has given me some little education in this kind of thing and I think that altogether the few days spent on board the ‘Clyde' has been about one of the happiest I have ever known. My heart was sad indeed on leaving you once more, but deeply comforted in the midst of it while remembering that you are an object of our Saviour's love and care above and surrounded even below by the loved children and others who I know will do all in their power to make up for any little loss of comfort your husband's presence may have given. I was thankful to be quiet and to have a little rest and so did not have much to say to any on board for 2 or 3 days – I felt it to be good to wait upon the Lord and do not remember ever to have had a time of greater nearness to Him and communion over the Word and in prayer. Shortly after we slipped our moorings at Gravesend I noticed a lady with another walking together up and down with a Bible under her arm and a bundle of tracts in hand – we did not however speak to each other until the third day and then the Lord gave me a nice opportunity and we soon found the Eternal life bestowed in the rich mercy and great love of our gracious Father and God answering to His own delights in His own dear Son in Whom the life is and by Whom it has been manifested down here. Her father is a farmer living at Gosden Hill, Nr. Guildford and who with his wife, her mother, have gone to Australia and back for a trip, leaving the farm in the care of a son. They are a Scotch[sic] family from Dundee in the West of Scotland where the Lord seems to have worked some two years ago for conversions and also in gathering out to Christ. This movement gave her deep exercises, especially as to her place but she remained among the scattered ones looking more at the character of the gathered ones there than upon the perfection and beauty of the One in the midst. I do not think she is identified sacramentally with any company and is still desiring to know the Lord's will as to this and confesses that her heart and mind are not at rest about it. She is however very bright and fresh in the sense of Christ's love and she loves His word too and you may judge of her present exercise from a remark she wrote to a Christian friend very recently "Is there a church upon earth and if so where is it?" We have had many readings together upon the deck and this morning she desired that I would take up scriptures referring to the church and so went through many beginning with the type in 11 Genesis. Miss Mitchell (her name) has often heard her father speak of our dear brother Holland at Godalming of whom you may remember I have often spoken – he once proposed a prayer meeting in the Commercial Room at Landport.
I asked the Captain for permission to preach the gospel in the 2nd Saloon yesterday, Lord's Day, to which he rather demurred at first, saying that his orders were only to permit the Ch. of E. service and he was sorry I had not attended that in the morning. I explained that it was a matter of conscience and that if I had been present, I should have been inconsistent with that which I was identified with. I assured him that I had no strange doctrines to preach only the simple story of God's love on sending His Son to die for sinners. He then gave permission and went a little further than I expected in ordering a notice of it to be placed not only in the 2nd Saloon, but also in the first. The Lord gave us a very precious time, although one fearful infidel was present and by my side, but God kept him quiet. After the meeting and he had actually stood up and sang the last hymn, I spoke to him and asked if he had any acquaintance with what I had been speaking of, to which he replied that he "was now a long way ahead of that and utterly refused the Scriptures as a revelation of God and said the majority of the ministers of the day did not believe it either". I was glad to turn away from the sound of this fearful blasphemy. Miss M. got helped and many spoke nicely and expressed thanks. Miss M. is going to Gibraltar to spend two months with a lady friend who is working among the soldiers there, so I may find an open door for the gospel if the Lord will.
There are two Jews on board the Clyde, one a traveller for a large Manchester house G.P. Gummis & Co. and the other a London merchant going to Gibraltar – have had many chats with them but you may judge how they looked yesterday when they saw Miss M. & I with open Bibles. Today however the elder of them, the London merchant, referred to the preaching last night and did not know I was in that kind of thing (he knew I was representing P.F.&Co.). Well I conversed with him for an hour perhaps and he listened to all I had to say about the Messiah and was interested. Once he said "There must be something in it", but added that if he were to believe in Jesus Christ he would be scouted by every Jew. He regretted that he did not know last night that I intended to preach. Really the spirit he manifested was beautiful. Have had many conversations too with a gentlemanly young fellow a doctor in the army going to Malta who had listened attentively to all that I have said in presenting Christ and His precious blood, but he rejects Him as a Saviour and has received the current notions of popular men as to God and His Word and come to the conclusion that it is not worthy of reception. Oh what havoc is Satan working in the midst of the profession around us and yet how little any are alive to it, to give forth certain sounds of warning.
Trust that you are well and that you will all enjoy the little change at Croyde. Through mercy I am feeling well – the weather is very fine here I shall soon have to cast off some of my clothing. Much love to dear Arundel and Harriett dear Harry and Emma and all the darling children and wish much to your dear self believe me my beloved Angee.
Being very affectionate Husband