Gibraltar, Algeria, Malta, Egypt, India, Burma, Singapore, China, Japan, Korea, Russia

August 11th, 1888


My Beloved Angee,

I left my last letter on board the Clyde for posting by first mail, so this will be the first from above post. The voyage out was very pleasant and the Lord graciously blessed His word on board to more than one I trust. Just as I was leaving the ship on Tuesday morning a gentleman who was present at the preaching came up and gave me his card and said "the nail was driven home in his case and clinched" referring to a remark I had made – his name is Captain J.W. Malet of the Northumberland Fusiliers (aide de camp) and he is going to Secunderabad in India where I shall hope to see him again D.V. Another young fellow the organist of the English church here seemed much impressed and I have met him in the street during the week and had a nice conversation on matters of eternal interest. I have not seen anything of Miss Mitchell, but called at the Soldier's Institute where she is staying but found her out. Called in one evening at another Soldier's Institute where I saw a notice of a Scripture reading open to all – there were only 4 or 5 present and their subject was repentance – yesterday afternoon I had a regular hunt to find the little meeting room occupied by the sailor brethren when any of H.M.s. ships are here -  I had a job to find it and was then told there was one soldier came there every morning about 8, so at this hour I went again, but no soldier came -  a Spanish woman speaking a little English then told me how I might find this soldier, so off I started again and after a hour's hunting found him and we have arranged to meet at the room this evening for a reading.

We have had strong winds here all the week – what they call the Levant wind from the East and but for this I should have gone across the water to Tangiers (Morocco), about the same distance as Swansea from Ilfracombe, but I was told the passage back would be very doubtful, so fearing I might miss my boat to Malta I have not gone. I am now waiting for the "Thebes" – she is expected to come in tomorrow Sunday afternoon and may not go out again until Monday morning. She calls at Algiers on her way to Malta staying about 12 hours, but there is no chance of my getting away from Malta by the next week's P & O as arranged, so that there is no help for it but to remain there a week for the next P & O which happens to be my old friend the "Ganges"[1]. Gibraltar is a nice clean and interesting place and the good impression I formed of it for business last year has been confirmed beyond all my favourable anticipations. I have sent P.F.&Co. 14 good orders this morning which will be a cheer to them and I am full of thanksgiving to our gracious God and Father for this special mercy. The people have been very kind and many who have never had any but the Reading Biscuits[2] in their shop have given me splendid orders. Eliza used to count up the tins 32 years ago and I dare say the dear boys will be interested to know the count now – so  will give it – 174 barrels – 558 large square tins and 66 dozen fancy enamelled tins. I trust this may be the beginning of better days for P.F.&Co.

It is not so hot here as expected – glass about 76 in the shade. I have adopted my new Jaeger shirts which I like very much only I expect after I have worn them a bit it will be necessary to put on a piece more to lengthen them before and behind and I tried the pants for a day or too but had to give them up as underneath them the shirt was quite wet. The hotel here is very clean and comfortable and food very good – 'fruits of Spain' as the children used to sing about at Christmas are beautiful indeed – splendid grapes for 2d for lb and in a week or so they will only be 1d, or even 1/2d a pound. In the streets and roads are many flocks of goats standing about to supply fresh milk and very nice it is and only this is in common use here. This morning I went over the Spanish lines into Spain and although only a mile or two distant everything was of another character altogether and in every respect as far as present comforts are concerned very inferior to the land of English rule.  I hear the English government are making great improvements in the power to destroy any shipping that may ever attempt to pass in time of war – some of the guns can carry their projectiles a distance of 2½ miles and send them with deadly accuracy through a ship – they are able, too, to concentrate the guns from many fortifications on any one ship and simply crush it and bury the whole thing in a few minutes.[3] No one is allowed to visit some parts of the rock and no one is allowed under any pretext to take sketches or to use a photo-machine about the place.

Trust that you are enjoying the change at Croyde and that you are having summer weather – shall hope to hear from you at Malta and that will be my address too for the following week. Can hardly say yet whether I shall stop in Egypt but I am rather inclined to, so as to make a little later for the Red Sea and India. Through mercy I am feeling well and trust in the same goodness so wonderfully vouchsafed hitherto to carry me on day by day to preserve and bless you all at home – as I look back upon the 2 months recently spent with you it seems now like a little speck and one's heart reaches out again to the next moment of meeting. Mind this is a home letter and now with much love to you my dearly beloved wife and our dear children Arundel, Harry – Harriet & Emma and all the darling little ones which please kiss for me. Believe me.

Being very affectionate Husband

Kind love to Mr Robertshaw & Eliza & Eunice.


[1] Ganges was the sister ship of the Clyde – see further here.

[2] Almost certainly a circumlocution for the products of rival firm Huntley & Palmers, which was based in Reading at that time.

[3] It is now known that these high-angle 10 inch batteries had an effective range of 10,000 yards (over 5 miles). See this page where one of the Spyglass batteries that Petter describes is pictured.

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