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

August 26th, 1888

Off the Coast of Sicily – P.&O. S.S. "Ganges"

My Beloved Angee,

We left Malta last night at 10 and was rather expecting to have received letters there from home, but none have arrived this week and should any come after my departure they will be sent on to Alexandria. It was homely to come on board this ship last night to see many familiar faces and I had a hearty greeting from the Captain and some of the officers who remembered me – there are very few passengers on board, so I have a splendid cabin for my separate use. We are going to Brindisi for the mails and passengers and expect to reach there early tomorrow Lord's Day morning and remain there until Monday morning and hope to reach Port Said on Thursday where I leave the ship again for a little stay in Egypt, but sending on all my heavy baggage by the "Ganges" to Bombay.

Through the Lord's goodness, I have had a nice time altogether at Malta, both among the saints and in the business. There are nearly a dozen in fellowship – mostly soldiers belonging to the 42nd "the black watch" – there are also two resident brothers, engineers in the Dockyard and some sailor brethren – we have had meetings for prayer and reading every other night and it is refreshing to see the fruit of the Lord's own gracious care over His own in real greatness of heart toward Himself and to one another. They seem to have the Lord's interests in these parts at their fingers' end and keep up a correspondence with brethren in Spain, Egypt, Gibraltar and all about these regions. They have furnished me with the names of brothers in fellowship on board every ship in the Mediterranean fleet  and D.V. I hope to see many of them at Port Said and Alexandria – they have written to Mr Pinkerton at Beyrout[sic] referring to my visit – to Egypt if the Lord will and I hear there is now a gathering at Cairo.

The business at Malta has been interesting and once more I have been made to prove what a resource our God is for the faith that looks to Him and expects from Him. It was said that H & P held it and it was impossible ever to move the Maltese from their prejudices. P.F.&Co. have had one very staunch supporter there for many years, called Hoskin (a St. Austell family) – on calling upon him, he received me very kindly, but gave me no hope of any success in the business – we have an agent there too recently appointed by a gentleman who works the Mediterranean Coasts for us and who only a few weeks since called at Malta and spent a week there but doing little business – I saw his report in the office before leaving and it was not very encouraging. Well I must own that at starting I felt beaten, but plodded on calling again and again and in the mercy of God the ice began to yield at last and my letter to P.F.&Co. encloses 13 good orders from all the leading men there. Hoskins is puzzled and cannot make it out. He says I have caught the tide – that is his way of looking at it, I believe the power that raised Jesus from the dead and gave Him glory is the same power of God today that enabled me to make the sales and my heart does indeed say "To Him be glory".

The weather is very fine and through the day it is hot, but the nights are cool – through mercy I am in good health and not feeling so full as when at home -  I think I must be many pounds lighter and am glad of it and able to breathe more freely, indeed I was surprised to find I could walk the hundreds of steps about Malta without any feeling of difficulty. The harbours are simply enchanting and the beautiful blue waters are such a contrast to the white buildings that abound on every side. Mr Hoskin has a beautiful house across one of the bays and I went over one evening and supped with him and his family – he is a child of God and his wife and his daughters carry on a high class drapery business near the grocery and wine shop – they are nice girls – Mrs H. is in Cornwall for a visit. Mr H. took me for a nice walk after supper and we walked about 3 miles and I felt as well able to do it as Arundel and Harry could – it was moon light and almost like day. Mr H. also took me out in the country yesterday about 5 miles to the residence of the Duke of Edinburgh who with his family are expected in a few weeks. The gardeners and orange growers are very fine and the house plain but comfortably furnished. Mr N Knew the housekeeper who gave us a look over the whole place, even to the nursery where the children's toys were – they speak very highly of the Duchess and her beautiful lively simple ways with the children and great kindness to the tenants. Mr H's last act of kindness was to hand me a small bottle of marsalla wine in which he had put some quinine, ordering me to take a teaspoonful every morning the first thing during my stay in Egypt.

Popery is in full bloom in Malta – I have never before seen what an awful power it is over men – there are about 70 large churches and cathedrals in the island and every one of them has many large bells, which are simply going night and day – priests and monks are numbered by the thousand and for the last 2 or 3 days great preparations are being made for one of their feasts or festival days – flags by the hundred are waving about and I was struck yesterday with a huge crown suspended by cords on either side of the street and high up in the heavens. I enquired what this crown meant and was told that a large statue of St Domingo would be drawn on a platform through the streets, when the procession was marching and that when it came to this spot the crown was lowered upon St Domingo's head.

The women all dress in black and wear a coal scuttle bonnet[1], something like the Quakers only with a long curtain to it, forming a kind of shawl – they are nice clean comely looking faces – all with black eyes and hair, but skin as fair an English lady.

It is certainly one of the most interesting places I have ever visited in the world so far as its natural beauty is concerned, but could only mourn to see what a caricature of Christ the devil has reduced the professor of His names and truth to in the hands of man, skilled in cunning and craftiness. I heard that the property of one church above in Valetta exceeded a million sterling. Goza is a neighbouring island where all the lace is made and there are hundreds of boats going to and fro carrying fruit which abounds of every kind.

My paper says it is time to  finish and now with much love to you again my dearly beloved wife and our dear children Arundel and Harry, Harriett and Emma and all the darling little ones believe me.

Being very affectionate Husband

Love to Eunice & Eliza and Mr Robertshaw


[1] Pictured on this web page.

<<< Previous | Top of page | Next >>>