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

September 2nd, 1888

Alexandria, Egypt

My Beloved Angee,

I had only time to send you only a very short note yesterday and will therefore seize the first quiet moment to write the regular letter jotting down the journeying's of the past week. We left Malta on Friday night and reached Brindisi about 9 on Lord's day morning - a dirty filthy place in every way but in which the "Ganges" had to stay until about four on Monday morning when the overland mail and a dozen or so of passengers arrived and we were soon steaming away through the bright blue waters of the Mediterranean. I went ashore for a few hours at Brindisi but was glad enough to return to the ship and to remain there quietly to read and meditate and sleep and a good deal of the latter. One of our fresh arrivals at Brindisi was a Mr Macarthey and his wife (Irish) he a Catholic she a Protestant but nice people and some interest in the Truth – with these and one or two others I had some nice conversations. Mr Macarthey is in the Civil Service and resides near Madras and they gave me a very hearty invitation to come and stay at their house when next in that part of India.

We arrived at Port Said about 6 on Thursday morning when I took another farewell of the good ship "Ganges" and her worthy Captain who was very kind. It was like an oven at Port Said and I was not sorry in one sense to stop there as it would be fearfully hot through the canal and the Red Sea. I soon got quarters in a very nice hotel that had been recommended within a stone's throw from the water, so that from the balcony one could see the coming and going out of the ships of all nationalities. After breakfast I had to begin the work again and having hired an Arab and a kind of barrow started off with my three leather cases – the Arab also able to interpret a bit – well, through the mercy and goodness of God again, I opened with five of the best men and their orders, so far as the expensive character of the biscuits was concerned rather frightened me, as I expect it will P.F.&Co. – for instance one person ordered 10 large square tins of each marcaroons, cocoa nut, Royal desert and this I could see from the stocks they were keeping of H & P's was not out of the way for them. After the work was over on Thursday about 6pm I went to hunt for a brother (an Arab) of whom I had heard from the brethren at Malta. He is engaged at the custom house where I first enquired, but he was not in and a little Arab boy also knew him and could speak a little English went to a few places where he thought he might be and then to his home in the Arab quarters where perfumes were pretty strong – I saw his wife who could not speak English, so we were beginning to give up any hope of finding him. On returning however to the customs my little Arab friend espied the brother among a crowd of people and so we were brought together. He was a very gentlemanly looking person and spoke English nicely – there was a refreshing breeze on the water so we had a boat for half an hour and had nice conversation, and arranged to meet again at 8.30 that evening at my room in the hotel for a reading. He wished to read 1 John IV and the Lord gave us a time of refreshing over this portion of His Word and it was good to see the grace of God in this dear man and such simplicity and love for the truth. Sometimes when Mr Pinkerton or any other brother passes through they spend a little time with him and break bread together. On Friday morning at 8.30 he called at the hotel and took me to another dealer who gave me a nice order and I could see as we went through the streets that he was evidently held in esteem by others – I then accompanied him to his office in the customs house and noticed a good supply of Messengers of Peace upon his desk – kept in the front too for any callers to help themselves – his name is Alexander Carabut, one of that blessed company of whom the good shepherd could say "My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me and I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand." It was a real cheer to us both.

At noon on Friday I left Port Said for Alexandria by an Egyptian steamer, which was very comfortable in the saloon part and I had a good cabin without any other to share it. As evening came on the wind freshened and we had quite a rough sea necessitating the shutting of ports – most of the passengers were sick and a young Egyptian in the next cabin to mine was very ill all the night and groaning out his troubles so loudly that sleep for me was quite out of the question – it was also very hot and this would not permit of sleep. The day dawn was most acceptable and at 5.30 am we were in the harbour and I soon got into a boat with all my baggage.

HMS Leander, sister ship of HMS Phaeton
HMS Leander, sister ship of HMS Phaeton [Image source: Wikipedia]

On the way to the shore however I noticed the "Phaeta"[1] one of H.M. ships and knew there were some brethren on board, so we pulled alongside and I went on board finding the blue jackets scrubbing decks I enquired for a gentleman called Anderson[2] one of the engineers and the man went down to his rooms and told him someone wanted to see him – Anderson however believed it could not be, so turned on his pillow and was going off to sleep again – the man however assured him there was a gentleman on deck asking for him so he turned out and soon came up to the room I had been shewn into. You may judge of our mutual joy to find we were known to each other – he lived at Chatham where I had often met him – after staying a little while  got into the boat again and after the usual custom house trials got to the Hotel Abbat, not the one I lodged in on my last visit but where Mr Robertshaw stayed and I find it very comfortable and cool. In the afternoon at 4 dear Anderson and another brother officer called White called – White was from Portsmouth and he knew me very well although I did not remember him.

They are dear young men and I hear very devoted to the Lord – we spent 3 hours together in my bedroom and I had some tea and they tell me there are two others on board in fellowship – the drummer and a seaman and D.V. we purpose coming together to break bread this afternoon and I shall be able to add a little more to my letter after our meeting.

Sept. 4th Alexandria

We had a happy moment in remembering the Lord together and afterward had tea in the same building and spent an hour or two after in reading the Word – yesterday Monday I had a busy day with the work amid all the babel of tongues, I had already had a little experience of – was heartily glad to return to the hotel about 5.30 for a little rest and refreshment. At 6.30 we came together again at the place we broke bread for a reading and some strangers also dropped in.

At 8 we went to a little spot of much interest about 3 miles away near the Khedwes palace where a door was opened for the gospel. It is a little room in the midst of a desert of sand kept for religious meetings and the conflict has been between Catholic and Protestants as to who should have possession of this place – there is an Irish regiment here who have sometimes forcibly entered and who have persecuted a few simple Christian men among our English regiment. However the Lord has kept it for them in spite of the opposition and there were about 25 or 30 present last night and glad enough to hear the Word spoken of the truth of the gospel. Returned to the hotel soon after 10 and was not long in finding a resting place and through the Lord's mercy woke up much refreshed this morning and have had another day's battle with the work and through the same mercy have done well, having already taken 10 good orders – most of the people remember me again and are wonderfully kind in their way. D.V. I am expecting to move on to Cairo tomorrow afternoon but do not think I shall spend more than a day as I want to get down to Suez by Friday for this week's P & O  to Bombay – here it is cool, but in Cairo it is very hot I hear. One of the dear brethren from the Phaeton called at noon to say that the Lord had opened a door for a meeting again tonight at some gentleman's house here and the brethren from the ship will call for me about 7 – they are a bright little company indeed – the two officers well taught godly young men – it is such a cheer to my spirit to have these opportunities for a little fellowship. There is no mail until Friday so I shall probably finish this letter at Cairo. The Lord bless you all my dearly beloved wife and children.

Sept. 4th – 11pm

Just returned from the meeting at the house of an Englishman who with his wife and family are believers – they had often heard of the two young officers on board the "Phaeton" and had many times invited them to their house, but the way was never made clear until today – we have had a wonderful time together and I trust some fruit may be made manifest. I was deeply interesting to know from them, as they had heard of the gospel meeting last night that the dear soldiers came together at noon today in the same little room for a special prayer meeting to ask God to bless the word that was preached to them last night. If ever I felt the fields were white unto harvest in my life it is now and do pray that the Lord may send forth labourers into His field.

Sept. 6th 1888

Just heard a mail goes out this afternoon so must close up this patchwork letter – could not possibly get through the work so as to get to Suez this week so shall be a week later which will make the Red Sea a little cooler I hope.

God Bless you my beloved Angee, dear Arundel & Harriett – Harry and Emma and all the dear children and with much love to you all believe me.

Being very affectionate Husband


[1] HMS Phaeton, a second class cruiser of the Leander class – see further here.

[2] William J. Anderson was one of the two Assistant Engineers on board. He joined the crew on 6th April 1886 - see further here.

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