Gibraltar, Algeria, Malta, Egypt, India, Burma, Singapore, China, Japan, Korea, Russia
March 14th, 1889
My Beloved Angee,
I posted my last by a German mail only three days ago and find irregular weekly mail leaves tomorrow night so will not let it pass without a few lines to you. We have had some sunshine for the last day or two which makes a great difference in moving about but it continues very cold. This is a marvellously busy place – the large and small steamers and the native craft in the river will give a pretty good idea of the extensive commerce carried on – Shanghai being the great distributing centre for all China. It is all level about the city and rickshaws are greatly used for moving about the various quarters and very comfortable they are – I have not used any other kind of conveyance as it does not cost a quarter of a carriage hire. It is rather amusing sometimes when I get into one where the springs are hardly sufficient for my weight – the moment I show at the door of the hotel they simply swarm around it all bidding in their language for a turn – some of the poor fellows run very swiftly and they do work hard indeed in that way for the few cents they receive. It is well that the Chinese men do not torture their feet like the women – it is a wonder they continue to be enslaved to such a custom when it must involve such pain and misery. Poor creatures they step as though their legs were two stumps without a foot that God had made to bend at every step. This is something like the shape it looks as if all the foot from the instep to the toes had been removed by some means. They are evidently very proud of it.
A gentleman staying at the hotel who has been very kind in giving me information took me to see a merchant known to him this afternoon in the French settlement and afterward in passing a large building I enquired what it was and he told me it was an opium den. It is said the best time to see them is at night but it was sufficiently horrible for me to see it while there was there was yet a little day light. Men and women old and young visit this place to give themselves up to for the time being to this fearful habit – each person has a place something like a stall in which they lie down upon their sides and for some time they prepare the opium before smoking it and soon afterwards of course they are prostrate – numbers of them were in this condition as we went through and I was heartily glad to get outside the fumes of the den to breathe the fresh air again. I have just returned from a very different scene having been to a prayer meeting at the house of Mr Dyer – the manager of the Bible Depot here who is a godly man and loves the truth – there were about 40 in his drawing room and many of the prayers were very sweet and I felt in the spirit. Last night I went to a mission room where I noticed a meeting was to be held and found a lot of seamen there. A sister called Vowles gave out a hymn and prayed and then asked me if I had a word to give them they would be very glad to receive it. I spoke to them for a little while and the word was blessed to all – they were nearly all believers and many only quite recently converted – some of the China Inland Missionaries were also present and D.V. I have arranged to have a reading with them on Lord's day afternoon and to preach the gospel in the evening. The devotedness of this sister does put we brothers to shame and no mistake. After the meeting she asked me to remain for a few minutes which I did and in conversation said the moment you opened your mouth I was sure you belonged to the brethren many of whom about the neighbourhood of Bath were well known to her, amongst them H.M. the late Mr Miller and she was baptised by Mr Oad[?] The China Inland Missionaries are the finest people I have met anywhere – they seem to have the truth of the gospel very clear, far more so than the sects, they are all dressed in Chinese costume brothers and sisters and I have been made to feel what a different work it is to that followed by the Salvation Army and God is working through them there can be no doubt for delivering many a poor China man from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. I have arranged to meet them all on Saturday evening and one of their number has promised to call at the hotel for me and take me to their room where they assemble – Hudson Taylor the one God has so used in connection with this mission is here and I expect to see him D.V.
Am getting on nicely with the business – have received an order from one of the large European houses and a very large one from a Chinese wholesale merchant – I trust our business may be prospered in China as I believe it will – there was a real need for somebody to come out to look after it – the trade could not be reached through London shippers – P.F.&Co. have done the right thing in sending their own representative. The two brothers called Llewellyn I met on board the steamer from Singapore to Hong Kong have called and are very kind and have given me most valuable information on many things – D.V. I go to lunch with them tomorrow and I told one of them today when here that he was like a father to me. God has strewed good and kind friends in my path indeed and I do love to connect it all with that heart that spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all – His word says He is able to make all grace abound toward us and He does so. I trust He gives you all to prove the same at home. Our next mail arrives on Sunday and I may hear that you are now in London – hope your cold will have gone entirely by this time and that you will enjoy the change. Once more I must conclude and with much love to dear Harry and Emma and the darling children and dear Arundel and Harriett and the darling children of that group – Eunice and Margie and with a double portion for yourself believe me my dearly beloved Angee.
Being very affectionate Husband