Gibraltar, Algeria, Malta, Egypt, India, Burma, Singapore, China, Japan, Korea, Russia
June 9th, 1889
Off Jinsaw, Korea
My Beloved Angee,
We arrived at the above port about 9 this morning and resume our engagement at noon tomorrow when 30 hours more steaming will bring us to Vladivostok. The weather is much colder than at Nagasaki but is very fine and having kept near the coast all the way up, a nice opportunity for seeing its beauties has been given us. It is very bold and some of the hills 3 or 4 thousand feet high. This port does not appear much larger than Croyde but the bay surrounding it is nearly as large as Torbay. It abounds with small fish like sardines and the Coreans have a skilful way of letting down a net held by sticks at the four corners and dipping them up – we passed about a dozen large whales yesterday all going North and it was a very fine sight to see them sporting about and throwing up a volume of water that would make the Trafalgar Square fountains look very tiny. I went ashore with one of the officers this morning having charge of the mails to enquire if there were any missionaries resident about the neighbourhood but could only hear of one Roman Catholic a Frenchman but as the king forbids any teaching of the doctrines of Christianity, this person lives as a Corean and appears to be always walking about from village to village, without any certain dwelling place. The evening we remained at Fusan, the first Corean port called at, the Captain invited the Commissioner and his wife and young daughter and another Englishman belonging to the customs on board to dine. Their conversation at the table was very sickening and foolish and I made very short work of it and got into my cabin an hour before they left the table. They kept up their pleasure as they call it in singing and dancing until midnight, so that after the tumult had ceased I was able to get some rest. In the morning at breakfast the Captain expressed his surprise that Mrs Sonna had retired so early – it appears she left soon after I did and may have been commended for her wisdom seeing she had a child about 2 ½ years old to care for and no servant and from all appearances within a few months of confinement. The Captain remarked that they had had a very jolly evening with the banjo – comic songs and some of Moody's and Sankey's. This will give you some idea of the state of things among the mass of Europeans all over the East with, thank God a few bright exceptions. The truths of the Gospel are not more strange and unknown to the poor heathen than to many of these and it is deeply solemn to think of the fearful doom awaiting those who have heard the glad tidings, but have not obeyed it and therefore are sunk and will sink into deeper corruption and darkness than even the poor heathen. Mrs Sonna seems more disposed to listen to the truth than at first and I really hope the question put to her by Mr Spencer Jones is working in her conscience. It is very singular that I should have met him and Mrs S. after his talk with her – the young Lt. Lee too is a little more inclined to listen to the truth. Oh! What goodness and patience our God has displayed and continues to in His longsuffering and mercy not only to the poor world that has rejected His Son, but to the individuals in it as we each know in connection with our own history. I have been deeply struck with this in reading the "Universal History" I borrowed from Arundel especially during the first four centuries. It does indeed deepen in our souls the sense of His infinite mercy to us in these last days to have recovered the precious truth of the Gospel and the Church in the marvellous way He has. I never had such a sense of the sovereign mercy and goodness of God as He has given me of late in the thought of the grace He has shewn in not giving me up – He might well have done so a thousand times as His Eye has seen failure of heart and communion, but Oh what a reality for our souls are these words "Kept by the power of God through faith" in contrast to those deeply solemn words "wherefore also God gave them up" as He did Ephraim of old and where is the limit of the depth unto which any of us could not sink if His Sovereign mercy and power gave up its Almighty hold. May He keep us each and our dear boys and their own loved ones walking in the fear even humbling ourselves under His mighty hand, so that our dependence and confidence in Him may be sustained – "continuing instant in prayer."
We have not yet left Juisan but expect to in about an hour. At the table yesterday the Lord gave an opportunity for a word both at the mid-day and the evening meal. The privilege of confessing the name of the Lord Jesus Christ was given me and strength too to do so boldly. That precious name has not lost its power and one is made to feel that every heart is put to the test when through grace it is sounded from the lips of one whose heart has known and trusted it, so that none can escape being manifested either as a believer or an unbeliever. My heart was filled with joy this morning to find in conversation with one of the officers a young Scotchman that he had bowed to that saving name and the dear fellow wept as he referred to the conversation of some at the dinner last night who could speak in derision of it. He once said "Well you cannot deny that every one that turns to Him today there are three that are turning away" – I replied that it was said to have to own the truth of that statement and deeply solemn to think of the doom that awaited those who turn away from the Truth. Some of them had read and referred to the great American atheist called Ingersoll but the Captain said to Lieut. Lee "I would much rather you should follow Mr Petter than him" so that his conscience was compelled to own where the truth lay. May God in His mercy speak to them and I believe He will.
Vladivostok June 12th
We reached this place just before dark last night and for many hours previously had felt the need of great coats. As soon as we were boarded it was pretty evident we were in Russia by the tall men and the Russian costumes. The authority too with which they command makes you feel that they are very conscious of the autocratic power behind them. From all I had heard of the hotels I decided to stick to the ship – the young Lieut. Lee is also doing the same – the distance from the shore is only a few minutes so that we can easily return for meals. I had no idea it was such an important place as I find it to be but it is evidently intended to play an important part in any future war and will soon become a second Plymouth or Portsmouth. The harbour is very extensive and is being fortified at all points. Our government too are keeping a close watch on their movements and this young Lieut. is really visiting it from Hong Kong for the purpose of inspecting and making plans of the forts and taking notice of the guns etc. I went ashore this morning after breakfast and have spent the day in calling on the various merchants most of which have promised to come on board tomorrow to see my samples – we stay three clear days, so that it will give me nice time. I was thinking this morning that during the first 11 days of this month I have visited four separate nations and languages – China, Japan, Corea, Russia. You will not wonder at my feeling a little wearied with it sometimes – the various monies are a regular puzzle for my poor Banis[?]. There are a great many Chinese here and several of the leading merchants are Germans and one from Finland: their stores are very general and embrace a variety of articles such as provisions, drapery, ironmongery, harness, shoes &c &c and the government are beginning to put heavy duties on all imported goods, while the Russian merchants keep almost exclusively to their own country's manufacturers. I notice fancy biscuits are brought from Odessa, but are very far behind English make although the tin in which they are packed is very handsome. This place is also an important telegraphic station and the distance from England is nearly as far as it is possible to get being just half the circle of the world – as I shall be on the voyage to Japan next week D.V. and not have an opportunity of sending a message I added "and next week" to the word Singapore sent today and the six words did not cost so much from here as they have from China or Japan.
At Sea, June 15th
We have just left Vladivostok and except a little fog the weather is still very fine and the sea smooth. Through mercy I feel much benefitted by the change and the few chest troubles have passed away. The goodness of God has again prospered the business and three of the largest merchants have given me nice orders for a beginning – one of them had already received a small case from us but gave a much larger order when he saw the samples. The largest of the firms sent down a gentleman to the steamer the second night we were there with an invitation to lunch with him the following day and they were exceedingly kind. Their house was very comfortably furnished but the table was all in Russian fashion but I got on pretty well with it – they are great hands for tea and drink it out of a glass which they first partly fill with hot water from an urn on the table and then pour a little fiery strong tea from a tea pot into it. They give as much as 10 Roubles a pound for good tea – a Rouble being equivalent to about Shillings of our money. So you see they like it good. The weather there yesterday was splendid – the air like that of Dartmoor on a fine September day. I am filled with thanksgiving for the mercy and goodness of God in prospering the business for although it does not affect my pocket I feel as much concern about it as if all our bread depended upon it. I sent a few Russian postcards yesterday before leaving for the ship – one each to Daisy, Harold, Angie, Minnie Hortop and Albert I dare say the dear children will be pleased with it – I should have posted my letters there too but for a hint that the authorities generally opened all letter for England. It does not however make any difference as we are carrying the mails as far as Japan where I shall leave them for posting.
Nagasaki, June 23rd, Lord's Day morning
We reached this port yesterday afternoon and I was heartily glad I assure you to get into a comfortable hotel once more though only for a day or two. Your welcome letter of May 16 with enclosures from dear Emma and Arundel were welcome comforts from a distant land, but those you most probably wrote on May 2 and 9 are not yet received from some cause at present unknown neither are P.F.&Co's for those two weeks – I rather expect they have been sent from Hong Kong to Shanghai and if so I may hope to get them on arrival there in a day or two. I found a little comfort in speaking with the second officer and the Purser on our return from Siberia but felt deeply tried with the fearful state of the Captain and the young English Lieut., who from all I can gather is a long way advanced in Buddhism on its modern adaptation to the scientific arrangement as it is called of the present enlightened age. Before leaving him yesterday I pressed the truth from which none could escape that he must bow the knee to Jesus and own Him Lord to the Glory of God the Father and I should pray that in the Sovereign mercy of God that it may be the day of salvation and not on the day of judgment. He was filled with delight on our steaming into the harbour to see the "Imperieuse" and a few other of H.M. ships at anchor – as the admiral and officers were all well known to him having been some time at Hong Kong – I was also delighted and after giving my baggage in charge I took a boat to the "Imperieuse" to see two brethren on board who are coming on shore this afternoon for a reading at my hotel. In going down to our brother Binmore's cabin I had to pass through two decks which gave a very vivid idea of life on board a man of war. I hear that Dr. Eitol's wife and family are all in arms against him for the position he has taken and it has been made more painful to the Dr. by the presence of a rather stylish sister once in fellowship in England but put away for a long course of wickedness - this only came out during my recent stay there and I warned them about her as she was evidently assuming that all was right in professed attachment to them when all was actually wrong. I told Dr E. and the other brethren that they needed great care and caution in dealing with her or rather in the way their friendship for her might find expression. D.V. I shall hope to spend a few days more there in a short time now. Our hearts can go out in thankfulness together for the exercise God is giving dear Emma whose letter breathes Spirit begotten desires toward God which His grace will certainly satisfy – I purpose writing her a few lines to enclose with one already written to Harry.
Nagasaki, June 24th
Must now bring my letter to a close as I have only just heard of any outgoing mail via America. Through the Lord's tender mercy I had a great cheer here yesterday dear Binmore came in from the "Imperieuse" and a Lieut. Lawry from the Alacrity a fine Christian that I have heard a good deal about in China and been on the look out for – he too had heard of me, so Binmore sent him a note asking him to come and he came and we had a few hours quietly over the word and in prayer together – Lieut. Lawry is not with us, but loves the Lord Jesus and His Word. It is very warm again but through mercy I am feeling well. Trust you too are keeping well and now once more with much love to you and all our beloved ones believe me my dearly beloved Angee.
Being very affectionate Husband