Gibraltar, India, Malta
November 16th, 1889
On board the P & O "Oriental", Nr Brindisi
My Beloved Angee,
My last letter was posted at Gibraltar where we arrived rather late in the evening and only remained about three hours so that I did not go ashore. The following day we encountered a strong head wind causing our ship to pitch heavily and soon thinned out our company at the table but it did not last long and we have had with this exception the most beautiful weather it is possible to have. We reached Malta this morning. Our agent came on board last night and arranged to come to the ship for me again at seven this morning. We then called upon all the customers so that it kept me very busy for the two hours I had to spare and resulted in getting a few nice orders I am thankful to say, which really cheered our agent. It was a lovely morning and the bulk of the passengers went ashore early to walk around the place. They appear to commence business very early as all the market was in full swing soon after seven.
After the preaching last Lord's Day one of the Quakers said well friend we should like to know who you are so I gave him a card and found my name was well known to him. It appears he had done some business with Raleigh people and is called Sessions living at Gloster[sic] where they carry on business as timber merchants. They had it appears come to the conclusion as to who I was associated with in the things of God and on finding that Henry was my brother said now we know all about it. Mr Sessions has taken a seat next to me at the table from Gibraltar and is going to India on a special mission to visit a station in Central India occupied by the Society of Friends – the chief man of which is also on board our ship with 4 or 5 other friends – they are in the second class part. Mr S. is also a temperance lecturer and is a great friend of Mr Code of Ilfracombe. They are very different to the warm hearted men belonging to the China Inland Mission. I do not think the clergyman cared much for the word I spoke last Sunday he has not cared much for any conversation since but a dear man belonging to the London Missionary Society I have had some nice conversation with also his wife. A lady called Oakes living at Farnham, the widow of an officer has been sitting opposite me at the table and it was joy to one's heart to notice that she gave thanks for her food and had a peaceful Christ-like face. She with two daughters have landed at Malta where they purpose to winter. One morning she came and sat near where I was sitting on the deck and we soon got into conversation and discovered our common joy and portion in that dear Saviour at God's right hand who had won and satisfied her heart amid storms and sorrows for many a long year past. I have seldom met one who had such an acquaintance with the Scriptures. She is a Scotch lady – it seems her made came to the preaching last Sunday and on alluding to it she remarked, Oh I have heard all about it from my servant. I gave her a lot of those leaflets with extracts from the synopsis which she seemed thankful for and enjoyed.
Have had an interesting and instructive time too with a Dr Robert Brown who is the author of some works published by Cassell &c. and is just finishing one called The Earth. He knew William very well and all about the large fortunes accumulated and the distribution thereof. He has travelled very extensively searching for material and information for his works about plants, birds, beasts &c &c. He spent one winter in the ice of Greenland and is a member of the Royal Geographical Society and also a Dr. of Philosophy as well as of medicine. On referring to the Scriptures I found her had no sympathy with Darwinianism but accepted in a general way the word as a revelation from God – I do not know if he has ever bowed the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ but I asked him if he would read the synopsis on the book of Genesis which I lent him – he went all through it and said there were some nice thoughts in it and should get more of his (Mr D[arby]'s) writings on returning to London. Much of it he thought a little mystical. However he was an interesting man and much pleased to meet with such an extensive traveller as he thought I was. We have had a young Greek gentleman from Gibraltar on board too that I am much interested in – belonging to the Greek church but for a long time seeing the hollowness of it and I hope is really exercised. He appears never to have heard the simple truth of the Gospel before and he is simply amazed to see how the priesthood of his church has come in between the truth as revealed in the word and his soul. He thinks I must be a clergyman as he never heard any business man talk in this way before. Last night I invited him in to my cabin and read Romans III with him – he could hardly believe the words - "that He might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" – but, said he – who says this and to whom is it said and seemed surprised to read about a just God being able to justify an ungodly man who believed in that Saviour God was now setting forth – we bowed the knee together and I do trust he may be emancipated from all the fearful darkness of human tradition – he knows five languages and is on a visit to some friends in Egypt. It is very sickening to see the utter indifference of the majority of the passengers to anything serious or eternal – the frivolity and foolish talk would almost disgrace a lunatic asylum and they call it life – without hope and without God is death indeed and the poor world with its god and prince seeks to satisfy a poor desolate heart with its poor empty husks. Well may it be said men of high degree are a lie and men of law degrees are vanity – both have been weighed. Well it is all of grace that we are made to differ – how through grace children of the light and children of the day just to shine for Christ in a world of darkness that has rejected Him. Hope to hear from you on arrival of the mail at Brindisi, but I must close this before that. Trust you are keeping well and now with much love once more to all our dear ones and to your dear self believe me my beloved Angee.
Being very affectionate Husband