Gibraltar, India, Malta

December 3rd, 1889


My Beloved Angee,

Here I am once more in the good providence of God amid that which has become somewhat familiar now through previous visits. We reached our anchorage about 6 o'clock last Lord's day morning (Dec. 1st) – it was very fine and cool at that hour and the scene around us soon became lively enough in consequence of our having the Duke of Connaught[1] on board who with his staff were returning from an inspection of the troops at Aden. You will be able to judge of my joy in finding my old servant Lazarus waiting our arrival and was soon in charge of all my baggage. They had reserved my old room at the hotel and by 7.30 we were all comfortably settled and I was ready for breakfast at 9. Lazarus in the meantime had made a careful examination of all my clothing and it was no small mercy I assure you to find myself in his hands again – he seems the perfection of a servant and I think our pleasure at seeing each other once more was mutual – my last letter will have made known to you that over thirty of our passengers were smitten with bad throats soon after leaving Brindisi, but through mercy we all recovered again in about a week, so that I was quite well during the voyage from Aden, and able to be with the company of believers who met together every morning at the second saloon for a Scripture reading – commenced after leaving Brindisi. It was about the most singular mixture I ever fell in with – for 8 Quakers – a Church of England Clergyman – a missionary and his wife belonging to the London Missionary Society – occasionally Canon Wilberforce – constantly an ex-cabinet minister Mr Childers – Lord Radstock and myself – also a Colonel Shortland a great friend of the late Col. Seaton whose widow is well known to him and from whom he has heard a good deal about ourselves – he is a believer and a fine Bible man with an evident ear for the truth. Well you may imagine what the reading would be like – the Quakers talked a good bit, but Lord Radstock took the lead and as far as church truth is conceived and its present state as far as man's responsibility in it is in question I never met a mind in greater confusion in my life. He referred to Ephesians 4 constantly and pressed that word "There is one body". I sought to shew them from the Word that while Christ's building was perfect and would surely stand and that no failure on our part would hinder God in the accomplishment of His purposes, yet as far as man was concerned all had failed and was an utter wreck today. I also reminded him of I Corinthians XII with regard to schism and how serious a sin it was, although it was not so accounted by many who were without doubt the Lord's. It was like a bombshell exploding in their midst and the Quakers especially resented it – indeed they had never heard such a thought before in their lives.

Dec. 4th

Lord R. kept quiet after I had spoken and in the evenings after dinner frequently came and had a talk over these matters – his ruling idea seems to be, to seek to unite all the different parties in Christendom and he has been labouring to this end for some years, in seeking to establish a prayer union among all the leading ministers, agreeing to pray on a certain day in every month for greater unity. He wanted me to join it, but I told him in very plain words that I did not believe from such scriptures as II Timothy that the Spirit of God was leading in that direction, on the contrary a faithful heart was exhorted to purge himself from the vessels of dishonour and to follow righteousness, faith, charity and peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. He appears never to have understood this and clings to the thought that God is going on with it all as though it had never revolted against the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. His spirit was very nice and he received what I said remarking "what poor things we are and what a mess of it he was always making". I trust the dear man may here the Lord's voice in it – Col. Shortland and a few others present at the readings were much interested and appeared to understand what I was calling attention to. Lord R. preached the gospel in the first saloon one Lord's day evening and a good number came down – in this work he was at home and spoke with much earnestness and power. I begged the Captain to come but he did not, nor would he give permission to Lord R. to preach again during the week. Altogether the voyage has been deeply interesting and I doubt not the day will declare that many on board the "Oriental" heard words of life and awakening.

The Duke of Connaught seems a nice unassuming person. I was sitting very near him and his staff at the table and often caught his eye – one day after Tiffin he was standing in the saloon stairs looking at the track chart and I happened to be passing – he looked very pleasantly and said – these track charts are nice things and wanted to know where I was going. He made me feel quite at ease and after a little chat on the stairs we walked up on the deck and conversed for half an hour – he seemed much interested in my travels and thought it was a very fine experience. He is Commander-in-Chief now for a portion of the army in India and remarked that they were talking about making him Commander-in-Chief for the whole army here but he did not care much about it, indeed he said "to tell you the truth I want to be home to see to the bringing up of my children" – I did enjoy the time with him and it was beautiful to see the unassuming manner he displayed.

Dec. 5th another morning comes round and I must add a little more to my letter – the days do indeed pass rapidly and I am busy at work with Lazarus in the Bazaar every day and am thankful to say have met with much encouragement in the business. On Tuesday evening the 3rd Lord Radstock invited all the stewards and quartermasters of the Oriental to a tea at the sailor's rest near the Dock and asked me to come to preach the Gospel to them. About 50 came and sat in groups around a lot of small tables and Lord R. and I waited upon them, so the tables were turned as men say – they are mostly respectable young fellows and they enjoyed their tea being thus waited upon very much I think. After this Lord R. spoke to them very simply of the Saviour and related some interesting conversations he had met with on various parts of Europe – all seems attentive – I then spoke a little from the Word in Timothy. "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." The Lord gave me such liberty and joy while addressing them and also gave them the hearing ear and I trust the understanding heart. Lord R. appears to have been much refreshed himself and told the men afterward that he thought of it and how impossible it was for any to escape after such a testimony – the dear fellows were sobered and thoughtful and my own cabin steward said to me "Well Sir I have got something to think about" – another dear young fellow remained until the last wanting to have a word and I found he had been converted some few years ago and knew Mr Huntington Stone very well. I can only trust it has been the Lord's own ordering that I should meet Lord R. and I do think he has heard some words that he will have to think about. He was advertised to address a meeting of believers in the Methodist Chapel the following night and wanted me to be there to speak too, but this I declined as it was our regular reading. I received a kindly word of greeting yesterday from dear Major Jacob and Col. Beckett. They are having a conference at Lahore during the Xmas week which will just suit me as I purpose going North after spending a fortnight or so here. The weather is very fine just now, evenings and mornings delightfully cool but glad of white clothing through the day. Mail day draws near so I must bring this to a close. Trust I may hear from you by next mail due in 3 days from now – my heart often turns back in remembrance of the happy time we spent together recently and now although separated for a little season again, it is good to know that we are each one of us the objects of a saviour's love and care and we trust in Him for every good. Hope I may hear that your cold has passed again and that dear Harriett is still keeping up – the Lord preserve and bless you all and with much love to dear Arundel and Harry, dear Harriett and Emma and all the darling children and all other dear friends at Ilfracombe and a full portion for yourself. Believe my dearly beloved wife.

Being very affectionate Husband.


[1] Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn (Arthur William Patrick Albert; 1 May 1850 – 16 January 1942) see further here.

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