Gibraltar, India, Malta
March 29th, 1890
S.S. "Clare Macarthur", Bay of Bengal, March 29th 1890
My Beloved Angee,
We left Madras on the afternoon of the 27th and thus far have had a most pleasant voyage in a very comfortable steamer and the change for me is a great one after three months or more of continuous railway travelling. The last evening at Madras was a cheering one and quite a nice company of Christians came in to the house of a friend of dear Blakes, a bright Christian among Wesleyans living about a mile distant from Blakes. The Word seemed precious to all their hearts and as one and another said how it has been blessed to them, I could only thank God for the grace and mercy that deigns to use such a poor thing to minister edification and comfort and instruction to His own saints. We are about a dozen saloon passengers on board and among them a lady missionary labouring in Assam but who has been down to Colombo for a change – her health having broken down from continued discouragements – she is an American and belongs to a Baptist mission and I should hope loves the Lord and she was thankful to find one come on board a Madras who was a believer on the Lord Jesus Christ. The Captain is a kindly man and has been giving me some useful information about the Mauritius and Madagascar, the former place he knows well and speaks very highly of it. I was surprised to hear from him that there are some Parsees down there in business and a good many Indians.
We hear the heat in Calcutta is very great over 100 in the shade, but the compensating part is that it is a very dry heat and therefore not so oppressive as that we are now passing through about 90 with great humidity. It would be rather difficult to describe what it is like by night as long as I could endure it – I then had my bed taken on deck where I stayed an hour, but feared falling asleep in the midst of such a heavy dew. I then came down with my pillows about midnight and lay on the side sofa of the saloon and had some sleep until 5 in the morning and soon after that had some tea and toast and got on deck for a quiet reading until 7.30 when Lazarus generally walks up looking as grave as judge with the announcement that the bath is ready. It sounds a little paradoxical in the face of the fact that one has been in a kind of bath for the last 9 or 10 hours. However the salt water is a change and also refreshing and on returning to my cabin he is there with a nice lot of clean white clothing and a dry shirt and band, so that after he has given my poor back a good powdering and handed me my garments I am made comfortable as far as my body is concerned for the day. Through grace the comfort connected with the daily reading and prayer are great realities too for one's soul – the renewing of the mind is a very blessed experience, our faithful God and Father grants to us and loves that we thus wait upon Him and so that we might renew our strength.
We are expecting to reach Calcutta tomorrow Lord's Day afternoon provided we pick up our pilot tonight and get favourable tide in the Hooghly so I am beginning my next letter in good time. There is a good large steamer going direct to the Mauritius on April 1st and it is possible I may take a passage by this boat and not stop now for business in Calcutta or yet visit Burma. I scarcely thought to have been able to do all India again as I have seeing that it was so late before I started, but am thankful for it now as it will be a benefit to the business and altogether there has been much to encourage in the face of many difficulties I cannot but feel are the result of their actions at the works and which sometimes have well-nigh swamped me. I wish Mr Maid[?] had remained at his post, but it is too late now and the young heads who are now at the wheel must learn lessons for themselves and some of them will be costly I fear.
Calcutta, April 1st
We reached a place called Diamond Harbour in the Hooghly about 10 on Lord's day morning and then heard the unwelcome news from the Pilot that there was not water for us over the bar and may not be either on Monday or Tuesday so a few of the passengers elected to land in the afternoon and take the trains to Calcutta a distance of 40 miles. We got a large native boat for the landing but the heat was something terrible and on arriving at Calcutta about 8 in the evening I do not think I ever felt so prostrate in my life. Was thankful to receive you welcome letter yesterday morning and to find that you were not quite laid aside with the attack of influenza – suppose your house changing is all over by this so that I am now thinking of you on the Vic. Road and heartily wish I was in it too. The steamer I am thinking to take for the Mauritius leaves here in a week if the tide is high enough. Otherwise he will have to wait for one week more and the prospect of having to stay in this place is not very cheering and should she be delayed to the second week I shall probably fly to Darjeeling for a few days to escape this furnace. I am obliged to have two men to work the Punkah at night over my bed and even then anything like refreshing sleep is out of the question. Every steamer now leaving this port is crowded and I do not wonder at it either – this influenza is very prevalent here, I am thankful to have escaped it thus far. Arundel has not written me for two weeks, but I dare say his hands are pretty full with his own business and the collar[?] factory. He has been such a constant correspondent in the past that I quite miss his letters. Can quite understand Eliza's regrets and yours too in having to leave Ilfracombe, but it is for others and this is the way of love. The visit of the Son of God to this poor world was for others – what a place for Him and no wonder when the prospect of returning home drew near that He could say "If ye loved me ye would rejoice because I go to my Father" – but what a mighty work He has accomplished for God and for us. Eternal glory and eternal redemption – well I must once more commend you all to a Father's love and care and wish much love to your dear self my dear Angee and to all our beloved ones and to dear friends believe me ever.
Being very affectionate Husband
Since closing my letter called the next address to P.F&Co. Tamatave the chief port of Madagascar – D.V. I shall write you again before leaving Calcutta.