South Africa, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand
October 24th, 1890
Graaf-Reinet, South Africa
My Beloved Angee,
We came to this place three days ago from Uitenhage and it lies about 180 miles in the interior surrounded by mountains and is rightly called the garden of South Africa. It is a beautiful spacious land said to be very rich in fruit growing power which I can quite believe after seeing the peach trees and the vines which are a picture and will be even more perfect when in about 2 or 3 months their fruit is brought to perfection. The evening of our arrival some good showers of rain had fallen, the first which has been seen for nine or ten months so that the hearts of all were filled with gladness and I dare say some with thankfulness to God Who had sent it. One of the most comfortable hotels I have yet seen in S. Africa is here and we dropped in just in time for supper, a sort of high tea which I was quite ready for and my bedroom was a picture for cleanliness and neatness with a pair of glass doors opening out on a balcony surrounded by trees and flowers and a fine mountain in front giving it a very picturesque and grand appearance. It is the most comfortable bed I have slept on since leaving our own in Barnstaple. After supper I went with a Kaffir boy belonging to the hotel to seek a brother and his wife who reside here and are in fellowship – they are called Bruce, both from Scotland, he is a cutter in a large drapery house and they have only been out about 4 or 5 months. The wife lived in Edinburgh and knew Henry very well and had wondered since they had heard of me, whether I was any relative. We spent a nice time together and it appears they had expected me a week ago and had invited several in for a reading. We arranged to have one the following night.
Yesterday morning we had to begin the business. I first walked around and called upon six of the leading merchants and felt well pleased with my reception. I then returned to the hotel borrowed a nice hand cart I saw outside a Dutchman's store upon which we put our five cases of samples and called two young kaffir boys to put into the shafts and Lazarus and I started off, the work keeping us busy all the day and yielding much encouragement in the shape of three orders, two of which were very good and before we could get back a terrible storm of thunder and lightning hail and rain came down which made a hasty retreat necessary. Our brother Bruce and his wife scarcely expected me in the evening because of the storms which continued until night, but, having promised I thought I would go. We had only two beside ourselves who were next door neighbours of Mr Bruce – the wife only converted a few months and her husband still unsaved and we had a happy meeting. Returned about 9.30 and was soon resting in my comfortable bed, very thankful and very happy in the remembrance of what a God is our God – a Saviour God – the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The dear saints at Uitenhage were much refreshed – we had nice evenings on Monday and Tuesday for reading at brother's houses. Tomorrow morning we leave D.V. at 6 for Uitenhage and Port Elizabeth reaching the latter place about 6 in the evening – a day's railway travelling over the hills and barren plains, but with a climate unequalled which makes it very enjoyable. It is a very interesting sight here (Graaff Reivel) in the early mornings to see the number of teams of bullocks and wagons all around the market square. They commence arriving soon after daylight from the farms lying all around the 20-30 miles all laden with all kinds of produce – wool, mohair, ostrich feathers, wood, skins, eggs, butter, fruit, fodder – all sorts of odds and ends of things. Everything is sold by auction, beginning say at 20/ and coming back to 7/6 or 15/ but everything is sold and the farmer receives his money then goes to make his purchases and by 8am all the teams are on the way back again. This goes on every day, but there is a larger market on Friday and Saturdays as the farmers remain over Lord's day to attend their church – the Dutch Reformed Church. Their building in this town will seat about three thousand. This afternoon at 3 the market bell was rung, there being no intimation in the streets of anything to sell, but on enquiry I found there was a sale of Ostrich feathers in a large covered market so I went and a very interesting sight it was. Every size and shade were carefully tied up in bundles and laid out on long tables with a ticket giving the number of feathers in each lot. They were sold by weight and the auctioneer had not more than half a dozen buyers but the competition among these was sharp enough and the sales went on very rapidly some making as much as £5 per pound. The ostriches are always an interesting sight on travelling so different to anything we see in England. Have taken another nice order today, so that four out of six have orders with us and the other two firms are to indent our goods when next ordering – all this is encouraging and I expect P.F. will be well pleased with the business in South Africa indeed they do so express themselves and every week has carried home a good batch of business. I cannot sell any plain or common goods, every order is for the very best kinds we make and scarcely anything below the Osborne[?]. I never sold cocoa nuts, macaroons and such kind so freely in my life and they do not mind giving 2/6 3/6 at Kimberley 4/. or 5/. a pound for these. At this latter place they set their face against a copper coin and will not look at anything less than a threepenny bit (a ticker as they call it) so that things are sold for 9 or 1/. Lazarus went out one day to buy a penny box of tin tacks to hang up our show cards but came back saying "1p box of tin tacks 6p in Kimberley".
Port Elizabeth, Monday morning, Oct. 27th
We reached this place again on Saturday evening and was glad to find your letter of Oct. 1 also one from Arundel who I am glad to hear was better when he wrote. Received by same post Mr Ord's pamphlet on our present troubles which appears to me to be the clearest exposure of the evils of Mr Raven's teaching that God has given. While at Cape Town I own that I was, after reading a new pamphlet he (Mr Raven) sent out, disposed to think that I and others might have misunderstood his meaning and as the gatherings here were not affected by it and had not received these new doctrines I felt quite happy to go believing the Lord is in the midst of those gathered in S. Africa. A little while after reading this paper in which he appeared to own clearly that eternal life was ever in the Son with the Father, another paper came from the Tunbridge Wells meeting in which is a quotation of Mr Raven's from quite a recent letter in which he denies emphatically that Christ was that eternal life which was with the Father before the world was. This led me to read his new papers again more closely and I must own as I have done in my letters to you and Arundel since that time that I have lost all confidence in him. Since reading Mr Ord's pamphlet and Mr Raven's correspondence with Mr Barker I have no hesitation in saying that the conviction has grown upon me more and more that the whole thing as a system is thoroughly satanic, bearing on its face as plainly as anything can be written satanic characteristics in its subtlety and deceiving power. I told leading brethren so on Saturday evening and more than that – that the moment it was admitted I should go outside nor would I break bread with any who were known to be teaching it. God knows I have not desired division and deplorable as it is that we should be scattered it were far more serious to God than that such an insult to His Son should be tolerated as this teaching has done in dividing between His humanity and divinity.
In spite of all this the Lord granted a day of much blessing to us all Saturday and the room was filled for the gospel in the evening. Tomorrow D.V. we take the steamer for East London after receiving this letter please address all letters to Post Office, Durban, Natal until further notice. Give my love to Mr Shapland and the brethren. You may read my letters to any you please and our dear children I suppose will be glad to see Father's letters, but I do not wish them to go out of your or their hands or any copies to be made of any portion of their contents. God bless and preserve you as He has done and will continue to do – cleave to Him and nothing of His grace and truth will fail to that heart. Once more with much love to dear Arundel and Harry and Emma and all the dear children. Eunice and Eliza and all our dear friends and with much to yourself my dearly beloved wife believe me.
Being very affectionate Husband
I am very glad to read all you can write – I wish I could write such a letter as you can.