South Africa, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand
July 19th, 1891
P.&O. S.S. "Arcadia" at sea
My Beloved Angee,
The last letter I wrote to you on this ship was on her voyage from Adelaide to Albany – now I am thankful to be a passenger to Plymouth - at that time she was crowded in every part, now we have but very few passengers so that we can all have the comfort of a separate cabin which is no small mercy on a long voyage. We left Sydney on Monday 13th and many of the dear brethren came down to the ship and we had a good time in prayer together in my cabin and they remained on the wharf waving their salutations as long as we could discern each other's figures. The Lord gave us a time of much blessing and in His great mercy and faithfulness has not left us without a very real sense of His favour in this time of difficulty. We reached Melbourne on the 16th where we remained until the 18th and there too the saints came together each evening and may who were exercised when I last saw them I was glad to find delivered and full of thanksgiving for the mercy which had wrought this deliverance for them. Many dear brethren came down to the ship the morning we left and again we bowed together as those whose hearts had been knit together in love and commended one another to a Saviour's care. (The prayers for you and our dear children too did touch my heart). One aged and beloved brother (Mr Egan) came from a suburb of Melbourne and his fatherly blessings melted us all. It has been a time of very special grace and mercy from God our Father to us in these parts during the last 6 months, but all the exercise & persecution has only made the Lord Jesus Christ more to us than ever and we know that it is according to His mind that the hearts who through mercy are found glorifying in Him should also have fellowship with His sufferings and know the reality of His reproaches.
I was not surprised to hear of poor Arthur Shapland's death and am thankful for the lucid intervals granted to him – dear fellow the world's corruptible riches and glory had ensnared his heart and mind, but that mercy of our God that endureth forever had delivered the captive from the snare and now he is present with the Lord with whom are durable riches and if he could now speak to us from the scene where he now is thro' mercy and the precious blood of Christ he would echo the words of the Holy Spirit in Peter "For all flesh is as grass – the grass and all the glory of man is the flower of the grass – the grass withereth and the flower thereof fadeth away, but the Word of the Lord endureth forever". The sending for such a person as E. Cross at such a moment is to my mind deeply solemn, but God is over all and He is a refuge to all who put their trust in Him. The motives of our hearts are all before Him with whom we have to do. Tomorrow D.V. we reach Adelaide where we spend two days and I will add some more filling in the voyage – you will probably receive it a week before we reach Plymouth.
Indian Ocean July 28 – In the goodness of God had a time of much encouragement at Adelaide during the two days stay there – the evenings I spent with the little gathering who were glad to see me – the last evening we had tea together about 18 of us. Was glad to find one of the brethren from Melbourne had been with them for a fortnight and he returned again on my second day there so was glad to have seen him for a little talk as I had missed him in Melbourne.
The business at Adelaide was very cheering to me as I expect it has been in London too. All our customers had received the shipments bought of me and were so pleased with the goods – several had called repeat orders and very large ones were given to me to carry home. One very large house who would not order on my first visit were now very glad to see me and requested that I could cable a repeat of a good shipment made to another firm who gave them consent for me to do so. In all my life long experience I do not remember ever seeing our goods so in favour with the merchants and with the public as in Adelaide and never did I hear a more useful tale than from one of the leading me who bought a parcel of us some 12 years ago and was glad to sell them under the hammer for 2 Shillings or 3 shillings a tin. It was only after much entreaty that I could prevail upon him to allow his manager to come and see my samples at the arcade shop. To God our Father be all praise and Glory – I made very earnest prayer to Him for it and He has graciously answered my request, so that I am filled with thanksgiving to Him for His goodness to my worthy masters.
We called at Albany again for a few hours, but the vessel with all the biscuits I sold in W.A. had only just arrived – I hope they may sell as well there as in S.A. We left King Georges Sound on Saturday afternoon and now our good ship is heading away North to Columbo and the heat increases every day. We cross the Equator in 2 or 3 days. The weather is all that we could wish and has been so far from the beginning of the voyage. I have found out two believers on board – one the chief steward in the second saloon and a young lady passenger there. The door being opened I had the joy of preaching the gospel in the second saloon on Sunday evening and the people appear to have been much interested and expressed many of them thankfulness that I had come down. There are very few in the first saloon but as yet not found one who loves the Lord Jesus. However, there may be some – the Lord knoweth those that are His.
During my day at Adelaide I called at the P.O. to enquire for any letters though not expecting any as I had left my address on leaving there so that any arriving after my departure should have been sent on to Melbourne – however to my great joy Harry's missing letter was handed to me which gave me very especial comfort – it contained also one from dear Emma and one from each of the darling children, so that it made up for all the deficiency and removed some fears from my heart too. It is a mercy indeed that the dear fellow can testify of the grace of God as he does and that for himself and his house he can say "We will serve the Lord" – I would far rather he is where he is than in a place he has not faith to take.
Nr Brindisi, August 21st
I was thankful to receive a letter from you at Aden but sorry to hear the sad news from Stratford – I do trust your cold has passed off again, it always makes my heart sad to hear when you are not well as I know you do not complain for trifles. Our voyage is nearly ended and another week will bring our ship near Plymouth where I trust in the mercy of God I may once more see your dear face – we may reach there on Friday the 28th or Saturday the 29th – if you do not feel strong enough do not undertake the journey and run the risk of taking cold again. D.V. I purpose staying at the Albion Hotel. Hope to hear from you again at Brindisi where we arrive this evening. Our voyage through the tropics was rather trying, but as I am now so near home will not trouble to write many incidents of the voyage. Trusting soon to see your dear faces and with much love to your dear self and our dear children. Believe me my Beloved Angee.
Being very affectionate Husband.
Was very sorry P.F. neglected to advise you of my cable.