United States of America

April 30th, 1898

Battle House, Mobile, Alabama

My Beloved Angee,

My last was from Atlanta I think, where I left on Thursday afternoon for a place called Montgomery where I arrived in time for bed – a pint of Apollinaris water with some ice my last meal which was refreshing and helped to wash down the coal dust you are bound to enhale[sic] freely in travelling – I did enjoy 6 or 7 hours' rest and a good breakfast at 8 on Friday morning – at 9 with a nigger[1] boy I started off to call on 3 men, two of whom I was a little early for, the last who happened to be the best I was glad to find ready to be interested in what I had to sell and took a nice order – my train for this city left at 10.30 am and if I had not caught that I must have waited for a whole day, so I did not call again on the others and caught the train landing me here between 4 & 5 in the afternoon – my poor body was as if I was wrapped in a wet blanket and as for my collar all signs of stiffening had long since departed – I hastened to the hotel, got the names of the best grocers and started off with a nigger carrying my samples and called upon most of them – the best man gave me a nice order so I was encouraged – returned to the hotel to supper and about 8 I went to my bedroom – a beautiful large one with a bath and got out my dry pyjamas – windows all wide open and my things spread out to dry. About 2am I turned outside my mosquito curtains for an inspection as to how the drying work was on but alas, if anything they were wetter and it was evident there was no drying power in the air. At 6 I rang the bell and sent my shirt down to the laundry to be dried – I had left most of my baggage at the depot so had not a dry one I was sorry to say – well I had a nice time in reading and prayer between 6 & 7 – then a bath and a cup of coffee. Soon after 9 my nigger and I started off again and two more have given me an order and now I am just waiting for the train to New Orleans. There are many thousands of troops quartered in this place and the noise they made last night was sometimes appalling – the people especially the women fairly fell upon them as they march through the place to their camp. I am much struck with the very youthful appearance of the soldiers – you can hardly call them men – were youths. They little know what awaits them and they have more to fear from yellow fever than the bullet. It seems that Cuba has been a very hot bed of this disease and it is causing great anxiety to the residents all along the coast the tremendous risks they will have to encounter through the Summer by the invasion of this terrible scourge rendered more serious than usual by the intercourse there must of necessity be on account of the war and the coming and going to Cuba. I hear that the harbour of Havanna is a fearful cesspool of corruption in consequence of the drainage of the place falling into it. The Spanish have no idea of sanitary measures such as we are accustomed to. It seems such a long time since I heard from you but shall have a double portion of mails at New Orleans to make up for it. Mobile is a very dirty place – about one half the population are coloured people – it is a sea port and there appears to be a large lumber (timber) business done here – the breeze from the sea is most refreshing – a sensible consolation when the glass is over 80 in the shade. Shall write a little move from New Orleans tomorrow D.V.

May 1st 1898, Lords day

The incidents of our daily life are of mutual interest and afford subjects for our letters – I was at the deport at Mobile y'day afternoon after 8 but the train was 3 hours late at Mobile and nearly 4 hours behind its time here so that it was midnight before I was fixed up in my bedroom. My mail had been here several days and I took out the well packed one from Barnstaple April 11th and read it with deep feelings of gratitude in finding that you were well & happy. Thank God. The good report you are able to give about your new servant or help is a matter of thankfulness indeed and I do trust she and Mrs Brittan may be a comfort to each other and both a comfort to you. All the items of home news are welcome and only fancy three sheets well filled, not to wade through but to dance through as a garden of delights. It will be a nice little change for you and Martha to spend a week or two at Ilfracombe – I hope you may both be refreshed in every way. You will make Arundel House so smart I shall hardly know it but what you are doing in the bedroom was really needed and if you are pleased with it I shall be for certain – glad to hear Mr Shapland is better and that dear Mrs Hobbs is still able to get about. I should think that the Dr. must be mistaken as to the cause of her suffering. You have probably made their house your habitation during your short stay at Ilfracombe.

There is no meeting in this city so I am alone today and am really thankful for the rest and quiet it gives me – for the spirit, soul & body – the heat is great and there is much humidity in the air at all times and a day in doors out of the sun will be a little acclimating for me – suppose the business will occupy me pretty well a week – there is a large French element in the place and so far as  have seen the streets are like those of a French town. The hotel is a very fine building and elegantly furnished – the water of the house is made a very great feature of and is as pure as water can be – I seldom drink any since the upset I had last week in Jacksonville Florida where the water is strongly impregnated with Sulphur and often serves visitors as it served me, but I think I am all the better for the scouring it gave me. I met at the hotel during my stay in Jacksonville a gentleman called Leslie and his wife – he is a Captain in the US Army but incapacitated through some accident to his leg. They were very nice people and interested in my travels – they pressed me very much to stay longer. She has been reading a work on Indian philosophy which she lent me and of all the trash and nonsense I ever met with in my life in print, it eclipsed everything – it is a kind of mysterious Mahutma business – largely tinctured with Buddhism. The idea of the book appears to be that we have in following a certain course of diet power to control the whole nervous system – the soul is located somewhere in the region of the bottom vertebrate (mine must have had a good whack when I fell on Lavender Hill) then from there it ascends to the brain. The marvel is that such a firm as Longmans of London should publish such a work and that readers could be found for it – we had some good plain talk over the Scriptures and the revelation of the True God given therein and His Beloved Son our Lord Jesus Christ who is the image of the invisible God. Captain Leslie's father was a very godly man and I think the talk went home to his heart a bit. Mrs Leslie is a nice lady – I gave them a card and when they come to Barnstaple they will give us a call. I must close my letter now as I want it to get to New York on Tuesday for the Wednesday mail. Commending you my beloved wife and all our dear children to God even our Father and with much love to each and all of you – dear Martha too and kind regards to Mrs Brittan believe me.

Being very affectionate Husband
Cheque enclosed

Glad to see Harry's letter and to hear that they are all well.


[1] We recognise that this is an offensive term today. However, Edward Petter used the term "Nigger" as a neutral term to refer to black people. It is clear from the context that no negative connotation is implied. The use of the term on this website does not condone the modern usage. See further here.

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