United States of America
August 30th, 1898
Royal Mail Steamship "Etruria" at sea
My darling Angee,
We had a pleasant run to Queenstown where we dropped anchor at about 6 on Lord's day morning and after a stop of about 2 hours started on our voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. There was evidence enough that the wind was blowing outside and we had no sooner left the Irish Coast than our good ship began her dancing against a big sea and strong head wind. My cabin being very near the bow gave me the full benefit of the motion – well for the first 2 days it was about as uncomfortable as wind – sea & rain could make it. Our dining saloon was very thinly peopled at meal times and even for we who were good sailors the closeness of the cabins made it very uncomfortable – every port closed and the high seas breaking continually over the ship. This the third day is fine – sun shining – a nice cool breeze and a fairly smooth sea just makes all the difference – smiling cheerful faces are now seen instead of pale and sorrowful ones. Our decks too are crowded with chairs while the occupants are variously engaged in sleeping reading eating & drinking, talking & writing. I have read your last dear letter over and over again also the wire received on board just before starting.
Aug. 31 - a good night and a fine morning to begin our fourth day are important factors on a voyage where we are so subject to change but a deeper mercy still to know the Father of lights with whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning. Have had some nice talks with a few of the passengers – one a lady who with her little boy occupies the cabin opposite to my own - both were sick for the first two days but are now well and enjoying in common with all the beautiful weather and smooth sea. She is a decided believer and resides at Honolulo where her husband is the manager of a sugar plantation and is a believer too – she is very friendly with the young Mr Davies I met at the L'pool Station in June last whose Father had just died and whose marriage to a Miss Fot[?] you noticed shortly after in the papers. She gave me a very warm invitation to come and see them if I come to Honolulo again. Then there is another very interesting plain uneducated man of middle age who has been living in Bristol many years – a rough looking specimen but of fine natural ability but makes ducks and drakes of the Queen's English to the great amusement of those who hear him. Some months ago he was and had been out of health for a long time and if he had believed all the Doctors [who] told him [he] was suffering from all the ills that flesh is heir to, so he made up his mind to travel and has just finished a tour through Egypt going as far as the Third or Fourth Cataract up the Nile – also through Palestine which seems to have given him great pleasure. I was rather amused when he referred to the very spot where Philip met the Eunuch and where it seems a great difficulty he had had in his mind for years was satisfactorily cleared up – the question was as to whether sprinkling or immersion was the scriptural mode of baptism and he was decided that sprinkling was right because the pool of water they went down into was very shallow, not more than an inch or two deep and it would therefore have been impossible to put him under the water. I told him I was afraid he had been a little too credulous in receiving as truth all that his Dragoman had related as to sites of historical events.
He responds to the name of the Lord Jesus however and says he believes on Him. He has so enjoyed his visit to Palestine & Egypt and is so much better that he has now started for a trip through America and on hearing of my proposed route said rather seriously I thought this morning that he would like to accompany me if I would allow him to which I made no reply. Have not yet heard his name but he had some friends at Braunton called Gammon. I think if you could be on the deck of the Etruria for a few minutes now that you would be very favourably impressed – the ocean is like river for smoothness – fine overhead and beautifully cool – the Honolulo lady and her boy paid £50 for her cabin to have the sole use. I, or rather P.F. paid £25 for mine having a similar privilege so that I consider myself very fortunate and the comfort of having a cabin to myself is very great.
We are still moving over fairly smooth sea with fine bright weather overhead – our runs[?] are nearly 500 miles a day so that our haven is drawing near – D.V. we expect to land in New York on Saturday morning – got a chat with a gentleman siting by my side today called Hazell who with others are large printers in London and knew William very well and knows Arthur, he recognised in my face the family likeness – he is an interesting man about my own age and is M.P. for Leicester - know all the Peeks too very well he seemed greatly interested in my travels – two of his sons are also with him for a pleasure trip through the States. He thought it was a wonderful thing for a man in middle life to be able to take up such work as has fallen to my lot.
I little thought he was an M.P. when our chat commenced or that he knew anything of the Petter family and would recognise in my face a likeness to them. I dare say the next time he meets Arthur he will refer to it.
The ocean this morning is like a sea of glass and it is much warmer – our good ship moves through the water rapidly and all going well we expect to land in New York by 6 or 7 tomorrow morning.
My Bristol friend is called Incledon and a generation or two ago he heard from an aunt living in Braunton – Mrs Gordon – that they were connected by marriage with the Bencraft family – hence the name known to us now at Barnstaple – he appears to have been a farmer near Bristol and has recently sold some land at "fancy" prices so that he can afford to travel about as he is doing.
Well my beloved wife I am comforted in thinking of you as still improving and shall look for the code word Doctrine in the morning confirming what my heart has desired and prayed for – I have enjoyed the voyage and feeling well through mercy – the prayers and fellowship of the dear brethren have rested much upon my spirit. Faith can count on the same grace going on with us day by day because God is faithful by whom we were called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. I have been much in prayer for our dear children and their households and do trust the Lord may give the needed grace and wisdom in each circle, so that nothing may come in and rob them of the joy and happiness a Saviour God delights to give and the thanksgiving and prayer and praise He delights to receive and give ear to. With much love and commending you again to our Gracious father believe me my darling Angee.
Ever your affectionate Husband
The English mail leaves New York tomorrow morning at 8 so that we hope our letter may get on board before she starts.