South Africa, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand
November 6th, 1890
King Williams Town, South Africa
My dear Arundel,
I was thankful to find your letter last week that your cold was nearly gone – I wish your lungs could breathe the beautiful climate of this country for a time, it is certainly so fine and so dry. The country between this and East London is in a good state of cultivation and I have hardly seen a plough or a field of corn any part I have travelled until coming here. The farmers are mostly the descendants of the early German settlers who like the Dutch appear to be content with a life having the maximum amount of comfort with the maximum amount of daily toil. In early days it is said that English merchants used to cheat the poor Dutch farmers terribly in buying their produce and a story exemplifying this is related – a Dutch farmer brings in a load of wool which he has weighed and after settling the price per pound with the English merchant he is told to make up the total sum which he does from a ready reckoner and brings the result to the office whereupon the British merchant who has also made a calculation shewing a total of many sovereigns less and now he has to ascertain where the error lies – takes the ready reckoner from the poor Dutch man exclaiming did you calculate from this? Yes was the simple reply – "Why man do you not see that this is a last year's ready reckoner" – the poor Dutch man, unsuspecting the English knavery and willing to suppose that this year's reckoner would confirm the merchant's calculation accepts pay accordingly and returns to his farm convinced that last year's ready reckoners are not to be relied upon.
King Williams Town is a busy little place and it is very interesting in the early morning to see the scores of teams of bullocks which have come in through the night with their loads of produce which is soon under the hammer and sold. I have done a splendid business here with most of the large merchants – no market that I have ever seen in the world is equal to this for our business. The native population are mostly Kaffirs and in passing along the railway we see them in their natural habit of life, with their bodies and faces painted with a red ochre and a flannel dipped in the same thing over their backs when it is fine – if it rains they take off the flannel to keep it dry and the rain does not wet them much because of this stuff rubbed into their skin. At a place called Somerset East there is a gathering of about 30 breaking bread and 20 of them are Kaffirs – the leading brother called Fowler came down to Port Elizabeth specially to spend a few days with me as I could not spare the time to visit the place – he knows their languages and preaches the gospel to them – their language he says is very euphonious and their singing is full of melody. Their walk too is a beautiful testimony to what the grace and word and Spirit of God can accomplish in making known His dear Son as a Saviour and Lord even to the heart of a poor Kaffir.
I had omitted to mention the returning of Stanley's two volumes but am glad to hear of their safe arrival. The people here do not think so much of them – they are more accustomed to travels than quiet people at home. Some of expeditions recently fitted out for exploring new countries like Mashonaland meet with the same kind of adventure and peril that Stanley did and there are always found a plenty of Robinson Crusoe spirit ready to volunteer for the service. The opening up of a new country means a great deal commercially – apart from the mineral prospects. The moment a European plants his foot upon new soil he wants timber and corrugated iron to build a hut, beside food and clothing and in case of need a bottle of whisky so that loaded waggons with every conceivable article of merchandise follow him drawn by long teams of oxen. These will load back again with any produce the country may yield and thus the trade is started. It is surprising to me to hear the merchants speak of the hundreds of miles the oxen will take their loads and deliver them safely. A regular Cape waggon will carry about 5 tons.
I hope your business will now begin to move as the month has come which was supposed to be so productive of good orders from the wholesale houses – you have learnt the importance of attention to the little things about your business in the way of finish – you may remember my calling your attention to the button hole at the back of the collar you made for me – I observe in the shop windows here that these are made a little open [picture of open button hole] and not [picture of closed buttonhole] close. It is so much more easily fastened to the stud behind when a little open. But I dare say this has come before you already. It will be a matter of joy and thankfulness if you can get the thing upon its legs a bit and I have no doubt you are trying your best to do so. Do Be alive to the necessity of collecting your book debts - any carelessness as to this means ruin for somebody. I am very sorry to hear of Mr Shapland's affair with Miss S. It was often upon my heart to speak to him of a danger I could feel and see he was in during my stay at Ilfracombe. It is sorrowful work in every way and is only another lesson of the treachery of the heart even of a saint. You be careful that you are not caught in the same trap.
I have not yet heard from Miss Wilkins, but every day of life tends to confirm my conviction that all these novelties brought in among us of late by F.E.R. and many beside him, speak of the loss and the lack of the very first moral elements of Christianity and as long as God's word is precious to my soul through His rich mercy and the food of it, I am not in the mind for such trash as many have of late been giving as a new character of teaching. Kiss all the dear children and with much love to them and yourself believe me my dear Arundel.
Being very affectionate Father.