South Africa, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand
December 24th, 1890
Johannesburg, South Africa
My beloved Angee,
Just after writing my last letter I received your welcome note of Nov. 20th sent on from Durban, so that it was not delayed much. Very thankful to hear that you and all your loved ones are quite well and shall be able to picture you all tomorrow. Grandpa will be many thousands of miles away and it will be some comfort to him to think that he will not be forgotten by the little circle of his loved ones at home. In my last I mentioned that I intended spending the evening with a Christian family. Mr A[?] drove up to the hotel for me and then took me to his comfortable house not very far away where we spent a very happy evening – he has nine sons and two daughters and except one who is a broker and married all the family are engaged in his business so that he does not employ one paid hand outside his own children. Mr A. seemed very thankful that his sons especially should hear the simple word of the truth of the Gospel from one engaged in business. He drove me back again after supper and I could only lift my hands in thanksgiving to God for the privilege and joy He had granted to me that evening. The next afternoon I went by coach to Pretoria a five hour ride over a beautiful country. The roads are in better condition than those I recently travelled over but our span of ten horses had hard work to get over some of it. We arrived about 6 pm and it was much warmer than Johannesburg being about fifteen hundred feet lower. It is the capital of the Transvaal and the hotel I stayed at was just opposite the houses of Parliament. It is a fine city and there are more trees around the settlement than here which are a great adornment At Beaufort West where I spent a very happy time there is a lady in fellowship who has a married daughter and two sons living there and she told me of her purpose to visit them and hoped she might meet me there as she was very anxious about the spiritual welfare of her children. On the Lord's day morning, the day after my arrival in the town a gentleman at the hotel of whom I was enquiring the address of the married daughter kindly accompanied me to their house and they were just having breakfast. I was sorry to find my friend Mrs Thwaites had only returned to Beaufort about 10 days ago having been called home by the death of her husband's father and had been daily expecting me for weeks. They seemed nice homely sort of people and were glad to see me and we arranged to have a gospel meeting in their house at 7 in the evening, A few friends were also invited and the Lord granted us a good time and one of the sons owned that he had never heard the truth put so plainly before and I was asked to make a longer stay that they might ask others to come and hear. Mrs Gooch the married daughter of Mrs Thwaites is a believer and she dear creature seemed greatly comforted by the word. Her husband is not converted – he holds a good position in the Post Office and her two brothers are also unconverted one fills a situation in the Standard Bank, the other is a lawyer. They told me the next morning that they remained talking over what they had heard until near 12 the Sunday night. May God plant His own blessed testimony concerning His dear Son and His finished work in their hearts and consciences. I spent the Monday and a part of Tuesday in the business but found everybody very busy with the Xmas trade. I was glad to find the principal house had recently received a shipment of our goods and were much pleased with them and had more on the way. They gave me a small order and several other firms promised to indent our brand when next ordering so I trust that on a business point of view P.F.&Co. will profit by my visit. The prices of food, clothing and house rent in Pretoria is to my mind very serious. Mr Gooch pays for his four roomed iron shanty a bit of garden £12.10.0 a month or £15 a year – they let one tiny room to one of her brothers who pays them £7.10.0 a month including board – the place in Barnstaple would be worth ten or twelve pounds a year. Well that is not all – butter now is cheap only 5/ a pound but is often 7/6 or 10/. A pint bottle of ale[?] bread 10d for a 2d loaf; beef or mutton very poor in quality about 1/ for dozen eggs, 7d a dozen sometimes double. Mrs Gooch had no butter on her table saying like a sensible woman I thought she cannot afford it. There was in its place a little dripping. Mr Gooch's salary is about £200 a year and how they can live is a puzzle to me. If they were to vacate their house tomorrow there would be hosts of applicants ready to take it – not a house to let in the place. I returned to Johannesburg again on Tuesday afternoon and greatly enjoyed the ride on the top of the coach and a bread and cheese dinner which went down very well I can tell you, with a little lemonade and lime juice at one of our stopping places. Claret is only 6/6 for a pint bottle. One thing struck me very much during the ride up from Newcastle last week that in all that distance about 180 miles over the most beautiful pasture land you ever saw that I did not see one yard of it under cultivation – not a grain of wheat or any corn not a cabbage or potato or turnips or carrot, nothing indeed. I was speaking of this to a Boer farmer at the hotel in Pretoria whose explanation of it was that during the last 33 years they had had 33 wars. Thy appear to our eyes very indolent – cattle are the only things they care for and their gun[s], in the use of which they are great experts They are almost as averse to railways as the Chinese only for different reasons, The Boers are afraid that if railways are made all the transport business will be taken away and this is an enormous business with them. If you only think that this marvellous place of Johannesburg is not more than four years old and that all the material for the hundreds perhaps thousands of homes in it, was brought hence by ox waggons for hundreds of miles. It is the most wonderful place in many ways that I have seen in the world. The present population is about fifteen thousand but it was double that about a year since. Rents and food are cheaper here than in Pretoria and the climate is very fine but apart from that no place upon this earth like the North of Devon. D.V. I am thinking to take the early coach tomorrow morning (5am) to Heidleberg and to spend the Xmas day there and to leave again the next morning for Newcastle where I should reach on Saturday evening. I purpose spending a day or two at Pietermaritzburg on my way back to Durban, so I shall soon be out of this country now and making the antipodes the next objectives. Altogether it has been in the great goodness and mercy of God a real happy time and it is a great comfort to my heart to know that more of the saints in S. Africa will say that the simple truth I have sought to minister has neither distressed or perplexed them. When Christ is exalted there is a power to bind our hearts together. I hope you will get a copy of Mr Ord's pamphlet – it is in my judgement the most sober and godly and truthful examination of the character of all this new thing that has been given and in the second edition slip is added in reference to a statement sought to be discredited by Park Street, but after searching enquiry has been made, the truth of it is fully confirmed. You may own that there is not a more solemn feature of the terrible hardness and blindness of the Raven party than their refusal and contempt of every warning voice God has given against their errors – First as it was of old with the prophets God in mercy sent from time to time – all stoned so not Dr Stanley, Mr Dunkerton, Lowe, Humphreys, Ord, all stoned. I fear now it is now no longer a local thing at Greenwich but as Capt. Barton has said the whole house is becoming leprous, sad proof of the working of an evil spirit – Mr Kelly's paper is a masterly exposure of the doctrinal errors of the only system which will make it clearer than it has yet been made so far at the question of the Lord manifesting eternal life all through his course here from the moment of His birth. I am struck with many of Mr Kelly's thoughts as being exactly what I have felt in my own mind about it although unable to express it in the clear way he has done. Arundel's last letter has grieved me very much and I am amazed at the moral havoc the defilement of this spirit has already done in his mind as his letter witnesses. I can only commit him to God who alone can deliver him out of the terrible snare in which he has been taken. He should read the letter dear Brand who is in Japan has written about the whole thing and now printed. If Mr Stone and his party has listened to the warnings that have been given, the evil root might have been judged and this is what I have all along hoped for but what makes one feel so sorrowful is that everyone against the evil is despised only leaves them more and more hardened and blinded as a consequence. Thank God that all the ruin and failure will not hinder His accomplishment of all His gracious purposes of mercy towards us and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. I hope you will continue to write me nice long letters – if you do not think much of them there is one that does. Once more with much love to all our dear children and a double portion for yourself believe me my dearly beloved Angee.
Being very affectionate Husband
Write me after the receipt of this to
I forget if I advised you of this last week.