South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, Canada, USA
May 18th, 1897
On board the S.S. "Kiakousa" at Sea
My Beloved Angee,
We are due at Cape Town on the 22nd so there are but four days left to complete the first half of the long voyage to New Zealand. I hope my letter from Tenerife will have reached you although it would have to go by way of Spain as a mail steamer for England left about an hour before our arrival. We remained at Tenerife from 9am until midnight – the vessel took on coal which is always an unpleasant time for passengers so most of us landed. Santa Cruz is a typical Spanish town – not smelling very sweet but the country around it fine and very barren for 10 or 12 miles while ascending a steep hill – then for the next 10 I am told the vegetation is luxuriant and the land highly cultivated as far as Orotava which is the chief centre of attraction for visitors seeking health. I spent the day with a Gentleman, his wife and little daughter called Stevenson in the second saloon and a lady called Bradbury sitting next me at the table who has not long lost father & mother and is now going to New Zealand to live with a brother who is a clergyman residing near Christchurch – we hired a carriage with 3 horses abreast to take us up to a place called Lagoon about 10 or 12 miles for which we had to pay 10/, so it was a cheap ride divided by four – we thought the people all looked very poor and dirty – their faces as well as their houses seemed without any cheer – Romanism governs of course as it belongs to Spain.
We have had very hot weather for the last fortnight in passing through the tropics and I would have given a trifle to have had some of my white clothing – nearly all the gentlemen have been sleeping on the deck, but I have not done so as the Captain kindly gave me the use of a deck cabin where it is just tolerable- my state room on the saloon deck was not bearable – it was more like an oven. It is a great relief to be now getting into cooler weather 70s instead of 90 & 95. I have never voyaged on a ship where the bulk of the passengers were so given up to pleasure and on the first class part, except one very nice young fellow a German and a few others we hardly hear a word of sense from morning until night and there are a few of the heaviest drinkers I have ever met with. I was soon asked about joining in the games with these people and found as on many previous occasions the confession of Christ's name put everything in its right place. I was rather amazed on one of the gentlemen coming round to ask what I could do or what part I could take called me by another name which I disowned and told him my name was Petter – Oh he replied there is a mistake here I have got a Petter down for a comic song – some card tricks and a dance – others around had a good laugh of course in which I joined – some conversation with a few of them previously had suggested that this would be a good joke but it also told of something in their consciences. Among the second saloon people and even the steerage there are some nice people with whom one can converse. How one is made to feel the reality of the reproach connected with Christ's name in this world during His absence from it. I have had to taste it here but never felt more sustained of God and thankful too in the consciousness that the believer in His Worthy name gets the best of it here as well as the certainty of it in the world to come. The captain is very kind and understands well where I am – he gave permission for my preaching last Lord's day evening and to my joy the Saloon as well filled – the Captain came bringing several of the first class passengers - a Roman Catholic and his wife among others – nearly all the second class were present and quite a host of young men from the steerage.
The Lord gave me liberty and boldness in delivering His message – "A just God and a Saviour" now displayed for the faith of a poor guilty sinner in the person and work of His dear Son our Lord Jesus Christ – I am sure the Lord has blessed the word to many and there are several believers on board whose hearts were gladdened – we had not much time – 45 minutes altogether – 20 of it in preaching and 25 for prayer and singing 3 hymns – "Jesus lover of my Soul" "How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds" and "Abide with Me". We had a heart softening time on board two days previously among the second class passengers were four of one family – a Dr Naylor of York (a Doctor of Music) his wife and two daughters – the Dr had been suffering from a partial paralysis of the brain for some time and they were taking this voyage for the benefit of his health. During the hottest of the weather however he became worse and quite unconscious and on Friday morning last at 8 he died and was buried at 4.30pm the steamer stopped from this hour until sunset at 6pm. The Captain read the burial service and one could see from his face how deeply he felt the solemnity of it – it was a deeply solemn time and we all felt it – I hope from all I have been able to gather that he was a believer – I prayed much for him and was led to ask the Lord that even now while he remained almost unconscious that He would be pleased to make the many precious words he had perhaps often sung and played an instrument to, very precious to his soul. I had a nice time with Mrs Naylor the following afternoon and have also spoken to one of the daughters. There is also a Miss Thompson in the first saloon who is a daughter of the late bishop of York who knows the Naylor's well and has been very kind in helping them. This lady is going out to New Zealand to be married and is a fine noble character. The young lady – Miss Trelease whose sister lives in Barnstaple and who is also going out to be married is enjoying the voyage very much and is a bright happy little creature – another lady I get a nice talk with frequently called Miss Walker living in London had lost her voice for several months and was advised by Dr Kidd to take a voyage to New Zealand – she knows the Lord and at first could only just speak in a whisper but to her joy about a week ago she woke up one morning and found her voice restored.
In conversation with the Captain a few days ago I found that he was a great friend of Mr Collins's who married one of Edwin's daughters and that he had made an offer to one of her sisters – he was very young at that time and they exchanged photos but it fell through as men would say – when you see Minnie you might mention it – the Captain's name is Forbes.
The voyage all the way from Plymouth has been very fine – plenty of sunshine and smooth water or nearly so – the heat however for 12 or 14 days was as great as I have met with in the Red Sea. The second steward on board has been on the Arcadia for 11 years and says he has gone through the Red Sea many times when it has not been so hot as we have had it through the tropics this voyage – he remembers my going home from Sydney to Plymouth in this ship 5 years ago. I am sorry to hear that we are likely to reach Cape Town on Lord's day morning and leave again the same afternoon so that I shall not get on opportunity of calling on the firm P.F. wished me to see. I rather feared it and wrote them from Teneriffe and told them so.
May 19th 1897
I hope that you are comforted and sustained and able to get a plenty of outdoor exercise – it is a beautiful time of year and I do trust that you will be able to move about and thoroughly enjoy the change and the dear ones you may see for a little while – Arundel and his loved ones will be glad enough and Harry and his too only you will have to arrange for a convenient time.
I heard from one of the passengers last night that Dr Naylor was the chief organist of the York Minster and was accounted one of the four of the most talented men in England in his profession. Miss Thompson, the late Archbishop's daughter I have previously referred.
We have now passed through the tropical weather and I was glad to put on my ordinary clothing this morning – through mercy I have been in good health all the way thus far – it is a splendid time of rest for me, but I shall be glad to land and to begin the work.
Nr. Capetown, May 22nd 1897
No break in the fine weather – today the sea is quite smooth but we have a heavy swell which keeps our ship rolling like a rocking cradle – all the passengers are sorry we are arriving at Cape Town early on Lord's day morning and leave again in the afternoon. Our fine weather is not expected to follow us after tomorrow. On the vessel's last trip across the southern ocean she encountered hundreds of ice bergs and the captain tells me he is rather afraid of them again on this round – he never left the bridge for 3 days and nights and the cold was intense. I shall not have the trouble of drying my shirts for the rest of the voyage – during the interval of time from England to New Zealand we have a Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter – your days are getting longer and ours are getting shorter – sunset about 5.30pm.
The people in the first and second saloon are getting very friendly with each other now – I was the first person who visited the second class and glad enough I was to get among a few simple sensible people – now however the intercourse has become very general. I have had some nice chats with Mrs Naylor who seems to have been wonderfully sustained in the midst of her deep sorrow – the two daughters who are probably 20 or 30 years of age feel it in a very different way – one of whom is bright and cheerful and manifests no outward indication of the painful trial, while the other is sad and cannot rise above it. I hear from Miss Thompson that they are a lovely family and this lady appears very much attached to them as also to the loved one now we trust with the Lord – Miss Thompson has helped the Captain to write some account of the death for the Cape Town papers and I will endeavour to get one sent to you if I land tomorrow.
Well I must now finish this note. I trust in the goodness of God that you are being daily comforted and sustained- one is made to understand better as we march on what wisdom lay in the apostles counsel to the elders at Ephesus in commending them to God and to the word of His grace which was able to build them up. Thank God for any measure of interest found in our hearts so that it is a pleasure to read and meditate upon that word – only thus can we acquaint ourselves with Him and be kept in peace – much love to our dear children their wives and families – I bring them all to God continually in prayer by name each one of them and now with much love to your dear self and all our dear friends believe me my beloved Angee.
Your very affectionate Husband
Cape Town May 23
8.30am arrived safely. Beautiful weather.