South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, Canada, USA
September 12th, 1897
Perth, Western Australia
My Beloved Angee,
I heard of a dear brother in this neighbourhood and received his address from Brethren in Sydney a few weeks ago. I had a very pleasant remembrance of him and his wife at Melbourne on my visit there in '91. He is a bricklayer and stone mason but a superior man and intelligent in the truth which he loves and walks in. My address was only P.O. Claremont and on hearing from him found he was living in a tent which I may have told you in my last letter. Well on my return from Freemantle y'day afternoon I stopped at Claremont and commenced the walk to the spot where his dwelling was pitched. It was very hot and I did not much care for the walk in the broiling heat. A rough cart soon passed me and I asked the driver for a lift which he gladly gave me but the sitting accommodation was peculiar to say the least of. I had not been on the cart more than five minutes when I met brother Davies who was coming to meet me so I came down from the cart and walked with him through sand paths and the bush until we reached his tent at the door of which Mrs Davies was sitting, busy with some sewing work. I should have liked for you to have seen it and the clean linens and comforts which abounded on every side. They had a sitting room all open in the front and a bedroom with a bed and surroundings the Queen might have envied. It appears that rents are very high even for a small labourer's cottage, so when our brother came in these parts from Sydney a few months since, he bought a quarter of an acre of land and erected this tent – a good day's work for himself and wife (they have no children) and they both seem very happy and contented and have never had better health in their lives. The cooking contrivances did greatly amuse me – near the tent door was a little fire under 2 iron bars where the kettle was kept boiling and I must say that I viewed this with keenest interest as I was longing for a cup of tea. Then for baking bread or a royal roast an empty kerosene oil tin was adapted for the purposes of an oven. A cover was put on it like the cover of a biscuit tin, then laid on its side across the bars and some wood laid under and on the top if it – the fire soon made the oven hot and they could bake anything in it. A proof of its capability to do its work well was soon laid before me in the bread and two kinds of cake which went down very ushi ushi with the tea I assure you. Mr Davies gave £30 for the land and he saves about 25/ or 30/ a week in rent. At night they simply let a piece of canvas hang down at the front of the tent – no doors no bars no bolts or locks – they are never molested and sometimes leave the tent for hours together and have never lost anything. There is one very fine tree close to which affords beautiful shade from the sun – he had planted a good piece of the land with vegetables and was going to buy a couple of fowls last night – I asked how they managed when a storm of wind or rain came – they had a very severe storm 2 or 3 weeks ago, but their little tent was not capsized or disarranged in the least. After a good tea we sang hymn "Praise we to the Father Give" and bowed our knees together in prayer to God our Father and one was made to feel the reality of the secret springs God is able to give to His beloved redeemed ones who hearts are perfect toward Him. The builder he is working for is a believer and he gives Davies and his wife a very hearty welcome to his house wherever they like to come. The master knows that his servant can lay bricks together in a workman like fashion and evidently discerns that he also has been taught of God how He builds the living stones together, so is glad to have him to read the Scriptures together. We are purposing to go to this man's house together for a reading this evening. Thro' mercy I had a good day's business at Freemantle y'day and shall have to spend nearly £4- in cabling one order to P.F.&Co. If I had not been so pressed for time I should have remained there for a week or two longer and made a visit to the gold fields where a very large business is now being done. I was told y'day by a merchant at Freemantle that the British public had been swindled out of 35 millions. So bare faced was the bogus thing carried on here that mining experts were found who would draw up reports for either £50, £150 or £500 to certify either to the existence of one, two or three gold reefs on a holding according as they were paid – their reports were soon in print in London and the millions subscribed in a few days without a question or confirmation of any kind. The mines where the treasure really existed were quietly reported at Adelaide and quickly subscribed for there without going to London for the money. There millions were mostly pocketed by the company promoters in London and the gang who usually feather their nests at such a time. Men seeking work have been drawn from all parts of Australia and something like one hundred thousand pounds a month is remitted in small sums from this colony to the others by the bread earners who leave their wives and families behind to seek for bread here. This will show you what kind of busy scene this is just now and a good place for artisans who make from £3 to £3.10 0 a week. Not many of them however do as well with it as our brother Davies and his wife, but they have no children and that makes a difference.
Perth, Sept. 13
I have had a very hard and trying day's work here and at Freemantle – it has been very hot and it will be a comfort to take off my wet clothes and get to bed but thought I would add a little more to my letter before retiring. I went down the line again y'day Lord's day evening and met our brother Davies and his wife & walked to the house of the gentleman who employs him and we had a very pleasant time together in reading the Word. Mr Griffiths and his wife and father are believers and were very thankful for our visit.
I was very thankful for the little meeting and I found it refreshing for my own spirit. Our brother Davies and his wife left their little tent without any occupant during the 3 or 4 hours absence and seemed quite unconcerned about its safety. I saw Mr Williams again this afternoon and have promised to spend tomorrow evening with him again. A gentleman staying at this hotel and with whom I was having a little talk in one of the public rooms a day or two since asked me what part of England I came from and on saying Barnstaple he replied "Oh, we had your mayor here a few months ago and another with him called Piggott" – this latter gentleman is still on the gold fields. There are a good many people at Bideford and Barnstaple rather interested in this man's movements I think. AM thankful not to have any desire for speculation – certainly all that I have seen and heard since landing in this Colony has thoroughly sickened me. If I found myself in such a land having to work for a living would much prefer such a life as dear Davies has in his tent and earning 11/- a day than I would be a successful operator in share gambling. Mammon is the god of this land, and his votaries have a bad time of it for this life to say nothing of the life to come. What a mercy to know & love the only living and true God – to serve Him too & wait for His Son from Heaven. To Him be all the praise & all the glory.
Sept. 15th 1897
My beloved Angee – have just finished packing up once more and am leaving in a few hours for Albany, Adelaide, Melbourne & Sydney – spent a very pleasant time again last evening with Mr Williams and his wife – had a very busy day at Freemantle and as I have found previously just as I begin to wind up the tackle the fish begin to jump and play all around – received wonderful kindness and courtesy from one of the leading merchants there y'day and a good business so I move on giving thanks to the father of mercies. Shall hope to get some letters from you at Adelaide and Melbourne and now my dearest Angee commending you again to God and His sustaining grace and care and with much love to you and all our beloved ones believe me.
Being very affectionate Husband