Gibraltar, Algeria, Malta, Egypt, India, Burma, Singapore, China, Japan, Korea, Russia
February 16th, 1889
Singapore , Saturday morning
My Beloved Angee,
Your welcome letter with enclosure from dear Arundel arrived at Penang not many hours before we did but I fear the letter I posted there for you will not reach England sooner than this, so that you will have had a new experience in being without a mail for the week and I expect this will be replicated frequently now that I am going to even yet more remote regions. You may however be sure that I will not miss a mail within reach. Very sorry to find you had not recovered from the cold and trust it will have passed away before this reaches you. Do be careful of your health and keep good flannel clothing about your body and do not walk over five miles a day – how I should enjoy some of your nice brown bread and butter and tea to say nothing of the relish of some of your special brand of bacon and cake[?] – but these luxuries unknown in this land of bright sunshine and tropical heat. We arrived here yesterday morning soon after breakfast and on getting off the steamer felt the heat very much – I came to the same hotel I have stayed at on previous visits and had heard that the Proprietress had taken it into her own hands to manage – the late Dutchman having lost all the trade under his rule – it is wonderfully improved in every way and I was glad to be quartered in my old rooms which are specially comfortable and instead of a ship berth which is not generally wider than my back, I have a bed about 7 feet square, intended of course for two, so that I am in clover for a few days as far as the bed is concerned. The food is also very good and instead of there being one or two staying in the hotel as on my last visit there are 15 or 20 appreciative guests whose general testimony is that now it is the most comfortable house in the East.
We stayed at Penang from Tuesday morning until Wednesday evening this giving me a nice time for my business – on my last call at this port I did a very good business – taking 8 indents for over 4 thousand tins of various sorts – this time I took 11 indents for over 8 thousand various tins – quite double the quantity and value of the last and was made deeply sensible of the mercy and goodness of God thus shewn to me. They were all Chinese merchants and seemed glad to see me again. If these are a sample of the kind I shall D.V. meet in China it will be very pleasant to make their acquaintance.
I mentioned in my last that we had an opera company on board the steamer from Rangoon – on the latter portion of the voyage, one of them came up one evening where I was sitting and seemed disposed for a little talk so we spent a couple of hours together which time I put the simple truths of the gospel before him and felt the Lord had given me his heart and ear. He is a lovely youth and although in the midst of such evil association, is preserved I doubt not in answer to a mother's prayers in a very especial way. He is an Australian and his parents are residing in Melbourne and it is a beautiful testimony of how the affections of his heart have been saved from being blighted and withered by evil for the past 2 or 3 years that he has been engaged with this company (only to play the flute) he has never missed a mail in writing to his mother and at Penang sent her 37 pages of hotel paper – he has given me their address at Melbourne and I have promised to call – singularly enough there was not room for them all at the hotel they selected so my young friend is quartered with 3 other young fellows at hotel and John Lemmore the name of my young friend occupies a room adjoining mine. He receives £11 a week for his services and I am told is clever with this one instrument – and he is careful of his earnings and I doubt not saves the bulk of it – drinks nothing stronger than water and tea. I have taken a fancy to him – he seems to have a lovely mind and does not refuse the gospel. While at Tiffin here yesterday two young Englishmen came in and sat at the table where I was partaking of refreshment and after a little while one of them asked a question about Singapore and I soon learnt they had only arrived by a large North German Lloyd steamer that morning and intended leaving again for China after a stay of about 24 hours. I found one of them was an engineer going to Formosa to construct a railway and I mentioned having met Dr Hans Anderson who resides there on board a P&O steamer on my first visit to the East and spoke of the happy times we had together with some missionaries also returning to China. The other gentleman was going to Shanghai to fill an appointment in the customs. Well we chatted away for a long time and they seemed greatly interested in what was said and hoped I would try and give them a call when in China. They returned to their ship to dine but after dinner came to my hotel again with two other gentlemen they wished to introduce, one a C.E.[Civil Engineer] called Cotterill also engaged in constructing the railway at Formosa – he has had extensive travels and is a fine fellow and a first class man as among men – knew Devonshire well and Ilfracombe too and has surveyed the route from S. Moltan to Lynton for the G.W. Railway Company – he had relatives too at Bideford and Westward Ho! called Lee. The other that came up with the first two resides at Gokahoma and has given me a very pressing invitation to visit him. It is singular how God orders the meeting certain persons – they remained with me until after tea and then returned to their ship – the Lord grant that some word during the conversation may be remembered to be used of God for their salvation. The Island of Formosa nearly opposite Hong Kong is half as large as Ireland.
February 18th Monday 6.45 am.
Mail day has come round once more so I must begin the work this day usually entails – I usually write yours on Lord's day and attempted to do it yesterday but was tasting a new experience in the shape of drenching rain which continued about 36 hours without interruption and there being no glass windows to any other rooms everything bed and all becomes damp and most uncomfortable and depressing too. Am thankful to see a little blue sky this morning so that there is a prospect of a dry day. I do not like staying in a place where there are no gatherings and suppose I shall be deprived of the privilege for many months yet to come. The Lord can sustain one's joy and confidence in Himself in the midst of the loneliness. I greatly enjoyed reading dear Mr Bellett's "The Moral Glory of the Lord Jesus" yesterday in which are some very precious thoughts. I had some nice talk with young Lemmore again yesterday and in putting the question plainly as to whether he was a believer on the Lord Jesus or an unbeliever he was very decided in taking the ground of a believer. Well the Lord knoweth them that are His and my impression is that his heart is all at ease in the association he is now going on with. I am thinking to start for China by the French mail this week if possible and shall be thankful to get into colder regions and cold they will be I expect at Peking and at a place called Vladivostock[sic] in Southern Siberia – opposite the northern most point of the southern island of Japan which P.F. have written me to visit if possible. My heart trembles at times at the prospect but I look up to God even our Father as now revealed to us in the face of Jesus Christ for His grace and support without which I am sure I should quickly sink. The thought of our Shapland's unkindness and Henry's too toward yourself and Arundel has been a sorrow to my heart however I seek to cast it upon our burden bearer Whose love toward us is perfect and would judge every root of bitterness in my own heart toward them. God may well say to us "Beloved if God so loved us we ought also to love one another." And now my beloved Angee with much love once more to yourself and all our dear ones believe me.
Being very affectionate Husband
The 14th February just past our wedding day called forth thankfulness from my heart too for the abounding goodness and mercy our gracious Father and God continued to us and our dear children – bless His Holy name that His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting and endureth forever and blessed are they who hope in His mercy.
Love to Eunice and Eliza and Mr Robertshaw