South Africa, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand
September 27th, 1890
Grahams Town, South Africa
My Beloved Angee,
We reached this beautiful English looking city, call "The City of Saints" at 5.30 this morning and a more lovely day could not be, the climate is simply perfection. The "felt" as the land is called is turned in this part is green, with a good sprinkling of shrubs and trees, making quite a contrast to most of the territory we have travelled over which is barren and stony with little else but thorn bushes or trees of such dimensions as I have never seen before. Early as it was when our train arrived a dear brother was at the station to give me a greeting – there are about a dozen in fellowship here, so I am thankful to be here for the Lord's day tomorrow. We left Kimberly on Tuesday midday Mr Bainsey[?] came down to see me off, also the one dear brother and his wife and two children at whose house we had meetings nearly every night during my stay there and they were happy seasons I can tell you. In spite of a second bank failure. I did business with 5 of the best merchants there who gave me very good indents. Mr Ramsey took me over a part of the great De Beers consolidated Diamond mine on Monday afternoon – a most interesting sight. At the beginning of the work year ago they dug down very deep through rock and rubbly kind of soil where the Diamond were first discovered and on coming to what is called the Blue Soil – a thick muddy looking material they ceased for some time judging that none would be found in such conditions. It was thought well however to try this blue mud which was soon found to contain larger and better stones than the other soil yielded. This one company now raise diamonds which realise about 4 million Stirling annually and they would have no difficulty in raising double or treble that quantity but it is not desirable to do so as the price would be so reduced by the extra quantity thrown upon the market. The natives from various parts of the South, East and West Africa are employed. They cannot under any circumstances leave for a certain number of months when once inside the gates. The company have built a very large square compound around which are the hub for these people to live in when not actually down in the mines. There is also a large store where they can purchase all they need in the way for food at very moderate prices and good tea and coffee but not a drop of liquor of any description is allowed inside the gate. With all the precautions the company's inspectors can design to prevent them stealing the diamonds it is said that Diamonds to the value of a million are stolen every year. The penalty is very severe for "I.D.B." as it is termed ("illicit Diamond Buying") 5 years transportation being the least degree of punishment. It was very interesting to see the various African tribes, some of them very superior to others and sleeping on a little rough made bed. Then there is a large stable looking place by the side of a square piece of ground surrounded with a high wall and a very curious open wire arrangement in one corner of it. In these stalls were laying several Zulus and Kaffirs without a particle of clothing except a large rug to throw over their bodies and thick leather bag gloves locked securely around each's waist. Whenever they wish to leave or leave or go out for a few weeks they must submit to this kind of imprisonment for one week before they are allowed to go outside. The period gives a good time for digesting any previous stones they may have "accidentally" swallowed. We called at a nice little town called Cradock on our way down here and took three good orders which was two more than I expected. The night we stayed there I spent with a young Baptist minister called [names missing from text] to whom I was introduced by one of the merchants. He was cheered and so was I and it was good to find one sound in the faith. He came out under the shelter of Gratton Guinness – once applied for admission to Spurgeon's College but was told by Mr L.[?] that his college was full and his purse was empty. He subsequently had an interview with Hudson Taylor with a view to China but Africa seemed land upon his heart[sic]. Singularly enough during our conversation he spoke of a very dear friend of his in the China Inland Mission called Tomlinson and was baptised with him at the same time. This dear man I voyaged with on my first visit to the East and spent some time with him at Tientsin last year and only received a long letter from him a few months ago.
I notice this town is well placarded with large bills "Mr Telfer is coming" he left Cradock by the same train that brought me. I was much amused here this morning on a walk up the stairs of the hotel after breakfast to receive a bow and smile from a dark lady, but thinking she was mistaking me for another I passed on. A few stairs higher up I got the same salutation from a dark gentleman and was beginning to think the natives were specially pleasant in Grahams Town, but in a few moments I looked at them again and found they were the company we had tea with at Mr Stones and are all staying at the same hotel. The word soon went round and they all came out to give a hearty greeting and said they had been looking out for me. They were glad to see Lazarus too. They have been very successful so far and I expect have returned the money Mr Stone so kindly lent them.
I have a called upon all the leading importers here this morning and have promises from each one of a visit to see our show on Monday morning and so far as I may judge from the reception given to me am likely to do well. This is a short day Saturday for all close at 1 and I have arranged to visit the saints this afternoon. Tomorrow D.V. will bring the English mail and the outgoing mail is on Monday evening so I shall hope to add a little more to this before closing. One of our Jubilee sugar[?] has just come into the room where I am writing and says I must give Mrs Petter their kindest regards.
Lord's day evening, Sept. 28th
A week's march nearer home – the time does pass rapidly indeed. Tomorrow will bring its duties again and the mail goes out in the afternoon so I must bring my letter to a close this evening just recording the goodness of God again in the many privileges granted. The meeting here is small but very happy – there are about 12 in fellowship and they appear to know what this means. They meet in the shop of a brother who is a saddler and on Saturday nights he puts his counter back and clears all the middle of the shop hanging up curtains around the shelves. It was a very blessed morning and we have had the place filled for the gospel this evening and D.V. we purpose having another meeting tomorrow evening. I hear no strange sounds in the way of doctrine nor do I bring any through mercy, so we understand each other's speech as taught of God and are therefore able to have fellowship one with another.
Your letter has not yet arrived – the mail was in this morning but did not bring any for me but I expect they will reach here tomorrow. It is a great mercy that we are able to hear from one another so regularly and constantly. When my thoughts turn toward the gatherings in England and the terrible strife and confusion that has prevailed among so many of them I am filled with sorrow. Our faces may well be in the dust for the shame and confusion belonging to us. The loss of heart and simplicity have caused it all and God can never give His smile and peace where the intelligence of man is brought in to take the place of the Holy Ghost. "Man by wisdom knew not God". I pray that the Lord may preserve and sustain your heart's confidence in Himself amid the sorrows which I know you must feel. Do not let it cast you down – the Lord will succour every heart that looks to Him no matter how complete the wreck may be or how great the confusion. It will be a sad day for brethren when their unity becomes prominent and it sought to be maintained at the cost of what is right before God. Lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another in love, are the moral traits of those found in any time of the dispensation endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the writing[?] bond of peace and must ever be the outward marks of those calling on the Lord out of a pure heart – God is good – our hearts cling to that – no good in creatures can be found, all, all is found in Thee, we must have all and abound through Thy sufficiency. Dear Harry's letter by the last mail has been a great comfort to my heart which has been repeated with that which so cheered ours – "What a Saviour"! The Lord will preserve him and lead him on and I trust make him shine brightly for Himself. The Lord save him and save each one of us from being caught in men's intelligent traps. Where divine wisdom is given we can say I am a poor fool and nothing at all but Jesus Christ is "all in all" - well good night my dearly beloved Angee – the Lord Himself bless you. Dear Mr D.S. Motto came to my mind and is as good for us as for him "Say little, serve all, pass on".
Sept. 29th Monday morning
Was very glad to receive your welcome letter this morning of the 4th inst. To find that you were all well and that my first letter has at last arrived – a good batch came by the mail – one from Charlie – Henry – Arundel beside P.F.&Co. budgets. I am very busy so you must excuse more now. Commending you once more to God and His gracious Fatherly care and all our dear ones believe me my dearly beloved wife. With much love.
Being very affectionate Husband