September 10th, 1896
Fifth Avenue Hotel, Madison Square, New York
My Beloved Angee,
Well here I am once more in the midst of heat as great as we had in England in July but in the account of the people here it is quite cool compared to the recent hot wave in July – have had to change my collar three times today so you may judge of the rest. On landing here y'day morning soon after 9 I despatched a cable message to you from the wharf "cabin well" which I hope reached you safely perhaps on time for breakfast. The "Servia" made a record passage, two hours less than her previous record and the ocean was like a lake for the greater part of the voyage – now and then we should get a little breeze and a shower of rain but only to make us feel what mercy it was for us all to get such an exceptionally fine passage. There were over 500 first class passengers beside a few hundred steerage. I soon got on talking terms with a few of the people specially with a New York Jew and his wife just returning from a year's tour in England and the Continent. She is 64 and the husband is 69 but in good health and in many ways particularly nice people. He is a silk manufacturer in New York employing about 400 men and is very wealthy. They were very kind to me and always ready to talk of the Scriptures and sometimes said to others who also knew them, that they seemed to have the spirit of a Xtian but the grain of a Jew. When I used to press that Paul reasoned out of the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ he would say that he was not learned and could not answer me but a friend of his at the Synagogue would be able to answer me. It was deeply interesting to me to meet such an example of the "blindness in part" spoken of in the Word and what a work of God it would be to sovereignly, as to us, remove the rail and bring the confession of the Lord Jesus from their mouths. They are called Loth[?] and at the wharf their son was there to meet them and they introduced him to me. I have an invitation to their house. The son appears to be a nice young man and Mrs Loth was telling me that at the age of 13 they are generally confirmed and undertake in a solemn service to keep the law – i.e. the ten commandments and this before the whole congregation and before the altar – when the day came for this the lad said to his parents that he could not do it – remarking that it was bad enough to lie before men but to lie to God he would not and has ever since refused to do so – his devotedness and love to his parents is really lovely according to their shewing. On the Lord's day the Captain gave me permission to preach the gospel in the second saloon and I was moving about among the passengers in the afternoon and found a few were singing a hymn on the deck so I drew near and found a respectable young fellow with Bible in hand ready to speak and he did so very nicely – after the meeting he was very desirous of knowing who I was and I was equally so to know who he was, so the mystery was soon cleared up. He was breaking bread with Mr Raven's Company and I was glad to find refusing Mr R's teaching – on my first visit to this land I met his father and had a nice time of fellowship with him – he is a North of Ireland man but has lived in America 27 years and represents two or three houses in what is called the dry goods line. He had been over for a few weeks to England and was returning with his wife. There was also another brother and his wife residing at Rochester (US) who were returning to America after a few weeks in England – a nice simple brother also with Mr Raven but not understanding any of the peculiarities of his teaching. One morning while walking the upper deck a grey-headed old gentleman came up to me with a curious question – it was to know my weight and my name so I gave him my card and answered his question – on seeing my name he said – Petter! Why I know John Petter of Barnstaple very well – that is my brother I replied and I then asked his name and found that he was the son of Mrs Copp who used to keep a little shop at Combmartin and was in the days when I was with John a very good and a very valuable customer. He was very pleased to find that I not only knew his mother but his sister who became the wife of Mr Gillett both of whom are now with the Lord. Mr Copp's wife and a daughter were also on board so he quickly went off to them with the news of who he had found and I was soon introduced and found them very nice people – our name was a household word to them having so frequently heard it from Mrs Gillett. They are residing at Hamilton in Canada and I have had a very hearty invitation to spend a day or two with them when passing that way in a few weeks. Also met a widow lady and three daughters living at Indianapolis – very nice people who have also asked me to call and see them when there.
Altogether the voyage was a very pleasant one – fine weather and a good table – everyone seemed to enjoy it – we had our meals in two companies and I was generally very glad to hear the bugle call. We had but little detention through the fog usually found on the Newfoundland banks and it was a very fine sight to see the number of fishing craft all around us. The landing y'day was a most disagreeable job – I was three hours at the wharf before I could get clear of the "customs" and by the advice of another traveller I gave all my baggage to one of the express baggage agents who promised that we should have it at the hotel in one hour and to save a dollar I accompanied this traveller in a cable car to the hotel (St Denis) which had been recommended to me as much less expensive than the one I am now lodged in, so I tried it and engaged a room very foolishly which was very small and very dirty and stuffy at two dollars a day and meals on the European plan paying for what you have. I had one meal a little cold beef and mashed potatoes apple pie and a small bottle of Pilsener beer for which I had to pay 1 dollar less 5 cents – it was very poor and I had not had half a meal so it was clear enough I had made a mistake on every course, so I went to the office and gave up the key, saying that the room would not suit me – I had however to pay the 2 dollars and after waiting 3 or 4 hours for my baggage I cleared out and came here. I had previously called at the Fifth Avenue Hotel and enquired as to terms and asked to see the room they offered for 5 dollars a day including board – the room is very fine and beautifully furnished and glad enough I was to get here and after a wash and change which I greatly needed had a good dinner and got to bed early – one wide enough for 2 or 3 and long enough for legs to keep clear of the foot boards.
I rose at 6 this morning and got down among the merchants pretty early and have had a taste of the difficulties now to be faced especially with P.F.&Co. goods which have completely dropped out of the market one after another told the same tale – there was one bit of comfort in the midst of it and that was to be recognised and kindly greeted by many who remembered me on my previous visit. The best and most respectable merchants who used to do with us have not brought a tin for 2 or 3 years and were greatly offended with P.F.
To show their kindness to me they gave me a nice little order for twelve hundred small tins of sugar wafers over £50 so that is encouraging and a larger quantity than P.F. have sold for near 2 years past. The same firm would have given me an order for 2 or 3 hundred pounds worth of Day & Martin but I must first consult with their agents as to whether they will object to it – their chief office is in Boston and the chief partner is coming down on Saturday and specially to see me. The other things P.F. were arranging for me will be quite useless so far as I can judge and as they were only going to pay a commission on actual sales it will not matter and I shall not trouble about it. Called and spent a few moments with the leading brother this morning who lives down among the wholesale houses – he quickly recognised me and it was a mutual pleasure to see each other's faces again after so many years. I shall add a little more to this tomorrow D.V. so adieu for the present.
Weather keeps very warm and I have had a hard day's work – hope some of the appointments made for next week may lead to business. Was hoping to have had a letter from home today but none has yet come to hand. Commending you my beloved Angee and all our loved ones to the care of almighty love and power believe me.
Your very affectionate Husband