March 7th, 1897
Cunard Royal Mail Steamship "Etruria"
My Beloved Angee,
Our first day at Sea is drawing to a close and I thought a few simple jottings may interest you. We arrived at Queenstown at day light this morning and left again at 8 before I had finished dressing – I only saw the harbour from the cabin window. The ship's bunk is nothing new to me but it takes a night or two to get into the practice of getting in and out and adapting the body to the narrow dimensions. However I had a fairly good night and the sea was very smooth. We are now about 700 miles from Liverpool and so far have carried the fine weather with us so that there are not many absentees from the table at meal times. Have been on deck a good deal and felt the comfort of the Cape Parkin made me, altho' it has not been cold. I have enjoyed the quietness and the reading and meditation. My heart has often thought of you and all our dear ones and I trust you have been comforted too and enjoyed the rest. I know Miss Brittan will do all in her power for you and it will be a very great cheer to my heart soon to hear that you are feeling better than when I left. I am sitting close to the spot where dear Mr Stone & Herbert & I sat on my first voyage by this ship and where we met Mr Stewart & Miss Armstrong of Pittsburgh – then however there were 600 saloon passengers on board now a few over 60 – a great difference greatly adding to the comfort of the smaller number. The gentleman sitting next to me at the table is a Captain in the English merchant service – probably now retired – about my own age and has travelled extensively – was in China with Gordon[?] – we have had some nice chats and this evening after dinner we remained together after the cloth was removed for nearly an hour and he was quite interested to listen to the simple gospel – he appears to be a God fearing man and speaks of the Scriptures with reverence. It is always a comfort to find one who will listen to the word of truth of the gospel – the steward at my table was on board the ship on my first trip and remembers Mr Stone very well and had heard of his death.
It is a splendid vessel and seems in first class condition in every way – beautifully clean and the food very good.
I expect you will like the photos of the dear children – I wish the Bristol man had taken Angie & Hilda too altho' their likenesses are very good, but the Bristol man has made better pictures while the likenesses are simply living all of them. I wish I had Arundel & Harry & Emma's in the same size – I came away without any of theirs – send me the one of Arundel's Iike and me of Harry's Emma's if they have it by the next post.
March 10th 1897
My beloved Angee,
We said good bye to our fine weather on Sunday night an hour or two after we retired to rest when a gale sprang up which has continued until this morning when there was a little moderating of it for which we are all very thankful. It would not be true if I did not own that it was appalling even to the strongest nerves as sea after sea struck the ship and sent tons of water over her continually, the weight of it crashing like the booming of cannon and the rolling of it over the decks like the sound of thunder. There does not appear to have been any slowing down of our engines but the full power of our vessel kept against the full power of the gale not quite in our teeth but a little on her quarter so that we had a kind of corkscrew motion. Of course all passengers were below and if one attempted to move from a seat for a moment it became a difficult task. Thro' mercy I have been well in body and always able to get to the table for meals but I have not enjoyed it as former voyages and my heart has often feared and trembled. It seems wonderful to a landsman how it is possible for a ship to go at the rate of 12 or 15 miles an hour through it. It was amusing in my cabin to see my coats and dressing gown hanging on the pegs swinging in obedience to the laws of gravitation – sometimes suspended right across the cabin. To dress in such circumstances was indeed a difficult piece of business requiring uncommon care and skill because you were not secure even when sitting down and even when laying in the berth it was necessary to hold on to prevent being rolled like a barrell[sic] to and fro with every wave of motion. We are not expected to reach New York now until Saturday evening or Sunday morning – we hear the glass is rising and the weather wise say we shall get better weather for the other part of the voyage which may God in mercy be pleased to grant us.
March 12th 1897
My Beloved Angee,
This will be a funny sort of letter with varied experiences but dare say it will be of interest to you. Thro' mercy we have not had any storm since Wednesday and the clearing up then has continued with the exception of some fog y'day in passing over the Newfoundland Banks. Today is almost Summer like with a smooth sea and there is some hope of our landing in New York tomorrow Saturday evening perhaps as late as 9 – I hear that we can pass quarantine as late as that and get through the customs – I hope it may be so as it is very unpleasant to be landing on Sunday morning and spoiling the day of rest. I have met a very nice companion with whom I have spent a good deal of time – he is called Thomas and lives in Denver but came from Torquay about 20 years ago – was converted in England under Mr Moody's preaching with whom he was very friendly. Mr Thomas is about 40 and is a mining engineer having a large business in this way and several mines in Colorado and the state of Texas. He seems very bright in the Lord and often preaches the Gospel. He is connected with the Methodists at Denver and knows my old friend Bishop Warren there very well whom you will remember me referring to in one of my letters 10 years ago. It has been very pleasant for both of us. He has great knowledge of the States and has given me much useful information in regard to my route and a hearty invitation to come and see him at his house when at Denver. I was showing my picture gallery last night and of course was very pleased to hear his kind remarks on looking at the likeness of my dear grandchildren and their grandma – was sorry I had not the others to show him.
But for being thrown back by the terrible storm on Monday & Tuesday we might have reached New York this evening or early tomorrow morning but we are thankful for the many and great mercies we have received in being preserved through the gale and brought thus far on our voyage in safety. For myself I do not even remember to have felt so alarmed in any storm I have passed through before. The few men who were in the saloon looked in great fear and terror as the great seas struck the ship in quick succession and some wondered that the Captain went on in the teeth of it at full speed – He knew his ship and her power and I hear that she is considered one of the best of the sea boats in the Cunard fleet. Thro' mercy I am feeling well and have greatly enjoyed the fine weather part of the voyage. Trust you are well too and enjoying all the mercies given us of God.
March 13th 1897
My Beloved Angee,
It is 5pm on Saturday and we knew at noon today that there was no chance of our going ashore this evening being 220 miles from New York. All being well we expect to land by 7 or 8 in the morning. Last night the usual concert was held and the birds were plumed off in fanciest colours. Mr Thomas and I spent a nice time together on the deck and the Captain was with us for some time. Some of the party came up and entreated him to go down to the concert but he very courteously yet firmly declined to go. He told us after that he had not attended a concert since he had command of the ship nor had he ever been in the smoking room. We felt thankful that the company had such a man in charge of the ship who really felt what a responsibility rested upon his shoulders. We were speaking of the gale through which we passed on Monday & Tuesday – he said that the ship made only 12 knots in it and he had never known her make less than 13 in the worst storm he has encountered before – her regular speed is 20 or 22. We are all feeling the cold today – I should think it is 20 degrees colder than it has been all through the voyage and we are now out of the gulf stream influences.
It is only a week since that I said goodbye to Harry, Emma Angie at Euston but it seems a longer time to me – the time passes more quickly on land when one is occupied. We are now on the lookout for the Cunard boat which left New York today and expect to pass her very soon. Only 2 sail have passed since we left the Irish coast – it seems wonderful that we could cross the Atlantic Ocean and not meet more vessels. It has been a beautiful day with a fresh head wind which the Engineer likes as it makes his fires burn more freely – the ship consumes 270 tons of coal a day – the new ship building by the White Star Company which is several feet longer than the Great Eastern will burn 500 tons a day and expects to make the voyage in 4 ½ days. My table companion Captain E. Hairly is a great friend of Mr Darbyshire's at Ilfracombe – he is a very nice person – we exchanged cards – he resides in Surrey and I suppose his house is called Bellagis as I never heard of a town with that name.