A journey from London to Aden in 1865

by Chris Bertram on November 16, 2022

I discovered recently that my late Aunt Mary, who was in her time PA to the Postmaster General and a crack typist, had transcribed a letter from a distant relative of ours recounting a journey in 1865 from London to Aden (part of a journey to India). The letter seems sufficiently interesting to post here at Crooked Timber. Among the points of interest are the speed of the journey to Marseilles (remember, we are only 35 years into the railway era), seeing de Lesseps in Egypt — who has constructed the “Sweet Water Canal” (the Ismaïlia Canal) and has yet to complete the Suez Canal), impressions of the various places he passed through, and the tragic funeral of a young man who has died of drink. But much else besides. I’ve digitized by using the OCR on my phone and have checked the various oddities and spellings, so this should be an accurate reproduction.

S.S. Mooltan, Red Sea
22 December 1865

My dear Nelly,

I promised Mamma that I would send you all a letter but the old “Ripon” made such bad weather of it that although an old sailor I could not write very comfortably on board her and therefore all the writing that I did on board was either on business or to your dear Mother. We are now in a very fine large ship and as the weather is fine the sea very smooth and I have a cabin to myself, I can write in comfort and without being disturbed. You will I am sure like to have a kind of log or journal of my proceeding since I left you all on Monday and I will try and recollect the places that I have passed through and any little incidents that may be interesting and jot them down on paper to post at Aden, and although addressed to your dear Nelly you must understand that this letter is meant for all my dear children, and as I shall probably not write to your Mother from Aden, why, this will suffice to let her know also that I am in health and as happy as I can be while away from all I love.

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