William Joseph Lowe to John William Lowe (father)

au Locle.* Suisse

11 August 1870

My dear Father,

You will see that I am in Switzerland where I arrived yesterday, but I fear it will not be easier to communicate with you than it was when I was in France, as it appears that the route by Germany is closed for the present, and all letters go by France. I rather hastened my coming in the hope that it would not be so, but all is well.

There is so much disturbance in France that from day to day one does not know what trains may be suppressed. They get very little news of the war,** and what they do get is not to be depended upon. So there is very little indignation; and if the emperor does not conquer the Prussians it will probably be the end of him and his dynasty — at least that seems to be the general opinion in France. Nobody cries “Vive l'empereur”.

But for us what a comfort to know that all is in the hands of God. It seems probable that the distress and misery which will result from this war will be unprecedented. And considerable preparations are being made in France and Switzerland for the reception and treatment of the poor wounded. One finds the people in almost every house preparing bandages etc. to be forwarded to the seat of war. Business is almost at a standstill.

As to the actual facts of the war, you probably know them much better than we do; in fact about the best description I have as yet seen of what has taken place was an extract from an English journal. And it appears to go very badly with the French, there seems to be an utter want of proper organization and masterly direction of operations.

But if it is God's will to humble them, He knows how and when to do it. The Catholics are in despair. They had hoped great things against the Protestants by the success of the French arms.

But none of us know what is in the future. The Swiss guard their frontiers and interiorly things are very quiet, only that business is naturally very slack: so many able bodied workmen are now under arms at the frontier.

I had a nice time in the Pays de Montbéliard: there are about 8 gatherings there besides one at Besançon. The brother Mr Schüttel took me around to all and we had meetings almost every evening in one place or another. The brethren are very kind indeed, and there is great interest in the work, but not much prayer — but there is more of the reproach of Christ than there is in England. There are so many sects in England, that a meeting of the brethren is scarcely noticed, whereas on the Continent it is marked at once and an object of the scorn and hatred, chiefly of those who profess to be pastors of Christ's flock.

It makes one feel how much human education and human appointment in the things of God, blinds the eyes to what is really the work of the Spirit of God. There are very few outside the brethren so called who have really got peace in their souls with God; at least in the country villages.

I hope to be at Tramelan if the Lord will in four or five days, but my address for the present will be aux Soins de M. A.Tracol, Coffrane Neuchâtel, Suisse.

Very much love to you and Emma and Charlotte and John

Your very affectionate Son W. J. Lowe

 {*Le Locle, a town in Switzerland north-west of Neuchâtel and close to the French border.

** The Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71 was declared on July 19, 1870}