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Many lines in Joseph Matkin's letters are devoted to the complexities of the post, which went with any British ships traveling anything close to the desired route for the mail, and so he greatly anticipated letters from home and tried to predict at what port letters would reach him. He confidently advised his correspondents to address his mail as simply as, for example, "HMS Challenger, Teneriffe" and so on, and was clearly confident that the letters would eventually catch up to him despite the apparent haphazardness of the delivery system.

Joseph MatkinJanuary 6th, 1873
The English mail does not go for a fortnight so I think I had better do as a great many are doing, put a 6d stamp on the letter & send it overland & write again by the mail in a fortnight's time after I have been on shore--I am going tonight. Write "at once", to Gibraltar, Via South (or elsewhere, & to Madeira 'Via Liverpool' when the next mail goes & mark it "By Africa S.S. Cos Steamer" also to "Teneriffe" Via Liverpool, by the first Febry mail, penny stamps will do, & 1/2 for news papers. We shall leave Gibraltar about the 25th Jany for Madeira. Hoping Father is better & with best love to all.

P.S. I wish I had some of this foreign note paper. I have to get some at New York. I hope this will not be over weight. Whenever you write, enclose one stamp for we can't always get them. JM

P.P.S. A Liverpool steamer is just going to start and will take our mail.