18950410 See an image of this letter, https://doi.org/10.17613/wz1x-6696


Bahia,   10th April  1895


My dear Mother,

Last mail brought me your letter of Mar.18th. Influenza seems to be terribly prevalent. I suppose old Mrs Moore is dead meanwhile. I think I remember hearing once that in such an event “Dalchoolin” would be sold.[1]

You were going to tell me “two great secrets”, but you only told me one – about Robert Watt.[2] My Congratulations to him. The absence of haste in his case gives hope that there will be no ground for repentance. What is the other secret?

I came down on the “Thames” with Bertie W. from Pernambuco to Bahia.[3] He was very well and jolly. Among the other passengers was Mrs Jackson of Rio, Miss McKisack’s friend, whom I was very pleased to see again. She is one of the “nice little women” whom I like, and Mrs Ellis of Pernambuco is another. By the way I have an invite for this day week to a dinnerparty chez Mawsons – Mrs Ellis’s people – I know of some six or eight guests so it will be full war-paint.

The night before leaving Pernambuco we had a whist meeting at Mr Comber’s.[4] I have been to his house several times for whist and he always has liberal supplies of cigars and liquid refreshments but he has never invited me to dinner – he never entertains anyone. He is very wealthy – worth £120,000 I was told, but he is not given to extravagance, and they say his wife, whom no one ever sees, is a tarter. He is scarcely popular, but I have always found him very agreeable, and when we meet he is always keen on arranging whist-parties.


The "Barra" beaches at Salvador, Bahia, in 1885. A photograph by Rudolph Lindemann.
The “Barra” beaches at Salvador, Bahia, in 1885. A photograph by Rudolph Lindemann.

On arrival here Hoyer and Eggers came off to meet me.[5] I had written Eggers that I did not wish to impost on Hoyer’s hospitality and I said not to tell Hoyer I was coming, but to take a room at the hotel. But it was of no use. Hoyer knew was coming and would not hear of any such arrangement but simply marched me off to his house. There were sundry small jokes about the room they had reserved at the hotel, – No 184, – my luggage was to be sent there and so on, but as soon as I saw Hoyer in the boat I knew how it would be. Since I was here he has removed to a new house. It is further up town, in a fine situation, and much larger. He says he chose it with the extra accommodation with a view to my coming here next year with Mrs John L. Unfortunately it is not near the “Barra” and I miss the morning swim very much.[6]

This is “Holy Week”. To-morrow, Thursday, is a half-holiday, and Friday is the strictest holiday in the year, – everyone goes dressed in black.

I shall go on to Rio by first steamer – end of next week. Business is very dull all round and reports from there are bad. I am writing to Buenos Aires and Montevideo to know if it would pay to go there before returning home. If not I shall likely start for England in six or eight weeks, unless the powers rule otherwise.

Best love,


  1. Mrs Moore was the widow of James Moore, a founding partner of Moore & Weinberg. "Dalchoolin" must have been the Moore's family home. Dalchoolin Park in Holywood, Co Down, is today the grounds of "a 19th-century house, now demolished." Fine trees and a walled garden remain, with the site serving as part of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.
  2. Likely Dr Robert Watt (GP). Born Scotland ~1862, died Malone Road, Belfast 1950.
  3. Herbert Weinberg. See Index to People.
  4. There was a Comber family in Pernambuco – Edward and Eleanor (Edward died in 1865) – and they had 4 sons who survived beyond childhood – but it is not clear if any of them lived in Pernambuco when JMcC was there . . .
  5. Georg Hoyer and John C Eggers. See Index to People.
  6. Barra is a neighbourhood located in the south zone of the city of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. It is one of the most traditional neighbourhoods of the city, and famous for its beaches.


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John McCaldin Loewenthal: Letters Home from a Victorian Commercial Traveller, 1889 - 1895 Copyright © 2022 by Michelle Fink, Robert Boyd, Sarah Watkinson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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