18931212 See an image of this letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/y85q-4756


Bahia          12th Dec.     1893


My dear Mother,

I wrote you by the “Nile” on my arrival. There has been no time for letters to come here yet except a couple that were forwarded to me from Buenos Aires, with three Whigs that will take me as many weeks to read. Last time I was in Bahia I had a room in a private German boarding-house, which this time is full unfortunately. I went to a hotel the first night, got a small dirty room & was nearly eaten up by mosquitoes so next morning I removed to another hotel where I am slightly better fixed, but it is an uncomfortable change from the clean lodgings & decent food of the South to the dirt & uneatable provender of Bahia. I was allowed to bring only my small things – a hand-bag or two – with me from the steamer; my trunks were sent to the custom-house, &, Sunday intervening, I could not get them till Monday. A disagreeable surprise was in store for me. My smoking-jacket, dress-trousers, & black tailed coat, all as good as new, were missing, but whether stolen from my cabin, or from the lighter that brought the trunks to the custom-house, I cannot say. I think the former, for the lock of my big leather trunk is good & not easily picked. It is the first time that I have anything stolen while travelling. I purpose wiring to the Chief Officer on the “Nile” to Lisbon to have a search for them. It will cost another £2 or so, but the things are worth £10.

Business for the moment is not bad in Bahia, but there are several holidays this month, & towards the end of the year people are difficult to persuade to do business, as they have stock-taking before them.

It was your letter of Oct 23rd I shd have acknowledged in my last. I shd have much later news from you now by next mail.

A good friend of mine, Mr Hoyer, who took that photo with the straw hat, asked me to stop with him for a few days at the “Barra”, so I was there from Thursday till Monday. His wife is English & he has three nice little children.[1] The “barra” is about an hour by tram from the centre of town, on the sea, round the lighthouse which stands on the point at the entrance to the bay.[2] I had a swim every morning at six o’clock, walking down from the house in pyjamas, even thus much clothing being considered “dressy” by the inhabitants. Then a cup of coffee & some eggs at seven, & into town by ½ past eight.

On Thursday night I was at a very pleasant dance at the English Club; – got a pair of “bags” made that day by an obliging ebony tailor. There were a few Brazilians at the ball, as well as English. I was introduced to one young lady. She wrote her name on my programme – “Elisinha” – nothing more. Imagine a young lady in England, introduced to a man at a dance, writing “Mary-Ann” on his programme. I had to leave early with Hoyer & there was not time to explain to the ladies “booked”, so I gave my list to another man, asked him to apologize for me & claim the dances. I have an idea from what I heard since, that he did so with the good-looking girls & the good dancers, & forgot the rest. It was only later that I remembered the descriptive notes on my programme – corals, pink & flowers, blue stripes, & so on.

To-night I am invited to play whist with a Mr Oakes, – married to a German lady, but as he does not believe in playing “according to rules & books” it will scarcely be satisfactory, but there will be some families there whom I know.

We have no news here at all about affairs in Rio, & the people don’t seem to trouble themselves much about the revolution, so long as they are left in peace. The merchants wisely say “We don’t care if we have an Empire or a Republic or no Government at all, if they will only leave us alone.”


13th Dec.      Admiral de Gama has issued his manifesto as predicted.[3]

Very hot here & much rain. I had a good swim this morning. Hope to have news from you soon.

Best love, & a happy new Year to all.




  1. George Hoyer, merchant (b 1860 - ? Germany), wife Margaret (b ~1869), Vera (b ~1888), Alice (b ~1890) and Olga (b ~1892) See Index to People.
  2. South of the city of Salvador, Barra is a vibrant seaside district home to the bayside Porto da Barra beach, with its calm waters and 17th-century fort, and ocean-facing Farol da Barra which has surf-friendly swells. Dating to 1698 and famed for its sunset views, black-and-white-striped Barra Lighthouse also houses a museum displaying nautical artifacts.
  3. Luiz Felipe Saldanha da Gama was the rebel leader resisting the military coup of 1889 and calling for a national plebiscite to determine the nature of government most appropriate for the future of Brazil. Here is a nice pen portrait of the man, "The personality of the Admiral alone kept the revolt alive. Luiz Felipe Saldanha da Gama was a man of exceptional ability, who had become Rear-Admiral in the Brazilian navy after long service. A descendant of Vasco da Gama, he had the pride of family tradition deep-rooted in his heart. The subservience of political principles to personal motives had no place in his life. He had traveled extensively, and his knowledge of English, French, Italian, Spanish and German enabled him to profit from his journeys. Whilst holding aloof from political affairs in Brazil, he frequently expressed to his more intimate friends his contempt for the politicians who had dragged his country down since the abolition of the imperial regime. He condemned the dictatorial methods of Peixoto, and at heart was a devoted servant of the exiled royal family. His personal inclination was for its restoration, but he never proposed to re-establish monarchy by force." https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/brazil-1893-2.htm


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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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