18940922 See an image of this letter, https://doi.org/10.17613/rbqf-2z26








Pelo vapor ……………………………………..

Bahia………22nd  de September………. de 189 4


My dear Mother,

Here I am once more on the old hunting-ground. The “Nile” arrived y’day. – just a fortnight since we left Southampton. Eggers & Hoyer came on board to meet me & the latter took me straight out to his house, where he had a room ready for me, so I shall not have to go to one of these filthy hotels.[1] It is very kind of him & I am only too glad to accept his hospitality. There at least I have a clean bed, nice food, a header & a swim in the sea every morning at six o’clock, & altogether the comfort that one can never have in a hotel, – no objectionable neighbours, no noise of billiard balls nor reek of smoke & eternal smell of cooking. His wife is very nice & I am a favourite with the children to whom I gave some little presents last Christmas.[2] To Mr & Mrs Hoyer I sent some nice hankerchiefs not long ago, with which they were much pleased.

The voyage was a very pleasant one. There were lots of nice people on board. In the evenings we had dancing or played games on deck – dumb crambo, up Jenkins, clumps & so on, & as I had a good deal of experience & knew the ropes pretty well on board they always looked to me to help to organize entertainments. There was also a chess tournament, in which very much to my own surprise, I divided the honours of first place with a Mr Mackenzie, who goes to Rio as manager of the Lond. & Braz. Bank.

At Pernambuco, on the way through, I saw many old friends & I have no doubt of a kind reception when I go back there. Keiller looks very well.[3] The date of his marriage will not be fixed until his business arrangements are settled. All the boarding houses in Pernam. are full but I know Mrs Latham will make room for me somehow.[4]

Here too I have greeted a lot of old acquaintances. Before leaving the steamer I was told that I was to be taken to an entertainment that evg. At the British Club, & as the customs officer would only let me have a hand-bag with me (the rest had to remain in the custom-house till next day) I opened my trunk on deck, took out a more sober pair of unwhisperables to replace my tennis bags, & the boatman carried them down the ladder under his arm. The English gunboats “Sirius”, “Beagle”, & “Barracouta”, are at present in the Bay, & the entertainment was a very fair Christy Minstrel Concert by some of the officers & men. Afterwards there was some dancing, & we did not go home till after one o’clock.


28th Sept.

Leppin is here – has been here for some weeks.[5] He is rather “down” about business & says his trip has not been nearly so good as last.

I was lucky in having no trouble at all in the custom-house this time. There was so much luggage that the man did not look at a single thing – in two minutes all was ready, – nor did I come away minus a part of my wardrobe as on the last occasion.

Eggers has just moved into a new office – much more comfortable than the old one, which was up two flights of rickety stairs. On the first floor there was a tailor who had always a fire on the lobby outside in one of those iron stands the street-plumbers use. He used the fire to heat his smoothing irons & he burnt all his old rags in it until the smoke & stench filled the whole house. I often tried to persuade Eggers to pour a jug of water into it from above.

The new office is large & airy, with one flight of stairs & no tailor, though the former occupant was of that trade, & made me, in my need, a pair of dress trousers in eight hours. At the door sits Eggers his faithful body-guard, an old nigger with white hair, who sweeps the floor & employs his leisure moments in plaiting straw-hats. I have given him a commission to make me one.

This goes by the “Thames”. I want to go on board if the ship comes in on time.

The Pater will now be on his way home. When this arrives I suppose he will be back. I hope he has had a good trip. I shall write to the girls soon in answer to their letters which I was glad to get at Southampton & Lisbon.

I have got quite fat this week with the good living at the Barra & the sea-bathing.[6]

Best love to all.


  1. John C Eggers and Georg Frederick Hoyer. See Index to People.
  2. Mrs Margaret Hoyer, and Vera age 6, Alice age 4 and Olga age 2. See Index to People.
  3. John Gibson Keiller. See Index to People
  4. Mrs Latham who runs a "nice English boarding house" in Pernambuco. See Index to People.
  5. Ernest Leppin (b ~1861? in Germany), commercial agent and a disgruntled ex-employee of Moore and Weinberg in Belfast. See letter from Rio de Janeiro of 27th December 1892 and Index to People.
  6. Barra is a vibrant seaside district of Salvador, Bahia, and 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.


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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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