18941008 See an image of this letter, https://doi.org/10.17613/bkyt-3m83


Bahia             8th Oct. 1894


My dear Mother,

I was beginning to think myself rather ill-used when the Royal Mail came, a fortnight after the “Nile” and brought no letter from you. However y’day the French steamer which left earlier and arrived later brought me several letters, yours of 10th & 17th Sept. among the number, so I have calmed down again.

I hope the Pater has done well in spite of Mr Wallace and the cholera.[1]

Here I cannot say that things are very brilliant and Leppin has been here for a long time.[2] Still I am doing something. The orders are not very big, and one must run after the people time after time to bring them up to the scratch at all. But a few years ago we were doing nothing at all in South America, and now our connection is gradually growing.

I am glad to hear good news of Julie. Olga sent me half a letter, and you the other half.[3] I return it as I dare say you will like to keep it. Do so anyway, for Julie will like to read later the account of his first experiences abroad.[4]

I hope Lloyd is better.[5] I am glad Aunt has safely arrived at Warrenpoint.[6] Perhaps the change will do her good. So Andrew McC did not profit much by the lesson at Bangor.[7] He is evidently bent on killing himself, and that soon.

I have written a letter to Annie[8] and told her what I am doing here and how we live at the “Barra”, so there is not much left to write to you about.[9] Your mention having tea in the porch on an odd day when it is still warm enough to sit out. Here we stay indoors because it is too hot to sit out. I have just bought a very thin brown calico coat to wear in town and I only wear my ordinary jacket coming down to the office and going home.

English servants are perhaps not always all that might be desired but I wonder how you would like Brazilian domestics. They are of course all negroes. They wear no stockings – only wooden clogs, and cleanliness is not their most striking characteristic. Hoyers have three servants.[10] The cook comes in the morning and leaves after dinner. There is a toothless old nurse to look after the children, and there is Fortunata. Fortunata is about the blackest blackie I ever saw. As a rule these darkies have a sort of shiny appearance, as if they oiled themselves, but Fortunata is of a dull lustreless black and when she opens her head to smile the effect by contrast of her ivory teeth is positively dazzling.

The other day when Mrs Hoyer was out two lady visitors called. “And what did you say to them Fortunata?” asked Mrs Hoyer. – “I said you were out and told them to come back to-morrow,” ! she replied with a smile of satisfaction which implied “Oh you don’t need to tell me. – I know what’s the proper thing to do.”

Mrs Hoyer has a comfortable arm chair in her room, in which the other day after dinner she found Fortunata fast asleep her head comfortably propped up on the best cushion.

Not to be behind one or two other men I have a mind not to go to Rio from here now but to go north to Pernambuco and on up the coast. I have not quite decided but anyway please address letters to Pernambuco c/o Mr Theo Just.[11] (no further address is needed). If I am not there he will forward the letters and there will be no time lost.

On Saturday I was at a tea-fight and musical evening chez Mrs Hill, a lady who came out on the same steamer with me last year. The principal performer was a Mrs Mackay, a rather gook looking young married woman, inclined to be modern but not very good form. She delights in shocking the properer section of Bahia society by singing the latest burlesque and music-hall songs, – and she sings them well for she has a really good voice. But Miss Jones, Mrs Hoyer’s maiden-aunt, a prim elderly lady of the old school and a great friend of mine, does not approve of Mrs Mackay at all.

It is very funny when I happen to meet Miss Jones going to or coming from the sea-bath – I in pyjamas, she trying to hide her Bloomer-costume under a large bath-sheet, with a deprecating smile and her eyes modestly fixed on the ground.

Miss Jones has kindly procured me an invitation to a dance tonight to which the Hoyers are also going. I think it will be very nice.  That will be something for my next letter.

Best love,



  1. The fifth cholera pandemic lasted from 1881 to 1886. It spread throughout Asia and Africa, and reached parts of France, Germany, Russia, and South America. The Pater (Julius) may well have been on a business trip in Russia – where the pandemic claimed 200,000 lives between 1893 and 1894.
  2. Ernest Leppin (b~1861 ?in Germany), commercial agent. Ex-employee of Moore and Weinberg in Belfast. He appeared often in earlier correspondence from Brazil. See Index to People.
  3. Olga Loewenthal, JMcC's sister.
  4. Julius Loewenthal Jr, JMcC’s brother – on first business trip in Spain. Tragically died on his trip to Brazil in 1896. See Index to People.
  5. Probably a servant in the family household. She appeared in a letter regarding the 1892 Christmas at Lennoxvale.
  6. Warrenpoint is a small port town and civil parish in County Down, Northern Ireland. It sits at the head of Carlingford Lough, south of Newry. “Aunt” is likely to be Jane’s aunt Martha McCaldin (b 1808), unmarried, who died in Newry on 23rd December 1897.
  7. Could be the Rev Andrew McCaldin who died on 29 Nov 1894 (see Index to People), or possibly  Jane’s first cousin (son of her uncle James McCaldin, brother of her mother Ann Isabella McCully née McCaldin) Andrew McCaldin (b 1852). Bangor is a town in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is a seaside resort on the southern side of Belfast Lough.
  8. Anne Isabella Loewenthal, JMcC's sister.
  9. Barra is a neighbourhood located in the south zone of the city of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.
  10. Georg Hoyer and his family. See Index to People.
  11. Theo Just was a Commercial agent in Pernambuco.


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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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