1890416 See an image of the original letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/trd1-fv05


No 3 Buenos Ayres.


16th April 1890


My dear Mother,

I sent you a letter y’day. by the Royal Mail, & another last week from Montevideo. In order that you may know whether you get all my letters, perhaps the best way will be for me to number them, which will save my referring – like a systematic man of business – to the dates of the various letters already on the way; so I will call this one No3.

I had an invitation to join a party y’day. to visit the Port of La Plata, a harbour, about 30 miles from Buenos Ayres, where important works have recently been completed. The invitation was given me by Mr Ogilvie, who came out by the “Coleridge”.[1] He is acting on behalf of some Company in London owning one of the Railways here; his father was a large railway contractor & had, I rather think, something to do with the Forth Bridge.

Very unfortunately some Dundee business, that could not be postponed, prevented my accepting the invitation. There were about twenty people, – among them the managers of the Great Southern & Ensenada Railways & other Railway bosses, some local capitalists, a few of the nicest of the Coleridge passengers &, not least, Mr Uriburro, the new finance minister (Chancellor of the Exchequer), – altogether people whom it would have been very pleasant & useful from me to meet.[2] They went by special train abt 10 o’clock to the Puerto, had a champagne breakfast, were conducted round the harbour works in a steam launch, & were brought back again by special train in the afternoon, having spent, I understand, a most enjoyable day.

An oil portrait of Francisco Uriburu, the Brazilian politician, by the Spanish artist Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida
An oil portrait of Francisco Uriburu, the Brazilian politician, by the Spanish artist Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923).

At the breakfast Mr Uriburro announced, for the first time, his appointment to the Treasury, & several gentlemen present, knowing what a favourable impression the news would produce on the money market, at once tried buying local stocks, some of which advanced 35% since yesterday.


22nd April 1890

Very glad to have news from you. Your letter of 24th came y’day. with enclosure from Mrs Gotto for which I am much obliged. When I can find time I shall send a few words of thanks to Mrs Gotto.[3]

I am very sorry indeed to hear you were so unwell on your birthday. I hope you will feel much stronger & better now that Spring is almost over. (Here it is Autumn).

When you have Harry Fuhr’s address I hope you will send it to me.[4] I might perhaps see him here or at Rosario.

I have been awfully busy since my arrival, but I have not time to tell you of my doings – that must wait till next mail.

By this one I send a ten page letter to Dundee, & a few lines to M & W Belfast.

Mr Hirschberg is here, but leaves next week for England.[5] He has been collecting money from his customers & says he has been fairly successful. Still he must have had some losses.

I hope you will keep me well supplied with home news.

Best love all round




  1. Probably Campbell Patrick Ogilvie son of Alexander Ogilvie: "Contractors Peto and Betts got their first railway concession in 1862 and Brassey, with partners Wythes, Wheelwright and Alexander Ogilvie, followed in 1864, just after the completion of the Grand Trunk Railway in Canada. Patrick Ogilvie was one GTR agent who moved to Argentina. With its nineteenth-century history one sees how the British engineers in Argentina were to be more numerous there than in most of dominions in 1890. This was in part a reflection of the dominance of British trade in the area” https://www.arct.cam.ac.uk/Downloads/ichs/vol-1-675-694-chrimes.pdf. Alexander 1812-1886: Civil engineer and contractor. https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Alexander_Ogilvie. Son: Campbell Patrick b ~ 1856 Civil Engineer.
  2. Actually Francisco Uriburu, Finance Minister 18th April 1890, resigned 7th June 1890.
  3. Margaret Gotto b 1853, wife of Arthur Charles Gotto, lived on the Malone Road, Belfast. Arthur Charles Gotto was the brother of Percy Murly Gotto (See Index to People), who was a Civil engineer in Rio de Janeiro.  JMcC frequently visited the Murly Gottos in Rio de Janeiro.  I imagine he must have had an introduction to them from Margaret Gotto. Their father Edward Gotto had founded the Rio de Janeiro City Improvements Company in 1862.  From the obituary: https://www.icevirtuallibrary.com/doi/pdf/10.1680/imotp.1897.19422.
  4. See Index to People: Harry Agustus Robert Fuhr (b 17 May 1868 Belfast, d 1942 King William’s Town, Cape Colony, South Africa). Father: Ernest Agustus Fuhr, Mother: Dorothea Hannay (1836-1894). In “List of Associate Members of The Institution of Civil Engineers” in 1900: https://www.forgottenbooks.com/en/download/CharterSupplementalChartersbyLawsandListofMembersoftheInstitutionofCivilEngineer_10672245.pdf
  5. Edward Hirschberg (See Index to People): a German merchant naturalized in Dundee in 1887. Eduard Hirschberg (Itzig Eduard Hirschberg – born Lauenburg, Pomerania – was Germany now Poland –(Lebork) 30th December 1851 - died Lancashire 1914. Married Selma Hedwig Zander (1861-1946) born in Belgard, Pomerania (now Poland) 15 km north of Lauenburg. Children: Alfred Ewald died age 3 months, Erika Josephine 1887-1940, Frederick Rudolf 1890 -1963


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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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