18931011 See an image of this letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/j2d2-4746


Buenos Aires                   11th October         1893


My dear Mother,

I sent you a letter Oct. 5th by Italian steamer “Orione”. Since my arrival I have recvd. three letters from you Aug 28th, Sept. 4th & 11th, – the last came this morning.

Your mention of Somerville reminds me that I looked up his cousin here, Mr Warden, who seems a decent sort of fellow. About a week ago he became a happy father; – a daughter & mother doing well.[1] As soon as things resume their normal course at his house I am to visit him. His wife is American & said to be very pretty. They live at Adrogué[2] & are friends of the Goulds with whom Julian & I dined last night. Mr & Mrs Gould & family are very well & they have not suffered through the Revolution, though for a week they were cut off from communication with Buenos Aires. They gave us a hearty welcome & we spent a pleasant evg. with music & so on. Mrs Gould’s cousin, Miss MacKern, from Limerick, is staying with them, a jolly Irish girl whom one might describe as “plump”.[3]

So the wonderful summer weather still continues with you. Here it is fine but cold. The morning shower-bath is not yet a complete delight, & an overcoat is needful in the evenings & occasionally during the day.

Very glad to hear of the Pater’s safe arrival at St. P. & of orders taken in Berlin.[4] I hope business is better with him than it is here. It is depressing to visit firm after firm & hear them all lamenting the bad trade. My hope is that now tranquillity is restored business may take a speedy turn for the better as it has done before.

Lucky Mr John Ward with his copy books.[5] That is our neighbour, is it not.      More heiresses! Julie & Jim really must take advantage of the golden opportunities that Addie & I have lost.[6]

You are all right in pit at Carl Rosa if you can get in without crush.[7] Quite right about saving money. I am going to be economical. As a matter of fact my board & lodging here cost me very little, – about half of what Julian pays.[8] I have a very nice room, with balcony to the street & view of the river, in a clean & respectable lodging house where several fellows whom I know live: 70 paper dollars per month including coffee in the morning – about £ 4. Then I have “pension”, lunch & dinner, at an English Restaurant, clean, good service, & excellent table, for 60 dollars, – in all, board & lodging under £ 8 a month. Of course there are a good many extra expenses, but I never lived here so cheaply & so well before. “The Brunswick” Restaurant is patronized by almost the whole English Colony. All the Bank Clerks go there & it is really, with the exception of the two “swagger” Restaurants, “Paris” & “Mercer”, the best place in town. Lunching & dining there without “pension” costs quite three times as much. If often take a friend there to dine & pay $ 3.50 for him, for the same dinner that costs me $ 1.

I suppose the deafness you complain of is the result of that wetting. You should be more careful. I hope it is all right again now. Julian still suffers from head-aches but is otherwise all right. He lives at Belgrano[9] – 20 minutes by rail from town, then 10 minutes walk, with people called Getty. Getty’s father was, he told me, mayor & later member for Belfast,[10] & he, the son, is a cousin of the Crossleys.[11] He married a widow with two or three daughters, Foster by name. He is a clerk in the British Bank, with not too large a salary, & Weinberg & another lodger help to pay the household expenses, without which I fancy Getty would have some difficulty in making ends meet. I have not been to the house, but I have spoken to him here in town. He seems a very good-natured fellow, & they certainly looked after Julian well when he was ill.

The Revolution is over now in the Argentine though the state of siege is still in force, by which military supersedes civil law. Part of the National Guard will remain under arms for some time.[12] In Brazil the state of things is still worse than before. During the bombardment a clerk of the London & Brazilian Bank was killed, – a young fellow who had only been in the country a few months. It was his own fault for being in town when all foreigners had been advised to leave.

“Trent” leaves to-day, but I send this by French S.S. “La Plata”, which is probably quicker.

Best love


  1. The Warden's baby girl is probably Eleanor Margaret (b October 1893).
  2. Adrogué is a city in Greater Buenos Aires, Argentina, located 23 km south of Buenos Aires.
  3. Elileen MacKern b 1871 (so aged 22 at the time of this letter) sailed from Newport in Wales to Buenos Aires in March 1893 on the Australian and New Zealand Line of Packets ship the “Hawkhurst”. In the 1901 Census she was a nurse (single) at the London Hospital in Whitechapel. The MacKerns were (and remain) an important Argentine family. William MacKern with his brother Hector had arrived in the River Plate on 17th November 1843 on the "Talintyre" after a voyage of 77 days. They were among the earliest Irish settlers in Argentina, moving from Limerick where their family had a printing business. Their older brother, George MacKern arrived in 1847 and in 1860 opened a separate business in Montevideo, though returned to Buenos Aires two years later to be made a partner in Mackern Bros. The MacKern brothers' stationery and printing shop, LIBRERIAS MACKERN HERMANOS, was originally located at San Martín 20 in the centre of Buenos Aires (today the site of a cathedral). The company expanded over the years, opening new branches in Buenos Aires and Rosario, but became over-extended and went bankrupt in 1886. The branches in Constitución and Mar del Plata stations, and Rosario survived the bankruptcy but in 1892 Robert MacKern closed Rosario and the other two branches passed into the name of Charles MacKern, son of John (grandfather George de Limerick's first son). http://garycolquhoun.com.au/judaft/genealogy/bridger_daft/aqwn370.htm. LIBRERIA MACKERN continued as an English-language bookseller well into the 20th century and was a favoured haunt of Argentinian intellectuals like Jorges Luis Borges: https://norabenedict.github.io/borges/about.html
  4. I presume St Petersburg – did he travel there by train?
  5. Probably John Ward, Bookbinder (b ?1856) who lived 15 mins walk from Lennoxvale (Ulsterville Gardens) in 1911 and in Napier Street in 1901 (18 mins walk).
  6. More heiresses (not just the Blacks) in Lennoxvale? Or more Black girls?
  7. The Royal Carl Rosa Opera Company performed at the Theatre Royal in Belfast 11th–16th September 1893 One can leaf through the programme and read the admission prices here: http://www.digitaltheatrearchive.com/archives/2330 . Performances among others: Carmen (11th September), Rustic Chivalry (12th September Matinee),  Orpheus and Eurydice (12th September evening), Pagliacci (13th September), Postillion of Lonjumeau (14th September), The Daughter of the Regiment (15th September Matinee), Othello (15th September). Prices of admission: Dress Circle 7/6; Orchestra Stalls 5/-; Upper Circle 3/-; Pit 2/- (very thrifty of Jane!); Gallery 1/-
  8. Julian Weinberg (see Index to People).
  9. Belgrano is a northern and leafy barrio or neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  10. Samuel Gibson Getty (b 30th November 1817 Belfast, d 15th Dec 1877 Kensington) was Mayor of Belfast 1856–1859. He was married to Emily Crossley (b 23rd December 1830 Ireland, d 1884 Kensington) and had 3 sons: William (b 1853), Arthur Radcliffe (b 1861), and Walter Baron (b 1862) . . . none of whom I can trace to Argentina.
  11. His mother was née Crossley, daughter of William Crossley (b 1797 Londonderry) who had three brothers and three sons. The Crossleys were a well known Belfast family.
  12. Argentine Revolution of 1893. 28th July–25th August and 7th September–1st October 1893. Locations: Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, San Luis, Tucumán and Corrientes, Argentina. Action: Attempt to depose the fraudulent government of the National Autonomist Party and to call national elections. Result: Revolution crushed by the government after revolutionaries temporarily took power of the provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, San Luis, Tucumán and Corrientes and Alem was proclaimed president in Rosario.


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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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