18920815  See an image of this letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/prk4-1e38


No 2                     Casilla del Correo 226  

Trent                Headed notepaper:                           Buenos Aires,..15th August…..de 189 2


My dear Mother,

I wrote you by Pacific Mail two days ago. To-day is a holiday – lady-day is it not? – nevertheless I have been trotting round this morning & I have to see a man again at half past two. Till then I have three quarters of an hour & on the principle of “always doing something” I begin my rambling weekly for the “Trent”, & so turn the spare minutes to some account. To be honest – this ceaseless activity is not perhaps my most remarkable characteristic, – but I am fresh on the field after a four-weeks’ voyage, with a reserve fund of energy, & I must make it last for at least a day or two.

Last night we dined at Mortlocks’.[1] In a rash moment I volunteered to carve a turkey which our host was making rather a botch of. I prospected for the joint of the wing, & “fooled around” it for five minutes; – then I gave it up & helped the company to breast, of which there was luckily enough to go round. Meanwhile I joined in the conversation with a would-be-easy indifference. “The Opera, oh yes, very fine! (blow the tough old patriarch) – very pretty song indeed! (drat the flirty veteran). Yes, she gets up well, but she’s not so young as she looks (May the old gentleman fly away with this turkey) – Inaudible asides in parentheses.

As we are dining out so often now, our “patron” gives us extra good breakfasts. Today, after fish & ragout, a plump martineta (a bird between a woodcock & a pheasant) roasted on toast with bacon, “a pretty dish to set before a king”.[2] There is a Cinderella on Wed. evg. Julian is trying hard to beg, borrow, or steal a ticket for me, but I am afraid he is too late in the field.[3] The number of tickets is limited & all have been divided. I should like to go, for not a few people will be there whom I should like to meet again; besides I still enjoy an occasional hop.

This morning I had my hair cut. The artistic barber applied the curling-irons to the ends of my moustache & gave them a ferocious military {moustache – see illustration below}. I had to think of coffins & bones & other grave subjects to keep from laughing at myself & him.

Sketch by JMcC of his amusingly "military" moustache, as styled by a barber in Buenos Aires. Included in the letter from Buenos Aires of August 15th 1892.
Sketch by JMcC of his amusingly “military” moustache, as styled by a barber in Buenos Aires. Included in the letter from Buenos Aires of August 15th 1892.

In this connection it is worth chronicling that Julian had a warm bath y’day. He renewed his youth like the eagle, & is now practising the pas-de-quatre behind me.

Time’s up. “On! Stanley, on! were the last words of Higginbotham”.


16th Aug.      Last night we dined with Roesli; – the first time on record.[4] He is not given to hospitality – though perhaps it is not fair to say so the day after being his guests. But he does not like spending the bawbees. His partner, Meili, told me once that when the firm did an extra good stroke of business, he, Meili, indulged in a pint of champagne with his lunch, while Roesli treated himself to a fried egg with his steak.[5] All the same we had a fine fat turkey, – of which a neighbour had made him a present. This evg. I dined with Darmstätter, our stock-broker-boating friend of the Tigre. We did not have turkey.

The general consensus of opinion seems to be that Argentina is round the corner. The value of land is up 25% – I am told – since this time last year. I wish I had a lot of land in or near Buenos Aires just now; – nevertheless I am not going to speculate, my reserve fund not being sufficient to warrant that little excitement.

The crops promise magnificently, but they are still very young, & much may happen before they are gathered in. There has been a plentiful rainfall & the weather now is perfect. The area under cultivation is larger than ever before.

Today I met a former fellow-passenger, Mr Angus, who invited me to visit him on his estancia early next month. – No time.

I hope you are all lively

Best love



A Martineta or Tinamou, from Idle Days in Patagonia, by W. H. Hudson (1893).
Eudromia Elegans from W. H. Hudson (1893), Idle Days in Patagonia.

  1. Mortlock – unable to identify.
  2. The elegant crested tinamou or martineta (Eudromia elegans) is a medium-sized game bird that can be found in southern Chile and Argentina in shrubland: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elegant_crested_tinamou
  3. Julian Weinberg (see Index to People).
  4. Eugen Roesli, b 15th February 1857 in Zurich (see Index to People). Of “Meili & Roesli” listed as “commission merchants” in Buenos Aires in the International Bureau of the American Republics Argentina Handbook, 1894
  5. August(o) Meili, b 1853 in Zurich (see Index to People)


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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.

Share This Book