18900615 See an image of the original letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/nhtf-7p94


Buenos Ayres 1890

15th June.


My dear Mother,

My last letter went by “Britannia”, a week ago.

Y’day., after a somewhat long interval, we had a mail from England, bringing your welcome letters of 8th & 12th May, also one dated 27th Apl. from Annie[1].

Em. seems to have exhausted herself baking so many delightful cakes & tarts, & puddings, during the visit of the Weinbergs. I depend upon you all, but I particularly rely on Jim, to persuade her not to tax her strength by making any more goodies for the present, but to reserve all her energies till I come home.[2]

I was very glad to get Harry Fuhr’s long & interesting letter & to hear he is doing so well.[3]

He has a first-rate chance. The place he is working at is some 200 miles, I think, South of Buenos Ayres & altogether out of my way so I shall not see him, but I intend writing him a line this afternoon.

What you write about Miss Higginbotham is very sad, but perhaps it may turn out not to be really the case.[4]

I finished y’day a long letter to Addie[5], but I don’t know anything about the mails to New York & he may not have it for a month or six weeks. The letter may have to go via England.

You will have heard from Dundee that I sent them a telegram last week informing them that I intended leaving for Montevideo in a week. I mean to push on quickly now.

Y’day. evg. I went with a young fellow called Ferguson, a fellow passenger by the “Coleridge” & now employed as engineer on the drainage works, to his lodgings; he has a room in a comfortable house owned by a Scotch family. We were asked by the Paterfamilias to join the family circle in the drawing-room which we gladly did, the circle consisting of the Father, Mother, three grown-up daughters & a number of small fry; – there were also three or four friends. The piano was put into the corner, the room cleared & we had a lively little dance. Towards the end of the evg. I found out that one of the young ladies present, a Miss Petulla, was a Dundee girl, & of course knew a lot of Dundee people. She was with her sister-in-law Mrs Petulla, & has come out to the Plate for a two months’ holiday. I think I shall call at their house & cultivate their acquaintance a little, as they seem very pleasant people. Only as I purpose leaving in a week, I shall not see much of them here, but I may possibly meet Miss Petulla again in Dundee.[6]

15th June, afternoon. Have just received a further batch of letters, among which yours of 19th May, & one from Em., cheeky as usual.

Geo.Y. says he was appealed to by Uncle Addie & Father to say which was the better-looking, & found the position awkward.[7] It was a young man called Paris was it not?  who was once upon a time called upon to decide a similar question for three professional beauties.


Sketch showing the judgement of Paris
Sketch of the Judgement of Paris by JMcC

I offer a valuable suggestion for the next tableaux in the Ulster Hall, Geo.Y. & say, the three Miss (Whitey) Browns, as Paris, Venus, Minerva, & Juno (were these the claimants?) respectively, all in the orthodox costume of heathen gods & goddesses. Sketch herewith. The drapery is not quite right, but that is a detail. And if it wasn’t Venus, Juno, & Minerva, why it must have been other three attractive but vain young women.

I hope your fears of being turned out of the house are unfounded. When I have realized part of the half million sterling coming to me from a silver & lead mine, of which I am part-proprietor, I may make Musgrave an offer for the house myself[8]: – please ask him to wait! My mine is in the Cordillera, & my share cost me £20.

How is it you are not keeping the tennis-court in order? Are the youngsters becoming too lazy to play? And the exercise of lawn-mowing in the afternoons is first-rate for you!

I have nothing of special interest to tell you this week. The alarm caused by the change of ministry has subsided; they have borrowed more money in London, five millions meanwhile, which ought to help them to pay their way for a little while, but unless they radically mend their ways, turn honest & economize, they will only sink deeper into the mire.

Last week their paper currency depreciated, & recoiled again, 15%, these fluctuations make legitimate business impossible.

The 19th century Italian operatic tenor Franceso Tamagno. A photograph by Guilio Rossi.
The 19th-century Italian operatic tenor Francesco Tamagno (1850-1905). A photograph by Guilio Rossi.

One evg. I went to the Opera, with (comparative) economy taking a ticket for the 4th balcony, or “gods”. The Opera was “The Huguenottes” & the principal singers Tamagno, Gabbi, Dalty, Stahl, & Kaschmann. Tamagno’s tremendous voice over powered all others, but the whole performance was magnificent.[9]

The last mail brought me also a letter from G.Y.K. I am glad to hear he is busy. He has a large sum to pay me for commission on those West Indian collar orders.

There is no immediate prospect of an unoccupied wet Sunday so tell him not to expect a letter from me for some time & meanwhile give him my fondest love.

By the way this Sunday is particularly wet & uncomfortable (but not unoccupied) – unfortunately there is no fireplace in my room or I should treat myself to a snug fire, as Messrs Moore  & Weinberg’s minister plenipotentiary is expected to take care of himself, & will not disappoint expectations formed of him.

Such an entertainment would be, as our German friend said y’day at dinner “very instructious”, & at the same time delightful.

But just now I must think of something else than “instructious” tableaus; & by the way of entertainment I have half a dozen letters from Dundee to digest.

So bye-bye.

Best love



  1. His sister Anne Isabella who is 23.
  2. Em (his sister Emma)  is 21 ½.  Jim (brother James Moore) is 15 ½.
  3. Harry Fuhr again (see Index of People) – a registered Associate Members of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1900 when he was living in the “Cape Colony” in South Africa – he was elected Member in 1893.
  4. Miss Higginbotham, identity uncertain. There was a Miss Mary Louisa Higinbotham who died in Belfast in 1892 age 30, at 46 Wellington Park (7 mins walk from Lennoxvale). Her father Granby was a Bank Director.
  5. His brother Ferdinand Adolphus who was a "commission agent" in New York at the time
  6. Miss “Petulla”. See Index to People. There were no Petullas in Dundee – but plenty of Patullos. A single lady (Scotchwoman) Catherine Patullo, aged 32, sailed back to Southampton from Buenos Aires arriving 5th August 1890. I suspect it is she.
  7. Geo. Y. – Presumably George Young Kinnaird. JMcC usually refers to him as G.Y.K.  Uncle Addie is the never really mentioned brother of Julius – registered as “Adolf Löwenthal” at birth in Ludwigslust in 1833 – and later known as "the merchant Ferdinand Adolph Loewenthal  – residing at 205 Adelaide Road," after marrying Caroline Goldschmidt (of Brunswick), with whose relatives he was in business – and one of whom lived at  209 Adelaide Road. See Index to People.
  8. Presumably Henry Musgrave (b 1827, d 2 January 1922), DL, a Northern Irish businessman and philanthropist. He is perhaps best remembered for Musgrave Park in Belfast which he donated to the city. His portrait hangs in the Examination Hall of Queen's University Belfast. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Musgrave
  9. Les Huguenots is a French opera by Giacomo Meyerbeer and is one of the most popular and spectacular examples of grand opera. In five acts, to a libretto by Eugène Scribe and Émile Deschamps, it premiered in Paris in 1836. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Huguenots. Francesco Tamagno was an Italian operatic tenor - the first to sing Othello in Verdi's opera of the same name (a 1905 recorded clip is available: https://archive.org/details/niunmitema1903). Giuseppe Kaschmann was a noted Austrian baritone (born in Croatia), Zina Dalty was a soprano from Madrid, and Amalie Stahl was an Austrian alto. These were top stars of the day.


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