18900518 See an image of the original letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/mhpn-h916


No 7   Buenos Ayres   27th May 1890

Royal Mail “Thames”

18th May


My dear Mother,

Since posting my last letter 4 days ago I recvd. your welcome letter of 14th last month, telling me that you had just heard of the arrival at Montevideo of the “Coleridge”. Before closing this letter I hope to be able to inform you of the close of one of the principal diplomatic affairs I came here to arrange, so that I shall soon be able to say good-bye to Buenos Ayres, & shall do so with a light heart. I wish I were at home just now to take part in your picnics & to enjoy the summer.

Has G.Y. started a bicycle? You say he rode to Clandeboye on one, & I read the sentence over again to see if I had rightly understood it.[1]

Bertie Weinberg seems to have seen & done so much as he possibly could in the time …(inkblot) & I have no doubt he enjoyed himself.

I am sorry you have not sent me Harry Fuhr’s address. I should have written to him & perhaps might have seen him here or at Rosario. I am glad he has got a good berth & have no doubt he will do well.[2]

Victor Kamcke will find an under engineer’s lives on board ship cast in anything but pleasant places, but he is a fine fellow & won’t mind hard work & rough quarters.[3]

You don’t say in your last two letters what news you have from Addie.[4]

We have it very cold for the last week, but clear & bright during the day; any rain there is falls at night. The cold bath makes me tingle. I step into it the minute I get out of bed, & the first spongeful of cold water I squeeze down the back of my neck makes me gasp, I can tell you.


21st May

Last night was the “premiere” of the Opera; “Othello” with Tamagno & Maurel, Gabbi, & Mancinelli as conductor of the orchestra. I was very much tempted to go, but didn’t. £2 for a stall in the pit is too exorbitant, but it would have been a great treat.

Two days ago the principal part of the affair, to which I referred at the beginning of this letter, was closed by the signing, in solemn state before a notary, of a mortgage & other documents; – a great relief to my mind as the affair has been very troublesome all through. The rest of it has to be done in Rosario, where I expect to go this week.

A Northern Whig came the other day containing the announcement of Dora Boas’s marriage, & Mr Goschen’s speech in presenting the Budget.[5][6] When you have an opportunity please convey my congratulations to Mrs Catz & Mr Goschen.

Mr Goschen’s figures showing the enormous increase in the consumption of rum & other spirits as the immediate consequence of improved trade & higher wages are very curious. He says they impose on the Government the obligation of dealing with the matter, which I suppose means the speedy triumph of local option & other temperance measures. Everyone who cares for the real good of the country must hope so.


25th May

Your welcome letter of 21st April, also chatty letters from Emma & Olga[7], came the other day. I am very sorry to hear of Kolkenbeck’s illness, & I trust he is meanwhile better[8]. Madrid is a nasty place owing to the sudden & great changes of temperature, & it is very easy to take cold there. One has to be very careful. Inflammation of the lungs is probably more prevalent in Madrid than in any other city in Europe, on account of the cold winds from the Sierra Guadarama after the hot days, & the same cause might easily bring on an attack of rheumatic fever.

We are having very cold weather here & I long for a good fire with sparkling logs & a comfortable armchair in front of it. No open fires & no armchairs in Buenos Ayres Hotels!

Today, the 25th May, is the anniversary of the achievement of Argentine Independence in 1810 & consequently a great holiday. The whole town is gay with the national flags, two light blue stripes enclosing a white one. Last night & tonight the government buildings, clubs, etc. have been illuminated, the favorite device being an arrangement of blue & white lights, – the national colours; – the effect is very picturesque.

Today the President, ministers, Staff officers, consular corps, & other personages attended service in the Cathedral where a Te Deum was sung. The square in which the Cathedral & Government House stand, was lined with troops, & the regimental bands played the national anthem as the President & company walked from one to the other. It was a very imposing sight. I had a good view from a window over-looking the square. This “Plaza de Victoria”, as it is called, was gaily decorated with flags, & the monument in the centre, commemorating the event celebrated today, was covered with flowers.


27th May

I had letters y‘day. from Dundee dated 2nd May; they came by French mail. I hoped to have had one from you but it has probably come by another route. The French steamers of the messagerie maritimes are the most rapid mails for Buenos Ayres. Best love to all. Jack


  1. “G.Y.” refers to George Young Kinnaird (see Index to People). The Clandeboye Estate is a country estate located in Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland, 12 miles (19 km) outside Belfast. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clandeboye_Estate
  2. Harry Fuhr (see Index to People): Harry Augustus Fuhr b 17 May 1868 in Belfast, died 1942 King William’s Town, Cape Colony, South Africa. Father Ernest Augustus Fuhr, Mother Dorothea Hannay (1836-1894). He was a civil engineer – and although no record of this, he was likely involved with the railway in Argentina / Rosario. In “List of Associate Members of The Institution of Civil Engineers” in 1900. https://www.forgottenbooks.com/en/download/CharterSupplementalChartersbyLawsandListofMembersoftheInstitutionofCivilEngineer_10672245.pdf
  3. (William) Victor Rung Kamcke b ~1863. Son of a flax and linen merchant in Belfast - ended up being a missionary in Bengal, married Mabel Eliza Lloyd in Lichfield on 10th April 1902 (Marriage notice in The Belfast Newsletter 12 April 1902). She also became a missionary in Bengal. Victor's parents were William Roderick Kamcke (b 1825 in Danzig) and Helene Emilie Rung (also born in Danzig, where they were married on 28th July 1861, according to a marriage notice in The Belfast Newsletter on 3rd August 1861). William Kamcke arrived in Belfast on the 28th June 1848 as an “apprentice to a merchant” and established "Kamcke, W.R., & Co., flax, linen yarn, and linen merchants.” He died in Belfast 27th November 1896.
  4. Addie is JMcC’s brother, Ferdinand Adolf – see Index to People). In 1890 he was 25 years old and doing business in New York.
  5. Dora Boas (see Index to People). Dora Rosetta Boas was born 30th March 1865 in Antrim. Her parents were Hermann Boas and Caroline nee Spiers. She was married in Groningen on 12th February 1891 to Bernard Israel Catz (b ~1857 Groningen). His parents were Israel Catz and Jannetje née van Aalten. Hermann Boas (b ~1828 Germany) and Caroline Boas (née Caroline Spiers, b ~1840 Holland) are shown in the 1901 Census living in Windsor Park, Belfast. Dora’s brother (Hermann and Caroline’s son) was Frederick Samuel Boas (see Index to People) whose disappointing play is referred to in an earlier letter.
  6. Mr Goschen: George Joachim Goschen was British Chancellor of the Exchequer 1886-1892: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Goschen,_1st_Viscount_Goschen. Budget dated 18th April 1890.
  7. His sisters.
  8. See Index to People: Refers either to Hermann Kölkenbeck or one of his sons, Eduard or Alfred. They were merchants based in Belfast.


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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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