18900618 See an image of the original letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/jxm6-jm41


No 12      Buenos Ayres       1890


18th June

My dear Mother,

I think I may claim to be a fairly diligent correspondent, having sent you eleven letters in two months.

My last went on the 15th, but by a slow steamer, whereas I mean to send this by a quick boat on the 20th, & it will probably reach you as soon as the first.

I have just come (11 p.m.) from an auction of pictures. The works offered formed a very mixed collection, the only well-known painting being Falero’s “L’Etoile Double”, which was awarded a prize in the Paris Salon of ’86. It was knocked down for £180, a fair price considering the times.[1] A fellow who was with me, Ferguson by name, by my advice bought a landscape in oils for £8 & a little water-colour sketch for 30/-, & as far as I can judge, he got them exceedingly cheap; they are worth three times the money.

He is very proud of his purchase & he will derive at least £10 worth of pleasure from having these pictures in his room during the three years he intends remaining here, even if he should ultimately not be able to sell them at a profit. They are both really pretty. The oil-painting represents the evening sun shining from behind a bank of low clouds & lighting up a stretch of calm sea winding into a level beach of yellow sand. The water-colour is a sloping bank with golden corn & a few overhanging trees whose early Autumn tints are reflected in a pool of transparent water; – a “truly rural” subject like the “meadow with cows & sheep & a river” that Uncle Addie proposed to buy for the silver wedding.[2]

There were some fearful daubs sold. In one the most conspicuous object was a mill-chimney! Another represented the back-view of a serenading cavalier. Someone present suggested to turn the picture round so that we might see the man’s face.

Last night I dined at the house of a Mr Agrelo, one of Dundee’s customers, a Portuguese by birth but an Argentine through having lived 25 years in this Republic.

His house is furnished with gilt-backed chairs, many mirrors, & coloured plaster busts of Portuguese worthies. His wife is a pleasant, good looking, easy going, native lady, with a healthy appetite, – very fond of her two children, a spoilt youngster of eight & a lively little girl of five.

The dinner must have consisted of at least a dozen courses, & as I was the only guest & the feast had been prepared in my honour, I had to eat of all, so that at the end I was considerably “crowded”.

As a special treat, & as the crowning glory of the dinner, there was the “plato ingles” (English dish) of fried ham & eggs!

I could scarcely suppress a smile when I saw this appear, but at the same time I was pleased at the proof of their thoughtful kindness in wishing to give me what they considered a genuine English dinner dish, in case the others should not be to my taste. I am quite sure they consulted beforehand what kind of viands “un ingles” would be likely to appreciate, & that “fried ham & eggs” came to them as an entirely happy inspiration, as also the subsequent (native) tea & milk.


19th June Roesli has been in bed for the last few days with influenza or something of that sort; he is better now, but his absence from the office will delay my leaving for a day or two. Nevertheless I may be off now any day.

You will be relieved to learn that my health (notwithstanding Mr Agrelo’s dozen courses) continues excellent, & my spirits, as usual, buoyant, my only ailment being a strong disinclination to get out of bed these cold mornings.

I have little to write about except myself & my doings, & six pages are enough for to-day of even this interesting subject, so I shall say good night & seek the grateful warmth of my blankets & travelling rug. At this hour (midnight – 3 p.m. with you) Lennoxvale is wrapped in slumber – all silent save, perhaps, for a few rhymical snores. Buenas noches.

Best love to all


  1. Falero "L'etoile double" painted by Luis Ricardo Falero in 1881. Not to everyone's liking. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luis_Ricardo_Falero
  2. Uncle Addie (Julius’ brother Adolf – later to be known as Ferdinand Adolph) - and whose silver wedding? Possibly Jane and Julius’ (25th wedding anniversary would have been in 1886)


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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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