18920924 See an image of this letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/990z-mw45



Casilla 226,       Buenos Aires.


24th Sept. 1892


My dear Mother,

I have your two welcome letters of 15th & 23rd Aug. with interesting accounts of Lady Dixon’s garden-party,[1] Mrs Carr’s reception at Crawfordsburn,[2] & other entertainments, of your presents of grouse, & so on. I suppose the girls have too many occupations & amusements on hands to write to me, for during the six weeks since my arrival I have not been favoured with a letter from any of them.[3]

Julian came back from the camp two days ago, sunburnt & looking well, & with a healthy appetite.[4] He has been riding all day, helping to skin cattle, cure sheep of scab, & doing all kinds of regular “gaucho” work. He always maintains ranche life wd suit him better than business.[5] By the way he showed me one of his letters from his mother, which began by stating that you had said to Mr Weinberg that Julian had no underflannels & that I had to buy them for him. I don’t know what followed. But you must be very careful what you repeat. Things are so easily taken up wrong & I see every day mischief made by harmless remarks being repeated & misunderstood, so that I feel less inclined than ever to change my natural habit of eloquent silence, about which I am sometimes chaffed in Dundee.

On Monday night Ferguson was invited to a dance, & without consulting me he kindly asked his friends for permission to take me. I gladly availed myself of the invitation & spent a very pleasant evg., or rather night, for it was 4 o’c. in the morning when we returned to our digs. The dance was at Mr Seeber’s,[6] ex Lord Mayor of Buenos Aires, & there were about fifty people there, of the “best families” (as those who are invited say) of Buenos Aires, among them Mrs Meyer, sister of President Pellegrini, three sons, & a pretty niece, intimate friends of Ferguson.[7] At these native receptions people do not dance very much; most of the time is spent in lively conversation while walking round the room in couples. I was taken aback for a moment by the frankness of one sprightly young lady with whom I was promenading round the room in this fashion. She had informed that she was an “Oriental” (Uruguayan) & that her father had an estancia at Paysandú. I said it was only recently I had learned where that place was, though the name had long been familiar to me through the Paysandú tongues that were famous all over Europe. “Oh yes” she said with evident pride “those are ours!”[8] Young girls here do not wear low cut dresses – much to the credit of themselves & their mothers & of the prevailing modest good taste – but they have adopted the short trains.

There was a refreshment buffet open from about 11 o’clock on, with sandwiches & sweets, & a varied & copious supply of wines to which some of the young men did full justice. I am sorry to say that the interior decorations of various native houses I have seen here, belonging to the families in good position, are simply lamentable – the walls are hung with gaudy chromos & cheap German wooden carvings, & the other ornaments are in keeping. One rarely sees a passable oil or water-colour, or a decent engraving.

A week ago I was at a very pleasant dinner-party at the Goulds’ – Mr Gould is traffic superintendent of the Great Southern Railway.[9] The guests were all English. I took in a Miss Barfield – a round-faced rather pretty young lady, who smiled frequently, doubtless oblivious of the fact that she had very nice teeth & that people saw them when she smiled. The pleasantest acquaintance I made there was Canon Pinchard, a young Church of England clergyman, to whom I “cottoned”, – principally over the head of the “Barrack-Room Ballads”.[10] He goes to Rio to meet his wife who is on her way out from England, & hopes I will gout to dine with them at Banfield on his return, if I am still here.[11] I dined once at the Hirschbergs, once with Mr & Mrs Enthoven, once with MacCallums, refused an invite to Mortlocks, paid my visit chez Martinez, & I think that is all; – no, I dined at young Sērēs’ home one night & played that old exciting game of racing tin horses round a course marked with numbered lines on canvas, the steeds’ progress or misfortune being decided by throwing dice.

I hope Jim is flourishing.[12] I have two letters from Julie to answer.[13] Glad to hear the old lady is hearty.[14] Any applicants for the house yet? How does Miss Buckly look? Has she changed since we were in Scotland? I have not heard anything of her brother, but before I go to Rosario I shall make enquiries. I am sorry to miss the Edenderry grapes & tomatoes.


27th Sept.      Last night we went to a performance of “Caste”, given by the “Amateur Dramatic Society”. The theatre was quite full, – not a vacant seat or box; – the whole English colony was there, & in grande toilette, so it looked rather well. The acting was very creditable & there were no obvious hitches. I don’t care much for the piece. We knew lots of people all round us, & everybody seemed to know everybody else; – so much so that the continuous exchange of bows & smiles, & of visits to the boxes, made the entertainment seem like a kind of private social reception rather than a public performance. There seems to be a considerable amount of dramatic talent & ambition among the English residents here. The Society is flourishing, & the immediate object of this performance was to increase the funds they have in hands for building a hall or theatre of their own for social meetings & entertainments.


28th Sept.     Last night there was a very nice dance given by people called Drabble. Julian went, but I was rather wild at having to refuse, because I had booked myself a week before, to go & play cards with old Darmstädter, & I could not get out of it without giving offence. I have not quite got over the disappointment yet, though D. hospitably entertained us with excellent Rhine wine, sandwiches, salad, & cigars, & we spent a very pleasant evg.

You have abt. enough now for this mail. I must soon think of putting an end to my stay here & moving northward.

Love to all,


  1. Annie Dixon, née Shaw, was the wife of Sir Daniel Dixon, 1st Baronet, PC (Ire), DL (b 28 March 1844, d 10 March 1907). He was an Irish businessman and politician, educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. He served as Mayor of Belfast in 1892 and as Lord Mayor of Belfast in three terms; 1893, 1901 to 1903, and 1905 to 1906. He was also a Member of Parliament for Belfast North as an Irish Unionist from 1905 to 1907: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Daniel_Dixon,_1st_Baronet
  2. Crawfordsburn is a small village in County Down, Northern Ireland. It lies between Holywood and Bangor.
  3. "the girls" are JMcC's sisters, Annie, Emma, and Olga.
  4. the camp = "el campo" = the countryside
  5. Julian Weinberg, son of Isaac Julius Weinberg of Dundee (see Index to People), the gaucho – enjoying “ranche” life much more than business – a far cry from his German Jewish merchant parentage...  Although Jewish gauchos were quite a thing in Argentina in the late 19th century – they did not usually originate from Germany – see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_gauchos
  6. Francisco Seeber (b November 15th 1841, d December 13th, 1913) was an Argentine military officer, businessman and Mayor of Buenos Aires. Son of German Argentine immigrants, he studied in Hamburg: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_Seeber
  7. Carlos Enrique José Pellegrini (b October 11th 1846, d July 17th 1906) was Vice President of Argentina and became President of Argentina from 6th August 1890 to 12th October 1892.
  8. Paysandu Ox Tongues were sold tinned in England
  9. The Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway (BAGS) (Spanish: Ferrocarril del Sud) was one of the Big Four broad gauge, 5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm), British-owned companies that built and operated railway networks in Argentina. The company was founded by Edward Lumb in 1862 and the first general manager was Edward Banfield after whom the Buenos Aires suburban station of Banfield was named, when it opened in 1873. After president Juan Perón nationalised the Argentine railway network in 1948 it became part of the state-owned company Ferrocarril General Roca. The Goulds may be Diego and Elisa b 1850 and 1854 respectively.
  10. Reverend Canon Edward Pinchard of the Anglican Church at Calle Almirante Brown is mentioned in The Standard, Buenos Ayres, on Sunday, September 18, 1892. The Barrack-Room Ballads are a series of songs and poems by Rudyard Kipling, dealing with the late-Victorian British Army and mostly written in a vernacular dialect.
  11. Banfield is a city in the district of Lomas de Zamora in Buenos Aires Province, Argentina, 14 km (9 mi) south of the city center of Buenos Aires. Banfield railway station, named after the Englishman Edward Banfield, the first general manager of the British-owned Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway (Spanish: Ferrocarril del Sud), was opened in 1873 . On August 19th, 1873, the first plots of land in the area were advertised for sale and extensive development took place from the 1880s onwards: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banfield,_Buenos_Aires
  12. JMcC's brother James Moore (see Index to People).
  13. JMcC's brother Julius.
  14. Presumably Ann Isabella McCully (nee McCaldin), Jane’s mother. She died 23rd November 1892, at Lennoxvale.


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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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