18920904 See an image of this letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/kmd1-tx40

No 5


Headed notepaper:                                     Buenos Aires,   4th Sept………..de 189 2


My dear Mother,

My last went by “Thames”. – Five letters in three weeks. – Really I am spoiling you! The worst of it is I am almost in as sorry a plight as Julian, who sits down opposite me each mail day, dutifully to write to his Father & Mother, brothers, sisters, & friends, who have sent him letters by the last hitherward mail, & asks me every five minutes with an air of hopeless vacancy on his face: – “What shall I say?” If I had not him to write about I don’t know what I should do.

The other evening we had asked two friends to dinner. Julian always does the carving – Ferguson & I are too lazy – & we had a laugh at his expense. A roast fowl was brought in & Julian hacked away at it in several places for some time, until he discovered that it was upside down & that he had been trying to cut slices off the backbone! When a clean cloth is laid we always implore him to control his wrists & elbows & the gravy spoon, until sometimes he gets quite riled.

He goes to-morrow to Sērēs’ estancia for a week or ten days. Now that I am here to look after the business he can take a holiday, & I think it will do him good. His headaches have been rather bad of late.

Last night we went to Lomas, a small town, almost half English about three-quarters of an hour by train from Buenos Aires, to hear a concert.[1] Mrs Gould sang, very well, “Goodnight” – a beautiful song, & as an encore, “Il Baccio”. I spoke to her during the Interval, & she kindly asked me to dine with them on Thursday week – their “at home” night. After the concert there was a little farce, the most amusing part of which was the singing in well-sustained falsetto of the young fellow who was dressed as the heroine. He sang “Some Day” in clear soprano tones, making the shakes by moving his hand before his lips, & giving the last two notes of each verse in the deepest base. There were lots of topical hits & excruciating puns which caused plenty of laughter. The Miss Agars were there,[2] & the Hirschbergs,[3] with Miss Sanders, – not many others I knew. By the way you may perhaps remember my mentioning Miss Sanders’s water-drinking capacity. Beer has christened her “Nada, the Water-Lily.”  Lovely! isn’t it?    You ought to pass it on to Dundee, they would enjoy it.

I have another dinner to eat to-morrow chez Martinez. Young Mr has been three years at King’s College, London, & came out by the “Trent”. His people are, I understand, one of what the local papers call the “familias distinguidas de Buenos Aires”.

Yet another invitation has been promised me: – to join a personage of a no smaller degree than the President-elect – Dr Saenz Peña[4] – & party in an excursion to visit a new national industry, the paper-mill at Zarate, some three hours by train distant from B. Aires.[5] There will be luncheon & dinner provided, with champagne ad. lib., good cigars & so on. If the invite comes I shall certainly accept it, & then I shall have something to write about.

The welcome warmth has come since I wrote last. We can leave the windows open during dinner, & a cold shower-bath is a pleasure, not as before – undergone from a sense of duty.

I am glad to see that the latest telegrams announce that cholera is decreasing in Europe & that so far it has not invaded England. Here they have quarantined vessels from almost everywhere, & Mr Meili[6] is just now (& will before the next 8 days) kicking his heels in the Lazaretto at Flores Island.[7] The authorities have become exceedingly energetic about drainage, whitewashing, & water supply, so that the scare is productive of some good. At present the public health is excellent in this town. No typhoid, small-pox, measles, nothing! About one third of the old town, & all the new, are drained according to the most modern system of sanitary science, & in about eighteen months this system will have been extended over the whole of Buenos Ayres, making it one of the healthiest towns in the world, as far as science can help; – & very different from what it was five years ago. So I am told by Ferguson who is one of the engineers under Government in connection with the water supply. The water furnished to the city is taken from the Riv. Plate & passed through an elaborate series of filters before going into the pipes.

Political parties are again at loggerheads chiefly owing to personal ambitions, & the way is not being made smooth for the incoming President.

I have spoken.

Best love to all



For the Pater: – A small order will go by next mail from Petit y Piria through Paris.[8]


  1. Lomas is ca. 20 km south of the centre of Buenos Aires. Prior to 1910, when it was given city status, Lomas de Zamora was a residential town with a large British colony: https://www.britannica.com/place/Lomas-de-Zamora-county-seat-Argentina
  2. Probably the twins, Catherine (later married Shearer), and Clementina Agar (later married Neild) b 23rd March 1872 in Blythswood, Glasgow. Their parents were John and Anne Maria Agar (nee Forrester), both listed in the Argentina National Census of 1895. Father, John Agar, was born in Ireland ~1829. He was a Cotton Goods Commission Merchant.
  3. Edward Hirschberg (Merchant) was naturalized in Dundee in 1887. See Index to People.
  4. Luis Sáenz Peña was elected president on 10 April 1892, and was inaugurated president on 12 October.
  5. Zárate is a port city in the northeast of the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It lies on the western shore of the Paraná River, 90 km from Buenos Aires.
  6. Mr Meili: August(o) Meili. He was on the passenger list (with wife Mathilde and child Adelite b~1887) returning from Hamburg on 11th August 1892. See Index to People.
  7. The Lazaretto was the quarantine station of Montevideo, located on Isla de Flores - a small island in the Rio de la Plata, 34 km south-east of Punta Carretas, Montevideo, Uruguay: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isla_de_Flores
  8. "Petit y Piria, Calle Rivadavia, 1423, Buenos Aires - a good concern making medium wool underwear and cotton stockings. The product is of a cheap to medium quality and is sold through the firm's own store in Calla Rivadavia, as well as to the wholesale trade. Employees number about 100, with 71 stitching machines. The firm is of French nationality." From US Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, 1917.


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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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