18931005 See an image of this letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/gg18-xn85


c/o O. Letzgus, Casilla 1296[1]

B. Aires 5th Oct. 1893


My dear Mother,

A few days ago I sent you a long letter per “Magdalena”, giving some account of the recent state of affairs here. Since then the Government has rapidly gained the upper hand, & the Revolution seems to be at an end for the time being. The Radicals made their last stand at Rosario. There was a naval combat between two men of war. One nearly sank the other, & during the fight some of the shells lit in the town, – one passing through two walls & coming to rest on the top of the elevator in the office of Mr Goodwin whom I know. The Government finally retook the town & arrested the principal Radical leaders. We have had only very meagre news all the time, for the Press was under a strict censorship & many papers have been “suspended” for a term of weeks for publishing or commenting on political news. The National Guard has been practically disbanded, & the gold-premium, the real public barometer has fallen from 250 to 240.

Business is still paralized, & there have been several failures in town during the last few days.

Meanwhile I have met many old friends. I was at a little dinner-party at Goodwins, who are at present living in town. I was asked to oblige them at the last moment by filling a gap. As they had asked me to dinner only the week before when I was unable to go, & as I know them very well, I willingly accepted an invitation which from anyone else I shd have declined. It was a very pleasant evg. indeed. We were eight in all. I took in a Miss Troutbeck, a very nice lively girl, & Mrs Goodwin was on my left.[2] She made me sit at the end of the table as otherwise there would have been two ladies to-gether & two gentlemen ditto, & I did a little carving. Two of the other guests I knew already. The conversation was animated & we had lots of fun, not separating till nearly 12 o’clock. We often go to the tennis-club abt. ½ past 4 or 5 & never fail to get a game. Tea is provided there almost every day by some lady member.

My old fellow traveller & twin, Ferguson, (we were born same day & year) told me an amusing story abt. the little Irish doctor on the “Coleridge”. He went home again on that old tub, of which I have a lively recollection. On some particular occasion the doctor’s table arranged to have a special festivity at dinner. The bell rang & the other passengers took their seats & were astonished to see this particular table gaily decorated with paper flowers & napkins in gala fold but no diners. Finally, when all the rest were seated, in walked the little doctor with a lady on his arm, followed by the other “guests” two & two, all in full evening dress, the gentlemen wearing paper flowers that had been made by the ladies. They had a lively evening, champagne flowed freely, speeches were made, & the festivities were kept up till a late hour. Next morning the little doctor did not turn up at breakfast & a deputation went to his cabin to see what was the matter. They found him in his berth, a towel round his head, & in the rack his paper rose carefully placed in a glass of water!

I have read since my arrival Hudson’s “Naturalist in La Plata”, – a most delightful book.[3] You shd certainly get it from the Library. I don’t know when I read a book with so much pleasure. It is not at all heavy, – quite the opposite, full of curious & interesting accounts of the habits of birds & beasts on the Pampas. Some of the things he tells, such as the dances of birds & the huanacos going to a certain spot to die, are like a fairy-tale.[4]

I paid a hurried visit to La Plata Museum one day but there is no time to tell you abt. it now. It must wait till my next for post closes in a few minutes.

Best love,



The Dying Huanaco from W. H. Hudson's The Naturalist in La Plata (1892)
“The Dying Huanaco” from W. H. Hudson’s The Naturalist in La Plata (1892).




  1. Ottmar Letzgus (b 1861 Germany), Merchant, resident in Buenos Aires.
  2. Possibly Victoria Troutbeck (b 27th March 1874 Buenos Aires, d 11th December 1937 Sussex). She would have been 19. She married Robert Lawrence Scott-Moncrieff in Buenos Aires on 1st June 1897. Daughter of John Brown Troutbeck from Lancashire and Mary Ann Linay, married in Buenos Aires in 1856. Victoria had several sisters, so it could also have been one of them, but I would have thought all too old  except for Charlotte Anne Manuela - who would have been 21. The sisters were: Annette (b 1857), Agnes (b 1858), Mary Jane (b 1860, d 1863 aged 3), Margaret Watson (b 1862), and Charlotte Anne Manuela (b 1872).
  3. William Henry Hudson, The Naturalist in La Plata, with illustrations by J. Smit. Published London: Chapman and Hall, 1892. The first edition appeared in February 1892 in an edition of 1,000 copies, the second edition in June 1892 in an edition of 750 copies. Text available online: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/7446
  4. The guanaco (Lama guanicoe) is a camelid native to South America, closely related to the llama. Its name comes from the Quechua word huanaco (modern spelling wanaku).


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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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