18910426 See an image of the original letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/mge6-kp55


No 11 Caracas, 26th April 1891


My dear Mother,

To-day I recvd. via New York, your welcome letter of 6th of this month, whereas your prior letters of 23rd & 30th March – counting one for each Monday – have not yet arrived, having been sent no doubt by Royal Mail via Southampton, a very slow & unsatisfactory route. I had also a letter from Addie to-day over which, he writes me, he fell asleep, as of old. He refused an invitation to a dance at Blacks’ (this is “old news” to you), but has called there, & he seems still to prefer quiet visits to giddy hops.[1]

I arrived here a week ago & I expect to remain here for at least another ten days. Caracas is a large town & like the puffed out frog in the fable, believes itself to be much larger. People here put up to no end of style; – promising youths of 16 or 17 suffer themselves to be admired on the Promenade on Sunday afternoons resplendent in tailed coats, silk hats & patent-leather shoes. As for the ladies, their costumes are more striking & costly than those displayed in the Bois, if not quite so tasteful nor correct. There is a lot of money, – far too much – , spent here in keeping up outside appearances. To have a box in the theatre & to drive a carriage on Sunday afternoons the Caraqueños pre-eminently defraud their daily cheer.

We had a great whist session last night – Lieut. Welles U.S.N.,[2] whom you know already, Mr de Paulard, Mr Tripp of Trinidad,[3] & myself; – we played no less than nine rubbers with the gratifying result that I came out top score with plus forty–four points – which result was of course owing to the scientific principles of Cavendish rightly applied, & alas perhaps, to some slight extent, to the liberal supply of trumps which fell to my share.[4]

I send these few lines by Royal Mail, but I hope to find time & energy sufficient to prepare a longer letter for the American Steamer, – my favorite route.

Best love, Jack

c/o Smith Bros & Co Trinidad[5]

  1. "Blacks" = The couple to whose wedding JMcC and Addie went to in NYC in January 1891 (James Black and American Miss Russel). The groom probably related to the Black “heiresses” next door in Lennoxvale. See Index to People.
  2. Roger Welles (b 1862, d 1932), see Index to People. US Naval Officer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Welles. In 1891 sent to Venezuela and the Guianas to explore the Orinoco River as U.S. special representative for the World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, Ill. 1925-1926: Commander, U.S. Naval Forces in Europe (retired from Navy in 1926): https://snaccooperative.org/ark:/99166/w6gt77hq
  3. (Albert) Edgar Tripp (b 1847 Kent, d 1921 Trinidad) emigrated to Trinidad in 1870 and established its “Electric Light and Power Company” in 1894. Co-author of Fauna of Trinidad.
  4. Refers to the book Cavendish on Whist, The Laws and Principles, first published in 1862. “Cavendish” was the pen name of Henry Jones (b 1831, d 1899): https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/51039. He was a surgeon and general practitioner until 1869 when he became a full-time writer on sports and games. It was the must-have book on whist for a generation: https://www.wopc.co.uk/files/personalities-and-books-of-whist.pdf
  5. Smith Bros & Co were traders of “dry goods, furnishing goods and miscellaneous articles” in Port of Spain, Trinidad. From Reports from the Consuls of the United States 1892: Trade of Trinidad.


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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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