18900321 See an image of the original letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/a30n-f403


S.S. Coleridge[1]


21st March 1890


My dear Mother,

As soon as I was safely on bord at Southampton, with all my luggage, I sent you a wire to let you know that I had started.

As the rain was falling steadily, the work of getting the things onto the tender, & thence to the steamer, was very disagreeable. We sailed abt. 4 o’c. & had a smooth run down Channel, but next day the Bay of Biscay justified its reputation by giving us a stiff gale.

The waves washed the deck, & the water came through ventilators & between planks, in copious streams, into the cabins, wetting everything & putting everybody in a bad temper. For two nights I had to sleep in the saloon. The third day we sailed into calm water again & the sun came out bright & strong. All the beds & bedding, cushions, curtains, coats, rugs, were taken up & spread out on deck, or hung on lines, till the place looked like the side garden at Ashley Avenue on drying-day or during the Spring house-cleaning.[2].

Fortunately my things escaped without serious damage, though my dress-clothes, new coat, & tall hat ran no slight risk for some time, as there was not a dry place on the ship. Now all is pleasant again & we may expect fine weather & calm seas for the rest of the voyage.

My cabin is a large one & well ventilated & my companion is a decent fellow who keeps his chattels in order & does not get sick. There are some 60 passengers (saloon), a somewhat mixed lot at first sight, but I can’t say much abt. them yet.

I shall tell you more abt. the other passengers in my first letter from Buenos Ayres.

The Dr is a jolly fat little Irishman from Dublin. He gave me a sprig of shamrock which I wore on the 17th in your honour & St. Patrick’s.

Here I may take this opportunity to send my best wishes for Annie’s birthday.[3] Some time ahead, but you won’t get another letter from me till beginning of May. You may hear from Dee that they have had telegrams from me.

The steamer ought to reach Montevideo any day from the 7th till the 10th or 11th & the Company have undertaken to wire you on her arrival.

We are just abt. to anchor now at Madeira, so I must cut this very short. While the vessel was rolling & pitching it was absolutely impossible to write.

I am very well indeed, & have not been sea-sick. On Tuesday evg. I was one of four passengers, out of sixty, who turned up for dinner.

To my great joy & satisfaction the plumcake, safe in my waterproof hold-all, passed uninjured through the ordeal, & I now have two big pieces a day. It is excellent, & my cabin-companion, who gets a slice at night, praises it enthusiastically.

I have had some of the sweets & they are tip top. With this big tinful (one l or two?) I hope to make friends with some nice children on board, particularly with one baby of two years, really a nice baby, very different from ordinary babies.

I intend getting some stamps on shore & shall decorate the envelope.

This is written in a hurry, so don’t be critical.

Hope you are all A1

Best love all round.

Your affectionate son Jack

  1. SS Coleridge: built 1875 ex-Mira, Lamport and Holt Line, 1889 purchased from Rathbone Bros, Liverpool renamed Coleridge, 1890 transferred from Belgian subsidiary, 1892 reverted to British flag, 1893 scrapped. 2 610 tonnes http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/lines/lamport.shtml
  2. Ashley Avenue, Belfast: A street of terrace houses off the Lisburn Road. It seems to have developed over a number of years starting before 1880. As opposed to the large villas of Lennoxvale.
  3. His sister Anne Isabella, born 24th April 1867


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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.

Share This Book