18910403 See an image of the original letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/18xk-vk67


No 9 Curaçao 3rd April 1891


My dear Mother,

The day after posting my last letter to you I received your three welcome weeklies of 16th & 22nd Feby. & 2nd March, with account of Dora Sinton’s visit, your amusements during same, etc.[1] I congratulate you on the acquisition of the secretaire.[2]

I have done a fair business here in Curaçao & in addition have had a good time. One of my friends, Mr van Kleunen, gave a dance in my honour & we separated at 4 o’clock in the morning.[3] It was very jolly indeed. I had lots of nice things said to me, had my health proposed, & so on. The girls here know how to dance; – no pain in the arm next day like what one has at home, after careering round with a few heavy-weights!

I was introduced to a middle-aged married lady, weight about 15 stone, but with sprightly youthful aspirations. I did not ask her to dance, not being able to go round even half of the younger ladies present. Next day her husband, a jolly fellow whom I know very well, told me the following dialogue had taken place on the way home.


– “So that’s what you call a nice young man!” –

– “Yes, one of the nicest young men I have met in the West Indies” –

– “Well, I don’t think so at all; – he never asked me to dance!”


Before going to the dance I was one of four guests (& I had the seat of honour) at a very pleasant dinner-party at Mr Fensohn’s, to celebrate his birthday.[4] The six or eight excellent courses (the invitation was for 6 o’c. & we rose from table at 9) prepared me for the subsequent exertions.

I had already spent an evening at Mr Fensohn’s delightful house, playing whist & scat, & he has arranged another whist party for tomorrow evg.

Further I have paid several visits at different houses, & have been asked to pay more, so that I can always spend the spare time agreeably enough in Curaçao. Today a Mr Bethencourt, one of the most cultured of the Venezuelans living here, made me a present of a nice book.[5]

I have already spent some 4/- in postage of letters by this mail, so you may imagine I am about written out. I should like to write to Father, Addie, & Julie, but I really can’t manage it. But I have sent a few lines with birthday wishes to Annie.[6]

I wrote part of this last night after 12, & this morning I was up shortly after 6. The mornings are so delightful – warm & fresh at the same time – that it does not require an effort to rise early. As a rule I wander about a little in pyjamas, lean out of the window that overlooks the picturesque little harbour, & watch the steamers passing in not 50 yards away, as soon as it is daylight. By the way you have no idea what a useful present I find your field glasses. I can make out every face on the steamers, & can distinguish people in their houses on the other side of the harbour.

Two captains, two first mates, & several officers of minor degree, not to mention a crowd of civilians, have already praised the glasses highly.

I breakfasted on board one of the steamers in port on Monday last, at the invitation of my old acquaintances, the Captain & the Chief engineer, & with the kind permission of Thomas, the black steward. We had excellent fare – one of the items being a large & tender steak with two fried eggs on the top, for each person.

The “Philadelphia” which brought me down from New York arrived again this morning. I intend going on board bye & bye to see Captain Chambers, & I expect he will invite me to dinner.

At the request of numerous friends & admirers – inverted commas – I am seriously thinking of getting photographed – note of exclamation – this is an appreciative public, quick to discern modest merit – small italics -. The local artist has, among his stock-in-trade a boat, with two oars, & realistic waves, not to mention a sailor hat, – quite a “cocky” hat, as Dora Sinton would say. I have seen this boat, oars, waves, & hat in half the albums of Curaçao, & I think if I were to be taken standing up in the boat, regardless of the realistic waves, leaning carelessly on an oar, & waving the cocky sailor-hat towards the shipwrecked & anguish-torn photographer, as if declaiming

“Fear not but trust in Dollinger and he will bring you through” – the result would be effective – very![7]

Two o’clock, post-time, must shut up the camara. The picture will shortly be on view at Rodman’s, admission sixpence, ladies free.

Love to all




Boggio Yanes & Monteverde[8]



via N.York

  1. Dora Sinton (see Index to people)
  2. a secretary desk,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secretary_desk
  3. Mr van Kleunen (see Index to People) was probably Jacob van Kleunen (‘merchant”), a Dutch citizen from Curaçao (b 27th November 1859, m 31st August 1881 in Curaçao to Margaretha Louisa Moors, d Curaçao 25th October 1912).
  4. Mr Fensohn could have been Emil Fensohn born in Hamburg ~1849, a merchant, or Carl Fensohn (b 20th September 1850 in Hamburg, d 1st June 1942 in Curaçao).  Carl was the German Consul in Curaçao, “acting as agent for the Red D Line and who as such was one of the leading business men on the island” (see Index to People) https://udspace.udel.edu/bitstream/handle/19716/7896/mss0109_1930-00.pdf. He was a secret German agent during WWII. He married Marianna Léonore Esteva (b 24th January 1862 in Paris) on 23rd February 1881 in Curaçao.
  5. Pascual Telesforo Bethencourt (b ~1854 Bejuma, Venezuela; m Maria Aurelia van der Wall Arneman; d 31st October 1918 Curaçao), OR his brother, Rafael Minguel Felipe Bethencourt (b 1st February 1848 Bejuma, Venezuela; m Maria Aleida Prince; d 11th February 1901 Curaçao).
  6. Her 24th birthday (b 24 April 1867)
  7. “Fear not, but lean on Dollinger, And he will fetch you through.” From "The Aged Pilot Man" by Mark Twain: https://poets.org/poem/aged-pilot-man
  8. Boggio, Yanes & Monteverde is listed as selling "dry goods, wholesale" in Valencia, Venezuela, in the International Bureau of the American Republics, 1892.


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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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