18900630 See an image of the original letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/3tr6-5t93


12                  Montevideo      30th June  1890


My dear Mother,

At last I am able to head my letters from some other place than Buenos Ayres, which fact is sufficient to bring about a devoutly thankful frame of mind.

I left y’day. afternoon about five o’clock, being accompanied to the steamer by Malcolm, Douglas, & Fergusson, three fellows whose names I have mentioned in previous letters, who came to bid me an affecting farewell. As the ropes were being hauled in we exchanged parting volleys of chaff between the wharf & the deck, causing considerable amusement to a sandy haired English workman close by, & then they enviously watched as the steamer carried me away from Buenos Ayres.

The river boats that ply between Buenos Ayres & Montevideo belong to an English Company.[1] They are large, comfortable, & tastefully fitted, not unlike those Clyde steamers on which we had such a jolly time about a year ago.[2]

I arrived at Montevideo at day light next morning & now I have a comfortable room in the Hotel des Pyramides, looking out on a fine Square.[3] From the flat roof of the Hotel, one of the highest points in the town, there is a magnificent view of the harbour & the outer river.


A turn of the century color picture of the Pyramides Hotel with a horse-drawn carriage waiting outside.
A turn of the century colour picture of the Pyramides Hotel with a horse-drawn carriage waiting outside.

It is a relief to be away from the vile smells of Buenos Ayres; – the air here seems fresher & more invigorating.

The town is much more picturesque, rather hilly than otherwise, whereas Buenos Ayres is a stretch of dead flatness, & the latter place is cut up by its narrow regular streets into monotonous blocks, while Montevideo is pleasantly varied.


3rd July. I shall likely, barring unforeseen accidents, take a steamer for Brazil in about a week, & then I shall be fairly on my way home.

The weather here for the last few days has been delightfully warm & bright, enabling me to shake off a cold I had brought with me from Buenos Ayres.

Business in Montevideo is at a standstill – as complex as that of Buenos Ayres. The two towns are so closely connected commercially, many firms having houses in both places, that if business in one is bad the other suffers too. It is true Uruguay is so far ahead of the Argentine that it has a gold currency & so it is not constantly in a state of feverish excitement over a fluctuating premium. But there is a want of confidence & credit all round, beginning with the Banks, & the money is not circulating.

The wind is rising & I think we shall have another “pampero” tonight.[4] There are still traces, all round the bay, of the work of the last “pampero”, in the shape of hulls on their beams’ ends, broken spars, & so on. This Southwesterly gale does tremendous mischief here every time it comes. Its force is irresistible, & the shipping in the bay is quite un-protected. The storm springs up too with very brief warning.

The latest telegrams from England bring news as to the difficulties of the Salisbury cabinet & the probabilities of its speedy fall.[5] Prepare yourselves for Home-Rule. If I am appointed Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer, wire me at once.

I have not had letters from you for a long time. I hope some will come soon.

With best love.






  1. The river trip from Buneos Aires to Montevideo across the Rio de la Plata - nearly 200 km as the crow flies
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clyde_steamer and https://electricscotland.com/history/articles/clydesteamers.pdf. Perhaps they had an outing on the “Lord of the Isles", a particularly celebrated "ideal saloon excursion steamer."
  3. The “Gran Hotel Pyramides” was famously elegant hotel. The cafe and restaurant were located on the ground floor. At the end of the 19th century, it was a male custom to stop at the Café de las Pyramides to sit at a table near the windows and from there to contemplate the ladies' calves getting on the tram, which stopped at the corner of Ituzaingó and Sarandi. https://montevideoantiguo.net/index.php/presentes/hotel-pyramides.htm
  4. The pampero is a burst of cold polar air from the west, southwest or south on the pampas in the south of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pampero_(wind)
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Salisbury_ministry


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