18940318 See an image of this letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/x0t2-hb75



18th Mar. 1894


My dear Mother,

I posted a rambling letter to you about a week ago. Since then I have not heard from you. Yesterday I proudly wore in my buttonhole the sprig of shamrock that came on your Christmas card, in your honour & St. Patrick’s, & the fellows all exclaimed, with envy & admiration: “Shamrock, bedad! Where on earth did you get it?”

There is not much to record for the past week. I have been working at full pressure, with the intention of finishing business in time to catch a steamer for Barbados posted to sail y’day, but fortunately delayed for another two days.

There has been a flutter of excitement in town on the recpt. of news that the rebels had abandoned their ships, the officers taking refuge on the foreign men of war, & exchange has improved for the moment owing to the idea that the civil war is at an end. But I scarcely think it is finished yet. Admiral Mello is still in the south with a couple of the strongest vessels & the Province of Rio Grande do Sul is in a state of independence with considerable armed resources.

A few days ago I recvd the accompanying nice note from Taylor.[1] He does not say “Oh, those things are very cheap out there. What did you pay for them?”   I am very glad the pines arrived in good condition & I hope yours did too. I scarcely expected they would.

I had a letter from Julian W.[2] the other day. He does not say how his head is, but complains that his memory is very bad, – an old failing. He says business in general in B. Aires is still very bad indeed, & that two old English firms, Bates Stokes & Hill Bellamy, have called meetings of their creditors.

To acknowledge some old scores I was so extravagant as to take a box at the Opera the other night.[3] I invited some fellows who have shown me much kindness, & we heard Verdi’s “Mask Ball” very well given.

Last night I dined with Power & Duff & to-day I lunch at Brocklehurst’s.[4] In the latter I have a willing chess adversary, whom I just manage to beat, but who comes up smiling again after each defeat.

When I arrive at Barbados I am going to hang myself in the sun with all my goods & chattels for a whole day. Every-thing I have is blue-mouldy; – trunks, clothes, boots, brushes, tobacco. If you saw it & smelt it you might find it unpleasant not being used to it. In Pará it is always so in the rainy season. I sleep on my back to keep my nose as far away as possible from the mouldy smell of the pillow. But these are trifles.

The food in the hotel has been much better this time than it was in the other hotel I put up at last year. There is a Frenchman here who goes to market & always secures something special for me.

I am using up some stamped envelopes for my letters to you, for the Pater protests against my putting business letters in them & sends me the dilapidated remains of one in justification. But my autographs to you are neither so bulky nor so valuable, so I run the risk in the interest of collectors.[5]


19th Mar.

My steamer sails to-morrow for Barbados. I hear from a friend in the cable-service that a telegram has arrived for me from Dundee. I shall see it to-morrow, but from what he says I gather that the purport of the message is that I should return to Maranhão. Not for Joseph! more especially as I do not believe my going back there could possibly advance the business in hand. It wd go very much against the grain to turn back now that I am just on the point of saying good-bye to Brazil. But perhaps I had better not say much until I see the telegram.

In quiet towns like Pará I find my chess-board a great source of entertainment in spare moments. With a few English newspapers containing problems or games I can always enjoy myself till bed-time if I have nothing else to do. I am out of books now but I can always fall back on old William S. with fresh delight. He never gets stale.


20th             I find the telegram is not such a serious business after all. Steamer postponed another day. I have just posted my business letters, which is rather a weight off my mind. But I have about fifty things to do to-morrow so that there is still sufficient weight left on it to prevent my indulging in flippant nothings, so I had better shut up as I have no serious matter to indite.

Best love,



18940218 Letter of thanks for “pines” from Taylor of Dundee, image: https://doi.org/10.17613/0a7n-cd68






18th February 1894.


My dear Loewenthal,

It was indeed very good of you to send us such a handsome present and my wife joins me in thanking you sincerely for your kind remembrance.

The Pines arrived in splendid condition, and have been much appreciated by ourselves & our friends; and the “dose” too is splendid, but as it will keep it has not been so freely sampled. I don’t remember ever to have seen preserved Cajus before, they are very good indeed, & the flavour reminds me of many a “Cajuada” in the old Bahia days.[6]

I hope it may not be long before we have the pleasure of seeing you here again, and my wife asks me to say that she hopes you will give us a little more of your time & a little more warning than usual so that she may be able to arrange a rubber for you.

Heartily reciprocating your good wishes, & with renewed thanks and kindest regards from both of us,

I am,

Yours most sincerely

J.B. Taylor


My wife has had a very sharp attack of Influenza from which she is now slowly recovering, and as the pines arrived just when her appetite wanted humouring they were doubly appreciated & most welcome.

  1. The sending of the pineapples was mentioned in JMcC's letter from Pernambuco of 29th January 1894. The recipient was John Brown Taylor (b 5th December 1853, m Julie Anne née Duff, d 19th May 1932) who lived in Affleck Castle, Monikie, Dundee, and was a "Linen & Jute Manufacturer and Merchant". See Index to People.
  2. Julian Weinberg
  3. Most likely at the Theatro da Paz, build 1869-1874: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theatro_da_Paz and https://theatrodapaz.com.br/
  4. For Power and Duff, see Index to People. Brocklehurst was a ship owner whose partnership was mentioned a year earlier in JMcC's letter from Pará 19th-26th April 1893: "Last night I gave a little dinner to five fellows who have shown me much hospitality. Mr Power (who describes himself as “once a bank-manager & a gentleman, now a broker”, - but makes as broker twice as much as he made when manager of the London & Brazilian Bank), Mr Duff, his partner, Singlehurst, partner in Singlehurst, Brocklehurst & Co owners of the direct line of English Steamers."
  5. His stamp-collecting siblings.
  6. Caju is the Portuguese name for the fruit of the cashew tree: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cashew. Cajuada is a sweet (jam or ice cream) or drink made from pulp of caju.


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