18930330  See an image of this letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/tc01-p286


Pará,               30th  March  1893


My dear Mother,

It is just a fortnight since I sent you my last postcard by the “Anselm”, & I have had no news from you meanwhile.

I have been waiting for three days for the steamer to take me to Maranhão. It is not there yet but it will surely be in today. I mean to make only a very short stay in Maranhão & then to return here & sail for Barbados about the 10th April. These boats that go to Barbados are uncertain in their dates but I expect positively to arrive there between the 15th & 20th April & I am very pleased at the prospect.  I think I shall very soon turn homewards now, say inside three months.

There are not many Englishmen here. I have made the acquaintance of two very nice fellows – Power & Duff, & dined once or twice at their house.[1]

Power was former manager of the London & Brazilian Bank here, but had some difference of opinion with the home board & resigned. He & Duff are now in partnership as brokers. They keep house together & their place is a kind of gathering point for the Englishmen here. Duff is from Aberdeen, where his people have a nice house, judging from photos he showed me. Here their house is arranged with all bachelor comforts, – straw lounging-chairs with rugs thrown over them, plentiful pipes & ash trays, & a good supply of English magazines, – a pleasant place to spend a Sunday afternoon.

To-morrow will be Good Friday. To-day – Holy Thursday – I see people are trooping to Mass all dressed in black. But this day is evidently not so strictly observed as in many other Catholic countries. For instance I see carts going about the streets & the trams are running. You do not find that in Colombia nor in Spain. Here, since the declaration of the Republic, the people profess to be “emancipated”.

Business begins early in Pará. I have several times had appointments with customers between half past six – seven in the morning.

In Pernambuco I had two suits of pyjamas made. I told the man to make them loose as they would likely shrink, & he has done so with a vengeance. They would do for a man six times my size. The collar measures 22 ½ inches, whereas 16 to 17 would have been ample, & the other measurements are in proportion. I can sleep in them but I cannot go to my bath in them; they look too absurd.

There are two married couples stopping in the same hotel. Mr & Mrs Vaz, Brazilians, & Mr & Mrs Parodi, Venezuelan. Mr V. speaks a little of several languages. The Parodis speak Spanish only. Mrs V. speaks French. Then there is an Englishman who speaks some German. In the evening we sometimes have a game of farthing nap,[2] & then we jabber in Portuguese, Spanish, English, French, & German, – a funny mixture.

When I was sitting in Power’s office the other day a gentleman came in & said to me in Spanish: – “Oh, how do you do, Señhor? I hope you are very well.” I did not recognize him at first but he reminded me we had met in Barbados. His name is Cabral – a doctor in laws. He is a prominent monarchist & a man of some influence here. When the Republic was declared he thought it well to go to Barbados for a time. He gave me his card with a great coat of arms on it – lions rampant with goats friskant or something of that kind.

As a souvenir of Pará I have bought a small box of leaves, – gold & silver & slate, some with a metallic polish, others with a mossy surface. They are brought from the interior by Indians & negroes & are sold as curiosities.


Good-Friday.         The English mail is in & no letters from Belfast – only one from Dundee. I am disappointed. I suppose I shall have none now till I reach Barbados.

I leave this afternoon for Maranhão.

Best love to all.





  1. Other mentions in the letters from Pará of 19th-26th April 1893 and 4th March 1894. See Index to People
  2. Napoleon or Nap is a straightforward trick-taking game: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleon_(card_game)


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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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