18940101 See an image of this letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/zr1r-3095


Pernambuco    1st Jan.   1894


My dear Mother,

My yesterday’s letter was so short that I will forthwith begin another.

I am back in my old digs chez Mrs Latham.[1] She refused another lodger, the house being full, but could not say no to me, so she turned out one of her sons to make room for me. It is a little box of a room, but the house is English & clean, & there are several pleasant boarders living in it among them the new English parson, Mr Macrae. I went to Church last night! Later, towards midnight several of us went to the Cable Quarters to see the New Year in & drink a glass of punch, evidently having begun early in the evening to celebrate the occasion, we did not stay long. This morning I have been putting my clothes in order & writing to Julian.[2] The heat is very great but the general health of the town is excellent & there is no fever.

Alfred Guimarães, who lives some miles out of town with three other men, had a narrow escape three nights ago.[3] Hearing the dog bark loudly he got up & fired his revolver to frighten anyone who might be there, whereupon four fellows who had come to steal the horses sprang out & attacked the house firing through the doors & windows. One bullet passed through Guimarães’ clothes & grazed his shoulder. Finally the men went away leaving a trail of blood for some distance. There were fifteen shots fired.

A torpedo-boat & two of the armed cruisers bought by President Peixoto in the United States have arrived here & people are now curiously speculating what is going to happen, whether these vessels are going to join the rebels, or fight them, or simply avoid them.

This place has been in a state of siege for some time as the Govnmt. anticipated trouble here. No code telegrams can be sent. To oblige a German acquaintance on the steamer I sent a cable to his family in Düsseldorf – “Prosit Neujahr”.[4] The telegraph clerk looked at it suspiciously & asked what it meant.

I went to see the Tucknisses this afternoon, – the people with whom Keiller lives.[5] I meant to stay half an hour but Mrs T. has such a plentiful gift of language that I could not get away under an hour & a half.

There has been a romance in the family meanwhile. Howard, the son, was very attentive to a Miss Braga who came out as governess with Mrs Ding, the wife of the Parson who died.[6] Miss Braga returned to England some months ago & Howard followed & married her.[7] Mrs Keiller went to the wedding which took place in Liverpool.[8] I don’t think old Mrs Tuckniss was very pleased with the match, as she expected her son to look higher, but she has wisely decided to make the best of it, & anyway the ci-devout Miss Braga is a very nice girl.

Keiller looks well, but he tells me he is nervous & unstrung through worry & overwork & he requires a change. He will probably go home in abt. a month.

We had English-made plum-pudding for dinner to-day. I hope I shall not suffer in consequence.

Love to all.






  1. Mrs Latham was previously mentioned in the letter of 18th February 1893: "Through Mr Guimarães I have been lucky enough to secure a room in an exceedingly nice English boarding-house owned by a Mrs Latham  . .  a kind motherly woman, & a lady. Her husband had formerly considerable means but he came to grief. He is in Cearã on business just now. They have one daughter & three sons." See Index to People.
  2. Julian Weinberg. See Index to People.
  3. Alfred Lopes Guimarães (as in back of envelope in last letter “A.L. Guimarães”). Merchant b ~1855. See Index to People.
  4. “Prosit Neujahr” (German) = Happy New Year
  5. Mr Benjamin Tuckniss (b 1826, d 1896), Mrs Leonora Eliza (née Taylor, b 1842, d 1931). Keiller: John Gibson Keiller. See Index to People.
  6. Benjamin Howard Tuckniss (“accountant”), b 1863 and lived on in Pernambuco. He married Constance Mary Braga in Liverpool on the 15th November 1893. “A friend of Keiller’s” in letter of 18th February 1893. Daughter: Mary Tuckniss (1903-1983). Howard died 24th Dec 1924 in Pernambuco. See Index to People.
  7. Constance Mary Braga came out to Pernambuco as a governess to the children of Mrs Elizabeth Ding and the Rev William Ding who died of yellow fever on 24th February 1893, days after his wife arrived to join him in Brazil. Miss Braga looked after their children William Rowland and Doris Mary who were 8 and 3 respectively when their father died. She was born in Pernambuco ~1871, the daughter of José Fernandes Marquis Braga (Brazilian merchant, owned his own business, b 1839 Pernambuco, later naturalized) and Barbara Braga (b 1840 in Lancashire and recorded in the 1881 Census as living in Formby, Lancashire). See Index to People.
  8. Presumably the mother of John Gibson Keiller, Mrs Grace Ann Keiller of Dundee.


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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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