18930313 See an image of this letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/ybsk-y128


S.S. “Seguranca”            Pernambuco

13th Mar.  1893


My dear Mother,

Owing to an off-shore wind & consequent low water on the bar this steamer which was to have sailed last night, has had to remain inside the reef till to-day & now we expect to get out abt. 10 o’clock a.m. This gives me time to write a few lines to you & leave the letter here for the “Tagus” which is due here the day after to-morrow.

I had at first intended going to Maranhão by this ship, but somewhere near Bahia she stuck in the mud & was detained for a couple of days, & then she altered her route omitting Maranhão & going direct to Pará.[1] Then I thought of taking the Brazilian steamer “Pernambuco” y’day for Maranhão, but I was so strongly advised not to do so by everyone that I gave up the idea. Brazilian boats are small & very dirty & the food is not eatable, & this particular one, the “Pernambuco”, is the oldest & worst of the lot, & will take 6 or 7 days to get to Maranhão as she touches at all the small ports on the way. The “Seguranca” goes in 4 days to Pará & from there I shall have no difficulty in getting a steamer back to Maranhão.

There has been a lot of talk about an expected row in Pernambuco. The Governor & the Legislature can’t agree.[2] On one side is the military & on the other side the police.

They were to have fought it out on the 6th & then again last night but I expect it will all end, as it has begun, in talk. Unfortunately it interferes considerably with business.

The French packet “Equateur” is lying outside.[3] I expect she brings letters for me but I shan’t get them. Mr Guimarães does not come into town on Sundays & anyway the mails will scarcely be sorted by 10 o’clock.[4]

Keiller[5] came on board last night to see me off; – also Shaw, Harburger,[6] & Harrington, all friends I have made here; – the two latter having also other acquaintances on board to say good-bye to.

On Friday night I was at a small dinner-party at Boxwell-Williamses’, – took Miss Boxwell in to dinner & had the only other young lady present, Miss Connolly, on the other side.[7]

A pleasant party, good dinner, ditto wines & cigars, & some music.

I must tell you a rather funny piece of absent-mindedness on my part. I was dressing for dinner & had just begun to brush my hair when a fellow called Wilson passed my window. I called him in to speak about another man, Baillie, who was unwell, upstairs, suffering from nervous prostration & sleeplessness through worry & over-work (he was a little off his head & I sat up with him part of one night).  When Wilson left I finished dressing but quite forgot I had not parted my hair but only brushed it down over my forehead. I only remembered when I got to the station. At first I thought of waiting till I got to Boxwells’ & finishing my toilette in Williams’ room, but luckily (for the ladies were sitting in the hall when I arrived) I changed my mind & turned into a bachelors’ “chacra” on the way, where there were four men I knew already sitting at dinner, & there I borrowed a brush & comb. I think this proves conclusively that I am not in the habit of looking at myself in the glass very much.

Half past eight.    Breakfast gong.    Adios.

I have enjoyed my stay in Pernambuco very much. Left two photographs of myself ! & several awfully nice friends there.

Best love


  1. Pernambuco, Maranhão, Bahia, Pará: These are all STATES of Brazil, but names used interchangeably with their respective capitals at the time, i.e. Recife, São Luis, Salvador, Belém.
  2. Barbosa Lima was Governor of Pernambuco at the time. A supporter of the proclamation of the Republic, Lima was elected deputy to the Constituent Congress for Ceará. From 1892 to 1896, he was governor of Pernambuco. From 1896 to 1899 he was a deputy for Pernambuco, starting to represent Rio Grande do Sul in the lower house from 1900 to 1905 and the Federal Capital from 1906 to 1911 and from 1915 to 1917. He was elected senator from Amazonas in 1923. In 1919, he was appointed director of Lloyd Brasileiro. Defender of abolitionist ideas, during the Republican period he stood out during the government of Floriano Peixoto, of whom he became a trusted person during the Armada Revolt and the Federalist Revolution: https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbosa_Lima
  3. Rather than “packet” being an “anglicisation” of paquebot, it is in fact the other way round. Paquebot comes from the English "packet-boat" and is used here to mean a mail boat.
  4. Alfred Lopes Guimarães. See Index to People.
  5. John Gibson Keiller. See Index to People.
  6. Julius Harburger (b 18th March 1863 Frankfurt) became naturalized as a US citizen, 16th July 1891. He was a merchant in Pernambuco.
  7. Probably Lucy Connolly (b ~1870 Pernambuco). She was the daughter of Richard Hamilton Conolly (b 1844 Dublin, d 1905 Recife) and Emma Raymond Gatis (b 1844 Lancashire, d 1923 Lewisham). She never married. She was also on the Boxwell picnic described in the previous letter


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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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