18940114 See an image of this letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/qcvx-bv08


Pernambuco      14th  Jany     1894


My dear Mother,

Since I wrote to you by last mail, abt a fortnight ago, I have recvd. several letters from you, – the last one dated Xmas day.    There shd be one of the 18th Dec. but it seems to have gone to Bahia & I shall have to wait a few days for it. No doubt it contains an account of your dance. Sorry to hear Jim was unwell but I hope he soon got alright again.

In the way of letter-writing I have done rather well this last week. A few days ago I wrote to Annie & to Olga by a small German steamer, not a regular mail but an outsider that ought to reach Lisbon before this by the “Trent”, & I have a letter ready to post to Emma, besides my usual business correspondence.

Mr Guimarães had an auction of his furniture two days ago, & he has gone to live at a boarding-house opposite.[1] He was rather upset by that night attack on his house when he was nearly shot, & a few days afterwards Mr Felton, an old gentleman, one of those sharing the house with him, fell ill & died, so Guimarães decided to give up the house & to live in digs till he goes home in April next.[2]

Y’day the occurrence that most interested Pernambuco society was the arrival by the “Tagus” from England of Mr & Mrs Howard Tuckniss. Mrs H.T. was the governess who came out with the family of that unfortunate parson who died of yellow fever. She remained here for some months at Mrs Latham’s & a marked flirtation sprang up between her & Tuckniss, which was not approved of by old Mrs Tuckniss, nor by Mrs Latham, who had given the young lady a home here meanwhile, so Miss Braga was sent back to England. Tuckniss followed soon after & married her.[3]

All this has taken place since I was here last March.  This is such a small place that a tiny romance gives food for copious gossip, & it is whispered that there were one or two disappointed young ladies, Mr H.T. having been something of a butterfly. No doubt they will soon find consolation.

We had a game of whist last night, Mr & Mrs Latham, the parson, a man called Anstruther & myself, cutting in, but we were all rather sleepy.[4] You see here we are all astir soon after six o’c. in the morning.

Anstruther has been telling me so much about Iceland that I have resolved to go there to fish, some day. Cost of living 1/3 ½ per day including washing, trout & salmon just waiting to be caught. Will you come? You can sit & paddle your feet in a geyser while I fish.

I have never before felt it so hot in Pernambuco. I have had to change my clothes two & three times a day. When I come out of town in the afternoon I am always wet through with perspiration, though I move about slowly & always have an umbrella up in the sun.

While the others were out at church this morning I have kept comparatively cool in tennis flannels, & have written this letter. I hear them coming in just now & luncheon-bell will go in a minute.

To-morrow afternoon I got to a place out of town where a man I know has a sugar-estate & refinery. He is to put me up over-night. On Wednesday I am to dine at Gatis’s, very nice people. Tuesday night there is whist at the cable-quarters. Mr Bilton, Manager of the Lond. & Braz. Bank is to fix an evg. for dinner & whist, so there is altogether no reason to be dull at nights.[5]

There goes the bell.

Best love.



  1. Alfred Guimarães. See Index to People.
  2. Richard Felton (Pernambuco Brazil railway manager) died on the 7th January 1894. Here is the announcement: "FELTON Richard of Jaqueira Pernambuco Brazil railway manager died 7 January 1894 Probate London 31 March to Herbert Forbes Felton engineer Effects £5886 6s. 1d.
  3. Already discussed in more detail in the letter of 1st January 1894. Howard Tuckniss Benjamin Howard Tuckniss married Constance Mary Braga in Liverpool on 15th November 1893.
  4. The Lathams were mentioned previously in a letter of 18th February 1893: "Mrs Latham is a kind motherly woman, & a lady. Her husband had formerly considerable means but he came to grief. They have one daughter & three sons.”
  5. As well as being Manager of the London and Brazilian Bank in Pernambuco, Mr. Bilton lived at Mrs Latham’s when JMcC was there in February 1893: “Mr Bilton, manager of the London & Brazilian Bank, is living here now, & there are in all eight boarders, - all gentlemen. The tone of the house is excellent" he wrote on 18th February 1893. Bilton retired from his position and returned to England in 1898. From The Brazilian Review 23rd August 1898:

    "We regret to hear that Mr. Bilton so long and favourably known in Pernambuco is leaving the London & Brazilian Bank to retire to England. He will be much missed in that community. The brokers presented him with a handsome farewell gift in token of their friendly appreciation and good will. Mr. N. J. Harding the accountant has been named to take Mr. Bilton's place pro tem, and Mr. R. King to substitute Mr. Harding as accountant. It is thought that Mr. Harding who has shown great ability will probably be definitely confirmed in the post."



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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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