18920730 See an image of this letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/05jx-m861



Pernambuco        30th July  1892


My dear Mother,

From Las Palmas I sent you a few lines some eight days ago. I saw quite a number of old friends there & was gratified at finding myself very kindly remembered. Kölkenbeck was not there, having gone with his wife to Teneriffe.[1] They have lost their baby, & Mrs K. was naturally very much cut up, & in ill health as well, so they went for a change to the other Island.

Rutherford who came out a month ago looks much stronger already, & likes the place.[2] He is working hard at Spanish.

Mr Carlo & his family were surprised to see me.  They were very kind to me when I was in Canaries before, so I paid them quite a long visit this time & had a chat about old times.

I saw half a dozen other people & promised, of course, to spend a fortnight in the Canaries, should I pass that way again.

We are having a very quiet time on board. Cricket is the chief amusement. The bat was made by the carpenter out of a piece of heavy wood. The wickets fit into three holes in a square piece of board. The ball, made of twine & waste very tightly rolled, is fastened to a string the other end of which is tied to the rail half way down the deck. So when the ball goes overboard it is not lost. I was lucky enough to make the biggest score the first day & since then I have lived on my reputation.

There are three or four very good fellows on board. One is a man called Whitehorn, a big chap with splendid shoulders, just my age, who has had some tough experiences. He went to a ranche in Australia when he was 17, & he has since had rough & varied adventures in Paraguay, Brazil, & the Argentine. With it all he is a gentleman & he has not gone back. He sits beside me at table & entertains me with bits of his history.

We have some funny whist. One of our players is a Mr Goodwin, a middle-aged but athletic man, who has travelled over most of Europe, – I don’t know in what capacity. He plays fairly, but the other two know nothing of the game, & if we don’t have whist according to Cavendish, we at all events have some fun. These two fellows play the most extraordinary cards & give the most extraordinary reasons for playing them. Goodwin & I express great admiration for their excellent reasons & deep laid plots, when sometimes it is with the greatest difficulty that we can maintain our gravity.

Another source of amusement has been the “Trent Gazette”, a newspaper published bi-weekly on board. We all contributed articles & a few volunteers did the printing with a type-writer. Some of the items were very good.

It has not been so hot this time, as on previous voyages. One day we had 80o in the shade – that was the highest; – & it usually goes up to about 90o near the line.

The ship dances about considerably, & without reasonable cause, for we have had nothing but fair N.E. & S.E. trade-winds & very little sea. I have been able to keep the porthole in my cabin open almost the whole time – a very great matter when the thermometer stands at 80o.

The plum-cake is first rate. Several passengers privileged to taste it have spoken & proved their appreciation & the cake is now almost done.

I find the pipe G.Y.K. gave me, & your capacious tobacco-pouch very useful & comforting.[3]

On landing to-morrow at Pernambuco I suppose we shall have some political & other news from England by cable. All we heard at Las Palmas was that Gladstone had a majority of 42.[4]

From Buenos-Ayres I shall write on thinner paper. The postage on this wd be too expensive if I had matter sufficient to fill a longer letter than this uninteresting communication.

The main object of this is, however, to tell you it leaves me well, “hoping as how it will find you all the same”.

Best love.


  1. "Kölkenbeck": one of 2 brothers – both merchants and naturalized British subjects, and resident in Belfast. Either: (1) Eduard (Edward) William Emil Kölkenbeck (b June 1865) who was resident in Belfast, 26 Ponsonby Avenue and listed as a “Commercial Traveller." He married Marion Frances Atkin in Frankfurt am Main in 1891 (it is likely to be him as his name appears on the ship manifesto returning to Southampton from Las Palmas in 1896) or (2) Alfred Edward Julius George Kolkenbeck (“Commercial Clerk”) born in Germany (b~ 1864). See Index to People.
  2. W Rutherford was on the passenger list of “British & Africa Navigation Company Limited” 4th June 1892, sailing from Liverpool to Teneriffe.
  3. G.Y.K. = George Young Kinnaird (see Index to People).
  4. Refers to 11th August 1892 vote of no confidence in the Conservative government moved by the Liberal Party: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1892_vote_of_no_confidence_in_the_Salisbury_ministry


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