18950521 See an image of this letter, https://doi.org/10.17613/e2k8-3364


Rio Janeiro,  21st May  1895


My dear Mother,

By the last mail I only sent you a couple of lines, along with two photos of myself taken here. I hope the latter arrived all right.

By yesterday’s mail I was glad to have two letters from you, 22nd & 29th Apl. By the paper I see that Mrs Moore was 82 when she died.[1] She was a wonderful old lady, with a clear head, able to manage everything herself up to the end.

Of course it would be well for Julie to know French, & Bradshaw is a fairly good teacher, but for travelling in South America both Portuguese and German are more useful. I seldom have occasion to speak French, except sometimes to waiters who always understand some other language too – , but in Brazil of course Portuguese is the language and one cannot manage well without it, and I speak a great deal of German, – there are so many German agents, clerks, travellers, and merchants all over South America.

Our agent in Buenos Aires reports that business there is rather better than it was and since I am not very far away he wishes me to go there. So I shall leave for the Plate in about a fortnight, and counting six weeks for Buenos Aires and Montevideo I expect to leave for home end of July. Please write c/o  O. Letzgus, Casilla 1296.[2]

You were having alternate summer and winter weather at home. Here the mornings and evenings are cool and the nights quite cold – so much so that I use a blanket. In the early mornings up here in the hills we are sometimes enveloped in clouds and to go under the cold shower-bath requires an effort between 6 and 7 a.m.

Business is very bad and very uphill work here, but I shall leave that for my business letters. Friends have been very kind as usual in inviting me. Four families have dined me and put me up for the night or kept me over Sunday and I have refused several similar invitations that would have encroached on business hours.

I paid a most pleasant visit to the Jacksons – Miss McKisack’s friend as I told you. They have a fine old house beautifully situated near the water on a small bay on the far side. They have a couple of small pleasure-boats, one called the “Bicycle” because “built for two”, and from the landing stage one can have a header into five feet of water. They made one awfully comfortable and invited me to return. In the next “chacara”, or country house, there are seven Englishmen living, among them some of the nicest fellows in Rio.[3] The house is a picture – something in the “Queen Anne” style, with steep roof and broad eves, and massive brown beams in the white walls. There is a broad verandah at one end with palms and vines. A trim lawn slopes down to the sea and one or two huge tropical trees give a pleasant shade over the garden seats. Behind, the rising ground is bright with flowers and the top of a small hill has been cut away to make a fine cemented tennis-court, from which there is a view all over the bay. I don’t suppose there is another court with such a view and such surrounding in the whole world.

I was at a pleasant ball at the English Club, and some small dances have been given here in the hotel by the English families. At the Youles’ I have a room always ready for me and I keep a suit of pyjamas and a tooth-brush there.[4] If business were better I should be happy enough. I hope the Pater has done well in Berlin. Emma is in luck getting to London,[5] and the other girls seem to have had a good time at the Sintons’.[6]

Bye-bye. Love to all,




Rio,   1st June  1895


My dear Mother,

Just a few lines before I turn in, for it is close on midnight & I have to be up at 3.30 to catch a steamer going to a little place on the coast where there is a jute factory. Recvd y’day your letter of 6th May. I shd like very much to have you meet me in London. I will stand treat for a week. I expect to be there in August, & I will let you know in time, so as to arrange details. It is not the best time but we can go nice drives to Windsor, Richmond, Kew, on coaches, & so on.

I hope your head was quickly well again & you had no return of the pain.

You should not tell one things by halves. Either all or say nothing about them, but don’t leave me to guess.

I shall be away from Rio for 4-6 days. On my return I shall take first steamer for the Riv. Plate.                I have packed my things & written to M.&W.[7] since dinner & now I think I shall go to the land of Nod for 3 hours   so bye-bye

Best love




  1. Eliza Moore née Gunning (b ~1813, d 19th April 1895) was the widow of James Moore, founding partner of Moore & Weinberg, who had died 11 years earlier. See Index to People.
  2. Ottmar Letzgus. See Index to People.
  3. Chácara = Portuguese for FARM.
  4. The Youles were brothers – Frederick (b 1857) and Frank (b 1866) – from Lancashire, both merchants in Rio De Janeiro (both died there in 1900). See Index to People.
  5. I think she was visiting Eduard and Anna Derenberg. Eduard was Julius’ first cousin (and Elsa Iklé’s uncle).
  6. Important Quaker linen family from Tamnaghmore with whom the Loewenthals were friends. Thomas Sinton had established the village of Laurelvale to house workers at his linen factory “Thomas Sinton & Co”. See Index to People.
  7. M&W = Moore & Weinberg so a business 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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