18950422 See an image of this letter, https://doi.org/10.17613/yzmk-5831


 Rio,    22nd April  1895


My dear Mother,

Here I am in Rio at last. The Easter Holidays which are very strictly observed in Brazil robbed me of some working days in Bahia, but I made a push, finished the most important part of my business and caught the “Nile”, arriving here yesterday. By the same steamer your welcome letters of 25th and 31st March came. So you were about to revel in the delights of “Spring Cleaning”! – hunting in out of the way places for the innocent dirt that is not doing any harm to anyone. No doubt all my belongings will have been turned out except my Davenport, the repertory of some of my many love-letters and other private chattels, comfortably embedded in the dust of years.[1] Wouldn’t you like to get at it with your dusters and ill-smelling varnish paste?

I have come up to the same hotel at which I stayed before – beautifully situated in the hills overlooking the Bay. The place is quite full, – there are several English families living here whom I know so the evenings will be pleasant. This evening, for instance, we started dancing in the drawing-room after dinner and kept it up till 11 o’clock. Up here it is deliciously cool – at nights so chilly that a blanket is welcome. This summer has been an immensely healthy one in Rio; there has been no yellow fever to speak of. I only heard of one mild case among all the English residents.

The steamers are going home crowded just now, – not a berth to be had, they say, on the next two Royal Mail boats. At this time of year there always is a homeward rush, but never before so much as this year. The “Nile” is the steamer I came out on last time. She brought very few passengers this outward trip – no one I knew, which I thought rather remarkable for I scarcely ever go on a Royal Mail steamer without meeting several acquaintances.

I have not been in Rio – to stay – since Dec. ’92; I have passed through a couple of times, – once in Sep. ‘93 when the Revolution had just broken out.[2] Still I did quite a lot of hand shaking in town to-day. Several people remembered me whom I had forgotten – “travelled home with you in such a year”, or “on this steamer or that”. It is sometimes awkward enough for me, not being able to remember all the faces, but I see new people every day and I am so constantly on the move that it is utterly impossible for me to remember everybody and to say when and where we met. It is much easier for folk who live in one place to remember strangers who have passed through.

I saw Fred Youle in town.[3] He asked me to dinner to-morrow night. They still keep up their Tuesday night whist-meetings.

The foreign residents have lately started a very good lunch-club in the city. Formerly one had to go to noisy restaurants which were not so clean and orderly as Europeans like. I have been put up for four weeks.

I have written down to B. Aires & Montevideo to know if the agents think a visit from me at the present time would “pay”. I shall know in about a fortnight.

Anyway you can still write to Rio c/o

Adolf Spann & Co

Caixa 1

Rio de Janeiro

Love to all


  1. A Davenport desk, (sometimes originally known as a Devonport desk) is a small desk with an inclined lifting desktop attached with hinges to the back of the body. Lifting the desktop accesses a large compartment with storage space for paper and other writing implements and smaller spaces in the form of small drawers and pigeonholes. The Davenport has drawers on one of its sides, which are sometimes concealed by a panel. This stack of side drawers holds up the back of the desk and most of its weight.
  2. The Federalist Riograndense Revolution was a civil war which occurred in southern Brazil, between 1893 and 1895, against the recently-formed Republic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federalist_Riograndense_Revolution
  3. Frederick Louis Youle (b 1857, d 8th December 1900 Rio De Janeiro – buried in Cemiterio dos Ingleses Gaboa). The Brother of Frank Youle. See Index to People.


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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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