18920804 See an image of this letter, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/j50q-j482


Per “Iberia”                                      Rio Janeiro        4th Aug. 1892


My dear Mother,

You see we have come so far all right – approaching the end of our voyage. I sent you a letter from Pernambuco. We reached Rio this morning & here we leave most of our passengers; – only 5 or 6 go on to the Plate.[1] I have just seen one friend & former fellow-passenger – young Youle, & I have accepted his invite to dine & spend the night with him as I did when going North.[2] Just now I am waiting in the agent’s office to see a Dundee customer & as a mail leaves tonight I am turning the moments of enforced idleness (South American punctuality providing, as I well know, only too many of these) to good account in sending you “all’s well” from the look-out. The “Trent” proceeds to-morrow & this day week I hope our somewhat tiresome voyage will have ended. I saw quite a number of old friends in Pernambuco & was very kindly welcomed. Young Gilroy, whom I met a few days before leaving Dundee, at dinner at Taylor’s, came with the “Trent” from Pernam. to Bahia.[3] Some enthusiastic cricketers on board wanted to play a cricket-match against Bahia, & had wired a challenge from Pernam. to the English Club. My services were requisitioned, but the the match did not take place, the Club having received the telegram too late to make arrangements.

A final number or the “Trent Gazette” appeared y’day – the best of all. I contributed a skit on our whist party, entitled “Mr Prattle’s” Opinions on Whist” (after Charles Lamb) which was much applauded & laughed at. The author preserved a strict incog. & made fun of himself as well as the rest, by way of blind; – as for instance “Mr Long-and-tall followed suit. He always followed suit, for he prided himself on playing whist according to Cavendish. But first he made himself comfortable by putting one leg out of the window of the smoking-room, & the other through the door on the opposite side”. Mr Prattle I think I mentioned in a previous letter. He talked incessantly, from morning till night, & played the most extraordinary whist, so he was fair game, & he took all jokes good-naturedly. His real name is Williams & he drank a great deal of champagne & seltzer becoming rather lively at times in consequence, though he never forgot himself. Someone wrote some verses about him, – very funny, if perhaps of doubtful taste; – they began “You are boozed, Father Williams” – You know the original of the parody.[4]

Today & to-morrow I mean to look up the McKinnels, Allens, & other friends.[5] My next will be from B. Aires, to which place you can write. Best love



I send best birthday wishes to Addie.[6] I shall write to him soon – but too late for his fȇte.

  1. The Río de la Plata, named River Plate in British English, is the estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay and the Paraná rivers at Punta Gorda. It empties into the Atlantic Ocean, forming a funnel-shaped indentation on the southeastern coastline of South America. Depending on the geographer, the Río de la Plata may be considered a river, an estuary, a gulf or a marginal sea. It is the widest river in the world, with a maximum width of 220 kilometres (140 mi). It is about 290 kilometres (180 mi) long and forms part of the border between Argentina and Uruguay, with the major ports and capital cities of Buenos Aires and Montevideo on its western and northern shores, respectively. The coasts of the river are the most densely populated areas of Uruguay and Argentina: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%ADo_de_la_Plata
  2. There were two Youle brothers, both “south American Merchants”. Both of them died in Rio de Janeiro. (1) Frederick Louis Youle (b 1857, d Dec 1900), (2) Frank (Schwind) Youle (b 1866, d March 1900). I suspect the younger one was JMcC’s greater friend. See Index to People for further details.
  3. Not sure who Gilroy was but “Taylor of Dundee” is John Brown Taylor, of Affleck Castle, Monikie, Dundee (see Index to people). Linen and Jute Manufacturer& Merchant. Taylor was b 5th December 1853, m Julie Anne née Duff (b~1859), d 19th May 1932.
  4. The reference is to the poem by Lewis Carroll, published in 1865 in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Are_Old,_Father_William
  5. McKinnels were mentioned before in JMcC's letter of 17 August 1890. He is English, she American. See Index to People.
  6. Addie’s (his younger brother – see index to people) upcoming birthday is on 23rd August – would have been his 27th (JMcC is 28 ½ when writing).


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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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