18940914 See an image of this letter, https://doi.org/10.17613/hfk1-9c88


S.S. “Nile”,      near St Vincent

14th  Sept ’94


My dear Mother,

I was very glad indeed to have your letter at Lisbon.

I had also a long & interesting letter from Julie, one from Emma & a few lines from Addie along with some notes about business.[1]

Nothing reached me from the Pater.

We have had fine weather & a pleasant voyage so far. A chess tournament is going on, in which I am one of eight competitors. The life on board has been as usual, a daily sweep on the prow, some whist & poker, reading, sleeping, flirting, & pacing the decks. To-night there is to be a dance. I have not yet produced my cake, partly because one lady who provides afternoon tea for us had another cake, & partly because the mate of the hold will not be able to get at my box till to-morrow.

We have a very pleasant & lively set of passengers, – lots of girls & consequently entertainment “galore”, as Mrs Wilson, a jolly little woman from Cork, would say. There is a Miss McClymont, whom I have seen at the Tennis Club in B.Aires; – a tall & rather pretty girl. She was lately staying a Banbridge with the Dicksons, to one of whom Norman Ferguson is engaged & she knows the Fergusons well.[2] She was at a garden party at the Fergusons’ but does not remember having met any of the Sintons.[3] I wonder if Dora was there & if she remembers this young lady.

There are several newly-married couples on board. One does not notice them very much during the day, they are at their best by moonlight.


Friday.     The dance is over & the cake is found, so we shall have some of the latter for supper to-night. The “ball” was very good. Our band was composed of two nigger musicians, – one played the flute & the other the violin. We danced till about half past eleven, wound up with Sir Roger & then had supper.[4]

Cricket is played with a ball tied to a string, so that a “boundary hit” (overboard) may not result in a “lost ball”. Miss Bridges, the belle of the ship, has just been batting vigorously while her numerous admirers bowled & fielded & chorused approval. You remember the name of Mrs Gotto’s[5] friends, the Schwinds.[6] One of them is on board, a young fellow of 22 or 23, a very good sort & a good-looking youngster. I think the lady who was at Newcastle is his aunt. There is a Mrs Hockin, a very nice woman, with two children, a bright little girl & a boy of 15 or so. She wears a peculiar dress for dinner, a sort of tea-gown I suppose it is, cream-coloured, with long floating sleeves. This has earned for her the name of Cleopatra – I don’t really see why – but she is rather stately.


St. Vincent, Sat’day 15th

Just about half the voyage over now. We stay here a day to coal, a very dirty, disagreeable proceeding. The black dust penetrates every-where & there is no getting away from it. The island is so hot & uninviting with its bare jagged rocks that I have never been tempted to land.[7]

I must close this now to send it off with the agent.

Love to all.



  1. Julie = JMcC's brother Julius. Emma = his sister. Addie = his younger brother Ferdinand Adolphus.
  2. Norman Dickson Ferguson of Clonaslee (b 24th November 1866 Banbridge) married Jessie Mary Dickson (b 29th August 1865 Edinburgh) on the 23rd July 1895. Her parents were Andrew John Dickson (Supreme Court Solicitor in Edinburgh) and Isobella Culbert Dickson.
  3. Dora Sinton and her family. See Index to People.
  4. Sir Roger: One of the most popular dances in the history of social dance, Sir Roger De Coverley (later known as the Virginia Reel), is a fun, easy group dance with long-lasting appeal. Many 19th century sources propose that it was (and should be) danced as the final dance of the evening.
  5. Mrs Gotto = likely to be Margaret Gotto (b 1853) wife of Arthur Charles Gotto. They lived on the Malone Road. See Index to People.
  6. The Schwinds = Probably Charles (South American merchant) and Eliza Schwind of Lancashire. Their son Harold Schwind, "Merchant", (b ~1874 Brazil), was a frequent traveller between the UK and Buenos Aires. Would have been 21 at the time JMcC wrote.
  7. Saint Vincent is an island is in the Lesser Antilles chain; it is 29 kilometres, long and 18 kilometres wide and it is located 160 kilometres west of Barbados. It is very mountainous and heavily forested.


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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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