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Brits in Buenos Ayres

Immense number of British at Buenos Ayres - Scotchmen

There is an immense number of English & Scotch, particularly of the latter in the town of B A, & in the country. Most of the principal merchants belong to our country – and one of them Robertson founded on speculation a Scotch colony at Monte Grande 17 miles from the City – the specific purpose & expectation of which did not answer – but still the labourers, farmers &.c who had been brought from the native home mostly remained in the country and have introduced many improvements. Oh how pleasant to my ear in a far distant region was the sound of the brogue, rich and pure as it came from its primeval fount. It carried me back in imagination to other days, scenes & persons, all connected in a chain endearing or long regretful recollections. It produced a pleasure to which I had long been a stranger – it expressed the same kindliness and warmth so well known to me before. I felt inclined to embrace in the bond of friendship and good will, all such who came in my way. As might have been expected some of the emigrants have done well, some indifferent & some patiently bad, either from unavoidable circumstances or from their own conduct. The easy access to ardent spirits – the freedom from all moral restraint which living among their own countrymen at home, held over them & the latitude of foreign manners have led many into folly and vice, and their invariable attendants poverty and misery – but I am happy to say that the number of such persons is comparatively small, while the rest by the propriety of their conduct, their probity, industry & success have raised the character of our nation very high among the natives. I cannot help mentioning, as connected with Scotchmen, a circumstance which happened at the House I lodge in. Shortly after the collection of the scotch colony at Monte Grande, some of them had occasion to come into town, & called as was their want at McGaws, whose new bar-maid was a pure cockney just imported. As soon as they had entered the house, in a kindly way, one of them said to Sally “Hoo’s a’ wi’ ye, lassie” – to which she replied “I beg your pardon, Sir, but I doesn’t speak no Spanish.”

English & Scotch Church

I believe the English and Scotch at Buenos Ayres agree very well together. They have two separate places of worship – The Kirk & the Episcopal Chapel. The latter is a large and very elegant building indeed, quite an ornament to the Town. The exterior & interior are equally deserving of praise, being in my opinion just the thing. It was built by subscription among the English, & if I mistake not, some of the natives also contributed, whilst the Government handsomely and liberally gave a free grant of the ground. The Presbyterian place of meeting again, is held I believe in a private house, where the accommodation is insufficient for 2 thirds of those who wished to attend. To remedy this inconvenience, the Managers of the English Chapel proposed to give the use of it at certain hours to their Presbyterian brethren, and made then an overture to them to that effect. The proposal was received with many thanks – but afterwards the managers thought proper to draw-back from their offer, which so nettled the other party, that they have now a subscription in progress for erecting suitable and independent accommodation for themselves. May they succeed! If I were a resident at B. Ayres, I would contribute to the utmost of my means. There is also a very confident expectation that Government at home will agree to give the Minister, an annual sum equal to that which his hearers will allow him.

Wherever the English [settle] they carry with them their peculiar customs. They rarely ever adopt the manners & practices of the country they live in, even when these are most evidently conducive to comfort. The rooms are carpeted – the dishes are the same as at home – their luxuries – their snuggerie remain unaltered as far as possible. Our fair countrywomen, like their husbands and fathers, preserve their nationality in every thing. The fashion of her dress is purely English and in the street they invariably wear a bonnet – a practice totally at variance with the native senoras. They have no cap of bonnet. Their hair is most tastefully arranged & far above the highest curl, a most peerless comb for size, elegance, & costliness, from which the rich wrought veil hangs over the face in graceful folds. For my part I admired the native fashion most but would wish much to know whether the beautiful hair I see is artificial or natural. If natural, all’s well – but if artificial, they must be liable to such awkward occurrences as the following, which took place in the Plaza de la Vidonia, while I was at Buenos Ayres.

Ridiculous occurrence to a lady at Buenos Ayres

A lady, of very imposing appearance was walking along the Plaza, and eliciting the admiration of the beholders by her beauty, her hair & the tasteful arrangement of every thing about her. From an opposite direction an officer was advancing rather rapidly and incautiously. His coat was flying open, & was furnished with hooks and eyes, in order to safe his button-eyelets. Just as he was passing the above lady, his coat fluttering in the wind, one of the hooks caught the messes of the veil, and before the officer was aware of the mischief likely to be done, he had suddenly given the coat a jerk, which brought away veil, comb, and alas a wig, leaving her ladyship’s head as bare as her chin to her utter confusion & the laughter of the spectators. The poor officer thunderstruck at this sad mischance, of which he had unwittingly been the occasion, instead of making an apology dashed off with the rapidity of lightning, & landed himself breathless in a shop round the corner of the square.

Ladies at night

Another particular in which our countrywomen differ from the natives is that they go shopping during the day, whilst the latter invariably go their rounds at night. I was never so much astonished in my life as one night at 8 oClock to find one of the principal streets actually crowded with fashionable and respectable females, unaccompanied by a single male friend, which is contrary to established etiquette, but having merely a female slave behind them. For this practice they have a great show of reason to assign, as the excessive heat of the weather during the day & the agreeable coolness of the evening enabling them to walk about with comfort.