Lady passengers

Miss [Caroline Wiggins] embarked on board at Falmouth, intending to join her sister at Buenos Ayres. Her sister is married on [sic] a M.r Black a Carpenter, & if I may venture on a conjecture, Miss Caroline has gone out on a matrimonial speculation & is very likely to succeed. Almost every young woman who goes out to Buenos Ayres, even tho’ she may possess very moderate attractions is sure of getting married to some respectable tradesman there. Our countrymen do not appear to have any partiality for the ladies of the country – & hence connections with them are very rare & frequently unhappy. And the supply of their own countrymen being very scanty, this may be assigned for the great number of young & well-doing bachelors in the Town. So well aware are our merchants of the desire for wives from home, & of the danger of their being snapped up, that now very few indeed ever think of having female servants from England from the expense of bringing them out & the certainty that they will not enjoy their services long. It would therefore, I think be no bad speculation to ladies, who are dying for lack of husbands at home, sweet home, if they have but a little money, to expend it in coming out here & I’d venture to say that in the space of six months they will [receive] substantial offers enough to pick and choose from & these from men sober, wealthy & handsome.

From what then I have just said I think Miss Caroline Wiggins could not have done better than she has done – & I am persuaded that in a very few months she will be settled in a very comfortable establishment.

Miss Wiggins while with us seemed a pleasant enough girl, about 21 years. I suspect she has no good pretensions to being called a girl of more than a tolerable education – having if I mistake not been once a kind of domestic, but when her sister got established, she received a better education. I have often endeavoured to sound the depths of her understanding & information & I have uniformly found both to be commonplace enough. From her behaviour I evidently saw that she had not been much accustomed to the forms & usages of public society – & hence frequently some contretemps arose. In person she was very plain – & her plainness was heightened by the ravages committed on her face by the small pox. De matuis nil nisi honum is a very good maxim – which might also be changed into De absentibus nil nisi bornum – so tho’ I have much to remark by way of censure in many particulars, I shall decline doing so – and end my account of her with wishing that she be well & speedily married & that the giddiness, imprudence, & improprieties of youth may be exchanged for the prudence, steadiness, and propriety of the matronly character.

At Rio we received two lady passengers in the person of  Donna Josepha Maria de Agiala, & Donna Rosa de Agiala, natives of Lima. These two stood in the relation of mother & daughter, the former being about 38, or 40, & the latter D Rosa about 19 years of age. The Mother was still a fine woman & looked much better than the daughter, whom was very thin & sallow with beautifully formed hands & feet. The husband & father being a native of old Spain, & consequently an upholder of the dominion of the old country, was obliged to fly along with his family when the revolutionary party had triumphed in Lima. They resided some time in old Spain & thence went to France, where for eight years the daughter received the best education the country could afford. This long residence in France, together with the time that had spent in Spain, & about six weeks in London occupied a little more than ten years – and when we received them, the mother & daughter were on their way to Lima, their native place, having left the old man in Europe apparently without feeling any regret that he could not be permitted to reside with them. On the passage to Monte Video we saw very little of the mother, she being very unwell – but we had many times the pleasure of the company of the young lady, who was a much better sailor. She appeared to be very nice, modest girl, & by her behaviour completely upset the opinion I had formed of girls educated on the French system. You would have laughed to have seen us bill together. She knew no English & I was the only one there (the Captain being ill in bed) who knew any thing in French. And also the extent of my knowledge in French was very mediocre, so that my communications with her in that language were very slight. To do away with the awkwardness of sitting all moping & silent, I attempted to converse in spite of my consciousness that my pronunciation & idioms were scarcely French – but when she answered me, she spoke so fast, that I could not follow her. By the time we reached Monte Video we were upon a much better footing & could understand each other possablement bien. As far as I could judge her education had been solid as well as elegant, & her understanding well informed & refined. Both were excellent eaters and devoured not a moderate quantity of our English fare with no small gusto. They professed (I know not with what truth) a decided [admiration] for the English in manners, mode of living and accomplishments over every other nation, and declared that they admired them principally because they were the most cleanly nation in the world veritas magna est et provalebit – as here we have the candid admission of this often claimed & as often denied superiority, from persons whose countrymen are notorious for the very opposite quality.

We expected to have taken our leave of these ladies at Monte Video, as they had a letter from the Admiral requesting the Captain of the Samarang [8] to grant them a passage round the Horn to Valparaiso – and the Samarang was at Monte Video when we arrived. But when we told them that we had seen the Captain on shore with his mustachios, great beard, unwashed face, hands dirty as a sweeps, & the dress of a wild Gaucho – they acting on the principle of ex uno disces omnes decided upon going on to Buenos Ayres & there awaiting an opportunity of getting by sea to Valparaiso. This resolution of theirs, you are now aware led me the precious long dance which I had with them the first day of our landing at Buenos Ayres. May we never have worse passengers.

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