The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 49, July 1945 - April, 1946 Page: 502
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Fleeming, admiral of the British Navy. His early years were
spent principally on his father's estate at Gartmore in Scotland,
but the most pleasant recollections of his childhood were the
repeated long visits with his maternal grandmother on the Isle
of Wight. She was extremely fond of her Scotch grandson and
took great pains to give him a thorough knowledge of Spanish
literature and language. By the hour she would pour into his
eager young mind romantic tales of the adventures in South
America and Mexico of the early Spanish explorers and con-
quistadores. These tales stirred the boy's imagination, and he
quietly made up his mind to test his own fortunes in those
The opportunity to do so came unexpectedly early in his life,
for at eighteen, becoming impatient with formal educational
training, he sailed with an older friend and his parents' blessing
for Buenos Aires. Eight years-the happiest of his life he
repeatedly said-were spent on the pampas riding with the
gauchos, driving cattle, breaking wild Argentine horses, and,
in general, living the free, roving life of his gaucho companions.
At the end of that time, upon the insistence of his parents, he
returned to Scotland. The maturity acquired during those eight
care-free years, his aristocratic appearance, accentuated by his
shock of unruly red hair and Vandyke beard, and a quixotic,
romantic temperament earned for him the sobriquet of "Don
Roberto" by which name he was affectionately known for the
rest of his life.
Scotland he found a dull place, and, not content to remain
quietly at home, he was soon off to Spain and France. While
riding a spirited horse in Paris, he almost ran down a young
woman in the street. Before he could complete his ceremonious
apology, he had fallen in love with her. A few days later he
and the young lady, Gabrielle de la Balmondiere, a Chilean by
birth, were married.
Back in Scotland with his bride, he prepared to settle down
on the estate at Gartmore. A debt of some half million dollars
was hanging over the estate, and his father, who had inherited
the debt along with the estate, was quite willing to pass on the
inheritance intact to the next generation. Don Roberto and his
new wife, being more practical, began looking about to find
what they might do to help reduce this debt. At this time, 1879,
English and Scottish financiers were avidly reckoning up their
anticipated profits from investments in American cattle; the
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 49, July 1945 - April, 1946, periodical, 1946; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146056/m1/585/: accessed June 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.