Skip to main content

Gibraltar (2)

Wednesday 4th March - fine breeze this morning, almost amounting to a gale. The sky was overcast with lowering and rain-containing clouds, which did not fail to fulfil the promise which they held out. Torrents of rain fell fast and heavy - and we, who for three weeks past had had nothing but fair weather had ample amends made to us by the copiousness of the present supply. Frequent thunder & lightning accompanied the deluge. At 10 oClock A.M. we dimly descried the outline of the Rock, and advancing, with a fair wind, we had such a view of it, as was well calculated to give one a high notion of its majesty and sublimity - for the thick mist shrouding every other object and land from our eves, left it to be seen singly, rearing his head aloft in spite of the war of the elements & the thunder of heavenly artillery. At 10 oClock we came to an anchor in the Bay of Gibraltar, being six weeks and two days, since we had left it. We had not been safely moored more than half an hour, before the wind (which had been in the East) changed to the Westward, and blew directly in the teeth of those, who were close upon our wake, but who could not get in before the wind altered, & forced them to retire behind the rock.

Stay at Gibraltar

Thursday 5th and Friday 6th March - I went on shore on both these days - but saw nothing to remark in particular, more than I have already mentioned. As was to be expected, an air of greater bustle and activity than when we were here last, prevailed - the streets were more crowded, and every thing wore a different appearance. M.r Geach and I had indulged the hope, that we would have had the pleasure of seeing the greatest curiosity about Gibraltar, viz. the excavations in the rock, which afford one of the most formidable means of defence, and annoyance, as it is impossible to make any breach in batteries, which are formed of the maternal rock itself. We could have procured permission with the greatest ease, thro’ the kindness of a M.r Brown - but the Master had so much to attend to on board that we were unable to accomplish our purpose, to our great regret.

Bay of Gibraltar – Algesiras - Bull fights

We experienced much civility, indeed from the above mentioned gentleman, M.r Quentin Brown. He is a Scotchman, having been born in Ayrshire - and at present, his two sons are at the Ayr Academy. He has a large general store House, where our Steward &.c were supplied, and he also keeps the “commercial” Inn, which is large, airy, & very commodious. He shewed himself most willing on all occasions to oblige us, and exerted his endeavours to procure the gratification of our curiosity.

I like Gibraltar more & more every day - and I am astonished at myself, that I did not fully discover those beauties, which now forcibly attract my attention and admiration. The Western extremity of the Bay is Cabrita Point, and at some distance to the Northward of it, is the Spanish Town of Algesiras, which appears to be pretty large, but not very handsome. Here in the summer time, fine bulls fights are exhibited, the peculiar feature & disgrace of Spanish and Portuguese manners. At these shows, the ladies are invariably spectators and display the most indelicate and unfemenine signs of pleasure, when the poor animal is successfully tormented by the matador - forming as it were, and anomaly in the female character, when we see that sex whose characteristics ought to be gentleness and mercy, acting on the contrary, as if the greater amount of pain was a proportional addition to their delight.

Bull fights & Cock fights & Pugilism

It has been urged against us, that our cock-fights - and pugilistic contests are to the full as cruel, and disgraceful to the English nation, as the Bull fights among the Spaniards. Let this be admitted - and there are few sensible men, who will deny - but we can ask, with exultation, if our females attend such exhibitions, & take an indecent delight in the cruelty and bloodshed, of which the cock-pit, and ring are too often the scenes. No never - and I am persuaded, that no time & no actions could induce them to tolerate nor encourage these by their presence. I think the Spanish ladies, might even be prevailed upon to go a step further - and, like the matrons of ancient Rome, witness with pleasure gladiators mangling & slaughtering one another, to gratify a monstrous passion.

So fond are the Algeserians of their humane disport of Bull fighting, that, in the summer season, a part of the Sunday is regularly devoted to it - and must, afford, I should suppose, a strange contrast with the spirit of the lessons, which a Christian pastor ought to teach and inculcate.

Town of S.t Rogue - Europa point

But to return from this digression to the description of the Bay, - leaving Algesiras, which is built close upon the waters edge a considerable interval lies between it and another Spanish Town, called S.t Rogue. This interval is filled up with lofty hills, to the North of the Rock, and rather on the East side of the Bay. It is of a much less size than either Algesiras or Gibraltar, and might rather be termed a large village than a Town. Its position is its chief advantage, and it naturally attracts the great attention of those entering the Bay for the first time. To the Southward of this Town, the ground is high, and after a short distance, suddenly sinks down into a sandy plain, which is continued as far as the Rock. Part of this level space, is, as I mentioned before, called the “neutral ground.” After it comes the Rock, high towards the Northward, and shelving down towards the South, where it terminates in a rather low precipitous ledge of rock, called Europa Point, which forms the other extremity of the entrance into the Bay.

Saturday 7th March - this morning the wind had subsided into a complete calm, and we were doubtful whether we would be able to set sail or not. Our proper day of departure was yesterday, but it is always impossible to get thro’ the Straits with a foul wind. In the afternoon the breeze came on in our favour, at 4 oClock P.M. we set sail, with colours flying. I forgot to mention, that particular care is paid to obliging all vessels to show the colours of their particular nation, whether they be going up of down the Mediterranean - and if they do not, a cannon is fired to enforce them - and be they French, Spaniard or Dutch, the language which the gun speaks is intelligible to all, and its order obeyed without demur. This happened to us, when we were bound for Malta - but I omitted to note it down. The Capt.n had ordered the colours to be lowered, as we came out of Harbour, not being aware that they were any longer necessary. When we were abreast of Europa point, and while the Capt.n and officers were at dinner, a gun was fired with blank shot, which not hav.g been observed or attended to at first by those on deck, a ball was sent after us in another which passed over our poop but did not do any damage. Upon this the colours were instantly hoisted, and we were then left to pursue our voyage in peace.

As night came on, we entered the Gut - and I am sorry, that the darkness again prevented me from enjoying a sight of the opposite shores of Africa and Europe. I could however observe that the distance between them is by no means great, not above 10 or twelve miles, as they were distinctly visible even at night.