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happened to pecially when the one of the Rockening gun
and whether it be the contrast with the surrounding barrenness, or its real beauty, I cannot say, but to me it appeared particularly charming. Still farther on are hospitals, barracks, out-stations, and the Mediterranean stairs, where a view of great splendour opens upon you as the eye catches the first burst of this midland sea, with the shores of Europe and Africa deploying from the narrow straits on either side, and the blue water, studded with the many white sails that daily crowd this great naval thoroughfare. All vessels passing in or out of the Mediterranean during the day, are challenged from the demand station at the top of the rock, and answer this inquiry by exhibiting their national flags.
As the gates shut at five o'clock, and none are allowed to remain in garrison without permission, we hasten on board, where, after dinner, we all came on deck to see the evening gun fired from the signal-house at the top of the Rock. It is a striking ceremony, especially when the night is dark or misty, as this one happened to be the minute arrives—the town clock strikes—the flash bursts forth like a ray of most vivid lightning, and ere the boom that follows has ceased to echo, the bugles from the fort send forth their startling notes; the drum-roll follows--and then a single stir is no more heard.
No quarters that I have yet heard or read of are more heartily detested by our troops than Gibraltar, and in no place is the difficulty of “meeting the enemy” more complained of. Verily ennui is written in the discontented phiz of every sub and captain cooped up within this great lobster-box. That there is reason for much of this I do not doubt; but much of it is owing to the course pursued by those Heautontemorumenoi, or self-tormentors, as there is not only no intercourse between the military and the civilians, but very little friendly intercourse exists between the military themselves, except at the mess-table. All the English residents are merchants; no others would come to settle; and as such they are without the pale of military society; there is consequently little or no return of civilities between them and their red-coated countrymen. But England has been termed by one who felt too sorely her superiority, “a nation of shopkeepers,” and long may she continue to boast so honourable an appellation.
The principal amusement here is hunting, which was formerly carried on with much spirit ; but discord has of late sprung up
among the Nimrods, and there is now an opposition pack ; but as we partook not of the politics of either, we hired horses, and one day joined the opposition harriers. The governor, his sons, and staff were on the field, and the navy officers, mids, mates, lieutenants, and commanders, all in full uniform, scrambling over the ditches, afforded even more sport than the unfortunate bagged hare. I soon, however, found a more rational and interesting amusement in visiting the ruins of the old Phænician town of Cartago, which lies about a couple of miles from Gibraltar, towards the Spanish town of St. Roque.
As the hour of shutting the gates approaches, we must push on the nags ;-—many a race takes place over the neutral ground to gain admittance, and if a red coat happens to be your companion, you will surely hear “that beastly hole,” “so confounded stoopid,” and such other endearing epithets, applied with a hearty good will to the mass of battery you are hastening into.
Sunday bull-fights at Algeziras ; visits to Tangier and Tetuan, pic-nics at the cork woods, with excursions into Spain ; hunting, drilling, dressing, undressing, guard-mounting, and private theatricals, form the yearly business and amusements of the garrison.
December 11.-The theatre opened to-night. Great were the preparations, and still greater the expectations formed from the known histrionic talents of the dramatis persona. The play was Rob Roy, and the efforts made by the performers to amuse was quite successful; and as, with one or two exceptions, no one of the performers knew a single word of their parts, it required a tolerable flow of ready language and native wit to compose an extempore conversation or address. But the admirable tone and look of a Scotch paymaster, and the humour of an Irish doctor, filled up the vacancies of a Bailie Nicol Jarvie, and a Master Owen, the only characters that deserve mention, except Helen M'Gregor, who was personified by a tall herculean captain, dressed in a soldier's plaid forage-cap, surmounting a formidable mob-cap, with the ends brought down under his chin, so as to form a great-coat to a tremendous pair of black whiskers—these jutting out on either side of a very red face, gave it much the appearance of that of a monkey's, when he has stuffed his pouches till they can hold no more. His petticoat, of dark drab
calico, was adorned with three flounces of different colours, to represent, I suppose, the Macgregor tartan. Whenever this damsel made her appearance, the laugh was sure to become boisterous, for, after the first sentence, she always came to a dead stop, and then, shaking her head with great solemnity, slowly retreated to the prompter's corner. I was informed by a gentleman next me, that this performer was never expected to know his part, as he fulfilled the numerous avocations of stage-manager, scene-painter, and arranger of costumes. A fat drum-boy played a striking impersonation of Diana Vernon! The embracings of ensigns, adjutants, band-boys, and corporals, were most amusing. The only actors who played their parts without a single mistake were the sentries ; but then they have pretty constant rehearsals. The scenery was in keeping with the acting ; whenever a cottage-gate, a stile, or a tree, was to be introduced into the background, the scene-shifter walked in, put it in the proper place, and there remained, holding it up till it was no longer wanted. I must not forget one most admirable view: the back-scene suddenly fell down, the green-room opened to sight, and afforded us a tableau vivant I shall not easily forget. But I must let the curtain drop upon my notices of this evening's performance ; for it was honoured by the presence of the governor and court, graced by the beautiful and elegant Lady Woodford, and being under the patronage of the garrison, is consequently an Almack's—above the powers of criticism, and beyond the influence of public opinion.
The next day we visited the galleries—a work of great labour, although, as a means of defence, the power of the guns placed in them has been much overrated, for being so high, they must be necessarily pointed at such an angle that the balls do not ricochet, but sink at once into the sand, when fired at an enemy approaching from the neutral ground. Some of the holes cut out of the solid rock are of great size, and contain several large carronades. Altogether there are 646 guns on the rock, mounted, and fit for instant use ; but upwards of a thousand could in a very short time be put in operation. The views from some of these rock portholes are remarkable for their great beauty, and the telescopic effect produced by the narrowness of the aperture is exceedingly curious.
Emerging from the galleries, we ascended to the flag-staff and demand station, which crowns one of the highest points. Through
the crevices of the stones grows the palmetta, or, as it is called, the “monkey bread,” also the asparagus and the caper plant. This latter is now preserved for use, and reminds me of a story I heard the other day of a gentleman who, for some trifling wager, was fool-hardy enough to get on the slanting point of one of the batteries, overlooking the sea, and dancing there for some minutes, till the neighbouring sentry remonstrated with him, and ordered him to desist ; but finding him still persist in his antics, he presented his musket at him—this brought the young gentleman to his senses, and the sentry to a court of inquiry for exceeding orders, in preventing the hero's disposal of his life as he liked best. The man (an Irishman, to be sure) replied that he had followed the orders of the governor, that “no one but Dr. — should cut capers within the fort.”
But to return—the prospect from the top is well worth the toil encountered in climbing the steep road to the artillery station. This great elevation affords a distinct view of the works beneath, the different forts, bastions, screens, curtains, scarps, and counterscarps. Europe and Africa approaching almost to a kiss; the blue waters of the Mediterranean below; the town of St. Roque; the distant eyrie-placed city of Ronda, and the plains of Andalusia, on the one hand, and the snow-clad mountains of Granada on the other, are objects in a landscape no where to be equalled for grandeur and sublimity.
Returning by the Mediterranean side of the rock, we inquired the use of some long guns and small batteries occupying positions lower down, where no landing could possibly be made, and were not a little astonished at the answer, that they were placed there “ to protect the smugglers against the Spanish guarda-costas ! !” These smugglers are becoming daily more intrepid, and have had frequent skirmishes with the protective force of late ; they have well-built, fast-sailing boats, with enormous latteen sails, which run closer to the wind than almost any other craft, and during the squalls so frequent here, they offer pictures of great interest, with often upwards of twenty men out upon the long bending yard, the top of which frequently dips into the boiling sea. They are solely employed for transporting English goods and tobacco into Spain, and the trade has succeeded surprisingly, as, from the present unsettled state of that unfortunate country, the guarda-costas are few and badly managed ; indeed some are afraid
to attack the smugglers. These latter watch their opportunity, and when the guarda is out of sight, put to sea, and when chased, run in under our guns; and as they all carry the British flag, we are bound to fire on the guarda, a circumstance of daily occurrence, but done more to frighten than hurt, one or two shots being sufficient to make them give up the pursuit.
12th.-We dined at the governor's, where the society of some of the fair daughters of England enlivened the monotony of the eternal red coats.
One of the principal wonders of this nest of scorpions is the magnificent library and reading-room, arranged with great taste, notwithstanding that but one Irish newspaper or periodical could (then at least) gain admittance, and that as a great favour towards an Irishman of the committee.
But we have remained here long enough ; it has rained every day since our arrival, and the cold is very trying after the genial temperature of Madeira ;-59° is now the daily maximum heat. As far as I have yet seen, I must say, that this is no place for invalids requiring a warmer temperature than England, and pulmonary complaints are the principal cause of death among the troops, when epidemics do not prevail. From this time, till our return to Gibraltar, I established a table of the daily temperature, at the different places we visited in the Mediterranean, which will be found in the Appendix.