The People of Gibraltar
1887 - Jules Verne - Gil Braltar

Jules Verne wrote his satirical short story, Gil Braltar as a parody of British colonialism. It was published together with Flight to France - Chemin de France - as part of his Extraordinary Voyages - Voyages Extraordinaires - in 1887. The drawings were by George Roux. Further details about the author can be found in those chapters concerning his two visits to Gibraltar

The main character is the eponymous Gil Braltar, a thoroughly incongruous character who decides to recapture Gibraltar from the British. His unlikely ploy is to to disguise himself by covering himself with the skin of an ape. This, he believes, will allow him to approach the Government House unrecognised and incidentally, gather the support of the real apes as well.

Gil Braltar leading his troops

Unfortunately the plan misfires and Gil Braltar is captured by General Mac Kackmale - the Governor of Gibraltar - who takes over his disguise. Mac Kackmale - or macaque mȃle - a pun on the French for the name of the real apes that inhabit the Rock - is as ugly as sin and ironically looks like an ape himself - without the need for any disguise.

The rest of the tale is total confusion - nobody can tell the difference between Gil Braltar and Mac Kackmale. Apes are confused with men and vice versa and when Gil Braltar is eventually subdued and exhibited throughout the world many claim that it is not the madman who is on show but Mac Kackmale himself. Eventually the General's own likeness to an ape wins the day and ensures the safety of the Rock.

Hard to tell whether this is Gil or Kackmale - but perhaps that is the whole point of the story

The rather eccentric moral of the story appears - appropriately - in the final paragraph;

This adventure was a lesson for Her Gracious Majesty's Government. Gibraltar will never be taken by men: but it had been shown to be at the mercy of the apes. It meant that England, that most practical of countries, would make the decision to send only the ugliest of her generals as governors, so that the apes would continue to be deceived. It would seem that this measure has ensured that she will keep Gibraltar forever.
All of which appears to be a light hearted if rather theatrical dig at the British as well as a take on the old legend that as long as the apes remain on the rock so will Gibraltar remain British.

Gil wrestling with Mac in the Convent while British officer look on in dismay