Sir William Codrington and Sir Richard Airey - Colonel Mitchell
Lewis Este Mills was born in New Jersey in 1836. A studied law at Yale and volunteered as officer during the American Civil War. He retired early and dedicated the rest of his life to travel. In 1867 he had his book Glimpses of Southern France and Spain published privately.
A selection of his rather inconsequential comments on his short visit to Gibraltar are shown below.
It was four in the morning before we started, and we reached Gibraltar about noon. In a few minutes we were pulled along shore by some Spanish boatmen, and our baggage followed us to the Custom-House, where, for the first time in Spain, my passport was demanded by a tall, awkward soldier, with a tight, red jacket, little skull cap, fastened to the side of his head, and a short rattan.
The Wharf and the view towards Spain ( 1844 - George Lothian Hall ) ( see LINK )
Producing this, examination of baggage was waived, and I received a permit to remain three days in the town, which, however, I did not take the trouble afterward to have renewed. On the landing was gathered the most motley crowd I ever saw — turbaned Turks and Moors, red- capped Greeks, English soldiers and sailors, dirty Italians, and Spaniards, and Jews, with a very Babel of sounds.Three days were obviously more than enough to see the sights. All the 'dirty Italians', possibly most of the Spaniards and definitely all of the Jews, were part of the local resident population.
Moors are plentiful at Gibraltar — some with long robe and turban, but the great majority clothed in a simple garment like a shirt of dirty white, leaving the arms and legs below the knee bare, skull cap on the head, and heelless slippers on their feet. The most remarkable thing about them is their walk. Large and well made, they have an erectness of figure and elasticity of step, which always commanded my admiration.
( 1832 - Commander Perry ) ( see LINK )
Whether all these 'plentiful' Moors were in fact Moors is open to debate. One would guess from his description that some of them would have been Jewish porters. ( see LINK )
We found a very comfortable sitting- room, with two most remarkable pieces of furniture — a piano and a fire-place — at the King's Arms Hotel, and a bed-room, which, though of the plainest, was most comfort-able ; and, of course, at an English hotel, plenty of water, and the invigorating blessing of Baths, whom a Cambridge student is said to have once pronounced the greatest benefactor of mankind.
Originally known as Griffith's Hotel, the King's Arms was one of the best in town. It was a corner building in Commercial Square, one side with its main entrance facing the Exchange and Commercial Library, ( see LINK ) and the other Waterport Street.
The original Griffith's Hotel ( Unknown )
The King's Arms Hotel ( 1879 - Gibraltar Directory )
Having letters to the Governor-General, and to Col. B., commanding an infantry regiment there, I took a hansom — just think of a hansom in Spain — and delivered them. Their receipt was followed by invitations to lunch and dinner, and many kind attentions on the part of Col. B., who also entertained us at his quarters, and took us all over the rock.The Governor in question was either Sir William Codrington - 1859 to 1865 or Sir Richard Airey - !865 to 1870. Col B is unknown.
Despite General Don's best efforts a few decades prior to Mills' visit, ( see LINK ) the town, buildings and streets of Gibraltar were indeed dirty. ( see LINK )The town itself is old, dirty, and uninteresting ; but the gardens, with groves of trees and shrubbery, lawns, and gravelled walks lined with geranium, cacti, and other flowers, are very beautiful, and afforded us many hours of pleasure. Contiguous to the gardens is a large, open, gravelled space, where the garrison is drilled, affording quite a brilliant scene in the mornings. Toward the southern end of the rock are the barracks and officers' quarters — some of the latter having neat little cottages, with gardens, and a profusion of flowers.
A view of the town showing the Moorish Castle, the Islamic Gatehouse ( see LINK ) and Stanley's clock tower against the skyline ( The National Archives )
One morning, after walking over to Col. B's quarters, a couple of miles from the hotel, and lunching with him, we walked to Europa Point, where he showed us the triple line of fortifications, each higher than that in front of it, that defend the southern approaches, and then wound round by a road to the eastern side. At some distance up the side of the rock is a cave, to which entrance is now forbidden, on account of the loss of a couple of exploring soldiers in it some time since. The inhabitants of the rock believe that there is a great hole in it extending down into the sea.
St Michael's Cave and a celebrated mystery. Less than a couple of decades before Mills visite Gibraltar, a member of the garrison, Colonel Mitchell, accompanied by a second officer managed to get themselves lost in the caves and were never seen again. As a result the cave was explored systematically for several years , but the remains of the officers' were never found. whereabouts was found. Further exploration was carried out in the mid twentieth century and every known part of the cave system was explored. They still couldn't find them.
Garrison Officers enjoying a spot of speleological fun in ( 1884 - Unknown Newspaper )
Reaching about the middle of the eastern side, the road ends, and we mounted stone steps, partly natural and partly artificial, to the summit, and after walking a few minutes longer, arrived at the highest point . . . where is the signal station. A small house stands there, to accommodate the signal-master and his family, who, by re- quest of the Colonel, brought us 'shandy - gaff' a drink made by mixing one bottle of pale ale with two of ginger-beer, and one which we found very refreshing after our tramp.
Three great guns are mounted there, pointing over the town, of which one is fired in the morning, one in the evening, after which all ingress and egress beyond the lines are forbidden, and a third at noon. When it is desired to give an alarm, as in case of fire or mutiny, the three are fired in rapid succession. . . .
Signal Station - aka el Hacho. The three guns are facing the Mediterranian rather than the town ( Unknown )
Somewhat fatigued with climbing up the mountain, we sat sipping our shandy-gaffs and enjoying the magnificent prospect. To the east was the blue Mediterranean, on whose shores were raised the cities, and on whose bosom sailed the Argosies of the nations of the dim past, now covered with the white sails of western bound vessels, detained by contrary winds.
To the south stretched Africa, land of then known. Before us rose the twin pillars of Hercules, and nearby lay Tangier, from which embarked the Moslem on his conquering mission. On the east, Tarifa, where he landed, shone white in the sun ; a little further stood the lighthouse of Cape Trafalgar, off the shore of which Nelson won his famous victory ; and beyond rolled the waters of the turbulent Atlantic, over which fancy easily wafted us to the society of friends and home.
To the north lay the plains and mountains of Spain, the white village of San Roque, a few miles distant, the dark shadows of the cork wood, and, between us and them, the neutral ground, on the respective borders of which paced the sentinels of either country. Not far southward from where we sat, was an old ruin, which we visited, of a tower built long ago by Governor O'Hara, with the idea that from its summit, with a proper glass, one could see over the intervening hills, and command a view of the Bay of Cadiz. As might be supposed, it was labor lost.
. . . There were formerly many monkeys living on the rock, but they have all disappeared except seven, which are forbidden to be molested, and of the appearance of each of which a record is kept by the signal-master.
The view towards Europa Point and Africa - and one of those monkeys ( 1851 - William Henry Bartlett ) ( see LINK )
Descending the western side of the rock, sometimes by winding walks, and again by long flights of steps which shortened the distance, we were overtaken by a shower, and hastened to our hotel, arriving just in time for an English roast of beef, which, after over five hours' constant walking, we were not sorry to see. One of the chief curiosities of the rock consists in its galleries, or tunnels, cut into the northern end. . . .
The Galleries 'cut into the northern' ( German Newspaper ) ( see LINK )
The weather, while we were there, in March, was most delightful, not too warm for exercise, nor too cool for open windows, and the gardens were filled with flowers. Our Consul, Mr. S. — to whom, as to his accomplished wife, we were indebted for many kind attentions, and for keeping us au courant with American news — has a farm a few miles from Gibraltar, to which we drove one morning, returning laden with beautiful flowers.