William Sweetland and General Henry Edward Fox - Mrs. Fox and Captain Young
The Duke of Kent and General Charles O'Hara - Toledano the Jew and Captain Skyring
Countess de Noailles and Sir Hew Dalrymple - Lieutenant-Colonel William Fyers
General Castaños and Morasca - Dominico and Domingo
George Thomas Landmann was an English military and civil engineer. In 1805 he travelled to Gibraltar and was promoted to captain of the Royal Engineers. He left the Rock in 1808 to join Wellesley in the Peninsular War campaign. In 1854 he published his memoirs in his two volume "Recollections of my Military Life" the first of which covers his stay on the Rock. The quotes and comments below cover refer to this book.
Arrival: As soon as the morning gun had been fired from the top of the rock on the following day, we were surrounded by bum-boats offering fruits and vegetables in great variety, with numerous other articles of consumption; and then also came Billy Pratique (William Sweetland, Esq.), the Pratique master, who, having received satisfactory answers to two or three questions, a mere form as regarded vessels from Great Britain, he granted us leave to have intercourse with the Gibraltarians. . . . Immediately on arriving within a few yards of the landing-place called Ragged-Staff, ( see LINK ) we felt a rise in the temperature of some fifteen to twenty degrees at least.
View of the central Line Wall with the Ragged Staff landing place on the extreme right
The mention of bum-boats is interesting as these enterprising individuals - both local and Spanish would continue to service visiting ships right up to the end of the 20th century. Wlliam Sweetland, incidentally, was actually the Harbour master at the time.
Catalan Bay: This small bay and village on the eastern side of the Rock ( See LINK ) was for many years rather difficult to get to. It was only during the middle of the 19th century that the place begins to draw the attention of visitors and writers who nevertheless still tended to describe it as a relatively uninhabited place where one could get away from it all so to speak. Landmann calls it Catland Bay, a name used by other authors of the era - something that makes me wonder whether this was not a case of a misspelling but rather the name it was known as by the Garrison at the time.
I was proceeding one day to the back of the rock in search of a large piece of the petrified water; and on reaching a little bay preceding Catland-Bay, with a narrow sandy beach, hemmed-in by rocks, I met General Fox's family returning, in consequence of Mrs. Fox having been nearly drowned, in attempting to cross that bay, by a wave which had swept her into the sea; and it was with great difficulty, and considerable personal risk to himself, that Captain Young, the General's Aide-de-Camp, had, by rushing into the sea, been able to save her; as both were several times carried backwards and forwards before Captain Young could regain and secure his footing. . .
General Henry Edward Fox was acting Governor of Gibraltar from 1804 to 1806. He had been sent to the Rock with the delicate task of restoring Garrison moral after the disastrous appointment of the Duke of Kent. ( see LINK )
General Henry Edward Fox
. . we had recourse to a most charmingly secluded spot on the Eastern side of the Rock, called Catland Bay, of which the name is sufficient to bring to my recollection, in the liveliest colours, numberless parties of pleasure in that charming retreat.
Such, indeed, were the attractions of its romantic scenery, and the delightful coolness of the shade, caused by the sun passing, at about one o'clock daily, behind the Rock which here formed the Western boundary of this place, and which rises perpendicularly to the height of about fourteen hundred feet, that, during nearly a whole summer, our mess assembled every Thursday at Catland Bay, there to dine under the thick foliage of grape-vines, trained so as to cover a large space by the side of a luxuriant vegetable garden, having a good well of fresh water within fifty yards of the sea.
During the preparations of cooking and spreading the tables, we usually passed an hour or two in rambling along the beach to the Southward, as far as the perpendicular cliff, which rises out of deep water to a vast height, and beyond which no one can advance on the shore. Others amused themselves in ascending the enormous bank of sand, extending from near the water's edge, at an angle of more than thirty degrees, to within three hundred or four hundred feet of the top of the rock, and consequently must be full one thousand feet high. On these occasions we were frequently pelted by the monkeys . . .
He makes no mention Sandy Bay possibly because at the time that bank of sand extended right down to the water's edge. It probably was not considered a beach in the true sense of the word until the construction of the road leading from Catalan Bay right through to Europa Point.
. . .I passed several very agreeable mornings, riding with the General until his usual dinner-hour, when on reaching his residence, he often invited me to dine with him. It was on one of these occasions, when the General and myself were passing along the side of his meadow on the Neutral Ground, on our way to the Eastern beach, or perhaps to Catland Bay, that we came upon a dozen or two of his sheep feeding there, accompanied by a black ram. His Excellency, turning to me, said, "Are you acquainted with the celebrated Sir Joseph Banks?" "Not particularly," was my reply. "I have been introduced to him by my father . . .Sir Joseph Banks must have been the celebrated English naturalist and botanist, a curious reference as Banks was by then a very old man had the lost the use of his legs and attended his scientific meetings in a wheel chair.
'Catland' Bay ( 1884 - A. Quinton )
. . . A few days after this, the weather being exceedingly hot, I set out to take an early walk before breakfast. With this intent, I went out at Landport, and then by Forbes' Barrier and the Devil's Tower and very soon found myself in Catland Bay, beyond which I was in hopes of picking up some mineral or vegetable curiosities. My hat was pulled down as much over my eyes as possible, to screen them from the almost horizontal rays of the morning sun . . .In this way, my thoughts quite abstracted from the rest of the world, I proceeded, having seen nothing living on the wide, extensive, and smooth sandy beach of Catland Bay. . . .
It was under all these circumstances, whilst a most profound silence prevailed, that I was roused, and, I will add, startled, by a loud voice, hailing me by my name in a broad Scotch accent, followed by a heavy groan. . . I was about the middle of Catland Bay, close to the margin of the sea, and could discover nothing on the sands excepting the waved line of sea-weeds, chips, corks, and such other matters as are generally found on every sea beach, marking the extent to which the last high tide had reached. Whilst staring about me, without omitting to look on the surface of the sea, the oily smoothness of which could not have concealed a chestnut, I was again addressed by the mysterious voice . . .
"My dear fellow, it is the spirit of your late friend Hunter, of the 42nd Regiment, who was last night murdered on these sands, and whose body lies buried within a few yards of the spot on which you stand, that now addresses you. I want you to return without loss of time into the garrison, and acquaint Colonel Stirling, my late worthy Commanding officer, with my fate, in order that my corpse may be removed and interred with military honours.
Needless to go on - his friend the adjutant was having him on buried under some nearby seaweed for some obscure medical reason. Those 'extensive sands' are not so extensive any more but perhaps the most interesting aspect of his general comments on 'Catland' Bay is the lack of any mention of any permanent village or indeed of anybody living there.
Anecdotes about O'Hara: General Charles O'Hara ( see LINK ) was the illegitimate son of General James O'Hara and his Portuguese mistress and - among other things - the Governor of Gibraltar from 1795 to 1802. Known as the 'Cock of the Rock' he was a womaniser of the first water. His exploits and rather unorthodox professional and private life lent themselves to all sorts of gossip some of which has been recorded for posterity by a variety of his contemporaries.
Landmann was posted to Gibraltar just after O'Hara had died but many of the good general's exploits were obviously still fresh in everybody's mind as several pages worth of stories gleefully recounted in his Recollections amply confirm. In the first of these the author recalls how he had:
. . . on many occasions, when rambling over the upper parts of the mountain, experienced severe thirst, particularly during the Summer season ( he had ) resolved on forming little depots of bottled porter, at such places and at such distances as should always put it in my power to procure the means of satisfying that distressing want.One of the author's hidey holes was in:
. . an exceedingly cool and well-concealed spot, within a few yards of the Mediterranean Stairs, and a little higher up than a Saint Patrick's cross, painted in red by General O'Hara, whilst he was Governor of Gibraltar. The situation in which the General must have been when he painted that cross, is so frightfully dangerous, that it seems to be almost incredible how any person, but particularly a man advanced in age, could have had nerves strong enough to venture to descend to that spot, whence, however, he was unable to return without aid,
. . and as he had no one with him, it is related that he remained in that spot for several hours, when, fortunately, an Artillery drummer, who was passing up the Mediterranean Stairs, was hailed by the General, and ordered to procure him proper assistance, and not to fail sending a pot of red paint and brush, all of which was, of course, as quickly at the place as the distance could permit; and it is asserted that, even with the use of ropes, some difficulty was experienced in rescuing the General.In mentioning the name of O'Hara, it brings to my recollection in the liveliest colours many anecdotes related of him, at the time to which I have just adverted, and whichare strongly indicative of the eccentricity of his character and of his attachment to off-hand men and abrupt measures.
General Charles O'Hara - Governor of Gibraltar 1795 - 1802 ( Christopher Bryant )
It was asserted that on a vacancy having occurred in his staff, an officer then serving with his regiment, stationed at Gibraltar, was anxious to be appointed the General's aide-de-camp; but having no introduction to the General, and no circumstance having brought him more under his Excellency's notice, than any other officer then in the garrison, he felt that none of the ordinary measures, such as memorials setting forth services, events, family connections, &c, could hold out to him any reasonable grounds for expecting to succeed.
This officer, however, appears to have caught at the true mode of proceeding with O'Hara; for, instead of puzzling his brains in drawing up a flowery and highly-wrought letter, he wrote to him nearly as follows -
"Sir, I take the liberty of offering myself to fill the vacancy which has occurred in your Excellency's staff; but, as I am almost totally unknown to your Excellency, I shall, perhaps, be refused; yet, as I am determined ultimately to succeed, I shall prove myself to be deserving of it, when I am sure I shall be appointed accordingly. "I have the honour to be . . "
O'Hara had frequently noticed the author of the above letter, as he marched past in mounting guard, and had formed a rather favourable opinion of him; and, on reading his letter, he immediately sent a message, desiring his attendance at the convent. On entering the room, his deportment was soldier-like, bold without being offensive, and blunt without rudeness; as he advanced, the General, in a loud and rough manner, said,:
"So, sir, are you the author of that letter?""Yes, sir," M replied, without shrinking from the responsibility, or noticing the offended air which the General had manifested."So, sir, it seems you are determined to be my aide-de-camp?""Yes, sir;" in a voice as firm as the General's, and in no degree daunted. The General then, with affected submission, as one compelled to give way to a superior power, said,"Well, sir, if that is the case, I have no alternative; I may as well yield at once. Certainly, sir ; - to be sure, sir ; -begin now, and send the town-major to me directly, that he may put you in orders ;- bring in your baggage, and seize possession of your predecessor's room. I have no means of resisting it, so commence this day."
And so from that day he entered on the duties of aide-de-camp to his Excellency General O'Hara.
O'Hara was a severe disciplinarian, particularly towards the officers, his favourite maxim being, "make the officers do their duty properly, and you may depend on it the soldiers will rarely fail to do theirs." On a special occasion, a great portion of the officers of the garrison attended a ball in the town, and kept it up to a very late hour, which occasioned many of them to be absent from morning parade, usually assembled at six or seven o'clock a.m., and, accordingly, reported themselves to be indisposed. Without much further inquiry, O'Hara gave out in the general orders of the day, that
"His Excellency feels much regret at the indisposition of so many officers of the garrison; and being fully aware that their anxiety to return to their duty, might induce them to leave their rooms before they may be completely recovered, the General desires they will confine themselves to their respective quarters for the space of fourteen days."
In plain words, they were placed under arrest during a fortnight. It was said that O'Hara carried his military zeal so far, that he neither rested night nor day, his mind being so entirely bent on satisfying himself of the strictest performance and obedience to his orders; in short, I have heard it related at Gibraltar, by those who had served there under his command, that he had the shoes taken off one of his riding-mules, on purpose that he might go night rounds, and visit the guards in the most silent manner without being heard, until he was very near the sentinel of the guard.
. . . As had been the long-established practice, O'Hara always attended the guard-mounting parade on the sands, at six or seven o'clock in the morning; and he took so much notice of the officers of the several guards, as they marched past, that he could generally, during the remainder of the day, name the officer on each guard.
One day he was proceeding out of South-Port ( see LINK ) in his carriage, when he passed an officer going into the town, and whom at the instant he remembered as having passed in review before him that morning, as commanding the South guard.
South Port Gate ( 1857 )
Upon this, the General immediately determined on satisfying himself as to the fact, and so convict him of the heinous military crime of quitting his guard, and ordered the coachman to drive with speed to the South guard. Away they went, at the rate of ten to eleven miles per hour, along the saluting battery; and, in a short time, the horses out of wind and covered with lather, reached the South guard, a mile or more from the place where the Governor had passed the suspected officer.
At the usual distance the running sentinel called the guard to "Turn-out," which was obeyed with all the alertness desirable; and the officer advancing, unobserved by the General, at a quick pace from near the carriage, drew his sword, then opening ranks, presented arms, and saluted in the very best manner.
At the sight of this officer, every doubt had been removed. "By Jove! It is he himself," thought the General, as he ordered him to turn in the guard, and beckoned him to come up to the carriage."Pray, sir," impatiently inquired O'Hara, "did I not see you but a few minutes agowalking very deliberately into town, near South-Port?""Me, sir?" with the greatest simplicity, and pretending great surprise at the question:"I am on guard here, sir.""Well, well, I know that, sir; you need not have supplied me with that valuable piece of information. Did I not, sir, I ask you again, did I not see you going into town, as I came out by South-Port?" his Excellency raising his voice, and his face reddening with anger at the officer's attempt to conceal the fact by his evasive reply.
The officer after a moment, in no way disconcerted, nor showing any symptoms of timidity, looked the General full in the face, and then, with great politeness, said, "Willyour Excellency have the goodness to state if that question is put to me by his Excellency General O'Hara, Governor of Gibraltar, or from yourself in the capacity of a private gentleman?"
The off-hand manner with which this question was put to O'Hara struck the right chord, when, after a few moments' hesitation, he replied, with a smile on his countenance,
"Well, sir, as a private individual I wish to obtain the information.""Then, sir, I freely confess that I did meet you at South-Port.""Well, sir, that is honest. Now, sir, I want to know how the devil you could get here on foot as quickly as I did in my carriage, and that, too, without any discoverable fatigue?"
"Sir, I shall conceal nothing from you in the private capacity you have selected. On meeting you, I strongly suspected that you knew me; and when you stopped the carriage to speak to your coachman, I guessed your motive, so, feeling that if my conjecture were correct, I had no means of saving myself but by arriving at my guard at the same time as yourself, I got up behind your carriage, the only method left me of securing that object."
"By Jove Sir!" exclaimed O'Hara, "I like your candour, and still more the dexterity and readiness you have displayed in extricating yourself from a position of the greatest danger, without which you would undoubtedly have lost your commission. I admire the man, who, when he gets into a scrape, can jump out of it at once. You must dine with me, sir, to-morrow," giving him a most hearty shake of the hand. "But take care, you must never leave your guard again; if you do, by Heavens! I'll break you."
Toledano the Jew: In the middle of the nineteenth century a large proportion of the local population was made up of Jews any Some from Barbary, others from elsewhere. They were, in many, ways the mainstays of the local economy fully involved in importing and exporting goods and generally together with the Spaniards supplying the Garrison with most of it perishable goods. ( see LINK ) The following is a story about the author's dealings with one of them
I had nearly omitted to mention one of the lions of Gibraltar, a Jew, whose celebrity for tossing up had spread far and wide, even to North America, where I had frequently heard his name mentioned on any one proposing totoss up.
Toledano was the man; and he kept a shop in the main street, on the right-hand-side ingoing towards Land-Port, and nearly opposite to a large house, late the European Hotel, but which, in 1807 - and perhaps a long time before, had been hired by Government, and occupied as barracks for officers.
The goods kept for sale by our friend Toledano, were chiefly coarse Barbary shawls, belts, woollen and cotton cloths, silk kerchiefs, and night caps, of many colours, ornamented ivory fans, particularly pomatums, Cologne-water, attar of roses, combs, brushes, &c &c &c
On entering the gloomy shop, the first distinct object that met my sight was a tall,skeleton-faced man, between forty and fifty years of age, with very small sparkling andsunken eyes, and a complexion somewhat darker than merely sallow. His dress consisted of a light brown or grey kind of dressing-gown, with loose dirty-white trowsers, and yellow morocco slippers down at heel, and cotton stockings, covering legs evidently too thin to dispense with the use of garters, an auxiliary, however, which he had never thought of much importance.
This was Toledano. On perceiving us enter, he rose from his seat, in a dark corner behind the counter, covered with glass cases, and in three strides, passing round its extremity, almost met us at the door, with his never-failing smile on seeing a new-comer enter his shop.
My friend, Captain Skyring, of the Royal Artillery, introduced me with due pomp and ceremony, stating my ambition to have the supreme felicity of tossing up with him. "Oh, sare, de honore vill be upon me; I shall enjoy very particular honore on dis occasion, - de signore Capitano dare," pointing to Skyring, "can say to you what great mans I have toss up. Now, signore, I toss for anyting you will speak, from one cob to one tousand cob, what much you say, eh?"
I was fully aware of the Jew's established practice on this subject, always to pay in goods, which he took care to value at double the real worth; but if he won, then he expected the amount in hard cash. This system upon the long run rendered his game perfectly safe, since it secured twenty-five per cent, in his favour.
Toledano repeated, the challenge to name the amount for which we were to toss, when I proposed that it should be for a modest cob (the Gibraltar name of a Spanish dollar), and which I won. I was then desired to pick out any article I might fancy; upon which I selected a small bottle of attar of roses, and which he valued as the equivalent of a cob, although currently sold in the streets by the Moorish Jews for less than half that sum; but Toledano's attar was, no doubt, of a very superior quality.
It was part of this artful fellow's system to settle the account immediately after each toss; for had he acted otherwise, by allowing the debt to be settled after several tosses, he could not have secured the profit arising out of the difference in value of money and goods.
( Mid 19th century M.C. Perry )
Thus, for instance, when I had won a cob, he immediately paid me with goods not worth half a cob, and if I had tossed again and lost a cob, I should have paid a cob in cash, leaving him half a cob in pocket; but if the payment had been left unsettled until after I had lost the second toss, in that case my winning would have been cancelled by having lost the same amount.
Toledano now pressed me to toss again for double the amount, but which, to his disappointment, I declined, postponing that honour to another day. Perceiving that I was immoveable in my determination, he presented me a large book, bearing the marks of age, and begged of me to sign it, an honour, he said, which had not been refused him, "as great deal of very great mans have sign de book as a toss-up vit de famos Toledano."
He now again begged very hard for "anoder litel toss-up, for no more dan two cobs;" and at this moment, the Civil Secretary, an officer of Artillery, holding a high and valuable civil appointment in the garrison, looked in, and gave us a nod, then passed on; upon which Skyring said,"That's the man, Toledano; he will toss-up with you for any amount you please, shall I call him in?"
"Oh, for my God, do not insult me by dat man!" replied the Jew; "dat man, Capten, sare," turning to me with eyes glittering with tears, and flashing angrily, "dat man rob me terribly! No, I beg his pardon, no, I do not mean rob, I want to say I was fool," evidently retracting the expression, lest he should have committed himself by an assertion too bold.
"Pray, sare, never speak of dat man vit me. Oh, I shall not long forget how I lose my money! But, den, who was possible to suppose such a great gentleman as dat Captain?" Half to himself. In looking over the book, I observed the name of the individual above alluded to, and that of a great many persons of rank; some ofthem were merely passing a few days at Gibraltar, whilst on their way up the Mediterranean, or returning thence.
The extreme vexation manifested by Toledano at the mere mention of the individual above alluded to, excited in me some curiosity to be informed of the cause, which Skyring related as follows:
Soon after the arrival of His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, at Gibraltar, as Governor, the gentleman in question visited Toledano, and was immediately invited to toss-up, which was accepted for the sum of a few cobs."But," said the new-comer, "Mr. Toledano, I must teach you the fashionable manner oftossing-up now adopted, and which you will at once perceive is neater and very superior to the old clumsy way."
"What is dat way, Capten?" quickly inquired the unsuspecting Jew, anxious to be up to the newest and neatest mode of tossing-up. "You will do me de great honor if you,teach me dat, Capitano,"- alternately using the Italian, Genoese, Spanish, and English pronunciation of Captain.
"Well, then," said the Captain, taking a piece of money from his pocket, and as itwhirled away in the air, "Heads I win, Tails you lose, that's the way we do it; now, Mr.Toledano, how do you like it?" "Oh, sare, dat is very pretty, I like dat very much," replied Toledano, quite delighted at the simplification.
"Then here goes; shall I toss, or will you, Mr. Toledano ?""Oh, it is just de same, I tink." Then up went the coin, whilst the Captainrepeated, "Heads I win, Tails you lose," and up came Heads. The Captain having fairly won, the articles were immediately selected as payment, and were valued as fairly as usual . .
The game continued for quite awhile, with Toledano absorbing his loses until he finally realised how he had been fooled. It is a silly story but I have included it because it is almost certainly apocryphal. If anybody put one over anybody it would have been Toledano over the Captain. The Jews in Gibraltar could be accused of many things - but being idiots was not one of them - especially where money was concerned. The story is much more likely one that was told to the author by one of his friends and it must have complied with whatever his ideas were about British superiority and gullible natives.
Countess de Noailles: Early in 1807 . . . , the French Countess de Noailles came to Gibraltar, attended by a man-servant only. She was direct from Madrid, and solicited permission to be allowed to enter the fortress, and view the fortifications, which Sir Hew Dalrymple very willingly granted; and I was again appointed to escort that lady.
General Sir Hew Dalrymple - Acting Governor from 1806 to 1808
Before I commenced the excursion, I waited on his Excellency Sir Hew Dalrymple; and, in reply to my inquiry if he wished any part to be reserved, he said," Oh, no! Show everything; the more the enemy sees of this fortress, the less he will be inclined to meddle with it."
The Countess de Noailles was then about forty years of age, tall, and still a very finewoman; her manners indicated the refined education she had received, and dignity andnobility marked every one of her actions.Her man-servant, her only attendant . . was in livery, and closely followed our steps. . . but . . I began to entertain suspicions as to his real capacity; and, instead of regarding him as a footman,
I could not refrain from viewing him as an officer of Engineers. and I reported it to Sir Hew Dalrymple.The first day was devoted to the works, extending from Land Port to the Rock-gun, including all the galleries. The second, from Land Port to the New Mole; and, on thethird, we visited Bruce's farm, Ince's farm, Pocoroko and St. Michael's caves, &c
'Pocorocko' was presumably a cave called Pocaroca which was prepared as a refuge for General Eliott during the Great iege but was probably never used as such by him.
Poca Roca cave ( 1800 - Rev C. Willyams ) ( see LINK )
All of which suggests that Landmann was an extremely well connected individual and this must have been at least one of the reasons for his rather familiar relationship with at least two of the Governors of Gibraltar. In the case of Fox he seems to have been a family friend:. . .On leaving Gibraltar in the afternoon of the next day, for Algeziras, she placed in my hands a letter for Lady Cahir, and requested I would forward it, which I failed not to fulfil; and she promised to write to me from Paris, and give me some information as to the fate of my mother's uncle, who commanded a regiment of Swiss guards at the commencement of the great revolution; and also respecting another relative then serving in the gardes-du-corps of Louis the Sixteenth, and belonging to the company of her father-in- law, the Prince de Pois; but I never heard from her, nor of her, after she left Gibraltar.
Soon after my arrival at Gibraltar, I became a frequent visitor at the Convent, and I there passed many exceedingly pleasant evenings with the honourable General and Mrs. Fox, their two daughters, and Mr. Henry Fox, an only son, then about fourteen years of age . . I believe that I was rather a favourite with the General, for whenever we met riding, he would either stop and exchange a few words, or sometimes invited me to accompany him; and he often listened with attention to my descriptions and details of various designs . . .
On riding with the General towards Windmill Hill, one day, I pointed out the Devil's Bowling Green as a place which might in the course of time be cultivated as a militarygarden, although at that period it consisted of the roughest surface of solid rock, completely honey-combed to the depth of five to ten feet, yet the points of the rocks were all nearly of a uniform height. . .
The Devil's Bowling Green( 19th century - Unknown )
Landmann also mentions that the sweepings of the street were carried . .
. . . to the Neutral Ground, and there forming a meadow for the use of the Governor, and which is daily extending. This practice is highly objectionable in a military point of view, since it provides the besieging enemy with abundance of excellent materials for erecting the works of attack . .
Map of Neutral Ground showing the area known as the Governor's Meadows ( 1831 W. H. Smyth )
Lieutenant-Colonel William Fyers: The kind and obliging reception we experienced from our truly worthy new commandant, Lieutenant-Colonel William Fyers, fully maintained his far-famed reputation for amiability of disposition and liberal hospitality, in which Mrs. Fyers and daughters kindly contributed their best efforts.( see LINK )
During many months prior to this period the health of our most excellent commanding Engineer, Colonel Fyers, had been suffering frequent attacks. He had already had theadvantage of a trip to sea with his family on board of his friend's ship, Captain Cockburn . . .which had been of essential service to him; he was, nevertheless, advised that his return to England would be highly conducive in restoring him to a more permanent improved state of health.
Accordingly, in the month of May, Colonel Fyers and his amiable family embarked for England, carrying with them the sincerest regards of every officer then at Gibraltar; and were followed to the place of embarkation by a vast concourse of the inhabitants, with sad faces and tearful eyes. On his departure the Colonel made me a present of some splendidly sculptured vases, and many valuable flowers.
I was. . . invited to dine at the Convent, and during the evening I had frequent opportunities of conversing in the French language with General Castaños, ( see LINK ) who appeared to entertain a very friendly disposition towards me, and amongst many questions inquired if I had as yet visited Algeziras, to which I replied that I had not; he then said, "I shall be very glad to see you whenever it may be agreeable and convenient to you, and I hope you will not long deprive me of this pleasure."
General Francisco Castaños
Domesticity, Food and Drink and Fun: The house allotted to me was in South Port Street, nearly opposite to the South Store-house . . . Before midnight, I had not only set up my folding bedstead, but my bed-room furniture was completely arranged; and, moreover, my mosquito curtains were in their place, the luxury of luxuries in a warm or hot climate, and might be a very agreeable protection against the annoyance of the music and bites of the gnats, and also of the common black flies.
South Port Street - today the southern end of Main Street ( Early 20th century )
Although I devoted a good deal of time to pleasure, I nevertheless almost constantly employed a professor for my improvement, or to enlarge my acquirements.To this end . . I received instruction in the Italian language from a native of thatcountry, named Morasca; afterwards, I endeavoured to acquire the talent of playing on the Spanish guitar, under the able tuition of Pagliare, an Italian; and on his departure for Cadiz I took lessons from Dominico, and then from Domingo, both of them Spaniards.
After this, I turned my attention to miniature painting, and in succession had the advantage of two instructors; one of them a first-rate artist, and who, in a shor stay at Gibraltar, realized a considerable amount for portrait painting. This, last occupation procured for me much pleasure. . .
We passed the evening very pleasantly . . . having given us some cold beef and pickles, and a glass of negus, the usual bachelor's supper at Gibraltar in those days . .
. . .The pic-nic parties commenced about this time, as also country excursions. Many of these were now formed for visiting Algeziras, San-Roque, the Castle of Andalucia, the Orange Grove, Ronda, and even as far as Tangiers, Tetuan, and Morocco. But to go to most of these places, a special permission was required, not only from the Governor, but the application to be sent to Algeziras as regarded all places in Spain, to receive the Spanish confirmation there, and be returned.
All this evidently required a couple of days at least. Notwithstanding this sort of obstruction, the applications were very numerous, and large parties thus almost daily filled the Spanish hotels, particularly the one at San-Roque.
The Castle of Andalucia may have been the nearby Castillo de Jimena. The Royal Calpe Hunt ( see LINK ) was still in the future but these 'pic-nics' were forerunners of many that would take place - particularly in the Almoraima cork woods near San Roque - under the auspices of the Hunt in future years.
Castle at Jimena ( G . W. Wilson 1870s ) ( see LINK )
Places and goings on in Gibraltar: . .The stars seeming to be brighter and more numerous than usual, we descended by a very steep road, called Tumble-Down-Dick, to near the New Mole, ( see LINK ) thence by the ramparts along the saluting battery, &c, extending from near the New- Mole to Ragged-Staff. Close under this portion of the Line-Wall, lay the prizes or vessels captured from the enemy, until condemned and finally disposed of. The shore being here tolerably steep, these vessels were generally ranged with their bows towards the land, packed side by side, touching each other; and they were so numerous, that they occupied a considerable length of the beach.
At times, I thought I heard the splashing of oars in the offing. . and. . Kilvington hereon observed that it might be Spanish boats, coming over from Algeziras, to endeavour to cut out some of our vessels, which at times lay in the bay too far from the batteries and men-of-war, to be well protected. . since then, a large watch-dog has been kept on board each of the prizes, which has been found an excellent protection, not only against the Spanish boats, but also to prevent nocturnal plundering and pilfering, which, until then, had been practised to a serious amount.. . .
But last night the rascally Spaniards came across the bay from Algeziras, to cutout some of the prizes . . .we dropped our boats into the water and gave chase . . till we chased them in right under the guns of Pigeon Island" (at Algeziras) . . .Landmann was mistaken - Pigeon Island was North West of Cape Carnero. The island in front of Algeciras was known as La Isla Verde.
Detail of a map of the Bay of Gibraltar ( 1783 - William Faden )
Nothing further disturbed the stillness of the night, excepting, at intervals, a few unconnected chords struck on a guitar, which seemed to come from the direction of Guasco's garden, and . . we heard the periodical "All's well!" called out by every sentinel on the rock, in regular succession, as prescribed by garrison orders . . .