The Shores and Islands of the Mediterranean is essentially a series of engravings of various more or less well known places in the Mediterranean, created by various different artists followed by a brief description of the place itself also written by different authors. Those about Gibraltar were written by the Rev George Newenham Wright. The four engravings of the Rock are by Lieutenant H.E. Allen. The actual publishing date is not given but must have been around the 1840s
Gibraltar from the Sea.
Safe upon her sea-beat rock,
She may brave an army's shock,
For the British banner keeps
Safe the fortress where it sweeps.
The rocky promontory of Gibraltar, (Gib-el-Tor, the Tower-mountain, or Gibel-al-Tarif, Tarif’s Mountain,) is situated at the southern extremity of the Spanish province of Andalusia . . .
. . In the Rock and its vicinity are found quartz, flints, agates, breccias, and a fine quartz-crystal, colourless, and transparent, called by mineralogists, “Gibraltar diamonds” But the fossil remains, discovered here, are more interesting and extraordinary than the mineral riches. They include the bones of various land or fresh-water animals, intermixed with shells and spar, besides bones, probably of the monkey tribe, much resembling the human species.. . .
Connected with the geological curiosities of the Rock, are the “Back of the Lion,” and “ St. Michael's Cave.” The former is a sharp ridge, forming the apex of the peninsula itself, which is compared to a lion couchant, whose head projects into the Mediterranean. . . . General O'Hara ( see LINK ) is represented as the boldest adventurer, of modern times, who has visited the Calpe of St. Michael; he deposited a valuable sword at the terminus of his expedition, to be the reward of him who should have the courage to bring it away.
There is yet a story, less alloyed with fable than with romance, connected with this cave. Soon after the capture of Gibraltar by the English, a little band of Spaniards bound themselves by a solemn oath, to recover the fortress, or perish in the attempt. ( see LINK )
What follows is an entire potted history of the Rock from its very earliest days. That opening salvo giving Gib-el-Tor, or Gibel-al-Tarif as possibly alternatives for the origins of the name of the Rock - Gibel-Tarik (see LINK ) is the accepted version nowadays - does not exactly encourage further reading. As regards the place itself and its people, this what the Rev Wright had to say.
The town has undergone yearly improvements, yet still remains confined, crowded, and ill-ventilated. The villages at Catalan Bay ( see LINK ) and the Neutral Ground have induced many families to remove thither from Gibraltar. As the ornaments of architecture must here be sacrificed to strength and security, the houses in general are plain: the governor occupies an old Franciscan convent.
The English and Spanish have churches here: an exchange, session-house, library, ( see LINK ) and other useful establishments, are amongst its public buildings. The barracks are, of course, extensive, and the naval hospital one of the noblest in Europe.
The space between the town and Europa Point is occupied by the Almeda, or Mall - public gardens, and numerous villas, with green lawns in front, enclosed by hedges of geranium. Visitors are generally landed at the New Mole, ( see LINK ) and conducted through a disagreeable track to the town, where comfortable hotel-accommodation is to be obtained.
A short stay at Gibraltar cannot be unattended with instruction, pleasure, and often an accession of health. . .Amusements are provided from the well-supplied resources of the inhabitants of the Rock: and the commerce, although not considerable, is accompanied with so much variety, and conducted by the natives of such different parts of the globe, as can only be found on the shores of the Mediterranean.
The Levantine mariner, in a tight jacket and vest, blue trousers, and red cap - the Barbary Moor, wrapped in a sheepskin capote, or displaying the sacred green of his Prophet, and shuffling on in his yellow slippers “a world too wide"- the Spaniard, concealed within his dark loose cloak - and the British, decked out in what they consider national costume, present a scene of gaiety, variety, and surpassing interest to the traveller who has arrived for the first time from the cool climates of the British Islands.The population of Gibraltar amounts, at present, to 15,000 souls; and the trade, which of course is important, is valued at one million sterling.
Gibraltar from the Lower Signal-Tower, at the foot of the Queen of Spain's Chair
How ill becoming is it in thy sex,
To triumph like an Amazonian. ( Shakespeare )
During the memorable siege of Gibraltar, ( see LINK ) the Queen of Spain commanded a tower to be erected, from which, like another Helen, she might view the warrior-train, and witness the humiliation of her enemies. Such a consummation, however, she was not destined to behold; and the ruins of the tower, now called “The Queen of Spain's Chair,” are emblematic of the fortunes of the fleets and the armies that were destroyedin her presence.
The view of the Rock from this point is particularly striking. At its base the isthmus is spread out, dotted with Spanish sentry-boxes, that mark the limits of the neutral ground, and extend from the remains of Fort St. Barbara on the left, to those of Fort St. Philip on the right.
About half-way up the Rock, “the upper gallery" is marked in the Illustration by a dotted line; and within the white mural cliff to the right, is the gallery called St. George's Hall. The blue waters of the Mediterranean lave the isthmus on the left; the current of the Straits passes on the right: beyond which, the lofty pinnacle of Ape’s Hill, in Africa, rises to an elevation of three thousand feet above the sea.
Gibraltar from Algeziras
High on the rock that fronts the sea,
Stands alone our fortress key;
Ladye of the southern main,
Ladye too of stately Spain.
The term “Algezira" in the Arabic language signifies an island; and the harbour at this place being formed by two rocky islets, the Moors long since conferred upon it the name it bears. The site of the town, on a gentle slope descending from the mountain-foot to the margin of the sea, is agreeable and picturesque, and the broken but fertile surface in the immediate vicinity is watered by the little river Miel, which originates in the hills behind the town, acquires but little addition to its volume as it winds through the descending plane of Algeziras, and, passing on the southern side of the settlement, sinks almost silently into the sea.
The harbour, which is sometimes called the Bay of Gibraltar, expands its sheltering arms to the mariner, and in the rough blasts of winter the trading vessels of Algeciras ﬁnd a safe asylum at the embouchure of the Palmones River, which falls into the bay to the north of the Isla Verde.
Here once, ’tis said that commerce flourished, and Andalusia was then proud of her wealthy and independent city of Algeciras; but about the year 712, Roderick, the Spanish king, having carried off the lovely daughter of Julian, Count of Ceuta, ( see LINK ) the injured Afric sought redress, restitution, revenge, and, supported by Mousa the Saracen, invaded Spain. Algeziras was then the most valuable Andalusian city, possessed the safest port, and was at a distance so convenient, that there the angry father landed, led his little phalanx to the fight, and shivered the sceptre in the hands of the Spanish tyrant.
The penalty of Roderick’s rashness was the loss of his petty kingdom, of which the Moors taking possession, retained it until the year 1344, when, by a desperate assault, in which it is said artillery were for the first time introduced as military engines, the Spaniards succeeded in expelling the descendants of Julian and his Saracenic hosts.Frequently does the name of Algeziras occur in the military history of Andalusia, and of Spain: from hence the Iberians have long and fondly hoped that a successful attack might be conducted against the rocky citadel of Gibraltar, whose stern front looks lowering on the Spaniard at the short interval of the little bay; and here in 1727, twenty thousand veterans were assembled, under Count de las Torres, for the reduction of our impregnable fortress.
In 1779, when Spanish hopes and confidence had attained their climax, a second encampment was formed, of thousands destined to fall in the mad project of silencing the countless guns that open their fiery jaws from the ramparts of Gibraltar, and in establishing the superiority of Spanish bravery over that of Britons. . . . Two towns, the one probably of Spanish, the other of Moorish origin, occupied this pleasant, sheltered site, on both of which old time has inflicted his heaviest punishment.Ruin marks the position of the more ancient settlement; decay is rapidly effacing the more recent erections.
A noble monument of the power and the civilization of its earlier occupants still sturdily resists the approaches of old age; this is a splendid aqueduct, nearly one mile in length, by which the city-reservoirs were supplied with pure fresh water. Even yet, its form, proportions, architecture, and extent retain all the freshness of youth. In other days this place was called “Old Gibraltar,” but, having lost its wealth, commerce, and population; it appears to have resigned its very name also to the proud rival of its later years.
The natural beauties of the view from Algeziras are in some respect heightened by the erection of several forts close by the water-side, that stand out, and present bold and graceful forms: a fortalice called “Almiranta” occupies the summit of a conspicuous eminence, surrounded by rocks and crags; forts St. Antonio and St. Philip also contribute: to break the long, level line of shore, and to revive historic recollections.Several scenes of carnage were enacted on the spot where beauty and solitude now repose together; others as sanguinary were viewed from hence, and in which the Spaniard spared not his own life-blood. It was off this shore that the combined fleets of France andSpain sustained a signal defeat from the British under Admiral Sir James Saumarez, on the eleventh of July, 1801. ( see LINK )
Siege and strife these rocks have borne,
By the red artillery torn:
Human life has poured its tide
In the galleries at her side.
Already have the natural, the civil, and the military histories of this fortified rock been minutely described, in which the vicissitudes of one part form a strong contrast to the unalterable qualities of the other,—in which all other things appear to have undergone mutation, but the rock and the sea are the same forever.
It was here that a princess was chained to a wave-beaten rock, (see LINK) from which her African lover released her: here it was that a cruel and a vicious queen gloated over the ensanguined field of battle; it was on this rock the gallant Elliott planted the British standard, which the combined power and energies of two great kingdoms were unable to beat down; and, Gibraltar still forming an appendage to the British crown, continues to demonstrate her naval superiority, and to be a proud monument of the loyalty and the devotion of her sons.
The Hall of St. George is one of the numerous galleries excavated in the limestone of which the whole peninsula is composed, and which were enlarged and multiplied, and mounted, at the recommendation of Governor O'Hara.