In 1844 a brand-new magazine with the kind of title and subject matter so beloved of Victorian readers - The Mirror of Literature, Amusement and Instruction - came up with an interesting if annoyingly truncated article on Gibraltar written by an unknown author. Here it is in full:
Few have visited this celebrated rock- the Fretum Herculaneum or Graditaneum (see LINK) of the Romans, the Estrecho de Gibraltar of the Spaniards - without being struck with awe and wonder at the magnificence, the sublimity of nature's works; - no one can allow his eye to wander from the promontory of Calpe (see LINK) or Gibraltar, over two seas and five kingdoms-—Seville and Granada in Spain, and Barbary, Fez, and Morocco, in Africa - without inwardly acknowledging the vastness of the workings of the Omnipotent.
On casting our eye over the kingdoms of Granada and Seville, the lofty ridges of the desert Del Cuervo, the mountains of Hagen Sanorra, and to the east the new town of Algeziras, the chain of mountains called the Sierra de Ronda, abounding in fruits and aromatic plants, meet our view. Near there stood Munda, celebrated in Roman history as the scene of the battle which took place between the sons of Pompey and Augustus, when they were disputing the empire of the world.
he name Gibraltar is derived from Gabel, an Arabic word, signifying mountain; and Tarik, a Moorish general, who conquered Spain, and disembarked near this place. (See LINK) The origin and foundation of the town are lost in obscurity. (See LINK) It is certain however, that the Phoenicians and Egyptians landed at Gibraltar; and the name of the Pillars of Hercules, (by which appellation this place was known, is nothing more than a tradition preserved among the Phoenicians, who came to people this coast, and who brought their gods and religious worship with them.
On the side nearest Spain, the internal fortifications made since the time Gibraltar was besieged by the combined armies of France and Spain, (see LINK) are truly astonishing . . . . . The most considerable of these excavations is the hall of St. George, (see LINK) which communicates with the other batteries established all along the mountains, and passable throughout on horseback.
Gibraltar which is more a military colony than a commercial one was taken from the Spaniards in 1704, and was ceded to the English by the treaties of Utrecht (see LINK) and Seville. (See LINK) Jewish Marriage CeremonyThere are three religions tolerated in Gibraltar - English, Catholic, and Jewish; still tranquillity and social harmony exists with the inhabitants. The marriage ceremony of the Jews here is worthy of remark.
The hall of the house of the betrothed, where the union is celebrated, is generally highly ornamented. At the end a stage is erected, on which seats are placed, one for the bride, and others for the mother and married sisters. The other women who are invited sit round the saloon. The bride then enters with her mother and sisters, her face covered with a long veil, through which her features are distinguishable.
The bridegroom enters, accompanied by the rabbi and the bride's father. A cup of wine is brought, which the new-married couple drink. They then pass it to the rabbi, who performs the marriage ceremony, then passes the cup to the farther, who, to show that no one can share the affections of the two lovers, breaks it in pieces in the presence of the whole company.
The engraving used and acknowledged by the magazine as being by J.H.Allan. It is taken from a book - A Pictorial Tour in the Mediterranean - written by him and plugged by the magazine. It also has one or two comments to make about the Rock which Allan visited both at the start and the end of his tour. Here they are:
May 8th. - This was a most splendid day; one in which I felt as if entering a new existence, - the whole body flexible, with the spirits thoroughly elastic, and fresh to enjoy the now changing scene. Entering the Straits of Gibraltar we rapidly rounded Tariffa, and approaching nearer to the African continent, obtained a complete view of the entrance to the Mediterranean, flanked by the promontories called by the ancients Calpe and Abyla, being the modern Gibraltar, and the Spanish fortress of Ceuta on the African side.“Hercules, thy pillars stand
Sentinels of sea and land.”
We anchored under the English batteries, but as the gates were closed, were unable to land. We had, however, plenty of amusement in observing the noisy Spanish boatmen who came off with fresh provisions; they were the most vociferous set I had ever seen, and continued to swarm the gangway till literally knocked down by some of our sailors. Having landed the mails, before midnight we were again under weigh, ploughing the surface of that deep blue sea . . . . .
After which the appropriate engraving as shown above in the Mirror of Literature magazine is included. It is followed, however, by a completely over the top description of the scene itself.July 1st. - On rounding Europa Point, our captain forgetting to hoist his colours, we had the pleasure of hearing a shot whiz over our vessel, and for which he had to pay ten dollars. We enjoyed our short stay at Gibraltar exceedingly. A pleasant excursion through the Alameda, the public gardens to the south of the town, (see LINK) led us by good bridle-roads through hedges of the stately aloe, gigantic cactus, and fine geraniums to the southern point of the rock, on which stands the light-house. Here, at what is called the back of the rock, the governor has a pretty little country-seat, with a fine view of the straits and the rugged coast of Africa beyond.
A similar view by a contemporary but unknown artist
The wind being westerly, and the sun not too hot, our ride was, although the last, the pleasantest we had in the Mediterranean. I am sure neither my companion nor myself will ever forget the rapture with which the beauty of the scene inspired us. We felt we breathed the air and trod the land of the free: no fear of scowling Spanish robbers, nor the stiletto of the lurking Italian, threw for a moment a cloud of anxiety over the horizon of our enthusiastic delight.