Born in County Mayo, Martin Haverty wrote two histories of Ireland as well as a book called Wanderings in Spain in 1843. It was published in 1844. Wanderings is a well written mishmash, partly about the politics of Spain in the early 19th century and partly a rambling travelogue. Luckily for the reader he decided to include a large chapter on Gibraltar.
Wanderings is an unusual account in that the author refuses to kowtow to the usual conventions adopted by British and American writers in which they unfailingly praise anything remotely to do with the British Empire - and in the case of Gibraltar its colonial Governors - while invariably going out of their way to denigrating everything and everybody else - particularly the civilian population. One could argue that this was because he was an Irishman. Perhaps so but then again in those days the Irish were themselves also British.
The Boating Party by Joseph Patrick Haverty, Martin's half-brother and one of the most prolific portrait painters Ireland has ever produced.
Martin Haverty's section on the civilian population of Gibraltar is in my opinion almost unique for its time. In fact the book - or at the very least the section specifically about Gibraltar - is worth reading just for that. The following quotes are taken from it.
The Place - The town of Gibraltar is situated at the base of the hill, on the western side, and consists chiefly of one long street, in the lowest part, with a few lesser parallel ones, that are gained by rather steep ascents. The buildings of interest which it contains are not very numerous. The Catholic Church is a spacious building, in the main street, dedicated to St. Mary-the-Crowned, but is not interesting in point of art or antiquity ; the Protestant church is a large pile, in imitation of the Moorish style of architecture; the governor's house was formerly a Franciscan monastery, and is still called "the Convent ;" the Exchange (see LINK) and Court-house can boast of nothing remark able; but the old Moorish castle on the hillside, which is used as a prison, is curious for its antiquity. (See LINK)
The Moorish Citadel ( 1833 - David Roberts ) (See LINK)
The garrison possesses a fine library and reading-room, where travellers are freely and kindly admitted on an introduction. There is also a theatre here, in which the principal performers are military gentlemen, the ladies, only, belonging to the histrionic profession.
Outside the town, toward the south, is the Alameda, (see LINK) one of the most delightful promenades that can be imagined, where no winter ever intrudes to wither the flowers of the charming parterres and several small but beautiful gardens farther on, are attached to the respectable houses, forming what is called the "South" - the fashionable quarter,- lying midway between the town and Europa Point, and commanding a prospect across the crowded bay and the Straits, which for pictorial effect, brilliancy of sky, and historical associations, can perhaps be no where rivalled.
Ascending to the summit of the rock, the view becomes greatly enlarged, the houses on the African coast can be most distinctly seen, and towards the north-east, the mountains of Malaga and Ronda present themselves, in the most delicate and varied tints in that pellucid atmosphere.
The principal curiosities of the rock are St. Michael cave . . .several lesser caverns, and the excavations in the rock (see LINK) at the north end, of which the principal gallery is called St. George's Hall. It is necessary to have the permission of the military secretary to ascend the rock, and view the excavations, but that is easily obtained, on leaving a written request at the proper office the preceding day. . . .
The Galleries (1800 - Cooper Willyams ) (See LINK)
Ascending by the "Mediterranean road," from Windmill-hill, at the south end of Gibraltar, we arrive, after passing by several caverns, and through long galleries, hewn in the solid lime-stone, at the foot of the " Mediterranean stairs," which lead us, by nearly 300 steps cut in the rock, up one of the most precipitous portions of its face, to the ruins of a tower which are situated on the highest pinnacle of Calpe.
The tower - originally styled St. George's tower, and intended for the flag-staff, was built by Governor O'Hara in 1790; but the home government not having been previously consulted, and the structure, when completed, having been thrown down by lightning, General O'Hara was allowed to defray the expenses of the enterprise out of his own pocket, and to have his name commemorated, along with the blunder, by the title of O'Hara's Folly given to the tower.
Seated on those crumbling remains, the eye wanders over a scene of indescribable grandeur and extent. The waves on the Mediterranean, at our feet, tossed as they are into fury by the west wind, and by the swell from the broad Atlantic, seem like the ripples raised by the summer breeze on the bosom of a fish-pond; and the shipping that brave the mighty tempest, look like the toy boats of children on its surface.
A mile is measured by a small opening of the compass on that vast chart, and yonder steamer coming up from Egypt with the mails of China and India, advances with movement imperceptible over the blue expanse. Looking towards the north, the mountains of the Spanish coast assume a thousand delicate and warm hues, as they retire in the distance towards Marbella, and Fuengirola, and Malaga, until the dim, snowy outline of the Sierra Nevada, and the mountains of Ronda, may be traced in tints scarcely perceptible on the distant horizon.Turning round by the east, the vacant horizon of the sea melting into the heavens puzzles the eye to define its limits. In the south, another continent appears be side us ; the land of the swarthy Moor and the wandering Bedouin is seen as distinctly as if it were separated from us only by a river. We trace the fortifications and the town on the Spanish territory of Ceuta, the last remnant of the old province of Tingitania which Spain once held on the Mauritanian coast. . . .
Signal Hill Station ( 1880s - John Miller Adye ) (See LINK)
The People - The nominal civilian population of Gibraltar—that is, what appears on the police returns - is from 17,000 to 18,000; but to this figure may be added a couple of thousands more, for those who reside there without permits; and there is, besides, a large fluctuating population of persons, who come for purposes of commerce, &c.
But nowhere else in the world, is there a community of the same extent composed of such a medley of races. The Moors here are very numerous, many of them being fixed residents, but the greater number on transitory passengers from the neighbouring coasts of Africa, whence they come with turkies, (sic) eggs, dates, escences, (sic) &c., for the Gibraltar market, and for the purpose of purchasing cottons and other English manufactures.
The costumes of those orientalists are distinguished by great variety; and some of the merchants of Fez and Tangiers, who may be seen lounging about the Exchange, waiting for auctions and smoking their long pipes, or reposing in the alcoves of the Alameda, exhibit at once grandeur and elegance in their rich and flowing robes.
The Arab from the desert seldom wanders so far, but the son of Ishmael, who from his costume appears to have settled down into more civilized habits, may be met at every dozen paces in the streets of Gibraltar; and the dark-skinned children of Africa, whether from the city or the desert, have retained traditions which teach them to feel there as on the soil of their forefathers.
Half the shopkeepers of Gibraltar are Jews, and they usually wear the eastern costumes of their race; that is, their clothes are made pretty much after the Moorish fashion, but are all of deep blue, and a close round cap of the same colour occupies the place of the turban.
There, indeed, those "living witnesses of Christ and the Prophets," stand forth in all the distinctness of their "monumental" character. They have a large cemetery on an elevated part of the rock, over Windmill Hill, with the Hebrew inscriptions beautifully carved on the tomb-stones: and it might be said that there the eastern blast from their own Jerusalem visits but little land in its passage, 'till it wafts the air of Palestine to the ashes of Israel's wandering sons.
There are on the whole, nearly 1,000 Jewish families in the fortress, and they have four synagogues respectably fitted up, though not of large dimensions. The European portion of the population too is as varied as it well could be for its extent. It consists, for the major part, of the descendants of the original Spanish inhabitants, and of natives of Spain who have acquired a settlement there.
Then come the Genoese settlers, the English, the Neapolitans, the Italians from Leghorn, the Germans, the Swiss, the French, &c.; although it may seem strange that there should be any from those latter nations there, considering the regulations that foreigners are subjected to; for they cannot enter the fortress without what is called "responsibility," that is, a guarantee for their conduct by a respectable inhabitant; nor remain there any time without a permit; nor finally become permanent residents without a special permission from the governor, which is very rarely given.
All these regulations, however, are easily evaded; more especially as they are not put rigidly in force in time of peace; and hence a great many foreigners, without regular permits, are concealed by friends while inquiries are made, or, by a temporary absence from time to time, pass as mere travellers or visitors.
The affair of the "responsibility" is made a matter of traffic by a class of persons called "Licidadores", who go on board the packets at their arrival, and offer any foreigner, who may be coming on shore to be "responsible" for him during any time he may remain, demanding no more than a duro or dollar for their kind offices.
The language of the place may be said to be Spanish. It is the principal one which you hear in the streets, and a great number of the people do not understand one word of English; but there is, besides, a kind of Lingua-Fracna (sic) through which the Spaniards, English, and Mahomedans are able to hold communication.
Among the strange costumes of Gibraltar is the red cloak with hood always worn over the head, and broad black velvet borders or trimming, which is peculiar to the women of the poorer classes. Without the black trimming it would resemble the red cloak and hood to be met with a few years ago in part of the west of Ireland.
Two Gibraltar women "talking to a Moor from Barbary " ( Unknown )
Everyone has heard of the "rock-scorpions." There are two species of them; one, to be found in the rocks on the side of the hill, or "up stairs," as they technically say there; but this I am told, is only rarely met with, and its sting at most produces a painful inflammation. The other is a mongrel kind, very numerous, and much more troublesome, its sting being aimed at the "purse," in which it causes a profuse haemorrhage that requires very cautious treatment; and what is worse, no one having any dealing with the people of Gibraltar can escape the insidious attacks of this latter species of scorpion.
The Catholic Church - The strange schism which has for some years past disturbed the Catholic community in Gibraltar, is a matter too remarkable to be passed wholly unnoticed. When the cession of the fortress to Great Britain was ratified by the treaty of Utrecht (A. D. 1704), (see LINK) a clause of the treaty guaranteed there the free exercise of the Catholic religion. The Spanish inhabitants continued to form the largest section of the civil population, and their congregation was daily augmented by the great number of Genoese engaged in mercantile affairs, who became settlers there in the following years.
It became necessary to provide for the religious necessities of this Catholic community, and after many years of neglect, the then governor, General Cornwallis, appointed in 1771 a committee or junta of eight laymen to administer the affairs of the Catholic Church in the garrison. In subsequent years this body underwent various changes, both as to its objects and the numbers which constituted it; and the uncanonical nature of the powers which it assumed, was often a cause of discord between its members and the vicar-general.
But those dissensions broke out in a much more serious manner than hitherto, shortly after the appointment of the Right Rev. Dr. Hughes of Dublin, as first Catholic Bishop of Gibraltar in 1839. Dr.Hughes soon perceived that the authority claimed by the junta was inconsistent with Catholic discipline, and was resolved at all hazards to resist their claims. He caused the simoniacal tariff of prices to be removed from the church, and ordered the sacraments and various religious rites to be administered gratuitously, depending on the small stipend received from government, and on the voluntary contributions of the people for the support of himself and his clergy.
The Right Rev. Dr. Hughes of Dublin - first Catholic Bishop of Gibraltar ( 1839 )
The junta of elders, as they style themselves, could not so easily relinquish the importance of office and the administration of the church finances; and a disgraceful schism was the result. They repudiated ecclesiastical authority in the affair, and bringing the case before the civil tribunal, they obtained a decree of the supreme court of Gibraltar, against the bishop, for the amount of church revenue that had been lost by his having caused the sacraments, &c. to be administered gratis.
The incarceration of the bishop followed. The case was then brought before the privy council, and the bishop, after a long imprisonment, liberated, the decree of the Gibraltar Court being partially quashed; and to pass over a vast number of riots and other disedifying transactions to which the affair has, for the last few years, given rise, it may be stated that the schism still exists and that in all probability, the removal of the bishop is the only circumstance which would be likely ultimately to bring about a reconciliation.
Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned (1875 )
The Monkeys - Among the zoological curiosities of the rock is also the tail-less monkey of Morocco - the same that is to be found in Mount Abyla, on the opposite side of the strait; (see LINK) but, notwithstanding that it is under the special protection of the law, this race is fast diminishing, and it is not thought that a hundred of them now remain; so that like other extinct tribes of men and brutes, the naturalist will soon look in vain for the monkey of Gibraltar.
Unfortunately the author's prediction was wrong. These nasty pieces of work are still thriving. And if Gibraltar's 19th century ancestors were anything like its present day population then one can safely say that they were regarded with very little interest - other than as a pest - by the inhabitants and certainly not with any kind of veneration.It is supposed that at the great convulsion of nature by which Atlantis was submerged, and the mare magnum and ocean first mingled their waters, this little animal, who had never ventured farther north, then found himself somewhat too far, and being cut off for ever from his native Atlas, and left sole occupant of ancient Calpe, so that it is no wonder it should be regarded by the inhabitants with some interest, and even with a kind of veneration.
The Apes ( 1854 - E. Widick )
The Garrison - The garrison of Gibraltar, when on a war footing, consists of 8,000 men; lately the number was only 4,000, but by the filling up of the regiments it has probably been raised to nearly 5,000. There are about 900 pieces of artillery, mounted and pointed, always ready for action at the shortest warning, and many more are lying by in order to be employed in fitting out naval armaments, &c., as occasion might require.
In consequence of representations made a few years since to the home government by an officer of artillery who had been stationed at Gibraltar, on the imperfect state of some of the most important batteries, and the total incapability of the fortress to defend itself against the great war steamers of the present day, with their enormous guns, which might play upon the town from a distance of five or six miles, while the heaviest guns then in the garrison (I believe thirty-six pounders) would not carry more than half that distance, an engineer was sent out, and the works surveyed, and the result has been that a new line of batteries is by this time completed, replacing the old ones along the water's side outside the South-Port gate. (See LINK)
Gardiner's Battery - one of the many
These batteries will be armed with guns of the greatest calibre and range, and the defence of the fortress be thus put on a footing adapted to the present state of the art of war. Less indeed has been done by art in the way of defence at Gibraltar than we find in many fortified towns on the continent, but are, however, some great works, the principal of which are the excavations on the landside with numerous embrasures hewn through the perpendicular side of the vast rock, for large guns looking out on the Spanish territory.
These excavations, however, are at too great a height to be as useful as they otherwise might be; and it is a curious fact that at the last siege the Spaniards dismounted, proportionably, more guns in those than in the other batteries. It is said also that the tremendous concussion of the air produced by the cannon when fired in those caverns, very soon disables the men ; and those who have read an account of the sieges of this celebrated fortress may remember the dreadful and destructive incident of the explosion of a box of gunpowder in one of the excavations during the fight.
Another great work of defence is the enormous pond which has been formed outside the works of the Land-Port gate, (see LINK) between the sea and the perpendicular portion of the rock, so as to cut off the only accessible passage into Gibraltar on the side of Spain.
The "enormous pond" - known as the "inundation" by some and as the "laguna" by the locals - and the Neutral Ground with the Spanish town of La Línea in the distance ( 1880s - George W. Wilson ) (See LINK)
Smuggling - The wealthy merchants of Gibraltar are of Spanish extraction, if I except a few Genoese; and the English commercial men there are merely factors and commission agents. These latter dispose of the goods consigned to them to the Spanish merchants, who in their turn sell them to wholesale and retail smugglers, who, by various means, transport them into Spain, there to be, by other ingenious contrivances, scattered over the face of the country.
Gibraltar is the grand smuggling depot for Spain, (see LINK) although it has lost much of its importance in that way, first by the erection of Cadiz into a free port, and secondly by the facilities afforded for the descent of smugglers on the Spanish coast from Algiers and Oran; and as soon as a fair commercial treaty shall be established between Spain and England, Gibraltar must, in a commercial point of view, dwindle into insignificance, its merchants pitch their tents elsewhere, and its whole importance depend upon its, after all, problematical military utility. I say "problematical;" for while the French hold Algeria, and Spain has the ports of Ceuta and Tariffa, it will not be worthwhile disputing the occupation of Gibraltar with the English.
An Algerian Privateer off Gibraltar ( Unknown )
It cannot command the straits so as to prevent shipping passing in safety between the ocean and the Mediterranean. The Spanish military position of Ceuta, on the opposite coast of Africa, would be as effectual in that respect, and the fortress of Tariffa, the most southern point of Spain, projects much farther into the straits, for the command of the passage, and has been rendered by art what Gibraltar was made by nature - one of the strongest positions in the world. Tariffa is impregnable from the sea, and has never, I believe, been wrested from Spanish hands.
From all this, however, it does not follow that Gibraltar will not be always useful as a depot of arms, &c., for the Mediterranean fleet, and as a safety harbour for English vessels trading to the Levant and the ports of southern Europe.
Some curious things might be told about the smuggling system to which I have just alluded. By the Spanish commercial tariff a heavy duty is imposed upon woollen manufactures imported, but the importation of cotton goods is prohibited altogether, and hence it is in that class of articles that the contraband trade is carried on chiefly.
So openly, indeed, is this smuggling traffic conducted, and so little secrecy is observed by the custom-house officers in their gross corruption, that the "Intendante" or overseer of customs, in such a port as Malaga, amasses a fortune by bribes in two or three years, and it is not unusual for persons to pay for the place, at the same time that they undertake it without a salary, while those who are employed under them never expect to receive the smallest emolument, save what they themselves extort from the "contrabandistas".
I have been told by a gentleman connected with the Spanish government, that the annual loss to the exchequer by this system cannot be estimated at less than 150,000,000 reals (£1,563,000); and Mr. Mark, in a report to his own government on the subject, goes farther; for he says that the value of the goods introduced by illegal means into Spain annually (a few years since) was a thousand millions of reals, which at a fair import duty of, say twenty per cent, would produce a revenue of 200,000,000 of reals (more than £2,000,000) a sum of great importance to Spain, in the wretched state of its finances.
The benefit to be derived from the trade with Spain by the English home merchant, would also be much greater than it can now be, were a commercial treaty established between the two countries on more equal grounds; for at present he is obliged to send goods of an inferior quality, that he can sell at the very lowest price to the smuggler, who must look for a considerable profit to cover his risks, and enable him to pay large bribes to the revenue authorities.
Thus all who have any honest interest at stake in the matter lose, and the smuggler with his friends is the chief persons who are interested in opposing all overtures for a just treaty of commerce. It is even certain that the manufacturers of Barcelona smuggle large quantities of goods from England and Scotland, which they afterwards sell as their own, and have stamped with their own marks.
The chief trade carried on by the steamer "Andaluz", which runs between Gibraltar and Malaga, is the conveyance of "contrabandistas" and their goods, which latter are landed through the custom-house in the open day ; and the French steamer, Phenicean, in which I travelled from Barcelona, is, I was informed, the most noted smuggler on the coast, the captain having been sometimes known to resort to the ruse of even running his vessel on shore, and putting up signals of distress, in order to get rid of his contraband consignments in an emergency. I might multiply facts connected with this singular system to an unlimited extent.
The wharf ( late 19th century )