The People of Gibraltar
1859 - Richard Roberts - An Apex of Absurdity

Mr. Du Moulin and William Codrington

An Autumn Tour in Spain in the year 1859 was written by Richard Roberts and published in 1860. I have little to go on as regards who the author was - other than what appears on the frontispiece of his book. He was the vicar of Milton Abbas in Dorset and presumably once a student of Trinity College, Cambridge where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree. 

During his trip through Spain - he tells us - he was accompanied by the Earl of Portarlington, a friend for more than 20 years. An Irish peer, a cornet in the Dorsetshire Yeomanry and later appointed a knight to the order of St Patrick and unlike Roberts he was obviously well known enough to warrant a caricature by Sky in Vanity fair. 

"Port" - Lord Portarlington  ( 1878 - Vanity Fair )

Roberts takes great care to attribute Charles Clifford (See LINK)  as responsible for the photographs which appear in the book. Clifford - a pioneer of photography - took some of the oldest known pictures of Gibraltar. Unfortunately none of these appear in my particular edition of the book although it does include a lengthy chapter on Gibraltar, much of which I quote below.

The Rock of Gibraltar   ( 1861 - Charles Clifford )    
Arrival - We rode onwards between hedges of towering aloe, in the sunshine of early morning, or skirted the waves, which rippled gently upon the shore of Algeciras Bay; (see LINK) while the superb panorama, encircling “the Rock,” which extends from the snowy crest of the Sierra Nevada on the one hand, to the lurid fastnesses of the African mountains on the other, spread out before the eye a spectacle of such beauty and interest, as can hardly, perhaps, find its parallel in any part of the world, where earth and sea, mountain and lowland, fleet and fortress, citadel and harbour, crowded town and straggling  village, present themselves to the view in bright and rapid succession. 
It was nine o’clock on Sunday morning, December the 11th, and Church-Parade for the troops under canvas had just concluded, as we rode through the streets of Gibraltar, thronged, even then, with market-people, and camp-followers, who suspended for a moment their buying and selling, to stare at so strange-looking a company as we must, doubtless, have appeared after our long ride, and alighted at the Victoria, glad indeed to find ourselves once more under the roof of a comfortable Hotel. . .  
We found the Victoria very clean and comfortable, in spite of its cramped premises, and everything, that constant civility and attention on the part of the landlord, Mr. Du Moulin (a Frenchman, who speaks English remarkably well), and his son, could contribute to our comfort, was most willingly rendered. . . 
One of the very few travellers of the era who had anything nice to say about accommodation on the Rock - unless of course they were invited to stay at the Convent - the Governor's residence
The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity - We sought in vain for a church open for afternoon service. We tried the Cathedral . . . What a THING to dignify with that august title, suggestive of so much grandeur, solemnity, and reverential awe! Surely there can hardly be in Bath, Brighton, or Cheltenham, no, nor yet in London itself, a proprietary chapel even, that would not blush to see the building, where the first English Bishop of Gibraltar is supposed to have set up his Episcopal throne!

George Tomlinson The bishop in question - became the first Anglican bishop in 1842 ( 1917 - From Henry King's - Diocese of Gibraltar )
No wonder the bishop does not live there! And as if it were not anomaly enough to designate such a tabernacle by the same name as the glorious fanes of Canterbury, and York, Salisbury, and Ely, the builder (architect I cannot call him), has crowned his work with an apex of absurdity, by selecting of all others the Moorish style - the style of the arch-enemies of the Cross - to be the exponent of his ideas on the subject of Christian worship, as if England could supply no examples of what a church ought to be!  
After beholding such temples to the Most High, as the Cathedrals of Burgos, Toledo, and Seville, it makes one, as an Englishman, absolutely ashamed to stand by the shabby, mean, dwarf-sized edifice, erected by our countrymen beneath the shadow of that rock, where millions have been spent ungrudgingly upon batteries and fortifications. 
Although enjoying the privilege of a purer faith than any professed throughout the Peninsula, yet here in the eye of Spaniard, Moor, and Jew, we content ourselves with a building, which none of those religionists (did they possess our national wealth) would ever presume to dedicate to God, as the best he could offer, as we may well believe from what we actually know of their various places of worship! 

The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity
One of the first consequences resulting from such misplaced economy, is that a large proportion of our troops, if not all indeed, are compelled to celebrate Divine Worship in the open air, as we saw that morning when riding past the camp, an expedient that need not be resorted to, were a real Cathedral, at once worthy (as far as may be) of its high purpose, and of the nation from which it proceeds, to be erected on some suitable site, where the worship of the Church of England might be solemnized with all “the beauty of holiness,” so as at the same time to provide for the spiritual necessities of our own people, and, by the solemnity and becomingness of our devotions, to prove in that thoroughfare of nations, to the whole world, Christian, Hebrew, and Infidel, that “God is in us of a truth.”
An oddly rambling diatribe. Perhaps as a vicar he felt it necessary to make his feelings about the Cathedral well and truly known. In my opinion he was quite right to criticise the choice of style - it was indeed a strange choice. 
By way of repose after the fatigue of the last week, it was a never-failing amusement, to watch from the windows of our sitting-room, which fronted the Exchange and Commercial Square, the various phases of national costume and physiognomy, presenting themselves in ceaseless change on this spot of neutral ground between East, and West, where Europe, and Africa exchange greetings and merchandise, in lieu of the hostility and hard knocks, of former ages.

Exchange and Commercial Library in Commercial Square - then known as Auction Square   ( 1826 - Filippo Benucci )  (See LINK)
Sometimes it would be a regiment of dear old red-coats marching past, as Englishmen only can march, with “all the pomp and circumstance of glorious war,” colours flying, music playing - a sight, that ever sent a strange thrill through the heart, filling it with an almost overpowering sense of thankfulness for the privilege of calling Old England “Home.”  
Scarcely have the clang of cymbals, and the fife’s shrill notes died away in the distance, ere the scene is re-peopled, and the eye lights upon a motley crowd of sailors - passengers by the last steamer from England, rushing about furiously in search of “lions,” - grooms, and other belongings of the stable, productions of unmistakable English growth, a Frenchman or two, out of temper, and cynical (a chronic state of mind, it struck me, from what I daily observed at the table d'hóte, with French visitors at Gibraltar) - Spaniards, cloaked as usual, with a sprinkling of non-descripts, of no particular calling, or country.  
Africa too sent its contingent to that motley crowd, in the shape of Jews from Morocco by the score clothed in a most becoming costume of skull-cap, belted gabardine of dark blue, and white drawers, some of the wearers having long flowing beards, others being “shaven and shorn,” some bare- legged, others in clean white stockings.  
The next instant your eye is caught by the approach of an Arab, in turban of scarlet and white, with a long silk tassel drooping over his shoulder, snowy burnous, and loose trousers; while Hebrew women, with face half-veiled, and flowing robes of brightest hue, remind you of the recent expulsion of Jews from Morocco, (see LINK) an event that has added to the already teeming population of Gibraltar some thousands of involuntary immigrants. 
Those "non-descripts" - which formed the bulk of the Rocks "already teeming population" were in fact the majority of Gibraltar civilian inhabitants. There were about 16 000 when Richard Roberts came avisiting. His rather complimentary description of the Jews must have referred to those refugees from Barbary. 

Refugee Moroccan Jews in North Front     ( 1859 )   (See LINK
When I further mention, that right opposite stands a man selling superb scarves of crimson, and cloth of gold, the tableau vivant cannot be said to lack either variety of character, or the necessary ingredient of colour.
Ronda - This town used to be a grand centre of smuggling for the mountain-district, of which it is the capital, and from the nature of the country, and its proximity to Gibraltar, “Free Trade ” was once a very feasible, and (in the estimation of the community at large) a highly respectable, and even virtuous, method of earning a livelihood. Nor in all the South of Spain was there any spot, where travellers met with so much dancing, and strumming of guitars, so much liveliness and gaiety of manner, and picturesque splendour of costume, a few years ago, as in the neighbourhood of Ronda.  
Every second man you met was a contrabandista, while, as a very natural result, smuggling, in all its branches, was regarded by the public opinion of the district with as much favour, as along the coast of Cornwall, during the palmy days of the last century. 

Contrabandistas de la Serrania de Ronda - on their way there from Gibraltar  ( 1881 - Gustav Doré )    (See LINK)
But now all is changed. , Revenue-officers and the Guardia Civil have made smuggling a line of business that does not “pay,” and scores of people, who once were substantial housekeepers, know not, it is said, which way to turn for a meal. Their only resource is to plunder travellers, and, to do them justice, every opportunity for cheatery and extortion is zealously taken advantage of. 
. . . Most passengers by the P. & O.’s boats prefer going on board a hulk (see LINK) anchored about a mile out in the bay, the night before, there to await the arrival of the steamer, which does not approach the town nearer than this point. 
As, however, the Governor, Sir W. Codrington, had given  . . . an order, enabling our party to go out at any hour of the night, we were all very glad to stay at the Hotel, Mr. Du Moulin having arranged with a set of boatmen to row us to the steamer immediately on her arrival; an event which would be made known far and near, by the firing of a gun. The greater part of our baggage was already on board the hulk, and we retained merely what we wanted for the night. . . . 

Numerous hulks just off the old mole - one of which may have been used by P and O passengers while waiting for their steamer  ( Late 19th century ) (See LINK
. . . it would take us at least half an hour to get on board. So we hurried on through the darkness towards “the Ragged-Staff Stairs,” (see LINK) the point specified in the Governor's order for our exit from the jealously-guarded fortress, none of the usual ways being open until after gun-fire. 
The turning-out of the guard, the flashing of the lanterns reflected in the still waters of the moat, and the lowering of one drawbridge after another to give us passage, produced quite a scenic effect, imparting an air of mystery and romance to our departure from the shores of that country . . .  
Lucky indeed did it prove, we had delayed no longer. The steamer was in the very act of starting, and, as the purser told us on reaching the deck, three minutes more would have seen our luggage on its way ashore, entailing upon us the delay of a whole fortnight for the next boat . .