The People of Gibraltar
1840 - Edward Delaval Hungerford Napier - 'Jacobing'

Hamet and Don Juan

Edward Delaval Hungerford Elers Napier was born in 1808 and was the step-son of Admiral Sir Charles John Napier. He was educated at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst in 1825, became lieutenant in 1826, and a captain five years later. He served with his regiment in India, returned home for a few years and then left for Gibraltar with his regiment  - the 46th Foot - in 1837.

While on the Rock he made frequent excursions into Spain and Barbary in pursuit of field sports and included some of his experiences in his book Scenes and Sports in Foreign Lands, which was published in 1840 ( see LINK ). He also edited a collection of letters written to his to his mother - Frances Elizabeth - while stationed in Gibraltar and published them in 1842 in two volumes under the title of  Excursions on the Shores of the Mediterranean.

The quotes shown below are taken from the first volume in which he gives an insight into the private and professional life of a middle ranking officer living in Gibraltar during the early years of the 19th century. Footnotes marked with an * are from the book. 

 Moorish Tower near La Almoraima   ( Frontispiece of book )

Fish Market
Before entering the enclosed precincts, sacred to the distribution of the supplies of the town, Genoese fishermen, in their red pendent woollen caps and sailors' dresses, display, under a long shed, the greatest variety of fish, some, of the most bright and beautiful colours, whilst others are hideousness personified.

Amongst the former are conspicuous, the brilliant crimson Salmonettes, whilst the Toad-fish, and the most disgusting specimens of blubber, deserve a place amongst the latter class. The Sword-fish and the classical Tunny often hold a prominent station amongst the larger tribes; but I in vain looked out for the iris colours of the Dolphin. There is also a great variety of shell-fish, to which I was a stranger, particularly a very large species of oyster, the interior of whose shell displays the most beautiful mother-of- pearl, and is about the size of a common sheet of foolscap. 

  Fish Market ( Early 20th century )

Charcoal Vendors from San Roque
Near the fish-market may be seen the charcoal venders, who bring their blackened and bronzed faces, bandit-like persons, and donkey-loads of merchandise from the precincts of the sierras and the Cork wood.

They are true specimens of the Andalusian peasant; the broad-brimmed sombrero, (hat,) the handkerchief tightly bound round the head, the short jacket and blue velveteen breeches, buttoning from the knee upwards, with silver studs, and confined round the waist by the capacious faja* of red worsted stuff, in which is thrust the tough ash plant, with which he belabours the poor "bourro," (donkey,) the bottinas and shoes of untainted leather, complete the costume, the dusky hands and countenances excepted, of the southern 'majo.'**
* Pronounced fakha, the sash, which forms an indispensable article of equipment of the Spaniard of the lower order.

** It is difficult to give an English definition of the word " makho," (as it is pronounced;) it is, a young man, who endeavours to unite in himself the several attributes of a blood, a dandy, a gallant, and a ruffian ; the majo must dress well, he must dance, woo the fair, bully the men, be able to tingle the guitar, write a sonnet on his mistress, or, on occasion, make use of his navaja, (or knife,) with a rival. It may be here observed, that the Spanish letter " Ahota," or "j," is always, before a vowel, pronounced as kh.

Charcoal seller in City Mill Lane Gibraltar ( Late 19th th century )

The Market
Passing the sentry at the gate, you enter the " Mercato," properly so called, and which affords every variety of food, both for the body and mind. Bread and fruit, game and garlic, oranges and onions, flowers and butchers' meat, are here displayed in endless succession. And the spectators and purchasers are of a no less heterogeneous description.

The Spanish Señorita
The darkly-clad and graceful Spanish senorita, with her flowing mantilla, waving fan, and gliding step - the homely Genoese damsel, in her crimson cloak, turned up and trimmed with black velvet - the black-eyed Jewess, whose " short upper lip" is fringed with the darkest and softest down—all these contrast greatly with the slouching gait, blue eyes, clear complexion, and golden locks, of the humbler daughters of Albion, Erin, and Scotia, the soldiers' wives, who are eagerly making their daily purchases.

Other Local Characters
Nor does the rougher sex present less motley groups to the spectator. Greek sailors, with their bagged trowsers and red fez - English tars - the Spanish contrabandista—the mean-looking Jew porter, with his black skullcap - the stately Moor, in his resplendent robes - give the place all the appearance of a masquerade; in the disguises of which, both the buyers and the sellers, the busy and the idle, universally participate.

The men of traffic seem to be all either Spaniards or Moors. The first appear to monopolize the sale of the vegetables, flowers, and fruit, - great part of the latter coming from Tarifa,-  whilst the Moors mostly deal in poultry, eggs, and fowls, vast quantities of which are brought over for sale, from Barbary, in large cylindrical baskets, which, peopled to suffocation by their feathered inmates, rest in huge piles against the wall, the owner going round occasionally, and feeding his numerous family with a handful of millet, which is eagerly devoured.

I was intently contemplating a venerable, white-bearded old man, engaged in this occupation, when another follower of the Prophet, whose better habiliments proclaimed a higher, or at least more easy, station in life, came up and said to me, in very tolerable English,
" How do you do?"
" Very well, I thank you," was my reply;
" and pray, who may you be ?"
" You not know me ? I Hamet!"
" Well, but who is Hamet ?"
" You not know Hamet ?" indignantly asked the old fellow. 
" Then you never read—my name appear in book—I dine with officers at mess—all that told in book - book at the library."

I had some time before been reading Cyril Thornton's life, ( see LINK  ) and it immediately struck me that this must be the " sturdy Moor," about whom he was nearly getting himself into a scrape, by asking him to mess at an inspection dinner; nor was I mistaken in my conjectures. On inquiry, I found him to be the identical person; but the poor old fellow had not passed under the yoke of so many summers with impunity ; although apparently in good health, he was bowed down by years, and shewed every sign of feebleness and old age.*

* Old Hamet keeps a shop for the sale of slippers, yataghans, dates, cushions, and other articles of Moorish produce and manufacture, for which you generally pay their full value. The old fellow has two or three wives in Barbary, to whom he occasionally goes over to pay a visit, and gets exceedingly wroth if quizzed on this topic. With any Mahommedan, this is always a tender subject to touch on.

Working -class Gibraltarian woman and a Spaniard from Algeciras ( 1833 - J.M. Michel )

Gibraltar is, I believe, the only part of Spain at all frequented by the Jews and Moors, both of whom were expelled from the country by the very unwise edict of Ferdinand and Isabella, who thereby sacrificed, with the former, a great part of the riches of the kingdom, and with the latter, much of its wealth, and many of the arts and sciences; which, even at that late period, were not much cultivated in the rest of Christendom.

As I strolled about this morning, I formed an acquaintance with a couple of Spaniards, who appear to be quite " characters" in the place, the one a diminutive little fellow, as broad as he is long, and selling game of every description ; if goldfinches, owls, and hawks, can be reckoned as such. However, he had lots of " conejos," (rabbits,) snipes, and red-legged partridges, on the merits of which, to judge from his never-ceasing laugh, and that of his auditors, he expatiated with great drollery.

The second is a very corpulent person, rejoicing in the name of Don Juan, a vender of fruit; he is the very picture of good-nature and content, and must, I should imagine, be rather a sufferer from the extent to which he carries the former quality, as a bunch of grapes, or an orange in his stall is never admired, but it is forthwith pressed on you, and all payment refused. Old Juan's stall appears to be the " scandal corner" of the idlers quartered in the neighbouring casemate barracks, who assemble here to crack at once his nuts and their spicy jokes.

Vegetable seller ( Late 19th century )

Windmill Hill Barracks
The whole morning was thus employed in sauntering about. My " companero" and myself were both equally astonished on seeing our respective servants make their appearance, each provided with a long string of tin cases fitting closely into one another, and giving intimation that the dinner hour had already arrived.

We were finally established in our new quarters, at Windmill Hill Barracks, where the lastly arrived regiment is generally sent for its first station; and this is probably a judicious arrangement, on the principle of seasoning them, by degrees, to the climate, which is much cooler there than at the lower part of the rock, and particularly more so than the town.*

* Some of our young hands are already complaining of the heat, but all the old Indians are delighted with the climate, which (at least, at this time of the. year) is the most delicious I ever experienced. The sun is certainly powerful, but not sufficiently so to prevent your going out at all hours of the day, and the nights are so temperate that I always sleep with my windows open, though with the addition of a blanket.

 I afterwards found that a difference of seven or eight degrees in the temperature often existed during the summer months between Windmill Hill and the more confined situation of the town, particularly during an easterly wind ; when at the latter place it was close almost to suffocation, a fine refreshing breeze always cooled the air at the "Windmill.

Plant Life on the Rock
With such a temperature it is not surprising that vegetation should prosper; and I was delighted on discovering, the other day, in the gardens of the Alameda, or public walk, some of my old Indian acquaintances of the tropics, in most sociable companionship with plants, both of the temperate regions and of the frozen north; with many others peculiar to this country.

Lover's Walk - Alameda Gardens ( 1865 - Gustave de Jonge )

The geraniums, intermingled with the prickly pear and aloe, line the walks of the beautiful shrubberies of the Alameda, whose fanciful kiosks and pavilions shoot up their spires amidst thick groves of the "bella sombra"* and graceful pepper-tree, intermingled with - the flowery oleander and gum cistus, whilst the date and pine are nodding familiarly to each other, or are bound together in ties of unity by a variety of lianes and creepers, amongst which are conspicuous the hardy blackberry plant, and the twining tendrils of the wild vine.

* The bella sombra, literally "beautiful shade," is a pretty tree, and of so rapid and easy a growth, that if a branch be lopped off the parent trunk, it in a few weeks takes root, and soon becomes a large tree.
The Alameda
So much for the ornamental part of the Alameda, for which Gibraltar is indebted to her great benefactor in every way - General Sir George Don, who converted the large and barren tract of ground on which it stands - and which was known by the name of the " Red Sands," and used as a receptacle for the sewers of the town, — into the terrestrial paradise which now charms the eye of every beholder.

The Moors, who, like the Orientals, are great admirers of natural scenery, generally congregate in these delightful pleasure grounds towards the evening, and, by the " Arabian-nightly" appearance of their variegated groups, greatly enhance the beauties of the landscape on which, at this hour, the setting sun sheds the last rays of his departing glory, ere, sinking behind the Tarifa hills, he dips his head under the waves of the broad Atlantic.  

Moors at the Saluting Battery  ( 1846 - J.M.Carter )

Nearly at the foot of the hill, immediately under this fairy scene, lies the gravelled and smooth expanse of the Alameda itself. It is here that, amid all " the pomp and circumstance of war," the six* regiments of the garrison are often manoeuvred; and here that, on a Sunday afternoon, to listen to the different bands, are congregated all the beauty and fashion of the place. 

And under the shade of the fine alamos blancos**" of which border the " arenal," may, on these occasions, be seen even a fairer parterre of flowers than that described above, and brought together from nearly as opposite regions of the globe. First on the list, as first in every amiable quality, though not, perhaps, in gracefulness, must rank our own dear and fair country- women ; next, the dusky daughters of Andalusia, with " forms of symmetry and step of grace," the mantilla setting off their faultless persons, whilst they eloquently converse with their brilliant eyes and waving fans.

* At that period the garrison was composed of the above number ; it has since been reduced by one regiment.

** The white elm—a tree somewhat resembling the aspen. The arenal and paseo are Spanish terms for the public walk, or alameda : the derivation of the latter word is probably from the Arabic, as are most of those commencing with the syllable al, the Arabic article. Meidan, I believe, has, in that language, the same meaning it possesses in Persian,—a plain, or large field, being so called.
The Fan
 But the " abaneco," the fan! In the hands of a Spanish damsel it is a thing of life, it can all but talk, and even its mute language is perfectly intelligible; according to its position and motions it either expresses pleasure or anger, consent or denial; it moves with such ease, as to have the appearance of being a part of the elegant creature who wields it, and who would as soon think of stirring abroad 'sans' shoes as without the dear 'abaneco'.  

Allegorical Daughter of Our Empire - Gibraltar  ( 1886 - Edward Long )

How the Locals Dress
We have enumerated the white roses of our own country, and the dark, deep damask ones of Spain; we must now conclude with the dusky dahlias of Gibraltar, and the Jewish "passion flowers," which abound there. Shame on ye both! ye dusky " Scorpions!" ye 'impassioned daughters of Israel! for having deserted your banners; the one, in abandoning the mantilla of the South; the other, the gorgeous apparel of the East, to mimic the ungainly apparel of England and France, by assuming that abomination of abominations—the bonnet!

But such is the melancholy case, and I am told that even in Cadiz and Seville the " march of intellect" is thus displaying its bad taste by gradually abandoning the national costume of Spain, the most graceful since that worn by Eve, for the last " modes" from London and Paris.

General Don
Sir George Don has left a name which justly deserves to be here revered. He was the benefactor of that portion of mankind, amidst whom it was his fate to be thrown for so many years of his life, which he spent in doing all the good in his power, and in embellishing and improving the seat of his government.

Sir George Don not only made the " Rock" what it is at this day, by planting the gardens, forming excellent communications in every direction and by which you can ride up to the highest pinnacle of its cloud-cradled summit; but he extended his improvements far into Spain, which, I am told, is indebted to him for the capital road now running through the Cork wood as far as the convent of the Almoraima, to an extent of ten or twelve miles.
Neutral Ground
The Rock itself is a most extraordinary production of some great revolution of nature—a barren, weather-beaten outcast from its mother earth, to whom it is attached by the slightest of ties: a low sandy isthmus, beyond which extends a level tract of country, called the " Neutral Ground," on which take place our reviews, grand brigade-days, races, etc.


Trip to Algeciras
I never was at any place where the duties were more numerous, and yet, strange to say, I never liked any place better. I will now venture on some account of an excursion I made to Algeciras, on the opposite side of the four of us hired a boat, and sailed across; it was about two o'clock in the afternoon when we arrived. The streets at that hour of the Siesta being all deserted, we hastened to the "fonda," or hotel, where the landlord happened to speak French; and forthwith ordered a good dinner, entirely " d'Espagnol" having previously made up our minds to swallow garlic, and every other abomination that might be put before us, to be able to say we had had a real Spanish meal.

At the door we observed a fine-looking young man, in a blue frock coat and epaulettes, whom we learnt from the landlord was a Spanish officer, on his way to join the army at Ceuta, on the coast of Barbary. I sent him my compliments, requesting his company at dinner.

The invitation was immediately accepted, and, in the meantime, we sallied out with him to see the lions. I cannot easily say how we managed to keep up the conversation, but, much to the astonishment of the rest of the party, we understood each other perfectly, and were the greatest friends in five minutes. He took us through the principal streets, the market, the Alameda, and to see an old aqueduct near the town; but as there was not a soul stirring, we hastened back to the fonda, where we found our dinner ready. 

But such a dinner! if there was one dish, there were twenty! First, soup; then boiled beef and cabbage, with radishes; then fish; then another course of meat and stews, followed again by fish; and lastly, lots of fruit; the whole moistened with very pleasant light wines.

  Algeciras  ( 1880 - William Lee Hankey )

Our friend Don something de Silben, ate, talked, and did the honours in great style; but he somehow or other took it into his head that a brother officer of mine, who was one of the company, had eaten nothing. Now my friend happens to have a very good appetite, which the Don would have observed had he not been so completely taken up with his own business; and the former was, moreover, very red in the face with his exertions, both in walking and eating . . .

After dinner, when the wine was being circulated, I asked my new acquaintance if he would come over to Gibraltar with us ? to which he immediately consented, but said he wished us before we went to see some of the Spanish señoritas; and as it was now the cool of the evening, there was a tolerable display of beauty taking their daily exercise by sitting at the balconies.

We at last got on board; the wind failed, and we were obliged to pull the whole way . .  . We landed in time to take him to our mess, with which he appeared much delighted, and was at last safely brought to anchor for the night on a mattress in one of the barrack rooms.

The Apes
These animals, which are often seen in great numbers, are, I believe, the only ones of the kind found in Europe. Marvellous stories are told of their origin here—such as their coming across from Africa by the submarine passage said to exist to this day, through St. Michael's Cave, and to communicate with Apes' Hill, on the opposite coast of Barbary. However, be that as it may, it is certain that they are very numerous, and also prove rather troublesome to the Genoese gardeners, whose " huertas" extend up the face of the rock, and who are frequently losers of grapes, oranges, and other fruits, through the nightly depredations of their avowed enemies the " monas," whose destruction is strictly forbidden by the standing orders of the garrison. . .

Their principal food consists, I believe, of the palmitto root, which is as sweet as a filbert, of its berries, and a herb called monkey grass, and it is astonishing to witness with what fearless agility they go up and down the perpendicular, and one would deem impracticable, face of the cliffs. During a Levanter, they take refuge on the western face of the rock, and shift their position with the changing wind.

The Son of the King of France
This morning has brought Her Majesty's ship "Asia," and the Duke of Nemours, the son of the King of France, who has just come from Constantina. There was of course a great tomashah on the occasion of his landing; the troops were all ordered out; he was received with a royal salute, and we were knocked about for his amusement the whole morning, on the Alameda. He is a fine-looking, fair-haired boy, apparently not more than eighteen, but seemed perfectly at home and at ease during the whole business.

Monkey's Cave
Lieutenant Lacy and my-self started off to explore Monkeys' Cave, placed at the south-east extremity of the rock. It is so called, as the monkeys are said in stormy weather to congregate here for shelter. The only way of reaching it is by means of a rope- ladder, which we fixed to one of the carriages of the guns, and got down the perpendicular side of the rock, until we landed on the platform, opposite the mouth of the cave.

This was nearly concealed by a large wild fig-tree, which waves over the entrance. The cave itself is of no very great depth, and is principally remarkable for the number of wild flowers and plants which grow about it, and which, from the difficulty of access, are seldom or never disturbed.

The air was literally perfumed with the white narcissus, and we filled a large fishing-basket with specimens of a great number of plants we had never seen before. Amongst the creepers I observed the passion-flower, and several old Indian friends. We returned up the rope-ladder, very tired, but amply repaid for our trouble.

The Apes ( 1854 - E. Widick Fishing )

With two companions I proceeded on a fishing expedition to the rocks at Europa Point; we all got very well down, by a rope-ladder, to the first landing-place on the cliff, where the ladder was thrown to us, and we had to tie it again to a projecting stone, and descended to a second platform: here poor A 's nerves failed; he could neither return nor follow us, and had to remain grilling in the sun for a couple of hours, until we had finished our sport.

As the rocks on this side go in a perpendicular direction into the water, it is of a great depth, but so clear that you can see the large fish in shoals many fathoms below the surface. I could not resist the temptation of taking a plunge off the rocks, but was disagreeably surprised on finding myself stung as if by nettles, which was occasioned by the numerous blubber fish floating about! Mem. In future to avoid blubbering.

San Roque
I went lately on an excursion, with a brother officer, to St. Roque, a small Spanish town, about six miles off. After putting up our horses, and talking a quantity of Spanish, we visited the church, which is like all Catholic churches, and then returned to the " fonda," (inn,) where we called for a bottle of wine and some glasses; found the wine very good, but rather weak.

After paying due respect to some of a better description, we mounted our horses, and galloped across the country to Gibraltar, where we arrived with unbroken necks; and next morning turned out with the jack boots and red coat, to meet the hounds, which threw off at the 'Pine Wood,' about eight miles distant.* I admire much the scenery of Andalusia, particularly the fine cork-wood forests, and the hills covered with the wild lavender. We had very little sport, and there were only three tumbles in the field, which consisted of about twenty red-coats.

* At this period, the " Calpe Hunt" shewed a very good muster of dogs, and we generally could boast of a pretty numerous field, who all turned out in " pink," as if at Melton Mowbray. And though the horses would not there have passed muster, still they were very good of their size and kind, and admirably adapted for the scrambling sort of work of galloping along and down the rocky faces of the steep sierras, which they were required to perform.

The fifty-second regiment supplied us with the master of hounds, huntsman, and whip. Major B occupied the important post of the former, whilst V and S performed the latter, all to the universal satisfaction of the members of the hunt. We threw off twice a-week, our principal meets being the First and Second Ventas, the Pine Wood, the Malaga Hills, and the Duke of Kent's Farm, situated on the verge of the Cork wood, whose old trees often repeated the echoes of " our sweetest music," making the welkin ring as we pursued our sport through its romantic and shady glades. 

Foxes were numerous,—too much so; and, although we sometimes had a smart run, I must confess that we seldom killed; a brush being quite a " rara avis" amongst us. This was owing to the quantity of earths, and number of foxes on foot at the same time—joined, perhaps, to the few good scenting-days we were favoured with. 
The Calpe Hounds (see LINK )
We have persuaded the colonel to subscribe to the hounds, and as he was anxious to see them throw off, I offered to accompany him, though still feeling rather weak from a recent illness, which confined me to my room for ten days; but intended to have returned as soon as they commenced running. 

We were rather late at starting, and obliged to push along smartly, when the old gentleman's horse beginning to cut sundry capers which did not please him, we exchanged nags, and what with the jack boots, red coat, and the colonel's warlike bear-skin holsters, I must have cut rather a curious figure.

Shortly afterwards, we fell in with the hounds, and found a fox in some gardens, near the First Venta. There was a large field out, probably forty; amongst them were a number of mids, who were galloping about in every direction, so that poor reynard was regularly mobbed. He never got out of the gardens, where he was killed, and the colonel, much to his satisfaction, was in at the death.

I offered now to give him back his own horse, but he said he had rather I rode him, which I agreed to do on condition that he would run all risks, being fully determined to take the jumping out of him, the sight of the hounds having completely dispelled my good resolution of merely seeing them throw off. The colonel's blood was also up, and he likewise determined to see the end of the fun.

The old Colonel's Horse
Away we went, drawing for a fox until we reached the Cork wood, ten or twelve miles from Gibraltar. Here we soon found, and went off at a killing pace over ravines, rocks, and hills, as hard as we could lay legs to the ground; so that, at the end of a quarter of an hour, on coming to a check, there were not more than eight or ten of the party in sight, amongst whom was not the colonel. 

By dint of the liberal use of my own sharp spurs, I had managed to keep up with his horse; but the beast was so fat that when we pulled up I thought he would have dropped under me, and as he appeared to have been sufficiently gruelled (to use a sporting phrase), and as I felt rather done myself, I turned his head homeward, and quietly jogged back, in company with M , one of our

On meeting the colonel that evening at mess, I said to him,—
"Well, sir, what became of you during the run? I quite lost sight of you in the Cork wood!"
" By Heavens," replied he, "I would have been well up, but my horse ran me against a
tree, which knocked off my hat, and by the time I had picked it up, you were all gone!"

No one can form an idea of the sickening sensation with which he sees his name in orders, particularly if he has a long arrear of debts to discharge. When an officer goes on leave, it is quite another thing; then he goes for his own convenience or amusement, and cannot grumble at making up duties that have been performed for him by others.

 I was particularly disgusted at being stuck on guard on this occasion; it is one of our hunting days, and I had full leisure to envy the red-coated gentry, as they passed my post this morning to meet the hounds. It has been raining the whole day, and they all returned rather the worse for mud, tumbles, and wet, but had a splendid run after a deer.

The Inundation - 'Past my post this morning to meet the hounds' ( Unknown )

A Prison
I spent last Sunday at St. Roque, with a brother officer, shewing him the lions, which his duties as adjutant had hitherto prevented him from seeing, and begin to be a capital cicerone, and as, with the exception of Major G , (who is an old peninsular man,) I am the only one of us who can speak the Spanish language; my services are therefore rather in request.
St. Roque is on rather a high hill, about five or six miles from the Rock.

It was built, I believe, when Gibraltar was taken from the Spaniards by those who did not choose to remain under the English dominion, and to this day they call themselves " inhabitants of Gibraltar and St. Roque." Lieutenant Lacy and I, after seeing the church, went to the prison, and were astonished at the number it contained—thirty-four culprits—fourteen of whom were confined on a charge of murder. They are all miserable looking objects, and were very clamorous for us to give them something, at the same time protruding their hands through the double gratings of the windows.

The village of San Roque ( 1860s - George Washington Wilson )

The Wolf
We were both moved into rather the pathetic mood at seeing a very beautiful girl feeding one of the prisoners through the grating, probably her father, and, perhaps, under sentence of death. Our attention was, however, shortly taken off by a fine wolf, chained up in the yard, and for which I tried to strike a bargain with the gaoler, for the purpose of giving him a little exercise before the hounds.

Castellar is an old Moorish tower, surrounded by a small town, and perched on a high rock forming part of a range of hills about eighteen miles from Gibraltar, and the property of the Marquis of Moscoso, whose usual residence is, however, at Cadiz; he seldom visits his " mountain fastness," except for a few weeks during the summer heats.

Lieutenant Bremner, an old Indian brother-sportsman, and myself, made a start from the " Rock" one morning, as soon as the lowered drawbridge enabled us to effect our escape. We were in our usual "shekaree"* costume, the fowling-piece slung over the shoulder, but with the addition of a brace of loaded pistols in our holsters, and a large knife in the girdle; for here, in these troublous times, more respect is frequently paid to these little implements than to person.

Following the windings of the beach, and occasionally stopped for a moment by the ropes of the fishermen hauling in their nets, we turned up the San Roque road, passed the dirty little village of Campamiento, where even the noisy curs were still slumbering; read, a little further on, the inscription on a small pillar marking the spot where, during the "guerra d'independencia," a single Spanish soldier had fallen, after putting to death or to flight some half-dozen French dragoons—then ascending the hill, left the good town of San Roque on our right, its Alameda on our " iziquierda," and were soon in sight of the Pinales, or Pine wood.

* Hindu for " sporting."

View from the beach at Campamento ( 1860s - George Washington Wilson )

We jogged along thus easily till we reached the Cork wood, occasionally falling in with a peasant proceeding to his morning's labour, or a stray contrabandista, who, ambling along on his mule, was drawling out, in a nasal tone, an interminable Andalusian song of war or love, as he returned towards his native sierras from some nocturnal smuggling expedition to the coast. Gibraltar, from being a free port, affords great temptation to this class, both by sea and land.

Those who carry on the vocation on the latter, are a fine-looking, hardy set, with frames inured to every species of fatigue and privation, and whose bronzed, sunburnt countenances are usually expressive of frankness and good-humour,—particularly should the " Caballero Inglez," whom he may chance to encounter, be sufficiently a scholar to return the courteous " Abour!" or " Vaya usted con Dios!" (may you go with God!) with which he is invariably greeted in this land of politeness.

If to this be added the offer of a cigar, of your new compariero you make a sworn friend, who is sure, by his amusing conversation, to while the time pleasantly away, and make the road you may chance to travel together, appear far shorter.

After penetrating some distance into the Cork wood, we dismounted beside a stream, with the clear waters of which we mixed some of the contents of our brandy-flasks, and, having allayed the immediate cravings of hunger with a crust of bread (much in the same manner that Gil Blas is said to have done with the barber's apprentice), we resumed our journey; but soon found that in the mazes of the forest we had lost our road.

Now, there certainly does exist a thing answering to that appellation between the sea-shore and San Roque, also from the first ferry over the Guadranque river to the Almoraima convent in the Cork wood; but these, owing their origin to that great benefactor of the Rock and its vicinity—old General Don, were paved with English dollars ; and the former is still kept in repair by yearly contributions from the civilians and officers of the garrison.

However, with these two exceptions, by the word 'camino,"'or 'road,' in Spain, if the reader picture to himself one of Mr. McAdam's smooth gravel walks, without a loose stone to grate against the revolving wheel, and with turnpikes at intervals of every three or four miles, he would never in his life be more completely mistaken; the ' camino,' and even often the 'camino real,' (royal road) is a mere track, at times sinking into a deep rut or hollow way, at others winding through water-courses and over high rocks, and frequently only to be distinguished from the surrounding country by "huellas," or tracks of cattle, should the ground be in a fit state to receive and retain them.

Under these circumstances, it is not to be wondered at, if, with so few landmarks and without compass, we should have got out of our reckoning. As we wandered on at chance, the scenery at every step assumed a more beautiful aspect,—the rough and wrinkled trunks of the cork-trees, with their dark ever-green leaves, by degrees made way for gigantic oaks, whose waving branches entwining overhead, were still more closely united by the matted tendrils of the wild vine, and numerous other beautiful creepers, which, swarming up the supporting trunks, luxuriated amidst the rich autumnal tints of the foliage above.

The pork, at this time of the year, is famed at Gibraltar for its superior flavour and delicacy, and I could now easily account for both, as we disturbed the repast of a large herd of swine, who appeared, in a nearly half wild state, to be roving through the wood, and feasting on the plentiful crop of fallen acorns. Still, though enjoying so much apparent liberty, they were vigilantly watched, as we soon became aware of, on stumbling on the picturesque group who were tending them.

These consisted of two men and a boy, and never could the costume of Gurth the swineherd have been more appropriate to the painter's canvass. Their swarthy countenances were overshadowed by the wide " sombrero" (hat) ; next appeared the coarse "semara," or jacket of sheep-skin, with the wool outside, and a cow's horn hanging over one shoulder, whilst their "nether'' persons were clothed in leather "inexpressibles," terminating at the knee, and buttoning up the sides, the leg and foot being protected by strong "bottinas" (gaiters) and shoes of untanned leather. 

Peasants from Andalucia

Nor were they without the means of defending themselves and their bristly charge, for amidst the folds of the ample red "faja" (sash) might be seen protruding the handle of the long clasp knife, which always forms a part of the equipment of the Andalusian peasant; and as we approached they were leaning on long, rusty-looking articles, which must have done duty as "guns" in the wars of the Moors, during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella.

" Buenos dias, companeros," said I, addressing the strange figures, who, had it not been for the respectable company in which we found them, might easily have been taken for "free sons" of the forest; " como vamos?"
" Buenos para servir a usted," was the polite reply.

" You appear to be well armed," continued I. "What have you to fear in this part of the country ?"
" Ah" said the elder man, with an expressive shrug of the shoulders - "sometimes the 'lobos' (wolves) come from the sierras, and a 'ladron' (robber) might also shew himself,"- methought, he glanced here at our holster-pipes,- "and 'tis as well to be prepared."

" I think you are quite right; but we have missed the road to Castellar, and will make a present to anyone who will lead us thither."
"You have indeed come much out of your way; but the 'muchacho' (boy) will take you there in less than an hour. Here, Juan! conduct these caballeros to the Castle."

We took our leave; and after giving the honest fellows a handful of cigars, (I always carry a supply of common ones for these occasions,) put ourselves under the guidance of young Juan, who appeared thoroughly acquainted with this leafy and pathless wilderness, through which we forced our way, until, after passing a stream, whose sides were thickly wooded with flowery oleander and gum cistus, and from the banks of which the fresh-water turtle slided, at our approach, into the protecting element, we found ourselves at the foot of the steep hill on which rise the proud turrets of Castellar.


Killing an Eagle
To reach this point, we had already consumed six hours since starting, and a long and weary ascent was still before us. As by a winding and most difficult path we approached the top of the hill, I observed a very large bird soaring over our heads: 'one of the barrels of my fowling piece being loaded with ball, I took a crack at him; the shot told, and it was a splendid sight to behold the monster toppling over from a height of several hundred feet, until he came to an anchor in the valley below.

We despatched our young guide for him, and it turned out to be a very large eagle, of such a size, that we could only carry away, as trophies, his head and wings, which, from tip to tip, measured nearly nine feet.

On reaching the Castle, the precincts of which we entered through a noble old archway, we went to what young " Juan" was pleased to term the " posada," or inn; but in this hotel we could trace not the least resemblance of what we remembered of either the "George" or the "Clarendon." However, as we had no time to be particular, we told the old "ama" (mistress) of the house to get us something to eat, whilst we visited the curiosities of the place.


We luckily stumbled on a very intelligent fellow, called " Sebastian," the " escribano," or writer, of the place, who took us over the Castle, which we found extremely clean, but very scantily furnished for the abode of a Spanish hidalgo. From a balcony overlooking the valley below, was one of the most magnificent prospects I ever remember to have witnessed.

On one side, the river Guadranque flowed at the foot of the hill, which it nearly encircled, the dark foliage of the Cork wood waving like an ocean of verdure beyond, in the midst of which, similar to a silver gem, was set the Almoraima; and, on its further bounds, the white walls of San Roque glittered in miniature, under the beams of the warm noon-day sun; whilst from the blue waters of the bay old Calpe lifted its dark and rugged brow, backed by the faintly-seen hill of Ceuta, and, still more dimly indistinct, the gigantic Atlas bounded the view to the southward.

After visiting the Castle, we went round the town, if such an appellation can be claimed by the fifty or sixty habitations huddled together, and perched like an eagle's nest on the top of the rock; however, Sebastian had no small opinion of the importance of this, his native place, and told us, with a look of exultation, that in the "guerra d'independencia" it had withstood an attack of the French, who had been obliged to retire from before its walls.

Castellar ( 1860s - George Washington Wilson )

We now returned to our "comida," or dinner, which consisted of a mess of eggs and bacon, fried in oil, and tomata sauce, with a strong dash of garlic, and placed in a wooden bowl, (without knife, fork, or plate,) on a large square piece of cork in the middle of the apartment.

Near this primitive table we seated ourselves, expecting at least a plate and eating utensils. As none, however, made their appearance, I asked the " ama" how we were to convey the savoury contents of the bowl to their respective destinations?—on which the oldame opened and closed her fingers in so expressive a manner as to leave no possibility of doubt on the subject.

Poor Bremner was so disgusted that, although he had yet scarcely broken his fast, he could not touch a morsel; but I was not to be thus put off my meal. I brought my hunting knife into play, and with shame do I confess, that I ceased not until I had made away with at least three parts of the savoury dish, which really was not so bad as it looked.

What remained I presented to a rather a good-looking but abominably dirty young woman, the wife of an old fellow who had forced his acquaintance on us, and was now very coolly taking a pull, uninvited, at the flask of wine which decorated our young table. Such are the primitive and unsophisticated habits of these sons and daughters of the sierras!

An Officer's Routine
As a full and true detail of the usual occupations and manner of passing his time, of an officer in garrison, may be considered interesting, I have appended the following account. On guard about once in seven days, the brigade out another day, a couple of days hunting, then regimental duties, courts-martial, etc., fill up the remainder of the week, and in good sooth there is no lack of occupation in this busy garrison. We used to think the duties at Dublin were rather hard, but they are ten times more severe at this place.

Then, as to my "daily" vocations. I rise at seven, study Spanish till breakfast time, then parade, then read or draw till four, ride till six, another spell at Spanish till dinner, and turn in about eleven .or twelve. Such is, when not interrupted by ill health or duty, my usual routine.

Jacob's Ladder and Devil's Bellows
Of late, we have been nearly cut off from the mess by the very boisterous weather; in fact, the Quartermaster, Lacy, and myself, form quite a little colony at the Windmill,— no communication with the world below, except by " Jacob's Ladder" and the " Devil's Bellows." The former is used to descend a perpendicular face of the rock, leading to the mess-house and officers' quarters, which are mostly in the former building, and situated on a bluff point, overlooking the sea, and about half a mile (by the ladder) from the barracks, to reach which on horseback from below, it is requisite to go over twice that distance.

Attending parades has, from the ladder, obtained the expressive denomination of "Jacobing;" and a man is said to have been severely "Jacobed" during the day, when he has been under the necessity of ascending several times to the upper regions.

His Satanic majesty has here numerous possessions: there is the " Devil's Tower," the " Devil's Tongue," the " Devil's Bowling-green," and the " Devil's Bellows;" but why they have all received these infernal appellations I have never been able to learn. The latter is a tunnel cut in the solid rock, through which runs the road from the town to the domains at "Hurricane Castle," as we have christened our eagle's nest.

The Devil's Bowling Green ( late 19th century - Unknown )

Inquisition Ruin
Having the whole regiment with us, we might, should we feel inclined to mutiny, stand a good siege. Our dominions are about a mile in circumference, containing the barracks, a few huts for the married soldiers, the Adjutant's and Quartermaster's houses, and an old ruin, said in former days to have been the Inquisition of Gibraltar.

The ruins of a house known to the British as 'the inquisition', although there is no evidence that it had anything at all to do with this notorious Spanish institution.

Rock Scorpions
The poorer class of 'Scorpions'* may also be seen issuing from their confined abodes, and, with basket on arm, ascending to the upper regions in quest of the wild asparagus, and other edible plants, particularly a sort of dandelion, which attains a great size, and is eagerly collected for the pot by these "botanists," who likewise lay a strict embargo on the numerous snails which are now seen cruising about, and which, under the name of "caracoles," are stewed down, into, it is said, a very palatable dish.

* Nickname given to the natives of the " Plaza," as Gibraltar is called, par excellence.
These good people appear, however, not to be over particular in the materials for their
cuisine; at least, if you may judge by the eatables displayed in the market-place. Here I have observed for sale, owls* and hawks hanging up in friendly companionship with
strings of goldfinches and yellow-hammers, amidst red-legged partridges and snipe; and, under the denomination of the finny tribe, scuttle-fish, and blubber, of the most disgusting appearance, exposed for food; whilst, in the vegetable world, the catalogue was swelled by heaps of enormous fungi and toadstools, at least, what in England we should consider as such, and baskets full of clammy and crawling snails!

* On my remonstrating with the fat little game-dealer who was disposing of these articles, and pointing out to him the abomination of eating such carrion, he tapped me on the shoulder, and said, " Amigo, you have never tried, or you would not thus abuse it;"— and then taking in his hand the sacred bird of Minerva, which was looking more grave than ever, and smoothing its ruffled plumage, he added,—" and the flesh of this bird has peculiar virtues; it is the finest thing in the world for ladies who are ' embarasadas' (i. e., enceinte) ;" and observing me smiling, he added, very energetically,—"nay, on this point I will appeal to every medico in the place."

Masked Ball
Not having been out of the house for nearly a fortnight; and though raining and blowing great guns, we ordered our horses, donned our pea-jackets, and, through wet and storm, started off for San Roque. Here we learned that a masked ball was to take place in the evening; but to go as we were, wet and covered with mud, was out of the question. 

It wanted twenty-five minutes of six, and the gates at Gibraltar close at this time of the year at a quarter after that hour: we were full seven miles from home, if not eight, and the query was, whether we could get there, take away our dresses, and be at the gates again before they shut us, not out, but in.

This, taking in the requisite stoppages, was allowing forty minutes for upwards of nine miles, including the return distance from Windmill Hill to Landport Gate. However we determined on making the attempt, started, as may be supposed, at a good pace, saved our distance by about two minutes, and, on getting back to San Roque, found at the fonda three of our officers, who had got the start of us, and were comfortably seated at an excellent dinner, which we good-naturedly assisted them to finish, had our cigars and coffee, and about ten o'clock went to the ball, which was held in a public room, very tastefully decorated with pine-branches, laurels, etc.

The company, consisting of between 150 and 200 persons, differed little from a similar assemblage in England or France. Quadrilles, (which they called 'rigodones',) waltzes, and country-dances, were, much to my disappointment, the order of the night, as I was anxiously looking out for the bolero, the fandango, and 'jota arragonez', accompanied by the national and enlivening sounds of the castanets; but the march of intellect appears to have penetrated even to this remote corner of Europe, which has undergone a course of civilization I heartily wished at the devil.

A Fiesta at San Roque   ( 1889 - Illustrated London News )

As is generally the case at public masquerades, the company was of rather a mixed description. This, in spite of disguises, we soon found out; however, being in uniform, we were obliged to keep aloof from partners who would have required little introduction, and were standing like Englishmen, not knowing a soul, and silently, with crossed arms, contemplating the scene ; but fortune befriended us.

In our occasional rides to San Roque, L and myself had frequently remarked some very pretty girls, who were generally to be seen at a certain hour taking that exercise common to ladies in Spain,—viz., standing on the balcony of one of the best houses in the place. Now, it so happened, soon after our arrival, that one of these young ladies was not so completely blinded by her mask but that she recognised L , and on passing him, asked in English how he liked the ball ?

He very gallantly rejoined, that to feel the most perfect delight with everything present, he only wanted her as a partner in the next dance, which she consented to, and thus laid the foundation to our spending a very pleasant evening.

The Señorita  M A , for such we afterwards found was her name, then introduced me to a mask who was leaning on her arm; we stood up as vis-a-vis, and, as far as my Spanish would carry me, soon found myself on the best of terms with my new companera, who did not speak a word of English.

I found means, however, to express my admiration of Spain, of the Spanish " hechiseras,"* and, above all, of her very charming self; and, although I had not an opportunity of beholding her face, nor could I prevail on her to let me have even a peep at it, I felt perfectly convinced that so pretty a lisp could only proceed from an equally pretty mouth, and such bright flashes from brilliant dark eyes.

* Enchantresses.

L 's dulcinea happened to be the only lady in the room who could speak English, and not having much confidence in his Spanish, he attached himself to her during the whole evening, whereat she seemed nothing loath. Towards the close of the entertainment, when the room began to thin, the masks gradually disappeared, and disclosed some of the prettiest faces I ever beheld.

Throughout the whole business, there was observed the greatest decorum, but without any attempt at sustaining the characters assumed, and of which they appeared to have no idea. We kept it up till four, then went  to the fonda, had some supper, mounted our horses, and, by the dawn of a lovely morning, wended our way home.

Peasants and Smugglers
The sight of a Spanish peasant travelling on his mule or donkey is at all times a pretty object, but amongst cork woods and roaring mountain streams, it strongly brings to mind the scenes of Gil Bias. A few contrabandistas (smugglers), with their picturesque dresses, the broad sombrero, overshadowing the dark countenance, the jacket worn over one shoulder, the belt with cartridges and pistols, and carbine slung at the back, complete the illusion. 

Spanish Contrabandista  ( 1856 - Richard Andsell )

As an early 19th century commentator on Gibraltar and its surrounding Campo, Edward Napier was probably unique. Here was a British officer who was prepared to spend time twice a day learning how to speak in Spanish. Not surprisingly he was one of the very few within his circle of acquaintances that could communicate properly with the locals and the people of the Campo.

His descriptions of his contacts with the ordinary residents is uncommon - to say the least - for the literature of the time and his obvious enjoyment at being with and finding out about Spaniard who must have been - at least from his point of view - well beneath him as regards class and education is all that much more admirable

And therein lies the problem. The reader is so taken who manages to come across as a warm and generous character that one forgets that his descriptions are probably far more representative of both the residents of the Rock and the Campo area than those mean and unfortunately ubiquitous images portrayed by so many of his contemporary writers about the Rock.

Non-British residents of the Rock at the beginning, middle - as in this account - and final years of the nineteenth century were neither, dirtier, less educated or less likeable than any other people in Britain living in towns of comparable size. And whatever they were and whatever they achieved it was no thanks to the British authorities who continued to view them throughout as a necessary evil rather than as an  asset.

Nevertheless, no book about the Rock  written  by a British officer that fails to praise or forgets to mention any military or naval triumph over the Spanish, cannot be all that bad.