The People of Gibraltar
1852 - Bayard Taylor - Djebel el-Tarik - Gibraltar

Bayard Taylor was born in America in 1825. During his life he tended to consider himself mostly as a poet but he also appears to have been acknowledged - at the time - as an excellent travelogue writer with many a contribution to well known American newspapers. Some of these were written in verse. 

That’s Bayard exotically dressed up as a Bedouin     (Thomas Hicks - From the Smithsonian)

He also churned out several books - some of them collections of the articles he had written for the American Press. One of these was The Lands of the Saracens: Pictures of Palestine, Asia Minor, Sicily and Spain published in 1859. The last chapter includes a rambling and somewhat uninformative 16 pages in which he describes his 1852 visit to the Rock. 

Gibraltar - 6th November 1852
In leaving Sicily I lost the Saracenic trail, which I had been following through the East, and first find it again here, on the rock of Calpe, whose name, Djebel el-Tarik (the Mountain of Tarik). . . . . . 
Tarik is Tarik ibn Ziyad,  the Muslim Umayyad commander who crossed the Straits of Gibraltar from North African in 711 AD. He is supposed to have landed somewhere close to the Rock. Djebel el-Tarik is a new addition to my collection of 40 odd different spellings of of what many suggest is the origin of the name of my home town, Gibraltar.
And now, right ahead, distinctly visible, though fifteen miles distant, lay a colossal lion, with his head on his outstretched paws, looking towards Africa. If I had been brought to the spot blindfolded, I should have known what it was. The resemblance is certainly very striking, and the light-house on Europa Point seemed to be a lamp held in his paws. The lights of the city and fortifications rose one by one, glittering along the base, and at midnight we dropped anchor before them on the western side.

The Rock with the town of Algeciras in the middle distance - Personally I have never been too convince about the similarity of the Rock to a crouching lion   (1860 - Fritz Bamberger)
I landed yesterday morning. The mists, which had followed me from England, had collected behind the Rock, and the sun, still hidden by its huge bulk, shone upwards through them, making a luminous background, against which the lofty walls and jagged ramparts of this tremendous natural fortification were clearly defined. I announced my name, and the length of time I designed remaining, at a little office on the quay, and was then allowed to pass into the city.  
A number of familiar white turbans met me on entering, and I could not resist the temptation of cordially saluting the owners in their own language. The town is long and narrow, lying steeply against the Rock. The houses are white, yellow and pink, as in Spanish towns, but the streets are clean and well paved.  
There is a square, about the size of an ordinary building-lot, where a sort of market of dry goods and small articles is held The "Club-House Hotel" occupies one side of it; and, as I look out of my window upon it, I see the topmost cliffs of the Rock above me, threatening to topple down from a height of 1,500 feet.

The Club House Hotel in Commercial Square
My first walk in Gibraltar was in search of a palm-tree. After threading the whole length of the town, I found two small ones in a garden, in the bottom of the old moat. The sun was shining, and his rays seemed to fall with double warmth on their feathery crests.  
Three brown Spaniards, bare-armed, were drawing water with a pole and bucket, and filling the little channels which conveyed it to the distant vegetables. The sea glittered blue below; an Indian fig-tree shaded me; but, on the rock behind, an aloe lifted its blossoming stem, some twenty feet high, into the sunshine. . . . 
 . . . But if an even balance was restored yesterday, the opposite scale kicked the beam this morning. Not a speck of vapor blurred the spotless crystal of the sky, as I walked along the hanging paths of the Alameda. The sea was dazzling ultra-marine, with a purple lustre; every crag and notch of the mountains across the bay, every shade of brown or gray, or the green of grassy patches, was drawn and tinted with a pencil so exquisitely delicate as almost to destroy the perspective.  
The white houses of Algeciras, five miles off, appeared close at hand: a little toy-town, backed by miniature hills. Apes' Hill, the ancient Abyla, in Africa, advanced to meet Calpe, its opposing pillar, and Atlas swept away to the east ward, its blue becoming paler and paler, till the powers of vision finally failed. 

Apes’ Hill as seen from Gibraltar   (1853 - Lady Patrick Crichton-Stuart)
From the top of the southern point of the Rock, I saw the mountain-shore of Spain, as far as Malaga, and the snowy top of one of the Sierra Nevada. Looking eastward to the horizon line of the Mediterranean, my sight extended so far, in the wonderful clearness of the air, that the convexity of the earth's surface was plainly to be seen. . . . . 
As I loitered in the Alameda, between thick hedges of ever-blooming geraniums, clumps of heliotrope three feet high and luxuriant masses of ivy, around whose warm flowers the bees clustered and hummed, I could only think of the voyage as a hideous dream.  
But all this (you will say) gives you no picture of Gibraltar. The Rock is so familiar to all the world, in prints and descriptions, that I find nothing new to say of it, except that it is by no means so barren a rock as the island of Malta, being clothed, in many places, with beautiful groves and the greenest turf; besides, I have not yet seen the rock-galleries, having taken passage for Cadiz this afternoon. When I return - nada - I shall procure permission to view all the fortifications, and likewise to ascend to the summit. . . .
As far as I know he never managed to get that permission - but then I certainly I haven’t read everything he ever wrote. But he did return although unfortunately he had even less to say about the place and its people the second time round.

Gibraltar - 25th November 1852
.  . . . Over hills covered with broom and heather in blossom, and through hollows grown with oleander, arbutus and the mastic shrub, we rode to the cork-wood forests of San Roque, the sporting-ground of Gibraltar officers. The barking of dogs, the cracking of whips, and now and then a distant halloo, announced that a hunt was in progress, and soon we came upon a company of thirty or forty horsemen, in caps, white gloves and top-boots, scattered along the crest of a hill. I had no desire to stop and witness the sport, for the Mediterranean now lay before me, and the huge gray mass of "The Rock" loomed in the distance.
The “dogs”, “whips” and “distant hallos” were those of one of Gibraltar best loved institutions - The Royal Calpe Hunt.

Prince George, the Duke of Cambridge, joining the hunt somewhere in the cork-wood forests - la Almoraima -  near San Roque  (Mid 19th century - George Cole)
At San Roque, which occupies the summit of a conical hill, about half-way between Gibraltar and Algeciras, the landlord left us, and immediately started on his return. Having now exchanged the rugged bridle-paths of Ronda for a smooth carriage-road, José and I dashed on at full gallop, to the end of our journey.  
We were both bespattered with mud from head to foot, and our jackets and sombreros had lost something of their spruce air. We met a great many ruddy, cleanly-shaven Englishmen, who reined up on one side to let us pass, with a look of wonder at our Andalusian impudence. . . .  
Passing the Spanish Lines, which stretch across the neck of the sandy little peninsula, connecting Gibraltar with the main land, we rode under the terrible batteries which snarl at Spain from this side of the Rock. Row after row of enormous guns bristle the walls, or look out from the galleries hewn in the sides of inaccessible cliffs. 
An artificial moat is cut along the base of the Rock, and a simple bridge-road leads into the fortress and town. After giving up my passport I was allowed to enter . . . I clattered up the long street of the town to the Club House, where I found a company of English friends. . . 
Two days later the overland mail steamer arrived and off he went to Alexandria - presumably hoping to find a few more Saracens to write about. 

The North face of the Rock across the sandy isthmus from the Spanish border   (1852 - Unknown artist)