A RECORD OF PERSONAL EXPERIENCES.
A Record of Personal Experiences.
JOHN AUGUSTUS O'SHEA,
"LEAVES FROM THE LIFE OF A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT," "AN IRON-BOUND CITY," ETC.
"Oh, lovely Spain! renowned, romantic land!" CHILDE HAROLD.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
LONDON: WARD AND DOWNEY, 12, YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN, W.C. 1887. [All Rights Reserved.]
CONTENTS OF VOL. II.
A Tidy City—A Sacred Corpse—Remarkable Features of Puerto—A Calesa—Lady Blanche's Castle—A Typical English Engineer—British Enterprise—"Success to the Cadiz Waterworks!"—Visit to a Bodega—Wine and Women—The Coming Man—A Strike 1-18
The Charms of Cadiz—Seville-by-the-Sea—Cervantes—Daughters of Eve—The Ladies who Prayed and the Women who Didn't—Fasting Monks—Notice to Quit on the Nuns—The Rival Processions—Gutting a Church—A Disorganized Garrison—Taking it Easy—The Mysterious "Mr. Crabapple"—The Steamer Murillo—An Unsentimental Navvy—Bandaged Justice—Tricky Ship-Owning—Painting Black White 19-41
Expansion of Carlism—A Pseudo-Democracy—Historic Land and Water Marks—An Impudent Stowaway—Spanish Respect for Providence—A Fatal Signal—Playing with Fire—Across the Bay—Farewell to Andalusia—British Spain 42-50
Gabriel Tar—A Hard Nut to Crack—In the Cemetery—An Old Tipperary Soldier—Marks of the Broad Arrow—The "Scorpions"—The Jaunting-Cars—Amusements on the Rock—Mrs. Damages' Complaint—The Bay, the Alameda, and Tarifa—How to Learn Spanish—Types of the British Officer—The Wily Ben Solomon—A Word for the Subaltern—Sunset Gun—The Sameness of Sutlersville 51-75
From Pillar to Pillar—Historic Souvenirs—Off to Africa—The Sweetly Pretty Albert—Gibraltar by Moonlight—The Chain-Gang—Across the Strait—A Difficult Landing—Albert is Hurt—"Fat Mahomet"—The Calendar of the Centuries Put Back—Tangier: the People, the Streets, the Bazaar—Our Hotel—A Coloured Gentleman—Seeing the Sights—Local Memoranda—Jewish Disabilities—Peep at a Photographic Album—The Writer's Notions on Harem Life 76-102
A Pattern Despotism—Some Moorish Peculiarities—A Hell upon Earth—Fighting for Bread—An Air-Bath—Surprises of Tangier—On Slavery—The Writer's Idea of a Moorish Squire—The Ladder of Knowledge—Gulping Forbidden Liquor—Division of Time—Singular Customs—The Shereef of Wazan—The Christian who Captivated the Moor—The Interview—Moslem Patronage of Spain—A Slap for England—A Vision of Beauty—An English Desdemona: Her Plaint—One for the Newspaper Men—The Ladies' Battle—Farewell—The English Lady's Maid—Albert is Indisposed—The Writer Sums up on Morocco 103-135
Back to Gibraltar—The Parting with Albert—The Tongue of Scandal—Voyage to Malaga—"No Police, no Anything"—Federalism Triumphant—Madrid in Statu Quo—Orense—Progress of the Royalists—On the Road Home—In the Insurgent Country—Stopped by the Carlists—An Angry Passenger is Silenced 136-151
On the Wing—Ordered to the Carlist Headquarters—Another Petit Paris—Carlists from Cork—How Leader was Wounded—Beating-up for an Anglo-Irish Legion—Pontifical Zouaves—A Bad Lot—Oddities of Carlism—Santa Cruz Again—Running a Cargo—On Board a Carlist Privateer—A Descendant of Kings—"Oh, for an Armstrong Twenty-Four Pounder!"—Crossing the Border—A Remarkable Guide—Mountain Scenery—In Navarre—Challenged at Vera—Our Billet with the Parish Priest—The Sad Story of an Irish Volunteer—Dialogue with Don Carlos—The Happy Valley—Bugle-Blasts—The Writer in a Quandary—The Fifth Battalion of Navarre—The Distribution of Arms—The Bleeding Heart—Enthusiasm of the Chicos 152-187
The Cura of Vera—Fueros of the Basques—Carlist Discipline—Fate of the San Margarita—The Squadron of Vigilance—How a Capture was Effected—The Sea-Rovers in the Dungeon—Visit to the Prisoners—San Sebastian—A Dead Season—The Defences of a Threatened City—Souvenirs of War—The Miqueletes—In a Fix—A German Doctor's Warning 188-210
Belcha's Brigands—Pale-Red Republicans—The Hyena—More about the San Margarita—Arrival of a Republican Column—The Jaunt to Los Pasages—A Sweet Surprise—"The Prettiest Girl in Spain"—A Madrid Acquaintance—A Costly Pull—The Diligence at Last—Renteria and its Defences—A Furious Ride—In France Again—Unearthing Santa Cruz—The Outlaw in his Lair—Interviewed at Last—The Truth about the Endarlasa Massacre—A Death-Warrant—The Buried Gun—Fanaticism of the Partisan-Priest 211-238
An Audible Battle—"Great Cry and Little Wool"—A Carlist Court Newsman—The Religious War—The Siege of Oyarzun—Madrid Rebels—"The Money of Judas"—A Manifesto from Don Carlos—An Ideal Monarch—Necessity of Social and Political Reconstruction Proclaimed—A Free Church—A Broad Policy—The King for the People—The Theological Question—Austerity in Alava—Clerical and Non-Clerical Carlists—Disavowal of Bigotry—A Republican Editor on the Carlist Creed—Character of the Basques—Drill and Discipline—Guerilleros versus Regulars 239-268
Barbarossa—Royalist-Republicans—Squaring a Girl—At Irun—"Your Papers?"—The Barber's Shop—A Carlist Spy—An Old Chum—The Alarm—A Breach of Neutrality—Under Fire—Caught in the Toils—The Heroic Thomas—We Slope—A Colleague Advises Me—"A Horse! a Horse!"—State of Bilbao—Don Carlos at Estella—Sanchez Bregua Recalled—Tolosa Invites—Republican Ineptitude—Do not Spur a Free Horse—Very Ancient Boys—Meditations in Bed—A Biscay Storm 269-299
Nearing the End—Firing on the Red Cross—Perpetuity of War—Artistic Hypocrites—The Jubilee Year—The Conflicts of a Peaceful Reign—Major Russell—Quick Promotion—The Foreign Legion—The Aspiring Adventurer—A Leader's Career—A Piratical Proposal—The "Ojaladeros" of Biarritz—A Friend in Need—Buying a Horse—Gilpin Outdone—"Fred Burnaby" 300-317
NOTES OF THE TRANSCRIBER
A Tidy City—A Sacred Corpse—Remarkable Features of Puerto—A Calesa—Lady Blanche's Castle—A Typical English Engineer—British Enterprise—"Success to the Cadiz Waterworks!"—Visit to a Bodega—Wine and Women—The Coming Man—A Strike.
PUERTO de Santa Maria has the name of being the neatest and tidiest city in Spain, and neatness and tidiness are such dear homely virtues, I thought I could not do better than hie me thither to see if the tale were true. With a wrench I tore myself from the soft capital of Andalusia, delightful but demoralizing. I was growing lazier every day I spent there; I felt energy oozing out of every pore of my body; and in the end I began to get afraid that if I stopped much longer I should only be fit to sing the song of the sluggard:—"You have waked me too soon, let me slumber again." Seville is a dangerous place; it is worse than Capua; it would enervate Cromwell's Ironsides. Happily for me the mosquitoes found out my bedroom, and pricked me into activity, or I might not have summoned the courage to leave it for weeks, the more especially as I had a sort of excuse for staying. The Cardinal Archbishop had promised a friend of mine to let him inspect the body of St. Fernando, and my friend had promised to take me with him. Now, this was a great favour. St. Fernando is one of the patrons of Seville; he has been dead a long time, but his corpse refuses to putrefy, like those of ordinary mortals; it is a sacred corpse, and in a beatific state of preservation. Three times a year the remains of the holy man are uncovered, and the faithful are admitted to gaze on his incorruptible features. This was not one of the regular occasions; the Cardinal Archbishop had made an exception in compliment to my friend, who is a rising young diplomat, so that the favour was really a favour. I declined it with thanks—very much obliged, indeed—pressure of business called me elsewhere—the cut-and-dry form of excuse; but I never mentioned a word about the mosquitoes. I told my friend to thank the prelate for his graciousness; the prelate expressed his sorrow that my engagements did not permit me to wait, and begged that I would oblige him by letting the British public know the shameful way he and his priests were treated by the Government They had not drawn a penny of salary for three years. This was a fact; and very discreditable it was to the Government, and a good explanation of the disloyalty of their reverences. If a contract is made it should be kept; the State contracted to support the Church, but since Queen Isabella decamped the State had forgotten its engagement.
Puerto de Santa Maria deserves the name it has got. It is a clean and shapely collection of houses, regularly built. People in England are apt to associate the idea of filth with Spain; this, at least in Andalusia, is a mistake. The cleanliness is Flemish. Soap and the scrubbing-brush are not spared; linen is plentiful and spotless, and water is used for other purposes than correcting the strength of wine. Walking down the long main street with its paved causeways and pebbly roadway, with its straight lines of symmetric houses, coquettish in their marble balconies and brightly-painted shutters and railings, one might fancy himself in Brock or Delft but that the roofs are flat, that the gables are not turned to the street, and that the sky is a cloudless blue. I am speaking now of fine days; but there are days when the sky is cloudy and the wind blows, and the waters in the Bay of Cadiz below surge up sullen and yeasty, and there are days when the rain comes down quick, thick, and heavy as from a waterspout, and the streets are turned for the moment into rivulets. But the effects of the rain do not last long; Spain is what washerwomen would call a good drying country. Beyond its neatness and tidiness, Puerto has other features to recommend it to the traveller. It has a bookseller's shop, where the works of Eugene Sue and Paul de Kock can be had in choice Spanish, side by side with the Carlist Almanack, "by eminent monarchical writers," and the calendar of the Saragossan prophet (the Spanish Old Moore); but it is not to that I refer—half a hundred Andalusian towns can boast the same. It has its demolished convent, but since the revolution of '68 that is no more a novelty than the Alameda, or sand-strewn, poplar-planted promenade, which one meets in every Spanish hamlet. It has the Atlantic waves rolling in at its feet, and a pretty sight it is to mark the feluccas, with single mast crossed by single yard, like an unstrung bow, moored by the wharf or with outspread sail bellying before the breeze on their way to Cadiz beyond, where she sits throned on the other side of the bay, "like a silver cup" glistening in the sunshine, when sunshine there is. The silver cup to which the Gaditanos are fond of comparing their city looked more like dirty pewter as I approached it by water from Puerto; but I was in a tub of a steamer, there was a heavy sea on and a heavy mist out, and perhaps I was qualmish. Not for its booksellers' shops, for its demolished convent, or for its vulgar Atlantic did this Puerto, which the guide-books pass curtly by as "uninteresting," impress me as interesting, but for two features that no seasoned traveller could, would, or should overlook; its female population is the most attractive in Andalusia, and it is the seat of an agreeable English colony. I happened on the latter in a manner that is curious, so curious as to merit relation.
I had intended to proceed to Cadiz from Seville after I had taken a peep at Puerto, but that little American gentleman whom I met at Cordoba was with me, and persuaded me to stop by the story of a wonderful castle prison, a sort of Tour de Nesle, which was to be seen in the vicinity, where the bonne amie of a King of Spain had been built up in the good old times when monarchs raised favourites from the gutter one day, and sometimes ordered their weazands to be slit the next. This show-place is about a league from Puerto, in the valley of Sidonia, and is called El Castillo de Dona Blanca. We took a calesa to go there. My companion objected to travelling on horseback; he could not stomach the peculiar Moorish saddle with its high-peaked cantle and crupper, and its catch-and-carry stirrups. We took a calesa, as I have said. To my dying day I shall not forget that vehicle of torture. But it may be necessary to tell what is a calesa. Procure a broken-down hansom, knock off the driver's seat, paint the body and wheels the colour of a roulette-table at a racecourse, stud the hood with brass nails of the pattern of those employed to beautify genteel coffins, remove the cushions, and replace them with a wisp of straw, smash the springs, and put swing-leathers underneath instead, cover the whole article with a coating of liquid mud, leave it to dry in a mouldy place where the rats shall have free access to the leather for gnawing practice, return in seven years, and you will find a tolerably correct imitation of that decayed machine, the Andalusian calesa. It is more picturesque than the Neapolitan corricolo; it is all ribs and bones, and is much given to inward groaning as it jerks and jolts along. Such a trap we took; the driver lazily clambered on the shafts, and away hobbled our lean steed.
The road to Lady Blanche's Castle is like that to Jordan in the nigger songs; it is "a hard road to travel"—a road full of holes and quagmires and jutting rocks; and yet the driver told me it had once been a good road, but that was in the reign of Queen Isabella. Everything seems to have been allowed to go to dilapidation since. On the outskirts of Puerto we passed an English cemetery; I am glad to say it is almost uninhabited. If there is an English dead settlement there ought to be a live one, I reasoned, unless those who are buried here date from Peninsular battles. The first part of the road to Blanche's Castle is level, and bordered with thick growths of prickly pear; there is a view of the sea, and of the Guadalate, spanned by a metal bridge—a Menai on a small scale. Farther on, as we get to a district called La Piedad, the country is diversified by swampy flats at one side and sandy hills at the other. Blanche's Castle was a commonplace ruin, a complete "sell," and we turned our horse's head rather savagely. As we were coming back, the little American shortening the way by Sandford and Merton observations of this nature—"Prickly pear makes a capital hedge; no cattle will face it; the spikes of the plant are as tenacious as fish-hooks. The fibres of the aloe are unusually strong; they make better cordage than hemp, but will not bear the wet so well"—a sight caught my eyes which caused me to stare. A tall young fellow, with his trousers tucked up, was wading knee-deep in the bottoms beside the road. He wore a suit of Oxford mixture.
"Who or what is that gentleman?" I asked the driver.
"An English engineer," was the answer.
I stopped the calesa, hailed him, and inquired was he fond of rheumatic fever. He laughed, and pronounced the single word, "Duty." A little word, but one that means much. A Spanish engineer would never have done this; they are great in offices and at draughting on paper, but they seldom tuck up their sleeves, much less their trousers, to labour out of doors as the young Englishman was doing. I made his acquaintance, and he willingly consented to show me over the works in which he was engaged, which were intended to supply Cadiz with water. In England water is to be had too easily to be estimated at its proper value. At Cadiz it is a marketable commodity. Even the parrots there squeak "agua." Every drop of rain that falls is carefully gathered in cisterns, and the conveyance of water in boatloads from Puerto across the Bay is a regular trade. An English company had been formed to supply the parched seaport and the ships that call there with fresh water, and its reservoirs were situated at La Piedad. In the bowels of the flats below, where the snipe-shooting ought to be good, our countryman told me the water was to be sought. Galleries had been sunk in every direction in land which the company had purchased, and pumps and engines are soon to be erected that will raise the liquid collected there up to the reservoirs which have been hewn out of the hills above. These reservoirs, approached by passages excavated out of the rough sandstone, are stout and solid specimens of the mason's craft directed by the engineer's skill. Here we met a second gentleman superintending the labours of the men, but he was surely a Spaniard; he spoke the language with the readiness of one born on the soil; still, he had a matter-of-fact, resolute quickness about him that was hardly Spanish. Doubts as to his nationality were soon dispelled; the engineer we had surprised in the swamp presented us to his colleague Forrest, engineer to Messrs. Barnett and Gale, of Westminster, the contractors, as thoroughbred an Englishman as ever came out of the busy town of Blackburn.
Mr. Forrest at once stood to cross-examination by the American, who had all the inquisitiveness of his race.
"We employ a couple of hundred men, on an average, here," he said, "all of whom, with but two exceptions, are Spaniards, and very fair hard-working fellows they are; in the town below we have a small colony of English, and if you don't take it amiss I shall be happy to present you to our society."
I know little of the technicalities of engineering, but I saw enough of this work to be certain that it was well and truly done, and I heard enough of the scarcity of water in Cadiz to be convinced it will be a great boon when finished. The reservoirs are constructed in colonnades, supported by ashlar pillars and roofed with rubble; for the water must be shaded from the sun in this hot climate; the pillars are buttered over with cement, and there is over a foot of cement concrete on the flooring, to guard against filtration. As we paced about the sombre aisles, echo multiplied every syllable we uttered; the repetition of sound is as distinct as in the whispering gallery of St. Paul's, and I could not help remarking, "What a splendid robber's cave this would make!"
"Too tell-tale," said the practical American; "make a better cave of harmony."
"The only pipes that are ever likely to blow here are water-pipes," smilingly put in the engineer; "we intend to lay them from this to Cadiz, some twenty-eight miles distant. Roughly speaking, we are about ninety feet above the level of the place, so that the highest building there can be supplied with ease."
The Romans were benefactors to many portions of this dry land of Spain; they built up aqueducts which are still in use, but they neglected Cadiz. The town has been dependent on these springs of La Piedad for its water supply, except such as dropped from heaven, for three hundred years, and attempts to obtain water from wells or borings in the neighbourhood have invariably failed. The water which is found in this basin, held by capillary attraction in the permeable strata through which it soaks till the hard impermeable stratum is met—retained, in short, in a natural reservoir—is excellent in quality, limpid and sparkling. Puerto has been supplied from the place for time out of mind, and Puerto has been so well supplied that it could afford to sell panting Cadiz its surplus. With English capital and enterprise putting new life into those old hills, and cajoling the precious beverage out of their bosom, which unskilled engineers let go to waste, Cadiz should shortly have reason to bless the foreign company that relieves its thirst. Clear virgin water, such as will course down the tunnels to bubble up in the Gaditanian fountains, is the greatest luxury of life here; "Agua fresca, cool as snow," is the most welcome of cries in the summer, and temperate Spain is as devoted to the colourless liquid that the temperance lecturer Gough and his compeers call Adam's ale, as ever London drayman was to Barclay's Entire. Success, then, to the Cadiz Waterworks Company: we drank the toast on the hill-side of "Piety" they were making fruitful of good, drank it in tipple of their and nature's brewing, but had latent hopes that Forrest or his colleague would help us to a bumper of the generous grape-juice for which the district is famed, when we got down to the pleasant companionship of the English colony below.
Nor were our hopes disappointed. There are innumerable bodegas, or wine-vaults, in the town, in which bottles and barrels of wine are neatly caged in labelled array, according to age, quality, and kind. Very clean and roomy these stores of vinous treasure are, with an indescribable semi-medicinal odour languidly pervading them. We visited a bodega belonging to an Englishman, who ranks as a grandee of the first-class, the Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo and eke of Vitoria, but who is better known as the Duke of Wellington. The natural wine of this district is too thin for insular palates. They crave something fiery, and, by my word, they get it. Like that Irish car-driver who rejected my choicest, oily, mellow "John Jameson," but thanked me after gulping a hell-glass of new spirit, violent assault liquefied, they want a drink that will catch them by the throat and assert its prerogative going down. What a beamy old imposition is that rich brown sherry of city banquets, over which the idiot of a connoisseur cunningly smacks his lips and rolls his moist eyes. If he were only told how much of it was real and how much artificial, would he not gasp and crimson! It would be unmerciful to inform him that his pet cordial is charged with sulphuric acid gas, that it is sweetened with cane-sugar, that it is flavoured with "garnacha dulce," that it is coloured with plastered must and fortified with brandy, before it is shipped. Let us leave him in blissful ignorance. We tasted many samples before we left, but I own I have no liking for sherries, simple or doctored. Among Spanish wines I far prefer the full-bodied astringent sub-acidity of the common Val de Penas, beloved of Cervantes. But the Queen of wines is sound Bordeaux. To that Queen, however, a delicate etherous Amontillado might be admitted as Spanish maid-of-honour, preceding the royal footsteps, while the syrupy Malaga from the Doradillo grape might follow as attendant in her train.
From wine to women is an easy transition. Both are benedictions from on high, and I have no patience with the foul churl who cannot enjoy the one with proper continence, and rise the better and more chivalrous from the society of the other. Wine well used is a good familiar creature—kindles, soothes, and inspirits: the cup of wine warmed by the smile of woman gives courage to the soldier and genius to the minstrel. With Burns—and he was no ordinary seer—I hold that the sweetest hours that e'er we spend are spent among the lasses. I will go farther and say the most profitable hours. And some sweet and profitable hours 'twas mine to spend among the fawn-orbed lasses of Puerto, with their childlike gaiety, their desire to please, and their fetching freedom from affectation. Would that the wines exported from the district were half as unsophisticated! These lasses were not learned in the "ologies" or the "isms," but they were sincere; and their locks flowed long and free, and when they laughed the coral sluices flying open gave scope to a full silvery music cascading between pales of gleaming pearl. An admixture of this strain with the fair-skinned men of the North should produce a magnificent race; and, indeed, if we paid half the attention to the improvement of the human animal which we do to that of the equine or the porcine, the experiment would not have been left untried so long. In-and-in breeding is a mistake, and can only commend itself, and that for selfish reasons, to the Aztec in physique and the imbecile in mind. The families which take most pride in their purity are the most degenerate; the stock which is the most robust and handsome is that which has in it a liberal infusion of foreign bloods. In my opinion, the coming man, the highest form of well-balanced qualities—moral, intellectual, and masculine—the nearest approach to perfection, must ultimately be developed in the United States.
Puerto has a wide-spread reputation as the nursery-ground for bull-fighters. To the arena it is what Newmarket is to the British turf. Everybody there walks about armed, but murder is not more rife in proportion than in London. As it happened, a fellow was shot while I was there, but that would not justify one in coming to the conclusion that homicide was a flourishing indigenous product. Still, the natives did not escape the contagion of unrest of their countrymen. For example, the last news I heard before leaving my English friends was that the men in the vineyards had struck work. These lazy scoundrels had the impudence to demand that they should have half an hour after arrival on the ground, and before beginning work, to smoke cigarettes, the same grace after the breakfast hour, two hours for a siesta in the middle of the day, another interval for a bout of smoking in the afternoon, and finally that each should be entitled to an arroba (more than three and a half gallons English) of wine per acre at the end of the season. They go on the same basis as some trades' unions we are acquainted with—reduction of hours of labour and increase of wages. "Will you give in to them?" I asked of an English settler, in the wine trade. "Give in———" but it is unnecessary to repeat the expletive; "I'll quietly shut up my bodega."
The Charms of Cadiz—Seville-by-the-Sea—Cervantes-Daughters of Eve—The Ladies who Prayed and the Women who Didn't—Fasting Monks—Notice to Quit on the Nuns—The Rival Processions—Gutting a Church—A Disorganized Garrison—Taking it Easy—The Mysterious "Mr. Crabapple"—The Steamer Murillo—An Unsentimental Navvy—Bandaged Justice—Tricky Ship-Owning—Painting Black White.
THE man who pitched on Cadiz as the site of a city knew what he was about. Without exception it is the most charmingly-located place I ever set foot in. Its white terraces, crowded with white pinnacles, belvederes, and turrets, glistening ninety-nine days out of the hundred in clear sunlight, rise gently out of a green sea necked with foam; the harbour is busy with commerce, crowded with steamers and sailing ships coming and going from the Mediterranean shores, from France, from England, or from the distant countries beyond the Atlantic; the waters around (for Cadiz is built on a peninsula, and peeps of water make the horizon of almost every street) are dotted with fishing craft or scudding curlews; the public squares are everlastingly verdant with the tall fern-palm, the feathery mimosa, the myrtle, and the silvery ash, which only recalls the summer the better for its suggestive appearance of having been recently blown over with dust; the gaze inland is repaid with the sight of hills brown by distance, of sheets of pasture, and pyramidal salt-mounds of creamy grey; and the gaze upwards—to lend a glow to the ravishing picture—is delighted by such a cope of dreamy blue, deep and pure, and unstained by a single cloudlet, as one seldom has the happiness of looking upon in England outside the doors of an exhibition of paintings. The climate is dry and genial, and not so hot as Seville. The Sevillanos know that, and come to Cadiz when the heats make residence in their own city insupportable. Winter is unknown; skating has never been witnessed by Gaditanos, except when exhibited by foreign professors, clad in furs, who glide on rollers over polished floors; and small British boys who are fond of snowballing when they come out here are obliged to pelt each other with oranges to keep their hands in. One enthusiastic traveller compares it to a pearl set in sapphires and emeralds, but adds—lest we should all be running to hug the jewel—there is little art here and less society.
"Letters of exchange are the only belles-lettres." Indeed. Now this is one of those wiseacres who are in a community, but not of it, who materially are present, but can never mentally, so to speak, get themselves inside the skins of the inhabitants. That city cannot be said to be without letters which has its poetic brotherhood, limited though it be, and which reveres the memory of Cervantes, as the memory of Shakespeare is revered in no English seaport. Wiseacre should hie him to Cadiz on the 23rd of April, when the birth of Cervantes is celebrated, for in spite of intestine broils, Spaniards are true to the worship of the author of "Don Quixote," and his no less immortal attendant, whom Gandalin, friend to Amadis of Gaul, affectionately apostrophizes thus:
"Salve! Sancho with the paunch, Thou most famous squire, Fortune smiled as Escudero she did dub thee Tho' Fate insisted 'gainst the world to rub thee. Fortune gave wit and common-sense, Philosophy, ambition to aspire; While Chivalry thy wallet stored, And led thee harmless through the fire."
With the respect he deserves for this wandering critic and no more, I will take the liberty of saying that there is art, and a great deal of art, in the site of the clean town; and that there is society, and good society, in that forest of spars in the roadstead, and in the fishing and shooting in the neighbourhood. When the Tauchnitz editions have been exhausted, and when the stranger has mastered Cervantes and Lope de Vega, Espronceda, Larra, and Rivas, there is always that book which Dr. Johnson loved, the street, or that lighter literature which Moore sings, "woman's looks," to fall back upon. I am afraid some prudes may be misjudging my character on account of the frequency of my allusions to the sex lately; but I beg them to recollect that this is Andalusia, and that woman is a very important element in the population of Cadiz. She rules the roost, and the courtly Spaniard of the south forgets that there was ever such an undutiful person as Eve. Woman played a remarkable part in the events of the couple of months after the Royal crown was punched out of the middle of the national flag. She is political here, and is not shy of declaring her opinions. Ladies of the better classes of Cadiz are attentive to the duties of their religion; kneeling figures gracefully draped in black may be seen at all hours of the day in the churches during this Lenten season, telling their beads or turning over their missals. Those ladies are Carlist to a man, as Paddy would say; they naturally exert an influence over their husbands, though the influence falls short of making their husbands accompany them to church except on great festivals such as Easter Sunday, or on what may be called occasions of social rendezvous, such as a Requiem service for a deceased friend. The men seem to be of one mind with the French freethinker, who abjured religion himself, or put off thoughts of it till his dying day, but pronounced it necessary for peasants and wholesome for women and children. But les femmes du peuple, the fishwives, the labourers' daughters, the bouncing young fruit-sellers, and the like, are not religious in Cadiz. They have been bitten with the revolutionary mania; they are staunch Red Republicans, and have the bump of veneration as flat as the furies that went in procession to Versailles at the period of the Great Revolution, or their great granddaughters who fought on the barricades of the Commune. The nymphs of the pavement sympathize strongly with the Republic likewise; but their ideal of a Republic is not that of Senores Castelar and Figueras. They want bull-fights and distribution of property, and object to all religious confraternities unless based on the principles of "the Monks of the Screw," whose charter-song, written by that wit in wig and gown, Philpot Curran, was of the least ascetic:
"My children, be chaste—till you're tempted; While sober, be wise and discreet, And humble your bodies with—fasting, Whene'er you have nothing to eat."
So long ago as 1834 a sequestration of convents was ordered in Spain, but the Gaditanos never had the courage to enforce the decree till after the revolution that sent Queen Isabella into exile. A few years ago the convent of Barefooted Carmelites on the Plaza de los Descalzados was pulled down; the decree that legalized the act provided an indemnity, but the unfortunate monks who were turned bag and baggage out of their house never got a penny. They have had to humble their bodies with fasting since. For those amongst them who were old or infirm that was a grievance; but for the lusty young fellows who could handle a spade there need not be much pity, for Spain had more of their sort than was good for her. Even at that date the revolutionists of Cadiz had some respect left for the nunneries. But they progressed; the example of Paris was not lost upon them. The ayuntamiento which came into power with the Republic was Federal. Barcelona and Malaga were stirring; the ayuntamiento made up its mind that Cadiz should be as good as its neighbours and show vigour too. The cheapest way to show vigour was to make war on the weak and defenceless, and that was what this enlightened and courageous municipality did. The nuns in the convent of the Candelaria were told that their house and the church adjoining were in a bad state, that they must clear out, and that both should be razed in the interests of public safety. It was not that the presence of ladies devoted to God after their own wishes and the traditions of their creed was offensive to the Republic; no, not by any means. The nuns protested that if their convent and church were in a dangerous condition the proper measure to take was to prop them up, not pull them down. But the blustering heroes of the municipality would not listen to this reasoning; they were too careful of the lives of the citizens, the nuns included; down the edifices must come. The Commune of Paris over again. The ladies of Cadiz, those who pass to and fro, prayer-book in hand, in the streets, and startle the flashing sunshine with their solemn mantillas, were wroth with the municipality. They saw through its designs, and they resolved to defeat them. To the number of some five hundred they formed a procession, and marched four deep to the Town-house to beg of their worships, the civic tyrants, to revoke their order. If the convent and church were in ruins, the ladies were prepared to pay out of their own pockets the expense of all repairs. That procession was a sight to see; there was the beauty, the rank, the fashion, and the worth of the city, in "linked sweetness long drawn out," coiling through the thoroughfares on pious errand. The fair petitioners were dressed as for a fete; diamonds sparkled in their hair, and the potent fan, never deserted by the Andalusians, was agitated by five hundred of the smallest of hands in the softest of gloves. But the civic tyrants were more severe than Coriolanus. They were not to be mollified by woman's entreaties, but rightly fearing her charms they fled. When the procession arrived at the Town-house, there was but a solitary intrepid bailie to receive it. They told him their tale. He paid them the usual compliments, kissed their feet in the grand Oriental way individually and collectively, said he would lay their wishes before his colleagues, but that he could give no promise to recall the mandate of the municipality—it was more than he dare undertake to do, and so forth. The long and short of it was, he politely sent them about their business. They came away, working the fans more pettishly than ever, and liquid voices were heard to hiss scornfully that the Republic, which proclaimed respect for all religions and rights, was a lie, for its first thought was to trample on the national religion, and to dispossess an inoffensive corporation of cloistered ladies of their right to then property. Here the first act of the drama ended.
The second was, if anything, more sensational, though infinitely less attractive. The Federals bit their thumbs, and cried:
"Ah, this is the work of the priests!"
So it was; not a doubt of that. The Federals meditated, and this was the fruit of their meditations:
"Let us organize a counter-procession!"
That counter-procession was a sight to see, too; the feature of elegance was conspicuous by its absence, but there was more colour in it. Harridans of seventy crawled after hussies of seventeen; bare arms and bandannas were more noticeable than black veils and fans; the improbae Gaditanae, known of old to certain lively satirists, Martial and Juvenal by name, turned out in force. Mayhap it is prejudice, but Republican females, methinks, are rather muscular than good-looking. Still they have influence sometimes, and when they said their say at the Town-house the ladies plainly betrayed how much they dreaded that influence. They wrote to Madrid praying that the municipality should be arrested in its course. Senor Castelar did send a remonstrance; some say he ordered the local authorities not to touch the church or convent, but they laughed at his letter, and contented themselves by reflecting that he was not in possession of the facts—that is, if they reflected at all, which is doubtful.
Act the third was in representation during my stay. I passed the Candelaria one morning. Scaffolding poles were erected in the street alongside in preparation for the demolition of the building, and a party of workmen in the pay of the municipality were engaged gutting the church of its contents, and carting them off to a place of deposit, where they were to be sold by public auction. These workmen looked cheerful over their sacrilege. A waggon was outside the door laden with ornaments ripped from the walls, gilt picture-frames, fragments of altar-rails, and the head of a cherub. Half a dozen rough fellows in guernseys had their shoulders under a block of painted wood-carving. As far as I could make out, it was the effigy of one of the Evangelists. I was refused admittance to the building, but I was told the sacramental plate had been removed with the same indifference. The nuns escaped without insult, thanks to the good offices of some friends outside, who brought up carriages at midnight to the doors of the convent and conveyed them to secret places of safety put at their disposal by the bishop.
The people who committed this mean piece of desecration were all Federal Republicans. They disobeyed orders from Madrid, and would disobey them again. They were as deaf to the commands of Senor Castelar as to the prayers and entreaties of the wives and daughters of respectable fellow-citizens. And all this time that the central authority were defied, artillerymen and linesmen were loitering about the streets of Cadiz. Eventually it was plain they would be disarmed, as they were disarmed at Malaga; and they would not offer serious opposition to the process. Their officers were barely tolerated by them. The Guardia Civil were true to duty, but when the crisis came, what could they do any more than their comrades at Malaga? They were but as a drop of water in a well. Disarmament is not liked by the old soldiers who have money to their credit, but there is a large proportion of mere conscripts in the ranks, and they are glad to jump at the chance of returning home.
Troubles worse than any may yet be in store; meanwhile the sun shines, and Cadiz, like Seville, takes it easy. But there is a bad spirit abroad, and it is growing. A pack of ruffians forcibly entered a mansion at San Lucar, and annexed what was in it in the name of Republican freedom; the "volunteers of liberty" have taken the liberty of breaking into the houses of the consuls at Malaga in search for arms; an excited mob attacked the printing-office of El Oriente at Seville after I left, smashed the type, and threatened to strangle the editor if he brought out the paper again; and the precious municipality of Cadiz has nothing better to do than order that no mourners shall be allowed in future to use religious exercises or emblems, to sing litanies or carry crosses, at the open graves of relatives in the cemeteries.
In the merchants' club (of which I was made free) they were saddened at the disrupted state of society, but took it as kismet, and seemed to think that all would come right in the end, by the interposition of some Deus ex machina. But who that God was they could not tell: he was hidden in the womb of Fate. As Cadiz accepted its destiny with equanimity, I accommodated myself to the situation, and did as the natives did. I helped to fly kites from the flat housetops—a favourite pastime of mature manhood here; I opened mild flirtations with the damsels in cigar-shops, and discovered that they were not slow to meet advances; I expended hours every day cheapening a treatise on the mystery of bull-fighting, with accompanying engravings, in vain—its price was above rubies. But my great distraction was a strange character I met at dinner at the house of the British Consul. I did not catch his name at our introduction, so I mentally named him Mr. Crabapple. He was short and stout, had a round wizened face freckled to the fuscous tint of a russedon apple, and was endowed with a voice which had all the husky sonority of a greengrocer's. He was beardless and sandy-haired, and one of those persons whose age is a puzzle to define; he might have been anything between fifteen and five-and-thirty. As he talked of Harrow as if he had left it but yesterday, I was disposed to set him down as a queer public-school boy on vacation, until I was astounded by some self-possessed remark on Jamaica dyewoods. We stopped in the same hotel. One morning he descended the stairs, a sort of dressing-case in hand, and yelled to an urchin at the door:
"Here, you son of a sea-calf, take this down to the waterside for me!"
"Will he understand you?" I said.
"Bound to," Mr. Crabapple replied; "never talk to them any other way, anyhow. 'Tis their business to understand. Ta, ta—deuce of a hurry."
"Where are you going, may I ask?"
"Read the Church Service—rather a bore—Sunday, you know."
The nondescript, then, was a chaplain.
The same evening he returned to the hotel, and on the following morning I saw him again descending the stairs, the same dressing-case in hand. He nodded salute, slung his luggage to the same urchin with the cry, "Hook it, you lubber!" and, turning to me, said, "Ta, ta, sheering off again."
"Where to now?"
"There's no boat to-day."
"There is, though—there's mine;" and he was off.
The supposed chaplain was a stray-away from a novel by Marryat, commanded her Majesty's gunboat Catapult, and was at Cadiz on the duty of protecting British interests. At the moment his mission was to carry important despatches to Gibraltar.
My mission to Cadiz was, partly, to ascertain the progress of the inquiry into the case of the Murillo steamer, more than suspected of having run down the Northfleet, a vessel laden with railway-iron and navvies, off Dungeness, on the night of the 22nd of January previous. Three hundred lives had been lost on the occasion. I knew something of that wreck, for I had seen and spoken with the survivors in the Sailors' Home at Dover on the following evening. A dazed, stupid lot they were, of an exceedingly low standard of intelligence. The sense of their own rescue had overcome the poignancy of grief. I envied them their stolidity, which I explained to my own mind by the rush of the engulfing waters still swirling and singing knell of sudden doom in their ears.
"Guv'nor," said one clown to me, "I seed my ole 'ooman go down afore my eyes, and I felt that grieved a'most as if I was agoin' down myself, and I chewed a bit o' baccer."
I saw the Murillo lying quietly a little distance off the land—a handsome, shapely craft, fine in the lines, with a sharp stem fashioned like that of a ram. She was painted black, with the exception of a band of pink above the water-line, where she was coated with Peacock's mixture. The British Consul informed me that he understood the inquiry into the guilt of the master was to be carried on secretly. He would not be allowed to attend it. Copies of the depositions of the accused, and permission to see them, had also been denied to the agents of the British Government, who applied for them for the purposes of the Board of Trade inquiry. Though Spaniards, in private conversation, own that the Murillo is the criminal ship, they seem, for some unaccountable reason, to be anxious that she should escape the penalty of her wickedness, as if the national honour were concerned, and the national honour would be served by cloaking an offence cruel and mean in itself, and awful in its consequences.
There is a sentence in the Comminations which would keep running in my mind every time I thought of that emigrant ship sent to the bottom off Dungeness—"Cursed is he who smiteth his enemy secretly." But if he who smites his enemy secretly is accursed, what is he who smites his neighbour and then flees away like a coward in the dark? Is he not twice and thrice wicked, and to be branded with malediction deeper still? Such a thing the Murillo steamer did—there could be no manner of doubt about it; every seafaring man and every Spaniard admits her blood-guiltiness; yet there she lies off Puntales, near the Trocadero, calmly expecting soon to be under weigh again with her criminal master and crew on board, with no punishment registered against her or them. The Consul-General of Spain in London wrote to the papers after the loss of the Northfleet, saying if this man was the wrongdoer he would be punished, and sent to Ceuta or Tetuan. But he is the wrongdoer, and he will never be sent to Ceuta or Tetuan. The master of the Murillo and the sailors of the watch on the fatal night are in prison, but they will never be brought to serious account. The figure of Justice in these latitudes is true to the sculptor's ideal in one sense: the eyes are bandaged, not that Justice shall be impartial, but that she may not see.
This instance of the Murillo is but one of many, and as it illustrates an artifice of tricky ship-owning, it will be well to state why the Murillo will go scot-free, and may audaciously turn up again in British waters disguised by a few coats of paint, exhibiting a fresh figure-head, and bearing a new name in gilt lettering on her stern.
In the first place, the Murillo belonged not to Spanish so much as English owners. The line of steamers of which she was one was the property of a company of shareholders. The company was anxious that their vessels should fly the Spanish flag, so they made one Don Miguel Styles the nominal head of the firm. This individual was a mere clerk in their office, a man of straw, and at the date of the catastrophe Don Miguel Styles had no more substantial existence than our old friend John Styles: he was dead, and in his grave.
Nextly, Mr. Daniel Macpherson, one of the most eminent merchants in the port of Cadiz and Lloyd's agent, had been served with an instrument claiming damages to the amount of 50,000 pesetas (L2,000), because that he had calumniated the good ship Murillo, and caused her prejudice and injury by detaining her a couple of months in the waters of Cadiz. The persons who instituted this action forget that the Spanish courts have no jurisdiction in the matter of libels published in England. And as for the prejudice caused to the vessel, it is incredible that the British Government should be so weak as to wait for letters from Lloyd's agent before opening an inquiry into the deaths of some three hundred of its subjects and the identity of the dastardly scoundrel who was the cause of their deaths, who disabled the ship that held them, and then slunk off, leaving them to the mercy of the midnight sea. That the Murillo was that vessel, even those who maintain that she cannot be proved legally guilty do not attempt to deny. It is true, as they say, that moral certainty is one thing, legal certainty another. But there was seldom a clearer chain of circumstantial evidence pointing to the perpetrator of any crime than that which convicted the Murillo of being the misdemeanant. She was off Dungeness at the hour of the disaster, and she was in contact with a ship; this the imprisoned master admitted in his log. But he alleged that the ship could not have been the Northfleet. He said he came into collision with a vessel; that he stood by her for half an hour; that one of her boats put off with some persons on board carrying a lantern; that they went round her examining whether there was anything wrong; and that no call having been made to him for assistance he steamed away. But there was a discrepancy between the entry in his log and that in the log of the engineer. The latter, an Englishman, stated that the engines of the Murillo were backed before the collision, that she went astern afterwards, and then went on ahead. The delay altogether was only for a few minutes. No mention of the half-hour. The engineer had no object in telling a lie. The master of the Murillo had. No other ship was in collision off Dungeness that night. Besides, what meant the order to the Murillo to come on at once to Cadiz if she had been in collision, and not stop at Lisbon, whither she was bound as port of call, if not to get her into limits where justice is notoriously blind and halt? Argument is unnecessary and childish; it was the Murillo which cut down the Northfleet. But Spain will never exact retribution for the destruction of the property and the sacrifice of the lives of aliens. Cosas de Espana.
Expansion of Carlism—A Pseudo-Democracy—Historic Land and Water Marks—An Impudent Stowaway—Spanish Respect for Providence—A Fatal Signal—Playing with Fire—Across the Bay—Farewell to Andalusia—British Spain.
TOWARDS the close of February, a grave official report was published in the Gaceta of Madrid, announcing that an engagement had been fought with the Carlists and a victory scored, one of the enemy having been killed. We were now in April, some six weeks later, and Carlism still showed lively signs of existence, notwithstanding the death of that solitary combatant. The statement of the troops employed against it will be the best measure of its importance. These consisted of a battalion and two companies of Engineers, four companies of Foot Artillery, a battery of Horse and five batteries of Mountain Artillery; eight squadrons of Cuirassiers, seven of Lancers, four of Hussars, a section of Mounted Chasseurs (Tiradores), and eighteen battalions of Infantry of the line, with five of Cazadores, or light infantry. Behind this force of regulars were the Francos or Free-shooters of Navarre (who were about as good as their prototypes, the francs-tireurs of France—no better), some mobilized Volunteers, and the Carabineros, or revenue police. There were some who imagined that the hosts of Don Carlos might crown the hills of Vallecas, and present themselves before the gate of Atocha to the consternation of Madrid, as did those of his predecessor in the September of 1837. But the Federals of the south did not mind. What did not touch them, they cared not a jot for. They were of the pseudo-democracy which wants to live without working, consume without producing, obtain posts without being trained for them, and arrive at honours without desert—the selfish and purblind pseudo-democracy of incapacity and cheek.
As I had no pecuniary interest in salt, wine, phosphate of soda, hides, or cork—the chief exports of Cadiz—I left the much-bombarded port on the Vinuesa, one of the boats of the Alcoy line plying to Malaga. My immediate destination was the Hock, but we went no nearer than Algeciras, the town on the opposite side of the bay, off which Saumarez gave such a stern account of the Spanish and French combined on the 12th of July, 1801. The sea was without a ripple. The bright coasts of two Continents were in view. On such a day as this the first adventurers must have crossed from Africa to Europe. Hero might almost have swum across. Even Mr. Brownsmith of Eastchepe might rig a craft out of an empty sugar hogshead, set up his walking-stick for mast, tie his pocket-handkerchief to it for sail, and trust to the waves in safety—that is, if Mr. Brownsmith of Eastchepe had in him the heart of Raleigh, not of Bumble. Some men are born to be drivers of tram-cars, some to be captains of corsairs. The pioneer of navigation must have been cut out by nature to be a High-Admiral of bold buccaneers.
We were only five passengers on the steamer, and we amused ourselves comparing notes. One told of a voyage from Barcelona to Alicante which he had once undertaken. The first night out they lost a sailor; he was seized with a fit and died; and then came the poser. When they would arrive at Alicante and muster the crew for the inspection of the health officers one would be wanting; suspicions would be aroused that he had fallen a victim to contagious disease, and they ran the hazard of being stuck into quarantine unless they could succeed in buying themselves off with an exorbitant bribe. While they were in a quandary, a white head popped above a gangway forward and a voice sang out:
"I'll get you out of the hole for a consideration."
"Who the deuce are you? Where did you spring from?" cried the skipper.
"A stowaway,—a flour-barrel. I'll parade as the dead man's substitute for ten dollars and a square meal."
In the end they were glad to accept the impudent proposal; the corpse was flung overboard, and the stowaway entered the port of Alicante an honest British tar, looking the whole world in the face like Longfellow's village blacksmith, and jingling ten dollars in his pocket.
We passed by Barrosa, where Graham gave the French such a thrashing in 1811, and the 87th Irish Fusiliers earned their glorious surname of the "Eagle-takers;" and over the waves of Trafalgar where Nelson did his duty, and was smitten with a bullet in the spine; and passing into the Straits and rounding the point by Tarifa, stood in for the Bay of Gibraltar. A spacious swelling spread of live water it is, and safe, except, as one of my fellow-passengers informed me, for a rock off the Punta del Carnero, or Mutton Point. The rock is covered when the tide is high (for there is a tide here), but rears its tortoise-like back over the surface for some hours at the ebb. The Channel squadron was coming out of Gib some years before when an ironclad grounded on this rock, but was got off without more damage than a scraping. As the danger to the navigation was outside the limits of the fortress, the British authorities applied to the Spanish for permission to clear away the obstruction. It was easily to be accomplished. A party of sappers could set a caisson round it, bore a gallery, insert a charge, and blast the rock into smithereens with safety and despatch. But the Spaniards would not consent to such an interference with the designs of Providence; the poor fishermen on the coast were often dependent for their livelihood on what they could pick up from wrecks, and if this rock were removed Nature would be sacrilegiously altered, and the interesting wreckers deprived of many an honest coin. I tell the tale as it was told to me. I wonder should it be dedicated to the amphibious corps.
Another story bearing on the successful revolution inaugurated by Prim is worth relating, as it deals with an episode of Spanish politics which is repeated almost every other year with slender variations. The play is the same; the scene and the dramatis personae are merely shifted. One of the stereotyped military risings was to be initiated at Algeciras on the arrival of Prim from England. The intimation that he was at hand was to be made by the firing of two rockets from the ship which carried him. On a certain night at the close of August, 1868, two rockets blazed in the sky, and were noticed by the impatient conspirators at Algeciras, who flew to arms to cries of "Down with the Queen," and "Live Prim and Liberty." But no Prim landed. The alarm was premature, the rising a flash in the pan. What they had taken for the bright herald of the advent of "El Paladino" was the signal of a Peninsular and Oriental steamer which had arrived on her passage to Port Said. For the sake of appearances, a number of unfortunate fools were set up against a wall and had their brains blown out in tribute to law and order. But the fruit was ripening. Within little more than a fortnight came the insurrection of the fleet at Cadiz, upon the appearance in that port of the popular hero, and before the end of the month Queen Isabella had fled over the French frontier, never to return to Spain as a sovereign. Prim's plot was attended with a fortune in excess of his most sanguine hopes; he entered Madrid in triumph in October, and was created a Marshal in November. All was joy and enthusiasm, but the hapless tools of ambition who had helped to prepare the way for him below in Algeciras were not of the jubilee.
At first sight the rock looms up large like a frowning inhospitable islet, the stretch of the Neutral Ground being so low that one cannot detect it above the sea-level until almost right upon it. We left the Vinuesa and entered a boat with a couple of sturdy rowers, who offered to pull us across the Bay for five dollars. As I dipped a hand in the brine one of them raised a cry of "Take care!" there were "mala pesca" there. Mr. Shark, who is an ugly customer, had been cruising in the neighbourhood, and had taken a morsel out of an American swimmer a little time before. There were three masts protruding over the water at one spot, the relics of some gallant ship, and index to one of those godsends which the Spanish Government is solicitous to guarantee to the distressed and deserving local fishermen. What a pity it was not the Murillo! That would have been poetic retribution.
No matter: with all thy faults I like thee, Spain, and especially that brown dusty province of Andalusia, with its oranges and pomegranates; its dancing fountains splashed with sunshine; its winsome damozels with such lisping languors of voice; its philosophic waiters upon the morrow, happy in a cigarette, a melon and a guitar; its muleteers crooning snatches of lazy song; its peasants with hair tied in beribboned pigtail; its tawny boys in Manola colours; aye, and its artistic beggars.
"Ah! now you see the Neutral Ground; that village to the left is Lineas, where you can get a glass of Manzanilla cheap," exclaimed a companion.
I do not set exceeding store by your pale thin Manzanilla, nor do I care to load my mouth with the flavour of a drug store.
"There are the sheds we put up the time Prim was expected; they are on the Neutral Ground, ha, ha! where the soil is supposed to be inviolate; but we have forgotten to take them down since. We were too many for them."
And now we are by the landing-stairs, and the Customs' officer demands our passport in English. We answer him cheerily that we need none, and to his smiling welcome we step on the soil of British Spain; but it would be unpardonable to begin describing it at the tail of a chapter.
Gabriel Tar—A Hard Nut to Crack—In the Cemetery—An Old Tipperary Soldier—Marks of the Broad Arrow—The "Scorpions"—The Jaunting-Cars—Amusements on the Bock—Mrs. Damages' Complaint—The Bay, the Alameda, and Tarifa—How to Learn Spanish—Types of the British Officer—The Wily Ben Solomon—A Word for the Subaltern—Sunset Gun—The Sameness of Sutlersville.
WHERE I went to school, we had a droll lad, whose humour developed itself in mispronunciation. In my nonage I considered that unique. Now I know it is a rather common order of quaintness. Hugh used to call Sierra Leone, "Sarah Alone;" Cambodia, "Gamboge;" Stromboli, "Storm-boiler;" and Gibraltar, "Gabriel Tar." How we used to wrinkle with laughter at his sallies, launched with an artistically unconscious air, until the swooping cane came swishing down on our backs! And here I was in Gabriel Tar. I vow the first inclination I felt was to write to Hugh with the date engraved on the note-paper, and indeed so I should have done, but that I had not seen him for nigh twenty years, and when last I heard of him he was married, and had learned to be serious and to speak with precision. The fun had been driven out of him by responsibility. Propriety had come with prosperity.
Call it by what name you will, Gabriel Tar, or Gibraltar, that infinitesimal scrap of territory over which the Union Jack floats, is supremely unpalatable and insolently insulting to the Spaniard. It is a bitter pill to swallow, an adamantine nut to crack. I suppose he is welcome to take it—when he can; but he knows better than to try. It is the gate of the Mediterranean. Logically, it is an injustice that a stranger should sit in the porter's lodge and swing the key at his girdle; but it is as well that the porter is one who is too surly to barter his trust for gold. So Gabriel Tar will remain intact, until the porter grows feeble or falls asleep.
British Spain, or "the Rock," or Gib, as it is indifferently termed, or Sutlersville, as I prefer to name it, can be converted into an island at the will of its defenders. The sandy spit of Neutral Ground at one side of which Tommy Atkins, fresh-faced, does his sentry-go in brick-red tunic and white pith-helmet, and at the other side of which swarthy Sancho Panza y Toro, in projecting cap and long blue coat, fondles a rifle in the bend of his arm, can readily be flooded; and the bare, sheer, lofty north front, with scores of cannon of the deadliest modern pattern lying in wait behind the irregular embrasures that grimly pit its surface, hardly invites attack. It frowns a calm but determined defiance; and even the Cid himself might be excused if he turned on his heel and puffed a meditative cigarette after he had surveyed it.
British Spain is small, being but one and seven-eighth square miles English in area; but it is mighty strong. The population, comprising the garrison, is less than fifteen thousand; but behind that slender cipher of souls are the millions of the broadest and biggest of empires. I do not know what the population of the cemetery is, but it receives rapid and numerous accessions at each periodical outbreak of cholera. I paid a visit to it—I have a fondness for sauntering in God's acre—and arrived in time to witness a funeral. When the coffin was laid in the grave, a young man, probably the husband of the deceased, threw himself prone on the turf beside the open burial-trench, and burst into such a passionate tempest of heart-rending sobs and moans and wailings, that I had to move away. These Southerners are more demonstrative in their grief than the men of the North. I question if their sorrows spring from deeper depths, or are so lasting. The caretaker of the cemetery, an elderly Tipperary soldier, with a short dudheen in his mouth, was seated smoking on a head-stone by a goat-willow. We got into conversation.
"There were worse places than Gib—singing-birds were raysonable here, and some of them had rayl beautiful plumage."
My countryman, like the Duke of Argyll, had a weakness for ornithology.
"That spread of land beyant was where the races were held, and small-arm parties from the fleet sometimes kem ashore and practised there. They used to play cricket there, too. The symmetry wasn't a gay place, but there were worse. There were some beautiful tombs—now there was a parable ov wan; 'twas put up by their frinds to some officers who were dhrownded while they were crossing a flooded sthrame on their way back from a shooting excursion. The car-drivers, who were dhrownded wid them, had no monument. 'Twas a quare world; a poor man had the chance of dying wid a rich man, but was not to be berrid in his company. Well, he supposed it was for the best," and here he hammered the heel-tap out of his pipe on the side of his shoe; "when the last bugle sounded a field-officer would feel uncomfortable like if he had to be looking for his bones in the same plot wid a lance-corporal."
Truly, a queer world. Death with impartial summons knocks at the cabin of the poor and the palace of the wealthy; but in the undertaker's interest the equality of the grave must not be conceded. The plebeian who commits felo de se is served properly if he is hidden at the cross-roads by night and a stake driven through his body. The lunatic King who drowns himself, and drags his doctor to the same fate—who is a suicide duplicated with the suspicion of murder—is embalmed and laid to rest in consecrated ground amid incense and music, lights and flowers, the tolling of bells, and the chanting of dirges.
The funeral was over; they were just finishing the De Profundis. My countryman had to quit me. "Oyeh! that fellow who was making such a lamentation might be married agin in a twelvemonth. The army plan was the best; after the 'Dead March' in Saul came 'Tow-row-row.'—another so'jer was to be had for a shilling. He did not drink; he thanked me all the same—had taken the pledge from Father Mathew whin he was a boy, and meant to stick by it; but he would accept the price of a singing-bird he had set his mind upon, since it was pressed upon him."
Gibraltar is but a huge garrison. In the moat by the gate, as I re-entered, a big drummer and a tiny mannikin-soldier with cymbals were practising how to lead off a marching-past tune. The "Fortune of War" tavern elbows "Horse-Barrack Lane;" a print of "The Siege of Kars" is side by side in a shop-window with Dr. Bennett's "Songs for Soldiers." The Plazas and Calles of the mainland of Spain have been parted with. The names of streets, hostelries, and stores are English. Instead of tiendas and almacenes and fondas, you have fancy repositories, regimental shoe-shops, and porter-houses. There, for example, is the celebrated "Cock and Bottle," and farther on "The Calfs Head Hotel." If you traverse Cathedral Square, no larger than an ordinary-sized skittle-alley, you arrive by Sunnyside Steps to the Europa Pass. Notices are posted by the roadside cautioning against plucking flowers or treading on the beds under pain of prosecution. But the bazaar bewilders you with its alien figures, its confusion of tongues, and its eccentric contrasts of dress. In five minutes you meet Spanish officers; nuns in broad-leaved white bonnets; a bearded sergeant nursing a baby; bare-legged, sun-burnished Moors; pink-and-white cheeked ladies'-maids from Kent; local mashers in such outrageously garish tweeds; stiff brass-buttoned turnkeys; Jews in skull-cap and Moslems in fez; and while you are lost in admiration of a burly negro, turbaned and in grass-green robe, with face black and shiny as a newly-polished stove, you are hustled by a sailor on cordial terms with himself who is vigorously attempting to whistle "Garry Owen."
But above and before all, the sights and sounds are military. Sappers and linesmen and artillerists pullulate at every corner; fatigue-parties are confronted at every turn; the bayonet of the sentinel flashes in every angle of the fortress from the minute the sun, bursting into instantaneous radiance from behind the great barrier of craggy hill, lights up the town and bastions and moles, until the boom of the sunset-gun gives signal for the gates to be closed. Every tavern looks like a canteen; the gossip is of things martial; the music is that of the reveille or tattoo—the blare of brass, the rub-a-dub of parchment, or the shrill sound-revel of Highland pipes (for there is usually a Scotch regiment here). The ladies one meets all have husbands, or fathers, or uncles in the Service; even the children—those of English parents well understood—keep step as they walk, and the boys amongst them compliment any well-dressed stranger with a home face by rendering him the regulation salute. This is highly gratifying to the civilian sojourning in the place; for he insensibly succumbs to the genius loci, squares his shoulders, expands his chest, and feels that if he is not an officer he ought to be one.
Except the enterprising gentry who devote themselves to cheating the Spanish excise by smuggling cigars and English goods across the border, the Scorpions live by and on the garrison, and therefore do I name their habitat Sutlersville. "Scorpion," I should add, for the benefit of the uninitiated, is the sobriquet conferred by Tommy Atkins on the natives of the Rock, as that of "Smiches" is merrily applied by him to the Maltese, and of "Yamplants" to the denizens of St. Helena. There is a tolerable infusion of English blood among the Scorpions, but it is hardly of the healthiest or most respectable.
Gib is familiar to thousands of Englishmen, but it must be unfamiliar to many thousands more. This is my excuse for exhuming some notes of my stay there. Don't be afraid, I am not going to pester you with guide-book erudition. Let others take you to the galleries and caves, lead you up the ascent to the Moorish tower, inform you that the one spot in Europe where there is an indigenous colony of monkeys (the patriarch of which is styled the "town major") is here, and enlighten you as to the interesting fact that this is the only locality out of Ireland where the Irish jaunting-car is to be objurgated. Mine be a humbler task.
Society in Gib is select, but limited. It is uniform, like the clothes of the influential portion of the inhabitants. Gib is the wrong place to bring out a young lady, though Major Dalrymple's daughters, immortalized in Lever's novel, could not well have found a better hunting-ground. But then Major Dalrymple's daughters were regular garrison hacks—so the irreverent subs of the Rovers used to call them—and never stood a chance beside the daughters of the county families. There are racing and chasing at the station, and theatricals and balls. I arrived at the wrong season. The three days' local racing, for horses of every breed but English, was over, and most of the men were going to Cadiz by special boat next day, en route for the Jerez races, which are the best—indeed, I might almost say the solitary—meeting in Spain.
"There are only two things in this land worth talking about," said an English merchant to me at Cadiz; "the steamers of Lopez and the races of Jerez."
The hunting (thanks to brave old Admiral Fleming for having started that diversion) was over too. The meets have to come off, naturally, outside the frontier of British Spain. The sport is pretty good—one cannot quite expect the Melton country, of course—the riding hard, and the horses invariably Spanish; no English horses would do, for no English horse would be equal to climbing up a perpendicular bank with sixteen stone on his back, and that is a feat the native steeds, bestridden by British warriors in pink who follow the Calpe pack, have sometimes to accomplish. There is a Spanish lyrical and theatrical troop in the town; but it is Holy Week, and lyricals and theatricals are under taboo. Occasionally charity concerts are given by amateurs, and plays are even performed in Lent Champagne, of the Fizzers, has won a reputation by his success on the boards when he dons the habiliments of lovely woman beyond a certain age. But, as I told you before, I arrived at the wrong season. There are no balls at the Convent, which is the Governor's residence; and, touching these balls, I have a grievance to ventilate, at the request of Mrs. Quartermaster Damages. She specially imported frilled petticoats from England to display in the mazy dance, and she assured me they were turning sere and yellow in her boxes. She never gets a chance of bringing them out except once in the twelvemonth, when she is asked to the "Quartermasters' Ball." But there is a reason for everything, and Mrs. Quartermaster Damages is fat and forty, and not fair, and—tell it not out of mess—they say she has a tongue.
At this particular time, you perceive, this fortified fragment of the empire was dull; but usually it is gay, and the officer quartered there has always an excellent opportunity of learning his trade and acquiring skill in the gentlemanly game of billiards. He can make maps and surveys of the neutral ground, and watch the guard mounting on the Alameda, or read the account of the siege in Drinkwater's days; and when he tires of the green cloth and its distractions, and of his own noble profession, he can throw a sail to the breeze in the unequalled Bay, or take a flying trip to Tarifa to sketch the beautiful from the living model, or go to Ceuta to see the Spanish galley-slaves and disciplinary regiments, forgetful of our own chain-gangs; or steam across to Tangier to riot in Nature and a day's pig-sticking.
The Bay, the Alameda, and Tarifa—these are the three delights of Gibraltar.
You have heard of the Bay of Naples, and the Bay of Dublin, which equals it in Paddy Murphy's estimation. I know both; and Gibraltar, the little-spoken-of, leaves them nowhere. The sky, and the undulating mirror below that reflects it, are such a blue; the rocks are such an ashen-grey; the Spanish sierras such a leonine brown, with summits wrapped in clouds like rolling smoke; and the sun goes down to his bath in the west 'mid such a vaporous glow of yellowing purple and rosy gold!
The Alameda is a bower of Venus cinctured by Mars. Here is a gravelled expanse bounded by hill and sea, with cosy benches under the shade of palmitos—the civilization of the West in alliance with the rich vegetation of the East. Sometimes, in the morning, five hundred men or more—garrison artillery, engineers, and infantry—muster there, previous to marching to their posts; there is a banging of drums, a blowing of bugles, a bobbing vision of cocked-hats, and a roar of hoarse words of command—all the pomp and pride and circumstance of glorious war before the fighting begins. Sometimes, in the evening, a band plays, and the Alameda is the resort of fashion and of nursery-maids.
Tarifa, shining in the sunset across the water, is a tempting morsel for the landscape-painter, and the dwellers in Tarifa are the best teachers of Spanish. A British subaltern bent on improving his mind could encounter an infinitely better preceptor there than "Jingling Johnny," the self-appointed professor to the garrison, who hires himself on Monday, makes you a present of a guitar-tutor on Tuesday, and asks you to favour him with six months' payment in advance on Wednesday. To be sure, the Spanish those Tarifans speak is slightly Arabified; but their tones of voice are persuasive, and their methods of teaching agreeable. The professor taken by the British subaltern is invariably a female, and the females of Tarifa are not the ugliest in the world. They still retain many customs peculiar to their Moorish ancestors. They wear a manta, not a mantilla—a sort of large-hooded mantle, with which they hide the light of their countenance, except an eye—but that is a piercer, ye gods I and they keep it open for business. When a stranger passes, especially if he looks like a sucking lieutenant from the fortress beyond, the manta falls, disclosing the soft loveliness beneath, and the wearer affects a pretty confusion, and hastens with judicious slowness to re-adjust its folds. The British subaltern reels to his quarters seriously wounded, and may be seen the following morning, with his hair blown back, spouting poetry to the zephyrs on Europa Point. Oh no!—that only occurs in romances; but he may be seen drinking brandy-and-soda moderately in the Club-House.
Poor British subaltern! How Sutlersville does exploit him! He is a sheep, and bears his fleecing without a kick. Watch those lazy, lounging, able-bodied, smoking, and salivating loons who prop up every street-corner, and monopolize the narrow pathways—these all live by him; they eat up his substance, and fatten thereupon. These are the touting and speculating sons of the Rock, the veritable Scorpions, who are ever ready to find the "cap'n" a dog or a horse or a boat, or something not so harmless, to help him on the road to ruin, and whisper in his ear what a fine fellow he is—"As ver fine a fellow—real gemman—as Lord Tomnoddy, who give me such a many dollars when he go away." The first word these loons pronounce after coming into the world must be baksheesh. They are born with beggary in their mouths, and the British subaltern acts as if he were born to be their victim. There he is below, of every type, lolling outside the hotel-door that looks on that Commercial Square which is so thorough a barrack-square, with its romping children, its dogs, its dust, its guard-house with chatting soldiers on a form in front, and the important sentinel pacing to and fro, regular and rigid as a pendulum, keeping vigilant watch and ward over nothing in particular. We have a rare company to-day; besides the engineers and bombardiers, and the linesmen of the 24th, 31st, 71st, and 81st, the four infantry regiments on the station, we have men on leave from Malta. They came up to the races, and are waiting for the P. and O. steamer to take them back. That fat little customer is your sporting sub. I only wonder he is not in cords, tops, and spurs. What a hearty voice he talks in! He asks for the Field as if he were giving a view-halloo. Then there is the moist-eyed, mottle-cheeked, puffy, convivial sub, who is knowing on the condition of ale, and is too friendly with Saccone's sherry. The convivial sub, I am happy to say, is dying out. Then there is the prig, who is "going in" for his profession. I call him a prig, because when people are going in for anything they should have the good sense not to blow about it. To hear Mr. Shells and his prattle about Hamley and Brialmont and Jomini, kriegspiel and the new drill, you would imagine he was bound to put the extinguisher on Marlborough, Wellington, Wolseley, and the rest of them; and yet the chances are, if you meet him twenty years hence, he will be a captain on the recruiting service, with no forces to marshal but six growing children. Then there is the sentimental sub, the perfect ladies' man, who plays croquet and the flute, pleads guilty to having cultivated the Nine, and affects a simpering pooh-pooh when he is impeached with having inspired that wicked but so witty bit of scandal in the local paper. By singularity of pairing, his fast friend is the muscular sub, who walks against time, and can write his initials with a hundredweight hanging from his index-finger.
Happy dogs in the heyday of life, all of them; how I envy them their buoyant spirits, their rollicking enjoyment of to-day, and their contempt for the morrow! But the morrow will come nevertheless, and with it Black Care will come often. Gib is a haunt of the Hebrews; they or their myrmidons beset the subaltern at genial hours, after luncheon or after mess, pester him with vamped-up knick-knacks for sale, appeal to him to patronize a poor man by buying articles he does not and never by any means can want—"pay me when you likes, Cap'n, one yearsh, two yearsh." The "cap'n," who may have left Sandhurst but six months, may be weakly good-natured, and ignore the fact that his income is not elastic; some day that he thinks of taking a run to England Ben Solomon, who seems to be able to read the books in the Adjutant-General's Office through the walls, pounces upon him with his little bill, and he is arrested if he cannot satisfy his Jewish benefactor. Loans are advanced at a high rate "per shent" by the harpies, and enable him to stave off the temporary embarrassment; the "cap'n" is happy for the moment, but the reckoning is only deferred that it may grow. The arrival of Black Care is adjourned, not averted. The plain truth of it is, Gibraltar is a den of thieves, and has been the burial-pit of many a promising young fellow's hopes. There are two tariffs for everything—one for natives, the other for the British subaltern and the British tourist; and the British subaltern and the British tourist are foolish enough to submit to the extortion in most cases. With some half-dozen honourable exceptions, the traders are what is popularly known as "Jews" in their mode of dealing. They cozen on principle, sell articles that will not last, and charge preposterous prices for them; they impose upon the young officer's softness or delicate gentlemanly feeling, and consider themselves smart for so doing. In this manner Gibraltar, with all its discomforts, is dearer than the most expensive and luxurious quarter in the British Isles.
But we have other specimens of the genus officer in the lounging slaughterers by profession, who are so busy killing time. The lean bronzed aristocratic major, whose temper long years in India have not soured; the squat pursy paymaster (why are paymasters so fearfully inclined to fat?); the raw-boned young surgeon with the Aberdeen accent; "the ranker," erect and grizzled, and looking ever so little not quite at his ease, you know, for the languid lad with fawn-coloured moustache straddling on the chair beside him is an Honourable; the jovial portly Yorkshireman, who is in the Highland Light Infantry, naturally; and the lively loud-voiced Irishman, laughing consumedly at his own jokes—all are here, conversing, smoking, mildly chaffing each other, and exchanging "tips" as to the next Derby. They make a book in a quiet way, and occasionally invest in a dozen tickets in a Spanish lottery. What will you? One cannot perpetually play shop, and the British officer has a rooted objection to it, although he does his duty like a man when the tug of war arises. Better that he should join in a regimental sweepstakes, or lose what he can afford to lose to a comrade, than give way to the blues. He does not gamble or curse, like his Spanish confrere; his potations are not deep, nor is he quick to quarrel. Then let him race on the Neutral Ground; let him hunt with the Calpe pack; and let him back his fancy for the big event at Epsom. Those are his chief excitements at Gib, and help to give a fillip to life in that circumscribed microcosm, pending the anxiously expected morn when the route will come, or, mayhap, the call to active service, in one of those petty wars which are constantly breaking the monotony of this so-called pacific reign.
"Guard, turn out!" cries the Highland Light Infantry sentinel under my window, and the smart soldier laddies fall in for the inspection of the officer of the day. What a thoroughly military town it is! By-and-by the evening gun booms from the heights above, where Sergeant Munro, taking time from his sun-dial and the town major, notifies the official sunset. Bang go the gates. We are imprisoned. Anon the streets are traversed by patrols in Indian file to warn loiterers to return to barracks, the pipers of the 71st skirl a few wild tunes on Commercial Square, the buglers sound the last post, the second gun-fire is heard, and a hush falls over the town, broken only by the challenges of sentries or their regular echoing footfalls on their weary beats. The thunder of artillery wakes you in the morning anew, and if you venture out for a walk before breakfast you thread your way through waggons of the army train or fatigue-parties in white jackets. You stumble across cannon and symmetric pyramids of shot where you least expect them; the line of sea-wall is intersected by figures in brick-red tunic, moving back and forward on ledges of masonry; the morning air is alive with drum-beats and bugle and trumpet-calls; everything is of the barrack most barrack-like; the broad arrow is indented in large deep character on the Rock. It is impossible to shake off the Ordnance atmosphere. The Irish jaunting-cars are all driven by the sons of soldiers' wives; the clergy-men are all military chaplains; those goats are going up to be milked for the major's delicate daughter; that lady practising horse exercise in a ring in her garden is wife to Pillicoddy of the Control Department, and is merely correcting the neglected education of her youth; the very monkeys—diminishing sadly, it grieves me to say—recall associations of the mess-room, for you never fail to hear of that terrible sportsman, "one of Cardwell's gents," who thought it excellent fun to shoot one some time ago. Luckily, the rules of the service did not permit him to be tried by court-martial, or the wretched boy might have been ordered out for instant execution, so great was the indignation. But if he was not shot he was roasted as fearfully as ever St. Laurence was; he was reminded a thousand times if once that fratricide is a fearful crime, and if ever Nemesis visits his pillow it will be in the shape of a monkey without a tail.
One wearies of the same scenes of beauty, and would fain barter the Cork Woods for the chestnuts in Bushy Park; the bright Bay and the watchet sky pall on the senses, and a dull river and drab clouds would be welcomed for change. The day rises when the conversation of the same set, the stories repeated as often as that famous one of grouse in the gun-room, and the stale jokes anent the Sheeref of Wazan and the rival innkeepers of Tangier, black Martin and "Lord James," cloy like treacle; the fiction palmed upon the latest novice that he must go and have a few shots at the monkeys, if he wishes to curry favour at headquarters, misses fire; the calls of the P. and O. steamers, and the thought that their passengers within a week either have seen, or will see, the little village works its effect; even bull-fighting is adjudged a bore, and one sighs for Regent Street and the "Rag and Famish," flaxen ringlets, and roast beeL A twelvemonth might pass pleasantly on the Rock; but after that the "damnable iteration" of existence must jar on the nerves like the note of a cuckoo. Still, as my philosopher of the cemetery remarked, there are worse places—far worse, Assouan and Aden, for example; so let not the gallant gentleman repine whom Fate has assigned to a round of duty in Sutlersville. For Tommy Atkins of the rank and file, it is wearisome when he is young; he should not be asked to stay there longer than a twelvemonth while he is at the age which yearns for novelty, and during that twelvemonth he should be drilled as at the depot. For the old soldier it is a good station, and should be made a haven of rest.
From Pillar to Pillar—Historic Souvenirs—Off to Africa—The Sweetly Pretty Albert—Gibraltar by Moonlight—The Chain-Gang—Across the Strait—A Difficult Landing—Albert is Hurt—"Fat Mahomet"—The Calendar of the Centuries Put Back—Tangier: the People, the Streets, the Bazaar—Our Hotel—A Coloured Gentleman—Seeing the Sights—Local Memoranda—Jewish Disabilities—Peep at a Photographic Album—The Writer's Notions on Harem Life.
I WAS gradually getting into the mood of Pistol, and cried a foutra for the world of business and worldlings base. My soul was longing for "Africa and golden joys." Here I was at the elbow, so to speak, of the mysterious Continent, where the geographers set down elephants for want of towns. Why should I not visit it? I might never have such a chance again. I stood in the shadow of one Pillar of Hercules. Why not make pilgrimage to the other? Having notched Calpe on my staff, I resolved to add Abyla to the record.
I was the more inclined to this, as I had recollection that Tangier had been part of the British dominions for one-and-twenty years. In 1662 Catharine of Braganza, the "olivader-complexioned queen of low stature, but prettily shaped," whose teeth wronged her mouth by sticking a little too far out, brought it as portion of her dowry to Charles II. The 2nd, or Queen's Own Regiment, was raised to garrison the post, and sported its sea-green facings, the favourite colour of her Majesty, for long in the teeth of the threatening Moors. The 1st Dragoons still bear the nickname of "the Tangier Horse," and were originally formed from some troops of cuirassiers who assisted in the defence of the African stronghold for seventeen years; and the 1st Foot Regiment owes its title of "Royal" to the distinction it gained by capturing a flag from the Moors in 1680. That was the year when old John Evelyn noted in his diary that Lord Ossorie was deeply touched at having been appointed Governor and General of the Forces, "to regaine the losses we had lately sustain'd from the Moors, when Inchqueene was Governor." His lordship relished the commission so little—indeed, it was a forlorn errand—that he took a malignant fever after a supper at Fishmongers' Hall, went home, and died. In 1683 the Merry Monarch caused the works of Tangier to be blown up, and abandoned the place, declaring it was not worth the cost of keeping. The Merry Monarch was not prescient. A century afterwards Gibraltar was indebted for a large proportion of its supplies, during the great siege, to the dismantled and deserted British-African fortress. For many reasons Tangier was not to be missed.
By a happy coincidence a party of three in the Club-House Hotel—a retired army captain, his wife, and a lady companion—were anxious to take a trip to Africa. We agreed to go together, and had scarcely made up our minds, when another retired captain, who habitually resided in Tangier, gratified us by the information that he was returning there, and would be happy to give us every assistance in his power. Retired Captain No. 1 was a jolly fellow, fond of good living and not overburdened with aestheticism—a capital specimen of a hearty Yorkshireman. He looked after the provand. His wife, portly and short of temper, was as good-natured as he. She insisted on discharging the bills. The lady-companion was thin, accomplished, and melancholy. She kept us in sentiment. Retired Captain No. 2 was a fellow-countryman of mine, bright-brained and waggish. He was the walking guide-book, with philosophy and friendship combined. I was nigh forgetting one, and not by any means the least important, member of the party—Albert. Mrs. Captain introduced him to me as a sweetly pretty creature. At her request I looked after him. Tastes vary as to what constitutes beauty, but I candidly think a broad thick head, crop ears, a flattish nose, and heavy jowls could not be called sweetly pretty without straining a point; and all these Albert possessed. He was a bull-dog (I believe his real name was Bill, and that he had been brought up in Whitechapel). As a bull-dog he had excellent points, and might be esteemed a model of symmetry and breeding by the fancy, or even pronounced a beauty and exquisitely proportioned by connoisseurs; but sweetly pretty—never! I could not stomach that, especially when Albert growled and laid bare his ruthless set of sound white teeth.
Before leaving Gibraltar I had two novel sensations, nocturnal and matutinal. The first was a view of the Bay by moonlight, the white crescent shining clearly down on a portion of the inner waters brinded by shipping, and on the outer spread of sleepy, cadenced wavelets rippling phosphorescently under the pallid rays. By the Mole were visible the outlines of barques, steamers, coal-brigs, and xebecs; away to the left were the Catapult and a few of her mosquito companions; and far out rode at anchor a stately frigate of the United States' fleet. The twinkling lamps of the city afloat sending out reddish lines, and the fuller, clearer, luminous pencillings of the gas-lamps of the city ashore, made a not ungrateful contrast to the quivering chart of poetic moonbeams. Bending over their edge were the deep shadows of the massive Rock; and bounding them, at the other side, the barren foot-hills of Algeciras mellowed into a phantom softness by distance and the night.
Next morning, as I strolled by the sea-wall towards the Ragged Staff Battery, I saw a sight that took away my appetite for breakfast. Pacing slowly to their work to the music of clanking chains was a column of wretched convicts.[A] What haggard faces, with low foreheads, sunken eyes, and dogged moody expression or utter blankness of expression! Purely animal the most of that legion of despair and desperation looked, and sallow and sickly of complexion. They were a blot on the fresh sunshine. How hideous their coarse garb of pied jackets branded with the broad arrow, their knickerbockers and clumsy shoes! Wistfully they moved along, hardly daring to glance at me, through fear of the turnkeys with loaded rifles marching at their sides. I almost felt that, if I had the power, I would demand their release, as did the Knight of La Mancha that of the criminals on their way to the galleys, although they might have been as ungrateful as Gines de Passamonte; but those hang-dog countenances banished impulses of chivalry.