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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 76

The Rock of Gibraltar

page 66

The Rock of Gibraltar.

The mighty rock of Gibraltar looks like a gigantic ship of war, bristling with cannon, anchored close to the low-lying Spanish shore, to which it is attached; and every morning the roar of the British morning gun reverberates along that part of the coast of Spain—a sound not very agreeable to Spanish ears. I was permitted to visit every part of the galleries and fortifications cut in the rocks, and to walk along the highest ridge, about 1600 feet above the sea level. Now I believe no one is allowed to see the new works which have been constructed to render this great fortress impregnable by modern artillery. At the other great stronghold of British power in the Mediterranean—the island of Malta—I had the pleasure to renew acquaintance with some naval officers whom I had met in New Zealand, and to receive kind attentions at Government House and the Clubrooms, which were formerly the stately palaees of the Grand Master and Knights of Malta. The noble harbour of Valetta is the principal rendezvous of the British Fleet in the Mediterranean. The town is well kept, cheerful, and bright, and the country is made to produce cotton plants and vegetables by breaking up and pulverising the soft rock of which the island is formed. Returning to the European shores, I found a great part of Spain void of interest; but the page 67 cathedrals of Burgos, Toledo, and Seville, as well as the great mosque of many columns at Cordova, now a place of Christian worship, are magnificent edifices, which, together with the delightful climate of Andalusia and the southern provinces, well repay a visit to the land whose adventurous sons discovered and conquered a large portion of America, and has now, by a very remarkable change of fortune, been subdued and brought to terms of peace by powerful States in the Western Hemisphere, of which they were to a great extent masters and cruel oppressors a few hundred years ago. In every town of Spain there is an amphitheatre for the picturesque but really degrading bull-fights, in which the population, and especially the women, take a cruel delight; but amongst other amusements the national dances of the Spaniards are charmingly graceful, and far more pleasing than the pirouettes of French ballet dancers and German hop-waltzers.