The People of Gibraltar

1838 - Charles R. Scott - A Personage of Some Celebrity

Sir George Don and Damien Berio - Lady Viale

Charles Rochfort Scott - born in 1790 - was a British Army officer and the author of - among other books - Excursions in the Mountains of Ronda and Granada. His military career must have been a particularly successful one. He was promoted to Captain as a relatively young man, served in Crete, Syria, Gibraltar and Wales In 1849 he was appointed Assistant Quartermaster-General in Dublin and five years later that of the Northern District.  In 1857 he was Lieutenant Governor of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He ended his career as Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey.

The Rock from Campamento  ( 19th century - Unknown )

In his 'Prefactory Chapter' Scott writes:
It is to be understood that I speak here of the South of Spain only, and more especially of the mountainous country encircling the fortress of Gibraltar - from whence, in due time, I purpose taking my departure.
As some sources suggest that his transfer to Gibraltar took place in 1842, one must assume that he visited Gibraltar well before that as the two volume book on his travels as mentioned above was published in 1838. Either that or the sources are incorrect. I suspect the later.

Excursions in the Mountains of Ronda and Granada - Volume 1
Gibraltar - I entirely forget what Saint in particular - or if any - is now charged with the protection of the "town and territory" of Gibraltar; but the intervention of one seems highly necessary, for the devil has obtained a great footing in the place, claiming as his own a Tower - a Bowling-green - a Bellows - a Gap, and - last, not least - a tremendous tongue of fire.

View for the Rock from the Devil's Tongue ( 19th century - Unknown )

Actually he left out the Devil's Tooth, the Devil's Dyke and the Devil's Gorge as well as several caves - Devil's Fall, Devil's Gap, Devil's Dustbin and Devil's Tower Caves. And there was and still is a Saint charged with protecting the town as best he can - it's St Joseph.
As a place of residence, I know of no town - being a garrison - that possesses so many agreements. The society is composed of persons of all nations and pursuits, and is varied by the passing visits of numerous strangers, who willingly devote a few days to the examination of the wonders of the celebrated "rock," and of the beauties of the neighbourhood.  
The Merchants - The resident English merchants were, in my day, a most hospitable body, whose society afforded a grateful variation to the too prevalent "our's" and "your's" conversation of a mess table. The table, by the way, possesses great attractions to the Bon vivant; offering him the enjoyment of most of the gastronomic luxuries of the world at a very cheap rate, and champagne and claret well iced and free of duty. 
The Sportsmen - Finally, to the Sportsman, the neighbourhood affords the pleasures of hunting, (see LINK) fishing, shooting, and horse-racing; (see LINK) and to the studious is presented the resource of an excellent library. (see LINK)

Gunner's Parade and the Garrison Library ( 1834 - H.A. Turner )  (See LINK)
I regret to say, however, that I remained at Gibraltar long enough to witness lamentable changes in many things - to see the commerce of the place gradually decline, first from the jealousy of the Spanish government at its being made a rendezvous for a worthless and ungrateful gang of refugees; secondly, from various impolitic acts emanating from the Colonial office; and lastly, from an awful visitation of the yellow fever, (See LINK) which swept off a third of its dense population, and, for a time, (Cadiz having about this epoch been also declared a Free port) directed the smuggling trade ( see LINK ) into another channel. 
The value of Gibraltar to Great Britain has been questioned by a recent writer on Spain, (see LINK) who doubts whether it be worth preserving at . . . . The importance of Gibraltar will increase ten-fold in the event of a steam war, as everything will then depend upon the vicinity of the contending parties to their coal depots. But, besides the advantage Gibraltar gives Great Britain, by the command of the entrance of the Mediterranean, it affords a secure port at which her ships can refit, reprovision, etc without incurring the expense and loss of time attendant on a long voyage to England. . . . 
Smuggling - On one point, I admit our government appears to be in error; namely, in making Gibraltar " a free port to every flag;" by which "other nations enjoy the benefit of the establishment, without paying any portion of the expense:" and it is more particularly to be blamed, for opening it to the produce of the United States of America, which, unlike France, Tuscany, Sardinia, and Austria, give our commerce no reciprocating advantage, and whose tobacco, imported in immense quantities, pays as aforesaid no portion of the expense of the establishment, but is the article of all others that occasions Spain to watch the transit trade of Gibraltar with such excessive jealousy. 
The Spanish government knows full well, that salt fish, manufactured goods of all sorts, and indeed most of the productions of Great Britain, must be introduced into the country, and would take but little trouble to check the contraband trade of Gibraltar, if it were confined to such articles; but the introduction of 
Tobacco, Cocoa, Sugar, Spices, and other productions of Spain's own colonies, which the British Free port affords other nations the means of pouring into the country, to the detriment of her transatlantic possessions, naturally occasions a greater degree of watchfulness to be adopted, and excites much jealousy and ill will. 
 . . . the loss of our extensive trade with Oran and Algiers - (occasioned by the imposition of prohibitory duties since the North of Africa became a French Colony) . . .  threatened annihilation to the trade of Gibraltar. But, at the present day, it once more "looks up:" Smuggling, thanks to the lawless state of Spain, having again furnished occupation to the hardy mountaineers of Ronda and Granada, who, careless what may be the form of Government at Madrid provided its authority does not extend to Andalusia, so as to prevent their having free access to the Calicoes and Tobacco of "La Plaza" . . .  
The Smuggler - I take my reader amongst them. Smugglers by birth, education, and inclination, it could hardly be expected that they should be distinguished by the possession of any very resplendent virtues. Nevertheless, they are characterized by temperance, honesty, (apart their profession) hospitality, and noble-mindedness. Hardy and enduring, though generally averse to the occupation of husbandry, they can scarcely be termed indolent, since their favourite pursuit is one which exposes them to great fatigue.  
Proverbially vain, and supremely ignorant, they look upon their country as the first in the world, themselves as its bravest inhabitants: in the latter supposition, being perhaps nearly as far from the truth as in the former; their courage, such as it is, being rather of the tiger kind.  
Superstitious beyond all belief, and priest-ridden to the last degree, still their naturally caustic and witty temperament cannot be so bridled as to deter them from indulging in jokes and pleasantries, even at the expense of the ceremonies of their church, or the peccadilloes of their ghostly fathers. As I have stated before, they concern themselves but little with politics; but, having a most radical distaste for every species of taxation, the government that troubles them least in this particular - that is, which has the least power of levying its dues—is naturally the most popular. 

Contrabandistas taking their goods to Ronda - "their courage, such as it is, being rather of the tiger kind"  ( 19th ventury - Gustav Dore )
 . . I must no longer, however, delay taking my departure from Gibraltar, or the gates of the fortress will be closed upon me for the night, and frustrate my intention of sleeping at SanRoque. 
San Roque - A mere village at the period of the last siege of Gibraltar, it has gradually increased, so as at the present day to cover a considerable extent of ground, and to contain a population of upwards of six thousand souls. The title of City has even been vicariously bestowed upon it 
San Roque, being free from this intolerable nuisance, ( the Levante ) is looked upon as a sort of Montpelier by the Gibraltarians, and, at the period of which I write, was very much resorted to by the mercantile classes, who fitted up comfortable "boxes" there, that afforded them an agreeable retreat after their daily labours at the desk were concluded. . . .  
The need of some little acquaintance with the Spanish language caused but few English officers to enter into the society of San Roque; but living there as much as I did, and being often placed in communication with the authorities, I derived from it a source of great amusement. Indeed, to Lady Viale (see LINK)and her amiable family I am indebted for many agreeable evenings; her house uniting the pleasing informality of Spanish with the solid hospitality . . .  

San Roque  ( 1900s - Albert Moulton Foweraker ) (see LINK)
Sir George Don - The late Sir George Don, (see LINK) whilst Lieut. Governor of the Fortress, invariably passed several months of the year at San Roque; and his noble hospitality, his ever open purse, and constant employment of the poor in works of utility, secured to him the love and respect of all classes of its inhabitants. Indeed, such was the gallant Veteran's influence in the place that I may literally say, not a stone could be turned nor a tree planted without "His Excellency's" being first consulted as to the propriety of the measure. 
Smoking - The great distinction that marks the various grades of Spanish society, is the latitude given to smoking. In the first circles, it is altogether prohibited. In the second, it is confined to a back room, or suffered in the patio. In all others it is freely permitted. It is a positive libel on the ladies of Spain to say that they smoke under any circumstances; though the disgusting habit prevails amongst the females of Mexico and other transatlantic states that formerly were included in the empire of both worlds. 
Almoraima - I shall now therefore direct my steps due north, through the lonely and almost boundless forest of Almoraima, towards Ximena. The forest consists principally of cork, oak, and ilex; but, in the marshy parts of it, (called solos,) ash, willow, and other trees to which such localities are favourable, grow very luxuriantly. 
The owner of this vast domain is the Marquis of Moscoso,—who derives from it a revenue totally disproportioned to its value and extent; and what little he does get, he squanders nightly at the gaming-table. The principal source of revenue arises from the numerous herds of swine and other cattle, that are driven from all parts of the country to feed upon the acorns, herbage, and underwood, scattered throughout the forest; the fine, well grown trees with which it abounds being turned to no better account than to furnish bark and charcoal. 
This is entirely owing to the want of means of conveying the timber to a market; for not even to Gibraltar - in which direction the country is level - is there a road capable of bearing the draught of heavy weights. . . . 
Occasionally, wide, open glades, carpeted with a rich greensward, present themselves in the very heart of the forest, to diversify the scenery - giving it quite the character of an English park; and from these breaks in the wood a view may generally be obtained of the far-distant towers of Castellar; the mountain fortress of the master of this princely domain, now inhabited by his Administrador, or Agent, his gamekeepers, and other dependents.

Castellar from the road to Jimena  ( 1860s - G. Washington Wilson ) (see LINK
The forest abounds in deer, wild boars, and wolves . . . Permission to shoot in the forest is never refused to the British officers and inhabitants of Gibraltar. Indeed, excepting for the caza mayor,  the ceremony of asking leave is not considered necessary; and in the winter season the sotos afford good sport, woodcocks, ducks, and snipes, being very plentiful. 
Turning now away from the Guadaranque, and leaving a spacious convent that gives its name to the forest, about half a mile on the left, the road inclines to the eastward, and soon reaches a large solitary building, the Venta del Aqua del Quejigo, but known more commonly amongst the English by the name of the Long Stables, and distinguished as the scene of many a festive meeting, and many a bacchanalian orgie . . . My head aches at the very recollection of the nights passed within its walls.

La Venta del Aqua del Quejigo  ( 1920 - The Graphic Magazine )
Ronda - Ronda is a place of considerable commerce; its secluded and at the same time central situation adapting it peculiarly for an emporium for smuggled goods; in which, it may be said, the present trade of Spain entirely consists. The vicinity of Gibraltar and Cadiz;the impracticable nature of the country between those ports and along the Mediterranean shore; the difficult and intricate mountain paths that traverse it (known only to the smugglers); and the wretched state of the national army and Navy; all tend to favour the contraband trade; and more especially that of Ronda, where the same facilities present themselves for getting smuggled goods away from the place, as of bringing them from the coast to it. 
It is lamentable blindness on the part of the Spanish government, - considering the deplorable state of the manufactures of the country; of the shipping interest of the roads and other means of inland communication; and, to crown all, I may add, of the finances,—not to see the advantage that would accrue from lowering the duties on foreign produce; on tobacco, cocoa, and manufactured goods in particular, which may be considered as absolute necessaries to all classes of Spaniards. 
By so doing, not only would the present demoralising system of smuggling be put an end to, - since it would then be no longer a profitable business, - but the money which now clings to the fingers of certain venal authorities of the Customs, or finds its way into the pockets of the Troops and Sailors employed on the preventive service, in the way of bribes, would then stand some chance of reaching the public treasury. . . 

Ronda    ( 1830s - David Roberts ) (see LINK)
 . . . It was no unusual thing to send Regiments, that were very much in arrears of pay, to garrison the lines in front of Gibraltar; and so well was the reason of their being sent there understood, that sometimes they would take the settlement of accounts into their own hands. 
I recollect the Regiment of La Princesa refusing - Officers and Men - to embark for Ceuta, because they had not been allowed to remain long enough before Gibraltar to pay themselves. The regiment was permitted to remain three months longer, and at the expiration of that time embarked perfectly satisfied: a rare instance of moderation.
The author continues in this vein for page after page every one of them arguing that the fault lay entirely with stupidity of the Spanish Governments in trying to defend its own industries - such as they were - by protecting them from foreign imports by introducing high tariffs. He never once mentions the role of Gibraltar or the enormous profits being made by British merchants both on the Rock or back home in Britain. Spain was of couse powerless to do anything about any of this but I am certain that if any country had tried in anyway to smuggle goods at will into Britain to the detriment of its treasury it would have been considered an act of war.

Excursions in the Mountains of Ronda and Granada - Volume 2

Ximena - That Ximena was once a place of importance there can be no doubt, since it gave the title of King to Abou Melic, son of the Emperor of Fez . . . . At the present day, it is a poor and inconsiderable town, whose inhabitants, amounting to about 8000, are chiefly employed in smuggling (see LINK) and agriculture. 
On issuing from the town, the road to Gibraltar crosses the Sogarganta, having on its left bank, and directly under the precipitous southern cliff of the castle rock, the ruins of an immense building, erected some sixty years back, for the purpose of casting shot for the Siege of Gibraltar.
Ximena is today's Jimena de la Frontera. "The Siege" is the Great Siege of the late 18th century. (see LINK

1838 - The Castle of Jimena with Gibraltar in the distance
In 1811 during the Peninsular War the Spanish General Francisco Ballesteros (See LINK) destroyed a fort that once stood in the foreground of picture. It was from here that he went to Gibraltar to reconsider his next move. There is also a Moorish 'Aljibe' in the flat area on the north side of the Castle and just behind the people in this picture, that is almost identical in design to Gibraltar's very own 'Nun's Well'   (see LINK)    (Frontispiece of Volume 1 )
Algeciras - The streets of Algeciras are wide and regularly built, remarkably well paved, and lined with good houses; but it is a sun-burnt place, without a tree to shelter, or a drain to purify it. Being the port of communication between Spain and her 'presidario', Ceuta, as well as the military seat of government of the Campo de Gibraltar, it is a place of some bustle, and carries on a thriving trade, by means of felucas and other small craft, with the British fortress. 
The population may be reckoned at 8,000 souls, exclusive of a garrison of from twelve to fifteen hundred men. The Spaniards call the rock of Gibraltar 'el cuerpo muerto' from its resemblance to a corpse. . .  
Getares - On quitting the town, the road, having crossed the river Miel, and passed over the site of “ Old Algeciras,” situated on its right bank, edges away from the coast, and, in about a mile, reaches a hill, whence an old tower is seen standing on a rocky promontory; which, jutting some considerable distance into the sea, forms the northern boundary of a deep and well sheltered bay. The Spanish name for this bight is 'La Ensenada de Getares'; but by us, on account of the high beach of white sand that edges it, it is called “ Sandy bay.

View from Getares   (1846 - J.M.Carter - detail )    (see LINK)
Cadiz - On the promulgation of the edict constituting Cadiz a free port, it became at once an entrepot for the produce of all nations; the goods brought to it being subjected only to a trifling charge for landing . . no source of revenue was opened to the public treasury by the grant of this special privilege, since the goods landed at Cadiz could only be carried into the interior of the country on payment of duties that amounted to an absolute prohibition of them, and they were, consequently, introduced surreptitiously by bribing the city authorities and custom-house officers; who, in their turn, paid large sums for their respective situations to the ministers of the crown! 
The whole affair was, in fact, a temporary expedient to raise money by selling Cadiz permission to smuggle. At the same time, the Spanish government —by offering foreign merchants a mart which, at first sight, seemed more conveniently situated for disposing of their goods than Gibraltar - hoped to give a death-blow to the commerce of the British fortress, which it had found to thrive, in spite of all the iniquitous restrictions imposed upon it; such, for instance, as the exaction of duties on goods shipped from thence, double in amount to those levied on the same articles, if brought from the ports of France and Italy . . . The scheme, however, though successful for a time against Gibraltar, did no permanent good to Cadiz; and the trade of the place has relapsed into its former sickly state.
After the 1824 Battle of Ayacucho, Spain effectively lost all its American colonies. A few years later Cadiz was declared a free port and remained so for much of the 1830s. 
Ronda and Gaucin - The road (from Ronda to Gaucin) was formerly practicable for carriages throughout, but it is now purposely suffered to go to decay, lest it should furnish Gibraltar with greater facilities than that great commercial mart already possesses, for destroying the manufactures of Spain. such, at least, is the excuse offered for the present wretched state of the road.

Vista del Castillo de Gaucin - Gibraltar in the distanc   (1849 - Genaro Villaamil Duguet Perez)
Guadiaro - The bed of the Guadiaro is wide but shallow, and offers two fords, which are practicable at most seasons. There is a ferry-boat kept, however, at the upper point of passage, for cases of necessity. A venta is situated on the right bank of the stream, whereat a bevy of custom-house people generally assemble to levy contributions on the passers-by. 
It is a wretched place of accommodation, though better than another, distant about a mile further, on the road to Gibraltar, and well known to the sportsmen of the garrison by the name of pan y agua - bread and water—those being the only supplies that the establishment can be depended upon to furnish. Its vicinity to some excellent snipe ground occasions it to be much resorted to in the winter. 
Los Barrios - The town of Los Barrios, where we took up our quarters for the night, is twelve miles from Gibraltar. It is a small, open town, containing some 2000 souls, and, though founded only since the capture of Gibraltar, already shows sad symptoms of decay. Being within a ride of the British garrison, it is frequently visited by its inmates, and two rival posadas dispute the honour of possessing the golden fleece. One of them, for a time, carried all before it, in consequence of the beauty of the Donzella de la Casa: but beauty will fade, however unwillingly . . .
Damien Berrio - The Piqueur who usually accompanied us on these shooting excursions was a personage of some celebrity in the Gibraltar sporting world, and his name - Damien Berrio - will doubtless be familiar to such of my readers as may have resided any time on “the rock." By birth a Piedmontese, a baker by profession . . .  
At the very mention of a 'Batida', he would leave oven, home, wife, and children ; shoulder his gun, fill his 'alforjas'  for he was a provident soul, and, though a baker, ever maintained that man could not live on bread alone - borrow a horse, and, in half an hour, “ be ready for a start.” 
Possessing a perfect knowledge of the country, a quick eye, an unerring aim, and a nose that could wind an olla if within the circuit of a Spanish league, Damien was, in many respects, a valuable acquisition on a shooting party. And to the aforesaid qualifications, befitting him for the staff he added that of being an excellent raconteur. . .  
His person was much above the common stature, erect, and well-built, but his hands and feet were “prodigious.” His face - when the sun fell directly upon it, so as to free it from the shadow of his enormous nose - was intelligent, and bespoke infinite good nature, though marked, nevertheless, with the lines of care and sorrow. His costume was that of a French sportsman, except that he wore a high-crowned, weather-beaten old hat, placed somewhat knowingly on one side of his head, and which, of itself alone, marked him as “a character.” 
Berrio was born in the Alps, got drafted into the Piedmont army and was made prisoner by the French in 1796 who eventually forced him to take part in the Napoleonic Wars. He eventually made good his escape. . . .  he made his way to Spain - took to himself a Spanish wife - and settled at Gibraltar.
The 1834 Gibraltar census records a Damian Berio, aged 59 and married, and a baker by profession. His wife's name was Maria and she was 58 years old. Their daughter, Paula was 21 and unmarried.

Generally Charles Scott comes over as an intelligent and interesting individual. There is no doubt that despite his many criticisms of Spain and Spaniards he still held both in considerable affection. If the of Spanish phrases that pepper his account are anything to go by he must have also understood and spoken the language well. His blind spot as regards smuggling is understandable. His ideas as what caused it and how to go about stopping it were probably the most commonly held by most British people at the time.