Lady Emmeline Charlotte Elizabeth Stuart-Wortley was an English poetess and writer who took to travel after the death of her wealthy husband in 1855. Among her various published works was The Sweet South, a rambling and incoherent affair in two lengthy volumes into which she carelessly informs the reader of every nonsense and prejudice that came into her head every time she took pen to paper.
Lady Emmeline Charlotte Elizabeth Stuart-Wortley
The first volume has nothing of interest on Gibraltar other than a series of Andalucian fandango couplets - some of which may have originated in the Campo de Gibraltar. I have included them simply because I like them. The second volume has various comments on her two visits to the Rock.
- Yo no le temo a la muerte
- Porque es cosa natural,
- Pero le temo a las pulgas,
- Del campo de Gibraltar
- El verte me da la muerte,
- El no verte me da vida
- Más quiero morir y verte
- Que no verte y tener vida
- Si tus ojos tienen niñas,
- Y tus niñas tienen ojos;
- Esos ojos de esas niñas,
- Son las niñas de mis ojos
- De qué sirve al cautivo,
- Tener los grillos de plata?
- Y la cadena de oro,
- Si la libertad la falta?"
- En la calle no sé donde,
- Hay un yo no sé qué Santo,
- Por rezar yo no sé qué,
- Se gana yo no sé cuanto
The author obviously enjoyed these fandango verses enormously and she offers reasonably good translations into English for each. There are several more - but these will suffice.
Off Gibraltar ( 1858 - John Wilson Carmichael ) (See LINK)
The Natives - How precisely Gibraltar looked just as it did when we last took leave of it, some years ago . . . Still, here we find, in excellent preservation, grenadiers and geraniums, cauliflowers and cannon-balls, and howiteers and hook-noses (abounding in Jewish physiognomies under rabbinical and other Israelitish caps), and nursery- maids and bob-tailed nags, and humming-tops and three-deckers, and squalling babes and beating drums, and water-melons and Rock-scorpions (as the Anglo-Spanish natives of Gibraltar are called), and turbans and bagpipes, Moors in white robes, and dapper English waiters in white chokers, and beards, foraging caps, muskets, muslin aprons, hoops, batteries, bibs and tuckers, cricket-balls, mortars, tops and bottoms, fire-rockets, watering-pots, scarlet jackets, green veils, mustard, military bands, wide-awakes, lap-dogs, gunpowder, and mutton chops.
Street scene Gibraltar ( Late 19th century - Unknown )
An odd mention of an 'English waiter' - one would have imagined that this type of occupation would have been taken by the local residents.
The Town . . . I remarked one change . . . and that was in the aspect of the streets as regarded traffic. Somewhat diminished seemed the stir and bustle of the place. There appeared to me less movement and fewer laden carts. When we were here before they seemed to be running over one another, such crowds of them there were, with their magnificent teams of colossal mules. Spaniards tell you, with a rather malicious air, the place has less business and prosperity than it had, owing to various causes . . .
The various early 19th century epidemics (see LINK) had undoubtedly taken their toll on the local economy, as had various measures against smuggling taken by both the Spanish and British authorities.Wortley's chapter on Gibraltar is fifteen pages long - within which the above is precisely all she felt worthwhile saying about the place. Several chapters later she returns to the Rock after a short visit to Barbary.
The Second Visit - We arrived at Gibraltar about two o'clock in the day. We found our rooms at the Club Hotel occupied, and we repaired to another fonda, not in so agreeable a situation, it being in a rather stuffy street. However, we were tolerably comfortably lodged, and as we were only en route to Malaga it did not signify; and indeed we had not much to complain of, except, perhaps, that the Rock-Scorpion chambermaids are not the most diligent and attentive of their calling in the world. At the Club Hotel, though they were genuine Rock-Scorpions there too, they have been more carefully indoctrinated in English ways and manners.
The Club House Hotel in the Commercial Square ( 1860s - Unknown ) (See LINK)
And then she comes up with this.
Rock-Scorpions - I will relate a little adventure . . . that once happened to us at Lyons. I had ordered some fine Lyons silks to be brought to the hotel where I was staying, and they accordingly arrived; and accompanying them came a very swarthy youth indeed, who began immediately talking a kind of severely-fractured English, of which accomplishment he seemed very proud. Of what country could he be? He looked as unlike a Frenchman as an Englishman.
"Are you an Italian? . . . A Spaniard?" "No, madam; British - I British, and I British spikes. Yes, I spikes quite clear." "But your English is rather broken, allow me to say. Surely you are not an Englishman?" we cried, in wonder at the contused language he spoke in; where could he have lived in all his British born days? "Yes, yes," he hastily replied, "and not broken moshe my Englands is at all." (This was, indeed, a mis-take; for it suffered from severe compound fractures at the very least.)
"I complete Britishermanself, though I not been parleying Englishes moshe late; far away from my contree; but I real rightdown Britisherman." "Really?" "Yes; is real Rock-Scorpion, now you knows quite well."I had never heard of such a thing in my life, and looked, of course, much puzzled."Rock-Scorpion?" "Yes, madam; real true dat. Born on de Rock - -on de Rock itself, be sure." . . . "Rock! In the name of patience, what rock on earth do you mean?" "Why de Rock; de great Rock; I native inhabitant ov Gib, madam; certain: Gib."
And he looked more proudly than ever, since now he hoped, it seemed, that the whole mystery would be entirely explained. But, alas! Many a person who has never visited "Gib," knows nothing of that conspicuous little diminutive by which it is termed: they are no more aware of it than they are of the natives being designated Rock-Scorpions. If we thought the two (coat-)tailed scorpion gone mad, as though "girt by fire," and expected to see him sting himself in the head "and expire," somehow he seemed to think us most lamentable ignoramuses.
"Where? What Jib? Jib? Jib where, or how?"
. . .Gibraltar came then . . . to enlighten us or to confound us. How could we be so stupid, as not to know that "Gib" was Gibraltar, as well as that that was the Rock, and that Rock-Scorpions are Gibraltese, or Gibbese, or Gibbers, or happy Rockers, and all the rest of it! This, and much more, that . . . seemed to express; and how came we not to recognise our countryman instanter, by his beautiful Engleeshes, and air . . .
The Moors - Nearly opposite to the hotel, I think, was the shop of a Moor, who seemed the very impersonation of laziness and do-nothingness. He appeared, indeed, a complete predestinarian; he thought, evidently, customers would come from the clouds, walk into his uninviting, untidy-looking shop, find the goods they wanted, or manufacture them for themselves - pay him, and walk out again, while he should sit or stand passive, perhaps fingering his rosary and muttering one of the ninety-and-nine epithets of Allah, and stroking down his solemn length of beard. He looks so idle, that life and his turban seem a burden almost insupportable to him
1832 - Edward Young ) (See LINK)
Many of the Moors of Gibraltar are very fine-looking men, often extremely stately, and rather stouter, I think, than their Tetuan brethren. They seem to thrive and prosper here; not all of them being so idle as my "next-door neighbour over the way." Among the picturesque sons of Morocco you often see very tall men; they contrast most favourably with the Jews of "Gib," who are generally a very wretched-looking set, and evidently not of fastidious cleanliness.
( 1832 - Edward Young )
Some of the Jewish women are handsome. The Spaniards, who look with con- tempt on the Moors, which they never should do, certainly, when they turn their eyes on Seville andGranada . . .
Algeciras - We . . . took leave once more of Gibraltar, and went over in the steamer (that continually performs the little trajet between the two places) to Algeciras . . . where we took up our abode in the Fonda Espanola. It is pleasantly and airily situated. On one side was a market-place, on the other the bay.
Bay of Algeciras with the main church in the distance ( 1912 - Angel Cortellimi Sanchez )
And that was that for Algeciras - other than various rambling accounts that confirmed her views on the "idleness, procrastination, love of empty show, and habits of a constant tendency to exaggeration" of Spaniards in general.
Perhaps the most revealing section of the book - in so far as it reinforces Victorian - and indeed even modern attitudes - as regards national identity, is the importance given to the ability or otherwise of speaking one's own language. If you can't speak English proper you ain't English - and saying that you are British will not save you.
People like Lady Stuart Wortley - and that covers the majority of mid 19th century English visitors to the Rock - thought that the English spoken by Gibraltarians was not just plain funny but that - ironically for the speaker - it was an indicator of their non-Britishness - as well as lack of manners and intellect. In other words worthy of derision - and hardly hidden contempt.