Leave Cadiz – Observations in passing thro’ Straits of Gibraltar

At 3 oClock P.M. the Captain, having come with the Mail, and our passengers, we ran out of the Bay of Cadiz with a moderate and favourable breeze, and I expected that next morning would see us anchored in the Bay of Gibraltar. I went to bed at my usual time, and awoke about 4, A.M. Being anxious, as it was fine moonlight, to observe the appearance of the Straits as we passed thro. I got up and went upon deck. I found that the wind had become unfavourable and was them blowing very fresh. Instead therefore of our being close upon Gibraltar as I had thought we were near Cape Spartel, on the African side, at the very entrance of the Gut. Shortly after I came upon deck we tacked about to the Spanish Coast – then turned about to the opposite land – then back again and so on all the morning. By the light of the moon I could see distinctly the celebrated Cape Trafalgar, where our fleet had received immortal renown by the defeat of our enemies, and where we lost the greatest admiral of the Age in the person of Lord Nelson. But the mere sight of the opposite coasts of Europe and Africa was not the only pleasure I derived from my early rising – I also witnessed what to me was unusual, viz. the curious affects produced by the first dawn of day, struggling and combined with the moonshine. In the East, the light was of a tender hue, pale & faint whilst in the West the Moon cast a mild golden radiance, which was quite different from and un-intermixed with the other. The contrast was most remarkable – and I watched it with curiosity and delight. As the day gradually broke in and supplanted & overpowered in every part of the heavens the beams of Madam Sun & we saw the whole length of the Straits distinctly defined, from Cape Spartel to Ape’s hill (a very lofty hill opposite to Gibraltar) on the Moorish side, and from Cape Trafalgar to Cabrita point on the Spanish. On all hands the land was mountainous, but that of Barbary was much more elevated tan that of Spain – for there indeed, I might say in the language of the poets, and with stricter propriety “hills peep o’er hills, (tho, Alps [did not] on Alps arise! In the course of the numerous tacks which we were obliged to make in order to beat up the Straits, we at one time approached pretty close to once powerful and celebrated City of Tangiers, and at an other, to the small town of Tarifa. Tangiers seemed to be of considerable extent and built on the sides of a hill, which from its natural strength, rendered unnecessary to be done by art. It presented a good appearance with its flat roofs and numerous minarets or spires. Tarifa again is built above rather low ground, close to the water and seemed to be an insignificant looking place. Not far from it were a great many fishing boats busily employed – strong but unhandsome.

18th Jan.ry reach Gibraltar

M.r Anderson – Cap.t Gough & Lieu.ts Seymour & Powell

So much time was occupied in tacking and so little progress made each time, that notwithstanding a strong current in our favour, we did not reach our anchorage front of Gibraltar, until 5 oClock P.M.

In a very short time the Quarantine boat came alongside and admitted us to practique – the Captain went on shore with the Main accompanied by some four passengers. Of the latter very little is required to be said beyond the mere mentioning of them. There a M.r Anderson a merchant and a native of Scotland – a stout, jolly looking man. He had the appearance of a substantial Grocer – and tho’ his manners were far from indicating the gentleman they shewed how much advantage may be derived from travelling and a general intercourse with the world. He came with us from Falmouth – designed to remain some time at Gibraltar, then proceed to Madeira and finally to Rio Janeiro, where he has his principal establishment.

Besides this person, who had [come] with us from England, three military officers, viz. a Captain Gough, Lieuten.t Seymour, and Lieut.t Powell all belonging I believe to the 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers. These gentlemen, in conjunction with a Capt.n of the Rifle Brigade, and the Earl of Rothes Lieut.t in the 7 Fusiliers (both for Malta) kept us all alive by their prigs and their pranks. Not a day passed but they had some larking going on – and if truth be spoken some of their sprees savoured more of the love of fun inherent in children, than of the graver amusements of men. Having a good deal of poultry on board, an active search was soon made to discover if there were any cocks – and when to their great joy, these were found, they immediately set about pitting them against each other in a very scientific way. During the whole passage cock fighting was the order of the day – being occasionally interspersed with battles between two dogs on board or with sending them to annoy the ducks & hens, a service to which the dogs shewed not the least disinclination. Again during dinner jokes and laughter were bandied about – the conversation was frequently indecorous and improper – and hardly a single sentence was uttered without being interlarded with oaths both deep and loud – and all this was said in a manner very different from the rough hearty swearing of a Jack Tar – and with a sang froid and an air, which was designed to mark the polished gentleman and officer. You will be very much surprised to learn, that the presence of a reverend Clergyman proved not the slightest check to their oaths and ribaldry, but that on the contrary they seemed to glory in it on purpose to annoy the parson of whom individually I shall afterwards speak.

These were all our passengers from England to Gibraltar – but we had four, 2 ladies and 2 gentlemen from Cadiz to this place. One of these was a M.r Blodget, with his lady and her sister Miss Williams – the name of the other gentleman I did not learn. I had almost forgot to mention that we brought along with the above a black boy, who was to appear as an important witness in a trial for Piracy at Gibraltar.

I did not, as it was too late, go on shore, but contented myself with refreshing my memory and recollection of scenes which I had seen but a year before. One thing struck me this time which had not done so before, and that was, that almost all the houses we[re] painted in a different colour, which communicated, to the Town, a grotesque and motley appearance, some were green – some yellow – some white – some blue.

Go on Shore at Gibraltar

Tuesday 19th January – to day the weather being very fine I went on shore, and visited all the localities which I knew. Among other places I strolled as far as Europa Point and before arriving there, I had a complete view of the great strength of the Rock; for ever supposing the enemy to be master of one or more parts, there are still numerous fortifications, which commanded everywhere below them. Every thing even to the minutest particular seemed to be in the most perfect order.

I returned on board much delighted with the manner in which I had spent the day, just a few minutes before [the] signal gun fired and the gates were shut.

Leave Gibraltar

Wednesday 20th January – weather to day squally and unsettled – however I went on shore to deliver any letters in charge of M.r Brown, who had kindly promised to give them to M.r Liddell, Surgeon of the Lapwing. The general subject of conversation with every one was the trial, which is to take place to day of the man, who had acted as the Captain of those pirates, who had been executed at Cadiz. It appeared from what I heard that the Black boy, whom we had brought with us had been formerly the servant of this very person, and was thought to be one of the most decisive evidences against him. As we were to sail this afternoon I could not wait to hear the result of the trial but was obliged to hasten on board at 1 oClock. At 3 P.M. M.r Geach, according to instructions began, with the assistance of some men from the Dartmouth frigate [2] to heave up the anchor – when unfortunately the ring parted and we had nearly drifted on a lee shore. After much trouble we were righted, and lay off and on in the Bay, waiting for the Captain and the Mail. The Mail was to have been ready at 4 but up to ½ past 5 there was no appearance of either. M.r Geach in these circumstances was doubtful how to act – and when in the uncertainty, we heard a gun fired by the frigate, and saw the recall-flag hoisted. He however paid little attention to this, as we imagined that these signals were intended for their own crew, and not for us, with whom we could not conceive that they had any thing to do. Not long after this, the report of a second gun was heard – upon which our Master determined to bear down upon the frigate and learn what they wanted. When we were pretty close to her, we espied two boats making toward us, which proved to be the Capt.ns gig and the Dartmouth’s boat with the Mail and passengers. All were thoroughly drenched from the many and heavy seas they had shipped, compelling them to be constantly bailing. Much confusion was consequent upon the late arrival of the Capt.n who it appears, not being able to adduce to where we were, had gone to the Dartmouth and procured their assistance. When all the articles were taken in, was started immediately with favourable and fresh breeze for the Southward and Westward.

Thursday 21st Jan.ry – very fine weather and favourable breezes pretty near the Coast of Spain.

Friday 22nd – weather very pleasant but cloudy – favourable breezes of variable strength – saw the African coast this afternoon.

Saturday 23rd – pleasant weather – wind favourable but at times inclinable to vary. In the afternoon 2 of the French squadron blockading Algiers, consisting of a frigate & a 8 gunned brig passed close to us, while two more sails were seen at a distance.

Sunday 24th January – too fine – weather nearly a calm all day, till in the afternoon a foul wind began to blow. At evening passed an English transport with troops.

Monday 25th – weather cloudy with rain – wind foul.

Tuesday 26th – fine weather – foul wind.

Wednesday 27th – cloudy but pleasant W.r wind right against us.

Thursday 28th – weather very variable, with clouds, sunshine and rain. Wind still contrary, so that we have hardly been able to gain any ground these four days.

Friday 29th – in the forenoon weather cloudy and gloomy – in the afternoon fine foul wind.

Saturday 30th – fine weather – fresh and favourable breezes. Off Toro at 2 oClock P.M.

Sunday 31st – cloudy but pleasant weather. Off Maritimo at half past 1 P.M. fresh and favourable breezes

Read on … Parlatoria at Malta