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chat, worsted-work, backgammon, and books for quiet peoplelike us. At ten there is a light supper, at eleven the candles are extinguished; you tumble into your berth, and the day is done. I have dwelt thus long on the details of a modern sea-life, because a prejudice exists against the long voyage, which I think is without foundation now, and which requires only experience to There is no doubt that, for the infirm, the aged, and the very young, it is the most expedient means of reaching Malta, and the shores of the Levant; and for all, the most healthful and convenient.
I have spoken of the Oriental Steamer, as I found her in two passages of upwards of 5000 miles in length; and before I leave the subject I must bear my willing testimony to the ability and courtesy of her captain, officers, and well-ordered crew, who do credit to their gallant ship, as she does to the country that produced her.
England, we love thee better than we know-
Which, like twin giants, guard th' Herculean Straits.
On the first of January, we left Southampton; on the evening of the second we took leave of England at Falmouth.* On the morning of the third we entered the much calumniated Bay of Biscay, which is no longer formidable, since the introduction of steam. On the fifth we caught a glimpse of Cape Finisterre, and then passed from the Bay of Biscay into waveless waters, sheltered by the Spanish shore. Thenceforth, every morning rose with brighter suns, and balmier breezes, until we came in sight of Capes St. Vincent and Trafalgar, relieved off the distant, but beautiful mountain coast of Barbary. The thoughts evoked by the scenes of Nelson's death and victory were not interrupted by the next bold headland. There was Gibraltar, and there England's flag was flying.
There was not a cloud in all the calm and glowing sky; the crescent moon, the emblem of Moslem power, was trembling over the picturesque land of the Moor, almost dissolved in a flood of sunshine; the sea, a filagree of blue and silver, faintly reflected the mountains of Medina Sidonia, among whose snowy summits we seemed to steer: all nature seemed in a pleasant trance, and all Spain was taking his siesta as we dashed into the Bay of Gibraltar.
The Oriental steamers now go direct from Southampton, thus saving twenty-four hours.
The surrounding scenery, even divested of all association, is full of interest. An amphitheatre of finely undulated hills, with Algesiras in their bosom, sweeps along the left. In front, upon a slight eminence, the village of San Roque grins like a set of white teeth, with precipices for its jaw, and the celebrated Cork wood for its moustaches; beyond is a range of dark green hills, backed by the mountains of Granada, the Sierra Nevada, whose snowy peaks are tinged with a faint purple. Further to the right there is a low sandy tract, the neutral ground; and then, suddenly starting up to the height of fifteen hundred feet, stands the rock of Gibraltar, bound round with fort and battery, and bristling with innumerable guns. Its base is strewn with white houses, perched like sea-gulls wherever they can find a resting-place; and here and there, little patches of dark-green announce a garden. Curtain, ravelin, and rampart, blend and mingle with nature's fortifications; and zig-zag lines from shore to summit look like conductors for the defenders' electric fire to flash along. Yet it is a maxim now, that no place, even this, is in itself impregnable; and it is not in the defences of wall or cliff, but in the Spartan's rampart of brave hearts within, that we proudly feel the British flag floats as securely here as on the Tower of London.
Here the invading Moors first established themselves in Spain
"When Cava's traitor sire had called the band
That dyed her mountain stream with Gothic gore,"
and Gibel Tarik* became Gibraltar. A boatful of us was soon ashore, and scattered over the place, to shop, or cliff, or bastion, as their tastes prompted. I galloped off on a spirited little barb to the signal-station, the Galleries, the Alameda, and the Moorish castle. Every spot was full of interest-from the craggy summit, with its magnificent view over Spain and Africa, to the mingled mass of house and rock, and verandahs almost meeting across precipitous streets.
The population was very varied and picturesque: the Moors'
The Hill of Tarik, the name of the Saracen leader.
"dusk faces, with white turban wreathed;" the Contrabandistas, with embroidered jacket and tinkling bridles, setting out for the hills; the Jew, with his gabardine, and that stern medallic countenance, in which the history of his race seems written; the merchant, with his sombrero; the Turk, with his tarboosh; the English sailor, and the plumed Highlander.
But the sudden change of climate and vegetation strikes one more, perhaps, than any other. A few days ago, wrapped in great-coats, I was shivering among leafless trees: to-day, a light sailor's jacket feels oppressive, and the cactus, aloe, and geranium, are flowering in profusion wherever they can find place on the steep and rugged rock.
We sailed as the evening gun was fired. The coast of Barbary looked beautiful in the fading light, which harmonized well with that land of old romance and mystery. Even in these later days, it is almost as virgin to speculation and enterprise as when the Gothic kings meditated its invasion.
One of the pillars of Hercules has held from five to six thousands of restless British troops for nearly a century and a half; the other, Mount Abyle, whose shadow at sunrise reaches almost across the narrow strait, has never yet been trod by English foot. It is inhabited by a fierce race of Moors, who believe that their best chance of Paradise is to swim thither in Christian blood: they therefore never lose an opportunity of taking a shot at the Giaours, by whom they are yet hospitably received at Gibraltar.
The Strait, through which the Atlantic pours into the Mediterranean, at the rate of four or five miles an hour, is here about twelve miles wide. One would suppose that such a vast volume of water might create a very respectable ocean of its own in the course of a year or so: yet with this, assisted by all the rivers that pour in from the coasts of Africa, Asia, and Europe, to say nothing of the Black Sea, which flows in through the Bosphorus at about four miles an hour, the Mediterranean is not able to get up as much as an every-day tide. This unconscionable consumption of water, without any apparent result, has been accounted for by the great evaporation to which the sea is subject. No doubt those water-engines of nature, the clouds, require a large supply, and Africa cannot be irrigated, indifferently as it
is done, for nothing: but a sum in the rule of three might prove that the Dead Sea would have been dried into a salt-pit in a few years after its creation, by the same ratio of comparative exhaustion and supply.
As we swept through the Straits, we caught glimpses of Ceuta, Tangiers, and Tetuan, and then bore away for Cape de Gatta with a favoring breeze, and a brilliant moon that lighted up the coast of Granada.
It is now three hundred and sixty years since the Moors were expelled from this fair land, through which they so long enlightened Europe with the wisdom of the East and the chivalry of the Desert. Under their rule its gardens smiled, its valleys waved with corn, its very rocks were wreathed with vines, and the Alhambra rose. But a bigotry and fanaticism fiercer than their own could not brook the happiness of a heretic people, and the banners of Ferdinand were unfurled :
Red gleamed the cross and waned the crescent pale,
And Afric's echoes thrilled with Moorish matrons' wail."
The Moors were banished; poverty and desolation came in their place; and even now, the Christian traveller only ventures among the misery-made robbers of Grenada, in search of the remains of Moslem civilisation.
It seemed a natural transition from the land of the Abencerrages, to that of Abdel Kader, for which we were now steering. Europe sank with the sun below the horizon on our left, and, the following day but one, Africa rose with morning on our right.
The first view of the coast of Algiers is very peculiar and picturesque in shape and coloring. Steep purple hills, rising abruptly from the sea, and broken with dark ravines, are here brightened with little emerald lawns, and there gloomed over by the dark foliage of the palm and fig-tree. Villas, white as marble, speck the well-wooded parks along the shore; the snowy summits of Mount Atlas are cut clearly out against the bright blue sky above, and a line of sparkling foam runs along the bor. ders of the bright blue sea below.
The city of Algiers, to the right as you enter, looks eastward