Sir William Wilde (Oscar Wilde’s father) sees Gibraltar for the first time

We entered the straits, and “standing in” between the two continents, shortly after anchored in the bay of Gibraltar. The rain has fallen in torrents all the early part of the day, and a misty cloud hangs over this great artificial volcano. With a first view of The Bock I was more astonished than pleased. Fancy a huge barren mass, several hundred feet high, in form resembling a lion couchant , connected tail-ward to the main-land by a narrow strip of sand, that rises but a few feet from the level of the water. Toward the land the rock is perfectly perpendicular, and studded with apertures from the galleries ; tier after tier of guns point from endless batteries along the water’s edge; above these, peeps the town of Gibraltar, climbing some short distance up the ascent, and crowned by the old red Moorish gateway and tower, now used as a civil prison. Beyond this a few consumptive-looking gardens are coaxed into bloom, and then the brown, blistered surface of the naked rock, crowned by an old tower, called O’Hara’s folly, and the signal and demand staffs, cuts clearly against the thin blue sky of the Mediterranean. Numbers of Spanish latteen boats, having English papers, and hoisting the British flag, crowded into the small harbour; steamers, men-of-war, and vessels of every nation occupy the deeper water outside. Near the landing, wherever the eye rests, enormous guns frown upon it, peeping like so many chained bull-dogs from behind the grating of the embrasures; and the occasional red coat of the sentry, with his bright arms glancing in the sun, attracts the attention at any curve or turn in the scarp, counterscarp, or bastion.

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