Writing the Rock of Gibraltar: An Anthology of Literary Texts, 1720-1890

Byron described it as `the dirtiest and most detestable spot in existence'; Coleridge complained that the onset of the Levanter Cloud made him ill with `a sense of suffocation' that caused his tongue `to go furry white and his pulse quick and low'; the Scottish writer John Galt thought that the same was `oppressive to the functions of life, and to an invalid denying all exercise'; Thackeray was entranced by the mixture of `swarthy Moors, dark Spanish smugglers in tufted hats, and fuddled seamen from men-of-war' sauntering through Gibraltar's Main Street; Benjamin Disraeli thought that the Rock was `a wonderful place, with a population infinitely diversified'; John Drinkwater complained about `the scorpion, centipes and other venomous reptiles which abound among the rocks and the old buildings'; George Whitefield, never a man to mince his words, believed that `drunkenness was a sin that easily beset the men of Gibraltar'; Mark Twain rhapsodised about the `bare-kneed Highlanders' wandering around the Garrison, `as well as the soft-eyed Spanish girls from San Roque, veiled Moorish beauties from Tarifa, and long-robed, bare-legged, ragged Muhammadan vagabonds from Tetuán and Tangier. . . .' These and other comments about Gibraltar are to be found in Writing the Rock of Gibraltar: an Anthology of Literary Texts, 1720-1890 (2006), a new volume compiled by M. G. Sanchez.

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