Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
GIBRALTAR. A piece of incredible negligence on the part of the Spanish government gave this post to England during the war of the succession. At Madrid, the war office was so convinced that the place was impregnable, owing to the fortifications of Daniel Speckel, that it was left almost without a garrison. In 1704 Sir George Rooke, the commander of the Mediterranean fleet, being informed that the garrison was composed of one hundred and fifty men at most, made a sudden attack on it with 1,800 men. It was soon obliged to surrender. The place has remained in England's hands since that time, in spite of the repeated efforts of Spain to take it. The last siege, which continued three years, seven months and twelve days, immortalized the name of Elliot.
—The great sacrifices which England has submitted to to retain this fortress, have caused it to be said and written that the importance of the position is exaggerated, and that it is not worth the money which it costs. England has paid and pays no attention to this. In the course of an inquiry into the state of colonial fortifications in 1861, English statesmen, administrators, military men, Gladstone, Lord Herbert de Lea (Sidney Herbert), and Sir John Burgoyne, were all agreed on one point, that Malta and Gibraltar were not colonies, but purely military posts, in which full garrisons should be kept up in times of peace as well as in war. The late Lord Herbert, then minister of war, did not hesitate to say that in case of war the colonies should expect to see their garrisons removed. "We shall retain possession of our colonies, if we remain masters of the sea. If we do, why leave garrisons in the colonies? and if we cease to be masters of the sea, what is the use of keeping isolated battalions there? Would not this be to expose them to be taken as in a trap?" In conformity with this policy England has always kept a strong garrison in Gibraltar. The number, which was 3,618 men in 1851, has been increased continually. In 1861 it was 6,001. of whom 4,396 were infantry. The state of the fortifications is found to be almost satisfactory. In the course of the inquiry to which we have just referred, Sir John Burgoyne presented an exhibit of the expenses to be made in putting the colonies in a state of reasonable defense: Gibraltar appeared in this for £25,000 only. In 1860 the expenses of this military post were increased for the single item of war to £420,685.
—According to the census of 1868, the population of Gibraltar, excluding the garrison, was 15,782. The tables published on the movement of population show that the births exceed the deaths, in a considerable proportion. In 1859 the births were 636 and the deaths 441; in the same year there were 212 marriages. The number of children attending school was also very considerable for the population. In 1836 it was 2,413; of these, 1,527 belonged to Catholic schools; the remainder were divided among schools of the church of England, Wesleyans and Israelites. In the same year the revenue of the local government amounted to £32,500, which was increased to £36,397 in 1870, arising, in great part, from the duties on wines, spirits and other articles of consumption. The expenses reached £28,369, which were increased exceptionally to £41,921 in 1870. In 1869 the expenses were £29,724, and £36,788 in 1868. Gibraltar advances also in commercial importance. The imports and exports, which in 1857 were 1,756,384 tons, were more than 2,000,000 tons in 1862, and 3,084,000 in 1868. Three-fifths of this was on English ships; France only coming after Spain for imports and exports; and after the United States for exports. Foreign commerce shows also satisfactory results. Exports, which in 1857 amounted to £48,139, increased in 1860 to £150,658. During the same period the import of foreign products rose from £720,415 to £1,244,233. The greater part consisted, of course, in British products. Besides the political reasons for retaining this post, it is thought, rightly or not, that the immense profits which English merchants make in illicit trading have their share—In the various political convulsions which have so often caused bloodshed in Spain, Gibraltar has often served as an asylum for the defeated of every party.
—England is represented at Gibraltar by a governor, who bears the title of commander-in-chief and vice-admiral, though he belongs almost always to the army; a colonial secretary; a court of admiralty; and a police court, the first magistrate of which is an officer. The court of admiralty takes cognizance of commercial cases. For the remaining part of the civil and municipal government the ancient Spanish laws and customs are in force.
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