Item of the Day: Richard Randall’s Travel Diary. (1822-1823)
Full Title: Manuscript travel diary of Richard Randall, leaving New York in 1822 on a voyage bound for Gibraltar, Malta and Sicily. 1822-1823.
[Richard Randall’s description of the Jews, Moors and Spaniards in Gibraltar, transcribed from his manuscript travel diary in which he recorded his impressions of his voyage to the Mediterranean in 1822 and 1823.]
As our stay was calculated to be short at this place [Gibraltar], our time was apportioned to viewing the different curiosities of the place – The first thing which strikes the attention is the great variety of Inhabitants which are composed of almost every nation and kindred under Heaven & speaking all the different languages which were distributed at the tower of Babel, and many of which were never made or thought of – The chattering in the Streets, to an American, formed a complete confusion & jargon & nothing is to be understood except occasionally the voice of an Englishman, or of some foreigner who has learned sufficient of the language to make himself intelligible -- Among the most busy and industrious of this medley of humanity, are the Barbary Jews, who are Merchants, Pedlars [sic], Porters and of every other occupation by which they can obtain “the monies” – Their dress consists of a kind of loose coat, many of them having the appearance of having formerly belonged to some more respectable person, being richly trimd. With silk cord, &c. and after being sufficiently worn out, disposed of to these shavers of humanity—around these they wear a sash, rich according to the circumstances of the wearer; on their heads a small black cap about the size of a fruit-bowl, their heads and some of their beards being closely shaved, their small clothes, or as they may more properly be call’d their large clothes are after the Turkish fashion, their stockings of the most durable kind and such as nature make them, and their slippers such as we use after taking off our Boots – Such is the dress of the Jews or at least of the most of them, and to complete the whole, I never saw one who had on a clean dress, --
The Moors, particularly those who are wealthy, dress very splendidly, and appear more like human beings – Their beards are suffered to grow to a great length, but they are kept very nice, and are very nice in their general appearance – But the most miserable human beings are the poor Spaniards who dress in real Don Quixote style, with their round hats Etc. which place them in appearance at least two centuries behind civilized humanity – They are, out of Gibraltar, the most miserable, wretched, indigent, and degraded of Beings; a lot of Beggars, who are scarcely entitled to the name of human, as they had rather beg and live in dirt, & filth, than to obtain a living by any superior exertions. – This however is only applicable to the common people & the wealthy among them, appearing with as much importance as their inferior do with servility – The Spanish Ladies are remarkable for the dignity of their deportments particularly where they make their appearance in the streets – Their dress, which like the snails, is all that many of them can boast of, is rich, being either crepe or silk, reaching down to an equal distance between the garters & slippers, in order to show off their pretty ancles [sic] and silk stockings – I have not seen one of them with a hat on of any description; but instead thereof, a lace veil thrown over their heads, which adds to the richness of their dress – and let the weather be cold or warm, wet or dry, they have always a fan in their hands; many little evolutions of which, serve as signals to convey their ideas to those who are sufficiently acquainted with the gallantry of the Spanish Ladies to understand them –