Travel Letters: Near Gibraltar (1883)

MY DEAR GERTIE, — I am so sorry that you have been ill. If you had only come with me on the Servia, and not stayed at home to work so hard over your lessons, I do not believe you would have been ill at all. And this morning the long voyage from Ceylon would have been over. I wrote you a beautiful letter two weeks ago today from the Verona, which I hope you got. Ever since that, we have been sailing, and sailing, and sailing, till it seemed as if we were never going to stop. We did stop two or three times, but we always had to go aboard and start again. We stopped at Aden, and Suez, and Port Said, and last Wednesday at Malta. Malta was very nice. We stayed there six hours, and wandered about the streets while the Verona was getting coal. The town is beautifully white and clean, and the Verona, when we came back to her again, was very black and dirty. But they washed her all off while we were at dinner.

At Malta we saw the church where all the old knights of Malta are buried, and the armor which they used to wear, and then there is a queer old church, which the monks have the care of, and when a monk dies, they do not bury him underground, or burn him up with fire, which would be better, but they stand him up in a niche, in his monk’s frock, and leave him; and there they are, a whole row of dry monks, dreadful-looking things, with their labels on them, to tell who they used to be when they were alive.

Well, Wednesday afternoon we left Malta and sailed on and on in the Verona. There did not much happen on the Verona all the way. The people were not very interesting. Only, Miss G— got engaged to the fourth officer, and that interested us all very much indeed, and one morning Audley D— and Lawrence K— got into a great fight on deck, and Audley D— hit Lawrence K___in the eye and hurt him, and then the two mothers, Mrs. D___and Mrs. K___, went at each other and scolded terribly. And that also interested us very much indeed.

This is about all I can think of that happened on board the Verona. I can’t tell you much about Spain yet, for I have only been in it about an hour and half. The people talk Spanish, which is very awkward, but the sailing up to Gibraltar this morning was splendid. The narrow gate of the Mediterranean, with its two great rocks, one in Europe and one in Africa, was all ablaze with the morning sun, and through it, westward, lay America and Boston. I am going on Tuesday to Malaga and then to Granada. Give my love to everybody. Your affectionate,

UNCLE PHILLIPS.