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blow of his horns, if driven home, meant death : and the
horseman's art lay in avoiding the impact by a well-timed
move to the left: at the same moment, by an adroit
counter-move, empaling with his lance the lower neck:
and so delivering the thrust as to clear himself and horse
from the rebound of the bull. This manoeuvre^ required
dexte rity, cool ness, and strength of arm: and wHenauOr
ceasful.wa^ graceful-in the highest degree^ eliciting^as the
rider curvetted away from his worsted and enraged



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68 WILD SPAIN.

antagonist, the loudest applause, and dark-eyed Damas,
with flashing glances of pride and sympathy, would throw
flowers to the valiant Paladin.

" The ladies' hearts began to melt,
Subdued by blows their lovers felt ;
So Spanish heroes with their lances
At once wound bulls and ladies' fancies."

/When the bull fell dead from a single thrust enthusiasm
I knew no bounds : to administer this fatal stroke in
masterly style was the ambition of the flower of Spanish
^youth.

If dismounted, the knight, by established rule, must face
the bull on foot, sword in hand. He was allowed the
assistance of his slaves or servants, who, at the risk of
their lives, "played" the brute till an opportunity was
aflForded for a death-thrust from their master's sword. It
is in this phase of the fight that we trace the origin of
several of the suertes which are practised in the modern
Corrida de Toros.*

With the accession of the Bourbons to the Spanish
throne came a change. These rude encounters were little
in harmony with the elegance and eflFeminacy of the
French court. So coldly were they regarded that, by slow
degrees, the Spanish nobility withdrew themselves from
the arena. Then, as Gallic manners and customs prevailed
and extended beyond court circles till adulation of the
French monarch became a creed, the Spanish gentry
abandoned their ancient sport.

Birt the hold of the national pastime on the Moro-
hispanic race was too firm-set to be swept away by alien
influence, however strong : and when thus abandoned by
the patricians, by the hidalgos and grandees of Spain, the

* Attempts were made by other countries to imitate the Spanish
spectacle. Italy, in 1882, celebrated a tauromachian festival which
has left a sad record on the page of history. No fewer than nineteen
Boman gentlemen, and many of lower rank, perished on the horns of
the bulls. After this tragic event bull-fights were prohibited in Italy,
though for a time revived by the Spanish in that country after their
conquest of Flanders and the Low Countries.



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TAUROMACHIA, THE FIGHTING BULL OF SPAIN. 69

sport of bull-fighting was taken up by the Spanish people.
It was at this period (towards the end of the eighteenth
century) that the Corridas de Toros, as now practised (with
slight variations), were established and organized. Bull-
rings and paid matadores took the place of the city square
and the knight. Many additions to the original corridas
were inauguratigd, and the sport assumed more diversified
and even more dangerous forms.

The first professional matadors were the brothers Juan
and Pedro Palomo, followed by the celebrated names of
Martinez Billon (el Africano), Francisco Eomero and his
son Juan, Jose Delgado Candido (better known as Pepe
Hillo), who died in the Plaza of Port St. Mary on the 24th
June, 1771, and, later on, Eodriguez Castellares, Geronimo
Candido, son of Jose (Pepe Hillo), who fell mortally
wounded at Madrid, 11th May, 1802, and many more of
high tauromachian fame.*

Most of the Plazas de Toros, or bull-rings, of the first
class, were erected at this period — ^that at Madrid in 1741,
at Seville, 1763, at Aranjuez, 1796, Saragoza, 1764, Puerto
&\ Maria, 1771, Eonda, 1785, and Jerez de la Frontera,
1798.

The master-hand who directed and perfected this re-
organization, on popular lines, of the national ^€«<a, after
the Bourbon influence had alienated the aristocracy from
their ancient diversion, was Pepe Hillo : who estabUshed
the rules and etiquette and drew up the tauromachian
code of honour, written and unwritten, which, in the main,
prevails at the present day. None more fully recognize
the abihty and prowess of this ' gran maestro ' of old than
the famous matadors who are to-day the highest living
exponents of tauromachian art — men such as Frascuelo,
Lagartijo and Mazzantini, whose names are household
words from the Bidasoa to the Mediterranean.

Andalucia has always been, and still remains, the
province where the love of the bull and all tiiat pertains to
him is most keenly cherished, and where the modern buU-

* De Bedoya*8 "Historia del Tor^o" (Madrid, 1850) gives Francisco
de Bomero as the first professional lidiador of the modem epoch.



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60 WILD SPAIN.

fight may to-day be seen in its highest perfection and
development. It provides both the best bull-fighters and
most valued strains of the fighting bull. It may be added
that the Andalucian nobility were the last of their order to
discontinue their historic pursuit : and when, during the
darker days of this sport, the Royal order of the Maestranza
de Sevilla was created by Philip V., it was conceded in the
statutes that members of the order could hold two corridas
with the long lance annually outside the city walls. Three
gentlemen subsequently received titles of exalted nobility
of this order in respect of brilliant performances with the
lance.

Though Andalucia is the stronghold both of the Toro
and of the Toreador — the scene of the popular bull-
fighting opera of Carmen is appropriately laid at Seville —
yet the oldest of all the Spanish herds is pastured in the
rough country around ValladoHd, in Old Castile. This
caste has been in existence since the fifteenth century : from
it the old nobility selected their bulls, and it furnished
the kingly contests of Philip and Charles III. This
herd is known as El rasa del Portilloy and, though entitled
to pre-eminence in respect of antiquity, yet several of the
more modem breeders command higher prices. The ever-
increasing demand has driven the cost of a ** warrantable "
five-year-old bull up to £70 or £80. To succeed in uniting
the various quahties required in an animal of this value,
great judgment in breeding and a considerable outlay are
necessary.

At the age of one year, the young bulls are separated
from the heifers, each animal branded on the side with
the insignia of its herd, and on the neck with its number
therein, and turned out loose on the plains to graze with
its companions of similar age and sex. When the
youngsters have passed another year, their critical time has
arrived, and their first trials for mettle and fighting qualities
take place. The brave are set aside for the Plaza : the —
comparatively — docile destroyed, at least by scrupulous
breeders ; while from the chosen lot a further selection is
made of the sires for perpetuating the breed. From the



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TAUROMACHIA, THE FIGHTING BULL OF SPAIN. 61

moment the fighting bulls are selected, they are treated
with the utmost care, and for two years more roam at liberty
over the richest pasturage of the wide unfrequented prairies.
At four years old they are moved into the eeirados, or
enclosures — fields of great extent, surrounded by a wooden
stockade and double ditch. The cerrado they never leave
till bound for the Plaza. Should pasture fail through
drought or deluge, they are fed on tares, vetch, and
maize — even with wheat. Their dehat in public must be
made in the highest possible condition. The bulls should
be, at the time, not less than five nor more than seven
years old.

While thus grazing at large on the open plain, the bulls
are in charge of herdsmen over whom is the official known
in Castile as mayoral^ in Andalucia as conocedory assisted
by his ayudante. These two spend their lives in the saddle,
each carrying the long "garrocha," or lance, as a defensive
weapon. The herdsmen go on foot, each armed with a
sling, in the use of which they are adepts.

To return to the two-year-old point in tho Jbull's life —
that is, as we have stated, the critical stage in his existence,
for then his ** trial " takes place.

It is also an important period for the owner, for upon
the proportion of good-mettled, " warrantable " beasts
depends the profit and reputation of the herd. It is
customary for the owner and his friends to be present at
these tentaderos or trials: and a bright and picturesque
scene they afford, thoroughly typical of untrodden
Andalucia, and of the buoyant, careless exuberance and
dare-devil spirit of her people.

Nowhere can the exciting scenes of the tentadero be
witnessed to greater advantage than on the wide level
pastures which extend from Seville to the Bay of Cadiz.
Here, far out on the spreading "vegas," carpeted with rich
profusion of wild flowers and pasturage, where the canicular
sun flashes yet more light and fire into the fiery veins of
the Andaluz — here occurs the first scene in the drama of
the Toreo. For centuries these flowery plains have been
the scene of countless tentaderos, where the ** majos," —



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62 WILD BPAIN.

young bloods, — generation after generation, revel in feats
of skill, courage, and horsemanship. Both good riding and
staying power are often called into requisition by those
taking an active part in the operations.

The night before the trials take place, the usually quiet
and sequestered Estancia (or rancho) is a scene of
unwonted revelry. The owners of the herd and many
friends — all aficionados of the sport — have come up from
the distant town to take part in the selection of the
morrow — as this work commences at early dawn, the night
must be spent on the spot. The rude walls of the rancho
resound with boisterous hilarity, dance and song succeed
each other, to the vigorous notes of the guitar — sleep is
not to be thought of, good humour, gaiety, and no
small admixture of practical joking pass away the night,
and by the first of the daylight all are in the saddle. The
two-year-old-bulls have previously been herded upon a
part of the estate which affords the best level ground for
smart manoeuvre and fast riding, and here the duty of
keeping the impetuous beasts together — no easy task — is
allotted to skilled herdsmen armed with long garrockas —
lances of some four yards in length, with short steel tips.
As just mentioned, it is no easy work to keep the young
bulls together, for they are anxious to break away and dart
off to join their friends in the distance. When all is ready
the herdsmen allow one bull to escape across the flat open
country, pursued by two horsemen who are awaiting the
moment, garrocha in hand. These men rival each other to
place the first lance and to turn the bull over. This
is effected by planting a blunt-tipped gairoeha on the
bulFs off-flank, near the tail, when a powerful thrust,
given at full speed, overthrows him : but obviously the feat
requires a good eye, a firm seat, and a strong arm.
Immediately the bull is over, with his four feet in the air,
another horseman, who has ridden close behind, comes up.
He is armed with a more pointed lance, and is called el
tentacUrt'. On rising, the bull finds this man between him
and his companions in the rodeo, to whom he would
now fain return. He immediately charges the obstacle.



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TAUROMACHIA, THB FIGHTING BULL OF SPAIN. 63 ,

receiving on his shoulder the garrocha point ; thrown back
for a moment, and smarting under this first check to his
hitherto unthwarted will, he returns to the charge with
redoubled fury, but only to find the horse protected as
before : the pluckier spirits will make a third or a fourth
attack, but those which freely charge tuicc are passed asy
fit for the ring.

Sometimes the young bull declines to charge the tentador,
submitting quietly to his overthrow, and only desir-
ing to escape. He does not get off without a second
fall ; but if, after this, he still refuses to charge, he is at
once condemned — doomed to death, or at best a life of
agricultural toil. A note is taken of each selected bull (its
colour, size, and shape of horns, and general appearance) ;
and each is entered in the herd-book, under a particular
name — such as Espartero, Cardinillo, Linares, Flamenco>\
and the like. By these names they are known, and at the \
end publicly described in the flaming "posters" and
advertisements of the Corrida at which they are to make '
their final appearance. ^ ^

Nor is there anything modem in this individualizing of
the champions of the arena. In the Moorish ballads
("-The Bull-Fight of Gazul"), so happily translated by
Lockhart, we find the " toro bravo " had his name in those
days : —

** Now stops the drum ; close, close they come ; thrice meet, and
thrice give back :
The white foam of Harpado lies on the charger's breast of black —
The white foam of the charger on Harpado's front of dmi ; —
Once more advance upon his lance — once more, thou fearless one ! '*

It often happens, when a bull is singled out from the
rodSo, that he does not take to his heels as expected, but
charges the nearest person, on foot or mounted, that he
may see. Then look out for squalls ! The danger must be
averted, when it is averted, by skill and experience ; but it
seldom happens that one of these trial-days passes without
broken bones or accidents of some kind or other. The
men engaged in these operations have, of course, no shelter
of any kind ; but the Spanish herdsmen, when taken at



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64 WILD SPAIN.

disadvantage, are adepts in the use of their jackets, with
which they give " passes ** to the bull, who always follows
the moving object. A smart fellow, when caught in the
open, can thus keep a bull off him for several moments,
giving time for the horsemen to come up to the rescue.
Even then it is no unusual occurrence to see horsemen,
horse and bull all rolling together on the turf in one com-
mon ruin. A bright-coloured scarf or mantle will always
draw away the bull from his prostrate foe ; otherwise there
would soon be an end of tentadores, buU-branders, and bull-
fighters too, for the matter of that.

Each animal in the herd is put through the tests we
have described, the proportion selected varying accord-
ing to the excellence and purity of the strain : and then, for
three years longer, the selected bulls continue to lead a life
of ease and abundance upon the smiling Andalucian vega.*

Skill in handling the garrocha^ and the ability to turn
over a running bull, are accomplishments in high esteem
amongst Spanish youth. Names now famous in poUtics
or diplomacy (Don Luis Albereda, for example, late
Spanish Minister at St. James's, the Duke of San Lorenzo,
and many more), are still mentioned in Andalucia as past
experts in the records of this southern diversion — a fame
analogous to that of our foremost steeple-chase riders at
home.t

The tentadero at the present day affords opportunity for
aristocratic gatherings, that recall the tauromachian
tournaments of old. Even the Infantas of Spain enter
into the spirit of the sport, and have been known them-
selves to wield the garrochu with good effect, as was,
a few months ago, the case at a brilUant fete champetre on
the Sevillian regas, when the Condesa de Paris and her

* The better-bred animals are always the more harmless, if not
molested.

f The following are some of the best known garrochistaa of recent
years : Se5ores Don Antonio Miura, Don Faustino Morube, Don
Migael Garcia, Don Giiillermo Ochoteco, Don Jos^ Silva, Don Fer-
nando Concha, Don Agusto Adalid, Don Angel Zaldos, Don Manuel
Sanchez -Mira, Marques de Bogaraya, Marques de Guadalest, Don
Frederico Huesca, Marques de Castellones, &c.



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TAUROMACHIA, THE FIGHTING BULL OF SPAIN. 65

daughter, Princess Elena, each overthrew a sturdy two-
year-old ; the Infanta Eulalia riding ** a ancas,'' or pillion-
fashion, with an Andalucian nobleman, among the merriest
of a merry party.

At length, however, the years spent in luxurious idleness
on the silent plains must come to an end. One summer
morning the brave herd find grazing in their midst some
strange animals, which appear to make themselves ex-
tremely agreeable to the lordly champions, now in the
zenith of magnificent strength and beauty. The strangers
grazing with them are the cahrestos (or cabestros, in correct
Castilian), the decoy-oxen sent out to fraternize for a
few days with the fighting race, preparatory to the encierro,
or operation of conveying the latter to the town where the
corrida takes place. Each cabestro has a large cattle-bell, of
the usual Spanish type, suspended round its neck, in order
to accustom the wild herd to follow the lead of these base
betrayers of the brave. Shortly the noble bulls will be
lured in their company away from their native plains,
through country paths and byeways, to the entrance of the
fatal toriL

An animated spectacle it is on the eve of the corrida,
when, amidst clouds of dust and clang of bells, the tame
oxen and wild bulls are driven forward by galloping
horsemen and levelled garrochas. The excited jjopulace,
already intoxicated with bull-fever and the anticipation of
the coming corridas, lining the way to the Plaza, careless
if in the enthusiasm for the morrow they risk some
awkward rips to-day.

Once inside the lofty walls of the toril, it is easy to
withdraw the treacherous cal)e8tro8, and one by one to
tempt the bulls each into a small separate cell, the chiqucro,
thejioor of which will to-morrow fall before his eyes.
Then, rushing upon the arena, he finds himself confronted
and encircled by surging tiers of yelling humanity, while
the crash of trumpets and glare of moving colours madden
his brain. Then the gaudy horsemen, with menacing
lances, recall his day of trial on the distant plain, horse-
men now doubly hateful in their brilliant glittering tinsel.

F



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/66 WILD SPAIN.

/

/ No wonder the noble brute rushes with magnificent fury to
/ the charge.

What a spectacle is presented by the Plaza at this

moment ! — one without parallel in the modern world. The

\ vast amphitheatre, crowded to the last seat in every row



A BULL-FIGHTER.

and tier, is held for some seconds in breathless suspense :
above, the glorious azure canopy of an Andalucian summer
sky: below, on the yellow arena, rushes forth the bull,
fresh from his distant prairie, amazed yet undaunted by
the unwonted sight and the bewildering blaze of colour



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TAUROMACHIA, THB FIGHTING BULL OF SPAIN. 67

/which surrounds him. For one brief moment the vast
, mass of excited humanity sits spell-bound : the clamour of
myriads is stilled. Then the pent-up cry bursts forth in
frantic volume, for the gleaming horns have done their
work, and bum toro ! huen tow ! rings from twice ten
thousand throats.

The bull-rings are mostly the property of private per-
sons, though some are owned by corporations, others by
charitable institutions, and the like. The bull-fights them-
selves, however, are always in the hands of an empresario,
who hires the building at a rent, supplies the bulls and
trmipe, and takes the whole arrangements in his own hands
and for his own account.

The cost of a modem bull-fight in Andalucia ranges from
£1,100 to £1,200. Six bulls are usually killed, their value
averaging £70. The Espada^ or Matador, receives on the
day from £120 to £200, including the services of his
cuadrilla or troupe, which consists of two picadors, three
banderilleros, and a cachetero. As there are always two
matadors with their respective cuadrillas engaged, this
makes in all fourteen bull-fighters. The cost of the horses
is about £120 to £200, a variable quantity, depending so
much on the temper and quality of the bulls. Against
this, there are from ten to twenty thousand seats to be let
in the ring, the prices of which vary from a peseta or two
in the Sol or sunny side, up to a couple of dollars or more
in the Somhra.^

The president of the corrida is usually the alcalde or
mayor of the town — sometimes the civil governor of the
province, always some person of weight and authority,
though the alcsdde is responsible for the orderly conduct of

* The bull-fighters and their friends affect a language pectdiar to
the Plaza : a dialect of sy stenotic construction. To acquire a know-
ledge of this ** Jerga " (La Germania), with its idiomatic piquancy
and raciness, is the aim of the "fancy '* young men, the Flamencos of
Southern Spain. To be in the circle of the popular bull-fighters, with its
perilous female entourage, is considered chic by certain gilded youth.
Flamenco-ism appears to find its beau id/al in the borderland which
lies between the bizarre existence of the ** torero '* and the Gitano or
gypsy. {See chapter on the Spanish Gypsy of to-day.)

F 2



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68 WILD SPAIN.

the corrida, even should he delegate the presidential chair
to some one of higher authority. He is required to
examine the bulls before the fight : that is, to see that they
bear the brand of the herd advertised, and have no visible
defect ; then he must inspect the horses ; even the bande-
rillas and the garrochas, the points of which latter must
be shortened as autumn approaches. (jTill the alcalde
appears in his tribune, the fight may not commence, and
during the spectacle he orders the incoming of each bull,



AX K8PADA, OR MATADOR.

the time which the picadors shall occupy with their lances :
he directs the trumpets of his attendant heralds to sound
the changes in the fight, when banderilleros succeed
picadors, and for the final scene, when the matador steps
alone upon the arena, with scarlet cloak and gleaming
sword.

It will thus be seen that the presidential function involves
a fairly deep knowledge of all the arts and etiquette of
tauromachian science. Under intelligent direction, acci-



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TAUROMACHIA, THE FIOHTINO BULL OF SPAIN. 69

r

dents in the ring and tumults amongst dissatisfied multi-
Itudes are avoided — without it, the reverse.

We have now traced in brief outline the life-history of
our gallant bull ; we have brought him face to face with
Frascuelo and his Toledan blade ; there wemuat ieave
him^y^ut, in concluding this chapter, may we beg the



generous reader, should he ever enter the historic circle of
the plaza, to go there with an open mind — without prejudice,
and unbiassed by the floods of invective which have ever
been let loose upon the Spanish bull-fight.

Let critics remember, if only in extenuation, what the
spectacle represents to Spain — a national festival, the love
of which we huve' &hown to be ineradicable, ingrained in
Spanish nature by centuries of custom and tradition. Let
them reflect, too, that those brutal domestic scenes which
disgrace so many a home among the poor of other lands are,
in the land of the bull-fighter, unknown. Lastly, let them
remember that upon untrained eyes there must fall flat
many of the finer passes, much of the elaborate technique
and science of tauromachian art : points which are instantly
seized and appreciated by Spanish experts — and in Spain
M are experts. This is lost to the casual spectator, who
perceives less difficulty in the perilous vol-d-pie than in the
simpler, though more attractive, auerte de recibii\ and a
thousand other technical details.



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70 WILD SPAIN.



CHAPTER VI.
THE BiETICAN WILDERNESS.

SPRING-NOTES OF BIRD-LIFE, NATURAL HISTORY, AND
EXPLORATION IN THE MARISMA.

Part I. — April.

Andalucia may roughly
be subdivided into four
main regions, unequal in
extent, but of well-marked
physical characters and
conformation. These are
the sierras, and the rolling
corn-lands, at both of which
we have already glanced.
Then there are the dehesas
— wild, uncultivated wastes
or prairies, of which more
anon. Lastly, there are

the marismas.

""~.~— — -ZZ Zl' -' We have in English no

equivalent to the Spanish
** marisma," and these regions are so peculiar, both phy-
sically and ornithologically, as to require a short descrip-
tion. Geologically, the marismas are the deltas of great



Online LibraryFrancis WhartonWharton and Stillé's medical jurisprudence .. → online text (page 6 of 36)