Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/175

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the scenes enacted upon the spacious arena at your feet.

A very detailed account of a bullfight would be no novelty to you, the ceremony having been described and sung, in prose and verse, usque ad nauseam. If it is a brutal and heartless exhibition in Spain, where, after all, it is attended with some risk to the parties engaged from the strength and vigour of the noble animal that is the object of the sport—it is so here in a tenfold degree; as of all bulls I ever saw, the Mexican is the weakest and the most spiritless. Instead of the compact concentration of animal strength visible in the massive form, nervous limbs, short neck, and majestic port of a European bull—English, Spanish, or Swiss—you see animals turned into the arena, with a demeanour unworthy of even a decent cow—hollow-backed, long-legged, long-horned, nerveless animals, whose first impulse is to get out of the way, and whose courage is the courage of desperation.

The pomp and circumstances of the spectacle—the costumes of the different orders of actors—the picadores, bandarillos, and matadores, are precisely the same as are seen in the mother country.

The first trumpet call from the alcalde's box gives a token to the soldiers—who, with a military band, are always in attendance—to clear the arena of the sovereign people, some hundreds of whom always take care to remain strolling over its surface till the very last moment, all for the honour, apparently, of receiving an energetic application of the butt end of a musket. This we saw dispensed right and left, sans cérémonie.

The second signal brings in the whole of the dramatis personæ, horse and foot, led onward in procession by the mounted lancemen or picadores, and terminated by the butcher, garbed decently in white, and an humble but gallant youth trundling a wheelbarrow. After saluting the alcalde, and making the circuit, they separate