tain person (one, who, I am apt to believe, has no good will to my country) the pleasures and rarities of Spain had not escaped your impartial and diligent consideration. Assure yourself, none could be more concerned to enjoy your fellowship there, nor readier to do you good offices, than í, upon consideration of the manifold and signal obligations laid upon me by a person of your worth. But, seeing it is to no purpose to repent what is past, I shall forbear to enlarge on this subject: yet, because you seem to be not a little dissatisfied that you had not the good fortune of seeing Spain, and more especially the Escurial, and the yearly festival of Madrid, I shall endeavour, according to my bounden duty, to satisfy your curiosity in this point; insomuch that, from your closet, you may receive a full view of the Spanish court, and its magnificence, as also the gcodly and large fields of Madrid, without expending much, or exposing your person to danger, after the manner of most travellers who repair thither; and, for your greater clearness in the matter, I send you this large scheme.

In describing the matter in hand, my stile shall be plain, and the relation impartial; in regard that I bear no liking to disingenuity, or the forging of romantick novelties and fictions.

As for the Escurial, we shall have a fairer opportunity to treat on it at another occasion: this, in the general, you may know, that (according to the unanimous consent of all who have travelled thi. ther) it is a thing very well worth the while. Our present discourse then shall be wholly confined to the bull.baiting (as it is called) at Madrid,

It has been the fate of Spain, as that of other puissant nations, not to have escaped scot.free of the frequent and noisome in roads of many cruel adversaries of different languages, laws, and constitu. tions; so that some vestigia of the one must be supposed to remain, as well as the other. Those who did bear chief sway there, were the Romans, Vandals, Goths, and Saracens; insomuch that the Spanish tongue appears to be an aggregate of the Latin, German, and Arabick. The Saracens obtaining the latest conquest, their laws and language leave the deeper impression. Among other their con. stitutions, this festival, which we are about to describe, was one.

You may easily object, that it is a cruel and barbarous recrea. tion; which I am ready to grant, and so much the rather, in that its original is derived from such a barbarous rabble as the Turks were, and are to this day. Nevertheless, an uncontrouled custom, of long continuance, has given it the force and validity of a law, and the most honourable designation of a royal festival, which, if any person, of what quality soever, once endeavoured to rectify, he should inevitably incur the risque of reproach and shame, if not a more sad fate. It being therefore altogether extrinsick to any pur. pose and concernment, as a private man, to determine any thing against the lawfulness and unlawfulness of this solemnity, I shall content myself, by making a clear discovery thereof, for your greater satisfaction.

Lincoln's.Inn-Fields are neither so large, nor spacious, as this place of publick resort at Madrid, which is exactly square, being surrounded with houses, uniform all along in their dimensions, erected to the altitude of five pair of stairs, with a great many most curious windows, and balconies overlaid with the purest gold. More. over, the square is level, to the end that the foaming bulls, and prancing horses, may run their courses with the greater easiness and celerity. From the ground to the first pair of stairs, are reared up theatres made of timber for the people. The thirty balconies, set a-part for the king and court, are sumptuously furnished with the richest tapestry, and choicest velvet, that money or art can pur. chase. Here, it is observable, that all noblemen, whose lot it is not to attend the court for that present quarter, are denied the pri. vilege of these balconies; wherefore such persons may possess what. ever other places they judge most convenient. In Spain there are divers kinds of councils, as the King's Council, that of the inquisi. tion, war, India, Italy, the Low Countries, and Arragon, and consequently counsellors of different degrees and qualities; for which cause it is appointed, that each of those have their balconies a-part, beautified with silks and tapestry of colours differing, according to the diversity of those offices and officers,

All ambassadors from foreign kings and potentates are treat. ed after the same fashion, except the pope's legate, whose modesty and piety, forsooth, lays such a restraint upon him, that that pro. phane festival, not being of the church's appointment, must not be honoured with his presence. All other ranks of persons, assembled thither, may possess what seats they are able to purchase: this, I say, because the general confluence to this common play, from all corners, makes such a crowd, that, notwithstanding the great num. ber of theatres, balconies, and windows, mentioned elsewhere, none can purchase a room in the first pair of stairs, at a lower rate than two-hundred crowns; yea, and those places which are not exposed to the scorching heat of the sun, after four o'clock, must be supposed to amount to a greater sum of money. Above the first row of windows, places may be got more easily. Seeing this festival falls out yearly in the months of June and July, any person may ima. gine, that a refreshing shadow cannot be enjoyed without much money, and great moyan, because of the then extraordinary heat of this place, which ordinarily is known to be a most hot climate. In the cool of the evening (a most dangerous season, I confess) all persons, promiscuously, throng thither; but chiefly about ten of the clock at night, when the affections are much delighted with a most sweet melody and concert of instrumental and vocal musick, ånd, on all occasions of that nature, the guitar and barp are most frequently used; because generally the Spaniards can dexterously play on those instruments. Where it is observable, that all mu. sicians are had in great account at such a time, not respecting what persons they be, which is hardly discernible, in regard that all are disguised by most gorgeous apparel. It is further to be observed,

[ocr errors]

wife with jocose words or kisses, without any consideration, he will furiously assault such a person with sword and cudgel, whence arise many most lamentable tragedies; for the preventing of which, the law has wisely appointed a considerable number of alquaciles, whom we here call constables, whose proper and sole office it is, to medi. ate betwixt those persons, rewarding them with bonds and fetters for the commission of such horrid outrages.

The ensuing day, about eight of the clock in the morning, no place can be found empty, whilst none of the members of the court are present, but the mayor and aldermen.

This morning game or recreation (called Encierro, or the bringing forth of the bull) is thus performed: There is a gate in Madrid, De la Vega by name, nigh to which a large room is appointed for the re. ception of the bulls, the day preceding this solemn feast, where they are gently fed, rather to render them the more furious, than in the least to strengthen the miserable creatures. It is certain, that, for the most part, bulls are more furious in Spain, than any other part of the world; and there, more especially, such as feed by the rivers Tago and Jarama, flowing betwixt Toledo and Madrid. But, to return to our purpose, there is a long and streight street, or lane, adjoining to the house in which the bulls are shut up, and terminating in the place of publick resort, where all passages are carefully stopped; only, over against the foresaid street, there is another large room left wide open, whither the mad animals do throng, finding no other place of refuge left them; by which means, a most easy course is contrived for leading them forth to slaughter. I shall not detain you longer, by relating other passages of the Encierro; for it is a matter scarce worth our while, as being destitute of order or orna, ment, by reason of the court's absence. About two of the clock in the afternoon, twelve gladiators repair to the place, where all are permitted to fight, whom magnanimity, or boldness, shall excite thereto; which liberty. would unquestionably produce sad tragedies, if full gaols, and empty purses, were not sufficient means to stop such disorders. Two hours after, there appear the nobility in their stately coaches, all the ground being sprinkled over with water, be. cause of the burning heat of the sun.

Which, while it is a setting, the king and court, with the coun. sellors and ambassadors, are to be seen, to the great satisfaction of all persons. Upon the back of this, the royal constables, being twelve in number, in good equipage, and mounted on horses, with the richest harness imaginable, drive away all persons and disorders; insomuch that, in a very short time, the constables are to be seen, and none else in the plain square. Afterwards, twenty-four hogs. heads of water are carried in waggons, resembling so many green mountains, because of their bigness, and being covered over with most fragrant herbs; those large vessels are the seats of twenty-four men, who, upon demand, open the bung-holes, so that, in an instant, the whole plain is besprinkled with water. In the next place, the king's life-guard, consisting of one hundred Spaniards, and as many Germans, attend his majesty all along, being armed with balberts,

[ocr errors]

whom coats of red and yellow silk, and caps of the choicest black velvet, adorn exceedingly.

By this time, methinks, you have got a pretty clear idea of what is antecedaneous to the m thing in hand : so that, if the most stately balconies and theatres, if the vast number of people, if the nobility gorgeously, I had said wonderfully, arrayed; if the king's constables maintaining good order, if, in the last place, his majesty's life-guard : I say, if each, and all of those be impartially canvassed by such a considerate person as you are, I doubt not, but you will be constrained, upon the most solid grounds and reasons imaginable, to join with me in the commendation of this festival, beyond any recreation in the world. I confess, France and Italy vaunt very much of their splendid games, as they call them; and the English, upon more just grounds, extol the costliness of their prizes, and the stateliness of their coursing horses. But, in my humble opinion, what I am a describing, may claim right to the preheminence. Yet, if what has been hitherto said, cannot sufficiently evince the truth of this point, I shall endeavour to drive out one foaming bull, that, by seeing the result of such an enterprise, your curiosity may re. ceive the greater satisfaction.

We told you that the bull was shut up in a large room; therefore the person, whose undaunted courage or boldness sets him a work to encounter with this raging creature, stands to his posture at the door of the said house, with a long and sharp-pointed lance in his hand, having one of his knees set to the ground: immediately after the sound of a trumpet, a constable runs with all possible speed, and sets the door of the room, where the furious animal is inclosed, wide open. Way being thus made, and all persons attentively looking on, the man is, by and by, assaulted with great violence; which onset, if, by dexterity, or good luck, he can evade, there is a fair occasion presented him, for killing or wounding the bull to purpose; which, if he miss to do, his life or members are in jeopardy. It is a thirsting desire after some imaginary honour, that sets such bold fellows upon the exposing of themselves to those dangerous circum. stances, rather than the advantage of getting the beasts which they have killed, or wounded to purpose.

That the next bull may be rendered the more furious, they set up a quantity of wool, in figure representing a man, with a consider. able weight at his legs; which, while the beast pusheth in a most formidable manner, the weight keeps it in a straight position, by which means the bull is wonderfully inraged. Sometimes a very despicable peasant is set upon a lean deformed horse, and exposed very often to a violent death, because of his antagonist's strength and rage. For dragging out the bulls once killed, six mules of di. vers colours are appointed, which, by the conduct of four men, ac. complish this work with all possible velocity and artifice. Six foot. men are ordained to encounter with the four beasts yet remaining, to whom no other weapon is granted, but a dagger with some few rexones in a bag, which in length exceed not six or seven inches, having hafts well ordered with bunches of garlands, and points ex.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

ceeding sharp, for the more ready carrying on of the intendment. Such as be thus stated are commonly most dexterous, whom it be. hoves to fight with the bull face to face; he who doth otherwise will undoubtedly incur the risque of imprisonment, with most abashing reproaches, and the loss of a considerable prize. Some men are so nimble, that by a gentle motion they can easily evade the bull's fury, ard attain their design. Thus matters go on until such time as the trumpet sounds; then buteher's dogs, and men armed with broad swords, quickly dispatch the strength and violence of those formid. able animals.

Some years ago, I remember, upon an occasion of this kind, to have seen a thing admirable indeed, viz.

A young man of twenty years, encountering with a big bull, es. caped all his comminations by the nimble and dexterous motion of his leg; afterwards he did spring upon his back, and, catching hold of his left horn, wounded him in several places with the rexones : in which posture he continued until the trumpet was about to sound; then, and not till then, he dispatched the foaming bull with his dagger, having sustained no prejudice imaginable. All persons pre. sent were possessed with a wonderful opinion of the youth, because of his surpassing agility, courage, dexterity, and boldness. But, seeing this example is remarkable, we shall insist on it at greater length hereafter.

It will not be amiss here to mention what fell out, upon such an occasion as this, in the presence of Charles the First, of blessed memory: who, while prince of Wales, repaired to the court of Spain, whether to be married to the Infanta, or upon what other de. sign, I cannot well determine : however all comedies, plays, and festivals, this of the bulls at Madrid being included, were appointed to be as decently and magnificently gone about as possible, for the more sumptuous and stately entertainment of such a splendid prince. Therefore, after the three bulls had been killed, and the fourth a coming forth, there appeared four gentlemen in good equipage; not - long after a brisk lady, in most gorgeous apparel, attended with persons of quality, and some three or four grooms, walked all along the square a foot. Astonishment seized upon the beholders, that one of the female sex could assume the unheard boldness of exposing herself to the violence of the most furious beast yet seen, which had overcome, yea, almost killed, two men of great strength, courage, and dexterity. Incontinently the bull rushed towards the corner where the lady and her attendants stood; she, after all had lled, drew forth her dagger very unconcernedly, and thrust it most dex. terously into the bull's neck, having catched hold of bis horn; by · which stroke, without any more trouble, her design was brought to · perfection; after which turning about towards the king's balcony, - she made her obeysance, and withdrew herself in suitable state and gravity. Sir, did you ever see, or hear, any example to parallel this? Wonderful indeed! that a faint-hearted feeble woman, one would think, should stand in the fields undauntedly, after her at. tendants had quickly made their escape, yea, and have overcome

« ElőzőTovább »