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now presented a most striking and animated scene : various groups, fancifully contrasted in dress and deportment, were all hurrying towards the same spot. Here you might see the gorgeous equipage of the haughty grandee, sweeping by in all the imposing consciousness of pomp and greatness, whilst carriages of more humble pretensions were rattling as briskly, if not as proudly, along the gay and lively street. The Calesines, too, were seen in great numbers, hurrying to the scene of anticipated pleasure, and diversifying by the singularity of their appearance, and the ringing of small bells, the stately cortege of more splendid equipages.
Next, an army of majos attracted attention by their fanciful dresses, and the easy swagger with which they accompanied their morenas, who were not the less conspicuous for their graceful though somewhat confident demeanour. They were all, of course, attired in their peculiar costume, bedizened with ribbons, and the short saya reaching only to the middle of the calf, and shewing the most polished ancle and the prettiest foot in the world. These gay and lively individuals were picturesquely contrasted with crowds of monks and friars, of all orders and colours
White, black, and grey, with all their trumpery
here and there intermingled with military idlers, in the uniforms of their several regiments. Ilere you might see the rosy and jolly abbate, ambling
along upon a mule, having an appearance scarcely less clerical than himself, jostling the less fortunate friar on the back of the humbler donkey, and the sturdy mendicant, as he strode along on foot, supported only by his staff. The streets, and every avenue leading to the Plaza de los Toros, were lined with noisy venders of delicious fruits, who made a grateful display upon their stalls of the Seville orange and the cooling water-melon; whilst a number of Valencians carried about large vasijas, or trays of lemonade, and other refreshments, for the accommodation of the thirsty pedestrians, who had no time to squander upon a visit to the neverus, or icehouses. The effect of this animated picture was farther heightened by the cries of the venders, the harmony of some neighbouring barber's guitar, the continual jingling of the mules' bells, and the clicking of castanets.
Amidst this stunning, yet not unpleasing variety of sounds, we at length reached the Plaza de los Toros, and it was with some difficulty we obtained places in the stage seats. A vast concourse of persons of all classes were already assembled, and I observed with a smile the effect which the novelty of the scene had produced upon an English friend, whom I had, with great difficulty, prevailed upon to accompany me; having, as he declared, but little taste for such brutal and demoralising exhibitions. He seemed quite excited, and made some passing observation relative to the Roman Circus, to which the present exhibition bore no unapt resemblance. I directed his attention to many of his countrymen, as well as other foreigners, who, after having been quite as clamorous as himself against the sport, had terminated their philosophical philippics by becoming constant visitors both at the morning and afternoon encounters. We arrived at the scene of action just in time to witness El despejo, or the clearing of the arena; -a ceremony which is effected by a band of soldiers, who enter the place and drive every loiterer away, to the sound of drums and fifes. In a few minutes, not a single person was to be seen in the circus; and, consequently, the body of spectators thus driven back upon the crowd, gave rise to various energetic expostulations, hearty curses, and not a few random cuffs. The only incon. venience, however, of these frequent melées, was the loss of a few ribbons and a quantity of hair, of which the manolas most assiduously set about easing themselves. This operation is a source of considerable amusement to those who stand aloof from the field of strife. We had been happy in securing good places, and had nothing to complain of but the immediate vicinity of an amateur, or aficionado, who kept his tongue in continual motion, and favoured his neighbours with a tremendous display of erudition on the tauromachia.
Whilst the immense multitude were beguiling their impatience in a thousand ways, and among others by bandying jests—eating oranges-smoking-whistlinglove-making and quarrelling—the champions of the fête, namely, the picadores, the espadas, and the chulos, were very piously engaged in prayer, in a chapel contiguous to the circus, it being customary for combatants to solicit the protection of the holy Virgin against the tremendous animal they are about to encounter before they venture to provoke its ferocity. . While they proceed in their laudable occupation, we will return to the circus, which now presented a most striking spectacle. The corregidor and the corporation of the town had already taken their seats near the splendid box fitted up for the use of the king, directly opposite to the entrance from which the bull was expected to rush into the arena. Above this entrance was a platform, occupied by a band of musicians, who continued at intervals to mingle their animating strains with the clamour of the noisy multitude. An officer of the town now entered the arena, mounted on a fine charger. He was dressed in complete sables, and carried in his hand the staff of office. Attended by alguazils, he advanced, saluted the box where the king was not,— and then proceeded to the master of the ceremonies, from whom he received the keys of the cells, where the terrible animals who were to take so conspicuous parts in the evening spectacle were confined.
At this critical juncture, a breathless silence pervaded the spectators, who by their eager looks evinced the absorbing interest they took in the soul-stirring spectacle. Anon, a band of martial instruments struck up;-a
general buzz arose on every side, and, amidst the overwhelming din that prevailed throughout the circus, the picadores and the rest of their party made their entrance into the arena. First came the picadores, with their horses blindfold, wearing enormous boots to protect them from the blows of the bull; next paced on the espadus, or matadores, on foot, attired in rich silken dresses, each wearing a robe of a different colour, together with ribbons or some other distinctive mark of favour from his mistress. The procession closed with a numerous troop of chulos, or banderilleros, a set of young men lightly and fancifully apparelled, whose business is to distract the attention of the bull from a fallen cavalier, and to harass the animal with the banderillas. In this splendid troop we perceived some traces of the ancient spirit of chivalry, although, strange to say, the favourite sport of the fine cavaliers of the land is now confined to the lowest orders. It is only from the slaughter-house that the bull-fighters now, for the most part, proceed.
The procession moved on, at a slow and stately pace, amidst strains of music and the vociferations of the lower classes, many of whom soon recognised in the heroes of the fête, some near relation, some dear friend, or at least, well-known acquaintance, whom they were desirous of encouraging by their shouts. The champions having made their respective obeisances to the royal box and to the corregidor, retired to the places set apart for them in the arena.